Chapter 20: Religion Can Only Be Aesthetic
For man perhaps it is now difficult to be naked in all the seasons. His body is no longer capable, is no longer so strong as it was in the age of the primitive man who lived naked. For thousands of years we have protected our bodies. But remember, whenever anything is protected it becomes weaker. The more you protect, the weaker it becomes. A primitive man in the jungles of India still lives naked - in the winter, in the rain, in the hot sun - but he has the stamina and he has the body. But he is not a saint, he is simply uncultured, uneducated, uncivilized, primitive. There is nothing that can be said in praise of him.
But religions have been preaching to people very uncreative disciplines, which are sometimes so funny that even to believe that thousands of people live under those beliefs seems impossible.
In India, Jainism is a religion whose monks, step by step, finally become naked. In five stages of discipline, the last stage of their discipline is to be naked. Because of this stage Jainism has to deny women direct entry into their paradise. First they will have to become men, because they cannot attain the final stage of discipline, of nakedness.
And the people who became naked.through twenty-five centuries continuously, thousands of people have become naked, and they have not contributed anything to the world, have not painted, have not written poetry. In fact, these are mundane affairs, worldly things, which they have renounced. In every way their disciplines have made them ugly.
For example, the Jaina monk eats standing. Now, if you eat standing, soon you will have a big belly. Your chest will sink and your belly will become bigger. You will be pregnant without pregnancy! They have to eat food in their cupped hands because they cannot use any kind of instruments. What nonsense! To use a plate is not great technology. But they are praised because they are using only their hands, and that creates many problems.
They cannot use a razor blade to shave their beards or their hair. And the problem becomes more complicated because they are not allowed to have a bath at all. Their discipline does not even allow them to have a mouthwash. They don’t brush their teeth, because the brush is great technology, and toothpaste is certainly manufactured in great factories. They have disowned the whole world - how can they use a brush? And why should they use one?
Their logic is worth understanding, because that will explain many other things in other religions. They are the extreme and the extreme is always good to understand, because things have come to the very climax where even a blind man can see that it is stupid.
They have to pull out their hair every year with their own hands. And that is celebrated as a great religious ceremony. Thousands gather to see the naked monk pulling out his hair. He cannot use a razor blade - the razor blade belongs to the materialist world. And it is worth seeing the scene when a Jaina monk pulls out his hair. Thousands of Jainas gather and women are crying, a few have fainted. The great saint is going through so much suffering.