But there was no sign of response. Nobody has lived in silence like Mahavira.
The man went home. And hours later, by the evening, he came back. Mahavira was still standing in his place, but all the cows were gone.
He asked, “Where are the cows?” But he was as deaf as before.
The man said, “This is such a weird man. At least he could tell me where my cows have gone. If he does not want to speak, he could indicate by his finger where they are.”
But Mahavira would not use even his hand because that is also a language; a gesture is also a language. He was very clear about it, that no language means no language.
The man ran around and found all the cows gathered behind the bushes. So he thought, “This man is very clever and cunning. He is hiding the cows behind the bushes and when the sun sets and it is dark, he will take them all away.”
It was a natural conclusion for an ordinary man. And he was getting enraged because Mahavira was not answering. He could not conceive that somebody could be in such silence.
So he got burning torches and said to Mahavira, “Up to now you have been pretending that you cannot hear, but from now on you will not be able to hear.” And he forced the burning torches into both his ears. Mahavira did not say anything.
The man was very much puzzled. But now nothing could be done, he had destroyed his ears. Perhaps he was wrong, perhaps he was unnecessarily doubting the man.
It is a mythological story from this point onwards. Up to here it seems to be factual, because Mahavira remained deaf after this time, and his ears remained burned, but after this the disciples must have elaborated it. I don’t want you to believe in the elaboration, but it is significant to know it….
The god Indra, who rules over the clouds and the rainbows, saw all this happening and felt very sad and sorry for poor Mahavira, who had never done any harm to anybody. He thought, “He needs a bodyguard at least.” So he came down.
With him it was possible, without using any language, without using the body or the mind, to have contact, communication. It was not against silence, it was beyond silence.
The communication was that Indra, without speaking, not visible or audible to anybody, said, “I feel very sorry for you. I would like to appoint one or two bodyguards because you remain absolutely silent; anybody can do harm to you.”
Mahavira communicated, “This man has done me a great service. Up to now my silence was only half. I was not speaking but I was hearing, and the hearing was also a disturbance. I’m grateful to him that he destroyed my ears; I don’t need any guard, because the guard can only defend my body, not me. Nobody can harm me – you know it. So don’t be unnecessarily worried, be at peace and go back to your work.