This has been my experience too. If I am speaking to my own people, then there is no limitation; then I don’t feel that I have to say something, or not to say something. Then I simply speak as if I am speaking to myself. When I am speaking to people who don’t know me, who don’t understand me – moreover they misunderstand me – there is a great limitation. Then I am not at freedom to speak. Their very faces, their eyes, their gestures prevent me from saying something that may hurt them.
Just a few days ago, seventy people from the Times Of India group of papers came to have an exclusive interview with me. The owners were also present – Samir Jain, Nandita Jain and their mother Indu Jain were also present. But the strangest thing that I immediately felt as I entered the auditorium…so ugly, so inhuman and so uncultured. When I was giving my greetings with folded hands to everybody, those seventy people, including Indu Jain, could not even respond. That is, in India, a simple thing. Even a stranger on the street folds his hands. It need not be known to you who he is, but you respond because a folded-hands greeting has a spiritual meaning.
Shaking hands has no spiritual meaning; shaking hands has a very mundane meaning. You have to shake with your right hand. It was a device created by the West to show that you are not keeping any weapon in your right hand. It was not a greeting – it was a search. It was being alert that the man is not an enemy, that he cannot do any harm because his right hand is empty. The reason for shaking hands and its psychology is totally different; in a way very mean, political.
But greeting somebody with folded hands has a spiritual meaning: first, that I bow down to your godliness. Whether you are a stranger, friend or enemy, it does not matter; still you are a temple of god, of a living god. Those folded hands are showing respect for the living god. These things are immaterial – whether you are a friend or a stranger or an enemy.
And secondly, the folded hands show that I am not halfhearted in my greeting. I am total. Both hands, my left hemisphere, my right hemisphere both, are greeting you together. I am greeting you as one organic unity.
But I was surprised that the Times Of India press people – who are well educated, who own the biggest newspapers, magazines, weeklies, fortnightlies who are all journalists – they could not respond to me. They sat there like stone statues, even Indu Jain.
The only man who responded to me was Samir Jain, who is now in charge of the Times Of India publications, and his sister, Nandita Jain. But she could not come to the full greeting. She was hesitating, so she came halfway. She could not come to the full greeting, but she could not remain a wooden statue. She looked to both sides. Even her mother, Indu Jain, who in private touches my feet, but in public…she remained just a wooden statue. So she looked at her mother and she looked at her brother and she chose the middle way. She just came halfway.