He thought that it would be better to enter India through Benares, the old city of Kashi, because this is the city which has witnessed the whole glorious past of India. Buddha delivered his first sermon there, Shankara declared his universal victory in scriptural debating there, Jaina tirthankaras were born there. There is no other city older than Kashi in the whole world. Even Jerusalem is new; Mecca and Medina are also new. Kashi is the oldest place of pilgrimage. It is the first city on earth to have become civilized.
So Ramateertha came to Benares and gave his first discourse, but just in the middle of the talk a pundit got up and said, “Stop! Do you know Sanskrit?” Ramateertha couldn’t understand this interruption. He was a carefree man. He didn’t know Sanskrit. He knew Urdu and Persian very well. He had never thought about what the knowledge of Sanskrit had to do with the Vedas, with brahman and with knowledge – the divine can be realized without knowing any language. In spite of being illiterate Kabir knew, the illiterate Mohammed knew; the flowers of that knowing blossomed in the life of the carpenter’s son, Jesus. For this one doesn’t have to be a scholar.
So Ramateertha was quite surprised by the question and he replied, “No, I don’t know Sanskrit.” The pundit started laughing.
The other people got up to leave and said, “When you don’t know Sanskrit, then how can you know the Vedanta? First go and learn Sanskrit, then come to teach others.”
After this Ramateertha went to the Himalayas, and the sad part of the story is that he gave up wearing the sannyasin clothes. When he died he was not in his ochre robes, because he thought: “Why be a part of a tradition whose religion has become stuck in mere words, whose sannyas has become only scholarliness and who thinks that the knowledge of Sanskrit is necessary to know Vedanta?” So when he died he was not in his ochre robes. He had given up sannyas.
Tradition has polluted even sannyas. America could understand him, but India could not. America is ignorant – that is why it could understand. India is very knowledgeable – a bit too knowledgeable. Without knowing, India has the illusion of knowing too much. Its mind has become scholarly, but not wise, it has become so full of words that there is no space left for the wordless, and religion has nothing to do with words. Therefore you should be more attentive to what I do not say than to what I say to you. When I speak, don’t pay too much attention to my words, be attentive to the empty space between the two words. It doesn’t matter if you miss my words, but do not miss what is unspoken. One has to read the brahman between the lines. One has to search the brahman between the words. It happens only in the gaps. When I am quiet for a moment you wake up, you look at me attentively. That is when you give me the chance to come close to you so that I can caress your heart.