It was difficult. The Taj Mahal was made by a great emperor, Shahjehan, who ruled over India. Perhaps at the time Shahjehan ruled, India was four times bigger than it is today, because his empire spread beyond, far beyond the boundaries of today’s India. Afghanistan was part of it, Burma was part of it, Ceylon was part of it. Shahjehan’s empire was certainly at least four times bigger than India is today.
And he was making this memorial for his wife – that too, again, the same game. You will be surprised: it was not out of love. He had many wives; Mumtaj Mahal was just one of them. Perhaps she used to meet him once a year, because if you have four or five hundred wives…. And I don’t think he would have recognized her if he had suddenly met her in the marketplace. He may not have seen her more than a half-a-dozen times in her whole life. But she died. She was the first one in the whole army of his wives, so he decided to make a memorial which would be the best in the world. He forgot at the time…what about his memorial?
Twenty thousand people continued to work for twenty years to make the Taj Mahal. All the best artists who could work on marble, from all over the known world, were brought to Agra. And when the Taj Mahal was complete…. Taj Mahal is named because the wife’s name was Mumtaj; hence Taj Mahal, the palace of Taj – he used to call her “Taj” lovingly. Then he started making his own memorial before he died, because he was absolutely certain that his son would not be able to put so much energy and so much money into it.
And now it was a great problem before him – he recognized it only when the Taj Mahal was complete – that “my memorial has to be better than the Taj Mahal.” Of course the husband’s memorial has to be better than the wife’s; the male chauvinist is everywhere – but it is the same power trip. So on one side of the River Yamuna is the Taj Mahal; it is made of white marble. He started to make another memorial on the other side of the river with black marble, and it was going to be better than the Taj Mahal. It is only half complete, but you can see it would have been better if Shahjehan had lived to complete it. He died – he was old – and his son simply dropped the whole project, it was too costly.
So there lies an incomplete memorial which was going to be bigger than the Taj Mahal. And then, with these Radhaswamis, there is again another which is certainly better – if it succeeds, which is almost impossible because it is such a small sect: very rich, very creative, but to compete with Shahjehan is not possible. And do you know what Shahjehan’s son Jehangir did? Not only did he discontinue the project, he cut off the hands of the best artists so that nobody could make anything comparable to the complete Taj Mahal or the incomplete memorial of his father. That was the reward given to those people who had worked almost three generations. Ego trips….
So I was invited to this temple. They told me, “Our master has taught us that there are fifteen stages, and this is the way he has described who is where – who is who and who is where. What do you think?” they asked me.