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Chapter 13: The Master’s Art

I had spoken at a Jaina conference, and as I came down from the stage - it was a cold night, he was covering himself with a blanket - he threw the blanket on the ground, took hold of me and asked me to sit down, just to sit down for five minutes with him.

But I said, “Your blanket will become dirty.”

He said, “Forget about the blanket, you just sit down, because I don’t have anything else.” And I had no idea who this man was. He introduced himself; then too I had no idea, just his name.

He said, “I am inviting you to Bombay for a conference, and you cannot say no.” Tears were in his eyes; he said, “In my whole life I have heard all the great orators of this country, but I have never felt such deep harmony as I have felt with you, although what you were saying was against my conditioning. I am Mahatma Gandhi’s follower. I am the manager for Jamnalal, and I have lived my whole life according to Mahatma Gandhi’s principles - and you were speaking against them. But still somehow I felt you are right and I have been wrong.”

He must have been seventy years old, but with great courage to say, “My seventy years were wrong”; and he had listened to me only for ten minutes. “And you cannot say no. This conference is absolutely important because I want you to be introduced to my friends in Bombay and then to my friends all over India.”

So I said, “I will come.”

I knew nobody in Bombay, and somehow. Because he was an old man with thick glasses, in the night perhaps he could not see me perfectly well. He described me to the organizers of the conference here, but somehow he told them that I used a Gandhi cap. Just seventy years continuously seeing Gandhi caps, Gandhi caps - he had not seen anybody else without a Gandhi cap - so it must have been somehow completely fixed in his mind.

I was standing at the door of the train; all the passengers had left. At least twenty-five people were running from this side to that side. They would look at me from up and down, from down and up, and just as they saw my head they would rush on. I said, “What is wrong with my head? Up to the head they look as if things are going right, and the moment they see my head they are simply gone!” But finally I was the only passenger left, and those were the only people left who had come to receive anybody.

One of them came to me and asked, “Have you not put on your Gandhi cap today?”

I said, “Now I understand what the problem is. But who told you that I have ever used a Gandhi cap?”

And Chiranjilal had got caught somewhere in the traffic. He was coming running! - a seventy-year-old man. He said, “Yes! This is the man, but where is the cap?”

I said, “You created this whole trouble. I am standing here for half an hour; these people are running all over the platform looking for the Gandhi cap. If you had told me I would have put on a Gandhi cap. You never mentioned it.”

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