*FORTUNATE SOULS VOLUME-1

VINOBA BHAVE

Religious and Social leader of India

Then there is the example of an ordinary man like Vinoba Bhave going about barefooted against all odds, out of his love for man. There are many such persons in India who are doing selfless service. Some of you too are doing the same thing, though you may not know it. Selfless service is service without the least tinge of ego.

The slightest egoistic thought would undo everything. Only one out of many can succeed in doing this type of service for humanity — even for saints it is impossible!

in the West, too, there are men rendering such service. One is a doctor in charge of a leper asylum. He is always with the lepers and so engrossed in his work that he has no time to think about himself. He does not know who Meher Baba is.

Such persons can do selfless service, but even they cannot come near me. Why? It is because the mind is there. The most subtle thought creates binding, and this prevents them from knowing Baba. Despite this, as soon as such persons drop their bodies they come to me because their thought is not for themselves but for advancing and improving on their work. And so they come to me.

Vinoba Bhave was a well-known social leader. Bhave's cousin, A. V. Bhave (a teacher), stood up and said, "I am not sure whether I was asleep or awake ..."

Baba with a wry smile interrupted him, "Then you are now nearing the Beyond, beyond state of being wide awake in sound sleep!" All laughed, and Baba embraced him, also.

VINOBA BHAVE

Religious and Social leader of India

Then there is the example of an ordinary man like Vinoba Bhave going about barefooted against all odds, out of his love for man. There are many such persons in India who are doing selfless service. Some of you too are doing the same thing, though you may not know it. Selfless service is service without the least tinge of ego.

The slightest egoistic thought would undo everything. Only one out of many can succeed in doing this type of service for humanity — even for saints it is impossible!

in the West, too, there are men rendering such service. One is a doctor in charge of a leper asylum. He is always with the lepers and so engrossed in his work that he has no time to think about himself. He does not know who Meher Baba is.

Such persons can do selfless service, but even they cannot come near me. Why? It is because the mind is there. The most subtle thought creates binding, and this prevents them from knowing Baba. Despite this, as soon as such persons drop their bodies they come to me because their thought is not for themselves but for advancing and improving on their work. And so they come to me.

Vinoba Bhave was a well-known social leader. Bhave's cousin, A. V. Bhave (a teacher), stood up and said, "I am not sure whether I was asleep or awake ..."

Baba with a wry smile interrupted him, "Then you are now nearing the Beyond, beyond state of being wide awake in sound sleep!" All laughed, and Baba embraced him, also.

VIRBHAN MAHARAJ

Saint

Baba was invited to Devargaon, fourteen miles from Amraoti, on the morning of Wednesday, 24 December 1952. There, he contacted a mast named Virbhan Maharaj. As Baba began massaging his legs, the mast said to him, "Why undergo so much trouble for me? You have to do great work for the world!"

Baba replied, "I am for those who love me, and those who love me are my gurus."

"You are the Master of the Universe," the mast said. "The village is blessed by your presence." Addressing the mandali, Virbhan Maharaj then quoted this shloka (verse) from the Bhagavad Gita: "When the flame of righteousness burns low, God descends as the Avatar."

Baba's presence overwhelmed Virbhan Maharaj, and he wept tears of love. "Meher Baba is the real Avatar," he stated. "I can see him in his Real Form. My birth has at last born fruit."

VASWANI T. L.

Saint

In 1957, Dada T. L. Vaswani, aged seventy-eight, was a former college professor of English and history who had renounced all to serve humanity. He was called “Sadhu” and had established and was running the Saint Mira School in Poona, and was regarded by many to be a saint. There was a longstanding invitation from him to Baba to visit the school. Not to disappoint his “Beloved child,” as Baba would call him, Baba agreed to go and a date was fixed.

On 23 rd March 1957, Meher Baba visited St. Mira School in Poona and was received by Dada T. L. Vaswani and gave darshan to the students and others in School Hall. There was a public darshan program outside where nearly 10000 people had His darshan and received prasad.

Baba cautioned the Meherazad mandali to be always with him during the Poona program, and he kept repeating this warning for days prior to going. At 6:30 A.M. on March 23rd, Baba, accompanied by Eruch, Bhau, Kumar and Aloba left Meherazad for Poona in Meherjee’s car.

Joyous singing and shouts of “Jai Avatar Meher Baba!” accompanied Baba’s car as it slowly made its way through the crowd toward Saint Mira High School. The car was decorated with garlands, and in the vanguard of the parade a band was playing. Vaswani received Baba at the door of the school and embraced him tightly. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he led Baba to a private room, where he sat with him for a while. Baba comforted him and was then carried in a chair to the school’s Sanctuary Hall, where he was seated on the dais. Vaswani sat on his right and Irene Conybeare was given a chair opposite them with some other people.

After recitations from the Bhagavad Gita and kirtan singing by the students, Vaswani, deeply moved, paid tribute to Baba in his welcome remarks over the microphone. The following is a part of his talk:

Sisters and brothers, children of the One Divine Mother! I speak in the presence of one whom his disciples in different parts regard as the Ancient One …

For thirty years and more, he who is in our midst today has borne witness to the truth that there is something better than speech. That is silence. It is, to my mind, the truth of Truths. He has spoken to the world through silence. His witness to the “Kingdom of Silence” went into my heart many years ago. In this age of noise, he has taught the truth: Be silent! . . .

I have been impressed, too, with another truth in the life of Beloved Baba. He is a lover of the simple life. He is simple, and therefore he rejoices in the company of the little ones. In his message … he said it did his heart good to come in contact with the little ones, the children of the Mira Schools.

There is a third thing too which I have noticed in regard to Meher Baba – the smile on his lips. A beautiful smile plays on his lips always. He has suffered as perhaps not many have. He has experienced pain as not many have. But there is always a beautiful smile playing on his lips.

His silence, his simplicity, and his smile – these are his three gifts to us. I bow down to him with love and humility in my heart.

On Baba’s behalf C. D. Deshmukh spoke eloquently for five minutes, emphasizing Baba’s Avatarhood and mission. The hall was full to capacity with Vaswani’s students and followers. Baba’s lovers had to stand outside by the gate.

The headmaster of the school, C. B. Advani, spoke a few words, and also the secretary, Sri Gangaram, after which Baba asked that this message from him be read out to the students:

The youth of today is the ruling force of tomorrow. All things have a small beginning; the seedling grows into a tree, the stream into a river and the child grows into a man to use or misuse the lessons he has absorbed in life as a youth. But even after he has grown into a man, he often remains a child in the spiritual sense of the word. The world is the kindergarten and school necessary for the spiritual lessons man must learn through countless lives of experiencing the opposites – such as pain and pleasure, joy and suffering, good and bad, wealth and poverty, et cetera.

All growth is gradual, and it is only through slow and gradual stages that man begins truly to grow up and discover his True Self and to relinquish the childish playthings of hate, greed and anger through selfless service and love. In the spiritual school also, there are many grades to be passed which few have the courage and determination to go through. Just as you need masters and instructors to guide you along the path of your studies, so there exist Perfect Masters who can guide you along the path of the spirit to the glorious destination of Godhood. Few have the good fortune to meet and follow such a spiritual Guide – when you do, you must earn his grace and be worthy of his love.

Do not balk at the discipline given by your parents and teachers. Discipline in small ways leads to the greater necessary discipline of self. Do not try to conquer others – conquer your self and you will have conquered the world. The simplest way to do this is to love God. Begin to love God by loving your fellow-beings. Begin to see God by seeing Him in all beings and things. Give without thought of return. Serve without thought of reward. God is everywhere, in everything. Most of all, He is right within yourself. You do not exist for the world – the world exists for you.

There is an amusing illustration of this in the story of the ant. An ant was trying to cross a stream on a leaf. Midstream the leaf, tossed by the wind, overturned and the ant cried: “Help, help, the world is drowning!”

A frog close by said: “What rubbish. The world is not drowning; you mean you are drowning.”

“Well,” said the ant, “once I drown the world might as well not exist for me. So for me it means not only that I am drowning but that the world is drowning too.”

In the same way, all existence is within you. God is to be found within yourself, and once you find Him you have found the only treasure worth finding. I give you my blessings that you love God and find Him.

After the welcoming ceremonies, Baba gave darshan and prasad to the women and students inside, and hundreds surged forward to take advantage of it. Goldney and Pukar locked hands to stem the tide of the crowd from overwhelming Baba with garlands and embraces.

Baba was then carried outside and sat on the veranda to give darshan and distribute prasad to his lovers and many others from Poona whose number now exceeded ten thousand. Elbows flew as some pressed forward. The situation became so serious that Baba’s safety was at stake. Physically, Baba was suffering terribly, but despite it, he had come to Poona to give darshan. The crowd continued to grow out of control and pandemonium eventually broke out.

A well-known singer who had been on Baba’s return flight from Australia had come with his party to sing before Baba. But his harmonium and other instruments got broken in the melee and total confusion reigned. The mandali surrounded Baba as the police appeared on the scene. Not knowing who they were, the police roughly manhandled the mandali and separated them from Baba. Kumar was forcibly removed and taken some distance away where he was made to sit down. He, whom Baba had made the Commander-in-Chief during the Andhra and Hamirpur programs, was now in the custody of the police. Bhau was shoved so violently that he was just saved from falling several feet away. Had Narayan Bundellu not caught him in time, he would have been severely injured.

On the one hand, the mandali were pleased that the police had come and now surrounded Baba, but on the other, they had Baba’s order to remain close to him during the program. The police would not allow them to come near, and they had to stand helplessly at a distance. Only Eruch was allowed to stand by Baba’s side, conveying Baba’s words.

Although order was restored after some time, the crowd continued to be undisciplined despite the presence of the police, and nothing could be done to keep the people in line. The out-of-town lovers had been pushed back and had to stand in the hot sun near the gate. Amidst the throng, Bhau observed his wife, Rama, with their two children, Sheela and Mehernath, and her brother Dhiraj, moving near Baba. Bhau tried to approach Baba, but the police again did not permit it, and he was unable to meet his family. In spite of their being there for Baba’s darshan, Bhau had no chance of speaking with them, not even a minute. From a distance, Bhau could see that Baba asked his wife how the children were, and he made Sheela turn around and show him her burnt back. The skin had healed with hardly a trace of the accident’s scars. . .

Before leaving, Baba’s arti was sung and he remarked, “Today’s program gave me much pleasure.”

TUKDOJI MAHARAJ

(A Saint from Nagpur)

Tukdoji Maharaj was a high saint from Nagpur Baba first met him in December 1937, and later in November 1944. He was high saint, revered for singing bhajans (devotional songs), son that whenever he sang thousands come to hear him. He was well known in central Province and Bombay.

At the time of contact Tukdoji was about thirty years old. And was a man of vast size. He has a rolling giant like that of one who is intoxicated. When he approached Baba on the occasion of large public darshan program in Nagpur in December 1937. One of Baba disciples exclaimed! ” Look Baba, a drunkard has come to see you”. Baba replied, “He had drunk the wine of love.”

On this occasion, Tukdoji Maharaj brought hundreds of his followers with him, and in front of all of them he bowed down before Baba, and then in his great voice sang devotional songs in Baba’s presence. During the disturbance of 1942, Tukdoji Maharaj was imprisoned until many influential people having made it clear that his great influence was spiritual and not political, procured his release. Tukdoji Maharaj was interviewed by an official in prison, and he asked to be allowed to stay in gaol, since he found it restful there.

The next contact with Tukdoji Maharaj was during the great Nagpur meeting of November 1944. Following account is extracted from a circular describing this meeting.

“The most important public function of the day as staged at Gorakshan Compound where Sri Baba gave darshan to a mammoth gathering of 30000 people. Another feature of the occasion of Bhajan by famous saint Tukdoji Maharaj, who received Sri Baba on arrival, and escorted Him to dais amidst shouts of “Sri Meher Baba Ki Jai”. After the Bhajan which ended at about midnight. Tukdoji Maharaj requested Sri Baba to step forward and bless the audience. The scene that was presented to the eyes, with Baba in his standing posture, his face aglow with divine lustre, hands outstretched in blessing was too sublime and transcendental for words to picturised adequately.

Tukdoji Maharaj had been told of Baba in 1948 by Babadas and Pankhraj. He had come to Ahmednagar to attend gatherings of his followers. Baba remarked to him, "I am in seclusion now and not giving darshan to anyone. When I go to Poona, I permit people to see me." Tukdoji Maharaj replied, "Darshan is of two kinds. One is to see physically, another is to see everywhere!"

Baba answered with a smile, "Only an exceptional one sees me everywhere. I am infinite!"

In 1955, Tukdoji Maharaj had been invited to attend a conference on world religions and world peace. He narrated details of his experiences there. Baba then sent him outside with Adi and Bhau for a tour of the Meherazad premises.

TUKARAM

(Perfect Master & poet)

Baba elucidated that Nizamuddin Auliya, Bualishah Qalandar and Chishti of Ajmer were all Sufi Perfect Masters.  He mentioned that Chishti was even considered to be on the same level as Muhammad; however, he was not equal to the Prophet, but the Qutub-e-Irshad of his time — the head of the spiritual hierarchy. Chishti established Sufism in India, and his tomb-shrine in Ajmer is a greatly revered place of pilgrimage.

These Perfect Masters and other Muslim Qutubs always liked listening to ghazals, which have been preserved in the various Divans of Hafiz.

Now, for a Perfect Master to write poetry — what is it [for him] when the whole world is in his hands? But as Tukaram, the Sadguru, explained, one's original nature persists even after Realization.

TAI MAHARAJ

(Women Saint)

A middle-aged woman saint named Tai Maharaj lived in Amraoti. She had a large following, and she invited Baba to her temple. Baba went on December 23rd, and in the presence of over five hundred of her followers, she received Baba with tears in her eyes. She declared to all present, "The Avatar has come to me!"

Throughout the half hour of darshan, Tai Maharaj remained seated near Baba's feet and would not leave him. After the program, she requested Baba to enter the temple, which he did. A statue of Lord Krishna was profusely decorated inside, and Tai Maharaj gazed at it and then at Baba. Pointing to the statue, Baba motioned to her, "I am there!" On his return, Baba remarked, "I appreciate the spirit of Tai Maharaj. There are many saints but she is a real one who totally forgets herself. She is so simple and humble. As for myself, I prefer vagabonds to hypocritical saints."

SWAMI-3

(High-ranking Official turned Swami)

Topkhane introduced a swami to Baba who had once been a high-ranking member of the prestigious Indian Civil Service. The swami had adopted the path of selfless service, renouncing a distinguished career. Baba expressed his pleasure at meeting the swami and remarked to him:

It is good that you have renounced everything, but even after renouncing all, the I is there. And to gain Knowledge, this  has to be totally uprooted. Even the greatest material self-sacrifice does not make this I disappear. The mind says, "I did this. I did that. I do good for others." When the mind dies, all desires vanish; but the mind lasts until the end. To achieve God-realization, this I must go once and for all.

SWAMI YOGANANDA
Saint
Swami Yogananda, who lived in the area bear Ojai visited the property in November 1946 and spent a few hours there. He remarked: "This place is a dream Oriental paradise. One does not even have to focus to hear the Om sound here." Meher Baba's lovers in California, New York, and also at Myrtle Beach, were eagerly awaiting the time when the Soundless Sound himself would visit their centres in America — as he had hinted he would be doing in the near future.