HABIBULLAH BAIG E. HAKIM

HABIBULLAH BAIG E. HAKIM

Events unfolded between Meher Baba and Habibullah Beg were as under:

Baba went with Kaka and Baidul to Mirak Shah Wali in Shalimar, where they encountered a local Kashmiri named Habibullah Baig E. Hakim seated by the saint. With Baba staying behind at a distance, Kaka and Baidul went ahead and politely requested that Habibullah leave for a while, but the man countered, "Why should I go?"

"A big (important) man from Bombay is coming to see Mirak Shah," Baidul said, "and He does not wish to see him in the presence of anyone else." Habibullah would not listen, but when the wali himself told him to go, he walked away. Baba's name was not to be disclosed, and only Daulat Singh knew of His presence in the area. That is why Baidul would refer to Baba as "a big man from Bombay."

After Habibullah departed, Baidul called Baba over, and he contacted the wali. Mirak Shah was a Muslim saint renowned throughout Kashmir, and had an ashram near the famous Shalimar Gardens.

He was salik-like, handsome, fair skinned, middle-aged, and wore very fine clothes. Mirak Shah used to gather money from those who paid their respects to see him and, in turn, used it to provide feasts of free food to the poor.

After Baba contacted the wali, Mirak Shah sent for Habibullah and, pointing to Baba, told Habibullah, "You wanted a job. Now remain in this man's service. He will pay you Rs.100 per month."

Through Baidul, Baba said, "You will get Rs.150 per month!" This was an extravagant wage for a servant then.

Habibullah was happy and returned with Baba to Srinagar, taking him to be a wealthy, important gentleman from Bombay. Habibullah liked to be in the company of masts. Baba and the mandali talked with him and told him that his job would be to draw up a list of different masts in the area and act as their guide during their stay. Habibullah did not quite understand how he was to go about making such a list, so he went again to Mirak Shah, and with the wali's help, he began preparing one.

Mirak Shah also wrote to Baba, pouring out his heart to him. In his letter, he wrote, "You are God and I want to come and live with you. Pray grant me my request."

A taxi owned by a Sikh was hired and Baba set out on a mast tour with Kaka, Baidul and Habibullah on 28th August 1944. Rahim Saheb, an elderly well-known mast, whom Baba had contacted before, would wander about the meadows and lanes of the village of Tulamul. When Baba contacted Rahim Saheb on the 28th, the mast gave Baba a piece of an old brush and a chunk of brick.

At another place, Baba, standing under a tree, sent the three others ahead to see a mast. Immediately upon seeing them, the mast began throwing stones, but since they did not leave, he sicced his dogs on them.

Frightened by the dogs and the mast's anger, Habibullah and others ran back to Baba and told him what had happened.

Baba instructed, "Sit separately on three sides and don't allow anyone to come to the mast." Then Baba went to the mast's room. Habibullah began laughing. Kaka asked him the reason and he replied sarcastically, "The mast will receive the Boss with great respect!"

Baba remained with the mast for an hour and this set Habibullah thinking: "Now, Boss won't return ... The dogs must have torn him to pieces." But when Baba emerged smiling, Habibullah asked Kaka and Baidul, "Who is our Boss anyway?"

"A saheb from Bombay," they replied.

But Habibullah now understood that Baba was something more than what he professed to be. They proceeded in the taxi and after it had gone some distance, Baba had it stopped. He turned to Habibullah and said, "This is your time for offering namaz. Have you forgotten? Offer it here wholeheartedly. We will wait."

Being a Muslim, Habibullah was diligent about performing his daily prayers and did so this time, reflecting: "This Boss is so good that besides being careful of my well-being, he also reminds me of the time for prayer."

Going farther, they came to another mast. Baba went to him alone and took off his hat. From a distance, Habibullah saw Baba's long hair and ruminated: "This saheb seems to be a wali (saint). He could not be an ordinary man.

"But why is He silent? He must be approaching the masts to regain his speech. But why should a wali go to masts?"

After working with the mast, they continued their search. Along the way, Baba now began teasing the Sikh taxi driver through Kaka and Baidul. He told him, "You aren't a very good driver, are you? You really don't drive too well." This angered the Sikh and he said something in return. Baba then asked, "Who gave you a driving license? Did you have to bribe the officer? How much did you have to pay him?" This set the man's temper in a rage, and in his anger he uttered a few vulgar curses.

He added curtly, "I have to return to Srinagar by six o'clock this evening."

"How can you return before our work is completed?" Baba asked. "You promised to stay with us until it was finished. It's not good to break a promise."

The taxi driver, despite much persuasion, would not agree to go further. At last Baba agreed to return to Srinagar.

The driver turned around, but before he had covered seven miles, both the front and back tires got punctured. The driver changed the tube on the back tire, but had no spare for the front. It was evening and Baba inquired, "You have urgent work to attend to in Srinagar. How will you be able to manage?" The driver kept quiet.

Baba, through Habibullah, arranged with the headman of the village of Mangom to spend the night. Baba slept in the chief's house and food was sent to the driver. Rising very early the next morning, Baba left the house and went and sat on a riverbank alone. Habibullah found him there and Baba directed Habibullah, "Go and see how the taxi is."

When Habibullah confronted him, the driver repeated the very question Habibullah himself had asked, "Who is that man?"

"How is it you are so curious about him?" Habibullah inquired.

"Last night I had some experience of His glory. He must be someone great. I have lied to him. There was no urgent work in Srinagar. I am now ready to remain with Him as long as He wishes." When Baba heard this, he was pleased and forgave the Sikh driver.

In 1946, from Kashmir, without any prior intimation, Habibullah Baig arrived at Meherabad to see Baba. Baba asked him, "Why did you come here? If your father dies in Kashmir I will be blamed."

Habibullah replied, "My father's health is quite all right now."

Baba ordered him, "Go back and remain there in Kashmir." Baba paid his traveling expenses and gave him a letter for Daulat Singh.

In Mangom, when Baba was working alone with Pandit Kashkak, Habibullah snuck around and curiously peeped into the room. When he saw Baba on His knees, putting His head on the mast's feet many times, he thought the mast Kashkak must be much higher than Baba. When Baba came out after His work, He began scolding Kaka and Baidul harshly, "I told you both to be on guard! What were you two doing while I was inside?

"While working with the mast I had forbidden anyone to see Me. But today, because of your carelessness, someone has committed a very grave blunder. Had I not saved him, he would have turned into ashes."

Kaka and Baidul did not know what Baba was talking about, but by this, Habibullah was convinced the Boss from Bombay was aware of everything. He had been careful to look inside the room from a place where it was impossible for Baba to have seen him.

As they resumed their journey, they stopped to buy apples from an old woman on the road. Baba sent Habibullah to her and the woman agreed to sell sixteen apples for one rupee. Habibullah added a few more words of bargaining and the woman threw in two more. He returned with the fruit and they drove on in the taxi. Stopping the taxi after about a mile, they got out and sat under a tree to enjoy the snack. Habibullah gave sixteen apples to Baba, which He distributed. Baba then noticed the two extras and asked Habibullah where he had gotten them from. "The old woman gave them to me," he replied.

"Did you pay her?"

"She gave them to me for free."

"Go back and return them," Baba commanded. So Habibullah walked back over a mile to return the apples. The fact was that after he had already agreed to buy sixteen and had paid the woman a rupee, he had coaxed her into giving him two more as his commission.2530-1944

In Srinagar one day, Baba went with Habibullah up a mountain to a shrine. While descending He asked, "Where is your house?" Habibullah said it was nearby, and Baba expressed a desire to visit it. This dumbfounded Habibullah, as important persons had been coming to see Baba for darshan which He had not granted.

Habibullah said, his heart full, "Baba, I am a poor man and my house ..."

Baba, taking him in His embrace, gestured, "I too am very poor. Visiting your house will give Me joy."

Habibullah then led him to his family's humble home, where Baba picked up Habibullah younger brother Majid in his arms, and sitting on the ground began playing with him. Baba gave ten rupees to his older brother Amin and inquired from the father about his health. The father said, "I am fine, but my son Habibullah has asthma."

Baba replied, "He is not your son, but mine. So don't worry about him." The whole family was greatly touched by Baba's love, and Habibullah began to think of staying with Baba permanently.

Habibullah was a clandestine chain-smoker. Returning from his house, Baba asked, "Do you really suffer from asthma?"

Habibullah admitted, "Yes, for the past many years."

"Do you smoke?" asked Baba. Habibullah admitted that he did. Baba gestured, "Go on smoking." From that day onwards, Baba himself would give Habibullah cigarettes which he felt embarrassed to accept. Daily, Baba would give him one after another, with the result that Habibullah gave up smoking and his asthma disappeared!

From Peshawar, Baba proceeded to "No Man's Land," the barren region that borders Afghanistan, to sit in seclusion for a few days, as he had previously outlined.

Habibullah Baig had also come with mandali to Lahore and desired to remain with Baba. Baba explained to Habibullah, in no uncertain terms, "It is extremely hard to live with me. Those who are with me tread on thorns."

"I would like to stay with you, nonetheless," Habibullah assured him.

But Baba advised, "Your father is old. Look after him instead." With Habibullah's agreement to this, Baba arranged a monthly stipend for Habibullah's family, and sent him back to Srinagar. Habibullah did not give up, however, and years later came to see Baba in Ahmednagar.

Returning to Srinagar, Habibullah handed Baba's letter to Daulat Singh. After reading it, he remarked, "Baba wants only this much service from me? When will the time come when he takes away all that belongs to me?"

According to Baba's instructions, Daulat Singh gave some money to Habibullah, who returned to his parents' house. There was a hidden reason for Baba's sending Habibullah back. Just two months later, his father unexpectedly died.

On 13th November 1949, Baba and group reached Poona in the morning. From there, Baba sent Pendu and Baidul to Bombay to make train reservations for Benares. Baba, with the companions, remained at the Poona station platform. Gadekar and Professor Habibullah E. Hakim were seen there. However, when the companions ignored them, they walked away.

Habibullah Baig had gone to Meherabad in late 1949 to see Baba, but at that time Baba had started on His New Life, so without seeing him, Habibullah returned to Srinagar. He was worried about his family after his father's death and sought Baba's counsel.

In 1950, Vishnu had been told to keep watch outside the hall to prevent any outsiders from entering. Habibullah had not been invited to the meeting, but he somehow entered the gathering and quietly sat down. Yet no one escaped Baba's sharp eye. He pointed to Habibullah and asked why he had come.

"I've come for your blessing," Habibullah replied. "I am out of work and practically penniless."

Since there was no "blessing-business" in the New Life, Baba asked Ghani to offer a blessing for him, which Ghani did. Habibullah was about to leave, but before he did, Baba remarked to him, "You will be My neighbor." Habibullah did not at the time understand, but soon thereafter he found work in Poona at the Kashmir Store at Rs.60 per month, and the store was located just a few streets away from Baba House. Ghani's blessing proved effective!  Sending for Vishnu afterward, Baba rebuked him for allowing Habibullah inside, though Vishnu had no idea he had not been invited.

In Poona, Habibullah Baig had become close friends with Gadekar and Ghani. Ghani would always talk to him about Baba, impressing upon him, "Always remember, Baba is God!" Being a Muslim, Habibullah at first found this difficult to believe, but because of his experience of Baba's divine love; he gradually came to accept it wholeheartedly.

On a later occasion, Baba went to Poona and entered the Kashmir Store where Habibullah worked. He came just to see Habibullah. Baba kissed him, and overcome, Habibullah wept.

One day, Baba called Habibullah to Bombay. Whenever Habibullah saw Baba, the first question Baba would ask was: "Do you offer namaz?" Habibullah was confused as to why Baba asked this question each time they met, wondering whether he had committed some error while praying. This time, Baba again put the question to him. Smiling, Habibullah replied that he did pray regularly.

"Do you remember Me?" Baba asked.

"How could I forget you?" was Habibullah's reply. But at that moment it became clear to Habibullah why Baba always repeated this question about his prayers. What Baba meant by "offering namaz" was whether or not Habibullah remembered Him. Until then, he had been praying mechanically; now he had the proper understanding.

Baba asked about his employment. Habibullah said that he was still working in the Kashmir Store. Baba turned to Nariman and asked if he would hire Habibullah. Nariman replied that he could work in his factory at Rs.150 per month. So Baba advised Habibullah to work for Nariman for a while. Baba then sipped a little sherbet, and handed the rest to Habibullah to drink.

On 26th June 1954, Baba left for Hubli. On way Baba contacted masts in Islamipur and Kolhapur. In Kolhapur, Pulling a handcart was none other than Habibullah Baig, His follower from Kashmir. Baba stopped him and reassured him, "You are really fortunate! Don't worry; I have my nazar on you!"

On 11th December 1955, Baba left for Satara. On the way, Baba stopped at Bindra House in Poona; and from there, He went to Bapusaheb Shinde's shoe store, Samarth Leather Works, in the heart of the city at 489 Budhwar Peth, where a darshan function had been arranged.

This small store was the first Poona "Baba Center," as it was here that every Monday when the store was closed, weekly Baba meetings were held. Although the darshan was meant to be an intimate affair, almost 300 lovers gathered there to meet Baba. Habibullah Baig came to the shoe store with a garland, which he put around Baba's neck. He thought to himself: "How gracious Baba is to Shinde. He was a pauper and is now quite rich!" Looking straight at him, Baba smiled but said nothing. From that moment, Habibullah was determined to go into business, and over the years he became quite prosperous as a merchant of Kashmiri wares.

After coming to Poona, Habibullah Baig of Poona was determined to go into business for himself. He came to Meherazad and told Baba of his desire. "Do you offer namaz daily?" Baba asked him.

"Now I offer the original namaz!" he replied, meaning remembering Baba.

Pleased by his answer, Baba asked, "From where will you get the money to go into business?"

Habibullah explained, "Goods can be got on credit." Baba permitted him to go ahead with his venture and gave him a sum of money as prasad also. Habibullah opened a small shop of Kashmir wares in Poona and began doing well.

During the New Life, when Baba was in Mahabaleshwar in 1950, the Kashmiri merchant Habibullah Baig had come to see Him. At that time Baba had remarked to him, "You will be my neighbor." Habibullah had not understood what Baba meant, but some time later, as related, he opened a small shop in Poona. A few years later, the proprietor of the Kashmir Store, where he had previously been employed, wanted to sell his business, and Habibullah bought it. The store was a few streets away from Baba House, and in this way he became Baba's "neighbor."

During Baba's stay in Poona, He visited Habibullah at the Kashmir Store. He reminded him of what he had said years before, adding, "Now that you have become my neighbor, do not forget Me!" In 1950, Habibullah had been practically penniless, but as the business prospered over the years he became a millionaire. Regarding his prosperity, he was convinced that it was all due to Baba's grace.