If you look at the world through science, it is looking through analysis, mathematics, logic. Athens, the Greek mind, gave science to the world, the Socratic method of analysis, logic and doubt. Religion is a totally different pattern of looking at the world. It looks at the world through poetry, through myth, through love. Of course, it is romantic. It cannot give you facts, it will only give you fictions. But I say fictions are more factual than any facts, because they give you the innermost core, they are not concerned with the outer event. Hence, India has no history. It has only myth, puranas; no itihas, no history, just mythology
Rama is not an historical person. He may have been, he may not have been. You cannot prove it; nobody can say anything, whether he was, or not. Krishna is a myth, not an historical fact. Maybe he was, maybe he was not. But India is not bothered whether Krishna and Rama are historical. They are meaningful, they are great poetry, epics. And history is meaningless for India because history contains only bare facts, the innermost core is never revealed. We are concerned with the innermost core, the center of the wheel. The wheel keeps on moving, that is history, but the center of the wheel, which never moves, is the myth.
Said Chuang Tzu: “Have you heard about the bird that lives in the south – the phoenix that never grows old?” All that is born grows old. History cannot believe in this bird, because history means the beginning and the end, history means birth and death. The span between birth and death is history, and the span between the birthless and the deathless is myth.
Rama is never born and never dies. Krishna is never born and never dies. They are always there. Myth is not concerned with time, it is concerned with eternity. History goes on changing, myth always remains relevant. There is not, and there can never be, a myth which will become out of date. Newspaper is history, yesterday’s newspaper is already out of date. Rama is not part of the newspaper, he is not news, and he will never be out of date. He is always in the present, always meaningful, relevant. History goes on changing; Rama remains there at the center of the wheel, unmoving.
Says Chuang Tzu: “...that lives in the south – the phoenix that never grows old?”
Have you ever seen a picture of Rama or Krishna which belongs to their old age? They are always young, without even a beard or mustache. Have you ever seen any picture of Rama with a beard? Unless there was some hormonal defect, if he was really a man – and he was a man – then the beard must have grown. If Rama was historical, then the beard must have been there; but he was beardless, we have pictured him beardless, because the moment the beard grows you have already started becoming old. Sooner or later it will turn white. Death is coming near and we cannot think that Rama dies so we have washed his face completely clean of any sign of death. And this is not only so with Rama; the twenty-four tirthankaras of the Jainas are all beardless, no mustaches. Buddha and all the avatars of the Hindus had no beards, no mustaches – just to indicate their eternal youth, the eternity, the timelessness, the foreverness.
“...the phoenix that never grows old.” There is time – in time everything changes – and there is eternity. In eternity nothing changes. History belongs to time, myth belongs to eternity. Science belongs to time, religion belongs to the nontemporal, the eternal.