A kalpa means…millions of years are still left. A kalpa means when one existence – the whole universe – goes through the black holes and disappears. Then a second kalpa begins, when the second universe comes into being. Every kalpa lasts for millions of years, and in millions of years only twenty-four tirthankaras are allowed by Jainism. Twenty-three had already happened by the time of Gautam Buddha, obviously.
Eight persons were competitors – and I consider competition to be absolutely irreligious. The very idea of competition is violent; the very idea of competition is full of greed, full of ego. It is nothing but a hidden politics: you want a certain prestige, you are longing for respectability. All those eight philosophers and thinkers are guilty of being competitive – and they were all teaching against competition. Hence I call them all hypocrites.
To compete to be the president of a country or to compete to be the prime minister of a country is not different from competing to be the last tirthankara. Competition is simply competition: you want to overthrow somebody else and take his place.
All the seven were defeated, not by any great qualification in Mahavira. His only qualification was that he was more masochistic than any of the other seven. He tortured himself…and it is strange that humanity has always respected self-torturing people. He remained naked all the year round; he never took a bath, he never washed his mouth. Every year he used to tear out his hair, because he was against technology; the razor blade is great technology for him.
But because of these great qualities – nakedness, fasting for months, torturing himself in cold, in hot, not taking a bath, tearing his hair – which are signs of a certain kind of madness you will find in every madhouse…. Very strangely, in madhouses, the people who remain naked tear their hair; both the things happen simultaneously in the same madness.
And why was he torturing himself so much? – just to justify that he was the real successor of the twenty-three tirthankaras who had preceded him. Is this self-assertion or something else? And these qualities I don’t think have anything to do with religion. Not taking a bath in a hot country like India, in the hottest state of Bihar, wandering naked…. There were no tarmac roads or cement roads; dust must be gathering around the year, and a naked person not taking a bath – it is simply disgusting.
I have been in close contact with Jaina monks. I used to sit as far away from them as possible, because they all stink. I don’t consider stinking to be religious. When they would say something, their very breath was so thick…. They used to call me, “Come close. Why are you sitting that far away?”
I said, “It is my standpoint not to come too close to saints. Sinners are okay; they are at least human. You are practicing inhuman things. I don’t consider it a privilege to be sitting close by you. It is enough that you called me and I have come; otherwise, I am feeling sick surrounded by Jaina monks. The whole atmosphere is stinking!”