There have been saints who cut off their genital organs. And they were respected very much, tremendously, for the simple reason that they had been self-destructive, violent with themselves. These people were psychologically ill.
There have been saints who have been worshipped because they were capable of fasting for long periods, were experts in fasting. It is a certain expertise, you need a little training. Not much intelligence is needed; the training is very ordinary and any stupid person can go through it and learn it. You just have to be able to enjoy suffering – and only the ill person enjoys suffering. If you can remain for ten, twelve days on a fast, only the first four, five days are difficult. Then the body metabolism becomes attuned to not eating. In fact, it starts eating itself.
The body has a dual mechanism in it; for emergency purposes the body has a dual mechanism. You eat, you get energy from the outside, because every day you need a certain quantity of energy to live by. If you don’t do that, then the body has some stored energy for emergency times; that’s what fat is. Fat is emergency food, stored food. If a person is normal, healthy, he can live for three months without food; that much fat the body contains.
In the ancient days when the body was developing and man was coming down from the trees and was becoming a hunter, it was not possible every day to find food. Some days you would find, some days you would not find. Man started gathering some storage inside; the body has learned it.
The more afraid you are of tomorrow, the more fat you will gather. That’s why women gather more fat. Down the ages they have been more afraid – they have been made more afraid by men. They gather more fat. And women are more capable of going on a fast than men. Women need more fat also because they will have to go through pregnancy, and eating becomes difficult in pregnancy. They will have to eat their own stored food. In fact to be on a fast is nothing but eating yourself, it is cannibalism. Reduced to the truth, a man who fasts is a cannibal; he eats himself. That’s why when you fast, every day one or two pounds of weight start disappearing. Where is it going? You are eating it; it is your need, everyday need. That much energy is used by your machine, by your body.
Great saints were doing long fasts, just torturing themselves. But it is not much of an intelligent thing. Just for a few days, the first week, it is difficult; the second week it is very easy; the third week it becomes difficult to eat. The fourth week you have completely forgotten. The body enjoys eating itself and feels less heavy, obviously, with no problems to digest. And the whole energy that is continuously being used in digestion becomes available to the head. You can think more, you can concentrate more, you can forget the body and its needs.