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.