36-DR. THOTA DHANAPATHY RAO NAIDU
Dr. Dhanapathy Rao had met Baba in 1947 and played a major role in spreading Baba’s name in Andhra Pradesh. He was an active worker and a member of KDRM (A team of 4 lovers from Andhra) called four pillars of Andhra by Baba.
He was a tall, stoutly built man had Baba’s darshan at Meher Bhavan. He approached Baba and Baba smiled exceptionally lovingly at him. The man neither asked for anything nor did Baba tell him anything. But Baba's smile bound him for life, and revealed to him the way to freedom. This was none other than Dr. Thota Dhanapathy Rao Naidu, 57, the man who would eventually spread Baba's name across the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Dr. Naidu had first heard of Baba in December 1941, when he read Purdom's book The Perfect Master, and had been waiting to meet Baba for six long years. After the darshan, Dr. Naidu began disseminating Baba's messages in Andhra, with the result that many workers came forward to share in the Master's cause.
Many of his lifetime incidents and conversation with Meher Baba is written below,
On Sunday, 5th October 1952, Baba held a meeting at Meherazad with six Andhra and six Hamirpur tour coordinators to discuss giving darshan to the masses. Baba met with them from 8:00 to 10:00 A.M. behind the Blue Bus. Baba went over His plans, after which they left for their respective places. Among the six men from Andhra, all were new except for Dr. Dhanapathy. They were highly moved by their first meeting with Baba. Kutumba Sastri, however, could not acknowledge Baba as the Avatar, though his heart was impressed with Baba's love.
Looking at the Andhra group, Baba continued, "Dhanapathy Rao and Ranga Rao will be in charge of the darshan programs in the West Godavari district. I will even visit the Godavari River if they take Me there."
Baba and His group reached Tadepalligudam in the evening. On the station platform, hundreds were waiting for Baba. Witnessing this sight on earth, tears fell from the angels' eyes, and forming into rain clouds, they began drizzling down from the sky.
Members of the Meher Reception Committee came forward to greet Baba. When Baba stepped off of the train, Dr. Dhanapathy Rao garlanded Him profusely, as did the others. Because of the unseasonal rain, they were confined to the station for about five minutes. All during this time, loud and vociferous acclamations rent the air, welcoming the Ancient One to Tadepalligudam.
In a car bedecked with thousands of flowers, Baba took His seat with Dhanapathy Rao and others. Everyone else boarded either cars or buses, which lined up behind Baba's car, forming a long procession. They were led out of the train station by a marching band as the crowd sang this sweet tune: "Namo Meher Baba, Avatar, Namo Dev Deva [Almighty Meher Baba, Avatar, God of all Gods]."
It was a splendorous and touching procession for the One who had come to set Andhra afire. But it was a fire of which no one was afraid. Instead, they rushed toward it to burn themselves. Such was its magnetic, hypnotic attraction.
At eight o'clock, the procession reached the dak bungalow where Baba was to stay. The mandali and others were accommodated in a board high school (one with boarding facilities). A local attorney, Josyula Venkateswara Rao, oversaw the preparation of their food.
On 18 January, 1952, Baba proceeded to Dr. Dhanapathy's bungalow, where He first did His poor work, from 9:00 to 10:00 A.M. As usual, He washed and placed His head on the feet of seven poor souls and paid each Rs.51. As stated, in every program during the Fiery Free Life, this activity had first priority. (Baba would also walk about to contact masts at each stopping place.)
Baba next met Dhanapathy's family.
On 19th January 1953, a mass darshan program took place opposite Dhanapathy's residence, where a huge pavilion had been raised. The customary message of Baba's bowing down and explanation about the Fiery Life was read out. Moving lectures were then delivered by the Meher Committee, the local Bar Association and the Gandhi Seva body, welcoming Baba to their town. The message from Baba on "Spiritual Freedom" was read out by Dhake and translated into Telugu by Kutumba Sastri. Then darshan commenced. Until 1:00 P.M., Baba gave darshan and handed prasad to almost 10,000 men and women. It resumed at 2:30 P.M. and went on and on until late that evening. About 20,000 had the good fortune of receiving Baba's touch that day. Bhaskara Raju sang bhajans continuously during the function and in between Baba would give out certain explanations and messages.
Baba went to the Dhanapathys' house for lunch. Dhanapathy's young granddaughters danced for Baba, and Baba kissed and played with them.
During discussion in Telugu, all Andhra group present there were convinced that Baba knew their language. Yet The Avatar's "knowing" is infinitely different. He can remember events that happened ages ago; He also knows what will happen after cycles of time. He knows the seed of thought fundamental to every tongue spoken by mankind, and thus is aware of everything that everyone thinks.
In the end, Baba created a committee and vested in it overall responsibility for His work in Andhra. There were four members of the committee: Kutumba Sastri, Dhanapathy Rao, Ranga Rao and Mallikarjuna — so Baba named it the K.D.R.M. Samiti (functioning body).
Baba left for Kovvur at about ten o'clock, but on the outskirts of town He had the car stopped. Dhanapathy Rao was following in his car with his family. Far behind them were the buses transporting the mandali and the rest of the group. Getting out of the car, Baba sat under a tree and soundly rebuked Dhanapathy, Sastri and Arjana Rao because the mandali had become separated from Him.
"Don't play with fire!" He warned them. "From the very beginning I have been saying that the mandali should always be with Me. You disregarded My instructions and failed to arrange things properly. I am canceling the remainder of the Andhra tour and leaving for Bombay today!"
Dhanapathy sincerely sought Baba's forgiveness and was pardoned. But he learned a lifelong lesson: There is severity amidst the sweetness of the Fire. In this harshness is true sweetness, as the Fire does not glow without it.
Baba informed Dhanapathy Rao, "On the 2nd of March 1953, I want all workers present, small and big, every one of them, because work must be done honestly or be stopped. I work since ages. I am the only one who works. But if you want to share My work, then it must be done honestly. No compromise, no competition, no ego-tickling lest it spoil the work.
"Wherever I go, people don't even know who I am. As soon as they hear My name, they flock to Me, but they don't know anything about Me. This morning (at 5:50 A.M.) I have dictated three messages. I know messages mean nothing since eternity. The only message is to make one like Me!"
Baba concluded, "I am most slippery. You will never catch hold of Mme because, being divine, I am also very human. Only if you lose your will 100 percent in My will, will you know Me; otherwise not ... In comparison to the real experience of Oneness, all other experiences are useless.
In 1954, birthday program, Dhanapathy's young grand daughter also took part in the play and, while dancing, performed Baba's arti. Dharmarao's daughters had portrayed the love between Krishna and Radha, and in His happiness Baba remarked, "On March 2, remind Me to explain about My dance. It is very original and not yet explained by Me — My First Original Dance." But subsequently, no one remembered to remind Baba about it, and it remained unexplained.
Dr. Dhanapathy Rao took Baba to the dak bungalow, and the mandali were taken to a school. Baba had ordered the mandali and Tadepalligudem lovers that on this, the eve of His birthday, all should "remain awake for the Awakener."
After a brief rest, Baba went to Dhanapathy's bungalow. A great assembly was present and, except for the mandali, Baba permitted those gathered to touch His feet. Baba then entered a hall where no one was allowed except the mandali, K.D.R.M. and Dhanapathy's family. The doors were closed and exactly at 5:00 A.M., the hour of Baba's birth, Eruch read out the Prayer of Repentance in English, then the prayer was read by Ramjoo in Urdu and in Marathi by Dhake.
After the prayer, Baba said, "I have asked God, Whoever He be, to forgive us all our weaknesses. So, from today, try to be honest in your thoughts, words and deeds. From today, you are responsible for your own actions."
Thereafter, Dhanapathy and his family members washed Baba's feet with milk and honey. Baba joked, "Now wash them with water; otherwise, ants will bite me!
At the Ganesh Rice Mill, Dr. Dhanapathy forgot to introduce some of his family members to Baba. Baba remarked to him, "No one in the world is forgotten by Me, and here you forget a few of your close ones."
After examining Dhanapathy's sister-in-law, who had had a nervous breakdown, Baba rhymed: "Nothing wrong; she'll get strong!"
Another feeding of the poor was done in the Rice Mill factory, and Baba remarked, "Those who serve the poor serve me, because I am the poorest of the poor."
From neighboring villages, tens of thousands gathered and were waiting for Baba in the scorching sun. Baba lost His temper because the mandali had left without His permission and the program was delayed because they had not yet come back. When they returned, he scolded the men.
Pendu defended them, saying, "It was not the mandali who had tea, but those who had come with us."
"But, why did they go for tea?" Baba asked.
"Dhanapathy took them," Pendu replied.
Baba reprimanded Dhanapathy, "Have you brought Me here for the people, or to offer tea to the mandali? I will remain here for five minutes. Remember that I have come for these people, not for a picnic or to sip tea. I don't like the idea of sitting here when people are waiting there for Me. Once I lose My temper, I will start beating you all! Don't act like fools!"
Baba proceeded immediately to the pandal, where the throng received Him with loud cheering. Some minutes before the sky was blue and clear; but suddenly clouds gathered and it began drizzling, introducing a pleasant coolness to the atmosphere — an auspicious sign for the villagers.
Once Baba said, “It was Dhanapathy Rao who gave Baba to Andhra. I am G O D and you are G O M (Grand Old Man)” Baba permitted His Pad Yatra at Dhanapathy’s house in Tadepalligudam and celebration of His 60th Birthday in 1954 visit.
But Baba continued, "Last night, a dance was arranged at Tadepalligudam. There was a big gathering. I wanted to give a message there, but the microphone was out of order. So I could not give the message. I said, 'Dhanapathy's mind, through love for Me, has also gone out of order!' Now he says, 'There is a mast here.'
"When Dhanapathy sees Me as I really am, or even has just a glimpse of what I am, then he won't say, 'Baba, take food; Baba, take rest; Baba, there is a mast here.' He will then himself become a mast!"
Dhanapathy and two other disciples were returning, after dispatching the telegrams, had been involved in an accident on the road between Razole and Kottapeta. However, the recipients of the news were not kept in suspense for long; soon the jeep arrived. The accident had occurred when the jeep was heading toward Kottapeta. They had encountered a man riding a bicycle coming toward them on the wrong side of the road. In an attempt to avoid hitting him, the driver of the jeep turned sharply to one side. In doing so, he lost control of the steering wheel, resulting in the jeep going down into a nearby ditch. All of the occupants were thrown out of the jeep as it turned on its side.
Dhanapathy was injured slightly; his hand was bandaged. The others received only bruises. A wall had stopped their forward motion; otherwise, the jeep would have turned over completely and someone might have been killed. The accident occurred at the exact spot where, the day before, Baba's car had almost gone into the canal.
Dr. Dhanapathy cried out to Baba, "O Lord, you have saved us from being killed. Only your grace saved us; otherwise, we would have all been crushed to death. This is due to your miracle."
Baba replied, "I have not yet performed any miracle. It is news to Me."
Baba asked K.D.R.M. to have lunch, and then at two in the afternoon, accompanied by the group, He went to the National Club building, where He was to give darshan. After being received by the secretary of the Meher Center, Baba sat down for a while on the floor, and the Vijayawada messages were read out to the crowd. Ramjoo then read the message "Material and Spiritual Science," which Jagannadham translated into Telugu.
Dhanapathy said, "Thirumala Rao has suggested that Baba send a telegram of His blessings and good wishes to Panditji."
Baba disapproved of the idea: "There is nothing to send. The value of what has been said here today by Me will be nullified if we send a telegram. Whatever I have said, I have said from the heart."
Addressing Dhanapathy, Baba continued, "Because of a slip of your tongue, what you said yesterday created complications for more than an hour. When I say all this about Nehru, it will reach him. Sending him a telegram would reduce the value of My words." (Lord Meher-p-3603-1955)
Being in charge of the health of the Easterners, Dr. Kanakadandi was not able to attend many of the programs. He would, nevertheless, do his duty selflessly, dispensing medicine to his patients with Baba's name on his lips. One night Dr. Dhanapathy Rao brought one man in a serious condition. He asked Kanakadandi for his stethoscope. It was broken, and Dhanapathy pointed this out to him. "It is all Baba's blessing," he replied.
"Baba's blessing is surely there," retorted Dhanapathy, "But has He told you to examine patients with a broken stethoscope?"
"Don't worry; your patient will be all right by morning." The man did get well and attended the meeting the next day.
Dr. Dhanapathy was at the time about 70 years old, and Baba joked with him, "You look so much younger than when we last met. What's your secret?"
Thus, much merriment prevailed. Baba's humor was like an elixir and it kept His lovers' hearts always receptive to Him.
In 1955, after tea, the group gathered before Baba in the hall. On Baba's asking, Kutumba Sastri recapitulated what had transpired during the meeting. Katta Subba Rao looked dissatisfied, and Baba remarked: "I think Katta Subba Rao is boiling within! This is understandable because when I was in Eluru; he served Me well, spent for all my comforts, food and accommodation and for the mandali also.
How is it that you have kept him off the committee?"
Dhanapathy explained, "We wanted only workers, not lovers. We selected only those who could spare their time and money for the work; otherwise, we would not be able to function. We do not care for others!"
Baba asked, "Dhanapathy, tell Me clearly what you mean by 'we do not care for others'? I know you have not said this from the bottom of your heart or with any bad intent. Because you have new dentures, you stutter!"
Dhanapathy said, "No Baba, I didn't say it to injure anyone's feelings."
Baba asked Katta Subba Rao to stand up and express his heart openly in the presence of all. He angrily burst out, "I may not be a worker, but I am a Baba lover! I have devotion for Baba, and in my garden, I have built a temple where He sat. There, every Sunday people come to worship Him, and I think I could have contributed something by being a member of the committee. I didn't even know when it was formed! They never asked me to join. I feel left out. I am dissatisfied with the way the Samiti group is operating and feel there is a lack of cooperation among Baba lovers."
The Andhra lovers concerned sought Baba's forgiveness, if they had erred in mentioning this topic.
Baba said: "I forgive all; in fact, there is nothing to forgive. There are gems outside, too. In America, there are lovers of mine who have dedicated their all to me. There are gems among you, too. Dr. Dhanapathy Rao does My work, going from one place to another undergoing hardships in traveling, et cetera. The same with Kutumba Sastri and Ranga Rao.
Baba then asked Dr. Dhanapathy Rao to feel His pulse. He did and said it was normal.
Referring to Dhanapathy Rao, Baba observed, "He travels to faraway places in Andhra and spreads my message of Love and Truth in every house. He is doing wonderful work."
About doing work in His name, Baba pointed out, "Whoever works for Me, works for his own self."
Introducing one man, Dhanapathy Rao said, "He is My relative."
Baba replied, "Don't say he is My relative.
Introducing Dr. Dhanapathy Rao, Baba remarked, "He is our grand old man. The people of Andhra complain about his fitness. I have asked him to remind me about it tomorrow, when I shall instruct him."
Addressing the four chief workers of Andhra Pradesh — Dhanapathy Rao, Kutumba Sastri, Ranga Rao and Mallikarjuna Rao — Baba stated, "Kutumba Sastri is most reliable. Before meeting other workers, I want to meet with all four of you together. I am glad to see you four together." Baba embraced them again and informed the sahavas group, "These four are the big workers of Andhra Pradesh."
Calling Dhanapathy Rao, Kutumba Sastri, Ranga Rao and Mallikarjuna Rao to the dais, Baba asked each man his age and then remarked: "My connection with Andhra is very old. During this time, my Avatar hood, Andhra has become an independent state. Besides Andhra, my connection is with the whole of South India. I don't mention this to please or humor you, but I am telling you the truth. This is the reason why you people love Me."
In 1958, Jokingly, Baba observed, "Although this sahavas was especially for the women, I can see that the men want to have the privilege of occupying the front row, relegating the women to the back!" The men laughed and got up from the front, making room for the women. For several minutes there was much amusement and then, on a sign from Baba indicating that there was not much time remaining, everyone settled down. Baba said:
Calling the Andhra leaders, known as K.D.R.M., to the hall, Baba asked them point-blank, "Is there cooperation and love among you?"
Dhanapathy, Ranga Rao and Mallikarjuna replied affirmatively, whereas Kutumba Sastri could not make up his mind because Baba had asked them to be honest and sincere in their response. In the end, Kutumba Sastri said there was no problem.
Dr. Dhanapathy Rao read an address from the Andhra lovers to Baba; then rolling it up, he put it in a cylindrical silver case which he laid at Baba's feet along with their collective love-offering of Rs.1, 416.
He then asked, "Who couldn't sleep last night?" Several put up their hands, and Baba inquired the reasons. Dr. Dhanapathy Rao said he could not explain his sleeplessness;
In 1960, foundation stone of the Andhra temple, Mehersthan, in Kovvur was laid by Dhanapathy, according to Baba's wish. The temple was meant to house a life-size statue of Baba in bronze. Baba sent this message to Koduri Krishna Rao: "I was with you when you laid the foundation stone of your temple of love."
On 24th May 1961, there was a large gathering for darshan when the Andhra, Bombay and other groups came. Baba expressed his surprise and concern at those from Andhra traveling such a long distance for just one hour, as his previous circular had discouraged lovers from coming from distant places. There were also many new persons among the Andhra group.
Baba "scolded" Dr. Dhanapathy Rao about this and asked him, "Didn't you read the circular that only close lovers should come, and you've brought all these new people?"
Dhanapathy Rao replied, "Although they have not seen you before, Baba, their love for you is not new. I did not bring them, they insisted on coming."
Baba smiled, pleased at his answer, and assured them, "I am happy you came; it was I who drew you to Me."
To Dhanapathy, He remarked, "I like old men and children!" As Dhanapathy lowered his head and closed his eyes, Baba joked, "But you are neither an old man nor a child. Your clean shave makes you look young!"