In Mahatma Gandhi’s ashram you could not use a mosquito net. His son, Ramdas, was very friendly with me. He had invited me to the ashram, but I said to him, “I cannot stay here with all these mosquitoes. Any intelligent person can understand that a mosquito net is not a luxury, it is not something unspiritual.”
And what had Mahatma Gandhi substituted? He had substituted kerosene oil. You put kerosene oil on your face, on your hands, on whatever parts are exposed, put kerosene oil.
Naturally, the mosquitoes are more intelligent than you – they don’t come near you, because it stinks! But how can you sleep? You have to choose between mosquitoes or kerosene oil.
I said, “I am not going to choose, I am simply leaving. This seems to be some insane asylum – it is not an ashram.”
Gandhi had adopted five basic principles of life from Jainism. The first is: aswad, no-taste – you have to eat, but if you taste, you are a materialist.
I am just trying to show you how they are making it difficult and impossible and unnatural. If you eat, you are bound to taste because you have taste buds in your tongue. Those taste buds don’t know anything about your spirituality and the other world, they will simply function.
Now what are you going to do? You have to pretend that you eat but you don’t taste. And you know all the time that you taste. You are becoming a hypocrite to yourself. You are falling in your own eyes. You are deceiving no one but yourself.
One of the American writers, Louis Fischer, came to Gandhi’s ashram. He was writing a biography of Mahatma Gandhi. He was a special guest in the ashram, so Gandhi took him to lunch. He had seated him at his side, and he told the cooks, “Remember our special chutney.”
What was their special chutney? It was made from the leaves of the neem tree so as to destroy taste.
“So give generously to our friend.”
A big bowl full of chutney made from neem leaves, which are the bitterest, was placed on Louis Fisher’s plate.
If Gandhi is praising this chutney so much – that it is very healthy, keeps your blood pure, is the only thing in the whole vegetable world which has no bad effects…
“Just one thing is a little difficult, but by practice – you will be here for fifteen days – you will get accustomed. It tastes a little bitter.”
So much praise from such a great man! – Louis Fischer tasted the neem chutney first and he said, “My God, this is pure poison! I have never tasted anything like this!”