It was a problem for me also in my childhood. My whole family was going to the temple and I was resistant. I was willing – if they could explain what this whole thing was all about. They had no explanation except, “It has been done always, and it is good to follow your elders, to follow your old generations, to follow the ancient heritage…it is good.” This is not an explanation.
I told them, “I am not asking whether it is good or bad; I am asking what it is. I don’t see any God, I see only a stone statue. And you know perfectly well that it is a stone statue – you know better than me, because you have purchased it from the market. So God is being sold in the market? You have installed it with your own hands in the temple; at what point did it become God? – because in the shop of the sculptor it is not worshipped. People are haggling for its price; nobody is praying to it! Nobody thinks that these are gods, because there are so many statues and you can choose according to your liking.
“You haggled for the price, you purchased the statue. I have been an observer all the time, waiting to see at what moment the stone statue becomes God, at what moment it is not a commodity to be purchased and sold, but a divinity to be worshipped.”
They had no explanation. There is no explanation, because in fact it never became God; it is still a statue. It is just no longer in the shop, it is in the temple. And what is the temple? – another house.
I was asking them, “I want to participate with you in your prayers, in your worship; I don’t want to remain an outsider. But I cannot do it against myself. First I have to be satisfied, and you don’t give any answer that is satisfying.
“What are you saying in your prayers? ‘Give us this…give us that’ – and do you see the whole hilarious scene? You have purchased a stone statue, installed it in a house, and now you are begging from the statue, which is purchased by you, ‘Give us this…give us that…prosperity to our family, health to our family.’ You are behaving very strangely, in a weird way, and I cannot participate in it.
“I don’t want to disobey for disobedience’s sake. This is not disobedience; I am ready to follow your order, but you are not ready to give an explanation to me. You never asked your own parents. They lived in ignorance, you are living in ignorance, and you want me also to live in ignorance.”
They thought that I would cool down by and by. They used to take me to the temple. They would all bow down, and I would stand by the side. My father would say to me, “Just for our sake…it doesn’t look good. It looks odd that you stand in the corner when everybody is bowing down with so much religiousness.”
I said, “I don’t see any religiousness; I simply see a certain kind of exercise. And if these people are so much interested in exercise, they can go to a gymnasium, which will really give them health.