The monk said, “What is so difficult about it? Are you aware of the population of our country? It was four hundred million when the country became independent, now it is nine hundred million, and by the end of this century it will cross the one billion mark. We have been listening to all your pomp and show – that you are developing this, you are organizing that, and we thought, ‘Why indulge in such meaningless ideas? Let’s just stand one on top of the other, like the multistory houses in Bombay.’ And because I am a monk I stood on top of them all. Now all those fools have left me here and have gone back to their jobs and businesses.”
It is easy to enter the twenty-first century in stories, and whether you talk to the naive masses for whom ten is the limit, who can’t even count up to twenty-one, of the twenty-first century or the thirty-first century, makes no difference at all. They think that when you say something, it must be right.
And no one believes in any of the leaders’ statements any more, because in these forty years they have only deceived people. For forty years the Indian leaders have been handing out deception after deception. Forty years ago there was a feeling of respect in the minds of the public toward these people, toward their fathers and grandfathers. Today even in the minds of the illiterate people of India there is no respect toward the politicians, only insult. The politicians are not counted amongst anyone other than the thieves and hooligans – and they should not be. Thieves and the hooligans just snatch or steal something small from people here and there, like pickpocketing. And these politicians are destroying the very potential of the whole country. They are destroying the very future of the country.
But they have to use big words. Except for their words they have nothing else. “Twenty-first century”! But look at the condition of the people of India in general. The meaning of ushering in the twenty-first century will be that all the values of life will change.
Right now people’s behavior toward the harijans, the untouchables, is the same as was meted out to them five thousand years ago. And the habit of lying has entered so deeply into our psyche…what to say of the ordinary people? I am not talking about the ordinary people. Mahatma Gandhi himself made the frequent statement that India’s first president would be a woman and an untouchable. Now, as far as I understand it, neither was Dr Rajendra Prasad – the first president of India – a woman nor was he an untouchable, and it was Gandhi who chose him. What happened to all those old promises? Where did all that lofty talk disappear to? What of all those sweet intoxicating words you fed the harijans?
All that was simply politics because there was fear. The harijans wanted to separate under the leadership of Ambedkar. If the Mohammedans were asking for a separate country for themselves and their demand was being considered legitimate, and the Hindus wanted their own country, then the harijans who were one fourth of the Hindus and had been the exploited and the oppressed of this country for thousands of years… There is no people more oppressed than them in the world. But if they also wanted to have a separate country of their own, then Gandhi would go on amaran anashan – a fast unto death.