His way of begging will explain to you what I mean. Nowhere else in the world has anybody done such a thing – so much trust for existence! In the morning, after his meditations, he would visualize in what condition he was going to accept today’s food. And sometimes it happened that thirty days would pass and he would not be able to receive food because what he has visualized, a particular condition, was not fulfilled. Strange things….
For example, he thinks that he will accept food if a woman at the house where he stands begging comes out of the house with her baby still sucking milk from her breast. Then only will he accept food from that woman; otherwise that day is gone. Then next day he will try again.
His people persistently said to him, “This is strange! There have been great ascetics…you can fast as much as you want, that is another thing.”
He said, “This is not a question of fasting. I am leaving it to existence, and I am making a condition so that I can know if existence wants me to eat today or not. It is between me and existence. If the condition is not fulfilled, that simply means existence wants me to fast. It is not my fast, it is simply that existence does not want me to eat today, and the wisdom of the whole is bigger.”
Sometimes such strange conditions were fulfilled that nobody could have imagined that it would be possible. For example, one of the conditions was fulfilled….
After thirteen days remaining hungry, fasting, he continued: unless that condition was fulfilled he would not change the condition. He would change it only when it is fulfilled; then he would add the second condition.
The condition was that a princess – no ordinary woman, but a great princess – chains on her legs, handcuffed…if she offers food to him, he will accept. Now, this is asking something absurd. In the first place, if she is a princess, why should she be handcuffed, with chains on her feet? And if she is handcuffed and with chains on her feet, she will be in jail! She may be a princess, but she will not be able to offer food.
But it happened that one of the kings got very angry with his daughter – her name was Chandana – and out of anger he ordered that she should be handcuffed and chained for twenty-four hours. She was not put in jail, but she was free in the home.
When Mahavira came…. And that was the argument that created the whole problem: she wanted to offer food to Mahavira. She loved the man, she loved his way of thinking, and her father was absolutely against it. That’s why she was handcuffed and chained – she would not be able to go out of the house in that way because this would be so embarrassing. When Mahavira came, he came with thousands of his followers.
But she went out with the food, and those thousands of followers could not believe their eyes. Because that very day, after thirteen days, they had insisted, “Mahavira, we would like to know: What is the condition? We are not going to tell anybody; we just want to see whether there is any meaning in your conditions. Is existence compassionate enough, is existence caring enough? Does it bother about you? Just for once, we want to know: What is your condition?”