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."