SIGNIFICANCE AND PURPOSE OF DHUNI LIT BY MEHER BABA
Story of the dhuni goes way back in time, back to the Sat Yuga, or Golden Age, thousands of years ago. In those days, when a man reached sixty years of age, he was considered to have completed his worldly duties. His children had been raised and they now had children of their own. His labour was not needed to support the family, and he was now free to dedicate the remainder of his life to finding God.
This was a sacred obligation, and the family did not object to his leaving them to find God; for finding God, ultimately, was the duty of everyone, and it is said that even if one member of a family realizes God, all members of the family for seven generations are benefited.
So, at the age of sixty, the head of the household left his home, renounced the world, and headed off, usually into the jungle or forests to search for God. But what did this seeker find? He found that with no house to shelter him, no blankets to wrap around him, it was cold at night. And the mosquitoes would bite him and distract him and make it difficult for him to concentrate on God. And there were wild animals in the jungles, especially at night, so his search was made very difficult for him because of all these worldly considerations. He had left the world to find God, but he found that it was hard to think of God because of the world.
So these seekers would light a fire at night. The flame kept them warm, and also kept the animals away, and the smoke would keep the mosquitoes away. And the ash from the fire they would rub over their bodies as protection from the elements, so the fire was truly a friend to them, a companion to them in their search for God. Over time, the fires that these seekers would build near their seats of meditation became associated with the search for God. If someone went hunting in the forest and saw the remains of such a fire, the person would think, "Oh, a holy man has been here," and the place would be respected because the search for God was respected. If one came across the remains of such a fire, it automatically signified that someone had sat there repeating the name of God, thinking about God, meditating on God, and so the fire, the place, was respected, in much the same way that if you were to come upon a church or a temple, you would be respectful; it was a place of worship.
Now, the word dhuni itself might have evolved in several different ways. It might be based on the root word dhun, which means repeating the name of God aloud. Or then again, possibly it is based on the root word dhyan, which means meditation. Dhyani means one who meditates, and dhuni might have evolved from it. At any rate, eventually the word dhuni came to be associated with these fires.
And, over time, as the tradition of all men once they were sixty renouncing the world and seeking God became less universally observed, the dhuni fire began to be associated specifically with the fires kept near the seats of holy ones, the saints and sadhus and Perfect Masters. (That is how it was –pp-337-339 1995© Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust)
Purpose of Dhuni lit by Baba at Meherabad
Meher Baba first came to Meherabad in 1922, there was no such fire (Dhuni). But a few years later, the monsoons had failed and the farmers were getting desperate. This area has always suffered from a shortage of water, and drought or a bad monsoon meant severe hardship, possibly even starvation for the villagers, who were mostly farmers.
There are two monsoon seasons in Meherabad. The first monsoon season, which is supposed to come in June, had been very poor. Now it was September and the second monsoon season was ending, and still there had been no life-giving showers. So the farmers were desperate. They knew that Meher Baba was living at Meherabad, and they considered Him a saintly personality, so they came to Him to seek His blessings for rain. They came in a large crowd to beg Baba for rain.
Baba received them very lovingly but encouraged them to leave for their homes immediately because their love and faith in Him might bring about a downpour that would drench them if they didn't hurry home.
Now, it was a bright and sunny day and there was no sign of rain whatsoever. The villagers did not know whether to take Baba seriously or not. They thought perhaps Baba was only trying to get rid of them by urging them to leave so quickly. But eventually, with much coaxing from the mandali, they were persuaded to leave.
On the night of 10 November, 1925, after a day of exhausting activity, Baba was in the midst of a discussion with the mandali near the Table Cabin when the villagers returned. Again they beseeched Him for rain, and after Upasni Maharaj's arti was sung, Baba ordered a pit to be dug and a dhuni (sacred fire) to be lit. The fire was started at eleven that night. Afterward, Baba informed the villagers, "God has heard your prayers. Now go straight home." Although there had been no clouds in the sky prior to the lighting of the dhuni, an hour later a heavy rain fell. The showers lasted for fifteen hours and the villagers' crops were saved. It rained so hard, in fact, that the villagers got thoroughly drenched on their way home. This was not only an act of Baba's greatness, but of His compassion also and the dhuni pit has remained as a sign or symbol of this
The next day Baba asked each of the mandali to compose a poem about the dhuni. Rustom won first prize; Padri, second; Pandoba, one of the teachers at the school, third; and Kisan Master, also a schoolteacher, won fourth. Jalbhai too wrote a good poem and was complimented. It was entertaining to hear these rhymes, each man dramatically reading his poem as if he were a great poet. Each would explain his poem's meaning; however, except for Rustom's and Padri's compositions, none had any deep meaning!
In 1926, in commemoration of the first anniversary of the dhuni, the fire was lit at seven in the evening. The Gujarati arti composed by Baba was sung, and soon after, it rained heavily as it had done the previous year when the dhuni was first lit.
Dhuni song was composed by Avatar Meher Baba. It can be read under heading “Songs verses” in this website. Para wise English translation is also combined in this Dhuni song.
In 1941, When Baba returned to Meherabad, he instructed the mandali to again start lighting the dhuni every month from the 12th of December. The mandali thought this was perhaps for the purpose of bringing down rain since the dhuni had previously been lighted with that intent. But Baba explained, "This time the reason for igniting it is not for rain; it is for a certain definite purpose of my work." This was on the twelfth of December, 1941. Dhuni was lit at 7 pm and kept burning for 48 hours in memory of Sri Upasni Maharaj.
Meher Baba told to continue to light it on the twelfth of each month. It was His order, it is for pleasure to obey and light the dhuni each month on the twelfth. (That’s how it was-pp-337-339 1995 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust)
Dhuni at Toka
On 18 th May, 1928 Meher Baba liked Toka so much that He had a plot of land purchased there and gave orders for temporary structures to be erected on it. In two weeks temporary structures were erected. On 30th May, the Table Cabin by the dhuni was transferred to Toka (in a cart pulled by four oxen) for Baba's stay and everything else was made ready for establishing their residency there. Toka, located between Ahmednagar and Aurangabad, is 45 miles from Ahmednagar. On 11 June, 1928, Baba ordered Kaikhushru Masa to dig a hole in the ground near the Table Cabin for a dhuni. The dhuni was lit on Tuesday, 12 June 1928 in the evening, and Baba's arti was sung.
Dhuni at Meherazad
In 1952, Baba lit a dhuni in a pit behind his cabin in Meherazad. This fire was kept burning until seven o'clock the following morning, when it was extinguished. The dhuni was lit at exactly seven o'clock every evening thereafter until the completion of the Manonash work.
On 12 th November 1955, Baba sat by the dhuni. The mandali and each of the congregation lined up and, in turn, were given a small piece of sandalwood by Eruch, which they threw into the fire after an embrace or pat from Baba. Baba had explained to them in the morning that the sandalwood should represent a particular desire they wished to consecrate and burn to ashes.
Episode related to Dhuni
In 1936, Since the age of five Mansari's had suffered from an incurable skin disease. The best doctors had been called, and she was sent to the finest hospitals in Bombay, but no medicine or treatment worked. in 1936, When she was eighteen, Kaikobad Dastur, a family friend, had visited Meherabad and taken her with him to meet Baba. Mansari had agreed, even though at the time she was skeptical of her family's faith in Baba. Meeting Baba, however, changed her heart, and she bowed to him weeping. Kaikobad narrated her sufferings to Baba who remarked to her, "And only because of this you weep so much?"
Mansari replied, "I am not weeping because of my disease, but because of your love!"
Baba consoled her with these instructions, "Don't worry; you will be permanently cured. Take some ash from my dhuni, and every morning before tea, say my name and swallow a pinch of it."
Returning home to Navsari, Mansari followed Baba's exact instructions and in a month she was completely cured.