I could not understand at that moment why my Nana was so insistent. Perhaps the bullock cart – because there was no road – was making so much noise. Everything was rattling, and he was in agony, so naturally he wanted to stop the wheel. But my grandmother laughed. Now I know why she laughed. He was talking about the Indian obsession with life and death, symbolically called the wheel of life and death – and in short, the wheel – which goes on and on.
In the Western world only Friedrich Nietzsche had the guts and the madness enough to propose the idea of eternal recurrence. He borrowed it from the Eastern obsession. He was very impressed by two books. One was Manu’s Smriti. It is called The Collection of Manu’s Verses; it is the most important Hindu scripture…I hate it! You can understand its importance. I cannot hate anything ordinary. It is extraordinarily ugly. Manu is one of the men that if I see him I will forget all about nonviolence. I will just shoot him! He deserves it.
Manu Sanhita, Manu Smriti…why do I call it the ugliest book in the world? Because it divides men and women; not only men and women, but it divides humanity into four classes, and nobody can cross from one class to another. It creates a hierarchy.
You will be surprised to know that Adolf Hitler always had a copy of Manu’s Sanhita on his desk, just by the side of his bed. He respected that book more than the Bible. Now you can understand why I hate it. I don’t even have a copy of Manu’s Sanhita in my library, although I have been presented with at least a dozen copies, but I always burned them. That was the only way to behave with it. Respectfully, of course, I burned it.
Nietzsche loved two books and borrowed from them immensely. The first was Manu’s Sanhita and the other was the Mahabharata. This book is perhaps the greatest as far as volume is concerned; it is huge! I don’t think that the Bible, the Koran, Dhammapada, Tao Te Ching can even compare with it as far as volume is concerned. You can only understand me if you put it by the side of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Compared to the Mahabharata the Encyclopaedia Britannica is just a small book. It is certainly a great work, but ugly.
Scientists know perfectly well that there have been many very huge animals on the earth in the past, almost mountainous, but very ugly. Mahabharata belongs among those animals. Not that you cannot find anything beautiful in it; it is so big that if you dig deep you can certainly find a mouse here and there in the mountain.
Those two books influenced Nietzsche immensely. Perhaps nothing was more responsible for Friedrich Nietzsche than those two books. One was by Manu, and Mahabharata was written by Vyasa. I must concede that both books have done a tremendous amount of work, dirty work! It would have been better if these two books had not been written at all.