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Glimpses of a Golden Childhood 

Chapter-2 


First, one has to choose one's birth; that's almost impossible. Unless you have died in a state of meditation you cannot choose your birth; that choice only opens for the meditator. He dies consciously, hence earns the right to be born consciously.
I died consciously; not in fact died, but was killed. I would have died three days later but they could not wait, not even for three days. People are in such a hurry. You will be surprised to know that the man who killed me is now my sannyasin. He came to kill me again, not to take sannyas... but if he sticks to his game, then I stick to mine. He himself confessed later, after seven years of being a sannyasin. He said, "Bhagwan, now I can confess to you without fear: in Ahmedabad I had come to kill you."

I said, "My God, again!"
He said, "What do you mean by `again'?"
I said, "That's another matter, go on...."
He said, "In Ahmedabad, seven years ago, I came to your meeting with a revolver. The hall was so full that the organizers had allowed people to sit on the dais."
So this man, with a revolver to kill me, was allowed to sit at my side. What a chance! I said, "Why did you miss your chance?"
He said, "I had never heard you before, I had only heard about you. When I heard you, I thought I would rather commit suicide than kill you. That's why I became a sannyasin -- that's my suicide."

Seven hundred years ago this man had really killed me; he poisoned me. Then too he was my disciple... but without a Judas, it is very difficult to find a Jesus. I died consciously. Hence I had the great opportunity to be born consciously. I chose my mother and my father.

Thousands of fools are making love around the earth, around the clock. Millions of unborn souls are ready to enter into any womb, whatsoever. I waited seven hundred years for the right moment, and I thank existence that I found it. Seven hundred years are nothing compared to the millions and millions of years ahead. Only seven hundred years -- yes, I am saying only -- and I chose a very poor couple but a very intimate one.

I don't think my father ever looked at another woman with the same love he had for my mother. It is also impossible to imagine -- even for me, who can imagine all kinds of things -- that my mother, even in her dreams, had another man... impossible! I have known both of them; they were so close, so intimate, so fulfilled although so poor... poor yet rich. They were rich in their poverty because of their intimacy, rich because of their love for each other.
Fortunately, I never saw my mother and father fighting. I say "fortunately" because it is very difficult to find a husband and wife not fighting. When they have time for love only God knows, or maybe He doesn't know either; after all, He has to take care of His own wife... particularly the Hindu God. At least the Christian God is in a happier state of affairs: He has no wife at all, no woman at all, what to say of a wife? Because a woman is more dangerous than a wife. A wife, you can tolerate, but a woman... you are a fool again! You cannot tolerate a woman, she "attracts" you; a wife "distracts" you.

Look at my English! Put it in inverted commas so nobody misunderstands me -- although whatsoever you do everyone is going to misunderstand me. But try, put it in inverted commas: the wife "distracts," the woman "attracts."

I have never seen my father and mother fight, not even nagging. People talk about miracles; I have seen a miracle: my mother did not nag my father. It is a miracle, because for centuries woman has been bossed so much by man that she has learned underhand practices -- she nags. Nagging is violence in disguise, masked violence. I never saw my mother and father in any fighting situation.

I was worried about my mother when my father died. I could not believe that she would be able to survive. They had loved each other so much, they had almost become one. She survived only because she also loves me.

I have been continuously worried about her. I wanted her to be near me, just so that she can die in utter fulfillment. Now I know. I have seen her, I have seen into her, and I can say to you -- and through you it will one day reach the world -- she has become enlightened. I was her last attachment. Now there is nothing left for her to be attached to. She is an enlightened woman -- uneducated, simple, not even knowing what enlightenment is. That's the beauty! One can be enlightened without knowing what enlightenment is, and vice versa: one can know everything about enlightenment and remain unenlightened.

I chose this couple, just simple villagers. I could have chosen kings and queens. It was in my hands. All kinds of wombs were available, but I am a man of very simple tastes: I am always satisfied with the best. The couple was poor, very poor. You will not be able to understand that my father had only seven hundred rupees; that means seventy dollars. That was all he possessed, yet I chose him to be my father. He had a richness which eyes cannot see, a royalty which is invisible.

Many of you have seen him and must have felt the beauty of the man. He was simple, very simple, you could even call him just a villager, but immeasurably rich -- not in the worldly way, but if there is an other-worldly way....

Seventy dollars, that was his sole possession. I would not have known it. I came to know only later on when his business was going bankrupt... and he was very happy! I asked him, "Dadda..." I used to call him that; "dadda" means father..."Dadda, soon you are going to be bankrupt, and still you are happy. What is the matter? Are the rumors false?"

He said, "No, the rumors are absolutely true. Bankruptcy is bound to happen, but I am happy because I have saved seven hundred rupees. That's what I started with; and I will show you the place."

Then he showed me the place where he had hidden the seven hundred rupees and said, "Don't be worried. I started with only seven hundred; nothing else belongs to us -- let it go to hell. What belongs to us is hidden here, in this place, and I have shown it to you. You are my eldest son, remember this place."

This I know... I have not said anything to anybody about that place, and I am not going to either, because although he was generous in showing me his secret, I am neither his son, nor is he my father. He is himself, I am myself. "Father and son" is just a formality. Those seven hundred rupees are still hidden somewhere under the earth, and will remain there unless found accidentally by someone. I told him, "Although you have shown me the place, I have not seen it."
He said, "What do you mean?"
I said, "It is simple. I don't see it, and I don't want to see it. I don't belong to any heritage, big or small, rich or poor."
But from his side he was a loving father. As far as my side is concerned, I am not a loving son -- excuse me.
He was a loving father; when I left my university post, only he was worried, nobody else. None of my friends were worried. Who cares? -- in fact, many of my friends were happy that I had vacated the chair; now they could have it. They rushed. Only my father was worried. I told him, "There is no need to worry."

But my saying it was not of much help. He purchased a big property without telling me, because he knew perfectly well that if he had told me, I would have hit his head. He made a beautiful little house for me, exactly as I would have liked it to be. You will be surprised: it was even air-conditioned, with all modern facilities.

It was near my village, with a garden on the bank of the river, with steps leading down so that I could go swimming... with ancient, old trees and absolute silence surrounding, no one else for miles. But he never told me.

It is good that my poor father is dead, otherwise I would have given him trouble. But he had so much love, and so much compassion for a vagabond son.

I am a vagabond. I have never done anything for the family. They are not obliged to me at all. They have done everything for me. I had chosen this couple not without good reason... for their love, their intimacy, their almost one-ness. That is how, after seven hundred years, I entered into the body again.

My childhood was golden. Again, I am not using a cliche. Everybody says his childhood was golden, but it is not so. People only think their childhood was golden because their youth is rotten; then their old age is even more rotten. Naturally, childhood becomes "golden." My childhood was not golden in that sense. My youth was diamond, and if I am going to be an old man then it is going to be platinum. But my childhood was certainly golden -- not a symbol, absolutely golden; not poetically, but literally, factually.

For most of my very early years I lived with my mother's parents. Those years are unforgettable. Even if I reach to Dante's paradise I will still remember those years. A small village, poor people, but my grandfather -- I mean my mother's father -- was a generous man. He was poor, but rich in his generosity. He gave to each and everyone whatsoever he had. I learned the art of giving from him; I have to accept it. I never saw him say no to any beggar or anybody.
I called my mother's father Nana; that's the way the mother's father is called in India. My mother's mother is called Nani. I used to ask my grandfather, "Nana, where did you get such a beautiful wife?"

My grandmother looked more Greek than Indian. When I see Mukta laughing, I remember her. Perhaps that's why I have a soft spot in my heart for Mukta. I cannot say no to her. Even though what she demands is not right, I still say "Okay." The moment I see her I immediately remember my Nani. Perhaps there was some Greek blood in her; no race can claim purity. The Indians particularly should not claim any purity of blood -- the Hunas, the Moguls, the Greeks and many others have attacked, conquered and ruled India. They have mixed themselves in the Indian blood, and it was so apparent with my grandmother. Her features were not Indian, she looked Greek, and she was a strong woman, very strong. My Nana died when he was not more than fifty. My grandmother lived till eighty and she was fully healthy. Even then nobody thought she was going to die. I promised her one thing, that when she died I would come, and that would be my last visit to the family. She died in 1970. I had to fulfill my promise.

For my first years I knew my Nani as my mother; those are the years when one grows. This circle is for my Nani. My own mother came after that; I was already grown up, already made in a certain style, and my grandmother helped me immensely. My grandfather loved me, but could not help me much. He was so loving, but to be of help more is needed -- a certain kind of strength. He was always afraid of my grandmother. He was, in a sense, a henpecked husband. When it comes to the truth, I am always true. He loved me, he helped me... what can I do if he was a henpecked husband? Ninety-nine point nine percent of husbands are, so it is okay.

I remember an incident that I have never told before. It was a dark night. It was raining and a thief entered our house. Naturally my grandfather was afraid. Everybody could see that he was afraid, but he pretended not to be, he tried his best. The thief was hiding in the corner of our small house, behind a few bags of sugar.

My grandfather was a continuous pan-chewer. Pan is betel leaf. Just like a chain smoker, he was a chain pan-chewer. He was always making pan, and the whole day long he would chew it. He started chewing pan and spitting it at the poor thief who was hiding in the corner. I looked at this ugly scene, and told my grandmother, with whom I used to sleep, "This is not right. Even though he is a thief we should behave in a gentlemanly way. Spitting? Either fight or stop spitting!"
My grandmother said, "What would you like to do?"
I said, "I will go and slap the thief and throw him out." I was not more than nine.
My grandmother laughed and said, "Okay, I will come with you -- you may need my help." She was a tall woman. My mother does not resemble her in any way, neither in physical beauty, nor in her spiritual daring. My mother is simple; my grandmother was adventurous. She came with me.
I was shocked! I could not believe what I saw: the thief was a man who used to come and teach me, my teacher! I really hit him hard, more so because he was my teacher. I told him, "If you were only a thief I would have forgiven you, but you have been teaching me great things, and at night you do these things! Now run away as fast as you can before my grandmother gets hold of you, otherwise she will crush you."

She was a big woman, tall, strong and beautiful. My grandfather was small and homely, but they both went well together. He never fought her -- he could not -- so there was no problem at all.
I remember that teacher, the village pandit, who also used to come and tutor me sometimes. He was the priest of the village temple. He said, "What about my clothes? Your grandfather has been spitting all over me. He has spoiled my clothes."

My grandmother laughed and said, "Come tomorrow, I will give you some new clothes." And she really did give him some new clothes. He did not come, he did not dare, but she went to the thief's home and took me with her, and gave him the new clothes, telling him, "Yes, my husband is terrible to spoil your clothes. It is not good. Whenever you need clothes you can always come to me."

That teacher never came to teach me again... not that he was told not to, he did not dare. He not only stopped coming to teach me, he stopped coming to the street where we lived; he stopped passing that way. But I made it a point to visit him every day just to spit in front of his house, to remind him. I would shout to him, "Have you forgotten that night? And you always used to tell me to be true, sincere and honest and all that bullshit."
Even now I can see him with his eyes cast down, unable to answer me.

My grandfather wanted the greatest astrologers in India to make my birth chart. Although he was not very rich -- in fact not even rich, what to say of very rich, but in that village he was the richest person -- he was ready to pay any price for the birth chart. He made the long journey to Varanasi and saw the famous men. Looking at the notes and dates my grandfather had brought, the greatest astrologer of them all said, "I am sorry, I can only make this birth chart after seven years. If the child survives then I will make his chart without any charge, but I don't think he will survive. If he does it will be a miracle, because then there is a possibility for him to become a Buddha."
My grandfather came home weeping. I had never seen tears in his eyes. I asked, "What is the matter?"

He said, "I have to wait until you are seven. Who knows whether I will survive those years or not? Who knows whether the astrologer himself will survive, because he is so old. And I am a little concerned about you."
I said, "What's the concern?"
He said, "The concern is not that you may die, my concern is that you may become a Buddha."
I laughed, and amongst his tears he also started laughing; then he himself said, "It's strange that I was worried. Yes, what is wrong in being a Buddha?"
When my father heard what the astrologers had told my grandfather, he took me to Varanasi himself -- but more of that later.
When I was seven an astrologer came to my grandfather's village searching for me. When a beautiful horse stopped in front of our house, we all rushed out: the horse looked so royal. And the rider was none other than one of the famous astrologers I had met. He said to me, "So, you are still alive? I have made your birth chart. I was worried, because people like you don't survive long."

My grandfather sold all the ornaments in the house just to give a feast for all the neighboring villages, to celebrate that I was going to become a Buddha, and yet I don't think he even understood the meaning of the word "buddha."
He was a Jaina and may not have even heard it before. But he was happy, immensely happy... dancing, because I was to become a Buddha. At that moment I could not believe that he could be so happy just because of this word "buddha." When everyone had departed I asked him, "What is the meaning of `buddha'?" He said, "I don't know, it just sounds good. Moreover I am a Jaina. We will find out from some Buddhist."
In that small village there were no Buddhists, but he said, "Someday, when a passing Buddhist Bhikku comes by, we will know the meaning."
But he was so happy just because the astrologer had said that I was to become a Buddha. He then said to me, "I guess `buddha' must mean someone who is very intelligent." In Hindi Buddhi means intelligence, so he thought "buddha" meant the intelligent one.

He came very close, he almost guessed right. Alas that he is not alive, otherwise he would have seen what being a Buddha means -- not the dictionary meaning, but an encounter with a living, awakened one. And I can see him dancing, seeing that his grandson has become a Buddha. That would have been enough to make him enlightened! But he died. His death was one of my most significant experiences... of that, later on.
Is there time yet?
"It's eight-thirty, Bhagwan."
Good, just five minutes for me....
It is time to stop, but it has been beautiful, and I am grateful. 

Thank you.



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