Varanasi is thought to be the ancientmost city in India. Not even the smallest car can enter in the old part of Varanasi. What to say of a car? – even sunlight never reaches there because on both sides are huge buildings. Just when the sun comes exactly in the middle of the sky, for a few minutes there is sunlight; otherwise the whole day there is no sun. A great civilization must have been there.
I remembered them because all the houses in Mohenjodaro and Harappa – both the cities – had bathrooms attached to their bedrooms, had swimming pools as big as we have them now. And they had a system, a very strange system which they had invented, for hot and cold running water in every house. It is simply amazing! It seems they had reached to the same height of civilization, perhaps better, because even in the beginning part of the twentieth century the Supreme Court of America refused to let that man have a bathroom in his own house.
The future is going to be different because there are architects…. I have seen a few designs sent to me from a friend who is thinking about a very strange thing which will be fought in courts by every religion all over the world. The idea is not to have an attached bathroom but to have the room inside the bathroom. They have made such beautiful designs that the bathroom does not look out of place; it enhances the beauty of the room.
But certainly it is going to be contested by every religion…that this is going too far. Somehow we have accepted bathrooms attached to the rooms. Now these insane architects are trying to enforce an idea…and I think that idea is going to work out. Their designs are just superb. Why have an attached bathroom? The bathroom can be made so beautiful that you can attach your room to the bathroom. And in fact both can be in the same place – there is no need for any partition. It is your bathroom, it is your bedroom. And things can be made so beautiful and so clean, there is no question of….
But it was a problem. Very few rich families had bathrooms and the problem was bigger because the Buddhist monks could not take a bath in the river. They didn’t have enough clothes, they didn’t have any underwear. They had only three pieces of clothing, one to wrap around underneath, another to wrap around on top – just plain pieces of cloth.
To avoid tailoring – because that is a luxury – they were just using plain pieces of cloth; one they wrap around their waist, another they wrap around their chest, and that’s all. It was difficult for them. Either they had to be naked – which was not allowed by Gautam Buddha – or they had to enter the river with their clothes on and then their clothes would get wet.
So you have to see the whole situation…why Gautam Buddha has to talk about such trivia. It is giving an incentive to the people who have their own bathrooms to allow the monks to have a bath and then people would receive limitless blessings. There is no metaphor in it. It means exactly what it says.
The disciple is absolutely right to ask: “This would appear to be an instance of external practice achieving merit, because the man who is allowing you use of his bathroom is achieving merit. He is not doing anything – just allowing you to use his bathroom.”