Chapter 12: A Fellow Traveler
I don’t meet them. Thousands of Americans are my sannyasins, but the man who becomes a sannyasin drops all hangovers: American, Christian, Hindu, Indian, Mohammedan, communist - he throws all that crap away. That is the essential thing for a sannyasin to do, to be just a human being without any labels. Man is not a commodity that you can label, to label human beings is ugly. So there are people who were once Americans who have become sannyasins - I can tell you about them, they are in contact with me - they are some of the best and most beautiful people in the world.
I wonder if I might ask you about your childhood in India? What was it like? How did other children relate to you? How did you relate to them? How did they feel about you? How did you feel about yourself as a child?
I was a little strange as a child. I never played with any children because deep down I never felt that I was their age. In my childhood I was discussing with adults, old people, but my relationship with my own age group was nil.
You felt yourself a teacher even then, isn’t that right?
Yes, I have always felt that I have something to give, and as I grew up that became more and more clear. I had always related with people who were at least twenty, thirty years older than me, because only with them could I argue and discuss things in which other children were not interested.
Did this make you an outcast with children your own age? Did that matter to you?
I was. I was an outcast, and I am still an outcast. Perhaps that’s my fate, my destiny - to be the outsider - but I have enjoyed it my whole life. I don’t remember a single moment when I have felt badly about whatever I am. I have rejoiced in my being and I have kept my freedom completely intact. Nobody has been an influence on me: neither a teacher, nor a professor, nor a saint, a religious leader, a political leader. In fact, as I grew up and my arguments became sharper, teachers and professors were afraid of me. And I was not just an outsider; I was expelled from many colleges for the simple reason that the professors felt embarrassed. They were not able to answer my questions, and they were not courageous enough to accept my answers.
Do you think there’s a psychological dynamic there - in your feeling an outcast - that led you in the direction of forming a commune of which you are the center?
I have not made the commune. I started on the way alone, people started coming to me, and it became a vast caravan which is now spread all over the world. And people are still coming. I have not made it, it has happened. It was not a planned thing, not something considered.