Chapter 31: The Greatest Reality in the World
And what was done was so ugly: the hands of those craftsmen were cut off; thousands of people lost their hands so that the beautiful clothes coming from Dacca would disappear. This is not human. It was good as a protest, that “We will not use clothes woven by your machinery. You have destroyed our people, for whom it was not only a living but an art, an art that they have inherited for thousands of years, generation to generation.”
But now that the country is independent that protest no longer has any meaning. After the country became independent it was idiotic to make hand-spun clothes and the spinning wheel something spiritual. To protest against this I had to drop those hand-spun clothes, because now India needs more machinery, more technology; otherwise the people are going to be hungry, naked, without any roof over their heads.
The moment I started using clothes made by machinery, I was no longer spiritual. All the Gandhians disappeared. U.N. Dhebar, the president of the Congress, told me; “You are unnecessarily losing thousands of followers. Be a little more diplomatic.”
I said, “You are telling me to be a diplomat, to be cunning, to be an exploiter, to cheat people? Just to keep them following me I should fulfill their expectations? I am the last one to do that.”
And this went on happening in small things, small matters.
I am reminded of an old Tibetan story.
There were two monasteries: one monastery was in Lhasa, in the capital of Tibet, and one of its branches was deep in the faraway mountains. The lama who was in charge of the monastery was getting old and he wanted somebody to be sent from the chief monastery to be his successor. He sent a message.
A lama went there - it was a few weeks’ journey by foot. He told the chief, “Our master is very sick, old, and there is every possibility that he will not survive for long. Before his death he wants you to send another monk, well-trained, to take charge of the monastery.”
The chief said, “Tomorrow morning you take them all.”
The young man said, “Take them all? I have come only to take one. What do you mean - take them all?”
He said, “You don’t understand. I will send one hundred monks.”
“But,” the young man said, “this is too much. What are we going to do? We are poor, and in those parts, the monastery is poor. One hundred monks will be a burden to us, and I have come here to ask only for one.”
The chief said, “Don’t be worried, only one will reach. I will send one hundred, but ninety-nine will be lost on the way. You will be fortunate even if one reaches.”
He said, “Strange.”
On the next day, a long procession started - one hundred monks - and they had to go across the country. Everybody had his house somewhere on the way and people started dispersing. “I will be coming. Just a few days with my parents.I have not been there for years.” Within just a week there were only ten people.