But Mahavira is absurd in many ways. One should not possess things. It is understandable, because if people possess things it is bound to create poverty and richness and class struggle, and one day there is bound to be communism and the clash between communism and capitalism. If Mahavira is listened to – “Don’t possess, but share” – there will be no poverty and there will be no richness, but there will be a comfortably happy life. But stretch anything to the extreme and you become absurd. Now Mahavira stretched the point and he dropped his clothes because he cannot possess anything.
Do you want the whole of humanity to remain nude? That will be sheer nonsense. Man is no longer capable of being nude in all the seasons. Perhaps millions of years ago there may have been a time when man was just like any animal without clothes, but then he had hair all over his body to protect him. When winter comes, animals grow hair and when summer comes, they drop their hair. But now the body has forgotten that language completely. You keep anybody naked and just see whether in winter his body grows hair or not! Most probably he will be dead. Or hardly alive and shivering all the time because shivering creates a little heat. His teeth will start chattering because that creates heat.
But Mahavira insisted: “If you want to know the truth you have to achieve to the state of utter nudity.” That’s why he denied women the possibility of attaining to truth. First they have to attain birth as a man, because only a man can attain to truth because only a man can be naked. Just because of clothes, women cannot…clothes are preventing women from realizing their soul.
Sanity means balance. Sanity means always to be in the middle, and insanity means always to go to the extreme.
Mahavira claimed that he was the last prophet of his line – and his line is only of twenty-four prophets; twenty-three had happened already, he is the twenty-fourth. There was great competition for the twenty-fourth; there were eight persons contemporary to Mahavira who were claiming, “You are not the twenty-fourth, I am the twenty-fourth.” Now who is going to decide? They don’t have numbers, tattooed on their bodies saying, “This fellow is the twenty-fourth.”
But Mahavira proved much more insane than the other seven.
Gautam Buddha was also part of it; he was also one of the contenders. But he could not be so insane as to drop the clothes; he fell out of the contest. There was no point. Mahavira was so outrageously extremist that he would not allow even a blade to cut his hair or his beard. He would pull out his hair with his own hands because to use a blade is to be dependent on things. Ultimate freedom means you should not depend on anything, so he had to pull out his hair…. Gautam Buddha could not manage to do that. It was too much, that man was too mad; it was better to get out of the competition.
All the other six were of the same status, of great intelligence…but one thing they were all trying was to be someone special, a prophet. And this was the last chance. Now millions of years will go by – after that, again the first prophet will happen. So this was not an easy thing to lose – “No harm, let him be prophet today, tomorrow I can be.” Tomorrow was very far away.