Chapter 20: Enlightened Organization Is Organic Harmony
If you just look, Hinduism is like a tree: each branch brings new branches, then small branches, then more small branches. And they are all creating a great noise, great controversies - one cannot say what exactly Hinduism is. Organization has been avoided in a way, but the religion has not been saved - it has fallen into a confusion. It has not become a cult and a creed; it has become a confusion.
Seeing this situation, Mahavira’s orthodox followers. They are called Digambaras because they live naked, their monks live naked. Digambara means one whose only clothing is the sky - nothing is between him and the sky. To avoid confusion, to avoid commentaries, to avoid organization, they simply destroyed all Mahavira’s scriptures.
So Digambaras don’t have any scriptures of Mahavira - a strange act, just to preserve his teaching. It is given by word of mouth to the disciple but is not in a book. You cannot sell it in the market; nobody can write a commentary on it. The teaching goes on silently, transferred from one generation of monks to another generation of monks. It was a great effort of tremendous courage to destroy all the scriptures, so you could not print them. But what happened was that even by transferring it from individual to individual, there were different versions, because naturally.
You are all listening to me, but if you all go back home and write down what I have said, do you think you will be reporting the same? Tomorrow morning you can look at all the notebooks and be surprised that everybody has got something else, has laid emphasis on something which you have completely ignored. You have not heard it at all, but somebody else has heard only that. What you have heard, she has not bothered about.
So even though they tried to avoid written scriptures and remain consistent, there are different versions. There are only twenty-two naked monks now; I have met all twenty-two. I was puzzled that they all have different versions from their teachers, and they are giving a different version to their disciple who someday will become a naked monk. They are training the disciple, and they think in this way the purity of the message is preserved.
But I asked them, “Have you ever compared notes with the other twenty-one?”
They said, “No, that is never done. What my teacher has given to me, I will give to my chief disciple, and he will give it to his chief disciple.”
But I said, “I have met all twenty-two and you are all saying different things.” If it was in a book at least there would have been some possibility to come to some agreement. Now there is no way to come to any agreement. There are twenty-two religions arising from one source - which they have destroyed. So now there is nothing to fall back on and check; and you cannot prove anybody is wrong or anybody is right.
The other sect of Jainas is the Shvetambaras. The name, shvetambara, means white-robed; they are not naked, they use white robes. They have scriptures but they have many sects themselves. And on such small points there is so much difference that one cannot imagine what will be happening about spiritual, philosophical things.