These stories are invented for a certain purpose – to make that man qualitatively higher than you. But this is exploiting humanity, corrupting human consciousness, giving people false ideas.
Just look at these miracle-men of the world and you can see that of all those miracles, ninety percent were invented by the followers or by the originators themselves. It is difficult at such a long distance to know who started them. Most of them must have been started by the originators themselves, and of course followers go on adding to them.
It becomes an absolute necessity for followers to go on adding more and more miracles, because it is a competitive business and everybody has to prove his messiah the highest, the greatest. Everybody else is below him. Now, only miracles can do that miracle, there is no other way.
Jainas have twenty-four tirthankaras, twenty-four messiahs. Because Jainas had twenty-four, Buddhists were at a loss; they had only one – Gautam Buddha. In the market – and this whole world is a market and every human being is a customer – when you are selling your messiah, your religion, your holy book, small things count. A Buddhist feels at a loss because people ask how many buddhas there have been. Just one? Looks very poor – Jainas have twenty-four!
Hindus up to that moment had ten incarnations of God. They immediately changed to twenty-four because ten looked poor before twenty-four. The idea of Jainas having twenty-four…. Before Mahavira, all Hindu scriptures talk of ten avataras; after Mahavira suddenly a great change happens – Hindus start talking about twenty-four.
Buddhists are at a loss because their religion starts with Buddha, so where to put twenty-four buddhas? But they have to be a little more creative. They started talking about twenty-four lives of Gautam Buddha – this was the twenty-fourth life. He had been an awakened one twenty-three times before.
You can see a clever legal process. They had no historical grounds to prove that there had been twenty-four buddhas. Even Buddha cannot say that because he was the originator. But this was easy, to invent twenty-three previous lives.
The span is thousands of years, and in those days particularly in India history was not written. History was not even counted as a subject. Writing history was introduced by the Mohammedans in India. In India the idea was that history consists of mundane, ordinary, day to day things, which go on being repeated. A king is born, a king dies; another king will be there, he will die. Empires are built and disappear.
If you look at the millions of years in India it has been the custom to look at existence extending for millions and millions of years – what does it matter that a man was a prime minister for three months in a country? Why bother? For three months out of millions and millions of years, in a country on a very mediocre planet, of a very mediocre solar system, a certain man was prime minister – why bother? The Indian attitude is, why unnecessarily waste time?