Shanti can mean many things; it may mean “peace,” it may mean “silence.” Those are the two basic meanings; both were missing in him. He was neither peaceful nor silent, not at all. Nor could you say that he was without any turmoil in him because he became so angry that he shouted at me to sit down.
I said, “Nobody can tell me to sit down in my own house. I can tell you to get out, but you cannot tell me to sit down. But I will not tell you to get out because I have a few more questions. Please don’t be angry. Remember your name, Shanti Sagar – ocean of peace and silence. You could at least be a little pool. And don’t be disturbed by a little child.”
Without bothering whether he was silent or not, I asked my grandmother, who was by now all laughter, “What do you say, Nani? Should I ask him more questions, or tell him to get out of our house?”
I did not ask my grandfather of course, because this man was his guru. My Nani said, “You can ask whatsoever you want to, and if he cannot answer, the door is open, he can get out.”
That was the woman I loved. That was the woman who made me a rebel. Even my grandfather was shocked that she supported me in such a way. That so-called Shanti Sagar immediately became silent the moment he saw that my grandmother supported me. Not only her, the villagers were immediately on my side. The poor Jaina monk was left absolutely alone.
I asked him a few more questions. I asked, “You have said, ‘ Don’t believe anything unless you have experienced it yourself.’ I see the truth in that, hence this question….”
Jainas believe there are seven hells. Up to the sixth there is a possibility of coming back, but the seventh is eternal. Perhaps the seventh is the Christian hell, because there too, once you are in it, you are in it forever. I continued, “You referred to seven hells, so the question arises, have you visited the seventh? If you have, then you could not be here. If you have not, on what authority do you say that it exists? You should say that there are only six hells, not seven. Now please be correct: say that there are only six hells, or if you want to insist on seven, then prove to me that at least one man, Shanti Sagar, has come back from the seventh hell.”
He was dumbfounded. He could not believe that a child could ask such a question. Today, I too cannot believe it! How could I ask such a question? The only answer I can give is that I was uneducated, and utterly without any knowledge. Knowledge makes you very cunning. I was not cunning. I simply asked the question which any child could have asked if he were not educated. Education is the greatest crime man has committed against poor children. Perhaps the last liberation in the world will be the liberation of children.
I was innocent, utterly unknowledgeable. I could not read or write, not even count beyond my fingers. Even today, when I have to count anything I start with my fingers, and if I miss a finger I get mixed up.