I was born a Jaina. Now, religion has nothing to do with your birth; you cannot be born in a religion. Just on the contrary: religion has to be born in you. I was born a Jaina – just a coincidence. I could as well have been born a Christian or a Jew. An irrelevant fact – because by your birth religion cannot be given to you. It is not a gift, it is not a heritage. My father is a Jaina, my mother is a Jaina – they cannot give Jainism to me. I can inherit their wealth, I can inherit their prestige, I can inherit the family name – but I cannot inherit religion. Religion cannot be a gift, a heritage – it is not a thing. It is something one has to seek for himself. Nobody else can give it to you.
So whatsoever is given by the birth is a sect, not a religion. Hinduism, Christianity, Mohammedanism, Jainism, Buddhism, are sects, not religions. Religion is one, sects are many, because sects are the forms, dead fossilized forms. Sects are like footprints: somebody one day walked there, but he is no longer there – just footprints left on the sand, on the sand of time. A buddha walks, footprints are left, and you go on worshipping those footprints for centuries. There is nobody there now. Just a form in the sand, nothing else.
Sects are forms in the mind, just like footprints – yes, somebody was there one day, but he is no longer there – and you go on worshipping those forms. You are born into those forms, you are conditioned into those forms, indoctrinated. You become a sectarian. And don’t think that you have become religious, otherwise you will miss. For religion to be there you have to seek it on your own. It is a personal growth, a personal encounter with reality – face to face, immediate and direct. It has nothing to do with tradition, nothing to do with the past. You have to grow into it. You have to allow it to grow into you.
Religion is a revolution, not a conformity. It is not a conviction intellectually attained, it is a conversion of your total being. How can you be born in a religion? Of course you can be born in an ideology, you can learn a theology, words about God, theories about God, dogmas and doctrines, but to know about God is not to know God. The word god is not God. And all the theologies together are nothing compared to a single moment of encounter with the divine – because then for the first time the spark, your inner light starts. You start rising in a different dimension.
Religion is a personal search, it is not part of society.
I was born a Jaina. Of course they tried to force me to be a Jaina. Fortunately they failed. It is one of the misfortunes that they succeed in many cases. They failed and they have been angry against me. So if you ask the Jainas, only rarely will you find a Jaina here and there who will say that I am a Jaina; otherwise they will say that I am the enemy of Jainism, and I am destroying their ideology and I am corrupting their sources. And both are right in a way.