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(C.D.Norman  speaks)

“CHITCHAT” is a column of idle talk, prattle or gossip (chambers twentieth century dictionary), vague ideas and personal opinion, valid or invalid, not meant for public gaze and comment.   The ‘risk factor’ in this column is that it may expose the mental immaturity of the writer and his incapacity to  understand , absorb and assimilate nobler thoughts, much less to commit them to written words.   I would rather that those who sneak into this column hide their judgement from public view and smile away their disapproval.


1)   Gandhi, the poor man

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi  vowed to live a life of austerity.   He took to a life of severe discipline and simplicity after observing the  poverty of the peasants in  rural South India.   He then decided to wear only a loin cloth (dhoty), drink goat’s milk, eat pea-nuts for supper and live in mud huts in the extensive Sabarmathi Ashram.   He travelled by train in Class III, shunning the luxury of the upper class, to identify himself with the poor of India.   Passenger  reservation facility was not offered by the then railways.   If seats could not be reserved for individuals, an entire bogie was reserved for Gandhi and his colleagues who accompanied him.   If you want to know how poor Gandhi was, you must ask Sarojini Naidu, the poet, a staunch Congress woman and a close associate among the inner circle of friends of the old man.   “You have no idea how much it costs the congress to keep the old monkey poor”, she once said.  

2)   Mutts and Money

The chiefs of the mutts in India and God-men of repute like Rajneesh and others are vowed to a life of poverty and renunciation.   They do not touch money, they say and they do not demand money from their devotees.   But most mutts are extremely rich establishments, owning extensive land  donated by their votaries. And as for knowing their financial reserves, one must tackle their Bank Managers, who suffer from chronic stomach ulcer as a result of keeping their secrets.

3)   Buddha and Christ

Buddha lived a life of severe poverty, meditation and penance.   He walked wherever he wanted to go, from the foot hills of the Himalayas to Varanasi, Saranath, Gaya and to all those places he went spreading his message.   Vardhamana Mahavir, the founder of Jainism also lived a life similar to that of the Buddha, but more severe in discipline.

Christ too lived a very simple life.  There is no record that he ever travelled to places on horse back or hitch-hiked on a Roman chariot.  He walked the length and breadth of  Israel, preached to large gatherings, claimed no ownership of property, not even a place to rest.   “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head”, he said.   Besides being the Son of Man, he also claimed divinity as the “Son of My Father in Heaven”, but born a human.   He lived a humble life bordering on poverty but showed his authority as divine incarnation by his powerful preaching, interpreting the Jewish scriptures, healing the sick, cleansing the demon-possessed, comforting the bereaved and finally, by the manner of his death and resurrection.

Those were founders of religious thoughts, men of high thinking and plain living!

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