I said, “You may not, but I have to remember you. Where is the watch, the gold watch studded with diamonds? I am the child with whom you gambled. Now the time has come for me to ask. I had declared that you would become a bhikku, and now you are. Give me the watch.”
He laughed, and brought out from his pocket the beautiful old watch, gave it to me with tears in his eyes, and – can you believe – he touched my feet.
I said, “No, no. You are a bhikku, a sannyasin, you cannot touch my feet.”
He said, “Forget all about it. You proved to be a greater astrologer than I; let me touch your feet.”
I gave that watch to the first of my sannyasins. The name of my first sannyasin is Ma Anand Madhu – a woman of course, because that’s what I wanted. Nobody has initiated women into sannyas like me. Not only that, I wanted to initiate a woman as my first sannyasin, just to put things in balance and in order.
Buddha hesitated before giving sannyas to women…even Buddha! Only that thing in his life hurts me like a thorn, and nothing else. Buddha hesitating…why? He was afraid that women sannyasins would distract his followers. What nonsense! A buddha and afraid of business! Let those fools be distracted if they want to be!
Mahavira said that nobody in a woman’s body could attain to nirvana, the ultimate liberation. I have to repent for all these men. Mohammed never allowed any woman into the mosque. Even now women are not allowed into the mosque; even in the synagogue women sit in the gallery, not with the men.
Indira Gandhi was telling me that when she visited Israel and went to Jerusalem, she could not believe that the prime minister of Israel and herself were both sitting in the balcony, and all the men were sitting downstairs on the main floor. She did not realize that even the prime minister of Israel, being a woman, could not be allowed into the synagogue proper; they could only be observers from the balcony. It is not respectful, it is an insult.
I have to apologize for Mohammed, for Moses, for Mahavira, for Buddha, and for Jesus too, because he didn’t choose a single woman as one of his twelve apostles. Yet when he died on the cross the twelve fools were not there at all. Only three women stayed – Magdalena, Mary, and Magdalena’s sister – but even these three women had not been chosen by Jesus; they were not among the chosen few. The chosen few had escaped. Great! They were trying to save their own lives. In the hour when there was danger, only women came.
I have to apologize to the future for all these people; and my first apology was to give sannyas to a woman. You will be amused to know the full story….