I have seen my own mother distributing milk because there was so much – what to do with it? Every morning at my house there used to be a queue of people to receive milk – people who didn’t have their own cows – and as much as they wanted. This can give you an idea of what it would have been like in Buddha’s time.
Now, India’s population is forty times more than in Buddha’s time. Naturally the land has become poor; people are starving and dying. What to say of not selling milk? – in the famine of Bengal, mothers sold their own children.
Looking at India today you cannot comprehend what this country was in the past: millions of monks, Buddhist, Hindu, Jaina, all lived without doing anything. Only a very rich country could afford them; otherwise who was going to give these millions of people clothes, shelter, food? And they were not productive in any way, they were not doing anything. But they were not thought to be beggars; remember, they were respected, they were almost worshipped.
If they receive food from you – you will be certainly surprised to know – first, if the monk is willing to receive food from you, it is a great blessing – to you. He receives the food from you and eats it and you have to be grateful. The monk will never thank you, you have to thank the monk. This strange tradition was there: first you give the food and your are fortunate if the monk accepts it. Then, because he has accepted it, you give something as a symbol of your gratitude; that is called dakshina. The country must have been immensely rich.
Jaina monks used to go from one house to another, and people were standing in front of their houses welcoming them. But the monks had a certain idea: in their morning meditation they would decide where they were going to accept their food, what kind of a house, what kind of a situation. That was part of their religion, because if existence wants you to live, it will provide the situation. If existence does not want you to live, it will not provide the situation.
Strange situations they would imagine, and they would go around the town. Everybody was begging them…but they would look for their situation. If their situation was fulfilled they would receive food; otherwise they would come back without food. The whole town would feel sad, unfortunate, that a monk had returned without food – “That simply shows that we are unfortunate people. We have missed a blessing that could have happened.”
This luxurious, rich country was not only luxurious and rich in money, in gold, in precious diamonds, stones; it was also rich in music. It created one of the most perfect sciences of music. In five thousand years nothing has been added to it because it reached such perfection that there is no possibility of adding anything to it.