84- SHATRUGHNA KUMAR GHILDIAL (Kumar)

84-SHATRUGHNA KUMAR GHILDIAL (Kumar)

Finger of God touched his heart and he became a devoted follower of Meher Baba and spent several days in His company.

Following is the narration in words of Sh. Shatrughan Kumar.

I had been brought up in a spiritual environment at home, but after joining the revolutionary party and spending a long time in politics, I had become an agnostic. But that night, when the other prisoners were asleep, I prepared myself to request God to release me.

I either didn't know, or by now had forgotten, how to address God so I simply said, "Mr. God, if there is any God, I request You, please get me released from this jail.” But simultaneously with this request came the thought to My mind that every punishment and pain is man’s own earning according to his deeds; if jail was my own earning, then why should God interfere?  Yet right on the heels of this thought came another—that if I promised to accept any binding outside of jail, then this would serve the purpose. I felt I had found the solution.

So I began my request again, "Mr. God, please get me released from this jail and in exchange I promise to abide by and obey any binding whatsoever you impose upon me outside this jail."  And while I was making this promise to God, I began to feel strongly that God was going to accept my bargain. And then another thought entered my mind.  How will I know if my bargain has been accepted by God?  Even if I am released, what proof will I have that it was God’s doing?  So I added, "Please God, if You have accepted my promise and bargain then get me released early in the morning, as soon as the prison gates are opened.  If I am released any other time, the following day, tomorrow morning, I will take it that my release was all by chance and not your doing.”

Actually, it was impossibility for me to be released as soon as the prison gates opened.  For they opened at dawn but the superintendent, who would have to sign my release papers didn't arrive until at least ten in the morning.

Despite this, after so much conversation with God, I became so sure of my being released early in the morning that I started to pack my belongings in my two large trunks.  I spent the whole night in praying, requesting, promising bargaining and packing and miraculously I got released as I wished.

I met Meher Baba in His physical form for the first time on January 12, 1950 at Dehra Dun railway station. Someone asked me to wait outside and when I was called in, I saw Baba in the waiting room. I noticed that His fingers were on the edge of a large round table and His alphabet board was under His arm. A beautiful sight! He looked radiant and loving. He was smiling and I was simply enchanted by His radiance and beauty....

About eight years after my release from prison, Baba called me to Satara in Maharashtra to spend one week with Him. But once I arrived, Baba kept me there for almost one year. He further imposed upon me many restrictions and bindings such as to have no correspondence with anyone, never to step out of the premises unless I was to accompany Baba as His umbrella bearer, etc.

Several months passed like this and my clothes were almost in rags and I had grown a beard. One day it occurred to me that I had so many restrictions on me; it was as if I were in prison! I became a little upset; I had spent so many years in jail and now it seemed my life hadn't changed at all. But that very day Baba took me along with Him in His car while He went for mast work.

On the way, out of the blue, Baba asked me, "How long were you in prison?" Without thinking about why Baba was asking me such a strange question, I spontaneously replied, "More than ten years on two occasions. On the second occasion, I was put in prison for an indefinite period."

"How did you get released then?" Baba asked, and all of a sudden it all came back to me. I had completely forgotten my bargain with God, but now I remembered everything — my request, my bargain and my promise. I said, "I requested God to release me."

Baba gestured, "Only requested? Didn't you say something more to God?" I looked up into Baba's eyes. He was smiling. I said, "Yes, Baba. I promised also."

"In what manner did you request God, and what was your promise to Him?"

I explained that I didn't know how to address God so I had begun my request by saying, "Mr. God, if there is any God, I request You, please get me released from this jail." And, in return for this, I had promised to abide by any binding whatsoever imposed upon me outside of jail.

All along Baba had been smiling. But now, suddenly He became very serious. He took my right hand and placed it upon His and made me repeat the promise three times. "Don't break this promise," He gestured. "I am God; I am that 'Mr. God' to whom you made the promise. I have kept My side of the bargain; now keep yours."

Something like an electrical current passed through my body and I began to perspire till I was completely soaked. Baba then caressed me lovingly. Up to that time I had served Baba and loved Baba as a Great Soul, but now I knew with a conviction beyond question that I had found God, the Highest of the High.

There had been many incidences and conversation between him and Meher Baba. Most of thecae are produced as under:

In 1949, Baba had ordered Keki Desai in Meherabad that besides buying the property he had to arrange for Kaikobad to stay on it for five months prior to Baba's arrival. Baba had paid Keki Rs.500 for this purpose, telling him to arrange for Kaikobad's meals.

So Keki asked the local gentleman (Shatrughan Kumar), "A friend of ours is going to stay here for five months. Could you possibly arrange for his food? We will pay you Rs.500."

The gentleman replied, "I can arrange for his food, but there is no need to pay me."

"It is Baba's order! Food cannot be accepted without payment," Keki insisted.

"Which Baba?" the man asked.

"Meher Baba, our Master."

He had never heard the name and jokingly replied, "All right, if it is your Baba's wish, I'll accept the money."

Keki handed him the amount, and now this matter too was settled. But the property had no well. The man offered to have a well dug, and Keki and Nalavala were happily surprised by his cooperation and help. Their hearts were full at Baba's secret game. It was as if the man had been waiting to make all the required arrangements for Baba's stay.

Still smiling, the man asked, "Who is this Meher Baba?"

Keki Desai answered, "He is a great personality, but He neither meets nor gives darshan to anyone. According to His wish we cannot allow you to meet Him. Meher Baba will come with His companions, but He will not see anyone."

The man was puzzled, but before he could question them further they left for Dehra Dun, where they sent a telegram to Baba informing him of the purchase of the plot at Manjri Mafi. Keki then returned to Delhi. Keki Nalavala would visit the property occasionally to insure that the repairs were going according to schedule.

"Who was this anonymous local benefactor?" He wanted to know. He was once a staunch communist who had served almost ten years in prison for agitating for independence against the British. He was a revolutionary freedom fighter who had tried to overthrow the government, and who consequently had undergone many hardships for his part in the Indian independence movement. While in jail he was responsible for leading an insurrection, for which he was made to sit on hot corrugated tin sheets in the middle of summer, and was thrown into solitary confinement.

One night in December 1945, fretting over his miserable lot, he burst out with this prayer: "Mr. God, if You really exist, free me from jail by tomorrow morning! If I am released, I will gladly accept You!"

Although this man was a confirmed atheist, his spontaneous outburst had come from the depths of his heart. "Mr. God" heard his prayer.

Amazingly and unexpectedly, early the next morning he was set free from prison. The man was none other than Shatrughna Kumar Ghildial, known as Kumar. Mr. God had not only listened to his prayer —He was about to come to see him in person!

Keki Desai had hinted to Keki Nalavala beforehand about Baba's arrival, and he accordingly informed Kaikobad, who had been residing at Manjri Mafi since the 1st of November. In this way Shatrughan Kumar who was also anxious to meet Baba, learned of His coming.

Kumar's children would take Kaikobad his tea and food because, by Baba's orders, Kaikobad was not allowed to step out of the premises. One day he told Kumar, "You are very fortunate; you are serving God," and showed him Baba's picture. "This is God," he said. From that day on without a break, Kumar began having dreams of Baba as a young man, thin, with a scraggly beard and kerchief tied around his head, but at the time he did not know who it was. It was only years later, when he saw a photograph of Baba with the exact likeness, that he realized who had been appearing in his nightly dreams.

In year 1950, Kaikobad informed Kumar that Baba was coming to the railway station and, because he had done such good work for Him, Baba perhaps would like to see him. So Kumar went. At the station, Baba had gone into the first-class waiting room. Kumar opened the door, and though there were several other people around Baba he saw only "an enchanted, alluring figure" reclining on a bench. His heart declared that this was "Mr. God," who had heard his prayer and freed him from jail four years before. The communist and atheist had in that very moment turned into a believer, and in that first gaze acknowledged and accepted Meher Baba as God in human form. He was to keep his head bowed at His feet forever, for Kumar had found his "Mr. God" at last.

Baba asked Keki Nalavala about their lunch; but as he had not been informed in this regard, food had not been arranged in bhiksha. Kumar interjected, "If it be your pleasure, Baba, I can arrange it."

"You will have to give the food as alms. Can you bring it within an hour?" Baba asked.

"I can prepare vegetable pulao in an hour and bring that," Kumar said. Baba agreed and Kumar rushed out, jumped on his motorcycle and drove full speed four miles to Manjri Mafi. He told his wife Subhadra to prepare pulao for ten people within half an hour. Subhadra was a loving woman, innocent and open-hearted, and though it was late she immediately started cooking. But Kumar was in such a rush he made her nervous. He stayed in the kitchen with a watch in his hand, urging her to hurry.

Subhadra said, "Be patient; otherwise, the rice will be spoiled."

"Turn up the stove; there's no time to wait," he snapped.

Kumar was anxious, though Subhadra was cooking as fast as she could. She kept the rice boiling at an even temperature so as not to burn it, but Kumar was only thinking of being on time.

The pulao was finally ready. Keeping it in a pot, Kumar raced to the station, making it back within the hour. Baba was very pleased, but Kumar found there were more people with him. Burjor Chacha and others had come, and the total was now more than 20 people. Confused, Kumar was wondering how the food would feed so many, but he kept quiet. The pot was taken and kept on a table, and plates were taken out of the trunk. Baba began serving everyone. The more Baba dished out on every plate, the more anxious Kumar became. "Take as much as you want; eat your fill," Baba remarked. "You may not get anything later." When all had been served and were satisfied, there was still pulao left in the pot! Kumar was amazed at this miracle.

Food for Baba and the companions was cooked at Kumar's home at Manjri Mafi by Kumar's mother, Jayanti (known as "Mataji"), his wife and two or three other women of the village. Kumar would bring their lunch on his motorcycle at eleven o'clock and Keki Desai would bring dinner at six in a tonga. The first day, Kumar's motorcycle stalled on the way and every effort to restart it failed. At exactly eleven o'clock it suddenly started, but he was five minutes late. Baba asked, "Why are you late?" Kumar told him the reason and Baba remarked, "It's all right this time, but tomorrow be on time."

But the next day, at the same spot, the motorcycle failed again and Kumar was five minutes late. This strange occurrence continued each day for as long as Kumar was bringing food from Manjri Mafi to Baba's bungalow in Dehra Dun. He knew it was due to some inner working of Baba's. The motorcycle engine was in perfect order; but somehow at the same spot it would come to a sudden halt, and Kumar was always five minutes late. This, in fact, was Baba's doing, which turned Kumar, the tiger, into Memna, the lamb! He who had never bowed his head to another man was now eager to clean the carpets beneath his Beloved's feet.

Prior to Baba's arrival, Kumar was busy sinking a well at Manjri Mafi. To speed up the work extra laborers had been hired. Keki Desai would also go to Manjri Mafi to inspect the progress of the work. He was sleeping at Nalavala's at this time but had his meals and spent the entire day at Baba's bungalow.

One day, Baba specifically instructed Keki Desai not to wait at Kumar's place, but to return soon with whatever food had been prepared. When he told Kumar about Baba's order, he and his family explained that on that particular day they had planned to make puris, which would take some time. Desai ("foolishly," he admitted later) agreed to wait, and thereby broke Baba's order. While returning from Manjri Mafi each day, he would purchase bread from a local bakery for Baba. On this day, to make matters worse, the tonga driver got lost, causing more of a delay.

Meanwhile, at Mrs. Pratt's bungalow, Baba was repeatedly asking everyone about Keki Desai and why he had not returned. When he arrived, Baba asked the reason for his delay. Desai told him the whole story. The food had been sent to the women, who first took out their share and then sent the rest for the men companions. When they started eating, Baba reappeared and again began lambasting Desai. Soft rice and plain dal was always sent for Baba twice a day, since he preferred only this. But as fate would have it, on this day Subhadra was in such a hurry she had forgotten to put Baba's food in the basket.

Baba scolded Desai first for breaking his order by waiting at Kumar's and then secondly for forgetting to bring His food. "Now I will have to remain hungry while you all are nicely having your dinner," He fumed. Desai was so upset he could hardly eat. After Baba left though, Nilu, who was sitting next to him, nudged Desai to finish his dinner and not to worry.

After some time, Baba returned and instructed Desai that the next day he should not come to see Him first as usual, but that he should go straight from Nalavala's to Kumar's house. "Tell them that the puri preparation was an unnecessary hardship for the women," Baba commented. "Also, tell them that in their haste they forgot to pack My food. But it is all right; I forgive them."

When Desai returned to Nalavala's house that night, at ten o'clock, Baba sent Vishnu with the message that in the morning Desai should first see him and then go to Kumar's. "Baba has also asked you to sleep well," added Vishnu, "because He knows you are feeling very upset."

Next morning when Desai arrived, Baba instructed him, "Go to Kumar's house on a bicycle today to deliver the message, not in a tonga."

Desai said, "This will be my first time on a bicycle in seven years."

Baba ordered, "From today do not use a bicycle again for another seven years." And off Keki cycled for Kumar's house.

There had also been trouble at Manjri Mafi the previous evening. Instructing Subhadra to give Keki the food, Kumar had gone to watch the well workers. When he returned home at seven in the evening, he found his wife agitated. He asked her what was the problem?

Frightened, she tearfully disclosed that there had been a mistake in sending Baba's food.

Kumar was so upset he slapped his wife. Baba's dinnertime was past, and if he sent the food now he knew Baba would not eat it. Kumar was restless the whole night, worried that Baba would be upset. He somehow managed to fall asleep, and in a dream "Mr. God" appeared and said, "Don't worry; I have forgiven you."

Kumar awoke startled. He had little faith in the dream, and the whole night tossed and turned from side to side; but just before dawn, Keki Desai rode up to his house on a bicycle and delivered Baba's message. "Baba has sent me to you and wishes that you should not worry. He says He has forgiven you."

After delivering this message, Desai left for Dehra Dun. Taken aback, Kumar wondered at God's mercy. Baba had specially sent Desai five miles just to set Kumar's mind at ease.

When Kumar brought the food to Dehra Dun at eleven o'clock, Baba repeated, "Don't worry; I have forgiven you." But then He added, "Tell Me, were you upset when your wife did not send My food?"

"Yes, Baba," Kumar admitted.

"You were angry?"

"Yes."

"Very angry?"

"Perhaps."

"Did you beat her?"

"One or two slaps ..."

Pushing away the food Baba gestured, "Then I cannot take this food." Kumar implored Baba to have it, and Baba said, "Promise Me you will never strike Subhadra again!" Kumar willingly promised. From that day on, Kumar began addressing his "Mr. God" as Baba — and in later correspondence he would always address him as "Beloved God.”)

Kumar was a daily visitor. He and his family came close to Baba and began dedicating their lives to His cause. Leaving everything behind, Kumar was eager to join the New Life, but Baba ordered him to wait, because he still had much work to do.

In 1950, in the morning, Kumar was ordered to sell the Manjri Mafi property, Kumar promised to pay part of the proceeds of the sale of the Manjri Mafi property, which was Rs.7, 000, by the end of July. Baba wanted the money immediately, then and there, that day! Consequently, Harjiwan Lal consented to lend the amount to Baba on condition that Kumar repay him by the end of July.

Thus, during the stay at Manjri Mafi, a new plan came into effect for aspirants of the world to follow. Many years later, due to Kumar's efforts, the name of Manjri Mafi Village was officially changed to Meher Mafi, permanently commemorating Baba's stay there during the New Life. For generations to come, Meher Mafi will fill the ears of all seekers with the hymn of the New Life plans, hearing which not only will they be inspired to enter the Path, but they will attain the life of spirituality which leads to it.

In 1952, at Jarakhar tow, Sripat Sahai had arranged private accommodations for Baba and the mandali in a school building. The schoolboys there would perform daily drills, shouldering wooden guns. "Commander-in-Chief" Kumar thought of having them parade for Baba. Baba appeared, and without having been told of Kumar's idea, instructed him to start the parade. Kumar began leading the youngsters, and Baba beamed as the children saluted Him. This message from Baba, titled "Be Soldiers of God," was given there:

Let us become the soldiers of God. Let us struggle for the Truth. Let us live not for our own selves but for others. Let us speak truly, think truly and act truly. Let us be honest, as God is Infinite Honesty. Let us return love for hatred and win over others to God. Let the world know that above everything, most dear to our hearts is God — the Supreme Reality. I give you my blessings for the attainment of this Truth.”

In 1953, Baba was to depart in the evening, and so His lovers from Hamirpur, Nagpur, Saoner, Delhi and Dehra Dun were sent away that day. A meeting of Andhra workers was to take place, and Baba's presence was required. So He informed those who were to depart, "I have no time; say goodbye quickly."

Kumar made everyone stand in a row, and when Baba came to see them off, according to Kumar's suggestion, the men gave Him a smart military salute. Thus ended their farewell. Baba embraced Kumar and related to Kumar and Kishan Singh that he intended to stay for several months in Dehra Dun after the middle of February 1953, and He instructed them to rent two houses for him and the mandali.

Back in Dehra Dun, while conversing with the mandali one day, Baba explained to Kishan Singh, using the metaphor of a train: "To a freight train are attached many wagons. Some contain good material, some bad — iron, copper, oil, waste products, et cetera — in different wagons. But, whether it is good material or bad, when attached to the engine the carriages go where the engine goes. The engine does not carry wagons of only good things, leaving the bad behind. Similarly, I am like an engine, and those who remain attached to me reach their destination, whether they be virtuous or vicious."

Keki Nalavala asked, "But how do we remain attached to you?"

Baba replied, "The meaning of remaining attached to me is to follow my wishes, to remember me and to forget your selves."

Kumar said, "This is an impossible thing, Baba! This type of joining depends on your grace."

Baba replied, "If you try, you will be deserving of My grace. I am the Infinite Ocean of Mercy and to shower mercy is My nature. If you throw sandalwood or filth in the ocean, does it have any effect on it?"

"No," Kumar said.

"Why not?"

"There is an abundance of fresh water in the ocean and it does not give out fragrance if roses are thrown in it, or stink if garbage is dumped in," Kumar replied.

Baba stated, "The Ocean absorbs within itself heaps of sandalwood or refuse, good things or bad, as it is unlimited. Similarly, if you 'throw' your good and bad actions upon Me, absorbing them, I will free you from all bindings. But the meaning of throwing or dedicating to Me is that you should thereafter completely forget such actions, because to remember them is not true dedication."

People of all beliefs were introduced to Baba. Kumar brought an atheist to whom Baba stated: “Everyone is an atheist until he finds God by actual experience. It is better to be an atheist and be honest in words and deeds than to pose as a lover of God and lead a dishonest life. God is completely independent. He needs no worship. He only wants us to be honest.”

Once, Baba had instructed Kumar to find a few widows who had daughters of marriageable ages, but who were too poor to pay any dowry. Kumar managed to locate three such women and brought them to Baba on the 3rd. After bowing down to them, Baba presented each with a new sewing machine. There was a disturbing incident just as He started this work; He was interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Mrs. Sehgal (the mentally unbalanced wife of Mr. Sehgal) who was hysterical and crying. Later that day Baba washed the feet of 24 men who had fallen on hard times, each of whom was given Rs.300 as prasad. Baba stated that by helping such individuals, He was helping everyone in a similar predicament.

Addressing the mandali in Dehra Dun on Friday, 12th June 1953, Baba stated about Kumar: "Shatrughna says he would die for Me if I ask, and I believe him 100 percent. Also he says he does not love Me as love is described, and that also is true. Love is a gift."

Baba further explained:

“Love for one's wife or children or parent is not love. It is attachment. Love is a gift and it is divine. When one has it, one sacrifices everything. Freedom is sacrificed — sacrifice itself is sacrificed! But from my point of view, obedience is higher than love. Obedience, however, is impossible, more impossible than love because Freedom is inherited. Freedom is our birthright because originally we were free. So when binding comes, it [Freedom] is refused to us.

The easiest course adoptable in such circumstances is to resort to "one binding," which eliminates several bindings, but that too is difficult. Even though a man in obedience may cut his own throat, the idea of Freedom is in his action. He is motivated by that idea.”

On the night of 23rd June 1953, Kumar brought a colt, which Baba gave to Mehera, who would care for it with great affection. The horse was named Sheba.

Back in Dehra Dun, on Thursday, 25th June 1953, Baba reminded Kumar, "Don't forget to do the work I've given you." Baba would go on repeating the same thing so often during the course of the day that once Kumar started laughing. Baba remarked, "Whether it is a good habit or a bad one, I am given to repeating things. After meeting Babajan, repeating things increased a great deal in me. Why do I do it?"

"Possibly to create firmness in one to carry out the duty you give," Eruch opined.

Referring to Kumar, Baba stated, "He is in the Ocean. He has his wife, children, and relations. Every drop is different, but each one is a bubble."

On 27th June 1953, Baba told him to bring a deer. The deer was also kept as a pet for a while. At one point, Baba explained to Kumar:

“You should know that lately I feel very disgusted. It will go on increasing. I do all this for a purpose. But there is one thing: I feel that July will prove most critical, crucial, for me. Everything else is a play. Gird your loins, and be fully prepared by the 10th of July. You have carried out 100 percent the work of buying Sheba. It does not matter to me now whether the horse lives or dies. I am happy you fulfilled my wish as instructed.

My method is to create and to abolish. If I tell you tomorrow to sell the horse, you should do it willingly. If I tell you to give it away to someone, that too you should carry out joyfully. You should never have a thought that all your labors spent on buying it were in vain. Had you not bought it, I would have been thinking about it all the time.

My methods and ways are unique. Once a thing is done, I never care what happens thereafter. And so, if you want to please Me, then do as I say. You should not think why Baba does this and why he wishes so. If ever the thought of why creeps into your mind, the whole thing is spoiled!”

Adjoining Baba's bungalow in Dehra Dun was a garden of guava trees. Four watchmen had been hired to shoo away the birds at night. The men would shriek and shout, and Baba would complain about the noise, stating that He was much disturbed. One day Baba directed Kumar to tell the watchmen not to make so much noise at night.

Kumar did as instructed, but they laughed derisively and said, "What you say is true. But if we don't do it, the birds will eat all the fruit, and who will make up for the loss? Our boss would fire us and we would be out of work." Returning, Kumar informed Baba, who sent him back with the message that they should be less noisy while frightening away the birds. Kumar went and told them.

The next day, Baba complained that the noise that night had been worse than before. Kumar was exasperated by Baba's complaining. Baba, nevertheless, sent him to the owner of the garden, who got very upset with him for wasting his time. "If I don't tell my servants to make uproar," the man said, "they will go to sleep and the birds would ruin my garden. But I cannot understand how you could be disturbed by their shouts. It is not possible for their noise to be heard in your bungalow."

When Baba was informed, He asked Kumar, "What is the remedy for this?"

Half-joking, Kumar said, "There is no other remedy than to buy the garden and let the birds eat all the fruit."

"A wonderful idea!" replied Baba enthusiastically. "Go and find out its price."

Kumar once again approached the owner, who became even more infuriated. "Have you any sense? Is this the time to sell a garden when it is full of fruit? Anyway, the fruit has already been sold to a contractor who is gradually taking away the produce."

When Baba was informed, he sent Kumar back with this message: "Tell the contractor not to take the produce gradually, but to collect it all at once."

Kumar returned. The owner dismissed Kumar with an angry wave of his hand, shouting at him to leave at once. When Baba was told He still complained, "Somehow this racket must be stopped. I cannot sleep and it is affecting My health, My mood and My work. Something must be done."

After a few minutes, Baba said, "All of the watchmen do not make such a loud noise. It is one boy among them who is the loudest. If you bring him here and put him to work here, the problem will be solved." Kumar left to identify the young culprit. He found him, but the boy was not convinced to give up his job. Kumar tempted him with a higher salary, but still he refused. Despite this, Kumar persisted, and at last the boy was prevailed upon and brought to Baba, who was pleased to see him.

The eighteen-year-old lad was Nepalese and did not know Hindi very well. Baba asked him his salary, and with a very funny accent he replied, "Powcheese rupiya" (instead of pacheece rupiya meaning, Rs.25). Baba enjoyed his way of speaking Hindi and assured him, "You will get Rs.50 working here, plus food and clothing. Besides this you will be educated."

In 1954, program in Mahewa started that night at nine o'clock, and as bhajans and qawaalis were being sung, an argument broke out. The quarrel was between Pendu and Kumar. Kumar had asked those coming not to place their shoes and sandals in front of the door because they blocked the way, but people had ignored him.

Kumar, thereupon, asked others to remove the shoes, which were picked up and flung in a heap to one side. When Pendu saw this, he confronted Kumar. "What are you doing? How will people be able to sort out their footwear?"

Kumar replied, "That's their problem! Why did they block the door?" This led to a heated exchange of words, and Baba sent for both of them.

Harjiwan Lal was present, and Baba called upon him. He asked Harjiwan Lal, "Pendu is the controller, and Kumar is the commander-in-chief. You are a lawyer. Now tell us, who is superior, the controller or the commander-in-chief?"

Harjiwan Lal said, "It is difficult to say with any certainty in your darbar [court] whose authority supersedes whose. You alone know it!"

With a dismissive gesture, Baba said, "Forget all that! Give us your legal opinion."

Harjiwan Lal explained, "A lawyer's viewpoint depends upon which party gives him the most money; he then represents their side. Truth turns into falsehood, and lies into truth! Every lawyer is like that!"

This made Baba laugh, and He inquired, "Who threw the shoes?" Only Pankhraj raised his hand, although others had also taken part. Baba rebuked him severely, and Pankhraj thought with dismay that this is the result of his telling the truth. Although it was a scolding, this was Baba's "gift" to Pankhraj, and others went without it.

Baba then observed, "Harjiwan Lal does not wish to play the counselor here; for that he wants a fee. But since there is no money either with Pendu or Kumar, the best course is that both embrace each other lovingly and forget all about it."

Laughing, Pendu and Kumar embraced, and this incident provided a lesson to the Hamirpur workers. (Lord Meher-p-3450-1954)

Pointing to Kumar, he added, "Kumar does not know God, Avatar or Sadguru. But he knows to say the right things and to obey."

In 1955, the men mandali staying with Baba in Satara were given certain duties from the beginning of May to the end of July 1955. Kumar was assigned the repetion-from 12:00 noon to 6:00 P.M.

Kumar and Vishnu both saw 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!."

In 1958, speaking on mandali, Baba said:

Shatrughna Kumar: is from Dehra Dun village. A number one dacoit (bandit)! He has been to jail for many years for political reasons. He is of an excitable nature. Even beats people in the streets - although not here! Does not believe in God, and although not an atheist, he is an agnostic. He does not care for the rich or poor. He says he will never obey anyone in the world; but he does not know how it is that he obeys Me! He is prepared to lay his head at My feet. He will cut his wife to pieces if I order him.

Kumar was called and asked whether he would die for Baba. Kumar, after a few moments, said yes.

Several months before, Kumar had been ordered to do the same thing, but Nilkanthwala had refused to come. But in July 1958, when Kumar approached the mast, he found that it was as if the mast himself were ready for some long journey! Before Kumar was able to pay his respects, Nilkanthwala ordered him to sit in front of him (communicating through gestures as he was observing silence). After a while, Kumar asked him to come with him to Ahmednagar to meet Baba. The mast conveyed his willingness by clapping his hands loudly. Nilkanthwala continued observing silence and remained in a particular posture during almost the entire train ride. Once, Kumar took him to the dining car, where Nilkanthwala ate his meal with a spoon. To watch this half-naked fakir eating his supper with a spoon, and the reactions to him by the cultured passengers and military officials observing, was an amusing sight Kumar never forgot. He had been instructed to bring the great mast Nilkanthwala from Rishikesh.

Each of the mandali had to wash his own smaller items of clothing. (A laundryman did the heavier work.) Baba ordered Kumar to wash Bhau's things. Bhau hesitated giving him his laundry, since Kumar was older than he. Yet to fulfill Baba's order, he gave him a coat which he had never used. After four or five days, the same coat was given again for washing. Baba heard of this and asked Bhau why he did not give his clothes to Kumar to wash. Bhau replied that he gave Kumar his coat. "Don't irritate Me!" Baba chided. "Do you think I am a child? Whatever you have done, do you feel it is proper?" Bhau admitted his mistake and assured Baba that in the future, he would have his clothes washed by Kumar. Baba, however, freed him from the order.

Once while talking with Kumar, Baidul got enraged over something Kumar said and openly expressed his anger. Baba intervened and scolded Baidul, "All your prayers and recitation of God's name are useless! Your prayer is helpful only if you can keep your heart clean! This is the purpose of prayer. If the heart is clean, no prayer is necessary.

One day, at Meherazad, Kumar got the idea that it would be wonderful to have an impression of Baba's footprints. He was not sure whether Baba would agree, but he sent for plaster of Paris and kept it ready. After it arrived, he requested that Mani or Goher ask Baba if He would consent to give His foot impression, saying even if He agreed to give only the right foot that was sufficient. Baba had already retired for the day and was in His room.

Kumar put the plaster powder in a cardboard shoe-box and was called to Baba's bedroom. He was nervous, wondering what Baba would say. When he arrived and explained the idea, Baba was in a pleasant mood and replied, "Yes, all right." So, with a nervous heart, Kumar quickly mixed the plaster of Paris with water. Eruch had accompanied him and told him to put a little salt in the mixture.

Baba graciously put His right foot into the box. After removing His foot, He asked Kumar, "What about the left foot?" Kumar hadn't been sure if Baba would agree to both feet, so there was only a small amount of plaster of Paris left. Excited, he mixed the remaining powder in the shoe-box's lid, and Baba put His left foot in it. (This is the reason the right footprint turned out fuller and more defined than the left.)

As Kumar was taking the impressions, Baba remarked, "It will be good for future generations — for posterity." Kumar took the boxes of plaster to his room where they dried, and then took them back with him to Dehra Dun.

Meanwhile, Kumar's eldest son, Prashant, 19, who worked as an electrician in a mine near Belgaum, was called to Guruprasad in early July. After Baba embraced Prashant, He remarked, "You have fever." Calling Gunatai and Nalini Gadekar, Baba asked them to keep him in their home, and asked Nalini (who was in medical school) to treat him. They did accordingly, but his illness worsened and he was removed to Jehangir Nursing Home. After a medical examination, he was found to be suffering from leukemia.

The doctor treating Prashant was Keki Byram Grant, who had met Baba through Goher. On the evening of 10th July 1958, Baba sent word to Dr. Grant that if he saved Prashant that night, Baba would restore Prashant's health.

But the doctor failed to do so, and Prashant died at 10:00 P.M. When the news was received, Baba kissed Eruch on the forehead and sent him to the hospital, telling him to do likewise to Prashant's corpse. As instructed by Baba, Meherdas had nursed Prashant in the hospital and served him well in his dying moments.

The passing away of his son had no effect on Kumar, who remained stoic and submitted completely to Baba's will. His wife Subhadra was called from Dehra Dun, and arrived on the 15th. Gaimai and Eruch were instructed to break the news to her tactfully. Baba consoled her and permitted her to remain at Guruprasad for a few days. He then sent her back with Kumar. He commented, "It has to be for lovers like them to share some of My suffering happily."

The hula-hoop craze had come to India and one had been brought to Guruprasad. During one session with Baba, before Kumar and his wife left on the 29th, Baba told Kumar, "Come on, get up and show us how to do the hula hoop before Me." Kumar immediately rose and moved his hips energetically to keep the ring in motion. This was how Baba transformed a sad occasion into one of gaiety.

Baba stretched out his hand to give a copy of the 16th October Life Circular to Kumar, but Aloba jumped up to take it. This made Kumar laugh, much to Aloba's chagrin. Baba now turned on him, correcting Kumar, "Don't laugh at others' mistakes. All commit mistakes. This is a contravention of my order not to hurt the feelings of others. You laughed at his error and hurt his feelings."

In mid-June 1961, Kumar, in Dehra Dun, had been informed that it was Baba's wish that he should visit Nilkanthwala Mast in Rishikesh every fortnight, to keep in touch with him in case Baba wished to call him. Five months later, Baba wrote to Kumar to bring Nilkanthwala to Meherazad, but only if and when the mast showed complete willingness to do so. Kumar, who was longing to return to Baba, could only do so if the mast agreed to come and, therefore, he had to exercise great patience. At last, Nilkanthwala was not only willing but anxious to come. Baba sent a telegram to Kumar to bring him at once. They arrived on 25th November 1961, and Baba soon began working with the mast. Aware that at any moment during the ten days Nilkanthwala stayed, he might have the sudden urge to want to leave, Baba crammed in more hours than usual, working with him daily for at least an hour in seclusion. After Baba's work was complete, Nilkanthwala was sent back to Rishikesh with Kumar on 5 December. This was his last meeting with Baba, since after this the mast passed away. Nilkanthwala had beseeched Baba to free him from the burden of his body and his wish was fulfilled.

In 1964, Kumar was kept busy at this time, not only by the visitors to his home in Meher Mafi, but also in dealing with an unscrupulous former disciple of Baba named Krishnaji. Krishnaji had behaved improperly in Satara toward Bhau and the other men, and had left Baba in 1956 when Baba stopped pampering him. In 1962 Krishnaji settled in Delhi and claimed to be Meher Baba's chargeman. He had adopted silence and had told others (via an alphabet board) that he was doing so because of Baba's orders. His antics in Baba's name were solely to attract a following, and he had been posturing in this way for more than a year. Reports of his behavior were sent to Baba by Was Deo Kain and Manohar and Mona Sakhare. At one point, Eruch wrote to Kumar:

To permit Krishnaji to continue to fool innocent people knowingly is most undesirable. Each blasphemous attitude of a person like Krishnaji in the name of Meher Baba cannot be tolerated any longer under the very noses of the lovers of Baba, as the stench has now become too nauseating.

When a person behaves as Krishnaji does, imitating Baba's silence, and when he uses a board to tell all that he was directly under Meher Baba's guidance, this is the height of hypocrisy. Baba has never told Krishnaji anything other than that he should not dupe people by assuming the role of a pseudo-saint (as he had confessed to Baba that he had been doing before he met Baba), but should above all be honest and lead a pure life of humility and love for Baba.

In short, bring home to this trickster that he is free to lead any life he wants to, but he should stop taking Meher Baba's name in vain, and stop immediately trading in Baba's name.

The culmination of the whole affair occurred at 9:00 P.M. on 10 March 1964, when Kumar went to see Krishnaji. Kumar locked the door to the room where they met and proceeded to give Krishnaji several sound slaps, asking him why he was behaving so dishonestly. Krishnaji's "followers" forced the door opened, and Kumar gave their so-called guru two or three more slaps in their presence — while Krishnaji raged.

After the incident with Kumar, Krishnaji issued a circular about it, denouncing Kumar and defending himself. In response, in April 1964, Adi issued one of his own, giving the true picture of the facts. Kumar was even thinking of taking Krishnaji to court for libel.

Later that year when Kumar met Baba at Meherazad, Baba asked him, "Why did you go and beat Krishnaji? Now look at all these complications, so many circulars, and letters! It is a mess!"

Kumar pointed to the board in mandali hall on which was written (in Marathi) Tukaram's couplet to the effect that it is no sin to thrash a hypocritical false saint. Kumar said, "Here in your own darbar (court) you keep such a sign. I was merely following its advice!" Baba smiled faintly, but instructed Kumar to dismiss the idea of taking Krishnaji to court.

In 1968, Baba had given His consent to hold the wedding of his brother Adi Jr.'s son, Dara, 24, to Kumar's daughter Amrit, 18, in Meherazad. Kumar and Subhadra, and their son and daughter Amrit arrived on 18 December 1968, Dara and Amrit exchanged rings after Baba had touched them, putting them on each other's fingers in his presence. Baba blessed them with this simple invocation, "O Ahuramazda, Asho (Lord) Zoroaster, Avatar Meher Baba!" Then message from Him was read out: