Vinoba Bhave said on Sanjay Gandhi’s death that he died an immature death. That is absolutely wrong. He was far more mature than Morarji Desai. Chronologically he was very young, only thirty-three, but chronological age is not the real age. He had far more perceptiveness, he had far more intelligence, he had far more clarity. He lived totally, he lived each moment of his life. And it was a very natural death to him; it belonged to his very style of life.
That’s why I have kept complete silence about it. Now all the people who had to say something have said, I can say my word, which is going to be absolutely different. I don’t feel sad about his death. Yes, the country will miss him, but as far as he is concerned he died beautifully. The country has lost a great opportunity in him because he was a promise, a great hope, because he had the guts to go against the traditional, orthodox mind of this country. He was a man of steel – he could have fought against conventions, and he was learning how to fight. And he was succeeding. Slowly slowly his grip on the events was growing better every day.
The country has certainly lost an immense opportunity of becoming contemporary. He was a contemporary man; he had no hangovers from the past, he did not believe in the past. But as far as he himself is concerned he could not have died in a better way. This death is a logical conclusion to his whole life.
If dying at the age of thirty-three inevitably means immature death, then Adi Shankaracharya also died an immature death – he was exactly thirty-three. Then Jesus also died an immature death; he was exactly thirty-three. Then Vivekananda also died an immature death; he was also exactly thirty-three. Just living long means nothing; length has no meaning. Meaning comes from intensity. It is not a question of quantity but of quality. How long you live makes no difference. How you live, how deeply, how totally, how intensely, how passionately – everything depends on that. And he certainly lived totally, intensely, passionately – and he risked everything for it; he was not in any way a coward.
People like Sanjay Gandhi are bound to die in some strange way. This country needs more people like Sanjay Gandhi. For centuries this country has been a coward country. The Himalayas belong to this country – the greatest mountains in the world – but for one hundred years continuously people have come from all over the world to climb the virgin peaks of the Himalayas. But no Indian has bothered: Indians believe in security, comfort – why take the risk? Many have died in trying to climb the Everest.
And when Edmund Hillary came he was asked, “Are you people mad? Why do you bother? What are you going to gain out of it? Even if you reach at the top of the Everest there is nothing! Why so many people from all over the world have tried to climb the mountain?”
Hillary said, “Just because it is there. It is a great challenge. Standing there, unconquered, it is a challenge to human spirit. It has to be conquered – it is not a question of gaining anything. Just a challenge to the spirit of man…”