VASWANI T. L.
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.”