Masto said, “This is too much. You hit me, and you hit me so hard that I forget that I have to keep quiet, and not become a football in your hands, and now you are telling Jawaharlal that I am lying.”
I said, “Now he is not lying but telling you how you can forget, because vipassana means ‘not forgetting’.” And I said to Masto, “I am explaining vipassana to Jawaharlal so I hit you hard. Please excuse me, and don’t take it for granted that it was the last.”
Jawaharlal really laughed…he laughed so much that tears came to his eyes. That is always the quality of a real poet, not an ordinary one. You can buy ordinary poets, perhaps in the West they are a little more costly, otherwise a dollar a dozen will do. He was not a poet of that type – a dollar a dozen. He was really one of those few rare souls whom Buddha has called bodhisattvas. I will call him a bodhisattva.
I was, and still am, amazed how he could become the prime minister. But the first prime minister of India was of a totally different quality from any other prime minister who was to follow. He was not chosen by the crowd, he was not, in fact, a chosen candidate. He was Mahatma Gandhi’s choice.
Gandhi, whatsoever his faults, at least did one thing that even I can appreciate. This is the only thing, otherwise I am against Mahatma Gandhi, point by point. But why he had to choose Jawaharlal is another story, perhaps not meant to be part of my circle. What matters to me is that at least he must have been sensitive to a poetic person. He was certainly ascetic; yet with all his nonsense he was still sensible enough to choose Jawaharlal.
That’s how a poet became the prime minister. Otherwise there is no possibility for a poet to become a prime minister – unless a prime minister goes mad, and becomes a poet, but that will not be the same thing.
We talked of poetry. I had thought that he would talk of politics. Even Masto, who had known him for years, was astounded that he was talking about poetry and the meaning of the poetic experience. He looked at me as if I knew the answer.
I said, “Masto, you should know better, you have known Jawaharlal for years. I did not know him at all until just now. We are still only in the process of introducing ourselves. So don’t look with a questioning eye, although I understand your question: ‘What has happened to the politician? Has he gone mad?’ No, I say it to you, and to him also, that he is not a politician – perhaps by accident, but not by his intrinsic nature.”
And Jawaharlal nodded and said, “At least one person in my life has said it exactly, as I was not able to formulate it clearly. It was vague. But now I know what has happened, it is an accident.”
“And,” I added, “a fatal one.” And we all laughed.
“But,” I said, “the accident has been fatal. But your poet is unharmed, and I don’t care about anything else. You can still see the stars as a child does.”