But slowly I felt the problem was, my attorneys were also Americans. Perhaps deep down they were also wanting the commune to be destroyed, that I should not by any chance be victorious in the case. I am not saying that they were intentionally or consciously doing that, but the unconscious plays so many games. They were paid, highly paid, so they were fighting for me, but they were fighting for money. They were not fighting for truth. They believed that they were fighting for truth, but I did not see a single instance…except my own sannyasin, Niren, who is also an attorney. He was my attorney, but he is a younger man and some of those attorneys were his professors, some were nationally famous people. So obviously he could not fight against them.
But there came a moment when even he felt…because once a person is a sannyasin, he is no more an American, he is no more an Indian. He came to me in the jail to say that one of our most important attorneys – and he had been Niren’s professor; he is the head of the law department of the University of California, Peter Schey – was not ready to make a statement under the oath of truth. Without the oath he was ready, but if the oath had to be taken then he would not make a certain statement.
I cannot conceive that an oath can make any difference to any man of understanding. This was simply a strategy not to make the statement, because that statement would have changed the whole course of things. I told Niren, “Pull Peter Schey back and you go on the stand and you make the statement.”
And what is an oath? In fact an honest man will refuse to take the oath. I myself have refused to take the oath. The reason is clear: if you ask me to take the oath you are certainly insulting me; you are telling me that without the oath I cannot speak the truth. You are telling me that only under oath am I reliable. And that means my whole life is a life of lies. Nobody is taking an oath every moment – before making a statement, first he takes the oath, touches the Bible and says, “It is nine o’clock.”
The first time I appeared in an Indian court, I refused. The magistrate was shocked. He said, “Why are you refusing?”
I said, “There are many reasons. First, on what book do you want me to put my hand? The Bible? Even the contemporaries of Jesus did not believe him, and the man was put on the cross. He was considered a greater criminal than any other criminal by his whole contemporary world. And you want me to put my hand on his book?”
He said, “No, you can put your hand on Bhagavad Gita.”
I said, “Then you are going from bad to worse, because this man Krishna has stolen sixteen hundred wives from people, married women, and he himself was not a man of his word or promise. He has broken his promises, he has gone against his own word, and you want me to put my hand on his book? Then I will have to wash my hands!”
The magistrate said, “Then forget about the books. You simply say yourself that whatever you say will be true.”
I said, “You don’t understand even simple logic. If I am a man of lies, what is the problem for me to say that whatever I say will be true? It is still going to be a lie. Either you accept me as a man of truth…but don’t ask for an oath.”