But it is not without reason they do so. These are the ways to persecute and torture others; it is so pleasurable to them. They often say that they respect the unerring sannyasin, which is another way of dominating him. If the sannyasin wants to have their respect, he will have to obey their rules and live in the way they would like him to live. There is yet another danger to the sannyasin from these self appointed judges. To earn their respect he will turn into a hypocrite; he will publicly show that he follows their rules of conduct while privately he will go on living outside those rules.
I am not going to allow a sannyasin to be a hypocrite. I hold hypocrisy as the worst sin ever. And the only way to save him from turning into a hypocrite is to abstain from imposing any discipline on him and to leave him free to live in the way that comes naturally to him; otherwise he is bound to be a hypocrite. This is how we have made hypocrites of all the old sannyasins the world over. And so they are in a mess. There is a class of monks in India who cannot take a bath, because people around them are always watching to see if they bathe themselves. They have thus forced them to remain covered with dirt and filth. In return they give them respect. So these monks have sacrificed cleanliness for the sake of respectability. But whenever they find an opportunity, whenever they are away from the watchful eyes of their followers, they hurriedly dip their towels in water and sponge their bodies. And then they suffer guilt and self-condemnation.
Recently a gentleman came to me and said, “I have heard that a certain Jaina nun, who often visits you, uses toothpaste. Is it not deplorable?”
I told him, “Have you gone mad? Whether a nun uses toothpaste or not is none of your concern. Do you sell toothpaste? What have you to do with it?”
In reply he said, “The use of the toothbrush is prohibited in our community.”
“Then don’t use it if your community does not permit it,” I told him. This gentleman himself uses a toothbrush and toothpaste with impunity, but a nun of his community cannot. This is the price she has to pay for the respect she receives from the community.
I will ask my sannyasin, who I think is a true sannyasin, not to expect respectability from the society, because this expectation will create bondage for him. There are dishonest people all around and they will immediately entrap you and make you their prisoner. They will say, “Since we respect you, since we touch your feet, you will have to fulfill certain conditions of ours, you will have to obey our laws.”
In fact, a sannyasin is one who says, “I don’t care for your society, for your laws, for your conditions. Now I have started caring for myself, so you need not be concerned about me.”
A sannyasin’s own wisdom sheds light on his path.
Questioner: You said that sannyas is a blissful phenomenon; it is not renunciation. In my view, the first shankaracharya was a sannyasin of bliss, and in that sense he can be taken for your sannyasin. Please explain. Also explain why you lay so much stress on play-acting. And can a businessman, who takes to your sannyas, play-act as a black marketeer? And lastly, why don’t you use the ochre color for your clothes when you prescribe it for your sannyasins?