*BIOGRAPHIES OF SAINTS

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MOHAMMED AL-GHAZALI

Sheikh Mohammed al-Ghazali al-Saqqa (1917–1996) was an Islamic scholar whose writings "have influenced generations of Egyptians". The author of 94 books, he attracted a broad following with works that sought to interpret Islam and its holy book, the Qur'an, in a modern light. He is widely credited with contributing to a revival of Islamic faith in Egypt in recent times.[4] Another sources have called him "one of the most revered sheikhs in the Muslim world"[5] and a "prominent spokesman for moderate Islamic revivalism in Egypt".[6]

Early life

Al-Ghazali was born in 1917 in the small town of Nikla al-'Inab  southeast of the coastal port of Alexandria, in the Beheira Governorate. He graduated from Al Azhar University in 1941. He taught at the University of Umm al-Qura in Makkah, the University of Qatar, and at al-Amir 'Abd al-Qadir University for Islamic Sciences in Algeria.

 

Works, beliefs, views

Sheikh al-Ghazali held the post of chairman of the Academic Council of the International Institute of Islamic Thought in Cairo. Sheikh al-Ghazali authored more than sixty books, many of which have been translated into various languages, and was also the recipient of many awards, including the First Order of the Republic (Egypt) (1988), the King Faisal Award (1989) and the Excellence Award from Pakistan.

Al-Ghazali was known in the western world for testifying on behalf of the assassins of secularist author Farag Foda (who had spoken out against making sharia the law of Egypt), telling the Egyptian court that "anyone who openly resisted the full imposition of Islamic law was an apostate who should be killed either by the government or by devout individuals." His position as the "preeminent" faculty member at Egypt's preeminent Islamic institution—Al Azhar University—allegedly put the government on the defensive in its struggle against Egypt's "growing tide of Islamic fundamentalism" and occurred "at the height" of a violent campaign by militants against Egypt's secular Government.[7] He also called on the government to appoint a committee to measure the faith of the population and give wayward Egyptian Muslims time to repent. "Those who did not should be killed," he said.[4] According to Ana B. Soage during the assassination trial of Faraj Fawda, while al-Ghazali stated that punishment of those who opposed sharia should ideally be carried out by the state, "when the state fails to punish apostates, somebody else has to do it."[8]

In the Muslim world, however, Al-Ghazali "was not closely identified with the militant cause". He "often appeared on state-run television and held a place in the pulpit of one of Cairo's largest mosques",[4] After Egyptian Islamic Jihad attempted to kill Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during a visit to Ethiopia June 1995, "Sheik Ghazali was among the prominent Islamic scholars who traveled to the presidential palace to congratulate Mr. Mubarak on his safe return."[4]

Personal life and death

He was married to Lady Amina Kouta and had seven children including two boys, and five girls and was buried in MedinaSaudi Arabia.[4] He was a very popular Sheikh in Egypt and remained so even after his death

Al-Ghazali's work The Prophetic Sunna, was "an immediate focus of attention and controversy" when it was published in 1989. It became a best seller, with five impressions made by the publisher in its first five months and a second enlarged edition within a year. Within two years "at least seven monographs were published in response to the book." al-Ahram newspaper compared it to Perestroika restructuring going on in the Soviet Union at that time.[6]

In addition to practical concerns of revivalists—sharia position on economics and taxation, criminal law, the veiling of women, and their place in society and the economy—Al-Ghazli wrote of how to "purify sunna of adulterations". Rather than upending the science of hadith criticism, he sought to redress imbalances in scholars' understanding of it.[6]

Nonetheless, the book's "severe" criticism of what Al-Ghazali believed to be the "literalism, and anti-interpretive approach to Islamic texts" of the Ahl al-Hadith (partisans of hadith) prompted sharp attacks from Islamists even more conservative than Al-Ghazali. "Several major conferences ... in Egypt and Saudi Arabia" criticizing the book, long articles in response in the Saudi-owned London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, and assorted writings of others condemning al-Ghazali and questioning "his motives and competence."[11] According to one of his students — Khaled Abou El Fadl — Al-Ghazali was stunned and disheartened by what he thought was a smear campaign against him and by the silence of his old students

 

 

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KHWAZA KHIZR

“This prophet or saint is one that cannot be identified with any known Bible character, though by some he is supposed to be the same as Elijah. This belief gains colour from the fact that he is reckoned as one of the four prophets who did not meet death. He enjoys the title of Khwaja par excellence as a person of distinction in the sight of his Maker. And he is called ‘Khizr’ because whenever he happened to sit down, the ground became verdant underneath him, the word khizr meaning green in Arabic. Like Iliyas (Elias?), the saint of the woods, Khwaja Khizr is known to live in the waters, and his special function is to take care of travellers, and to relieve the troubles of the faithful.

“He was born in the pre-Mosaic age and was seven generations removed from Noah. His real name was Balban, and his genealogy is thus given: Balban, son of Malkan, son of Faneh, son of Ghabir, son of Shalikh, son of Arfakhshad (Arphaxad), son of Sam (Shein), son of Nuh (Noah).

“He is said to have discovered the water of life, hence he is considered to be the saint of the waters. The Muhammadans leading a sea-fearing life offer him oblations of lamps, flowers, etc, placed on little rafts (bera) and launched on the river, particularly on Thursday evenings, in the month of bhadon (September), and it is in his honour that the feast of the bera (rafts) is held.

“There are numerous legends concerning the Khwaja. He is always described as holding a black ebony rod in his hand. He is invoked in the Punjab at the construction of a new well, and the mallahs (or sailors) give a shout to his name, ‘Jae Khwaja-ji-ki’, before they launch forth into the deep.”

As for this scribe, Khwaja Khizr, the name brings to mind an evening long ago when two young men new to the hill station were making an upward climb from Chhota Simla. “It might take two hours for us to make it to the Mall by the way we seem to be going, and it’s dark already,” said Baig, “may Khwaja Khizr help us”.

“Who is Khwaja Khizr?” was the natural question of his companion. The story is worth repeating: “He is the one who takes care of wayfarers,” replied Baig. “Whenever one is in danger one must pray to Khwaja Khizr. Once, some members of my family were travelling by train which was in danger of being attacked during the riots in 1947. Everybody was panic-stricken, except for Badi Amma, the grand-aunt who was sure that Khizr would see them through. “Well, they had a safe journey. Many years later when Badi Amma was travelling again, a stranger came to her and said, ‘An old bearded man in the last coach has sent his barkat (blessing) to you. Badi Amma mumbled and then commented, “Must be Khwaja Khizr. Please give him my salaam.”

Baig’s story hardly helped to clear the mystery about this personage but over the years one came to realise that he was someone like St Christopher, the saint who helps people in distress, especially those undertaking a journey.

Research

But to come back to the Khwaja, one was pleasantly surprised to find reference to him in William Dalrymple’s book, “City of Djinns”. The author did a lot of research on Khwaja Khizr and unfolded a fantastic story. Khizr, is believed by some to have accompanied the prophet Abraham to Canaan, by others to be the person who guided Moses and the Israelites during their 40-year journey to the Promised Land. Yet others believe that he was the great-grandson of Shem, the son of Noah, and the Greek belief is that he accompanied Alexander on his conquests as friend, philosopher and guide. He was also the saint who controlled the waters of immortality.

William Dalrymple traced a cave beyond the Mehrauli Idgah in Delhi where the Sufis told him that Khwaja Khizr appeared to those who prayed fervently for several nights, fasted and did penance. The cave is referred to as Khizr Khana or Makan-e-Khizr in the Muraqqa-e-Dilli.

 

Remote base

However, the Khwaja has his base on a remote island in a nameless sea. Belief in Khwaja Khizr can be traced to many religions. For the Sindhis, he is Jhule Lal or Raja Khidar and in Punjab he is supposed to be an avatar of Vishnu, says Dalrymple. When one is in danger, one has to call to him thrice and he is there to help. He is the one travelling around the world all the time and praying on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem once a week.

How many of the chosen few Sufis have seen him in Delhi is a moot point. But unlike St. Christopher depicted on a medal, there seems to be no known image of Khwaja Khizr in existence.

 

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FARIDUDDIN GANJSHAKAR

Farīd al-Dīn Masʿūd Ganj-i-Shakar (c. 4 April 1179 – 7 May 1266) was a 12th-century Punjabi Muslim preacher and mystic who went on to become "one of the most revered and distinguished ... Muslim mystics" of the medieval period. He is known reverentially as Bābā Farīd or Shaikh Farīd by MuslimsSikhs and Hindus of the Punjab Region, or simply as Farīduddīn Ganjshakar.

Life

Fariduddin Masud was born in 1175 (571 AH) in Kothewal, 10 km from Multan in the Punjab region , to Jamāl-ud-dīn Suleimān and Maryam Bībī (Qarsum Bībī), daughter of Wajīh-ud-dīn Khojendī.

He was a Sunni Muslim and was one of the founding fathers of the Chishti Sufi order.[1] Baba Farid received his early education at Multan, which had become a centre for Muslim education. There he met his teacher Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, who was passing through Multan on his way from Baghdad to Delhi.

Once his education was over, he moved to Delhi, where he learned the Islamic doctrine from his master, Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki. He later moved to HansiHaryana.[6] When Quṭbuddīn Bakhtiyār Kākī died in 1235, Farīd left Hansi and became his spiritual successor, and he settled in Ajodhan (the present Pakpattan, Pakistan) instead of Delhi.

One of his descendants was Muhibbullah Allahabadi (1587–1648).

Fariduddin Ganjshakar's shrine darbār is located in PakpattanPunjab, Pakistan.

One of Farīd's most important contributions to Punjabi literature was his development of the language for literary purposes. Whereas Sanskrit, Arabic, Turkish and Persian had historically been considered the languages of the learned and the elite, and used in monastic centres, Punjabi was generally considered a less refined folk language. Although earlier poets had written in a primitive Punjabi, before Farīd there was little in Punjabi literature apart from traditional and anonymous ballads.[16] By using Punjabi as the language of poetry, Farīd laid the basis for a vernacular Punjabi literature that would be developed later.[17] The English translation of Farid's devotional poetry by Rana Nayar was conferred with Sahitya Akademi Golden Jubilee award in 2007.

The city of Faridkot bears his name. According to legend, Farīd stopped by the city, then named Mokhalpūr, and sat in seclusion for forty days near the fort of King Mokhal. The king was said to be so impressed by his presence that he named the city after Baba Farid, which today is known as Tilla Baba Farid. The festival Bābā Sheikh Farād Āgman Purb Melā' is celebrated in September each year from (21–23 Sep, for 3 days), commemorating his arrival in the city. Ajodhan[] was also renamed as Farīd's 'Pāk Pattan', meaning 'Holy Ferry'; today it is generally called Pāk Pattan Sharīf[

Faridia Islamic University, a religious madrassa in SahiwalPunjab, Pakistan, is named after him,[] and in July 1998, the Punjab Government in India established the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences at Faridkot, the city which itself was named after him.[22]

There are various explanations of why Baba Farid was given the title Shakar Ganj ('Treasure of Sugar'). One legend says his mother used to encourage the young Farīd to pray by placing sugar under his prayer mat. Once, when she forgot, the young Farīd found the sugar anyway, an experience that gave him more spiritual fervour and led to his being given the name.

Shrine

The small Shrine of Baba Farid is made of white marble with two doors, one facing east and called the Nūrī Darwāza or 'Gate of Light', and the second facing north called Bahishtī Darwāza, or 'Gate of Paradise'. There is also a long covered corridor. Inside the tomb are two white marbled graves. One is Baba Farid's, and the other is his elder son's. These graves are always covered by sheets of cloth called Chaddars' (the green coloured chaddars are covered with Islamic verses), and flowers that are brought by visitors. The space inside the tomb is limited; not more than ten people can be inside at one time. Women are not allowed inside the tomb, but the late Benazir Bhutto, then Prime Minister of Pakistan, was permitted to enter inside by the shrine guardians, when she visited the shrine. Another rare exceptional case was the late Hajjah Kainz Hussain of Jhelum, wife of the late Haji Manzoor Hussain, who was allowed inside the tomb and was given a Chaddar,.

Charity food called Langar is distributed all day to visitors here[ and the Auqaf Department, which administers the shrine.[25] The shrine is open all day and night for visitors. The shrine has its own huge electricity generator that is used whenever there is power cut or load shedding, so the shrine remains bright all night, all year round. There is no separation of male and female areas but a small female area is also available. There is a big new mosque in the shrine. Thousands of people daily visit the shrine for their wishes and unresolvable matters; for this they vow to give to some charity when their wishes or problems are resolved.[24][26] When their matters are solved they bring charity food for visitors and the poor, and drop money in big money boxes that are kept for this purpose. This money is collected by the Auqaf Department of the Government of Pakistan that looks after the shrine.

 

 

 

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VIVEKANAND

(Philosopher Saint)

Vivekanand was the chief intellectual disciple of Perfect Master Swami Ramkrishna Paramhans. He was convinced of master’s divinity only when Ramkrishna showed a glimpse of reality by putting His hand on Vivekananda’s head.

After emancipating himself from maya, a Sadguru has again to involve Himself in maya to release others. As Swami Vivekananda says, "He is the real guru who brings himself down to the level of his disciples." For example, suppose a pearl is lying hidden under a heap of filth. To take it out, one has to thrust his hands in it. Likewise, the Sadguru has to involve himself in the filth of illusion; but He is never soiled by it.

On 19th September 1626, Baba remarked, "A moment of one's life spent in the company of a Sadguru is more valuable than hundreds of years of tapa-japa (repeating God's name with beads). Or as Vivekananda said, 'To light a chillum (water pipe) for a Sadguru is better than millions of years of meditation."

Baba had advised Nusserwan to give up politics and remain with him, to which he agreed but so far had not done. Baba quoted this couplet by Vivekananda, "Maya, let go thy hold, / O sanyasi, be bold!" — Which meant that one should be courageous enough to take the step of breaking one's connections with the world? Despite Baba's repeated advice, Nusserwan never gave up politics and never joined the ashram, though he continued to stay in contact with the Master his entire life.

Swami Vivekananda can be said to have done the first "Spiritual spade work" in the West, when he established his American headquarters in New York City in 1895, just a year after Meher Baba was born. Vivekananda referred to New York as "The head, hand, and purse of the country." As one author put it: "The great, sophisticated, polyglot metropolis was indeed a wellspring of new ideas; it was creative and enterprising; it was the center of all the arts; it was rich, generous, and throbbing with vitality; everything was there."

On 23 April 1936, Baba mentioned Vivekananda again in reference to Deshmukh's recently released book, My Master and His Teaching. Baba said it would appeal to "those who have heart." Baba added, "Devotees of Krishna are interested in his life, but pundits are only interested in Vedanta and the Gita. The Gita and Vedanta are very good indeed, but they only touch the head, whereas the life of Krishna touches the heart. (Lord Meher-p-1720-1936)

Vivekananda's best work is My Master, though it is a slim volume. Why? Because it was written with love. Other of his works are more intellectual."

On 28 March 1936, Baba commented:

A thing in which I cannot put My "mind" has to be worked out by external means. As Vivekananda has said, "The true Teacher is he who comes down to the level of his student." I have to come down to the level of the external (gross) world, work, feel and suffer as you ordinary human beings do. For instance, in the case of Mani: I cannot apply my mind, so I work through all external means, feel and suffer as an ordinary being. Maya always works in opposition and her force is greatest where I cannot put my mind.

The habit of questioning and doubting in the end reacts on the questioner himself. Vivekananda used to always ask questions: "Why? Why this? Why that?" Ramakrishna loved him very much so he used to answer. But one day he got fed up and did not reply. Vivekananda asked again and again, but got no answer.

Then one night at midnight, Ramakrishna said, "Bring me food," and He named certain kinds of dishes. Vivekananda could not find the food in the house at that hour. Ramakrishna asked him, "Why? Why is it not available?" and Vivekananda said, "Because it's twelve o'clock at night! It's not the time for eating!" At that moment, Vivekananda got his answer. From that day, he never asked another question.

 

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SHIVANAD SWAMI

(Saint from Rishikesh)

Meher Baba met Swami Shivananda in his ashram on 3rd March 1953. At Rishikesh

Reaching Rishikesh at 3:30 P.M., they went to Shanti Koti on the Kogal Ghat, where they were to stay. Baba dispatched Eruch and Kishan Singh to Shivananda's ashram to make the appointment for that evening at 5:30, but when they arrived they learned that Shivananda was indisposed. Still, the meeting was arranged. However, Shivananda's secretary (who had had Baba's darshan several years before) insisted that Baba meet the ashram inmates first. Baba wanted to see Shivananda directly, but was told this could not be agreed to, since such a great personage as Meher Baba must be properly welcomed.

Baba arrived at Shivananda's ashram at exactly 5:30 P.M., where he was received with great reverence. Baba had informed those in charge of the ashram that no ceremony should be performed; but according to their custom, it was done anyway. The secretary saluted Baba by bending down and touching his feet, and Baba returned the greeting in the same way. Touching Baba's feet was prohibited, as Eruch had clearly and emphatically pointed out beforehand, but Baba's instructions seemed to be observed more in breach than in compliance that day.

The secretary led Baba to a hall where bhajan singing was in progress. He garlanded Baba and his Jai reverberated throughout the building. Baba was made to sit on a chair, but he immediately left it and sat on the floor.

He then indicated to Eruch that he should read out this statement (dictated in Dehra Dun on the 23rd and later issued in the form of a circular):

We should once and for all understand that no amount of learning, reading, and teaching, reasoning and preaching can give us liberation (mukti). Vedantic expressions, Sufi talks, mystical words and philosophical statements take us nowhere spiritually. Religious conferences, spiritual societies and the so-called universal brotherhood are apt to bind the soul, rather than free it.

Only when we transcend intellect and enter the domain of love can we aspire for liberation. When love for God reaches its zenith, we lose ourselves in the Beloved God and attain Eternal Liberation. Liberated ones are ever free from all illusory attachments. Good and bad, virtue and vice, cannot pollute the Ocean of Divine Truth.

Perfection does not merely mean escaping from the mayavic law. Man becoming God is perfection. But when man, after consciously becoming God, returns to gross consciousness as man, he has achieved the Supreme Perfection. Such a Perfect One is not only God, but lives the life of God as man. He is in maya and simultaneously beyond it. He is amidst the law of karma but not bound by it. Whatever his actions, they are non-actions, for the actions which bind ordinary man are not only non-binding when performed by a Perfect One, but are channels for his universal spiritual work of liberating mankind from the ignorance of maya. The Perfect Ones are free from Freedom itself, and so are free even from the non-actions that they perform for their Universal work.

To those who love Me and naturally wish to know about My activities I can only say that, as far as My inner life and internal activities are concerned, only God and those who are one with God can know and understand. As far as My external activities are concerned regarding My work with the God-intoxicated (masts), saints, sadhus and the poor, of contacting them, working with them, serving them and bowing down to them in wholehearted devotion, they have all been recorded by a disciple of Mine in The Wayfarers.

I enjoy games, chiefly cricket, playing marbles, flying kites and also listening to music, which I have on rare occasions enjoyed. From time immemorial to this day, I have been playing with the mayavic universe, and this enjoyment of playing still persists.

Although the rumour concerning me and my devotees regarding consumption of liquor at Swarg Ashram is absolutely false, it is a fact that once in a great while I give wine to my lovers and make them understand that it is not this wine of grapes, but the true wine of love-giving Divine Intoxication that helps toward union with God.

I allow vegetarians to follow their diet and non-vegetarians to eat meat, fish, eggs, et cetera. I do not interfere with any religion and permit all to follow their own creeds unhindered. When faced with love for God, these external ceremonials have no value. Love for God automatically and naturally results in self-denial, mental control and ego annihilation, irrespective of the lover following or renouncing these external adoptions.

I sometimes see motion pictures (mostly humorous ones), and enjoy My real state of being the Eternal Producer of the vast, ever-changing, never-ending film called the universe. I also find relaxation in listening to humorous stories, all the time being aware of the humor that lies in the aspect of the soul, which is the source of infinite power and glory being made to feel so helpless in its human bondage of ignorance, in its various forms of duality.

Once in a while, I give darshan and prasad of love to the people, each person benefiting according to his or her receptivity. I give updesh (advice) in the form of instructions to those who have surrendered to Perfect Masters, and I give help in the form of general advice to a few who long for the Truth. All this, of course, is effective in accordance with the worthiness of the recipient.

Perfect Ones can impart divine knowledge, bestow divine love and shower the grace of God-union by a mere glance, touch, or a single divine thought.

I feel very happy, and give My love and blessings to all. If My gesture of love is understood even by one among you all, My coming here today will have served its purpose.

Baba then saluted the ashram inmates and stated, "There is now no need for you to salute Me, as I am in you as well as in everyone, and I salute Myself in you."

The secretary sought Baba's permission to say a few words, and on receiving it stated: "The people of Swarg Ashram, where Baba stayed in 1942, were responsible for spreading the false rumour, and particularly a Swami Abhyan Ananda, an unpleasant character who has spread similar obnoxious gossip about Swami Shivananda."

He added, "I had taken your darshan in Madras at Sampath Aiyangar's place, and from that day on I have been taking you as my Master and myself as your disciple. According to the message you had given on that occasion in Madras, I am serving this ashram. Swamiji (Shivananda) has great respect and love for you and it is our good fortune that you have taken the trouble to come here."

But, in fact, contrary to what the secretary claimed, the rumor had not been started by Abhyan Ananda, but by Swami Shivananda It so happened that before Baba set out in the New Life, Mauni Bua had come for Baba's darshan in Meherabad. Baba had inquired if he would follow His orders, and he had agreed. But when Baba ordered him to eat mutton and drink wine, he was shocked. So Baba asked him, instead, to proceed to Rishikesh, and he did so willingly.

In the New Life, Baba was to go to Manjri Mafi from Benares, and was to contact many sadhus in Rishikesh. But for His own reasons, Baba did not wish to see Mauni Bua, and so Bal Natu was asked to go to Rishikesh and tell Mauni Bua to leave the area. Bal did so accordingly, informing Mauni Bua of Baba's wish.

Then Bal Natu saw Swami Shivananda, from whom he came to know about damage in transit to a parcel containing liquor bottles in 1942 and, coincidentally, Baba's supposed hurried departure from the place. Bal's faith in Baba remained unshaken and Shivananda could only attribute such faith and devotion to "black magic on Baba's part which had mesmerized" Bal. This false rumor spread in the whole of Rishikesh. In the land of the ancient rishis, such was the treatment given to the Avatar!

Bal Natu narrated the event to the ashram inmates in Baba's presence, and after he had finished Baba remarked to the secretary: "Up to now I have not come across a single true disciple in the whole world. Had I found one, he would have understood My divinity. In the whole world I am the only real disciple and all are My Masters. All My gurus are sitting here, even though I am the Ancient One."

He then addressed the ashram inmates: "I advise you to hold fast to Shivananda and carry out his instructions 100 percent. You have accepted him as your Master and so you should stick to him wholeheartedly."

Baba added, "If we want to know God as He is, we must be as honest as He is. The least hypocrisy creeping into our hearts keeps Him away. So let us be honest. I give you all My blessings and My love."

Standing up, Baba motioned to the secretary to take him to Shivananda. Baba entered Shivananda's room with Eruch and Bal Natu. Shivananda was suffering from lumbago and could not rise from his bed. As asked by Baba, Eruch explained to him everything that had been said before the ashramites. Eruch then read this message from Baba: "Whether you have personally and directly or indirectly spread the false rumour, or whether others have done so in your name, I bow down to you with My love for your having been an instrument of help in My Universal spiritual work."

Baba laid His head on the Shivananda's feet and then, sitting down on his bed, began pressing his legs. Baba gestured to Eruch to repeat the message delivered in the hall, and it was read out again. Baba assured Shivananda, "Don't worry about anything."

With folded hands, Shivananda replied, "When I came to Rishikesh, people, including the sadhus of this place, began to spread nasty stories about me, too. Let us be unmindful of such groundless rumours."

Baba asked Shivananda if he recognized Bal Natu, with whom he had talked one night in 1949 and to whom he had repeated the rumour. Bal spoke about the meeting and Shivananda remembered the painful incident. Again with folded hands he told Baba, "Baba, I don't speak ill about anyone or anything — from an ant to an elephant — but I regret that my tongue slipped in making that remark."

Baba spelled out on the board in reply, "It was to happen and it happened; otherwise, I would not have sent you this message and would not have come to your ashram or offered My namaskars to all the inmates."

He added, "God is honesty personified, and therefore let us all be honest. Let there be a link of love between us."

On a previous occasion, Eruch and Pendu had presented to Shivananda Baba's message on honesty (first circulated in Eluru) and Shivananda told Baba, "I have read your message on honesty."

Baba repeated, "Let the link of love be maintained."

When Baba was about to leave the room, Shivananda recited a Sanskrit prayer in Baba's honour, the chorus of which his devotees repeated.

After it was over, Baba pointed to himself and dictated on the board, "I am the Ancient One."

Hearing this, Shivananda struggled to get up from his bed, but as he was unable to do so, he shouted loudly, "I bow down to the Ancient One!"

Baba reassured him, "Don't worry. It is because you are dear to me that I have come to you today." He again admonished the secretary and followers, "You should stick to Swami Shivananda with all your heart."

On His departure, the inmates of the ashram burst out, "Sadguru Meher Baba ki jai!"

It was a touching scene, depicting Meher Baba's divine authority, His divine love and conduct; and it also demonstrated the humility of Swami Shivananda. It was Baba's love for him that had brought him to his ashram and made Him massage his legs, kiss him, behave forgivingly toward him and at the same time make him imbibe the essence of truth and honesty.

On the verandah outside, refreshments were served and the secretary informed Baba that it was Shivananda's wish that Baba partake of them. Baba picked up some dried fruits and gave them to the secretary as His prasad. He then touched all the food on the table with instructions to distribute it among the ashram inmates. Baba then left.

Along the way Baba remarked to the mandali, "I am deeply touched with Shivananda's love, and wish him a complete recovery."

Baba sent Eruch again to Shivananda to inform him that his name would be omitted from the message about the false rumor that was to be printed and widely circulated. Eruch conveyed this to the ashram the next day. While Baba stayed in Rishikesh for his work of contacting masts and sadhus, He continually inquired about Shivananda's health. Some days later, Shivananda recovered from his condition — proof positive of Baba's love for him.

 

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SAKHUBAI

On end the festive day, a film portraying the life of the Hindu saint Sakhubai was shown. Baba was very fond of the life stories of saints and gurus, and urged children and adults to study their lives. The following story of Sakhubai should interest those who long to know the lives of real saints:

Sakhu was her given name. From childhood, she was a devotee of Lord Krishna and spent her private hours alone in worship. Misfortune befell her; she was married to an unkind man who had no religious inclination. Her mother-in-law was a cruel woman who showed no fear of God. She harassed Sakhu terribly, scorned her devotions and kept her overworked maintaining the household. Sakhu's duties became so many that she was hardly allowed time to eat and sleep.

One day, after she had an inner experience, Sakhu escaped the house and left on pilgrimage to Pandharpur to have darshan of Vithal (Lord Krishna). A very large celebration was being held there, and pilgrims were praying for a manifestation of Krishna.

t is legendary in India that when one's love is true and devotion is pure, statues and pictures of the Lord and gods come alive.

Meanwhile, the mother-in-law had no idea that she had gone, for the Lord himself had taken the form of Sakhu and was doing all the household chores. When some people returned to the village from Pandharpur, they told the mother-in-law that they had seen Sakhu there. She could not believe them! She went to find Sakhu, but Krishna had disappeared — no one was in the house!

The mother-in-law went in search of Sakhu. To her surprise, she found Sakhu in the festive procession. Upon inquiry, people informed her that it was true that Sakhu was returning from Pandharpur with them. The mother-in-law then realized that the Lord himself had done all the work in the house while Sakhu was absent, and she repented. From that time on, Sakhu's devotion was recognized as that of a saint. She was reverently called Sakhubai, and she led many Hindus into Krishna's fold.

(Lord Meher –p-583)

 

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RAMANA MAHARSHI

(Raman Maharishi achieved God-realisation)

Paul Brunton was most impressed with Ramana Maharshi. When Brunton asked Ramana Maharshi if he had ever heard of Meher Baba, the saint replied that he had. Brunton asked if he had anything further to add to Meher Baba's claim to be an Avatar, and Ramana Maharshi replied, "What have I to say?

This is a question that seekers after Truth need not consider. People that are in the lower rungs of the ladder waste their energies over all such questions."

"Will the world be rejuvenated?" Brunton inquired

Ramana Maharshi replied, "There is One who governs the world, and it is his look-out to look after the world. He who has given life to the world, knows how to guide it also."

Maharshi also told Brunton, "The Realized Ones send out waves of spiritual influence which draw many people towards them, even though they may be sitting silently in a cave."

On the afternoon of the 22nd, a program was held in the Janata College Maharshi Hall at 4:15 P.M. A central government minister, Dr. Punjab Rao S. Deshmukh, received Baba, as did the principal, Dr. Jawala Prasad, and other members of the faculty. After garlanding Baba, Punjab Rao delivered a speech. Bhajan singing was performed, Baba's message "Religion and Politics" was read out and the students of the college were given prasad. Sagane presented Dr. Rao with a large photograph of Baba sent by Harjiwan Lal of Delhi.

While it was being installed in the hall, Dr. Rao said, "The photograph in this hall will always remind us of your visit here." Baba also unveiled a portrait of the saint Ramana Maharshi, after whom the hall had been named, and then toured the college campus.

Bhabananda said to Baba, "Ramana Maharshi and other saints whom I have met also said so. But up to now I have no experience of these words."

Baba explained, "Ramana Maharshi was right. Ramakrishna also said the same. Vedanta says it. But it is a matter of experience. I want you to realize it. That is why I take interest in you and instruct you to do certain things.

On 2nd March 1948, another group of visitors asked about Aurobindo Ghose and Ramana Maharshi, Baba stated “I am in Aurobindo, Ramana Maharshi and beyond!:

Upasani Maharaj had once told Sudhanand Bharti, “The Beloved of your life will one day embrace you.” And a high saint of Hubli had said, “You will meet a silent Master.” Now, after meeting other spiritually illumined beings such as Ramana Maharshi and Aurobindo, at last he faced Meher Baba, and immediately recognized Him as “The Saint of saints, the Mahatma of mahatmas, the goal of my long pilgrimage.

 

 

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RABIA

(Secret of Basara)

Rabia, the great Sufi mystic, lived a remarkable life. Throughout her life, her Love for God, poverty and self-denial were her constant companions. She did not possess much more than a broken jug, a rush mat and a brick which she used as a pillow. She spent all night in prayer and contemplation, chiding herself if she slept because it took her away from her active love of God.

As her fame grew, she had many disciples. Farid-ud-din Attar, who has recorded her life, tells us that she held discussions with many renowned religious people of her time. Though she had many offers of marriage, she declined as she had no time in her life for anything other than God. Her concept of Divine Love was truly elevating. She was the first to introduce the idea that God should be loved for God’s own sake, not out of fear – as was the practice among some earlier seekers. Thus she prayed, ‘O, Allah!  If I worship you for fear of hell, burn me in hell, and if I worship you in hope of paradise, exclude me from paradise. But if I worship you for your own sake, grudge me not your everlasting beauty.’

 

An incident :

Rabia of Basra was considered one of the most beautiful women living on earth in her time. Her youth and beauty were unsurpassed. Now it so happens that a young man from Shiraz in Iran comes to Basra while travelling and sight-seeing. He's vigorous and handsome and very successful in business. His business takes him from place to place and country to country. At this time it brings him to Basra. He's fond of sight-seeing. So while having tea or food he asks whomever he meets, "Are you from Basra?"

"Yes."

"Tell me what's to be found in this place? Is there anything out of the way, anything unusual, anything special?"

"Well, we have fine gardens and we have fountains and all that."

"Oh! I have roamed many countries and seen a number of big cities. There are many such beautiful things; but is there anything here that is out of the way?"

"Yes."

"What is it?"

"The most beautiful woman on earth!"

"What? The most beautiful woman on earth!" He's young and handsome, and youth is always attracted by beauty. He hears this and laughs. "Well, I've seen thousands of beautiful girls. Can there be any more beautiful than those in Iran?"

"Well, that's what I'm telling you," says the man.

And the young Iranian again goes sight-seeing and again asks some people, "Is there anything special to see in this place?" And they tell him about various sights, and again he asks, "But is there anything special?"

And they say, "There is nothing better here than Rabia of Basra. Her beauty surpasses all beauty."

"How can that be?" he asks. "What makes you say that?"

And they reply, "Those who are starved for beauty, they will find that out when they meet her."

"All right, where can I find her? How does one see her?"

"Well, where else? In a brothel!"

"Oh, that's a common story. We have prostitutes in Iran too. We know about that kind of woman."

"Yes, but this is different!" they answer.

He goes around to different places in the city, and again he hears the name of Rabia from someone he meets, and then from another man and then another and another. Gradually he comes to realise that this whole city is somehow different from other cities he has visited. This place is charged with such an atmosphere that people talk freely about the beauty of a woman, and yet there seems no trace of vulgarity in their talk. What is it? Who could she be? What makes her so beautiful and at the same time approachable by all? He thinks, "Well she's only a beautiful prostitute. That's why she's approachable for all."

After some days he decides to visit Rabia even though she's in a brothel. Although he is from a social stratum that customarily does not frequent brothels, he makes himself bold to go there. For the first time in his life he makes up his mind to go to such a place and see for himself what he has heard about from other people. He makes discreet inquiries about the place and time she's available. Somebody leads him there in the evening, saying, "Go up the stairs and there will be a matron who will see you and ask you to pay a fee."

"She takes fees?"

"She doesn't, but the matron asks for them. Without paying you won't be able to go in."

"Okay, never mind. I have money."

So up he goes, slowly climbing the stairs. And all the time his mind is working, full of this beauty he has heard about and anticipating the moments he'll spend with her. When he arrives, the matron questions him, "What do you want? Are you a stranger in this country?"

"Yes, I am a stranger here, and I want to see Rabia of Basra."

"What do you mean you want to see Rabia of Basra? Is she an exhibit in a zoo or something?"

"Well, isn't she approachable?"

"Yes, but you have to be with her, not just see her. And you have to pay a fee."

"Yes, yes, I want to spend time with her."

"All right, but the fee is exorbitant."

"I don't mind; I'll pay whatever it is." He pays and she takes him to the suite, ushers him inside and shuts the door.

He finds the room is vacant; there is nobody to wait upon him. Then he gradually ventures further in. There is a little room to the side and in it a figure is praying. A prayer carpet is spread and the figure is kneeling, absorbed in prayer. What beauty she has! He has never seen such beauty! "Oh, how could she be here?" he thinks, "How could she allow men to co-habit with her?" He sits and gazes at her beauty and loses himself. Yet, his passion is aroused, and he waits for her to be finished with the prayer.

She prays and prays. An hour passes. Gradually there is an ebb in his passion. He is attracted by her beauty and at the same time by her purity. After another hour or so she finishes her prayer and looks at him; it is as if lightning has struck him, the very sight of her!

She apologizes and says, "I'm so sorry. Pardon me for keeping you waiting so long! I was absorbed in prayer. You must be hungry." She claps and her maidens come. She orders, "Spread the feast for him. He is our guest tonight." And to him, "Would you like to drink something? What sort of liquor do you prefer?"

"Well, I'm from Iran...." And he thinks, "That's good, she's not too absorbed in prayers; she offers me food and drink also. And it's true what people say — she's truly beautiful!"

So he takes an interest in conversing and opens up his heart. He tell her his whole story while she listens intently. As he talks he just gazes at her, feeding upon her beauty. She also participates in the conversation, inquiring about his well-being, and about his travels and his work.

"You must have visited many places and seen many fine sights. Have you visit Basra properly?"

"Yes," he says, "I have almost finished my visit to Basra, and everywhere I go I hear about your beauty. And so I wanted to be here with you."

"You are most welcome," she says, "But after all, what is this beauty of mine? It's a passing show! Very soon I'll get old and become all wrinkled. Age will tell upon me just as it will upon you."

And she takes up the thread there. The talk about beauty and truth and God starts, and it goes on and on into the early hours of the morning. Eventually she leads him to the point where he becomes a real devotee.

"What a discourse you've given me tonight!" he says. "Now I begin to realise what real beauty means, how one should behave in life, how one should seek that eternal beauty which never perishes."

"Yes," she says, "that's right. That's how it is."

Finally he feels it's time to go. "I'm your slave," he says from his heart. "Tell me anything, anything in this world I can do for you."

"I have one little request."

"Anything," he replies. "Ask for wealth. Ask for anything you want."

"There is just one little thing, if you could do it."

"What is it?"

"Never tell anyone what transpired here tonight. Allow the people to come to me. This beauty is bait to lure them. It motivates them and gives them strength and right understanding and the right perspective on life. God has placed me in this particular place so that I can do His work and tell people about true beauty and real love. Promise me that you'll never tell others what you've experienced here tonight."

"Oh!" he says. "So this is the secret of Basra! The whole city clamours after your beauty. Yet nobody tells me about his experience."

"Yes," she smiles. "They all promise. You see, my beauty is my strength to fight in the cause of my Lord."

So Baba says: Every Baba-lover who is beautiful can use her beauty as a great strength to get many more hearts to me. But you must be as stable as Rabia.

And Baba added: It took a long time after that for Rabia to become Babajan, the Perfect Master who awakened me to my own Divinity!

 

Another episode

One day, Rabia was passing through a street on her way to the marketplace where she went every day, to share the truths she had sought and attained through her prayers and reflections. And for many days she had been watching a well-known mystic, Hassan, sitting before the door of the mosque and praying to God with intense devotion. ‘God, open the door! Please open the door! Let me in!’

On that day, Rabia could take it no more. Hassan let out a heart-rending wail, tears rolling down his cheeks. He was repeatedly shouting, ‘Open the door! Let me in! Why don’t you listen? Why don’t you hear my prayers?’

Every day, Rabia had laughed quietly to herself whenever she had heard Hassan uttering his plaint. But today was too much. Hassan was weeping his heart out. She went up to him, shook him up and said, ‘Stop all this nonsense! The door is open – in fact you are already in!’

Hassan looked at Rabia, and that moment became a moment of revelation for him. Looking into Rabia’s eyes, he bowed down, touch her feet and said, ‘You came in time; otherwise I would have spent my whole life just calling God in vain! For years I have been doing this – where have you been all these years! Why did you not come earlier to take me out of my misery? I know you pass this street every day. You must have seen my crying and praying. And yet you did not come to me until now!’

Rabia said to Hassan, ‘Yes, but truth can only be said at a certain moment, in a certain space, in a certain context. I was waiting for the right moment, the ripe moment. Today it has arrived; hence I came to you. Yesterday if I had told you, you would have felt irritated; you may have even become angry. You may have reacted thus, “You have disturbed my prayer!” – and it is not right to disturb anybody’s prayer.’

Rabia said, ‘I had wanted to tell you this long time back, but I had to wait for the right moment. It did not come till now

 

 

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NARAD

ivy O. Duce

There is a well-known story in India, many versions of which exist, which points up that the Avatar brings his close disciples through the planes under veil. It seems that Lord Krishna had a disciple named Narad who, after many years of service to Krishna, began to be discouraged because he could see no sign in himself of any spiritual advancement. He hungered for spiritual experiences, which he felt would indicate his spiritual progress, like many people today. He complained to Krishna that although he had lived with him all his life, he still was no better than any person who had never met the Master. Krishna assured him that by living a dedicated life with Krishna he was literally on the threshold of God's abode, and that some day he would come to know where he was spiritually.

Narad, however, persisted in feeling gloomy about the years passing by without his having acquired any knowledge. Finally after some years, the Lord Krishna told him that on a certain day he wanted Narad to go to a particular spot under a tree and just watch the ground. Narad did this, finding there only a large lump of fecal matter. He became more and more agitated over having to stand and stare at this. His feelings of unworthiness intensified. Finally a worm crept out of it, and as Narad gazed upon it, the worm keeled over dead on the spot.

Narad journeyed back to his Master and related the incident when asked what had happened. Narad's mind was full of protest that here he was, living with the God-Man and not even having the experience that he had lived a worthwhile life. Krishna ignored him for a while and then ordered him to go to another place in the woods, where he was to stare at a certain tree. On the prescribed day Narad did so and suddenly noticed a bright parrot on a branch. As soon as the bird caught his eye, it dropped dead. This frightened Narad, and he felt that since the very sight of him caused creatures to die, he was most unworthy. However, the deep impression of unworthiness now caused him to feel that living with the God-Man was his only recourse.

Krishna ignored Narad for some time, then one day told him to go to the house of a village patel (headman), where a little colt had been newly born. This prospect frightened Narad, but he felt that he had to obey the Lord Krishna. The patel was quite religious and received Narad reverentially. He finally asked Narad what had brought him to his dwelling, and Narad replied that he had heard about the newly born colt and would like to see it. This flattered the owner, who brought out the little colt with great pride. As soon as Narad's eyes fell upon the colt, it dropped dead. Narad was beside himself, although the owner did not connect him with the death of his little colt.

Some time later a neighboring King came to Krishna and begged him to visit and bless his newly born child. Krishna decided to send Narad as his representative, but Narad was terrified that his glance might kill the little prince. Krishna, who knew everything, offered comfort and encouragement to Narad and stated that although there had been three failures, the disciple should now go to the palace and visit the newly born child.

Since it was known that Narad was one of Krishna's favorite disciples, when he arrived in time for the naming ceremonies the king, with all due respect, conducted him to the cradle to bless the child. Narad stated that the child had Krishna's blessing, but steadily refused to really look at him.

The story goes that the child sat up in his cradle and thanked Narad for all he had done and asked, "Why now do you deny me your glance and darshan?"

Narad was stunned and asked what he was supposed to have done. The princeling said:

"When I was a worm I had your darshan, which enabled me to avoid many rebirths. I at once assumed the form of a parrot, and in that form I again was blessed with your darshan. This helped me to be born immediately in the form of a colt. While I was a colt, you again appeared before me, and that blessed meeting has hurried me here."

When Narad returned, Krishna with a smile asked him if now he believed that he had gained some spiritual status by serving him, whereupon Narad fell at Krishna's feet.

 

How a master works, pp. 722-724

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MIRABAI

(Women Saint Krishna Era)

Mira was one of Meher Baba's favorite saints and her story is famous in India:

Mira was a Hindu born around 1498, in the village of Kurkhi, Rajasthan. She was married to a Rajasthan king, but she was so absorbed in devotion to Krishna, she had no attachment to her husband (who was killed in a battle when Mira was in her late twenties) or to his kingdom. She would compose songs in praise of Krishna and then leave the palace to sing them to the common people. The new king and his family considered it degrading, but she did not care.

Once, the royal family was so upset they plotted to kill her. They placed a cobra in Mira's flower basket. When she opened the basket to garland Krishna's statue, the cobra had been transformed into flowers. In another attempt to murder her, they gave her a glass dosed with poison. She drank it saying Krishna's name and the poison turned to nectar. Thus, they began to realize Mira was no ordinary person and was protected by Krishna.

Years passed and Mira's absorption became all-consuming. One day she left the palace and did not return. Singing Krishna's praises, she walked far until she reached Vrindavan, the sacred place of Krishna and the gopis, and remained there. When she did not return, the king searched far and wide. He finally found her, absorbed in her ecstatic vision of Krishna. Many people recognized that she was a genuine saint and stayed near her, and the king and his family became her followers.

An Indian woman devotee came to see Baba at Meherabad on Sunday, 28 October 1934. She complained openly before Baba that she wished to stop having sexual intercourse with her husband because of her desire to see God. But her husband was unwilling.

Consoling her, Baba explained, "It is better to treat your husband with love and affection, even if you dislike and do not wish to indulge in intercourse because of your spiritual aspiration and desire to love God. It is good to have no sexual desires, but when it comes to a question of duty, you must sacrifice a little of your interest and please your husband.

"Keep your mind focused toward God and give your body to your husband. You needn't worry. Just try to do as I advise.

These remaining sanskaras must be finished before the Experience is given. Remember Mirabai's sacrifice and how she suffered. Be like her."