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Chapter 1: Understanding Silence

After my enlightenment, for exactly one thousand, three hundred and fifteen days I tried to remain silent - as much as it was possible in those conditions. For a few things I had to speak, but my speaking was telegraphic. My father was very angry with me. He loved me so much that he had every right to be angry. The day he sent me to the university he had taken a promise from me that I would write at least one letter every week. When I became silent I wrote him the last letter and told him, “I am happy, immensely happy, ultimately happy, and I know from my very depth of being that I will remain so now forever, whether in the body or not in the body. This bliss is something of the eternal. So now, every week, if you insist, I can write the same again and again. That will not look okay, but I have promised, so I will drop a card every week with the word ditto Please forgive me, and when you receive my letter with the word ditto you read this letter.”

He thought I had gone completely mad. He immediately rushed from the village, came to the university and asked me, “What has happened to you? Seeing your letter and your idea of this ditto, I thought you were mad. But looking at you, it seems I am mad; the whole world is mad. I take back the promise and the word that you gave to me. There is no need now to write every week. I will continue to read your last letter.” And he kept it to the very last day he died; it was under his pillow.

The man who forced me to speak - for one thousand, three hundred and fifteen days I had remained silent - was also a very strange man. He himself had remained silent his whole life. Nobody had heard about him; nobody knew about him. And he was the most precious man I have come across in this, or any of my lives in the past. His name was Magga Baba. It is not much of a name; magga simply means a jug. He used to carry a jug - that was his only possession, a plastic jug. From the same jug he would drink, he would ask for food with it. People would drop anything in the jug: money, food, water. And that was all he had. Anybody who wanted to take from his jug was also allowed to; so people would take out money, or food - children, particularly.beggars. He neither prevented anybody from dropping, nor did he prevent anybody from taking. And he was absolutely silent, so nobody had any idea even of his name, because he had never said what his name was. They simply started calling him Magga Baba because of the jug.

But deep in the night, once in a while when there was nobody, I used to visit him. It was very difficult to find a time when nobody was there, because he attracted strange types of people. He was not speaking, so of course intellectuals were not going to him - just simple people. And what could you do with him? In India, to go to a man who has realized is called seva. Literally it means service, but it would not be justified because that word seva has a sacredness about it which service has not. When you go to a realized man what else can you do than serve him? So people would come and massage his feet and somebody would massage his head, and he would not say anything to anybody. He would neither say yes, nor would he say no. Sometimes they wouldn’t allow him even to sleep, because four or five people were massaging him; they were doing seva. Many times I had to throw people out. He was just living on a porch of a bungalow, open from all sides. Once in a while, particularly on cold winter nights, I used to find him alone; then he would say something to me.

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