Chapter 15: Beyond Joy and Sorrow
He told me, “The strangest phenomenon that I saw in the concentration camp, where thousands of Jews were reduced, humiliated, in such ugly ways as had never been done before. First all their belongings would be taken; even a wristwatch was not allowed. Their clothes were taken; they had to stand naked, men and women and children, in long queues to be medically examined, for hours. Still, they were joking and laughing. They were telling jokes to one another.”
They knew their time to die had come. Tomorrow had never been more uncertain. Even when they were entering the gas chambers. And they knew that whoever had entered those chambers had never come back. They had seen thousands of people entering the gas chamber and within minutes the chimneys of the gas chamber were releasing smoke. All those people had been killed so quickly through technology.
Just five minutes before entering the same chamber - and they knew that it was the last time they would see the beautiful world, the trees, the flowers, the people, their children, their wife, their mother, their old father - still they were telling jokes.
He was puzzled. He could not understand because he is a Hindu. He had gone to Germany to study. Just by chance, a rich Jewish family became interested in him - and he was a man of genius - and they asked him, “Don’t stay anywhere else. Be our guest.” This is how he was caught.
But even more than the gas chamber and the concentration camp and all kinds of humiliations, the most puzzling thing for him was: “What kind of people are these Jews? Is this a time to laugh?”
India has no jokes of its own for a certain reason. It has never suffered the way Jews have suffered. And for another reason: its religion teaches it to accept suffering as a punishment from God, because of past evil acts: “Be patient, accept it. And you will be well rewarded after death.”
But the Jews don’t have any after-death. This is the only life they know. This is the only earth they know. These are the only people, the only trees, the only sun and moon they know. And they have been continuously tortured.
First they were tortured in Egypt as slaves. Moses must be honored as one of the greatest revolutionaries of the world; he provoked them to revolt. It was very difficult, because they had become accustomed to the misery. Have you seen all those great pyramids? They were created, not by Egyptians - yes, they were created for Egyptian kings and queens, but they were created by Jewish slaves.
Even science is unable to understand how such huge blocks of stone - even today we don’t have cranes to put them on top of a high-rise pyramid. How did the Egyptians manage four thousand years ago? The credit does not belong to the Egyptians. On the contrary, those pyramids are standing as a condemnation of the Egyptian kings and queens. They are their graves, but before a grave for a king or a queen was finished, thousands of Jews had died in making the grave, the pyramid.