Thank God we had reached our destination by then, because I could not argue any more after this strange clipping which sounded like something from Ripley's Believe It or Not.
I then continued saying that it was a change from a convent school to a Hindu school, from "Jesus to Ganesha." He exclaimed, "What a fall!" He was not very happy about Mittu's new school timings which cut down her visits to him. So he said, "Drop school for a week." Of course, I turned a deaf ear to this advice.
Prashant was counting hours, minutes, and seconds for U.G.'s arrival in Bangalore, and the very next day we were all happily making our way to Poornakutee.
Prashant entertained himself with "Barnaby Jones," and "Three is Company," and I saw a tired-looking U.G. sitting amongst unpacked bags, the whole carpet littered with pen refills, shaving kits, tooth brushes, torches, photographs, and what not.
After he played Santa Claus for some time, the children (Chandrasekhar's two daughters, and Mittu and Prashant) helped U.G. to clear up the mess and tidied his bed so that he could catch up with his sleep.
The after-effects of the jet-lag and the usual effects of a full moon presented us with a dull U.G. who kept on repeating, "I am sinking."
The next morning Prashant was eager to catch the early bus to Poornakutee, so that he could spend the day with U.G. I could not accompany him, however much I would have loved to. I had to attend to Mittu who was attending her new school.
By the evening I rang up U.G. to ask Prashant to take an auto home and skip the tedious bus ride. U.G. immediately replied, "I have a very rich and prosperous guest who has parked his brand new car here and is generously offering to give your son a lift to Malleswaram." I was just wondering who this honored visitor could be, and U.G. continued, "But he is such a careless driver I told your son not to risk his life." I immediately said, "U.G., my son is very precious to me." U.G. replied, "I know, so I have told him to go on his own." It is only after Prashant returned home that he told me how U.G. had one of his jokes at the expense of poor Brahmachariji who had come to visit U.G. on a bicycle, and had offered a double ride on his back seat to my bewildered son.
Even now I don't know how far to trust U.G. and his sense of humour; for all I know poor Brahmachariji could have brought his moped. Trust U.G. to call it a bicycle!
U.G. was temporarily staying at Brunton Road, and though it was a lovely place with a sprawling garden, Prashant used to curl up his nose in distaste every time I mentioned a day with U.G. So much so that my kids were soon branded as "willing victims."
I advised Prashant to bring his badminton rackets and play on the lawns with Mittu if he was bored with me, U.G., and Philosophy; and Prashant packed in his racket, a pack of cards and comic books.
When we arrived at Brunton Road U.G. again remarked that "the heartless one had once again dragged the willing victims to spend another boring day."
Much to my surprise, U.G. offered to play badminton with Prashant and pranced about like a teenager himself. To top it all he then settled down for a game of cards and very soon a poker-faced U.G. was trying his skill at the game of "Bluff" and won.
So the day ended with Prashant completely bowled over and victorious with his new friendship with U.G.
Well, then, it soon became a habit. Prashant would carry his game of chess and the like, and squirmed as U.G. seriously played game after game, while people waited to discuss the "purpose of life" with the renowned sage.
Those playful days are over. Now Prashant rejoices whenever U.G.'s name is mentioned. All he can think of is watching Michael Jackson on the video and discussing the latest TV programs with the ever-willing U.G. I am quite happy with the way things go because Mittu too never tires of sitting at the feet of her Master and refuses to bat one eyelid when U.G. speaks for hours. So now neither of them are any longer referred to as "willing victims," and have become a part of the regular regulars.
Now she told me that there were a lot of questions which she would love to ask, and I thought she deserved an interview with the ever-available sage, U.G.
So I took Vatsala with me one day, and U.G. started with his usual line, "Why do you bring your friends? What has not helped you is not going to help anyone else." Anyway, we were not so easily discouraged.
Vatsala asked him how to prevent thought or emotion from distorting her actions. U.G. very quickly came out with the simple answer, "Thought itself is action." Then she said that she repeated Ram-Nam to overcome her impulsive actions, and U.G. said, "A mantra is also a thought. You can repeat your own name or even your friend's name instead of Ram-Nam." That sounded ridiculous at first, but sadly true.
U.G. had once remarked to me that people owned dogs to enjoy a sense of power or possessiveness, since they could not enjoy human relationships. They chose to enjoy a sense of authority by keeping a pet dog.
During his last visit to his son, Mark, in the U.S., it seems that their pet dog tried to jump on U.G.'s lap, and after being pushed away many times the dog finally got the message.
One day I happened to tell U.G. how eagerly my friends asked me, "What did U.G. say today?" He immediately shot out, "What does U.G. say? Tell me!" I was frightened to even attempt to answer, so I put the ball in his court by asking him, "O.K., you tell me what I should answer them." He said, "Tell them that there is nothing to understand." As I repeated that to myself just to register it in my memory, he then asked me whether I had understood that "there was really nothing to understand." I answered with a feeble "Yes." And he said, "If it were so, you wouldn't be here." I am so used to being told that if he had really helped me in any way I would not have seen his face again that I have stopped trying to convince U.G. that he has helped me in some way.
Those were the days when I felt really hurt when he told me never to come back, but I kept going back because I loved to listen to him, and I could sit for hours when he spoke, just listening to him. U.G. would say, "I am ready to be enlightened by you. The physiological aspect is of no importance at all. The way I express myself is still related to the question of enlightenment. When you say that there is no such thing as enlightenment, what does it matter if you present it as physiological, psychological or any other enlightenment. It is of no importance at all. But still it is just a state of functioning. The stigma of the guru is there. All the people who come to see me ask me about enlightenment--so all these answers come out of me. That is the reason why I don't want to see people who are interested in enlightenment. Period, full stop, full period."
Anyway, then he seriously settled down to answer my friend's question on silence, "What is this silence you are talking about? The silence operates there in the city market. When I am talking, it is the expression of the silence. You think there is no silence, when I am talking? You think there is silence when you close your eyes, sit in one corner and try to stop the flow of thoughts? You are just choked--that is not silence. Go to the forest--that roar is the silence. Go to a sea--that is silence. Go right into the center of the desert--that is silence. A volcano erupting--that is silence. Not the silent mind trying to experience "silence." Silence is energy bursting.
All this certainly silenced my friend's further questioning. When we left we did not speak a word to each other till we reached home. We were both in a daze.
Suguna asked me if I had thought of a name for my book. I said that I was so busy waiting and collecting material I had no time even to think of one. Talking of books, notes, and diaries, Nagaraj suddenly asked U.G. why J. Krishnamurti described the natural surroundings and its beauties in his Commentaries before he reported his conversations.
U.G. replied that it was a trick to capture the interest of the readers. He also said that when Krishnamurti himself spoke he always gave very commonplace examples like the red bag, a door knob, and the barking of dogs. Such examples in a book would not attract the attention of people much, and the book would collect dust on the shelves.
U.G. continued to say, "In the bygone days, during my lectures I often used the phrase, `Don't curse the darkness, light a candle.' But now I don't use that phrase anymore because I don't see any darkness." We did have to light the candles anyhow, till the power came back, until which time U.G. kept us quite entertained.
I remember how U.G. walked with the kids and me in the hot sun of the merciless summer, all the way to the post office, just to see my money safely invested.
When we returned, I made some coffee for the tired U.G. who promised to "pray for my long life and prosperity," much to my surprise. Seeing that he was in a good mood I cajoled him into giving me a much-coveted photo of his which he had refused me before, because he said he looked very saintly in it, and he detested that religious look about him.
The whole episode of the declaration of the immense savings to my husband was uneventful except for the pleasant surprise. I agreed with U.G. when he said, "Your husband must be some God or saint. Save some more money and build a temple for him, and I will be the head priest." My fertile imagination vividly pictured a U.G. in the garb of an Indian priest, and I was tempted to pass the hat around for the collection of funds for such a temple.
All this we listened to in utter silence. Brahmachariji made no attempt to either justify or defend himself. Soon it was lunch time and everyone seemed most interested in the menu prepared for lunch.
Strangely I felt quite sorry for him. I asked him if he felt more at home in the foreign lands, and he replied that he did not feel at home anywhere in the world. But there was a time, he said, when he had felt at home everywhere in the world. I let him continue with his catnap and got busy with my notes.
I replied honestly, "He is talking to me, this moment." He replied, "So now there is a little humility." (I was never aware that I was proud; proud about what?) The Swamiji said further, "Your thoughts were oriented toward a certain man called U.G. Are you still enamored of his teachings?" I heartily assented. The next question was, "And where have they left you?" I spontaneously answered, "Nowhere!"
And when I related all this to U.G., he agreed that "Nowhere" was the right answer and a fact!
Anyway, this highly sensitive man looked at U.G.'s silk kurta and protested saying that he could feel the silk worms crawling whenever he saw silk, and how could U.G., if he was a God man as others declared him to be, ever wear silk? U.G. with his usual sense of humor said that silk was his favorite fabric. Not only so, but he would not hesitate to wear shoes made from human hide, his favorite dish being soup made from new born babies' tongues!
That was really too much. A few more visits to U.G. and they cancelled their plans of settling down in India, and went happily back to their homeland.
U.G.'s favourite line is, "There is no freedom in America, no Communism in Russia, and no spirituality in India."
Yet when I went home and related to Shobha, my sister, all that U.G. spoke about, she was curious to see him once. I was a little nervous because if U.G. started his usual fun about God men, it would hurt the feelings of my poor sister. But U.G. strangely seemed on his best behavior and sat like a well-behaved schoolboy, so sweet and innocent-looking that my sister was taken in by the oozing charm. She was soon asking for his photograph exactly like the one that he had sent me from California. U.G. asked me to hand over my copy to my sister and said that if I could not part with a single photo how could I ever speak of detachment. Whatever the argument, I clung on to my copy which was my prized possession. Anyway, my sister was least inclined to deprive me of it. So, we returned home. The very next morning, as soon as I entered U.G.'s room, he gave me an exact duplicate of the photo saying, "Here, this is for your sister."
When I met Shobha and gave her the photo, she told me that she had prayed and cried to Baba the whole night, saying that if there was anything to her devotion, she should get a photo exactly like mine the next day. Now she is convinced that her Baba and U.G. are in the same "State," which U.G. denies, because, as he put it, that Baba is in "Telugu Desam" and he himself is in the Karnataka State.
At least one member of the family agreed to see something in this enigma called U.G. I had taken my parents once to meet him in Bombay. My mother comes from a thoroughly religious and orthodox background. She is more used to orange robes, incense sticks, and silence in saints' rooms. I felt very responsible for her discomfort when she heard the discussion on investments, rise and fall of the dollar, hilarious jokes and laughter, and to add to it Mahesh Bhatt was rolling at U.G.'s feet on the ground. I did not even attempt to tell my mother that there was a lot beyond and behind this frivolous scene, but it seemed as if it was my father, with his usual broad-mindedness and tolerance, who enjoyed his first visit to U.G.
I can imagine my mother's surprise as we walked in silently to meet the great sage in his Bombay flat. What do you think U.G. said as soon as he saw me? "Ah, there you are, there is some batter in the fridge. We are all waiting for you to make idlis and dosas for us."
I have yet another sister, Sheela, who is very intelligent, sweet, but supremely sensitive. All my excited talk about U.G. roused her curiosity too, and there was another day of nervousness when I took her to U.G., as if I took with me some fragile china. I rang up U.G. telling him that I was bringing along my favorite and nicest sister and that he better be on his most pleasant behavior.
U.G. was his sweet self, but the sudden appearance of a Mr. Shekawat changed the whole course of the hitherto smooth small talk. U.G. was soon talking about drugs, teenage sex, burning of rupee notes, and forgery, with a few four-letter words thrown in. My poor sister squirmed and said that it was getting really late, and I soon found myself on the way to the heaven of my home.
Anyway, the unfailing charm of the unassuming U.G. had not failed to rub off, and even Sheela soon found herself dialing his number just to say hello to U.G., at least over the phone. Now I am the only one in the family who has still stuck around.
U.G. seemed to have more confidence in my potential than I ever dared to have in myself. My protests were of no avail. After returning home, and a few moments of fervent prayer, I lifted my pen and just let it run across the pages. Within an hour a few pages were written. I sent the whole handiwork to U.G. with my son Prashant. U.G. seemed quite pleased with it. He said that he had no words to express what he was feeling, and that he had least expected such a wonderful piece of literature from such a messy housewife!
Anyway, untrained as I was, I enjoyed the week's teaching job thoroughly, but very suddenly, maybe due to the breathing in of that chalk dust while writing on the blackboard, I came down with a sore throat and a bad cold. The whole prospect of trekking to school and facing an army of naughty brats did not seem to be very inviting. So I rang up U.G. and said, "U.G., I am down with a sore throat, as you can hear, but, for all the trouble I take, they may not even pay me much. So, shall I drop the idea?"
There was a vehement, "No" from him. He said, "Even if they pay you two rupees you have to go; the experience will do you good." So I trudged along and completed the fifteen-day contract with the school. All this not only reduced my visits to U.G., but also cut down on the leisure which I spent writing down the notes for my book. U.G. consoled me saying, "You must teach permanently, even at the cost of your book," which did not appeal to me in the least.
Shyama and myself were really surprised to find how easily U.G. linked religion with politics, and we heard him as he proceeded, "What are these people doing here? Your legislators--you elect them and seat them there. They tell you how many acres of land you should have, what is the ceiling, what kind of marriage you should have, whom you should sleep with, whom you should not sleep with--what right have they? On what basis do they condemn corruption? On what basis do they condemn selfishness?"
U.G. went on, "Their teachings were at fault, not the following. They fooled themselves, all of them. They thought that their teaching was the teaching and all the others were phonies. I am not saying that I am superior to all of them. Not at all. They are false, period, full stop, full period. I am not saying I have a teaching to save mankind."
Kalyani came from a very good family, but due to some sad circumstances, she left her teaching job, was totally deserted by her family, and shockingly took to begging in the streets. This was the condition she was in when U.G. first came across her. U.G. intervened and arranged for Chandrasekhar's landlord to give Kalyani a small room and also gave her some cash to prevent her from begging in the streets. Much to U.G.'s distaste, Kalyani would come to his flat and start sweeping and swabbing the floors, making them more messy than clean, and I once viewed an angry U.G. almost throwing Kalyani out, broom, bucket, and all.
Anyway, she was finally banned from coming, or at least sweeping, and nowadays, if she comes at all on the scene, we have a musical interlude. U.G. makes her sing before she receives any money from him.
It seems that she had made quite a few thousands of rupees from the foreign friends who visited U.G. So U.G. calls her the "rich beggar." She would sometimes put rupee notes into some mail box and love to see the surprise on the postman's face when he collected his daily mail.
U.G. had noticed that I was having this pain, and asked me if I was having any treatment for it. He suddenly brought out the album of his recent visit, and as I was looking at the photos Kalyani came in. I still remember the scene: both U.G. and I were comfortably sitting on the carpet with the photos sprawled all over, and Kalyani suddenly came in and touched me at some point below my neck near the right shoulder. I wouldn't have believed it if it had happened to someone else. But the pain suddenly vanished and never came back thereafter. When I told this to Kalyani the next day, she said that U.G. was responsible for the miracle and that she was just a surrogate. I did not analyze the miracle worker for long; it was enough for me that the dogged pain had left me for good.
I remember I gave Kalyani a hundred rupee note which made her dance with joy, and left me grateful to her for the rest of my days.
Then late in the morning there were two new visitors, a young couple, both scientists in the Indian Institute of Science. And they had a lot to talk about, which kept U.G. blasting off almost till lunch time.
The girl was very young and vociferous. She asked about the sense of individuality, and U.G. replied that there was nothing marvelous about it. "Even the so-called enlightenment made you put on orange robes and gave you a sense of superiority by being something different from others. It's nothing but the holy business."
Then the young man questioned, "Do you think animals have a sense of individuality?" U.G. frankly said, "Neither of us know. Leave the animals alone. Why do you have to bring in the poor animals in your conversation? Talk about yourselves. Why don't you talk about the elephants who make it once in eight years. Look at the lady spiders who eat up their mates immediately after the sex act. Animals don't think of Sattvic diet. They just eat some grass. The sex there is not born of thought. If thought is not there, you would not hesitate to sleep with your mother, sister or daughter. If the idea is not there sex is not possible any more. The build up is no more there. Sex for the human being is more of a build up in his imagination. The body begs for release from the tension. And we turn this release, the orgasm, into the ultimate pleasure for man."
I was taking down notes, but when U.G. said all this my pen paused, and I wondered how all this talk affected the poor honeymooning couple. But they persisted in their arguments.
The girl then asked, "How can you be so certain of everything you say? Why can't we function like you?" U.G. replied, "I am not selling my certainty."
Radhakrishna entered and U.G. immediately got up and gave him his chair. He plunked on the carpet without making a great show of his concern for Radhakrishna's stiff joints. In the meantime the students who were bombarding him with questions for more than an hour left without even a goodbye. But U.G., who was totally absorbed in discussing some political issues with Radhakrishnan, did not notice the fact that his talkative guests had left.