42-FERAMROJ BEJANJI WORKINGBOXWALA (Feram)
During April 1930, Feramroj Bejanji Workingboxwala of Bombay came to Meherabad for Baba's darshan with his friend, Khodabanda Beheram Irani. Khodabanda had met Baba before, but this was Feram's first visit. When Baba called them into the small room He was sitting in at the Mess Quarters, they noticed Baba leafing through the pages of the Illustrated Weekly of India (which had published an article about Him on 8th December 1929 by B. D. Pudumji). Feram thought, "How can a Sadguru, who knows everything in the universe, be interested in reading magazines?"
Although Baba was in seclusion and not giving darshan to anyone, surprisingly, He welcomed both men lovingly. He asked Feram about his family, his health, where he worked, how much was his salary, and so forth.
Feram told Baba about his recurring asthma, but Baba remarked, "I only read magazines and newspapers and do not know anything about such matters. So what can I say? I really don't know why people bother to come to Me."
These remarks deepened Feram's faith in Baba. Baba instructed Feram and Khodabanda to stay in Meherabad for two days, but within minutes He asked them to depart for Bombay, particularly emphasizing to them not to get down on the station platform at Poona where the train halted for more than an hour.
In 1931, a year later, Feram moved to Nasik according to Baba's wishes. Baba had him employed in the Sarosh Motor Works office. From that time forward, Feram Workingboxwala entire life was dedicated to living according to the Master's orders.
On 9th February 1931, Feram Workingboxwala came to stay permanently at Nasik under Baba's instructions. He had come several times for Baba's darshan at Alamai Katrak's and Naoroji Dadachanji's apartments in Bombay, and had been directed by Baba to come to Nasik to work in the Sarosh Motor Works as a typist.
There is a humorous story related to Feram. Feram had previous contact with Upasni Maharaj at Sakori. One day Feram told Baba that Maharaj had promised him that this would be his last lifetime. Baba assured him that it would be and that he would fulfill Maharaj's promise, but then asked why Feram did not want to come back in another life. Feram answered, "Baba, I hated school as a boy. The thought of ever coming back and going to school again is dreadful to me. I don't want to come back because I hate school!" Baba laughed and related Feram's reply to the mandali.
In 1932, Feram Workingboxwala came to stay in Nasik, as Baba had ordered, and began working at the Sarosh Motor Works office with Ramjoo and Edke. During this period in Nasik, Baba once saved Feram's life. Here is Feram's account of the incident:
I remember that I foolishly ate some castor oil seeds from a tree on the riverbank where I had gone for a stroll one day. Since lunch was not yet ready, I was hungry and the seeds tasted good. I ate lunch on my return, but I began vomiting and then having diarrhea soon afterward which weakened me considerably. I sprawled out on the floor with no strength left to lift even a finger, but I was fully conscious.
Baba was in the Circle Cinema in His room - called the dressing room, where the mandali would gather around Baba when summoned - and when He was informed of my condition, He sent for me. I was carried there and laid before Him. He asked me where and how I had eaten the seeds, but I could not speak. He directed Adi Sr. to take me to the Civil Hospital, where I was given a half pint of saline.
After this, my thirst was intense and unbearable; but no water was administered until evening and that, too, at only one or two teaspoonfuls!
At about midnight, the quantity was increased and after 24 hours I felt much better and was discharged in the afternoon.
While walking back to my place in the mandali's quarters of the cinema, I wanted to pass by the cinema's restaurant unobserved so as to avoid being seen by Baba who was likely to be there with the mandali. But I was not successful, as Baba caught sight of me and exclaimed, gesturing, "Oh, he has come back alive!" He called me and ordered Adi to buy refreshments of tea and pastries, which were handed round to celebrate. The mandali were happy to get a treat so unexpectedly, but I was nervous and embarrassed.
In 1953, Baba called up two men from the gathering, a strong, stout person and the other, Feram Workingboxwala, quite the opposite — lean and weak. Pointing to them, he explained:
Look at these two men. One is quite strong and big, and the other quite weak. If the weak one is afraid of his opponent's appearance and gives up the game, the other wins without a fight. And in this there is no credit. But if the weakling, in spite of his lean figure, is spirited enough to face his opponent, however strong, he will at least give a good fight.
So you have not to despair, but to give a strong fight. Picture Feram (the weakling) fighting an enemy who does not exist. That would be like waving his fists in the air! It is foolishness-madness. So, for a fight, there must be an opponent. The more formidable a foe, the more spirited the fight, and the more creditable the victory and result. So continue with the fight of mental reaction without fear.
For Feram, going through Chanji's letters and notes proved a tedious and tiresome task. For one thing, Chanji's handwriting was at times microscopic; for another, he was in the habit of taking down Baba's explanations on any scrap of paper handy, and would often not date the entries, or he would simply put the day and month with no mention of what year. Feram was able to complete the work, organizing it as best he could in nine months. And thus, Framroze's (Chanji's) legacy was straightened out by Feramroj (Feram)!
After Chanji's demise, Adi Sr. had become Meher Baba's official secretary and was handling the duty of correspondence between the Master and his followers. Feram would assist Adi in keeping the correspondence and accounts organized.
In 1945, there happened an amusing incident. Feram was a simple, innocent, extremely gullible man. He was often the butt of the mandali's jokes, and Pendu and Nilu especially loved to tease him. Feram was also not in good health, suffering from asthma, and Baba instructed Pendu to give him milk every day. Once Feram complained to Nilu, "I don't like the milk Pendu is giving me; it has a peculiar taste."
"That's because he's not giving you buffalo's milk," Nilu joked, "he is giving you horse's milk — to make you as strong as a horse!"
"Really?" asked Feram incredulously. "Can a mare be milked?"
"Of course," said Nilu. There was a tonga kept at Meherabad for bringing provisions from Ahmednagar each day, and the tonga horse had recently given birth. So Feram was convinced that Pendu was indeed giving him mare's milk.
Soon after, Feram stopped drinking the milk, and although Pendu tried to convince him that Nilu was pulling his leg, Feram indignantly believed he was being made the object of yet another practical joke.
Pendu informed Baba that Feram had stopped drinking milk, and Baba sent for Feram and asked, "Why don't you have milk nowadays? It was my order." Feram told him the reason, and it amused Baba so much that he laughed and laughed.
"You really are a numbskull!" Baba teased. "I've never met a man like you before! I'm surprised Nilu didn't tell you it was chicken's milk! You shouldn't take their jokes seriously. Now, start drinking milk from today, and don't stop until I tell you."
Feram Workingboxwala was told to keep a record of the proceedings in shorthand. The two-day meeting was held in the Mess Quarters (old dharamshala building) in lower Meherabad. It began at 8:00 A.M. on Thursday, 24th May 1945, when Baba briefly outlined the schedule for the next two days.
Baba brought all the women to Meherabad on the 24th for Christmas and to oversee the preparations being made for observing Mehera's birthday that year. He came down from the hill after sunset and went to meet the mandali in the hall of the Mess Quarters. For a joke, Baba asked Feram Workingboxwala what he was studying (as if he too were a schoolboy).
Feram answered, "Nothing in particular."
Baba acted surprised and asked, "Do you know anything about spirituality?"
"I understand a little."
"What is that little?" Baba asked.
Feram was the nervous type, especially when attention was focused on him. He was nonplussed by Baba's questions and could not reply, but after a few seconds responded, "To always do as Baba says."
Baba happily replied, "It is the only thing to be learned on the spiritual path! This is spirituality from A to Z! You have put it in a nutshell. That is everything."
Baba arrived at Meherabad on Monday morning, 15th August 1947, Feram Workingboxwala wrote detailed notes in shorthand; Baba had instructed Feram to "stick to me like a leech, and try not to miss anything that I say to anyone during these days.”)
Feram Workingboxwala had been staying at Akbar Press since the New Life, and he, too, assisted in office work during especially busy times, and also translated some of Baba's English messages into Gujarati.
Pendu left Satara on 28th September 1955, to arrange things ahead of time in Meherabad, where his work started. Correspondence with Satara also increased and Adi Sr.'s office was quite busy. Dattu Mehendarge had stopped working for Adi Sr. in August, and Feram Workingboxwala took his place. Feram had lived at Meherabad for four years, and at the start of the New Life had been sent to Akbar Press. He now began staying at Khushru Quarters.
Adi's assistant Feram Workingboxwala was called to Meherazad on the 23rd August 1963 and Baba instructed him to stay at Meherazad for a month from 1st September for a change. Feram began doing so every year thereafter.
Adi's main helper at his office was Feram Workingboxwala. For a change, Feram came for a three-week stay at Meherazad on the 10th. Baba would call him every year around this time. When he came, Baba would instruct him, "You do nothing but type in Ahmednagar, so now rest while you are here." But some work or the other would inevitably have to be done, and Feram had to spend his "restful stay" typing. By then Feram had worked at Adi's office for years, and his love for Baba was exemplary. A straightforward man of simple habits, Feram was a great help to Adi by doing all of the filing and storing of letters, telegrams and circulars. Baba once revealed to him that he had been a yogi in a previous birth, and assured him that Upasni Maharaj's words were true, that this was his "last lifetime."
In year 1968, Feram would often complain, "Spirituality is nothing but harassment!" He would also complain that the other mandali lied, or told only half the truth, by telling new lovers only the sweet, loving things about Baba — and not about the "grinding" the mandali had to pass through.
- J. Dastur was also staying in Nasik at this time. Feram was typing Dastur's, at times, antagonistic articles with the understanding that Dastur was doing work in Meher Baba's name and should be helped; but Feram was a new member of the mandali and quite unaware of the true state of affairs.
Finally, one day Baba called Feram and asked, "Who does Dastur's typing?" Feram replied that he did.
"Why do you do it?"
"Because he is doing your work."
"Yes, he does it, but inversely! Do you also want to follow his example, you simpleton?" Feram did not understand and Baba dismissed him, commenting, "All right, do your duty."
On 11th February, Dastur told Feram, "Go and find out why Chhabu (a boy) has been dismissed from the workshop." Feram approached Vishnu and Buasaheb and they went to Baba. On their inquiry, Baba took off His sandal and slapped them with it, indicating, "This is My reply to your question. You have both wanted this prasad for days, and today I have given it to you!"
Baba added, "You have been with Me for years and you still do not understand that there is no why or wherefore regarding My work. Even if Feram asked you, you should have replied that it was Baba's wish. You have made a serious mistake, which I have had to correct. Do not do it again. Let this be a lesson to others."
Baba embraced Buasaheb and Vishnu, and then called Feram, taunting him, "It would have been better had you died that day you ate the castor oil seeds. You would have been saved from all the evil sanskaras you have now contracted, in whatever mild form, by asking for an explanation from Me.
Now these sanskaras will remain with you for lives on end — till doomsday! So I say, had you died that day, it would have been much better."
Baba concluded, "Write against Me if you like! Go on; I will be happy."
Feram pleaded, "But I did not want Dastur's work and I do not want it now. He told me it was your work."
Baba replied, "I don't care if you do it. Even if the whole world writes against Me, how could it ever affect Me? I am what I am! My only advice is that you follow the dictates of your heart."
Only then did Feram come to know of Dastur's hostile propaganda against Baba. He stopped helping Dastur and repented for his gullibility.
Later that day in the hall, Baba instructed Feram to write down in shorthand as He translated a couplet of Hafiz to Eruch describing the Infinite Vacuum state. Baba translated Hafiz:
Abodelessness is my Abode,
Signlessness is my sign,
My body does not exist,
My heart does not exist,
Even God does not exist!
Baba added, "Everyone before Realization must pass through this state (nirvana), and immediately after passing through it must realize God."