D-BIOGRAPHIES OF 20 MEN CLOSE DISCIPLES

72-NANA KHER

Nana Kher, 28, of Nagpur was a friend of Eruch’s. He had been interested in spirituality from childhood, particularly the stories of Ram and Krishna. He heard of Baba in 1941 from Deshmukh (then his professor of philosophy) and from that time on had been yearning for darshan. But when Baba’s darshan program was held in Nagpur in 1944, Nana was working in Poona and had no knowledge of it.

Many of his real time incidents and dialogues with Meher Baba are written below.

In Poona, Eruch told him of his forthcoming marriage and added, “If you attend it, you will have Meher Baba’s darshan.” So Nana came to Ahmednagar to attend the function. The first time he met Baba was on 27th May 1944, the evening before the wedding, when Baba paid a visit to Akbar Press.

Baba called Nana into His room. Eruch, Jal Kerawalla and Jalbhai were present. Baba asked him, "What do you want?"

"Spiritual freedom," Nana replied.

Baba looked highly pleased and asked, "Would you follow My orders?"

"I am fully prepared to do as you say."

Baba instructed, "Fast every Sunday during the day, and at 7:00 P.M. have a full meal after feeding a beggar with your own hands. Repeat My name for fifteen minutes daily in a closed room, and lead a simple, pure life." Nana was grateful for Baba's orders and Baba asked him, "Is there anything else you want to ask?"

Nana reluctantly said, "My parents want me to marry. Should I?"

"What is the hurry?" Baba asked. "Wait for two years and then I will tell you what to do."

Baba and the group arrived in Madras on the night of the 2nd April 1947. They stayed in Aiyangar family's house, Meher Bhavan, in Saidapet. From Nagpur Nana Kher and others came

Although Baba did not meet the public during His stay in Madras, He did have interviews with His intimate lovers. One was with Nana Kher of Nagpur. A few years before, in 1945 at the Damania and Jessawala wedding in Ahmednagar, Nana had asked Baba about his own possible marriage, and Baba had informed him he would instruct him after two years. Now, in Madras, Baba broached the subject again, reassuring Nana, "If you want to marry, then marry. I give you My permission and blessings."

"I will do as you say," Nana replied.

"Have you ever committed any sexual act with anyone?" Baba asked.

"Never!" Nana answered.

"Then why don't you marry Me?" Baba advised. "If you have sexual thoughts, don't worry; but do not put these thoughts into action."

Despite the ardent desire of his parents, Nana never did enter into wedlock and devoted himself entirely to Baba's service.

On 15th December 1948, Nana Kher of Nagpur and Was Deo Kain of Delhi were brought to Meherazad. Nana Kher had repeatedly requested to stay with Baba. He had recently heard from Babadas that Baba was looking for lovers who would be prepared to go to foreign countries to do His work. Nana told Baba this, and Baba asked him, "Would you be able to do anything I say?"

"Anything," Nana replied.

"Would you kill your father?"

"I would do anything you told me, Baba."

"Are you prepared to undergo life imprisonment for My sake, to suffer physically and mentally for the rest of your life? Will you do that for Me?"

Nana answered affirmatively, and Baba asked about his activities in Nagpur. Baba then ordered, "I want you to go back, and return here within two months with four lakhs (400,000) of rupees."

"All right," Nana calmly replied.

"From where will you bring it?" Baba asked.

"I will beg!" Nana declared.

"Who would give you alms? I have a better idea," Baba teased. "Rob a bank and give Me the money. Then surrender to the police and accept your guilt.

You will be sent to prison, and there you will be able to remember Me more. Could you do that?"

Nana assured Baba that he was prepared to do so, and he was told to go. But soon Baba called him back and ordered, "Don't do that. Instead, go home and sell your half-interest in the chemist shop (his family pharmacy). If you want to dedicate yourself to My cause, you must be free from any personal liability. Give the money to your mother. Thereafter, on the 1st of April (1949) walk here from Nagpur, wearing only a loincloth and nothing else. Don't keep a pie (penny) with you, and beg for your food. Would you do this?"

"Yes," Nana assuredly replied.

"If your parents won't allow it, what will you do?"

Nana remained quiet, and Baba warned, "Do nothing against your parents' wish. Explain to them lovingly, but do not argue with them. And then come and stay with Me permanently." Nana returned to Nagpur and, as expected, his well-to-do elderly parents (his father was a judge) were shocked. They did not think it was proper for their son to go on a begging tour, and they forbade it. His father wrote to Baba, and Nana also informed Baba accordingly. Baba ordered him to continue living with his parents.

Nana Kher of Nagpur had orders to fast every Sunday and feed a poor beggar. Availing himself of the chance, he had written asking what he should do if he fell sick. Baba simply advised him, "In that case, do not fast and don't even think of feeding a beggar." (Lord Meher-p-2942-1950)

Nana Kher related, "While Baba was standing on the verandah saying goodbye, and we saw an unusual glow and radiance on his face. He was very, very happy. As we departed, we could see this glow and radiance even from a distance." (Lord Meher-p-2947-1950)

On 30 June 1951, in the morning, Baba took the group in two buses to the scenic Usman Sagar (lake). Baba also met individually with a few of his lovers that day. Nana Kher told him, "I wish to stay with you."

"Would you do as I tell you?" Baba asked.

"Assuredly!" was his quick reply.

"From tomorrow, start drinking two bottles of wine and eat one kilo of mutton," Baba ordered. "Would you do it?"

Although Nana, being a high caste Brahmin, had never touched wine or meat in his life, he agreed to obey. Baba then related to him, "I am very pleased with you, but continue to stay at your house, and never touch wine or mutton!" (Lord Meher-p-3001-1951)

On 19th October, 1952, Nana Kher and others were called to discuss the darshan programs in Nagpur and Saoner. Sherlekar was given overall responsibility for seeing to all arrangements.

Baba then asked Nana Kher of Nagpur about several of his monetary matters, and told him to make up his mind so firmly that nothing would upset him. "But again, that is impossible," Baba remarked. "In case you have a zalak (glimpse of God), only then is it possible. But it is better that one should not worry, for all is zero."

The music program ended at five that afternoon. Baba asked all to wash their faces and hands again, and the names of God from the four different religions were repeated. As Baba got down from His gaadi, He turned to Nana Kher and asked, "Why are you growing a beard?"

Nana answered, "My beard is so tough, letting it grow is easier than shaving."

Baba teased him, "It is good that you did not get married, because your wife might not have liked the sight of a bearded husband."

While leaving the hall, Baba urged all to have a good rest and keep well for the coming three days.

Nana Kher's brother, Vinoo, had come to Meherabad for the first time. On seeing him, Baba remarked to Nana, "What a beautiful soul! Nana, your brother is quite a good man and I like him very much."

In 1953, during the Nagpur stay, Baba and the mandali's food was coming from Nana Kher's family's house and was daily being delivered to where Baba was staying.

He was not eating at anyone's house, but he once went to see the Kher family at their residence. There were so many dishes for lunch that Baba complimented Nana's mother, Godubai, "My belly is full just looking at them!"

Then, examining every dish minutely, He inquired, "Why hasn't Asha (Nana's sister-in-law) prepared chutney? Where is she?"

Godubai explained, "She specially came from Amraoti for that purpose, but because she is having her period, she is weeping." (In India, it is an age-old custom that when a woman is menstruating she keeps herself aloof and does not touch anyone, much less cook.)

Baba sent for Asha and asked her, "What do you take Me for?"

"Paramatma," she said.

"Yes, I am Paramatma. I am the Ocean which has within it both good and bad. The ocean is never polluted if filth is thrown in it, nor does it ever give out fragrance if it contains sandalwood. The ocean is infinite. It always is as it ever was.

"I contain within myself both your good and bad actions and keep you clean. I am infinitely pure and purify every bit of dirt in My Infinite Ocean. So, dedicating both good and bad to Me, everyone should become pure.

"To Me, you are never unclean. Go prepare and bring My chutney. I am waiting for it."

For Asha, it was a wondrous thing, as she had been brought up in an orthodox, traditional manner. Baba's love took firm root in her heart, and she prepared the chutney with much love — which Baba ate with zest, praising her all the while.

During travel from Delhi to Madras by train, according to instructions, Nana Kher met the group at the Nagpur station at noon with lunch for Baba. Pointing a finger at Babadas, Baba asked Nana, "Who is this fellow?" Nana could not recognize a clean-shaven, well-dressed Babadas, so Baba told him who it was. Baba remarked to Nana, "Come with us; we will see about the ticket." Nana was only too willing; but just as the train began leaving the station, Baba changed His mind and decided that he should get off.

Baba decided to fast for seven days from 10th July 1954, and chose seven others to fast with him including Nana Kher. Subsequently, Baba broke His fast on the 13th July, and ordered the others to stop also.

Nana Kher's mother, Godubai, had come from Nagpur, and Baba asked her what she wished for. "Nothing except your love!" she said. In fact, she had come again with the firm resolve to ask Baba about Nana's marriage. She had been thinking about this the whole time while coming on the train, and again in the pandal as Baba was giving darshan. But when she stood in front of Baba, she forgot all about it — and only remembered on the train while returning. She now accepted that it was not Baba's wish that her son marry. This was true, and so Godubai would continually "forget" to bring up the subject with Baba. Thereafter, she never mentioned it to Him — nor did Nana Kher ever marry.

For December meeting, Nana Kher and Bhau were to make sure the kitchen, latrines and bath rooms were kept neat and clean. Baba had sent word with Eruch that everyone should be given two Anacin tablets upon arrival.

Nana Kher had typhoid and his brother, Vinoo, and nephew, Bal Subhedar, brought him to the meeting tent in a car. He was made to sit on the platform with his brother and nephew to care for him. Baba's order was that even if anyone was ill he should participate in the meeting. And although Nana had a temperature of 105° F, he was brought to the pandal.

In October 1954, Nana Kher was still ill with typhoid, and Don was treating him. Since the mandali were to leave for Satara, Don advised that Nana be sent to the Ayurvedic Hospital in Ahmednagar. This was done, and Bal Subhedar continued to look after Nana. After Nana was a bit better, He left for Nagpur on the 8th October.

For sahavas programs were in the final stages. On 27th October 1955, Baba had been driven to Meherazad from Satara, and from the following day, He began visiting Meherabad daily.  Cooking arrangements were the responsibility of Chhagan and Shahastrabudhe (of Mahabaleshwar), aided by Nana Kher."

Baba said: "Those who do My work are My mandali. If we were to list their names, it would fill a volume. There is Ramjoo, Kishan Singh, Nana Kher and Feram Workingboxwala.

On 8th November 1956, a telegram was received in Satara about Sheela. Bhau did not inform Baba because there was a ban on correspondence during Baba's seclusion. But that day at 5:00 P.M., Baba called him to Grafton and asked if any letter or telegram had been received. Bhau said one from Rama had come. "What does she say?" Baba asked, and Bhau told him.

"Send a telegram immediately to Nana Kher to arrange for Sheela's medical treatment."

"Everything will be done there [at Rama's parents," Bhau protested. "Why should Nana be troubled?"

This upset Baba so much, He picked up His sandal and threw it forcefully at Bhau. "Why this talk of trouble to Nana instead of simply following My order? Aren't you ashamed to speak like this to Me? Who is sending a telegram to Nana, you or I?"

In 1958 darshan program, embracing Nana Kher, Baba stated, "He is from Nagpur. There is no silent worker like him."

On 11th April 1959, Baba visited the Poona School and Home for the Blind in Koregaon Park. Baba gave this message, which Nana Kher read out:

People generally think that the blind are unfortunate. You may also sometimes think so. But it is people with eyesight who are really unfortunate. They think that all the things they see are real. But they do not see God, Who alone is real.

All those who do not see God are blind. The only thing worth seeing is God. So even those who have physical sight may be more blind than those who are physically blind and love God within.

Today, I embrace you with My love so that someday you may have real Sight and see Me everywhere.

5th June 1960, was the largest public darshan in summer. An estimated 10,000 persons poured into Guruprasad seeking the God-Man's touch. Nana Kher from Nagpur came for darshan with many other VIP’s.

In 1963, Nana Kher arrived from Nagpur and stayed with the men mandali at Guruprasad, until Baba left at the end of June. Occasionally, Nana Kher would write down what Baba dictated. On 30th and 31st March, Baba explained about the "weaknesses" of each of the past Avatars, and also about two ways of realizing God:

Each year Nana Kher would come from Nagpur for three months to reside at Guruprasad with the mandali. This arrangement continued until the end of Baba's life, whenever He resided in Poona.

On 6th May 1965, the final day of darshan, Baba entered the side room at 7:05 A.M. Eruch showed him the first three copies of the Marathi translation of The Everything and The Nothing, which Indumati Deshmukh, Nana Kher and Dinkar Dhage of Nagpur had done together. Baba signed each of the copies.

On 10th July 1967, Baba instructed His lovers to celebrate His silence anniversary and Baba sent following message to Deshmukh, Nana Kher and the Nagpur group,

My love blessings to all those who in celebration of My silence anniversary celebrations are enjoying the beauty of silence and who, in silence, are awake for the attainment of the destination of the pilgrimage of life.

One night during his watch, Baba asked Bhau, "Who is your best friend?"

Bhau replied, "Nana," since he had known Nana Kher since his college days in Nagpur.

"Do you feel lonely here without him?" Bhau said yes.

"Should I call him here?"

"Baba, how can you call him during your seclusion?"

"Never mind that," Baba replied.

The next day in the hall, Baba instructed Eruch to send Nana Kher a telegram, informing him to come and stay at Meherazad. Pendu and Eruch objected, but Baba did not give any further explanation.

Nana Kher arrived on the morning of 28th August 1967, and remained for almost a month.  He would keep watch near Baba at night for three hours, and was then relieved by Aloba. It was the first time Nana had been given this duty, and it was Aloba's first time as well.

Baba continued His work for five weeks — from 21st May to 27th June 1968 — working half an hour daily. For more than a month, during the latter days of Baba's stay in Guruprasad, He would call Bal Natu and Nana Kher to His room for half an hour at about 7:00 P.M. every evening to listen to them recite the Marathi poems of Professor A. N. Deshpande, head of the Department of Marathi at Nagpur University. Nana Kher had told Deshpande a year or so earlier about Baba, and although Deshpande had not met Baba, he was extremely drawn to Him after reading Baba's books. Deshpande had corresponded with Baba and had sent him a copy of his poetry booklet Nave Manache (New Mind) Shlok (Shlokas for a Modern Age).

To entertain Baba, Nana Kher and Bal Natu twice staged amusing skits

 

71-MURLI KALE

(S/o Kalemama)

Murli was Kalemama’s son also Baba’s close Mandali and a New Life Companion. He was with Meher Baba since the Prem Ashram boy’s days of 1927. He later became Baba’s Mandali and New Life Companion. Murli endeared Meher Baba with his consistently exemplary behavior in conforming to the conditions of the New Life.

Murli and his elder brother Sridhar were amongst the first 10 students of the Hazrat Babajan School at Meherabad in 1927. Murli later became a qualified Homeopath, and attended the Homeopathic dispensary at Meherabad Ashram, as a Doctor. He gave medicines to the mandali and the poor villagers. Later Murli accepted the conditions of New Life and joined New Life. Baba highly appreciated Murli for his implicit obedience and jolly mood in adverse conditions as a Mandali and as a New Life Companion.

Murli conveyed to Baba that he was interested in practicing homeopathy and wished to study further, on 1st July 1951; Baba willingly freed him from being a servant companion and sent him back to his Old Life.

Murli also wanted to go to England for higher studies in Homeopathy and Baba had his passport made, which he but could not use. Later in 1951, Baba permitted Murli to settle at Jabalpur and practice homeopathy, and Murli came to Jabalpur in 1952. At Jabalpur he started a Meher Charitable Dispensary, and a number of new Baba lovers came to know of Baba through him, and he was always a source of joy and inspiration for the Baba lovers.

He often visited Baba during the darshan programs. He married Sulbha and a son Niket was born to them. When the child was born, Murli sent a letter to Baba from the child himself, with the thumb impression of the child. Baba in His reply acknowledged that it was perhaps for the first time, He was writing a letter to a child who was not even a month old, because it if for the first time He received a letter from a child not even a month old

Some of his life time incidents and dialogues with Meher Baba are elaborated as under:

In the course of conversation with Murli Kale, who had recently gotten married, Baba observed, "Now that you are married, you will have a family and will have to look after all the resultant difficulties and maintain them."

Baba's seclusion begun on the 15th of July 1935 was a disturbed day and night by strong winds and thunderstorms. So Baba decided to change the place of His work and left for Panchgani on 15th October 1935 to stay in the cave at Tiger Valley. Accompanied by Jalbhai, Kalemama and his son Murli went in advance.

In 1938, Murli was staying in Bombay at this time studying homeopathy, and Baba sent Adi Sr. there on the 19th to persuade him to return to Meherabad. Adi returned on the 22nd, but without Murli which greatly displeased Baba.

During Blue bus tour in 1939, decision to stay in Bangalore was definite, the mandali from Meherabad were called. Accordingly, Murli Kale arrived on the afternoon of the 15th. More from Meherabad and Bangalore were called for stay.

In 1940, before leaving Bangalore, Baba met the inmates of the mast ashram and gave duties to each of the mandali in Bangalore. Murli remained in Byramangala seeing to the work there.

Before Baba had left for Aurangabad, He sent some of the mandali, including Murli Kale with instructions to deliver His orders to the 99 individuals in different cities throughout India on 1st February, according to the plan announced at the December meeting.  Baba's instructions given to one of the men in the Group A is as follows:

Reference your signature to obey Me implicitly in My work of spiritualizing the world; the following are My definite instructions to be carried out by you at any risk, even at the cost of life: Join Me physically for an indefinite period to take active part with Me in My work of spiritualizing the world, from February 28, 1943, onwards. Be prepared to sever all worldly ties accordingly.

With their luggage already loaded on buses, all were prepared to leave, when a heavy rain began falling. Baba was seen walking back down the hill drenched, and Murli ran to Him with an umbrella. Baba signaled to him to keep at a distance and stood there getting soaked in the downpour. The rain stopped completely after some time, and all left for the railway station and bus stand with acclamations of Meher Baba's Jai! on their lips.

In 1945, according to instructions, those invited arrived in Meherabad on the 23rd, and Baba gave them individual interviews. Called to the meeting were the following 40 men.  Murli Kale was one among them.

Baba said: Murli Kale although has been getting worldly thoughts, he has been staying and doing all work for Me. His services are of a high order.

On 9th December 1947, the youngest boy, Raja, fell ill with malarial fever, and Pendu duly informed Baba that Murli was treating Raja homeopathically. But on receiving the news, Baba dispatched Adi Sr. to Meherabad with orders to see the child personally and report his condition back to Pimpalgaon.

Pendu informed Adi that Murli was treating Raja, and the fever had come down. Adi reported this to Baba, who sent this warning back to Pendu the next day: "If anything happens to Raja, I will take your life and you will be doomed forever!”.

Baba stopped at the homeopathic dispensary and asked Padri and Murli, which of them, including Adi Jr., knew the most about homeopathy. Padri replied that Murli alone was fit to treat patients independently. Baba remarked, "Personally, I have little faith in homeopathy, but if the occasion arose, I would wish to be treated only by you, Padri."

For Murli Baba said: "Whatever is said and happening around Me, My inner voice compels Me to believe in you, Baba, to the end."

Murli Kale was conducting the homeopathic dispensary in Meherabad, and Rashid was his assistant.

In 1949, Baba decided that four women and sixteen men would be going with Baba in the New Life. Murli Kale was former Meher Ashram students. After the ashram had closed, Murli had become a member of the mandali. In New life, Baba assigned duties to the companions: Murli was to wash the utensils.

The group arrived in Babatpur (near Banaras) at midday, and camped under a grove of trees. Kaka cooked lunch. Assisting Kaka, Murli was so tired that he was peeling and cutting onions while reclining. Kaka was exasperated by this (probably because he thought Murli could do a better job while seated), but he could not say anything in criticism under the conditions of the New Life.

In 1950, following the third plan, Murli, Kale with other mandali men four women, were to remain with Baba in Manjri Mafi, living according to the original conditions of the New Life.

Baba was becoming anxious about the completion of the work on the Manjri Mafi property before the end of the month, and he visited the property three times. Some of the villagers had approached Baba for medical help, and Baba instructed Murli to treat them with homeopathic medicines.

Baba wanted to take the oath of the New Life. He came in clad in a white kafni, the ocher-colored satchel for begging hanging from his shoulder. Baba declared that he had now stepped back into the New Life, and He exhorted all Yeswalas to either enter the New Life and follow His behests 100 percent, or to lead the Old Life, or to take up an independent life altogether. One of these they had to decide. The decisions taken were for Murli Kale — Servant

On 14th April 1950, entering the companion’s hut, Baba warned, "Everyone should remain cheerful under all conditions and circumstances, and should never lose their temper or get annoyed."

Baba asked Murli, "If your father passes away, how you would feel?"

Smiling, Murli replied, "I would not feel anything — let him go!"

On 26th 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 following decisions which comprised the New Plan:

The Eleven members of New Plan group consisted of Murli and others.

From 9th July 1950, Baba began working with the mast alone each day for three hours. Other masts and mad were also gathered and brought to Satara. Murli with 3 others cared for them.

From 13th to 28th February 1951, Baba spent the days in the cabin, the hut and the compound, staying inside the hut from 11:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. The space was enclosed on all sides so that he was not visible. Murli with four others were on watch. From 13th February, for seven days Baba fasted on only water; after which, he partially fasted by eating only once a day.

Murli Kale had stayed with Baba since his father Kalemama had sent him to study in the Meher Ashram in 1927, when he was 13. At the Hyderabad meeting, Murli conveyed to Baba that he was interested in practicing homeopathy and wished to study further. Therefore, on 1st July 1951, Baba willingly freed him from being a servant-companion, and sent him back to his Old Life. As a companion in the New Life, Murli had faithfully carried out all the conditions, and Baba was fully satisfied with him.

In 1952, as decided by Baba, eleven men from the group were to repeat God's name on Baba's behalf, continuously from the 2nd of November to the morning of the 14th, in His Jhopdi. The repetition was to be non-stop the full 24 hours throughout the next twelve days. The following was the schedule for Murli Kale,

1:00 to 3:00 P.M. — Murli, as a Christian, to repeat God Almighty

Baba also directed four men to read sacred writings out loud alone in the hall, for four days from 1st to 4th November, at four fixed times:

7:30 to 8:00 A.M. — Murli from the Bible

On 4th November 1952, Baba inquired about the health of everyone present. He was in a happy mood. He summoned the five "priests" — Kaikobad, Kalemama, Ramjoo, Murli and Daulat Singh. Murli had not yet come, so someone went to bring him. Baba cracked, "He is so lazy that even if I were to promise him God-realization, he would not come on time!" When Murli came Baba asked each of the five to repeat seven times a short prayer he dictated glorifying God.

Ramjoo then read from the Koran until 10:00 A.M. At the completion of the Mohammedan portion, Baba walked to His Gaadi and hung a cross around His neck. Murli stood before Him wearing a long gown. Baba remarked, "You look exactly like a Christian priest." The Lord's Prayer was recited and then the Sermon on the Mount. When Murli finished, Baba took off the cross and gave it to him to keep.

In 1960, after meeting, Baba turned to Murli Kale and, before everyone, praised him for his consistently exemplary behavior in conforming to the conditions of the New Life. From among all the companions, Baba stated that Murli alone had managed to remain cheerful throughout all the ups and downs faced so far. Baba folded His hands to Murli in recognition of his merits.

Once, when they had been traveling by bus, Baba told the companions to get down and come by the next bus, which they did. At the bus stand Murli saw his sister. In obedience to the conditions, he turned his face and walked away without speaking to her. The next day, he received a telegram that his sister had died; even then he kept up a cheerful appearance.

7

 

LIST OF 20 MEN CLOSE DISCIPLES
SL No NAME RELATION
71 Murli Kale S/o Kalemama
72 Nana Kher Self
73 Nariman Dadachanji S/o Dadachanji
74 Pandurang S. Deshmukh (Pandoba) Self
75 Ranga Rao Self
76 Rustom  Kaikhushru Irani (Big Boss) B/o Adi K irani
77 Rustom Gustad Irani (Masaji) F/o Pendu
78 Sadashiv Govind Shelke Patel (Sadashiv) Self
79 Sadhu Leik Circle Member
80 Sampath Aiyangar C. V. Circle Member
81 Sarosh Irani S/o Kharmanmasi
82 Sayyed Saheb (Meher) H/o Zohra Pirzade
83 Savak Dinsha Kotwal Self
84 Shatrughan Kumar (Kumar) Self
85 Sheriyar Mundegar Irani (Bobo) F/o Meher Baba
86 Siddhu Self
87 Sitaram Dattatrey Deshmukh (Chhagan) Self
88 Venkoba Rao Self
89 Vishnu Narayan Deorukhkar (Vishnu) Self
90 Will Backett (Wilmar) Foreigner

 

 

90-MANMATH NATH CHATTERJEE

(Former professor of sociology at Antioch College in Ohio)

Another Indian, a learned Brahmin in his early 60s named Manmath Nath Chatterjee, also met Baba. Chatterjee was a former professor of sociology at Antioch College in Ohio, and a dear friend of one of his former pupils, Agnes Baron. Agnes had been trying to convince "Chat" to meet Meher Baba for years, but he had scorned her attempts, saying, "You Westerners are so stupid! You run after all these big chaps, not knowing what the consequences will be. Until you are ready to have your life turned inside out — stay away from them!"

By sheer coincidence Chatterjee had phoned Agnes inviting her out to lunch. Agnes was furious and threatened, "If you don't come to meet Meher Baba, I will never speak to you again!" So, reluctantly he came to the hotel. It was time for lunch, but Agnes pleaded with Adi to let Chatterjee go in. They were seated outside Baba's room on a bench. Adi informed Baba, who came out, and taking Chatterjee’s hand between His palms; Baba escorted him into the room. Agnes was told to wait outside.

Half an hour later, Chatterjee, who was always very straight, almost military in his bearing, came out almost doubled up. Agnes took him to her room. Chatterjee was nearly unconscious, muttering, "I had to come, I had to come!" He left after some time and later sent a copy of one of his books to Baba. Shortly afterwards, Agnes learned that he had become paralyzed on the left side and he died soon after.

 74-PANDURANG S. DESHMUKH (Pandoba)

Pandurang S. Deshmukh (Pandoba) was among the first teachers included at Meherabad.  He met Baba in 1926.

Baba remarked, Pandoba has nine children to support and has never earned more than Rs.50 per month. He never asked a pie (penny) from Me but has always lent a helping hand in My work. When compared to his services, all japa-japa fade away into insignificance.

Although the taking of Baba's darshan had been stopped for some time, visitors continued to flock to Meherabad. On 9th November 1926, a crowd formed and Baba permitted them to take darshan. Noticing Pandoba whispering in Kaka Shahane's ear, Baba asked him what he had said. Pandoba replied, "I was saying that I wonder why the touching of your feet by outsiders is allowed, but it is forbidden to us."

Baba replied, "You want to touch My feet? All right, let's flip a coin. Heads you win; tails you lose." Pandoba hesitated, but Dhake, Mohan Shahane, and his father urged him to take the chance. The coin was tossed and it was heads. Shouting Baba's Jai and without waiting to confirm Baba's permission, each of the mandali rushed forward, bowed, and kissed Baba's feet.

In the morning at ten o'clock, an argument arose among two other teachers, Pandoba and Ramakrishna Gite, about the value of education. Pandoba claimed that education had spoiled India's traditional family system of vocational trades (such as the son of a tailor or cobbler following in his father's footsteps), whereas Gite was in favor of it, maintaining that it had greatly benefited the nation. Hearing them, Baba made the following statements:

Education, however faulty and incompetent, is always better than ignorance. It is beneficial and does much good. If not always beneficial financially, education always brings about good mental training. Mentally, it is a step further toward human advancement, betterment and progress. Under all circumstances and at any place, I would repeat and declare that education is and does good. A system (of education) may be defective, even bad, yet you must not blame one for the other — i.e., education for the system.

To manage the growing estate at Meherabad, a committee was formed along the lines of the Gutta in Manzil-e-Meem. It was named the Circle Committee and the chairman, vice chairman and secretary were Rustom, Behramji, and Vishnu, respectively. Pandoba was among the committee member.

From the 11th of July 1926, Chanji had been maintaining a separate diary of daily events at Meherabad (which previously Ajoba, Pandoba and Nadirsha N. Dastur had done for a certain number of days each).

Pandora’s brother prepared a construction plan for a school building, which Baba examined minutely and said should be built by the road on the site of Sai Darbar. Meanwhile, Rustom arranged for the digging of a new well.

Two days later, Baba instructed the mandali to remove everything from the Makan quarters and put it all in the sun to get rid of bedbugs and other pests. Pandoba then disinfected the building. Their belongings remained lying outside all day, and the area resembled a novel bazaar. At three in the afternoon, they moved everything back inside the Makan.

In 1943, after Baba had announced that He would be coming to Sholapur. Pandoba and three others had been sent in advance to see to arrangements. Besides their main duty of publicizing the event through handbills, posters and advertisements in front of movie theaters, Ghani, with the help of local workers, was appointed to explain to the reception committees at different spots the three important conditions attached to Baba's visit:

Visitors should not touch Meher Baba's feet or prostrate themselves before Him, even from a distance.

No private interviews should be asked for.

No material or worldly desires should be expressed by those coming for darshan.  Pandoba came to Pimpalgaon on 25th February 1946. Baba then sent Pandoba, Babadas and Vibhuti to Pandharpur, Ayodhya and Ujjain to locate 150 sincere sadhus. Baba also directed the three to bring one good mast each, and to be back in Ahmednagar on 9th March.

On 24th November 1946, Baba dictated instructions to nine close disciples to find either a mast or saint from various areas of India. Pandoba was to find a mast from Barsi, Sholapur, Bijapur or Pandharpur

Pandoba saw Baba at Meherazad on 17th January 1949, and Baba told him to immediately gather information about all the melas to be held in India that year. Pandoba returned on the 22nd with the information. (Lord meher-p-2692-1949)

For His seclusion, Baba instructed Baidul, Babadas and Pandoba (through Kaka) to bring 21 poor people to Meherazad so that He could wash their feet and give them money. On 26th June 1949, in the morning, Baidul brought the 21 poor people at ten o'clock. Baba washed and laid His head on their feet, and gave each ten rupees.

On 29th June 1949, Baidul, Babadas and Pandoba brought five mad and two masts, named Sadba and Bhagwan, to Meherazad, according to Baba's revised instructions. The seven men were taken inside the sealed-off area, where Baba gave them each a haircut and a bath. He dressed them in new shirts and loincloths, and presented them with sweets.

Baba wanted take oath for New Life. He came clad in a white kafni, the ocher-colored satchel for begging hanging from his shoulder. Baba declared that He had now stepped back into the New Life, and He exhorted all Yeswalas to either enter the New Life and follow His behests 100 percent, or to lead the Old Life, or to take up an independent life altogether. One of these they had to decide. The decisions for Pandoba was — Old Life

As decided by Baba, eleven men from the group were to repeat God's name on Baba's behalf, continuously from the 2nd of November 1952 to the morning of the 14th, in His Jhopdi. The repetition was to be non-stop the full 24 hours throughout the next twelve days. The following schedule was set for Pandoba to recite Parabrahma Paramatma from 11:00 to 1:00 A.M.

In 1955 Sahwas, Pandoba came with Adi Sr. He recited a poem in English praising Baba's divinity and invoking His mercy, and then bowed down. Baba reminded him about His instructions not to bow to him or touch His feet. Baba introduced Pandoba to the audience as one of His old lovers of the Prem Ashram days.

Introducing Pandoba, Baba remarked, "He has been with Me since the days of the Prem Ashram (1927–28). In the old days he was in charge of doing all the laundry." He asked Pandoba how many children he had, and Pandoba replied six.

In 1958, once, in the hall, Baba asked, "Does Pandoba attend the Center meetings?" The reply was that he attended sometimes. "As he has such a big parivar (family)," Baba teased, "his absence is forgiven."

85-SHERIYAR MUNDEGAR IRANI (Bobo)

Sheriyar Mundegar Irani was father of Meher Baba. Sheriarji was from Iran and sincere seeker of God. He went to all hardships to realize God. He did Chilla-Nashini of 41 days without any food and water. He was conveyed by angel that “You are not destined to gain God in your life but through your son your wish would be fulfilled. Dejected Sheriyar ji came to Bombay and stayed with his sister. Unwilling to marry He was forced to marry as girl of aged 6 years at His age of 40. Sheriarji and Shireenmai (as they came to be called out of respect) were destined to have nine children-seven sons and two daughters. Of these, three died in childhood: a son name Shirmand at seven months; another son named Jehangir at two years; and a daughter named Freni, who died of the plague in 1902 at the age of seven.  Sheriar Meher Baba was second son. Mani was the daughter and youngest sister of Meher Baba.

His association with his son as God father and conversation are recorded as under:   

In 1899, Sheriar opened a teashop in Char Bawdi in Poona. He, Shireen and little Merwan lived behind the shop for some months. They moved to Quarter Gate when Sheriar bought another teashop, christened Café Sheriar, where he also sold cold drinks, sandalwood and incense used by the Zoroastrians in their religious ceremonies. They lived behind this teashop, also, upstairs in a building on Irwin Road which faced Quarter Gate Square.

One day during this period, Merwan wanted to buy some candy, so He snuck a coin from His father's pocket. At the neighborhood store, He chose what He wanted and handed the coin to the shopkeeper, but the man returned it to Him, saying, "This money is no good. You have to give Me back the sweets."

Merwan walked home disappointed and approached His father, "Bobo, this money is no good. Give Me some good money."

Sheriar handed his son another coin and, using a colloquial expression, asked, "Does this man want money that can walk? All right, take this one to him. This coin will walk." ("Money that can walk" referred to the currency being in circulation; the coin that the shopkeeper returned was no longer legal tender.)

Merwan examined the coin, puzzled by His father's question. He asked, "How can it walk? Where are its legs? Is this a magic coin, Bobo?" Hearing these innocent remarks, Sheriar burst out laughing and explained the expression to his son.

Merwan had a mischievous side and continued to sneak money from his father's pockets secretly. But, he also had a generous kind nature and He would give the money to beggars that came to His lane. (Perhaps, partly in emulation of His father). Shireen was disturbed when beggars started knocking at the door and she complained to Sheriar, telling him not to keep money in his pockets where Merwan could get at it.

Merwan would also steal sweets from the kitchen, leaving His mother wondering where they had gone. Despite her best efforts, she could not solve the mystery and the sweets kept disappearing no matter where she tried to hide them.

One day she caught hold of her son, "Merog, are you stealing sweets from the kitchen?"

With a surprised look, the Merwan replied, "What? Sweets? Memo, you know I only like dal and rice, and spinach. Why are you asking Me about sweets?" He was so earnest that Shireen believed Him. As a boy, Merwan was also fond of cream, which He would stealthily skim from the top of the milk pot.

It was in year 1901; one day Sheriar hung his coat on a high hook. But, when no one was around, Merwan climbed on a stool and took some coins. Outside, He distributed the coins to a few poor men who had come to the house. Sheriar and Shireen were watching from a distance. Shireen was rebuking Sheriar about it when Merwan came in. Immediately, Shireen began scolding Him, "Why do you always steal money? You are a thief!"

Merwan turned to His father and asked, "Am I a thief, Bobo?"

Laughing, Sheriar consoled his son, "No Merog, you are not a thief. Thieves do not give money to the poor."

On 1st September 1902, at the age of eight, Merwan was admitted to the Sardar Khan Dastur Noshirwan Zoroastrian School in the Camp (cantonment) area, which He attended for a year. In the Pudumji School, boys and girls were taught separately, but in the Dastur School, classes were coeducational. Merwan did not like it. He felt shy in front of girls. The very first day of school, when He went home for lunch, He refused to go back in the afternoon. Despite entreaties from His mother, He would not reveal the reason for His attitude.

Later that same day when Jamshed came home, he informed Memo that Merwan did not want to go to the Dastur School because of the presence of girls in the class. Shireenmai confronted Merwan but He would not be swayed.

When Bobo came home that evening, he prevailed upon Merwan to go back. "If you do not go to school," he reasoned, "years will pass by in vain without learning. If you do not like the company of girls, you can simply avoid them — but you have to go to school." So Merwan resumed attendance the next day and followed His father's advice. If an occasion arose when He had to speak with a girl, He would stare at the floor while talking to her.

In the year 1905, one morning there was a communal feast at the Zoroastrian fire-temple and all the Zoroastrian boys were let out of school an hour before lunch to participate. After the feast, there was plenty of time before school resumed for the afternoon. Merwan and his friends started playing a rough game which had one player on the ground who was the "hunter" protecting his base. The others climbed atop the wall surrounding the temple or the high trees in the compound. The object of the game was for the hunter to pursue and tag one of the boys before the others could leap down from the walls or trees and scramble to the base. In the course of the game, several of the boys got cuts and bruises.

Merwan was seated on the edge of the wall with his feet dangling over the side. The hunter climbed the wall as he chased one of the other boys, who escaped. Then the hunter lost his balance and bumped into Merwan from behind, knocking him to the ground. Merwan's head struck a stone, causing a deep two-inch gash on his forehead. He started crying and was rushed to a doctor, who was unable to stop the bleeding.

Although different physicians attended Him, the bleeding continued for three days. On the third day, a physician applied one last remedy and warned Sheriarji, "Your son's condition is grave; if the bleeding continues; the boy must be moved to a hospital." The bleeding finally stopped after the third night. The physician was surprised and told Bobo the next day, "Your son has been given a new lease on life. I did not want to tell you, but I was convinced he would not survive." For some time thereafter, Merwan suffered the pain of the wound and, even though the bandage was removed, He continually complained of headaches and weakening sight. Memo was afraid that He would gradually lose His eyesight and she forbade Him to read or write. Finally, after three months the headaches went away and Merwan's vision returned to normal.

Merwan’s father, Sheriarji's was a boy; he was the caretaker of the Tower of Silence in his hometown in Persia. Bobo told he used to see many spirits while he guarded the dead. Their presence was a common sight to him and he was not at all afraid of them and was never harmed by them. He told Merwan that, in their spirit-form, the good ones look just like humans; the bad ones look like humans also, but with their feet reversed - their heels are in front of their legs with the toes at the back.

He also told Merwan that departed souls and spirits gathered at the Tower of Silence and held meetings at night."

During year 1909, living in Poona was a well-known European astrologer named Mr. Browne who was an acquaintance of Bobo's. Mr. Browne persuaded Sheriarji to allow him to examine his son's time of birth and predict his son's future, since he had been impressed with Merwan for a long time and wanted to take a closer look at the boy's astrological chart.

Merwan did not believe in such occult sciences, but on His father's insistence, when He was fifteen, He and Bobo visited Mr. Browne one day. The man was also an adept palmist and wanted to read Merwan's palm first, before doing an astrological chart. He scanned the boy's palm intently and became confounded. He usually required only ten minutes to read someone's palm, but he was so astounded that he examined Merwan's hand for over an hour, consulting various books after minutely studying the lines. Mr. Browne then solemnly declared to Sheriarji, "In the future, this boy will become the greatest philosopher of the age."

Mr. Browne's prediction, however, produced no effect on either Merwan or His father. Merwan disliked fortune-telling or the occult arts and refused to discuss the subject. With the passing of time, the family forgot about the man's prediction.

Merwan's character sketch foretold years later by another astrologer proved accurate, as these excerpts indicate:

The person born under the planetary effects of this chart will be the doer of great and good deeds. The man will be industrious. He will attain glory and fame all over the world.

This person's devotion is profoundly deep and intense and there will come a day when renunciation of all worldly things will manifest. Then he will become a great yogi and be acclaimed and worshiped as a great being. Anyone coming under this person's gaze or influence will be captivated and charmed, for his power of attraction and personality are marvelous. In conclusion, this soul will do some great work for humanity...

Why is he born? To carry out the will and work of God on earth. This illustrious soul will be the medium of salvation for all who come in contact with him.”

During year 1914, after a few more days of Merwan's strange behavior, Memo had had enough. Terribly worried, she and Bobo spent a considerable amount to consult the best physicians in Poona. Many were called to treat Merwan — chief among them was a family friend, Dr. Bharucha. He gave Merwan an injection of morphine, in an attempt to induce sleep; but the narcotic had no effect and the young man's eyes remained open.

In the beginning of 1917, Sheriarji sold his teashop, borrowed money and obtained a license to open a toddy shop on Sachapir Street. Merwan started working in this new toddy shop two hours a day. He did all sorts of chores to help His father — washing and filling bottles, sweeping the floor, and selling drinks. At times, when a customer became intoxicated from too much to drink, Merwan would sit with him and sing Tukaram's abhangs (devotional songs). The drunkard would merrily join in, clapping His hands and singing along. In this manner, the toddy shop truly became a tavern of Song, with Merwan as its keeper- distributing the wine of love to all who came there.

A few days passed while Merwanji continued His daily duties at his father's toddy shop. Then one evening, a Maratha clerk working at the recruitment office mentioned to His father about Merwan's enlistment. The father was a regular customer at Bobo's shop and went for a drink, as usual. Merwanji knew him also, but He rarely worked in the toddy shop in the evening. The man started talking to Bobo. "Your son should be complimented," he said. "You must be very proud of Him. It's a big sacrifice on His part to volunteer and serve His country in this bloody war."

Bobo at first could not follow what the man was talking about and thought he was under the influence of the toddy. He started making light of it, teasing the man, "My friend, you have drunk too many tonight. You don't know what you are saying! My Merog, a recruit? Nonsense! Merog is not the military sort."

The man was surprised by Bobo's remarks and disclosed the facts of the matter: "I am telling you, Sheriar, it is true. My son told me that Merwanji signed the papers." Only then did Bobo believe him, and he became anxious.

When Merwanji returned home from His nightly visit with Babajan, Bobo confronted Him immediately, "Son, I have heard some shocking news."

Have you enlisted in the navy?"

Merwanji replied, "Yes, Father, that is a fact. I am joining to be near Baily and we're going to travel all over the world together."

"Listen to me, son," Bobo said, "you must stay away from such things! Have your name withdrawn tomorrow!"

Merwanji refused, pointing out, "Once My name has been registered, it cannot be stricken. I want to join."

Merwanji further pleaded, "Bobo, give Me your permission. Give Me your willing permission to join the navy."

Bobo was obstinate and refused to hear another word. "Nonsense, you are not meant for such things, Merog! I do not want you to go away — it is difficult for me to let you out of my sight for even a few days — much less months or years at a time. Merog, you are not meant for such a life. I am going to that navy office tomorrow myself and make certain that your name is erased from the enlistment list."

Bobo's remarks did not affect Merwanji, and He disregarded His father's threat. But the very next morning, Bobo did go to the head recruiting officer and, using his influence (and a thick packet of currency notes), had his son's name removed. Merwanji appeared disappointed and, moreover, so was Baily. Bobo made Baily promise not to talk to Merwan about such things or he would forbid Him to visit. Baily promised and continued to meet Merwanji at the toddy shop every day during the remainder of his leave. The two friends reminisced about their childhood days and mutual friends, discussed poetry and talked about Baily's future.

Merwanji's father Sheriarji was a kind and generous man. Even when Bobo was older, he had the forbearance of an ascetic. He had not become wealthy, but was successful in his toddy shop. He gave money to the poor, and distributed not only financial help but blankets and clothing as well. If the toddy shop closed unusually late at night, Sheriarji would sleep there instead of returning home. Having slept many a night in the cold as a wandering dervish, he knew what it was to sleep on the streets. If He saw any poor person shivering in the cold, He would inevitably give His own blanket to him. This happened so often that one day Memo remarked caustically, "If we had collected the amount of blankets Merog has given away, we could have opened a blanket shop by now."

Sheriarji's family had grown quite large with six children, so on 15th February 1919, he purchased the house across the lane from Bhopla House, at 765 Butler Mohalla.

The new house (now known as Baba House) was more spacious and had a "wishing well" in the center of the back courtyard. For about a year, however, Bobo rented out the house. A room at the back, which had a separate entrance, was kept for Merwan's use. Although Merwan Seth would often sleep at night at different places, every afternoon, He continued the terrible rite of banging His forehead on the stone floor in this room. Eventually this pounding stained the stone with blood, no matter how He tried to conceal it from his mother.

During year 1921, Memo would become deeply disturbed about her son's situation and feel terrible anxiety about Merwan's future. She would convey her fears to her husband, but Bobo was resigned that his son belonged to God. It was difficult for Memo to tolerate her husband's resignation, for she wanted Merwan near her despite Merwan's adamant refusal to agree to marriage, settling down and raising a family.

After this quarrel, Memo suffered a breakdown and her health deteriorated. She would lie in bed weeping and was, most of the time, insensible. She refused to cook, and the children and home were attended to by servants. Bobo called a doctor, who was concerned about her mental and physical condition. Memo's mother Golandoon and Bobo did their best to nurse and comfort her, but she was disconsolate.

Weeks passed, there was no sign of recovery, and Bobo thought Memo might die. Once, while she was sleeping, Bobo, who was keeping watch over at her bedside, saw the door open and two figures approach her bed. One spirit resembled Merwan and the other, wearing a white turban and kafni, resembled Sai Baba. The two figures stayed a few minutes near Memo, gazing at her; then they vanished. Soon afterward, Memo awoke and, for the first time in weeks, spoke clearly and asked for water. Bobo poured water for her and, amazingly, Memo's condition rapidly improved. She then became well and normal, much to the relief of everyone in the family.

In 1922, Sheriarji knew what had become of his son and who He was, but Memo continued to take him only as her favorite child whom she loved dearly. Naturally, his mother was pained by his staying away from home and in such an unbefitting hovel — a grass shack! She was still not reconciled to how Merog had changed, and shed tears over his absence.

In 1923, Baba with the mandali went to His family's house in Butler Mohalla to visit His parents, brothers and sister. He inquired of Bobo's business and Memo's well-being. Sheriarji possessed a spiritual outlook and his mind was always absorbed in God, no matter what he was doing. While providing for his family, Bobo always remained resigned to the will of God as it presented itself. Shireenmai was more down-to-earth and practical in managing their large household.

Once, Baba visited Baba House and met with Bobo, Memo and Mani. When Baba arrived, He found Bobo standing before His photograph in worship. Baba embraced His father most graciously and lovingly. "Bobo was undoubtedly a true dervish," Age noted. "In answer to his heart's intense longing, Infinite Consciousness had taken human form as his son — rewarding Sheriarji for his years of wandering in search of Truth.

In year 1926, once, when Bobo was bedridden and all of Baba's brothers were staying with Baba, a man knocked on their door late at night and informed Baba's mother and father that Baba had been arrested and would shortly be sent to prison. Hearing this, Memo left Poona immediately by train and arrived in Meherabad that very night. Bobo, too, spent a sleepless night, chanting the name of Yezdan. When Memo found her beloved son safe and in good health, she sent a telegram to Sheriarji.

Bobo was a guileless person and fully trusted Mulog, whereas Shireenmai possessed a keen, intuitive intelligence and was not as easily fooled. One day Mulog called Bobo to his house and told him, "You are old. Why don't you allow me to look after the toddy shops? Wouldn't this be better for you? But if you agree, you must give your consent in writing, assigning responsibility to me. I have also purchased some additional acres of (toddy) trees and the deed requires your signature." Bobo was ready to stop working by this time. Mulog brought a stamp paper which he told Bobo to sign. The details in the contract were blank, but Mulog said he would fill in all that was required after consulting an attorney. Trusting him, Bobo did as he was asked.

Mulog proved to be a treacherous fellow and completed the document with false statements. After some time, he claimed to have become the owner of all four toddy shops and produced the signed contract to prove it. The case was taken to court and dragged on for several years. Memo was overwrought and consulted an attorney. He would tell Memo what to say in court and she, in turn, would make Bobo memorize the attorney's advice. The attorney told Bobo to tell the court simply that the signature on the contract was not his, but he refused to lie. Eventually the case was lost, and except for their house and a little money, Meher Baba's parents were defrauded of the business they rightfully owned.

Bobo tried to console Memo by saying, "We have lost nothing, but look at the suffering ahead of him and what he will have to pay in lives to come. Mulog will have to repay the debt in his future births."

Memo sardonically replied, "But I won't be there to see it!"

Although Memo had bitterly recriminated, and everyone felt sorry for Bobo. Bobo, as always, was resigned to the will of God. He was not a vengeful man and his sympathies until the end were with the young man. Through a friend, he sent this message to Mulog:

I forgive you fully for what you have done. If there ever comes a time when you wish to ask my forgiveness, I may be dead because I am already an old man. So remember, there will be no reason for you to ask my forgiveness as today I have completely forgiven you. It is now a matter between yourself and God.

On 24th March 1932, Baba sailed from Bombay for England with His small group of six mandali, Memo and Mani had come to Bombay to bid Baba farewell, but Baba's father Bobo was indisposed. However, before Baba's departure, He had stopped by the family's house in Poona, where Sheriarji met his beloved Merog for what was to be their last time together. Seeing his son's loving countenance comforted Bobo's heart, leaving God's Light burning brightly there.

Previously, during the middle of the night on 30th April 1932, Baba had suddenly clapped and called Adi Sr. Baba pointed to his chin and then threw his hands upward. But Adi could not follow Baba's gestures and Baba had sent him away. Only after the news arrived did Adi realize what Baba was gesturing that night. Pointing to his chin had signified a beard, Baba's gesture for an old man.

But the next day, 4th May 1932, was not a happy one, for they received word that Baba's father had died on 30th April 1932, at the age of 79. Ramjoo had sent a cable to London on the 1st, saying, "Father Sheriarji expired Bombay last night," and Quentin forwarded the message to Lugano.

Memo was cabled: "Father Sheriarji is near Me. Don't worry. Mind your health. Should I send Adi? Wire immediately. Baba"

Sheriarji's body was taken to the Tower of Silence in Bombay.

Baba consoled His brothers Beheram and Adi Jr., and explained to them about death, "Death is necessary and is like sleep. When a person awakes from sleep, he finds himself as he was. However, after death, a person finds himself in a different atmosphere and in a different body. Both death and birth are dreams. Where is the sense in being merry or miserable for the sake of a dream?

"Bobo's death, however, is not sleep. He has gone beyond it and is awake forever! He is emancipated and has gained mukti (liberation)."

88-VENKOBA RAO

Venkoba Rao was one of the close disciples. His life with Meher Baba was a simple story of obedience and love. He was born in Year 1921, at Chikkanacalasay, Kanakpur Taluk near Bangalore. He was third child of Ramchandra Rao and Nasirubai. He hardly studied fourth grade and left school as he was to look after the cattle. He became a shepherd.

Some of his lifetime experiences and dialogues are produced below:

In 1936, Venkoba Rao and his friend Ratnoji left Pune to open tailoring shop. Later he left to Bangalore with half anna in his pocket. He worked as servant for a payment of Rs.3/- per month. His father arranged his job as job as servant in “Govind Rao” Hotel near railway station. Narshimbha Rao, a distant relative of Venkoba also a friend of Gopal Rao who was driver of Meher Baba’s brother –Jal S. Irani. One day Narshimbha asked Gopal Rao to find a job for Venkoba. Gopal spoke to Jal who called Venkoba and interviewed him. He was appointed and Jal gave him the job of distributing pamphlets in Bangalore city. After the foundation laying function was over which Venkoba unaware of did not attend, Gopal said Venkoba Meher baba is giving darshan Go and ask Him.

In Bangalore, Baba has started giving darshan from 18th Dec, to 30th December 1939

On 22th December 1939, Venkoba vent to see Baba at No-4, Palace road. First day Baba did not speak to him but on second day darshan Baba asked, “Will you come to Me, stay with Me and work for Me.” After darshan Baba took him in His car to mast ashram and asked to work as assistant to the mast Venkoba had no education and no money but the sincerity and faith ere his qualification.

In 1939, Venkoba Rao, 18, was at first employed to distribute handbills publicizing the opening of the Byramangala Center. He did not meet Baba until after the ceremony in December and was also instructed to assist in the mast ashram.

In year 1940, one day Baba called the five Bangalore boys and asked each, "What do you want? What do you want to do in life?"

Raju said, "I want to be a farmer."

Kalappa replied, "I want to sell cooking oil."

Amdoo said, "I would like to drive a tonga."

Venkoba Rao said, "I want to go into business."

Krishna alone replied, "I want you, Baba!"

Baba looked at him, gesturing, "I will give you Baba!"

He then informed Venkoba, "Wait for some time before you become a businessman."

Baba kept Krishna and Venkoba Rao in Meherabad and sent the other three boys back home, after making arrangements for them according to their wishes. As it turned out, all three of the boys prospered and became wealthy.

During Lonavla stay in 1942, Venkoba Rao were given the duty of being on night watch, Venkoba Rao by the women's compound. Venkoba would sometimes doze during his night watch duties, and Baba had repeatedly warned him about it. One night Baba called Krishna and motioned, "Go and see if Venkoba is awake or asleep." Krishna left and was horrified by the sight that met his eyes. Venkoba was sound asleep and a poisonous snake was right next to him ready to strike.

Krishna grabbed a stick and struck the snake. This awoke Venkoba, who jumped to his feet. As Krishna was striking the snake, he heard Baba clap. Telling Venkoba to finish killing it, Krishna returned to Baba. Baba asked, "What was all the noise?" Krishna informed Baba about the snake and Baba sent him back to see if Venkoba had killed it.

Venkoba had and when Baba was told, he sent for Venkoba and scolded him, "If you fall asleep again, you will be bitten by a snake! I won't save you next time!"

Another day, in the dry summer weather while Baba was away, the forest in Bhilar caught fire, and the force of the wind brought it near their bungalow. Krishna and Venkoba Rao were trying to put out the fire, but it was of little use against the strength with which the fire was raging nearby. Rano, Margaret and Kitty tied scarves around their mouths and joined the effort, beating back the flames with green tree branches. It was no use. The fire was reaching such proportions that the whole bungalow was about to be razed to the ground. All began calling to Baba for help, and, miraculously, the winds suddenly subsided, and the women and Krishna and Venkoba managed to contain the flames.

After Baba arrived and was informed about the incident, he asked Krishna, "Did you get burned?"

"Not much," he said. "A little here and there."

Baba remarked to him, "Had you gotten burned I would have felt happy."

1941 to 1943, Venkoba was with Baba in all the tours and travels to Ranchi, Ceylon, Calicut, Panchgani, Jaipur, Agra, Delhi, Ambala, Lahore, Multan and Quetta. He was always the night watchman.

In 1944, he was married with Baba’s approval but came to Meherabad as per Baba’s order. In December 1944, Baba approved leave to Venkoba to bring his wife to Meherabad. His wife stayed with woman mandali. Later Baba ordered him to stay 6 months with wife at his home and 6 month with Him. He was asked to look after Byramangala property.

Venkoba was with Baba in all the Blue bus tour to Raipur, Kashmir, Peshawar, Nagpur and Saoner. He went on leave before Baba commenced this tour to Kashmir.

During 1954, It was during this trip that Baba made an unscheduled visit to the Byramangala property, where Baba had once planned a Universal Center. Baba had found it difficult to rest in Mysore because of loudspeaker music from Diwali celebrations going on at the time. Eruch suggested they drive a few hours away to the Byramangala property, where Venkoba Rao had purchased part of the land and was residing. Pendu was sent in advance to arrange it. Venkoba Rao was overjoyed that Baba had come. Baba asked Venkoba Rao why he had not attended the September programs in Ahmednagar. Venkoba replied that he had not received the circular about them. Baba said, "Since you did not come to see me, I had to come to see you!"

Despite heavy rain, Baba walked around the property and to the nearby reservoir. Venkoba Rao expressed his wish to rejoin the mandali, and Baba said he would call him when the time was right.

During 1956, in Satara, preparations for Baba's seclusion were made, and Baba assigned different duties to the mandali. Venkoba Rao was called to Satara and told he would have to stay for one year. He readily agreed. Venkoba Rao was the night watchmen; Venkoba Rao was sent back to his home after only a month.

Before New Life in 1949, Meher Baba wanted to dispose of all property in His name. Out of 574 acres of land Venkoba Rao purchased the 55 acres (Sacred place) for Rs 5500/-. Baba came to Meherabad in 1964. Venkoba’s brother did not properly manage the property in his absence hence Venkoba sold the property with getting permission from Baba to the Chairman of  Gram Panchayat for Rs 3500/-and left Bangalore for Ahmednagar with his wife and daughter in 1964.

It was late after 19 years it could be brought back only in 1983 for Rs. 51000/-for establishment of Meher Baba Universal Spiritual Centre.

 

90-WILL BACKETT (Willmar)

Will Backett, a retired businessman of England was very religious and spiritually inclined- ever eager to help and serve.

Will and Marry Backett, in their late-fifties, had first heard of Meher Baba in 1931 from Meredith, but had not met Baba on his first visit to England. Both had been initiated into Sufism by Inayat Khan during the 1920s and followed him until his death in 1927. The Backetts were now eager to meet Baba and had their first opportunity of doing so during this visit to London. Meredith introduced them to Baba at the Davys' home. Will had brought some grapes for Baba and, when Meredith told Baba that Will suffered from poor health, Baba plucked one of the grapes and handed it back for him to eat, assuring him that his health would improve. Will recalled that first meeting:

Looking back, I see Baba again, seated so quietly on a settee that at first it might appear to the casual observer that He lacked energy. Yet there was something compelling in His posture, for the picture which stands out like a cameo in my mind is of Him being pure, untrammeled by the world, completely poised, like a bird arrested momentarily in flight in a world that reflects not the like anywhere.

Mary, too, was irresistibly drawn to the Master and once recollected:

As we entered the room, Baba sprang up with the agility, power and grace that characterize all His movements and quickly came forward. He then beckoned for me to sit beside Him and took my hand with such a gentle touch.

Immediately, I felt a great upliftment of consciousness such as I had never experienced before with anyone. I had been searching and reading deeply for many years, and knew that I had now found the Master and that the long search was over.

Baba gave me more, far more in the space of three minutes than I had gained in 30 years of earnest seeking, or through others, because I experienced the tangible, definite gift of grace and divine love that He bestowed, whereas others could only talk about it. I knew who Baba was.

Some of his life time episodes and dialogues are recorded as below;

Since 1932, Will and Mary became regular visitors at Russell Road, and also saw Baba at Margaret Craske's apartment, where Baba went for tea one evening. The Backetts became Baba's deeply devoted disciples from then onward, and Baba would lovingly refer to them as Wilmar and later as "His archangels."

New persons came to see Baba in London, but He afforded little time to meet them, as he had come especially for the sake of his close lovers, spending most of his time with Will and Mary Backett and other American lovers.  These individuals were worthy of coming to stay at the ashram in India which He was planning in the near future.

In 1933, From Dover, Elizabeth Patterson drove Baba and 3 more western Baba lovers to London. They reached London in the evening, and stayed at Hygeia House, a vegetarian boarding house, at 37 Warrington Crescent. Intense activity began the next day. "All gathered including Will and Mary Backett and few more,

Will and Mary Backett too dearly loved Baba and Baba also had great love for them. This couple wished Baba to visit their home, but they did not say anything to Him about it. Baba unexpectedly mentioned to them, "I will come to your house tomorrow and you should serve us all tea." This pleased them enormously, but they worried at the same time, for there were about 30 people in Baba's group and the Backett's tiny cottage had only three or four chairs and an equally small number of cups. They wondered how to arrange things on such short notice, and were fearful of not being able to accommodate everyone.

Without their saying a word to Him, Baba solved their problem by announcing to the group the next morning, "We all are going to tea at Will and Mary's today. Everyone should bring a cup and saucer, and should sit on the floor when we get there." At this act of understanding and compassion, Will and Mary's hearts were overcome with love.

Baba and the group drove the 20 miles to Old Oak Cottage, the Backett's residence in Halstead near Seven oaks, Kent. As Baba walked through each room, viewing them carefully, He spelled on the board, "This is My house." After an enjoyable afternoon, Baba was driven back to London by Donald Slow, of the London group.

Later, Will wrote to Baba: "I cannot even now fully realize what you have given us, though I do get glimpses. I am just a child in your loving arms, filled with joy and happiness, and the strength and divine beauty which enfold me and all and again I thank you beyond the power of words for having drawn us to Yourself and enfolded us in Your love."

In 1934, a meeting of the newly-formed Circle Editorial Committee was held. Herbert was appointed the director, Will Backett the secretary/treasurer. Its future publication work was discussed and instructions given for the printing and distribution of two small booklets: The Sayings of Shri Meher Baba and Shri Meher Baba: The Perfect Master — Questions and Answers (and its translation into German, French, Italian, Rumanian, Russian and Spanish).

In year 1934, the Circle Editorial Committee had been formed to publish Baba's discourses in English. Will and Mary Backett were devoting a major part of their time to this endeavor. In the late afternoon of the 30th, they held a reception for Baba at the Committee's offices at 50, Charing Cross. Baba met 50 people during His two-hour visit.

Baba dictated to Will and Mary Backett:

As already intimated, I have returned here, for [certain] reasons, all the way in seclusion which continues and will still continue for the period already fixed, though places might change, according to the demand and necessity of work in different zones. And it is quite possible I might come to the West and spend the latter period of this seclusion, somewhere there. The time and place and possibility all depend on certain developments and conditions at different sides. But wherever I am and whatever I may be doing, I am always with you, as you, My loved ones, are ever so close to Me.

To Mary Backett in England, on 29th November 1935, Baba wrote:

The seclusion still continues, and with it the work. And although my dearest ones in far distant lands across the ocean feel the separation of their beloved Baba, the ever-unbreakable link, I know, keeps them all warm throughout.

For love never dies. It lives and enables all to live forever, in spite of all the vicissitudes that merely come and go. And those who love as deeply as Mary and my other dear ones, live in my heart and thoughts, wherever I am, whatever I do.

Failings or shortcomings should never discourage you, but should be taken as stepping stones toward the path of Ultimate Reality that I will help you reach.

In London, Baba granted separate interviews to Will and Mary Backett and other American lovers

In 1937, one evening, Baba called all together to sit with Him in silence outside on the lawn. He spelled on the board, "Tomorrow," and then elaborated: "Tomorrow we will have silence in the evening, but under one condition that is very important — that you do not look around at one another, but only look at Me and feel as if you are alone with Me. You should do it naturally without strain. You must not feel conscious of your bodies. Let the head be the center of your body. When it is, then you forget your body and you can think of Me."

Will Backett asked, "What should I do if I feel pressure in the head?"

Baba replied, "Relax, as if going to sleep. Close your eyes. If you can look at Me in such a concentrated manner that you forget your body, it is best.

Baba walked over to Sarzat and visited Will Backett, who was also sick in bed. After sitting with him for a few minutes, Baba went out for a walk alone.

Will and Mary Backett arrived in Cannes on the night of 2nd September 1937. The next morning

On 3rd September 1937, Baba urged the Westerners, "Harmony is the basis of life, living in a group, working for and living with Me and helping in My work. By following your personal feelings of likes and dislikes, the atmosphere essential for My work is disturbed."

Mabel Ryan was very ill with cancer and spent most of her time in bed while in Cannes being nursed by Mary Backett. Baba would come to see her daily, knowing this was their last meeting.

Will and Mary Backett were spreading Meher Baba's name in England, telling many about the Master's mission.

On 13th October 1938, Baba wrote to Will:

I note what you say in your letters about the different ones you are helping, and how, through your love for Me, they too are drawing closer to Me, and also finding they can lean on Me and feel My help, even though they may not have seen Me in the flesh. To some, it is a greater help to know me through My disciples. Not all can understand the human side of God. It is more difficult for some to follow and obey God in human form, due to preconceived ideas of God.

On 17th November 1939, Baba had sent this message to Will and Mary Backett in England: "Keep writing as you do now and don't worry. I am with you always and am ever watchful over my own flock."

In 1941, a British woman named Irene Conybeare Harvey, 51, had been interested in mysticism and religion since childhood. In the spring of 1940, she met Will Backett in London, and through him learned of the Master.

In 1947, during the Madras darshan program, Baba had asked Don to write a description of the proceedings and send it to Will and Mary Backett in England. At the Mudaliar's, as Baba was sitting on a gaadi listening to His arti, he twirled a small skein of cotton thread in His hands, and then handed it to Don and told him to enclose it with his letter. Baba had Don send it to Mary, who used to spin and weave her own cloth, along with instructions to hold the thread in her hands, and thereafter to keep it in a safe place and not to use it.

Five minutes later, someone garlanded Baba with a garland of sandalwood chips and this; too, he gave to Don to send to Will and Mary, as well as the two garlands of gold embroidery offered by Lakshmi Aiyangar. Don wrote his description and packed the thread, and also carefully packed the garlands in a finely wrapped parcel, and sent them to the Backetts. The thread and garlands were to Will and Mary a message of Baba's love for them, and they kissed them daily when they offered their prayers. By sending these two devout souls these precious, personal treasures — symbolically keeping them adorned like garlands around his neck forever — Baba sent his Unlimited treasure which, until their last breath, kept them alive in his love.

After receiving this prasad, Will and Mary each sent Baba a letter expressing their gratitude and joy. With it were mingled their tears, which told the story of their love for their Beloved, and which only he could understand.

In 1948, at Meherazad, meetings were held about the legal formation of a partnership called Meher Publications, and Elizabeth was also busy planning the establishment of the Universal Spiritual League of America to help protect the copyrights of Baba's writings. Delia said, "In England, too, such a league should be formed." Baba gave permission and Charles Purdom was made the president, Delia vice-president and Will Backett secretary.

On 14th July 1952, Baba, with the men and women mandali, left Myrtle Beach by car for Florence, South Carolina, where they took a train to New York City. Delia went on to London, so she could receive Baba and the mandali there after making due arrangements with the help of Charles Purdom and Will and Mary Backett.

Baba and the women arrived in London the next morning. They were met by Will and Mary Backett, Delia and Don (Donkin), who took them to the Rubens Hotel on Buckingham Palace Road, where they were to stay a week. Delia, Purdom and the Backetts had arranged their accommodations.

Dorothy (Baba lover) recalled,” In my irritation and general distress,", "I picked up the book-The Perfect Master by Charles Purdom and threw it down on the floor." The book fell open to the photograph at the beginning. Hugh picked it up and, looking reproachfully at her for her bad manners, handed it to her. Dorothy looked at the photograph of Baba and let out a yell. "This is my Persian Prince, the man who has been talking to me!" she exclaimed.

She forgot she had a migraine and spent the rest of the day reading the book. "I now knew that my experience was real," she recounted later. Will Backett's address was at the back, and she wrote to him at once. He came immediately, and Dorothy narrated what had happened to her. "My analyst will not go on with my treatment," she ended.

"Well, I do not know what you can do about that," Will counseled, "but your experience is quite genuine. This is how Baba works. Baba is calling you; He's calling you to him."

In year 1954, the Western men were tremendously impressed by the expression of love and reverence for Baba from the thousands who had attended. Seventeen years before, Malcolm Schloss and Will Backett had witnessed such a sight in Nasik at Baba's birthday celebration in 1937, and Francis Brabazon had seen similar scenes in Andhra Pradesh; but, for the rest of the Westerners, it was their first experience of such a grand spectacle — and one they would never forget! .

Baba motioned to all to bring their hats, and He led them on a tour of Meherabad Hill. He showed them the Tomb, his Tin Cabin and the graves of His lovers, narrating incidents as He went. From there, Baba took them down the hill, stopping once to ask Will Backett if the pace was too fast for him.

They were thirsting for sight of Baba, but Baba would not see them. Finally, some days later, Baba met them, and so many days of great disappointment resulted in great joy. Will Backett said, "My heart has echoed everything that has already been said, and of course, I am blissfully happy to be with Baba."

On 22nd September 1954, Baba arrived to see the Western men on the hill. Instead of walking, He was driven up in a car. When He arrived He appeared strained and tired. He went into the west room at once, where he stated:

Today, there is nothing to explain. I did not feel like coming today. Yet, I wanted to see you dear ones, so I decided to come. I have much to think about before the meetings. My thinking is not just thinking; the whole burden is upon me.

You all must be fit for two days of the meeting. Dear Will, I call you My archangel, and you are very devoted to Me, and I love you intensely; but I cannot understand your saying every day, "I am better today."

Will Backett explained, it meant he sleeps better every night. To the others Baba stated, "I do not believe you when you say you are very well."

Nicknamed Energy, Marion Florsheim of Jackson Heights, New York, was appointed by Baba to make all the necessary arrangements for the trip. The "Meher Baba Hospitality Committee" was formed, with Marion as chairman, Fred Winterfeldt as vice-chairman, and seven other members from Baba's following in New York, to raise the estimated $12,000 in expenses for Baba and four men mandali to come. Will Backett was making arrangements in London

On 19th July 1956, in the morning, Baba met with the members of the Universal Spiritual League to iron out their differences (principally between Will Backett and Delia DeLeon). Baba eventually appointed three chairpersons — namely, Will, Delia and Charles Purdom — to rotate after six months each. If during those periods any dispute arose between the three of them and they could not come to a decision, the chairman at that time was to decide the issue, and everyone was to accept it, as if it had come from Baba Himself.

Flying from Paris, Baba and His group had dinner on the plane and landed in London on 17th July 1956. Will and Mary Backett, with few others were present to receive Him. In four cars, Baba and the mandali were driven to the Rubens Hotel, where Baba had stayed before in 1952.

Upon arrival, Baba was noticeably tired. He had not slept for three days en route. He stood at the back of a crowded elevator to go up to His room. Will Backett wrote that He appeared "a rather tired, pathetic figure, amidst the other hotel guests; an eloquent tribute to that humility with which Perfection is garbed."

On 18th July 1858, starting in morning, Baba granted fourteen individual interviews. Will Backett brought Joffre to see Baba. Keith Secker, the young man from Manchester who had met Baba in Satara, was the next to be given an interview.

In the afternoon of 18th July 1956, more than 120 people came for darshan in the large hall of the hotel. Will, Mary sat next to Baba, and Dorothy, Tom and Delia ushered in each one individually to meet Baba for one minute. Baba distributed prasad of sweets and his photographs among those who came. Will described the reception as follows:

The reception -revealed Baba's same individual understanding of every guest. To one, a deeply significant glance; to another, a loving touch on the cheek, or perhaps the arm would be gently stroked. Some, whom Baba had greeted at their first meeting with a handshake, received a warm embrace. Some who expected advice received none, and yet others, who had been hoping for at least ten minutes in which to explain their longstanding difficulties, heard his familiar "I know all and I will help you." Most striking, too, were the groups of friends or the family in which the children and parents all came together to Baba for the first time, and His look, passing from son to father, conveyed his love in which both father and son and indeed all humanity find themselves afresh.

As Will Backett recalled: "Baba's intense animation, eloquent gestures and commanding glances, when dictating His words by signs, solved all our problems."

After the death of his wife, Mary, Will Backett in London had found it difficult to adjust to living without her and was in poor health. That year would have been his and Mary's 50th wedding anniversary. To console him, Baba sent him many telegrams and messages through Adi Jr., such as: "You are not alone. I am with you."

Because of his feeble condition, Will Backett had not been able to attend the East-West Gathering in 1962, and Baba sent him a telegram during it, reassuring him of His love. Through Mollie Eve, Baba also sent Will a garland He had worn during the darshan.

On 15th May 1963, at the age of 84, Will Backett died peacefully in a London hospital. In reply to Mollie Eve's telegram from London, Baba sent this message: "Your cable regarding Will's passing away received. My dear Archangels Will and Mary Backett have come to Me for all time."

89-VISHNU NARAYAN DEORUKHKAR (Vishnu)

Vishnu Narayan Deorukhkar joined Baba while he was still a student and later gave up everything to follow Baba.

Vishnu came into Baba's contact as a teenage boy in 1918 and, from the days of Manzil-e-Meem in 1922. He was one of the mandali. He was always with Baba. His almost 40 years of service, love and obedience to the God-Man were as close to perfect as perfect can be described. Vishnu was incomparable in forbearance, and Baba was always pleased with him. Even under the most trying circumstances, he would never utter a word of complaint, and he put up with every hardship. Baba remarked to the mandali that Vishnu had held on to His daaman until the very end. A smallish man with a regal bearing and the kindest of heart and had never been known to express anger or harsh words during his life with Baba.

First incident of his contact with Baba was as under

One day while Merwan Seth was distributing prasad in the temple, a fifteen-year-old boy came forward and held out his hands to receive the sweets. Merwan Seth (Meher Baba) asked his name and the boy replied, "Vishnu Narayan Deorukhar."

"What do you do?" Merwan Seth inquired.

"I go to school," the boy replied.

"Where is your father?"

"He is dead," Vishnu said.

Merwan Seth looked into the boy's eyes with compassion and said, "From now on I am your father."

"What do you mean, Merwan Seth?" asked the boy. "I don't understand."

Merwan Seth smiled, handed him some prasad and rubbed his head. The boy then scampered off.

Many more of his lifetime incidences and conversation are described below:

Vishnu's house was across the street from the toddy shop, and soon after this encounter Merwan Seth decided to visit the boy's family. Vishnu's mother, a devout Hindu named Saraswati, received Merwan Seth reverently, addressing Him as He entered the house as Deva (God). He in turn would always call her Kakubai, meaning His paternal aunt.

Merwan Seth inquired about her welfare and asked, "Would you cook dal and rice for Me in the afternoons?"

She replied, "With great pleasure, Deva."

From that day on, Merwan Seth would go to her house every day for lunch. After a few days, He started coming at any odd time saying, "I am hungry, Kakubai. Can you prepare something for Me?" The woman accepted Merwan Seth's request and felt it a privilege to be allowed to serve Him. So Kakubai made it a point to always have something ready in case Merwan Seth came unexpectedly. Merwan Seth would give her money as His prasad to buy essentials, and although she did not want to accept it, He prevailed on her to do so and she could not refuse her Deva's prasad.  

It was year 1919, one day, Kakubai complained to Merwan, "Deva, Vishnu goes to the movies every day. I am afraid that he is associating with a bad group of boys. Please talk to him and set him straight, before he gets in trouble. He will not listen to me." Merwan immediately went to the local movie theater and caught hold of Vishnu, who was about to enter with some other boys.

He took the boy aside and slapped him soundly a few times.

Vishnu was taken aback and said, "Merwan Seth, I have bought the ticket with my own money. I have not stolen anything! Why are you beating me?"

"Did you ask Me if you could go to the movies?" Merwan Seth replied. "Didn't I tell you that I would be your father? Why didn't you ask Me before going to the movies?" Vishnu did not reply, for he instantly knew that, from then on, he should not do anything without Merwan's permission. Kakubai was delighted with the change in her son's attitude.  

Two days later, while playing cricket in the morning of 4th March, there was a tussle between Vishnu and Adi, who had deliberately struck Vishnu. That evening, Baba gathered the men in the hall and asked Behramji what the disturbance was during the game. Behramji explained about the quarrel between Adi and Vishnu. Baba asked the mandali, "Didn't Adi break one of the 28 orders?" The majority, however, took Adi's side, reasoning he was not to blame due to the excitement of the game. But Baba would not listen to them and severely corrected Adi in their presence. He humiliated Adi and scolded him terribly for breaking the order.

Baba then angrily turned toward Vishnu and demanded, "Repeat your confession in the presence of all!"

Some days before, when Vishnu was massaging the Master's feet, he had had undesirable thoughts and had immediately stopped.

Vishnu had admitted this to Baba, but only after reading the latest notice on the board. Vishnu had concluded that no action, physical or mental, ever remains hidden from the Master. The mandali then understood the meaning of that notice, and Baba felt pleased at Vishnu's frank confession.  

During 1925, a rumor was circulating that Vishnu was guilty of contact with a maid servant, and the Meherabad court was convened to sit in judgment. The case was tried as in a regular court and the mandali, acting as judges, noted every detail. The evidence revealed that except for handing the woman a letter, Vishnu was innocent of any misconduct, but even this brief, casual encounter was an infringement of Baba's orders. Uncertain, Vishnu asked Baba if it were actually a breach of His order and Baba replied that it was. As a punishment, he directed Vishnu not to bow before Him for eleven months, but Baba later pardoned him.

On 18th May 1925, Baba instructed Vishnu to tell Chanji to tutor the hospital compounder's son for two hours. Vishnu did accordingly and thought he had fulfilled Baba's order.

In the evening Baba asked him, "Did you carry out My instructions?"

Confident, Vishnu replied that he had done so. But on inquiry, Baba learned that Chanji had tutored the boy for only one hour. Baba then scolded Vishnu, "You made a grave mistake in following My order."

Vishnu protested that it was not in fact his mistake but Chanji's. This upset Baba and He ordered Kisan to strike Him (Baba) with a cane three times for Vishnu's error. The Master's order had to be obeyed, and though Kisan was hesitant, he struck Baba's outstretched palms with the cane three times.

Meanwhile, Vishnu stood speechless. He was aghast by what he witnessed. It became too much for him to endure and he ran away, wandering about, and weeping like someone gone mad. He could not control his emotions. Baba and Arjun ran after him, and it took them a long time to catch him and bring him back. Baba consoled Vishnu until he calmed down.

In Meherabad, none of the mandali was chastised or beaten by Baba as much as Vishnu. Although Vishnu was a teacher, Baba would punish and humiliate him before His students. Even when another teacher was at fault, Vishnu would be the target of Baba's criticism.  

Soon after his return to Meherabad, one day, Baba went to the Family Quarters near Arangaon. He sent for Vishnu, who came running barefooted to Baba. After a brief discussion, Baba directed Vishnu to summon Raosaheb. Vishnu was about to leave when Baba directed him, "Don't walk barefooted; take My chappals." Vishnu picked up Baba's sandals, touched them to his forehead and put them down again by Baba's feet. "Master," he replied, "I could never wear Your holy chappals."

Thereupon, Baba bitterly remarked to the others present, "How unlucky Vishnu is! When I give him My chappals to wear, he just touches his forehead to them and puts them back. This type of worship and reverence pains Me. By disobeying Me, Vishnu does not worship Me; he punishes Me. And the sad part is that he thinks he is revering Me.

"Not to keep My word and to worship one's own sentiments is sheer disobedience. Vishnu does not revere me. He reveres his own emotions, and to him, they are apparently superior to My orders. Such things deeply pain Me."

Disturbed, Chhagan asked, "Are we not to consider your sandals as sacred?"

"Every belonging of Mine is sacred," Baba replied, "and to have a feeling of reverence for them is good. But they are not more important than I am. My word is the most supreme! For that reason, revere My word rather than My things. While carrying out My wishes, let there be no room for the expression of your own emotions and feelings."  

Until 1929, Baba was still wearing His kamli coat, which Yeshwant Rao of Sakori had given Him eight years before, and He would not hear of any suggestion for a change. But on 29th June, the mandali again beseeched Baba to have another coat made for His upcoming journey, and this time He agreed. Ramjoo soon left for Poona to buy some nice material, while Vishnu went to Ahmednagar in search of a skilled tailor.

The chocolate-colored coat was ready in four days and Baba placed it in Vishnu's care.  

 

 

The group left Agra for Delhi on Monday, 22nd July 1929. They drove toward the telegraph office first, but Padri missed the turn and took them ten miles out of the way. As a normal route, travelers proceed from Agra to Delhi through Mathura, but Baba, for His own reasons, preferred going via Aligarh. For the first ten miles, the road was a muddy mess due to the heavy rains, so it took them more than an hour to cover the distance.

At the village of Hathras, Baba ate lunch alone. Stopping near Aligarh, Baba was in a distant mood and sat alone under a tree. He directed the mandali to have their meal. While they were eating, Baba noticed Vishnu sitting with his shirt off. Baba asked him, "A cool breeze is blowing. Why are you eating without your shirt?"

"It is the custom among Brahmins to take their shirt off during meals," Vishnu replied.

This upset Baba and He snapped, "If you catch a cold or a cough, you will forget your custom soon enough. But if you consider your custom to be more important than My pleasure, there is no use in your remaining with Me."

Vishnu replied, "I don't believe in any custom, but it has become a habit. If it upsets you, I am prepared to stop it now for good." Holding food in one hand, Vishnu slipped on his shirt so hastily that the food spilled on his clothes. The other men burst out laughing, and Baba was pleased. "Farewell from today to an age-old custom and My habit since birth," Vishnu declared and joined in the laughter.  

Over Dastur’s remark against Adi, Vishnu could not bear it. He lashed out at Dastur furiously, "You pompous ass! You are so full of pride that you think you have a right to act like you wish. Because you have been to college and have a law degree, you think you are something special! Had any of us acted like you, Baba would have kicked us and cut us to pieces. But Baba never scolds you — He never criticizes or punishes you — and you think you are someone great.

"But you don't understand the reason why. We who have been with Baba from the beginning have placed our necks at His feet, but your pride has prevented you from doing that. You could never do it! Your ego is too inflated. In fact, you are not a Baba-man!"

They began arguing, and Vishnu continued his verbal attack of Dastur: "You give speeches telling people to write Baba's messages in blood and disseminate them everywhere! Hah! What hypocrisy! What is the use of such empty words? Don't you know, actions speak louder than words?"

Dastur got up and changed his seat on the bus, contrary to Baba's orders, which the others pointed out. Raosaheb told him in plain terms to stop moving around. Dastur became livid and physically attacked Buasaheb, Raosaheb, Chanji, and Chhagan, causing a horrendous ruckus in the moving bus. (Dastur actually bit Raosaheb's lip, and Chanji's and Chhagan's hands.)

Chanji tried to reason with him, "It was Baba's order that none of us should change our seats.

Does it behoove you to act in this way, you being the editor of Meher Message? You are breaking Baba's order as well as behaving rudely."

Vishnu was also highly wrought and started to jump from the moving bus, shouting, "Let me off! For God's sake, let me out of here!" The other mandali grabbed him. At this point, Baba had his car stopped and got out.  He boarded the bus and slapped Vishnu soundly. Vishnu broke down sobbing, and Baba sat next to him, keeping his head on His lap. He told the driver to drive on.  

In 1930, after His return from Tapovan, at 8:30 P.M. Baba had a sudden whim to have His arti sung. The accoutrements (sandalwood, incense, and ghee), however, were not readily available as the arti ceremony was not being performed then, so Vishnu went to the women's quarters to bring them. While waiting, Baba became upset with Vishnu's delay and he motioned all to leave the room and stand outside.

After a while, He called them back and asked, "What is the use of performing My arti if My mood is spoiled? You people pay more attention to the ingredients necessary for arti than to Me! Are these things required when you are supposed to offer the arti from the innermost recesses of your heart? The things that matter for performing arti come from within the heart. If one's heart is not in it, what purpose would it serve in bringing all the necessary ingredients for arti?"

On 16th September 1933, C. D. Deshmukh and a relative were on their way to see Baba. They were to arrive at 10:00 A.M., but had still not shown up by 1:00 P.M. Annoyed by the delay, Baba got upset with Chanji and Vishnu, declaring, "You men are quite useless! I doubt whether you gave Deshmukh proper directions."

Chanji replied, "Correct directions were sent to him, but it is possible that he has been delayed by the heavy rains."

This made Baba even more angry and He upbraided them both. He became extremely restless and asked, "What do you gain by making Me so uneasy?" Vishnu and Chanji could not understand why Baba was so upset. Baba added bitterly, "I do not want to see Deshmukh now. If he comes, tell him to go away. Let him die!"

After a while, Baba ordered, "Somehow or other, bring Deshmukh here at 3:30 P.M.” Chanji and Vishnu did not know where Deshmukh was staying in Nasik. Vishnu was wondering what to do, when Baba told him, "On second thought, bring him here at 2:30. If you do not, Deshmukh will die!"

Vishnu still had no idea where Deshmukh was. Baba took him to task, "Why are you sitting here? Go fetch him!" Vishnu left and tried to find Deshmukh by visiting the houses of a few Brahmin families in Nasik. Luckily, he found Deshmukh staying in one of these homes and brought him to Baba at exactly 2:30 P.M.  

During 1938, once, Vishnu, Pendu and Sidhu were discussing the daily market requirements and not chitchatting idly. Vishnu grew livid at Adi's remark, but checked himself. Baba took all three of the Meherabad mandali to task and Vishnu's temper rose.

When Baba was about to leave for His room, Adi said something else and Vishnu slapped him hard. This displeased Baba and He ordered Vishnu to bow at Adi's feet. Vishnu obeyed and both men had to embrace. Baba directed Adi to drive Vishnu to Ahmednagar that day to go to the bazaar (ordinarily Vishnu would cycle). By evening when they returned, they were friends again.

In year 1941, it was the hot summertime, no decent fresh vegetables were available in the market, and Rano would complain about this to Vishnu, who did the marketing. Once, Vishnu brought dried peas. Taking out the peas, Rano put them in a bottle and labeled it: "For stomachache, take one tablet every hour." When Vishnu asked her for the women's shopping list the next day, Rano handed him the bottle.

Reading the label, Vishnu burst out laughing. But when Baba heard of the joke, He ordered Vishnu to take one of the "tablets" every hour. Even during the night, Vishnu had to get up every hour to take his "pea-culiar" medicine.   

Another time, Baba saw none of the mandali during this period. Vishnu would go to Him every morning for fifteen minutes and, using the alphabet board, Baba would give him instructions through the window-like opening of the cage. Vishnu could only see Baba's fingers moving speedily across the board, and no other part of His body. But although unseen, in addition, Baba would cover His face with a cloth to completely hide His features. Krishna would come to sweep His room, but Baba would go into another adjoining room when he came.

Baba was fasting at the time on a small amount of rice and dal taken once a day. After some days, the fasting, His work, and the howling winds and rattling din of the roof day and night, considerably affected His health. When Vishnu went to Baba in the morning for instructions, as Baba dictated orders on the board, He would feel so weak He would have to sit and rest every few minutes before continuing.  

Baba had instructed Vishnu to store rice and grain for a year, as there was the possibility of it becoming scarce during wartime. Vishnu had stockpiled a sufficient amount in a room adjoining Baba's. Some days later, Baba complained to Vishnu, "Because of your sacks of grain in the next room, hundreds of rats come and disturb me in My work. You should sell it all."

Vishnu said, "If you are disturbed, the wheat and jowar (millet) can be stored on the room is not suitable for it.

"What do you mean?" Baba asked, "It was all right to store it here then; now I want to sell it!"

Baba, for His own reasons, was anxious about disposing of the grain. It had cost quite a lot of money, but it was sold at a lower price. It also cost the labor of dispatching it to the buyers and hiring a bullock cart to deliver it.

Vishnu, who was in charge of accounts, was naturally feeling perturbed by this and stated, "Baba, we have suffered a big loss in selling the grain."

But Baba replied, "What do you know of the gain this loss has given us? Your job is to continue doing as I tell you!"

In year 1953, another activity of Baba's daily routine in Mussoorie concerned Vishnu. From the early 1920s, Vishnu did the marketing and kept accounts of every paisa and rupee given and spent. He wrote down the expenses in a notebook and was careful in keeping a record of every transaction. In Mussoorie, Baba began scrutinizing the accounts each day. Vishnu would read out the item of every purchase made and its cost. At times Baba would ask him to go over the same thing again and again, such as "Vegetables five rupees ... Vegetables five rupees ..." and so forth. Once while repeating something, Vishnu burst out laughing. Baba asked him, "What is so funny?"

"This is so boring," Vishnu said, exasperated. "What a way to pass the time."

"What?" Baba exclaimed. "Do you think that this is just a pastime? What do you know about the work I do by making you repeat the same thing over and over again? Through this means I take account of the whole world. Your repetition is merely symbolic. I am not doing it as a pastime. All My time is spent in work and not a single moment passes when I am not occupied with My work. Day and night My work goes on. If there were a gap even for a moment, the world would disappear!"

In the year 1955, Kumar and Vishnu both noticed the hair on the back of Baba's head gradually rise and form into a tuft or crown with a halo over and around it. The cluster of hair grew brilliant and turned into rays. Kumar thought perhaps he was imagining it, but later Vishnu asked him, "Did you see anything when Baba and Mohammed were together?" Kumar said he had and described it. Vishnu confirmed that he, too, had seen the same thing and gave a huge sigh. "At last," he said, "after 30 years of being with him, Baba has finally given me darshan — and that, too, perhaps by the grace of Mohammed!"

Eruch, Pendu, Vishnu and Nilu were about to proceed to Sushila's house to enjoy the treat on 12th March 1955, when Bhau returned from the post office after dispatching the mail. They had already eaten dinner and told Bhau, "We are going out for a walk, come along." Bhau accompanied them. Until a few days before, the mandali had been forbidden to leave Rosewood. Only Vishnu went to town for purchases in the market. But Baba then said they could go out for walks, and they began doing so in the evenings.

They reached Sushila's place, where they ate some bhujias. Bhau had not eaten dinner, so at Vishnu's insistence he ate his dinner there — which subsequently created a ruckus.

The next day, Bhau and Aloba went to Grafton to escort Baba to Rosewood. On the way, Baba casually asked Bhau, "What did you have for dinner last night?"

For a few moments, Bhau could not remember what he had eaten, and then he told Baba. Baba was highly displeased, "Why did you eat at Sushila's? You have disobeyed Me."

"There was no order about eating out," Bhau protested.

Aloba intervened, saying, "Yes, there was! I never take food at anyone's place."

Baba castigated Bhau bitterly as they walked to Jal Villa. Vishnu was just about to leave for marketing when Baba called him. Baba accused him, also, of disobedience, but he, likewise, gave the same reply as Bhau. Aloba, however, insisted there had been a breach of obedience, that Baba had given orders not to eat out. Vishnu became angry and told Aloba sharply, "You are lying!"

Baba took Aloba's side. This emboldened Aloba and he replied, "It is not me, but you who are a liar!"

A heated war of words was exchanged between Aloba and Vishnu, and Baba thoroughly enjoyed the altercation. In his fury, Vishnu told Aloba, "If you utter any more lies, you shameless Irani, I will give you a good kick!"

"And do you think I won't retaliate?" Aloba shouted. "I'll crack your skull!" Turning his back, Vishnu stomped away and left on his bicycle for shopping in the bazaar.

Baba again blamed Bhau. "It is all your fault!" he said. "You are the cause of this quarrel. Because of you, it took place. You do not obey. Aloba obeys Me."

Feeling encouraged and proud, Aloba said, "I am very angry with Vishnu.

Let us face each other, man to man, and fight it out!" Baba sent Bhau to Rosewood to call Pendu, Eruch and Nilu, who were told what happened. They agreed that there was no order not to eat bhujias or not to eat out.

After a long debate, Baba remarked, "Such things give Me a headache. I permitted you to go out, and now, whether you are right or wrong in what you say, it has become a major headache for me."

All of the mandali replied, "So we won't go out."

"I don't mind if you go out, but I don't want any headaches. How to insure this?"

Eventually, the permission was rescinded, and this was what, in fact, Baba wanted all along! He did not like the mandali moving about freely and wished to cancel the privilege.  

In 1956, at the time of the accident, when Vishnu saw Baba's facial expression, he felt uplifted! Catching a glance of Baba's bleeding face, Vishnu was overcome and saw Baba's glorious Universal Body and a dazzling light on His face.

Vishnu later described it:

The whole thing happened in the flash of an eye. When I came to, I found I was the only one in the back of the car. I stepped out and went to the front to see how Baba was and saw Him reclining in the front seat, with blood on His clothes and face. (Even though Baba was bleeding), never in my life have I seen such utter radiance and luster as was on Baba's face then! He was like a king, a victorious king who had won a great battle. Lord Krishna must have looked like that in His chariot on the victorious battlefield. The radiance was blinding! I could see nothing else, not the car, nor the surroundings, only Baba's face in glorious triumph!

After a few moments, Vishnu asked Baba if He was hurt much. Baba nodded, pointing to His mouth and leg, but gestured for Vishnu first to see how the others were.

The sight had infused Vishnu with strength. Although one of his legs was injured near his knee, and he had facial cuts and a broken rib, Vishnu forgot the pain and began moving about trying to help the others. Eruch, Pendu and Nilu had been thrown out of the car. Nilu and Pendu were unconscious lying on the ground. Impact with stones from the culvert wall had caused severe internal injuries to Nilu; Pendu's leg was broken. Eruch was conscious, but five of his ribs were fractured. Nevertheless, he managed with superhuman effort to stand up and lean against the car and talk to Baba.

The road was deserted of traffic and pedestrians. Three minutes after the accident, a young man, driving in the opposite direction, from Belgaum to Poona, saw the wreck and stopped his car. Vishnu and the young man lifted Baba into the man's car. An open truck stopped, and Vishnu asked the Parsi driver to take Eruch, Pendu and Nilu to Rosewood, and he obliged. Vishnu then accompanied Baba in the car to Grafton.  

In the morning of 13th May 1962, Vishnu was sitting on the doorstep of the hall in Guruprasad. Baba saw him and remarked to Nariman, “Vishnu has one foot in this room and one foot in the grave.” At the time, none of the men understood what Baba meant. Vishnu was in a very pleasant mood that day; his cousin Sushila had come, and he was quite animated while talking with her.

On the same day, after morning assembly, Vishnu went to give Goher a message. It was about 8:20 P.M. when Vishnu rang the bell to call Goher and then collapsed. Vishnu’s worldly journey came to an end. He had had a heart attack. It was just a month short of his 59th birthday when he attained union with the Divine. Vishnu had been suffering from coronary thrombosis for some time.

In death, as in life, he wore a tender look, and as His beloved Master sat by his body, it seemed as though Vishnu had drifted into a gentle sleep.  Baba sat thus for over an hour and to Vishnu's brother and disciples gathered around, Baba said, "I have never before sat by any of My mandali as I am doing today by Vishnu. He is indeed most fortunate.

Although Vishnu’s heart and pulse had stopped completely and his eyes were half-closed, when Baba came and stood by him, one of the men said, “Look, Vishnu, Baba has come. Baba is here.” Vishnu’s eyes opened wide and gazed upon Baba, and they remained so until they were gently shut.

Baba remarked“See how he obeys Me, even in death!”

At one point Baba joked, "All these years Vishnu kept watch by Me — now I am keeping watch over him!"

Baba decided that Vishnu's body should be cremated in Poona that night, and the ashes sent to Meherabad. Vishnu's body was carried away and placed in the DeSoto, as Baba stood and watched it until it was driven out of sight. It was taken to Vishnu's family home (where Sushila was living) and cremated some time after midnight.

The ashes of this very loving and loved companion of ours would rest in Meherabad the place to dearest to him.

Vishnu's relatives the Haldankars came on the 17th and wept before Baba, begging his forgiveness over the suit they had filed against Vishnu. Haldankar was made to sign a letter of unconditional withdrawal of his complaint, which Baba countersigned as having accepted.

Vishnu was called one of the "four pillars" of Meherabad, along with Adi, Pendu and Padri among the men.

87- SITARAM DATTATREY DESHMUKH (Chhagan)

He had long association with Meher Baba. Many of his life time episodes and conversation are produced below. Sitaram Dattatrey Deshmukh a young man of nineteen was a resident of Bhingar Township on the outskirts of Ahmednagar. Chhagan, as he was called, was a frequent visitor to Sakori.

It was year 1925, one day he was informed that Maharaj's chief disciple was a Zoroastrian — and that He was living at Arangaon Village near Ahmednagar. Chhagan was shocked by this information, since he was a strict Brahmin — absorbed in Vedantism. For quite some time, he was hesitant to visit this Irani guru.

But ill fortune befell Chhagan and he was forced by circumstances to seek Meher Baba's darshan. He took a tonga to Meherabad and was relieved when Baba greeted him warmly. Baba asked what he wanted. Chhagan narrated a woeful tale of material ruin: "My family's financial condition has deteriorated badly. I wish it to be as it was before."

Baba said, "I know everything. Don't worry. It will gradually be restored."

Soon after, Chhagan's father, too, began coming to Meherabad. One day Baba asked Chhagan, "Would you work as a teacher in the school here?"

Chhagan said, "I wish to serve you and will do whatever work I am given."

Baba then directed Chhagan to live at Meherabad, and with his father's consent, he moved there.

But this orthodox Brahmin, who was used to food being cooked in rich ghee, could not assimilate the simple meals of unseasoned dal and rice served at Meherabad. Obtaining Baba's permission, he returned home after only a few days. However, Baba told him to send his father to him. When his father came to Meherabad, Baba informed him of certain matters, stating that his son had a deep, spiritual connection with Him.

When Chhagan's father returned home, he sternly told his son that he must go back to Meher Baba!

Chhagan replied, "I won't go! I cannot eat the food there."

His father then disclosed, "I have promised Meher Baba I would send you. You will have to go." Chhagan had no choice and reluctantly began staying at Meherabad, assisting Arjun and Vishnu as a teacher in the Hazrat Babajan School.

One day Chhagan's father went to see Upasni Maharaj, and Maharaj asked him about his son. He explained that Chhagan was now staying with Meher Baba at Arangaon.

Hearing this, Maharaj exclaimed, "What the hell have you done? You, being a Brahmin, sending your son to an Irani who sits and eats with pariahs? Go bring him back immediately! If he refuses to come, tie him up and drag him home! You have no idea what you have done. You have spoiled your son's religious purity!"

Chhagan's father was shocked and went to Meherabad, humbly informing Meher Baba of what Upasni Maharaj had declared and requesting that he allow Chhagan to return home. Baba replied, "What Maharaj says is true. He is your son, and if you want to take him, you may."

But Chhagan surprisingly intervened, telling his father, "When I left here, it was you who sent me back. You gave Meher Baba your promise, and I am here because of that promise. I cannot go back now! I won't leave Meherabad!"

Chhagan had had a small taste of the wine flowing at Meherabad by then, and it was his thirst for more wine that was speaking through his heart. In his longing to experience more of the Master's Love and Truth, the desire for material wealth and rich food faded from his memory.

In dismay, Chhagan's father went back to Upasni Maharaj and told him everything. Maharaj consoled him: "If your son does not come, don't worry. You didn't know this, but I will tell you now that I, too, have mingled and lived among the outcasts.

Who says religious purity is affected by their contact?"

Much later, as Baba promised, Chhagan's family regained their lost wealth, although by that time Chhagan had joined Meher Baba's mandali and was detached from such material desires.

Different men would keep watch each night during this period, and Gulabsha, who had come to stay at Meherabad, was put in charge of this duty. Chhagan would help. Once Chhagan fell asleep while on duty at night, and Gulabsha was very upset with him. Sarcastically, he advised, "If you feel sleepy, why don't you apply chili powder to your eyes?" Chhagan took him seriously and the next night, to avoid falling asleep, he sprinkled a little chili powder in his eyes and soon began crying aloud in pain. Hearing Chhagan in pain, Baba Himself washed his eyes with cool water, but the burning and swelling did not cease for several days.

In 1926, one day, Baba asked Chhagan a question. But when Chhagan failed to give an immediate reply, Baba actually fell at his feet remarking, "Henceforth, don't do any work. Simply eat, drink, and loll about the place." for a few moments Chhagan was taken aback and stunned that the Master would bow at his feet.

He ran off toward the surrounding fields. Baba directed the mandali to bring him back. All shouted at Chhagan to stop, that it was Baba's orders that he return, but Chhagan did not even turn around. In fact, Chhagan had run so fast that they had lost sight of him. The mandali searched, but they were unable to find him. Baba himself then set out in a small horse-drawn tonga to look for him. The tonga was not able to traverse the rough terrain of Meherabad easily. So after some time, the horse was detached from the tonga, and Baba directed Rustom to go on horseback in search of Chhagan.

After much difficulty, Chhagan was found three or four miles away. He was brought before Baba, who explained certain matters to him and he was pacified, thus bringing the situation back to normal. Everyone, including Chhagan, was exhausted from the chase, so Baba directed the men to relax for the rest of the day. In the evening Baba played cricket with the mandali, and then went for a spin in a large motor vehicle to Shindewadi with a dozen of the men.

Baba discussed His concern about Barsoap with the mandali. Chhagan, who had been appointed Baba's orderly the previous day, had neglected to remove the slate, chalk and other writing materials beside Baba's seat, which he should have done according to Baba's order the previous day. Suddenly, Baba scribbled something on the slate. Moments later, He reminded Chhagan that He had announced His desire to stop writing and was furious with him for having forgotten to remove the writing materials. Baba then stormed out of the hall and locked Himself in the Jhopdi, remaining there the rest of the day.

During 1927, when Baba began keeping silence, it was generally thought that He would make a mistake eventually and some words would escape from His lips. But this had not happened, even once. Yet within two days of His ceasing to write, there was a slip on His part because of the disturbing confrontation with Barsoap and Chhagan's negligence.

In the morning on 11th February, Baba set out on foot with the mandali for Akolner to attend the wedding of Chhagan's sister-in-law, Sumati. When it was time to start, Baba directed Chhagan, "You walk ahead and lead. I will follow you," but Chhagan refused. Baba warned him, "Remember, take care. Do not be dragged away by Maya’s flood."

Baba then addressed the mandali as a whole, although they realized later it was actually a hint to Chhagan, "There is no mard among the mandali — no real man such as this spiritual line requires. This path is very, very hard, fraught with so many and such varied difficulties that it would take a man of iron with a heart of stone to withstand its trials."

When Baba reached the house of Chhagan's wife's uncle, no special seat had been arranged for Baba, and He sat quietly in a corner on an ordinary chair. As per Hindu custom, Chhagan had been married as a child in an arranged marriage years before, but since he was staying with Baba, he had never lived with his wife, who was still quite young. At Akolner, Chhagan's relatives confronted him about this, asking contemptuously, "Don't you love your wife? Why did you marry her if you did not want to be with her? How will you benefit by following this Bua (saint)?"

Chhagan's wife Shanta had been staying with her parents and her father Trimbak Badve was upset at this. As soon as Badve saw Baba, he began abusing Him terribly. "How dare you separate a husband from his wife? You are not a saint; you are bogus!"

Such harsh accusations were voiced by others at the wedding reception, as well. Baba ignored them and responded with a silent smile. When the ceremony was over, Baba indicated that He wished to leave and none of the people even folded their hands to Him when He left. Chhagan, surprisingly, remained behind with his in-laws rather than leave with Baba and the mandali.

In 1927, on the way back to Meherabad, Baba quoted the proverb, "The path of Truth is not a bed of roses" and commented:

About Chhagan, Baba remarked,

Chhagan is quite firm, resolute and determined to stick to Me, renouncing all else. But he actually disobeyed and broke a series of My orders specially given to him that he should go to his family and wife in advance, before the wedding party arrived at the destination. Thus he creditably stood all the trials and tests that I intentionally subjected him to. But, in spite of his firm will and intention to stick to Me, under pressure from his wife's family, he gave in at last — for whatever reason, good or bad. That should not be. He must stick to one word, one attitude, one aim — even if the whole world opposes him.

I have been cautioning the mandali to take a firm decision either to stay with Me or not to stay, and Chhagan decided to remain with Me — leaving everything.

He should have stuck to his decision, especially when he had invited Me to his father-in-law's house. He should not have remained behind with his in-laws. If he had any sense he would have accompanied Me back to Meherabad. He is still kaccha (unripe, raw) and inexperienced. This was the reason I drew your attention this morning to the fact that there was not a single real man among you. This hint referred to you all in general and Chhagan in particular.

In this particular episode today, Chhagan may have been impelled by an honest and sincere motive and by genuine consideration for Me, since he may not have been able to bear the words of others of his family and of outsiders against Me and the mandali. But what are these "words" of ridicule or blame or defamation? To us Sadgurus, they are the chirping of sparrows and nothing more. So should you, ordinary human beings, treat the taunting words of the people of the world quite lightly, indeed, disregarding them utterly — particularly those of you who want to enter into the spiritual line.

Baba was pained by Chhagan's behaviour and observed, "I will have to take back the lost sheep.”

He sent Vishnu to Akolner with the message that, after eating, Chhagan should return to Meherabad. Baba remarked to the mandali, "Chhagan is a very loving and sincere fellow, and up to now he has pleased Me and induced Me to give him a push. But his behavior today is disappointing, in spite of so many warnings and hints."

Someone suggested that Chhagan may have agreed to stay with his relatives to avoid further insulting remarks towards Baba, rather than for any selfish motive. And indeed Chhagan later confirmed that this was so, stating that he had stayed to prevent further scope for criticism of Baba.

Baba then proposed that Chhagan and his wife be accommodated in a small, private hut at Meherabad, but Chhagan was not to touch her except to garland her once a day. Vishnu was sent with the message to Chhagan's in-laws that Chhagan alone should rejoin Baba now and that, after ten days, Chhagan would be coming to take his wife to the ashram.

After the wedding of Ramchandra Gadekar, Baba returned to Meherabad. On the way he kept mentioning Chhagan, which revealed how much He loved him. The Beloved does everything for His lovers, and even if His lovers undergo the most torturous austerities and perform the severest penances for thousands of births in an attempt to repay His love — they can never do so.

According to Baba's instructions, Chhagan had returned, but the events earlier in the day had left him emotionally shaken. Chhagan was deeply depressed over disobeying Baba, after Baba had agreed to walk to Akolner, and then had been insulted when he arrived at the reception. Chhagan asked himself, "What's the use of living when I have caused so much distress to My Guru?"

Instead of coming back to Meherabad, Chhagan had stayed in Arangaon where he stripped himself of his clothes and delivered them to the police. Wearing only a langoti (loincloth), he wandered into the fields with intent of committing suicide. Some of the mandali had been sent to search for him, and after an hour they found him on the hill. He told them that, although he had intended to end his life, "Near the Tank, I heard a voice tell me to check myself, which brought me to my senses." The mandali took him back to Arangaon, persuaded him to put on his clothes, and then brought him to Meherabad at eight o'clock that night.

When Baba returned from Ahmednagar and heard that Chhagan had come, He sent for him and listened to his explanation. Chhagan said, "I did nothing more than talk with my wife. Shanta complained that her parents and relatives were taunting her and giving her a lot of trouble. She wishes to live with me and agrees to allow me to tread the spiritual path; she will not force me to lead a family life. She too will live a simple, spiritual life."

Although pleased, Baba showed surprise to hear this and pardoned Chhagan, making him swear again to obey His instructions. Chhagan promised and placed his head on Baba's feet. As if to seal the promise, Baba smeared ash from the dhuni on Chhagan's forehead.  Chhagan went to the Jhopdi where he resumed his duty, spreading Baba's bedding for the night, as usual. Thus despite the insults heaped on Baba, His disciple had returned to his position in the circle and that was what the Master was really concerned about.

In the afternoon, while Baba was having a discussion with the mandali and boys, Baidul brought a cupful of rice and reported, "Baba, look at this; the rice is half cooked.

This is the sort of food Chhagan prepares."

Baba sent for Chhagan and demanded, "Why is the rice uncooked? Are you trying to kill My boys? Don't you feel ashamed? I don't want to see your kala mooh (an idiomatic insult meaning black face)! You have grown as tall as a palm tree, but with about as much sense!"

Baba directed Rustom to give Chhagan four strokes with the cane. Rustom administered the punishment, and Baba further chastised Chhagan, "Now get out of My sight! Don't stand around like a statue!" Chhagan left and everyone thought that the matter had ended. But it was not so.

In a short while, Baba sent Chanji and two other men to bring Chhagan back to him. They searched the premises but could not find him. Baba later snapped at Raosaheb and Meherjee, "Why are you two sitting here? Go find Chhagan!" They began looking for him, eventually checking the storeroom, where they found Chhagan hiding. He was holding a razor in his hand, contemplating slashing his throat. Meherjee and Raosaheb rushed forward and grabbed him just in time. They then escorted him to Baba.

After hearing Meherjee's description of the scene in the storeroom, Baba reproached Chhagan, "You should be ashamed of yourself. When you have surrendered your life to Me, what right have you to take it away? Your life no longer belongs to you. It is My property! What right have you to destroy that which belongs to Me?

"Your behavior is shameless. What is there in dying such a death? Timid, cowardly people die like that. Bravery lies in living while dying; bearing the punishment I met out."

Baba then forgave Chhagan and embraced him. Chhagan forgot his sorrow and despair in the warmth of the Master's loving embrace and resumed his duties with a light heart, knowing that his life was no longer really his own. It was an object lesson for each of the mandali.

In 1929, one time Baba informed the men: "I have decided that those at Meherabad should come to stay at Nasik. Most will have to work in Rustom's motor works."

Baba asked Chhagan's opinion of this plan, and he replied, "I have come to be with you, not to work in a garage. If you don't wish to keep me near you any longer, I will go away."

"That is not the point," Baba explained. "I order you to work in Rustom's workshop. And if you obey My order, then you are with Me."

"I wish to remain physically with you always."

"What is the use of staying with such an attitude? Though you may be at My side, if you don't obey Me, then you are still far, far away from Me."

Chhagan walked out. After pondering the matter, he returned, seeking Baba's forgiveness. As a punishment, Baba motioned for him to do five deep-knee-bends holding his earlobes (the typical punishment meted out to naughty Indian schoolchildren), which he did. Those present were amused by Chhagan's antics, and in this manner, Baba pardoned him.

At this point of the journey, as had happened in the past, Chhagan was in a bad mood and not talking to anyone. In Agra, they stayed in the Empress Hotel in the cantonment area, and Baba remarked that they would stay in Agra for only a day.

The next morning, Baba gathered the mandali at about eight o'clock. He questioned Chhagan about his sour disposition, which had been gloomy since the previous day. Baba then stated:

This frequent losing of temper and being out of mood is of no use, particularly in the company of your Master, whose will, wish, and word must be your law. Hafiz says,

"I cherish my enemies and allow my friends to perish.

But none dare question the wisdom of my wish."

Further addressing Chhagan, Baba spelled out:

Take a drum and go to the bazaar and beat it like the eunuch that you are!

Don't be a child crying for paltry things. Are you a six-foot-tall baby or a full-grown man? Be a man! Don't stick to petty things. Don't get upset over trivialities.

On 10th May 1929, Baba and the group took a bus to Manmad and then left on the Delhi-Allahabad Express for Hardwar. Near the village of Khandwa an accident occurred; a man was struck by the train and severely injured. A large crowd gathered around the man.

Meanwhile, Baba dispatched Chhagan to buy some rice and dal from a vendor. Chhagan thought to himself, "A man has just been seriously hurt — all are rushing to his aid — yet this Deva (God) feels hungry and wants something to eat! How can Baba be so merciless? Who could eat at a time like this?" With these thoughts in his mind, Chhagan made his way through the crowd to bring the food, but he could not return quickly because of the excited crowd on the platform. After some time Baba lost His patience and sent Gustadji to look for him, and when Chhagan returned, Baba admonished him for taking so long.

Watching Baba eat, Chhagan thought, "Outside a man is dying and inside Divinity himself is quietly enjoying His lunch in peace. How can Baba be so cold?"

Baba gestured to Chhagan, "What are you thinking?"

Chhagan replied that it was nothing. Baba shrugged and then spelled out, "You only think of the man who is hurt, but you have no thought for Me. How will you help him by thinking about him? Your sympathy is empty; it carries no weight.

"You see Me eating food, but what do you know of what I am really doing for that man? If you believe that everything is in My hands and not a leaf moves without My will, then why don't you accept that whatever has happened to him — and whatever will happen to him — is according to My will? Your only duty is to follow My wish. Why give importance to your wish?

"I am eating this food, but it reaches the belly of that man! You can't see that. Remember, I am the Benefactor of all. Your sympathy cannot do a damned thing! To fulfill My wish, you have to burn up your desires. Only then will you be fit to serve Me."

Baba then sent Chhagan to see what had happened to the injured man. Chhagan was dumbfounded at the scene which met his eyes. The man had not only regained consciousness, but he was enjoying a cup of tea! He was about to be removed to a hospital in an ambulance and a doctor remarked that there was no serious injury. He would be all right and be able to walk once his fracture was set. Hearing this, Chhagan repented for his thoughts.

The fact was that Baba was not really hungry, but He pretended to be so in order to revive that man and to teach Chhagan a lesson about how He worked at times.

Baba would go to such lengths to drive home a message to His disciples, sacrificing His own comfort and often spending hours in the process for their sakes.

Like other mandali on past journeys, Chhagan became a scapegoat for Baba's goading. Due to Baba's frequent taunts since the journey started, Chhagan was becoming increasingly depressed. On 22nd May 1929, Baba criticized all: "No one gives Me companionship. The mandali have no thought for Me. I am suffering with pain in My heart, and I have to suffer additionally because of the mandali not being in a good mood. No one has any thought for Me; they only think of themselves. I can't tolerate this suffering anymore. It is killing Me! You are all trying to kill Me!"

Baba then lambasted Chhagan and Buasaheb for four hours, without letting up, until seven that night. The situation was so distressful that the group dreaded what would happen next. Baba concluded the scolding, "I fail to understand what Chhagan wants Me to do. He himself suffers and he makes others suffer. What harassment I put up with! My health is very bad — you all know this — and on top of it I have to pander to your moods. Now, if you want to stay, stay. Otherwise, pack up and get out. I won't tolerate this sort of behavior."

After a few minutes, Baba remarked to the other men, "I trouble Chhagan a lot. The whole night he keeps watch by My side, and when he is about to rest during the daytime, I don't allow him to sleep. What can he do? But what can I do? I don't like his sleeping and want him to be near Me, but how can he maintain a good mood without sleep?

Baba took Chhagan and the mandali on a guided tour to see the Agra Fort, the tomb of Nurjehan's father and mother, and the Taj Mahal. In the evening Baba went for a walk with the two boys, Raosaheb, and Kaka Shahane.

Quite weary from the journey, Chhagan awakened late the next morning and was severely taken to task by Baba. "Whatever I ask you to do, you do not do!" Baba scolded. Turning to the others, He fumed, "No one does what I ask! All of you have no care for Me! I try to wake you up at five and you go on sleeping." Baba also taunted Buasaheb; consequently, when it came time to eat, both He and Chhagan were in irritable moods.

Baba later tried to cajole Chhagan out of his depression by inquiring, "Are you here to serve Me or am I supposed to serve you?" Chhagan refused to cheer up and stopped eating. Baba personally served him a cup of tea, which soothed him.

In 1930, once, Chhagan was also ordered to cook Baba's food. However, Chhagan's hands were cut and badly blistered by the cave digging, and he had a standing order that before cooking Baba's food he was to wash his hands ten times with soap. He therefore told Baba, "My hands are cut. How can I wash them before cooking your food?"

"There is no need to wash them," replied Baba. "Bandage them and then begin."

"But look at my hands; they are filthy."

"Forget about the dirt. It is My order which washes out all dirt." So Chhagan would cook each day, and Baba often remarked how tasty the food was.

Chhagan brought the boy to Baba who at first liked him very much. But after a few minutes, Baba disapprovingly noticed a small cut on the boy's leg, and directed Chhagan, "Take the boy to Meherabad, where Padri can treat his wound. Tell Padri to bring him to Panchgani once the wound is healed."

Chhagan was puzzled by Baba's instructions, as the boy's injury seemed minor. He wondered why Baba was making such a fuss, forcing him to take the boy all the way to Meherabad, when a local doctor could easily have treated the wound. But He did not say anything and, before he left, Baba further instructed him to be sure to contact Sadashiv Patil in Poona on the way and deliver a message, which Baba dictated.

Chhagan then left Panchgani with the boy, whose name was Yusuf. In Poona, as he was nearing Sadashiv's house, a Muslim woman who was filling her water vessels at a public well saw the boy and suddenly began calling out, "Yusuf, Yusuf!" She came running to the boy, embraced him and cried, "Yusuf, my son, where have you been? I can't believe it is really you! I have been longing for sight of you day and night for years! My son, have you forgotten your own mother?"

A crowd gathered and Chhagan could not understand what was happening. He grew frightened by the presence of so many people and forced his way to Sadashiv's house, where he described the situation to him. Sadashiv approached the woman and questioned her. He found out the woman's only son had disappeared from home five years before, and she and her husband's search had proved fruitless. The parents were overwrought with distress at their failure to locate their lost child. Grief-stricken, they had all but given up hope of ever seeing him again.

Chhagan then asked Sadashiv, "What am I to do now" Baba's order was to take the boy to Meherabad." Sadashiv sent a telegram to Baba explaining the situation. Baba's reply promptly came, instructing Chhagan to leave the boy with his parents and return to Panchgani. Only then did Chhagan understand why Baba had sent him on this journey. The message Baba had given Chhagan to convey to Sadashiv was nothing important, but Baba wished to reunite the child with his heartbroken parents.

In 1936, Shakuntala daughter named was born on the 18th to Chhagan's wife, who became quite ill after the delivery. Four days later, Baba directed Chhagan to take his wife to Ahmednagar and return after admitting her to the hospital. But Chhagan was in a bad mood and refused.

Baba asked him why he did not want to go. Chhagan replied, "When nothing avails, what is the use of going?"

"What do you mean nothing avails?" Baba asked. "Everything avails! You keep night watch by My side, eat vegetarian food, do not drink liquor and are not inclined to doing any evil deeds. Does this not all avail? Everything avails!"

This silenced Chhagan and Baba continued, "Mental upsets are present for all. Let thoughts come and go, but do not be anxious about them. Do not pay attention to whatever thoughts, however evil, might arise. Continue obeying Me. This will set things right. Otherwise it will mean unnecessary harassment for you, and for Me, also! If you want to be with Me, you must obey My orders. If not, then go away!"

So according to Baba's wish, Chhagan took his wife to a nursing home in Ahmednagar, where his in-laws looked after her, and Chhagan returned to Meherabad.

In 1939, some masts were persuaded to come to Baba in Jabalpur, but when they could not be persuaded, Baba would leave Jabalpur to contact them. One day Chhagan brought a boy who was a mast from the town of Seoni. After contacting him, Baba sent him back with Chhagan. Many in Seoni believed the boy to be a saint. Upon his return, the young mast declared, "I see Meher Baba in everything and in every being!

Chhagan would look for boys and bring them to Baba, but Baba would always send them back and criticize Chhagan at length, "For goodness sake, what sort of boys do you bring Me? Are you blind? Can't you find even one to my liking?"

Chhagan replied, exasperated, "To find such a boy, I would have to be God-realized! This is not a job for an ordinary man!"

In India, the "profession" of being a sadhu or sanyasi is as common as the profession of a priest or preacher in the West. One day, while observing a mass gathering of sadhus and sanyasis, Baba remarked to the women, "Of these 8,000, only eight are real!"

Memo's sister-in-law (Sheriarji's sister) Piroja Mami (paternal aunt) once came to Bangalore to see her favorite nephew. After dinner, she went to Baba's bathroom to wash her hands. It was evening and Chhagan was on night watch. He stopped her before she could enter, and Piroja indignantly said, "I am Baba's mami. Who are you to stop me?"

"No one is allowed here," Chhagan informed her. "Baba is resting. Please go back."

Chagrined, Piroja Mami left. Baba called Chhagan and asked what all the commotion was about. When he was told, he called Piroja Mami back. Then winking at Chhagan, Baba began scolding him in front of her, "You pig! Why didn't you allow My mami to wash her hands?! Touch her feet and beg her forgiveness. Never, never treat her like that again! She is the Avatar's mami!"

Chhagan did as instructed, and Piroja Mami was, of course, satisfied. Baba then told her, "Mami, please take care not to come here at night. A ghost is haunting me, and that is why Chhagan tried to stop you from coming to this side. It is dangerous for you to come here at night."

"Oh, is that so?" she declared. "I didn't know. I will never come here again."

After she went out, Baba and Chhagan had a good laugh, and Baba remarked, "Mami is very innocent."

In 1943, when the meeting about the Divine Theme chart was going on, Chhagan was occupied with his duty of cooking and did not know what had transpired. He, like some of the other mandali, could not attend the programs, since he had to look after things and seldom had time to be present in the tent.

Chhagan was pondering his fate when Baba asked him, "What are you thinking?"

He replied, "I heard that you explained the Divine Theme to the gathering very well. I didn't get a chance to hear it."

"All right," Baba spelled out. "Now listen to this: In brief, you always live in water, but you have no idea what water is! Understood?"

Chhagan laughed and replied, "Yes, I have understood that much, Baba. I've grasped it well."

In 1945, speaking about mandali, Baba said about Chhagan: How can I describe the love of Chhagan? He has been with Me from the beginning.

In 1949, one afternoon, at five o'clock, Baba divided the mandali into two teams and a volleyball match was played at Meherabad. Annasaheb Kale was the referee, Sailor the captain of one team, and Sidhu of the other. Chhagan was in On Sailor's team. Baba awarded a prize of Rs.28 to the winning team.

Chhagan's fourteen-year-old daughter, Shakuntala, stayed at Meherabad during her school holidays and would always prepare and keep jam ready for Baba; but Baba rarely put in an appearance at their home. Still, in the hope that He would come, she kept up her habit, but perhaps not as vigilantly as she should have. As weeks passed, she prepared jam every day, but not as early as she used to do at the beginning.

On this day, when Baba arrived, he conveyed to Shakuntala that He was hungry and that she should give Him something to eat. Shakuntala had the jam on the stove, but it had not yet thickened. She shyly told Baba that it would take a little while for the jam to congeal. "Bring it as it is," He replied, and He ate the warm jam with a chapatti. Shakuntala felt ashamed of her laxity, and so renewed her practice as before. Although Baba was not visiting every day, she kept his jam ready on time; and thus the task proved a medium for remembering the Master.

One time, Baba asked Chhagan to bring milk to be served to Badri mast. It was 1:00 A.M. and the whole village was sound asleep. With much difficulty, Chhagan managed to persuade a villager to sell him a rupee worth of goat's milk, a little brown sugar and a piece of bhakri. Baba gave these to Badri Baba and then sat with him. By 2:30 A.M. the contact was over and Baba was happy. Badri Baba was a high mast, and Baba was quite satisfied with the work accomplished.

Eruch had lost money while journeying on mast tour with Baba in Badnera. The group immediately left for Badnera and, in order to search for the lost money and Eruch's shoe, Chhagan led the way on foot carrying a flashlight in each hand. Luckily, at the second mile Chhagan spotted Eruch's shoe and at the third, the bundle of currency notes was found.

Chhagan volunteered to walk to the town of Seoni and bring a new tire and tube. He left, but half an hour later they realized that he had forgotten to take any money with him. Vishnu was sent to catch up with him. A robbery had been committed that night and the police were patrolling the area. When Chhagan entered the town looking like a disheveled zombie, the police arrested him. Chhagan, however, was able to convince them that he was not the man they were looking for and he was released. Vishnu and Chhagan returned to the car with the new tube and tire. After it was fitted, they drove on to Seoni.

Chhagan has accepted to accompany Baba in New Life and wrote "Yes," but his wife started weeping when she found out. When he informed Baba, He was also freed. Baba, however, ordered Chhagan to eat food obtained by begging. Later Baba amended the order, telling Chhagan to move back to Meherabad. He would be given a small stipend, which he was to supplement from outside employment.

In 1055, at Khuldabad, Chhagan cooked and Baidul prepared the tea. Both were at constant loggerheads, but they fought only in the kitchen and their dispute was not broadcast. Chhagan was an excellent cook, and Baidul only mediocre. The cause of the strife was that Baidul would try to make suggestions to Chhagan about his cooking.

In 1958, Chhagan was in charge of the kitchen and labored tirelessly to provide tasty meals and tea to the congregation. He would go to sleep at 8:00 P.M., and Bhau would wake him at midnight to begin preparations for breakfast, and then go to sleep himself. Getting up at 4:00 A.M., Bhau would go to the makeshift kitchen where Chhagan would be ready with breakfast for 800 persons and would be starting to make their tea. At 5:00 A.M. the sahavas men and women would have breakfast, and everything would go off like clockwork. Yet, those who attended had no idea of how it was all managed! )

In 1960, Chhagan's daughter, Shakuntala, 26, had married in May and came to Guruprasad in June with her family and husband, Suresh Kirtane, to receive Baba's blessing.

In 1967, Baba sent Chhagan as his representative to the annual melas (fairs) held at the end of November 1967 in Hamirpur (Meherpuri), Mahewa (Meherastana) and Nauranga (Meher Dham). Bhau was told to write a speech in Hindi for Chhagan to deliver. Before Chhagan departed on the journey, Baba called him to Meherazad and asked him to read the speech. Baba also sent for the women mandali, who came and listened outside the window of mandali hall behind a curtain. Chhagan read Bhau's speech and sang a few songs so well that Baba was immensely pleased and gave him a hearty embrace.

Baba also sent Chhagan to two other "Meher Melas" in Uttar Pradesh, one at Bagda and another at Khandarka, and later Baba sent him to Kanpur for Baba's birthday celebration. Each time, before Chhagan left, Baba would call him to Meherazad to read out the Hindi speeches prepared by Bhau. Chhagan would read them in the hall, before both the men and women mandali. It was a pastime for Baba, but for Bhau it was one more additional duty. He had to do night watch, the Hindi correspondence, be present with Baba in the day, write speeches for Sarosh and Amar Singh Saigal and then Chhagan, besides working on other writings.