Remember, Ashu, that’s why I say only one thing has come out of Canada that is worth mentioning: that is Canada Dry, the soda. It is really beautiful – I love it. Among all the sodas in the world, that’s the best. Now you are laughing. You are allowed to look at the watch. There is no need to hide it under your sleeve, or to leave it behind in case by accident you see it. I do not bother at all what time it is. Even when I ask, I don’t really mean it; it is just to console you. Otherwise I go on and on in my own way. I am not a man of time. Look how long it took me just to come back to the missing thread.
My mother’s father suddenly fell ill. It was not time for him to die. He was not more than fifty, or even less, perhaps even younger than I am now. My grandmother was just fifty, at the very peak of her youth and beauty. You will be surprised to know that she was born in Khajuraho, the citadel, the ancientmost citadel of the Tantrikas. She always said to me, “When you are a little older, never forget to visit Khajuraho.” I don’t think any parent would give that advice to a child, but my grandmother was just rare, persuading me to visit Khajuraho.
Khajuraho consists of thousands of beautiful sculptures, all naked and copulating. There are hundreds of temples. Many of them are just ruins, but a few have survived, perhaps because they were forgotten. Mahatma Gandhi wanted these few temples to be buried under the earth because the statues, the sculptures are so tempting. Yet my grandmother was tempting me to go to Khajuraho. What a grandmother to have! She herself was so beautiful, like a statue, very Greek in every way.
When Mukta’s daughter, Seema, came to see me, for a moment I could not believe it, because my grandmother had exactly the same face, the same coloring. Seema does not look European, she is darker. And her face and figure are exactly the same as my grandmother’s. Alas, I thought, my grandmother is dead, otherwise I would have liked Seema to see her. And do you know, even at the age of eighty she was still beautiful, which is utterly impossible.
When my grandmother died, I rushed from Bombay to see her. Even in her death she was beautiful…I could not believe that she was dead. And suddenly all the statues of Khajuraho became alive to me. In her dead body I saw the whole philosophy of Khajuraho. The first thing I did after seeing her was to again go to Khajuraho. It was the only way to pay homage to her. Now Khajuraho was even more beautiful than before because I could see her everywhere, in each statue.
Khajuraho is incomparable. There are thousands of temples in the world, but nothing like Khajuraho. I am trying to create a living Khajuraho in this ashram. Not stone statues, but real people who are capable of love, who are really alive, so alive that they are infectious, that just to touch them is enough to feel a current in you, an electric shock!
My grandmother gave me many things; one of the most important was her insistence that I should go to Khajuraho. In those days, Khajuraho was absolutely unknown. But she insisted so much that I had to go. She was stubborn. Perhaps I got that quality from her, or you may call it a dis-quality.