Mahavira laughed. They went into the town, they were going to beg for their food. After taking food, they were coming back, and they were surprised: the plant was rooted again. While they were in the town it had started raining, and the roots of the plant, finding the support of the rain, went back into the soil. They were small roots, it was windy, and the wind helped the plant to stand up again.
By the time they had come back the plant was back to its normal position. Mahavira said, “Look at the plant. I told you, you cannot do anything against existence. You can try, but that will turn against you, because that will go on separating you from existence. It will not bring you closer.
“Just see that plant. Nobody could have imagined that this will happen, that the rain and the wind together will manage the small plant back, rooted into the earth. It is going to live its life.
“It seems to us a small plant, but it is part of a vast universe, a vast existence, of the greatest power there is.” And Mahavira said to Goshalak, “From this point our paths separate. I cannot allow a man to live with me who is against existence and feels no responsibility.”
Mahavira’s whole philosophy of nonviolence can be better expressed as the philosophy of reverence for existence. Nonviolence is simply a part of it.
It will go on happening: the more you will find yourself, the more you will find yourself responsible for many things you have never cared about. Let that be a criterion: the more you find yourself responsible for people, things, existence, the more you can be at ease that you are on the right track.
One of my professors, Dr Ras Biharidas – he was a very old man – had lived his life alone, because he was so contented, and so joyous in himself that he never needed anybody else. He was the head of the department, so he had a big bungalow – living alone in it. And as we became acquainted with each other, he became very loving towards me, like a father.
He said, “There is no need for you to live in the hostel – you can come and live with me. I have lived all alone in my life….” He used to play sitar – perhaps better than anybody else I have heard, and I have heard all the best sitarists. But he never played it to entertain people; he just played out of his joy.
And his timing was such, that nobody would have ever thought…three o’clock in the morning every day he will play his sitar. For seventy years he had been playing. The difficulty arose the first day, because I used to read up to three, and then I would go to bed – and that was the time for him to wake up.
And this was a disturbance for both of us, because I loved to read things that I liked, not silently but loudly. When you are just reading with your eyes there is only a partial connection. But when you read poetry loudly you are involved in it; for a moment, you become the poet. You forget it is somebody else’s poetry; it starts becoming part of your blood and bones and marrow.