There was one famous Jaina sadhu. After leaving his wife in his town, he stayed for twenty years in Varanasi. He received news about his wife’s death through a telegram. On reading the telegram he exclaimed, “Good, the botheration is over!” In his biography it is written that he was such a great ascetic that even on the death of his wife he did not express any unhappiness. He only said, “Good, the botheration is over!”
Somebody had come to give me his biography. I told that man, “It is a matter of great astonishment to me that when he had given up his wife twenty years ago, where was the question of any botheration? There must have been no botheration whatsoever: he had left her twenty years before. What botheration can be there from a wife that was abandoned?” On her death, if that ascetic thought that his wife was a botheration, that must be due to his awaiting her death all these twenty years. This man is violent, which means he could even have killed her. In fact, it was an attempt to kill her when he ran away leaving her dying, and now after twenty years he talks about “botheration.” That man was of a very violent nature, because even at her moment of death he had no feeling of compassion, pain, or sensation of unhappiness. What he said was full of violence, and during these twenty years he had been practicing nothing but violence.
What else can a poor violent person do in trying to be nonviolent? He can only make use of violence. He will be violent towards others and towards himself also. It becomes problematic when we become violent to others: we know and others also know that we are violent, but when we become violent to ourselves we do not understand that we are violent. If a man goes on a long fast we do not think he is doing any violence. But when I catch hold of a person, lock him up in a room, do not give him any food, and keep him starving for a number of days, the whole town will come to know that I am a very violent person, starving a locked-up man for such a long time. But if I lock myself in a room and do not take any food for twenty days I will be considered a great ascetic person. In both the situations I am doing the same thing. The only difference is that in one case I am being violent to another person and in the other case I am being violent to myself. The illusion arises because the doer in one case, and the person on whom something is done in the other case, are not two different persons.
Another thing I would like to tell you is that whatsoever a violent person may do to become nonviolent, can only be violent. He cannot become nonviolent that way. Therefore, I say that the question is not of nonviolence being a supreme religion, but of who you are and what you are doing. Let this be understood properly. If I am doing violence, let it go deep within me that I am violent, and let that violent nature of mine become clearer and go deeper in my awareness, and let me realize that I am violent from morning till evening; let me realize that when I am walking on the road there is violence in my walk also. Violence is not such that it happens only when one stabs somebody’s chest.