However, as far as I am concerned there is no distance. When I start explaining a statement of Mahavira or when I speak on the Gita of Krishna, I am only more or less explaining my own statements. Krishna or Christ or Mahavira provide an opportunity, an excuse, an occasion to speak, but I soon forget that I was speaking about them. I start with them, but end only on what I have known. I am not even aware of when I cease talking about them and begin to explain my own statements, of when I have merged totally with them.
Perhaps it would interest you to know that I have not read the Gita even once. I have started to read it often, but upon reading eight or ten lines I felt that it was enough and closed the book. When I speak on the Gita, I am really hearing it for the first time as I speak about it. As I have no background in it, I have no way of criticizing it. One who has studied the Gita, who has pondered over and thought deeply about its statements, can only criticize or define what he has read. Not having read the Gita, I can do neither.
Another interesting thing to mention is that when I pick up the Gita to read I put it back after a few moments, but when I come across some very ordinary book I read it through from beginning to end because it is not a part of my experience. This may seem odd to you. I cannot restrain myself from reading through an ordinary book, because it is not within the range of my experience. Yet, when I begin to read the Gita, I put the book back after reading only a few lines of it, since I do not feel that it will open up anything new to me.
If a spy story is given to me, I may go through it fully, because for me it may be something new. But Krishna’s Gita seems as if it was written by me. I know it, because whatever is written in it is known to me. Without reading it is known.
Therefore, when I speak on the Gita, I do not actually speak on the Gita; it is only an excuse. I start with the Gita, but I speak only about what I want to speak and only about that which I can speak. If you feel that I have dwelt a great deal on the Gita, it is not because I am influenced by Krishna, but because Krishna said the very same things that I am saying.
Thus, what I am doing is not a commentary on the Gita. What Tilak has said on the Gita, what Gandhi has said on the Gita, was their commentary or explanation of the Gita. They were under the deep influence of the Gita. But what I am saying does not come from the Gita at all. The tunes that are touched upon by the Gita are touched within me as well. They lead me to my own tunes; I begin to explain my own self. The Gita only provides me with an occasion. When I am speaking on Krishna, during those very moments that I am most deeply revealing Krishna you will begin to feel that I am talking about my own self. It is in those moments that I am speaking only about me.
The same thing is true with Mahavira, Christ, Lao Tzu or Mohammed. For me, what differentiates one of them from another is only a difference in name. They are different lamps, but the light that shines within them is the same. Whether that light is burning in the lamp of Mohammed or in the lamp of Mahavira or of Buddha does not make any difference to me.