Chapter 23: The Only Way to Fail Me Is Not to Be Yourself
Gandhi had one ashram in South Africa, at the beginning of his career of mahatmahood. The ashram was called the Phoenix Ashram. There, he tortured his wife and his children so immensely that I wonder why nobody bothers and nobody thinks about it. And people like Richard Attenborough make films on Gandhi, and all that is essential, all that should be brought to the eyes of the people, is completely left out. Perhaps these people like Attenborough are completely blind - blinded by his mahatmahood.
What was he doing to his wife? First, she had to clean the toilet.and you don’t know the Indian toilet. Don’t compare it with the Western toilet. The Western toilet can be cleaned, there is no problem. There is nothing to clean, it is already clean. But the Indian toilet is really dirty. And Kasturba, Gandhi’s wife, could not say no either, because Gandhi himself was cleaning. When the husband is cleaning.she knew that he was a mahatma. She knew that it was a dirty job and she did not feel like cleaning other people’s dirt and carrying it out from the outhouse, way back, and throwing all the shit into a ditch - because Gandhi had this idea that the shit should not be misused. Everything had to be used.
He was really a miser. There is no question about why he suffered from constipation - his whole life he was carrying the enema with him everywhere - it was his psychology. The shit had to be collected and thrown into a ditch behind the house, and then mud had to be thrown over it, so it becomes manure for the next year’s crops.
Now, for Kasturba it was so difficult. And the way it has to be carried in India, you cannot believe. But in India, they have reduced one fourth of the country to such a state that they are not allowed to do any other work. So only this work is available, they have to do it. They are born to do it; that is their destiny. So they collect the shit in buckets, and carry it on their heads for miles. In India, Kasturba had never thought that she would have to do this, because she belonged to a higher caste; she was not a sudra, an untouchable.
But Gandhi was carrying it himself, and he was the mahatma. And when he carries it he gets a subtle right over you. You have to understand the subtle power politics in such small things. Because he gets up at three o’clock in the morning, everybody has to get up at three o’clock in the morning. And when the old man is getting up at three o’clock.you are young, you will feel guilty if you don’t get up. And if you are caught, then you have failed the master. And what is the master going to do? He will not punish you, he will punish himself - because he had this egoistic idea that if he is truly pure then nothing can go wrong around him, then everything is going to be right. If anything goes wrong, that simply means something is impure in him, so he has to purify himself by fasting.
So if you fail him, he will torture himself. That will create even more of a burden on you. First: guilt that you failed him. Second: guilt that now he is suffering because of your stupidity - you could have awakened at three o’clock, it was not such a big deal. And now for a few days, nobody knows.because he would always start a “fast unto death.” Although he never fasted unto death he would always start a fast unto death.