Every child understands that he sees the world in a different way than his parents. As far as seeing is concerned, it is absolutely certain. His values are different. He may collect sea shells on the beach and the parents will say, “Throw them away. Why are you wasting your time?” And for him they were so beautiful. He can see the difference; he can see that their values are different. The parents are running after money – he wants to collect butterflies. He can’t see why you are so interested in money; what you are going to do with it? His parents cannot see what he is going to do with these butterflies, or these flowers.
Every child comes to know this, that there are differences. The only question is: he is afraid to assert that he is right. As far as he is concerned, he should be left alone. It is a question of just a little courage, which is also not missing in children. But the whole society is managed in such a way that even a beautiful quality like courage in a child will be condemned.
I was not willing to bow down in the temple to a stone statue. And I said to my parents, “If you want, you can force me. You have more physical force than me. I am small; you can force me, but remember you are doing an ugly act. It will not be my prayer, and it will destroy even your prayer, because you are doing violence to a little child who cannot resist physically.”
One day while they were inside praying in the temple, I climbed on the top of the temple, which was dangerous. Only once a year a painter used to climb it, but I had seen the painter and how he had managed. He had put nails at the backside as steps. I followed him and I was sitting on the top of the temple. When they came out they saw me sitting there and they said, “What are you doing there? In the first place, do you want to commit suicide?”
I said, “No, I simply want to make you alert that if you force me, I can do anything that is within my power. This is the answer, for you to remember that you cannot force me to do anything.”
They begged me, “Be quiet. We will arrange for somebody to bring you down.”
I said, “Don’t be worried. If I can come up, I can come down.” They had no idea about those nails. I had been particularly watching the painter, how he manages, because everybody wondered – that this painter was really great. He was painting all the temples.
I came down. They said, “We will never force you about anything, but don’t do such a thing! You could have killed yourself.”
I said, “The responsibility would have been on you.”
It is not a question that intelligence is not in the children. It is. They just don’t use their assertiveness because it is condemned by everybody. Now, everybody condemned my family because I had gone up on top of the temple – that means beyond their god. That was insulting to their god.
And I said, “If a painter can go…. And do you know the painter is a Mohammedan? I am at least not a Mohammedan yet.”
My father said, “What do you mean, that you are not a Mohammedan yet?”
I said, “Exactly what I have said. If you torture me too much I can become a Mohammedan.”
I had even asked the malvi of the mosque nearby, “Are you willing to initiate me into Mohammedanism?”