8-ARDESHIR SHAPURJI BARIA (Kaka Baria)
Ardeshir Shapurji Baria was Baba’s personal valet and travelled with Baba to the West in thirties. Despite his total lack of the knowledge of English language, he had a deep sense of understanding and conveyed his thoughts to Westerners with deep intensity.
From childhood Kaka had been interested in visiting the tombs of well-known saints. While in Nagpur he met Tajuddin Baba, who assured him, "All will be well with you."
He also visited Hazrat Babajan when he was in Poona. Even though he would see her regularly, he would never say a word to her. One day she inquired why he never asked her for anything. He replied, "You are the Ocean and I am but a traveler who has come to drink from the Ocean."
Kaka met Narayan Maharaj as well, who had him sit near him and treated him kindly. Finally he met Upasni Maharaj, and it was Maharaj who actually told Kaka to go for Meher Baba's darshan.
Ardeshir Shapurji Baria, 37, had come to meet the Master at Toka and wished to stay in the ashram. To test him, Baba directed him to do the work of preparing bamboo matting. He was unfamiliar with such work, but Pendu showed him how to weave them and he brought the finished mats to Baba.
After inspecting the mats, Baba put on Baria's chappals and remarked, "Your chappals don't fit Me. What can I do? When your chappals are My size, I will keep you with Me." Baria was confused by Baba's words. What Baba meant was that Ardeshir Baria was not yet ready to stay with Him. So Baria left Toka after some days to pay the price for a suitable pair of chappals for Baba — to "prepare" himself and make his life worthy of staying with the Master.
Ardeshir was later known as Kaka Baria, and became one of Meher Baba's closest mandali, but he suffered two years of testing before he was fit to join the Beloved. Kaka was born in Navsari on 23rd February 1891. He studied mechanical engineering in college and worked for two years for the Greaves Cotton Mills of Bombay (the same company for which Chanji had worked). After working for a similar firm in Nagpur for five years, Kaka spent two years at the Tata Iron & Steel Company in Jamshedpur. He had also worked in Iraq as an automotive mechanic. In 1928, when he met Baba, he was living in Bombay and was the owner of several taxicabs.
Kaka Baria arrived at Meherabad on the morning of 19 December, and again expressed his wish to stay permanently with the Master. Baba remarked, "Now I think your chappals will fit me." Kaka was confident that Baba would now keep him in the ashram, believing himself worthy to stay with the Master.
His life time events and conversation with Meher Baba are elaborated below:
Once, when Baba was just about to retire for the night, He asked him, "Why are you going to sleep? Go to Bombay and deliver these copies of the Meher Message to My lovers there." Kaka had to return. This time, too, he could not find a place in the Garden of Meherabad, but the period of testing was only to prepare him for his permanent stay. The pain and non-fulfillment of his desire were necessary steps for that preparation.
In 1932, while in Bombay, Baba suddenly informed Kaka Baria, "I've caught pneumonia! Get some anti-phlogistine (a heated, paste-like ointment) and apply it to My chest." Kaka was quite astonished by this, for Baba looked all right; but he applied it as directed. Two days passed without further incident. Then Bachamai Dadachanji came to see Baba and informed him that two days before, her son Dara had come down with double pneumonia and had been seriously ill. Baba related, "I, too, had pneumonia. If I had not caught it, Dara would have died."
Kaka Baria did not know English and had entreated Baba not to leave him alone with the Westerners who badgered him with questions about Baba. Once when Baba was having a private interview with someone, Kaka was waiting outside the room. Seeing one of Baba's mandali, several western women approached Kaka and besieged him with one question after another. Not following what was being said, Kaka was at a total loss and could only think to close his eyes! Thinking that he was meditating, the new lovers were all the more impressed and stood surrounding Kaka. One whispered, "There is some yogic power in him, he must be advanced!" Kaka was sweating from being put in such a very uncomfortable position. Meanwhile the new lovers were waiting to see when he would come out of his "Samadhi." They praised Kaka — while internally he was swearing at them! How long could he stand there like a statue? Fortunately, after some minutes, Baba called him and he went inside. The naïve Westerners were thoroughly impressed, but poor Kaka was bewildered.
Kaka Baria arrived from Bombay on the 9th 1934, the next day, Baba remarked to Adi Sr., "In the beginning, I thought you and Vishnu were the most obedient, but I now find selfishness in both of you. You were only laboring for spiritual gain and Vishnu for monetary help. Vishnu himself does not need money, but he wants to help others in their studies. He has spent whatever little he had for that and now he comes to me for more.
"I have not yet come across anyone who could serve Me without thought of either spiritual or material benefit. Arjun came closest. He was the best."
Baba then called Kaka Baria and asked, "Why are you serving Me?"
"It is my duty!" Kaka replied.
"Don't you have any selfish motive?" pursued Baba.
"Absolutely not!" answered Kaka.
"Kaka talks like this, but he longs in his heart for spiritual advancement. He does not want anything, but he knows that it is desirable to be here for spiritual progress. This, too, is selfishness! One should serve out of love, and true love is bereft of any thought of gain or worry over risks taken."
At the end of May 1939, Baba had sent Kaka Baria and Savak's brother Soli Kotwal to bring the sixth-plane mast Lakhan Shah from Ajmer. It was very difficult and required much persuasion to bring masts to Baba, as they would never like to leave their abode, nor would their followers and devotees be happy to see strangers taking away their personal devas [gods]. But due to the Master's nazar, Kaka and Soli succeeded in bringing this saint-mast to Meherabad on Friday, 2nd June. As soon as Lakhan Shah arrived, Baba embraced him lovingly. Baba promptly gave him a bath, dressed him in a new kafni and, after feeding him by hand, put him in a separate room. For the next fifteen days, Baba sat with Lakhan Shah in seclusion for inner work, for a fixed time each day. After this period, he was taken back to Ajmer by Kaka.
On 7th December 1940, at the bungalow, Katie slipped and fell while carrying a kettle of hot tea and got burned when the hot tea spilled on her and Kaka Baria was shaving at the time in his room, and seeing her fall, went to help her. At that moment, Baba appeared and harshly castigated Kaka. He demanded, "Why did you disobey Me? According to the list of orders, touching women is forbidden!" Kaka replied he was sorry; that he forgot, and was only trying to help her. Baba scolded, "Had you taken the order seriously, you would have remembered it. You think you have done a good deed, but you have no idea how much you have hurt Me. Even if Katie had died, you should not have touched her. Then I would have been proud of how obedient you were. But her fall has made you fall, in disregarding My order." Later, Baba forgave Kaka, and commented to the women (without explaining further), "It was a special day today."
In 1945, during meeting in the next morning at eight o'clock in the Mess Quarters, Baba spoke about His mandali: Baba said: Nobody can serve Me personally in the manner in which Kaka has done. His service in this respect is unparalleled. He visited the West seven times with Me and has suffered the severest types of inconveniences. As an orderly, he tops the list; and in mast work he is second only to Baidul.
On 5th October 1949, Baba paid a final visit to Meherabad to inspect the traveling kits containing the necessary items to be taken by each of those accompanying him. He decided that Kaka Baria would accompany in His New Life among men.
Kaka Baria, then recovering from a heart attack, was advised by Don and Nilu to rest. But in the intense activity of the preparations of the next phase of the New Life, the companions could not nurse him properly. Baba, of course, was attentive to him, but Kaka was still despondent. One day, in a dejected mood, Kaka suddenly left. He had not a cent with him, but he began heading toward Rishikesh. On the way, he asked a stranger for directions. The man was kind and walked by his side to point out the way. They passed a small restaurant, where the man asked Kaka to have tea. But how could Kaka order it with no money? He politely declined and went on. He drank water by a stream, and after a six-mile walk, sat down exhausted.
In 1950, in a desperate state, Kaka Baria thought over the New Life conditions and his oath. His despairing thoughts finally forced him to retrace his steps, and he returned to Manjri Mafi that evening. When Baba saw him He remarked, "Where will you go? You cannot 'go'! And you cannot die! You still have a long time to live!" Baba's remarks put Kaka back in good spirits, and Nilu began treating him more conscientiously.
On 26 April 1950, the companions gathered for a meeting with Baba in which the possibility of starting a business in Delhi was discussed. In the end, Baba came to the many decisions which comprised the New Plan of which Kaka was assigned as under.
Loan of Rs.16, 000 handed over to Kaka Baria on May 1, 1950, to be utilized as follows:
Food amount from May 1 to the end of October 1950 — 2,585
Already paid to the ladies for food of Vishnu and Baidul (or Eruch) for May, June and July — 300
Servants' salaries for six months — 150
Pocket money at ten rupees each for six months — 660
House rent with light and water bills for six months — 300
Shop rent with light and water bills for six months — 510
Rohtak Building rent, bills and commission to agents for six months from the date of occupation — 4,340
Business investment — 5,000
Shifting [moving cost] from Manjri Mafi to Delhi — 1,000
To transport belongings of companions from Meherabad to Delhi — 1,000
Emergency — 155
Total Rs. — 16,000
Kaka is to keep aside for six months the following amounts, which will help early repayment of the loan of Rs.16, 000:
Rs.150 per month, paid by the ladies as salary for Eruch, Vishnu and Baidul
Rs.100 per month as rent, paid by the ladies from August 1950
Seventy-five percent net profit from the New Plan group earnings
Seventy-five percent of amounts sent by companions of Plan One-C and Plan Two;
Whatever is saved from the allotted amounts of rent, shifting (relocating), luggage expenses savings and Don's furniture sale.
The talk was interrupted by loud shouts from Kaka Baria who was in the compound adjoining the hall, giving instructions to the servants. For the past two days, Kaka had been busy making arrangements for the day's celebration. Baba informed them, "Kaka has had three severe heart attacks and was thought to be dead at the time of the last one. Who would now think that he could have been so seriously ill once upon a time?"
Kaka used to refuse to go to the West with Me, as he did not know much English. Finally, he agreed to come with Me on the condition that I always keep him near Me.
During one private interview in London, Kaka had to wait outside My room. Some of My women followers surrounded him and wanted to speak with him. The thought of talking to them in English panicked poor Kaka, and to escape from the situation, he resorted to a wonderful stratagem: he closed his eyes, folded his hands and stood quite still. This strange sight drew more women around him, who called out to the others to come and have a look, for they thought Kaka was in some sort of samadhi! Kaka was watching them from the corner of his semi-closed eyes and praying fervently to Me to end the interview so he could come and be with Me. Five, ten, fifteen minutes elapsed but the door did not open. No longer could Kaka stand the strain of his self-imposed samadhi, so he suddenly opened his eyes, bowed to all those present and walked out of the house into the street below. (Lord Meher-p-4894-1962)
In 1959, Kaka Baria suffered a heart attack, and Padri was called in the evening to stay at Meherazad to help look after him. Meherdas was ordered to be with Kaka at night. Baba reassured the men that Kaka would be all right. "He won't die now," He stated.
In year 1963, Kaka Baria suffered from uremia. With Baba's consent, Adi induced Kaka to be admitted to Booth Hospital, on 31 May. According to Baba's instructions, Padri went to stay in Meherazad to oversee the property. Baba also specified that if Kaka should die, he was to be buried in Meherazad among the six mango trees behind Eruch's room.
In 1965, Kaka Baria had had to be hospitalized after suffering a stroke. He was admitted to Booth Hospital on 14 June 1965 by Padri and Adi. Baba was informed that it looked as if Kaka would die. Baba, in fact, sent instructions about Kaka's burial at Meherazad, but added, "It would be better if Kaka passes away after I return from Poona." Surprisingly, Kaka recuperated, and on the 26th was shifted to Gulmai's room at Khushru Quarters where he stayed for a week until Baba returned to Meherazad. 5160-1965
Kaka Baria became seriously ill again on 8th August 1967, He was unable to pass urine and Dr. Southwell was brought to Meherazad on the 9th to examine him. Sidhu was also sent for from Meherabad to attend Kaka for a few days.
By 1967, Due to uremia, Kaka had trouble speaking coherently. He would become confused and say the wrong name for things. For instance, he would repeat anda (eggs), and Pendu would hand him a matchbox, knowing that is what he meant. Baba would ask him who the men were and he would call Aloba Kakri (Cucumber). Bhau he called Choowa (Mouse), and Pendu Lassan (Garlic). Within a few moments, when Baba asked him again who they were, he would give entirely different names.
Before sitting in the lift-chair, Baba would ask Kaka the garden boys' names, and each time, Kaka would say something different. Baba would tell Francis to remember these names and when he came to the verandah of the house, Francis would loudly repeat what Kaka had said, so that Mehera and the other women inside could hear and enjoy Kaka's latest christenings. Kaka's incorrect pronunciation and the way in which he said it kept Baba amused, and it became a source of merriment to all the mandali. One day, perhaps only half-joking, Baba remarked about Kaka's speech, "This was the language people used to speak 1,000 years ago, and Kaka is remembering it!"
Kaka had already had four heart attacks, beginning in 1950 during the New Life. In 1965 he had had a stroke, and in 1967, he suffered a very severe fifth heart attack. Goher, Aloba and Bhau attended to him, but Kaka was not an easy patient to nurse. He was a fastidious sort of person, very fussy about things being kept in his room just so, and would not listen to his attendants. One night Goher came to Baba's bedroom and pleaded, "Baba, Kaka's condition is serious. He should be removed to the hospital. He can't be saved now!" Bhau agreed, but Baba replied, "If he cannot be saved, and you think his time has come, then it's better he dies here at Meherazad than in the hospital. But I tell you, he won't die now."
Kaka's condition deteriorated and he grew so weak he could not even raise his hand. On Baba's instructions, Eruch, Pendu and Bhau lifted Kaka and carried him inside the hall. He was made to sit next to Baba, and Baba asked for a cup of water and gave it to him to drink. Kaka sipped it slowly and within half an hour he became quite active. He looked around the room, became attentive to what was going on around him and went near Bhau and slapped him on the head. He then stood up, left the hall, and went to the kitchen, where he ate his lunch and washed the dishes. Then he made his bed and began doing his own regular chores. No one could believe it! The man who could barely move and whose heart continued missing beats was moving about quite normally now. It was as if a dead man had come alive! From that day in 1967 onward, until Kaka died (on 27 February 1969), he never again required any medical attention and did his own chores. And he kept slapping Bhau! He was like "Baba's toy" and in His love had become like a child.
Demise: 27 February 1969