A child is born in a brahmin’s house: from his very first day he lives in the climate of being a priest. From his very childhood he is being respected by the whole society. He need not be taught, he simply catches it from his climate. By the time he is a young man he knows all the ins and outs of priesthood; when he is initiated into priesthood he is all ready. Economically this is a very perfect arrangement.
So the eleven brahmins who consolidated Mahavira’s teachings when he died turned the whole clock backwards. Whatever Mahavira had done they managed to undo – and in such a sophisticated, intelligent way that not even now, after twenty-five centuries, have Jainas recognized that they have been ruled by the brahmins against whom Mahavira’s whole life was dedicated. He fought these same people who have since then been ruling.
The same happened with Buddha. He was not a brahmin, he was a kshatriya, the warrior caste, lower than the brahmin. Brahmin is the highest caste, the warrior is number two in status. And Buddha rebelled against it. He said, “Nobody comes by birth as a brahmin or a warrior or a business man; these things one has to learn. One becomes what one does.”
Brahmins were very much against Buddha because the warriors are not supposed to be priests; their duty is to fight. And when Buddha started preaching, this was against the whole tradition – he was trying to be a brahmin, and he was born a kshatriya. This is pure and simple rebellion. But Buddha was of great charismatic personality. He managed to influence millions of people, and when the brahmins saw that this man could not be destroyed by easy and ordinary means they started organizing Buddha’s teachings. They started organizing Buddhism. And when Buddha died the people who wrote his scriptures were all brahmins.
You will be surprised that in India, the priest of the temple where Buddha became enlightened is still a brahmin. For twenty-five centuries the same family has provided the priest of the temple. The temple stands as a memorial of Buddha’s enlightenment. But the brahmins who were his contemporaries simply denied that he was enlightened – to them, except for a brahmin, nobody can be enlightened. Before your enlightenment you will be born as a brahmin. So in your other lives all that you can earn is a life as a brahmin.
From all your good deeds, your morality, your character, this will be your earning – that you will be born as a brahmin. Then the doors open for you, you can become enlightened – but nobody can jump the class barrier. And Buddha did exactly that: he just bypassed the brahmins and entered the world of nirvana. This is impossible, unforgivable! His contemporaries could not accept Buddha as enlightened or a wise man; they thought him just a nuisance, a disturbance. But when he died he left such a tremendous impact on millions of people that brahmins were clever enough to see this was not an opportunity to be missed.
They were not like the Jews, who missed the whole opportunity of Jesus. If the Jews had been as clever as the brahmins, the moment they had crucified Jesus, the second thing would have been to create a religion around Jesus. In both ways they would have profited – I am using their term.