Chapter 6: Why Are Religions Afraid of Women?
Now, the fear is the fascination. The woman fascinates, comes into their dreams; they have been able to throw her out from their waking hours, but in their nights.. Mahatma Gandhi was very much impressed by Jaina monks. He was a strange fellow - born a Hindu, but not much of a Hindu: ninety percent Christian, nine percent Jaina, one percent Hindu. Many times in his life he was on the verge of converting to Christianity; one time he was ready to convert to Jainism. He accepted three persons as his masters: one is a Jaina, Shrimad Rajchandra; the second is Leo Tolstoy, who was a fanatic Christian; and the third is Henry Thoreau, who was also a fanatic Christian.
I have been talking to these Jaina monks and telling them the story of Mahatma Gandhi, what happened to him. In his ashram no love affair was allowed; even husbands and wives, if they wanted to become inmates of the ashram, had to take the vow of brahmacharya, celibacy. That was a basic rule. So there were husbands and wives but they were both celibate. It was not being followed; they were caught again and again. And Gandhi was a masochist, just as I have told you that Mahavira had masochism in him - enjoying torturing oneself.
There is a certain mind disease which gives you pleasure out of pain. So what Mahatma Gandhi used to do, whenever a couple was found that had broken celibacy - and it was such a sensitive affair that there was no need for an actual sexual relationship to happen. Just holding hands; if somebody had seen them, that was enough; or hugging each other - one’s own wife. What Mahatma Gandhi would do is, he would go on a fast, he would torture himself. He would not punish those people, but it was really a greater punishment than any you could have invented because the whole ashram would condemn the couple. The couple would be tortured by their own conscience: “It is because of us he is fasting.” They would weep and cry and persuade him, “Forgive us, we will never do it again; but break your fast.”
He would say, “I am not punishing you; I am punishing myself. This is a signal to me that I am not pure enough; that’s why around me such impure things happen. I am simply purifying myself.” Now this too is a very subtle way of the ego: you have done something and I decide to be responsible for it. How saintly it looks on the surface! - but deep down nothing can be more egoistic. Who am I? How does my purity or impurity come into your life? But he was just thinking in terms of the old scriptures: if you are a real saint then around you nothing impure can happen. But what is impure? A man loving a woman - what is impure in it? His own woman, not against her will - what is impure in it? And if it is impure, then everybody is born of impurity. Your very birth is in impurity.
I have asked these Jaina monks, “What happened to Mahatma Gandhi in the last years of his life?” - because his whole life he was repressing, repressing, repressing, and the moment came when it became too much, beyond his capacity to control it anymore. Then people find rationalizations. Then he started to sleep with a naked woman - but he had a cunning mind, he rationalized it. He said he was just testing whether anywhere in his unconscious the woman still had some attraction. Does he still feel fascinated by a naked young girl? And he was beyond seventy and the girl he was sleeping with was only twenty.