Jesus calls the poor “the children of God,” and down the ages all the saints, except the Upanishadic seers, have been insisting on this point again and again, hammering it. It has gone deep into the very soul of man that poverty has something beautiful about it.
So the poor felt good, and because Mahavira and Buddha made them feel good…they had nothing else to feel good about. They were hungry, starving, undernourished, without shelter. Buddha and Mahavira became tremendously supportive; millions of poor people worshipped Buddha and Mahavira for the simple reason that they made them feel at ease with their poverty. and, on the other hand, their renunciation of their kingdoms and their wealth made the rich people feel guilty, and whenever you make somebody feel guilty he is bound to respect you.
You have to understand the psychology of guilt. Whenever you make somebody feel guilty he has to compensate to get rid of the guilt. He starts respecting and worshipping Buddha and Mahavira because these people have done what he is not yet capable of doing but hopes someday to do – if not in this life then in some other life that blissful moment will arrive when he will also renounce all the riches, all the wealth, the whole kingdom, the whole outside world. As far as the present is concerned he can do a little bit by donating his money to the poor. So the rich people started donating a little bit of their money to the poor to get rid of the guilt. And they started worshipping Buddha and Mahavira; that too was a way of getting rid of the guilt.
Both religions, Buddhism and Jainism, flourished on these two things. The poor person felt good because his poverty started having the color of spirituality, and the rich person became guilty and donated. Of course, all the Jaina scriptures say: “Donate only to the Jainas, because they are the right people. You should not donate to the unworthy – donate to the worthy. Donate to the Jaina temples.”
And you can see it. There are very few Jainas, just thirty-five lakhs; in a country of seventy crores, thirty-five lakhs is just nothing – just salt in your vegetables, just a little bit of salt in your soup. But go and see their temples – they are the richest temples in India. And there are thousands of Jaina temples: the most architecturally beautiful, the richest, for the simple reason that they made the rich people feel so guilty that they started donating.
The Buddhists say the same thing: “Don’t donate to anybody else, donate to the Buddhists – because unless you donate to the right person your donation is futile.” And who is the right person? One who follows the Buddha!
Brahmins say, “Donate only to the Brahmins, to the Hindus. Don’t donate to the Jainas and the Buddhists. They are atheists, they don’t believe in God.”