Just the other night I was talking about a follower of Mahatma Gandhi; his name was Professor Bhansali. He took a vow of silence. Now, the real silence never arises out of vows. The very phenomenon of the vow indicates that the silence is imposed, false, pseudo, violent; otherwise, there is no need to take a vow. If you have understood the beauty of silence, you will be simply silent! Why take a vow? Why decide for tomorrow? Why say that “From now onwards I will remain silent and I will not speak a single word”? Against whom are you taking the vow?
If you have known the beauty of silence, if you have experienced the joy of it, if you have melted in it, if you have flowed into it – what is the point? You never take a vow that “I will love my whole life – I take the vow.” You don’t take the vow that “I will eat my whole life.” You don’t take the vow that “I will go on breathing till I die.” This will look foolish! You enjoy love – there is no need to take the vow. People take vows for celibacy, not for love – why? Because celibacy is unnatural, imposed. When celibacy is also natural, spontaneous, no vow is taken.
Now this man, Professor Bhansali – I knew the man – took a vow of silence, went to the Himalayas. For two years, three years, he remained in silence. It was a hard struggle; it was a continuous fight with himself – it was repression, great repression. He must have become split: the one who is trying to impose the vow and the one, the natural one, who wants to have a little chit-chat with people, or to talk, or to relate, communicate.
One night he was sleeping and somebody in the darkness walked over him. He was fast asleep. In sleep you cannot remember your vow. He shouted, “Who are you? Are you blind or something? Can’t you see I am sleeping here?” Then he remembered that he had broken his vow. Naturally, he felt very guilty; great guilt arose in him. He had taken the vow and he had broken it! And he was really a masochist – otherwise, why should one take the vow of being silent?
Talking, communicating to people is such a joy! Why should one become enclosed into one’s being? This is morbid. But now he was guilty – to punish himself he started eating cow-dung! But that was not enough. To punish himself, he sewed up his lips with a copper wire. Even that was not enough – insanity knows no limitations. He jumped into a cactus bush and rolled naked, thousands of thorns in his body, and he would not allow the thorns to be removed by anybody. There were wounds and wounds all over the body.
But he became very famous – he became a mahatma. People started coming towards him, worshipping him. Now, what will you call this man? Will you call him a mahatma? If you have any senses left in you, you will call him pathological. He needs psychiatric treatment, maybe electric shocks; he needs psychoanalysis. But he was a famous disciple of Mahatma Gandhi – just next to Mahatma Gandhi.
This has been happening down through the ages. There have been Christian saints who have been beating themselves every morning, wounding their bodies; and people would come to worship them and to see who was wounding himself more. And the person who was wounding himself more than others, of course, was a greater saint.