There has been a Christian sect which used shoes with nails inside, going into the feet, so there were wounds in the feet, and the nails were going into the feet, and they would walk on these shoes. And those nails would keep those wounds alive, bleeding. They could not heal; there was no way for them to heal, nothing was being done to heal them. On the contrary, the nails were put in the shoes in such a way that they went on and on creating the wound, so the wound would not be allowed to heal naturally. They used belts also around their waist, with nails going into their bodies…with wounds all around. And these people have been worshipped.
You have been worshipping mad people; these people needed psychiatric treatment. They were not religious; they were simply mental cases, tremendously sick, suicidal. And the person who was their leader was a unique person. He was torturing himself, and he was the leader because he tortured himself more than anybody else; that was the only criterion of who was going to be the leader. And he was teaching others to torture themselves in every possible way.
All around the world poverty has been respected for the simple reason that people had no idea how to get rid of it. And why was it respected? If you are born poor, then nobody will respect you; if you are born a beggar, nobody will respect you. But if you are the son of a king and you renounce the kingdom and become a beggar, then the whole country will respect you.
Do you know that all the twenty-four tirthankaras of the Jainas were kings who had renounced their kingdoms? Why does not a single one come from another profession? For the simple reason, if you are already poor what can you renounce? First you have to have it to renounce. And these kings were respected because they had never walked; they were carried in golden chariots. They had never suffered anything, and now they were standing naked in the hot sun of India, burning.
The Jaina tirthankara was not allowed to take a bath; that was considered to be a luxury. A bath is a luxury! And in India, where you are perspiring the whole day…. And a naked monk perspiring the whole day, and India – a country full of dust – he remained in filth. Only once in a year – and then too, he was not to take the bath – his followers poured water on him…not to give him a bath, because that would be a sin, dragging him into luxury. No, that was not the purpose; the purpose was that they wanted that holy water. You cannot find more unholy water. A man who had not taken a single shower in the whole year – has been naked, perspiring, collecting all kinds of dust, and all kinds of germs – was now being given a bath, and that water was collected. And people, the followers, drank it, because it was the purest water, from a tirthankara!
These people have strange ways. In India, to avoid luxury these people are walking in the nude, eating once a day – and very little food; they are starving. You see their bodies, their faces, their eyes – everything has faded, has lost color and life. And what kind of life are they living? What are they doing? They don’t create anything. They don’t paint, they don’t compose music, they don’t create poetry, they don’t make beautiful sculpture. They do not make anything. They do not discover: they are not scientists. They do not help humanity in any way. They are simply burdens, exploiting the poor and making them even poorer.