He did not use shoes because shoes were made only of leather in those days, and to use shoes meant you were indirectly supporting the industry of violence, because the best leather comes when you kill young calves. If you want really perfect leather, then you have to take the leather from the calf while it is alive; you don’t kill him first. First you take the leather, and in taking the leather of course he dies. That leather is the most soft and the best. Mahavira was absolutely against in any way supporting anything which is based on violence.
This prince became – and naturally, you can understand it – the prince became impressed by the man, his integrity, his authority, his teaching. He was not aware that life with him is going to be tremendously hard – and he had lived very luxuriously. But in a moment of enthusiasm he took sannyas and entered into Mahavira’s commune.
Now, ten thousand sannyasins used to move with Mahavira, and they were staying in a big caravanserai, and it was the routine that the elder ones – that means those who had been longer in sannyas – should have better places, and the others accordingly. This prince was just a one-day-old sannyasin, so in the night he got a place just near the door, the main door, where people left their shoes, umbrellas and other things. He was the son of a king, and by that door sleeping was impossible; people were continuously coming and going. When there are ten thousand sannyasins…. He had never slept in such a situation, and he immediately thought, “This is not the life I would like. Next morning I will give my apology, and I will say, ‘This is not the life for me.’”
But before he reached Mahavira, Mahavira reached him, and asked him to let himself be taken into jati-smaran – and it was the same process. For three lives he had been doing the same thing: getting impressed by magnetic people, charismatic people, and then finding it difficult over small matters and leaving them. In all those three lives he could have become enlightened, because those three people were capable of triggering the process of enlightenment.
Mahavira said, “You have missed three lives, and you are missing the fourth. You can decide. But you are a warrior, not only a prince. Don’t emphasize that you are a prince and you have lived only in luxury; remember that you are a warrior and you have been fighting in wars. There is nobody in this area who is a better swordsman, a better archer. Don’t insult yourself, don’t humiliate yourself. This is escape.” And the man remained.
But the factor that helped these two men to remain was their reliving their past experiences. It is of tremendous use, but in the West it is so much condemned that the condemnation has reached to the East too – because now the East is just a parrot. Now the East is not the East it used to be; it is just a shadow of the West. All the Eastern scholars are produced by the West. They learn in Western seats of education – in Paris, in London, in Oxford, in Cambridge, in Harvard.