Gautam Buddha may have known, but to repeat his words does not mean that you are also a knower. Those words can be repeated by a parrot, too. But the parrot cannot become a buddha.
I would go with my grandfather to the temples, and I would see people worshipping dead, stone statues – what kind of humanity have we created – just because somebody has said that “This statue is the statue of God.”
Nobody has seen God. No photographer has even taken a single photograph. How have these sculptors managed to make these statues? Just pure imagination.
Gautam Buddha died twenty-five centuries ago, and his first statue was made after his death, five hundred years later. There was not even an eye-witness alive. And you will be surprised to know that it was at the time when Alexander the Great came to India, and all Gautam Buddha’s statues have the face of Alexander the Great!
Alexander was a beautiful man, young and powerful. He attracted the painters, the sculptors, and he became the prototype for Gautam Buddha, for Mahavira, for the twenty-four tirthankaras of the Jainas. None of them have the Indian face; the face is Greek.
But my grandfather would say, “Don’t talk such things. If somebody hears, they will think that I have brought you basically to create trouble.”
I said, “You are wrong. You have not brought me, you have come with me. I was coming myself. From where have you got the idea that you have brought me? And unless somebody proves to me that these statues are of Buddha, or Mahavira, why should I be expected to worship them? In fact, they should be removed! They are statues of Alexander the Great, one of the maddest men the world has known – who had the ambition to conquer the whole world.”
“And these people – Buddha and Mahavira and others – were against ambition, against desire. They renounced their kingdoms, and what a strange fate: instead of their own statues, statues of Alexander are being worshipped in all the temples of India.”
But naturally parents are powerful, more knowledgeable, and children are helpless, innocent. You can go on stuffing into their heads any nonsense. And by the time they mature, that nonsense will have become so deep-rooted that they will be ready to fight for it, they will be ready to kill for it or be killed for it.
What are religious wars? People are fighting about such fictions – “God.” None of them has known God, neither the Christians nor the Mohammedans, but they are fighting that their god is right and your god is wrong.
Simplified, they are saying, “We are right. You are wrong.” And that would be far more clear, that it is a fight of egos, it is not a religious war. It is not a crusade. Everybody wants to prove his ego to be right, and that can be proved only if he proves that everybody else’s ego is wrong. Then he attains to a superiority, he becomes higher, holier.