It is not known at what point of time in our history we decided that a man lives according to his fate. Man has changed the whole world, including those things that were considered predestined; the longevity of man is increased, the fatal diseases have been cured, many other things have been changed but India continues to live according to its fate. Our attitude towards destiny has not changed. Even today we can see a student studying in a university, showing the lines of his palm to an astrologer sitting on the footpath, and paying twenty five paise! What will happen to this country if a university student still shows the lines of his palm…? Sometimes he denies this fatalism, but at the time of his examination he can be found standing in front of the Hanuman temple with folded hands.
Our mind is very old. Our exterior is becoming new. Our mode of clothing has become as new as it is anywhere in the whole world, but our inner being is old. Our equipment has become new not because of us, but because of the pulls and pushes of others, unavoidably, out of compulsion. But in the inner life, where there can be no pushes from the outside, where nobody is persuading us, we continue to remain old.
I was staying in Calcutta with a doctor who had passed his FRCS. examination in England. He was very famous in Calcutta. One evening, when he was taking me to a meeting and when we had come out under the porch of the building, his daughter sneezed. The doctor asked me to stop awhile because of this sneezing: it is considered a bad omen.
I asked, “What relationship could there be between my going out and her sneezing? Why should the sneezing prevent me from going?”
He said he knew the causes of sneezing, but still where was the harm in waiting for a minute or two?
I said it was not a question of my waiting due to her sneezing, but that the belief in this superstition stops the whole country’s soul from beginning some work. This belief is dangerous. Waiting for a minute or even for an hour is not the question; the question is of our thinking and believing in such a superstition in the twentieth century. When a doctor believes it, it becomes highly objectionable.
But our ways of thinking have become so rigid that we do not change. In fact we have ceased to think for thousands of years we have been taught not to think. A person who thinks is not considered good, because he is creating a spirit of rebellion. Those who do not think are like sheep rather than men, following one after the other: the only reason for their walking is that the one in front of them is walking. The whole crowd is continuing to walk that way.
If some Indian begins to think and asks, “Why are you walking like this?”, the reply will be, “My father also walked like this.” This is not only our humiliation, but it is the humiliation of our forefathers also. Even if we regress for a thousand years the reply will be the same. Because this was being done then we are continuing to do like this.