61-KHODADAD RUSTOM IRANI (Khodu-Sailor-mama)
Khodadad Rustom Irani was younger brother of Dr. Abdul Ghani boyhood friend of Meher Baba. He was nicknamed as Khodu (Sailor-Mama)
Some of his episodes and dialogues with Meher Baba are written below:
In year 1925, Baba's school chum Khodu came to reside at Meherabad. Khodu was the close friend who had accompanied Merwan to Shirdi to meet Sai Baba and Upasni Maharaj in 1915.
Sailor penned this short rhyme:
Ladies and Gentlemen, listen carefully to what I say —
Last night we lit the dhuni and afterward a heavy rain fell.
All saliks love to light the dhuni; it is their habit.
It is quite difficult to explain; it is all your glory!
Now with your permission I take your leave; I am unable to describe any more.
Sailor says this is the first time in his life he has ever composed a poem!
At Meherabad, he was put in charge of the water supply and with the help of two servants; Khodu would distribute water to the Meherabad residents for drinking, cooking and washing. By then, he and his wife, Najamai, fully accepted Baba as their Master, and Baba would call their infant son, Dinshaw, His "first disciple." On 28th September 1925, Baba nicknamed Khodu Sailor because of his water duty, and that became his name thereafter.
On 30 April 1026, a group of Hindu pilgrims passed by Meherabad chanting loudly, "Tukaram Tukaram Tukaram." They were on pilgrimage to Pandharpur. Hearing their chant, Baba remarked, "Even if those people were to dance and sing bhajans for 100 years, it would have no value. What is essential is deep devotion, without which all else is worthless. Tukaram comes out of their mouths, but He is not in their hearts."
Baba nevertheless directed the mandali to feed the pilgrims. Without informing Naja, Sailor gave them some of the food cooked for the students, and what remained for the children was later discovered to be insufficient. Baba was furious and called Naja, lashing out at her for her negligence. Naja was quite perplexed and explained that she had cooked the same amount of food that she normally prepared.
Sailor then appeared and explained that it was his fault, that he had given some of the food to the pilgrims. At this, Baba's anger turned on Sailor and He dictated, "Why for God's sake did you not tell Naja to cook more food, you Irani idiot?" Sailor meekly apologized for having forgotten to inform her. Baba ordered the mandali to tie Sailor to a pillar and not give him food or water for three days. It appeared to be a dreadful punishment because it was the middle of summer and scorchingly hot. Accordingly he was tied up, but Baba Himself set him free after an hour or so and comforted him by giving him sweets. Baba and the mandali's food were given to the children, and some additional amount was hurriedly prepared.
In late September, a mongoose and a deer were brought to Meherabad and Baba assigned Sailor the duty of looking after them. It was not an easy job as the mongoose would run away and Sailor had to hunt for hours to find it. On 30th September 1926, Baba humorously named the deer Dhadak (Palpitation) and the mongoose Dhoojara (Shivering) because of the trouble and the emotional stress the animals caused Sailor.
One evening from nine to midnight, the men staged a skit titled "Selfish World." The actors were Rustom, Padri, Pendu, Mohan, and Sayyed. The play was followed by a few lectures and finally a dance performance by Sailor also.
Sailor requested, "Baba should eat today."
Sohrabji Desai invited Baba to Navsari, and Baba promised to come. Sailor escorted Sohrabji to Kedgaon, where he had Narayan Maharaj's darshan, as ordered by Baba, before returning to Navsari.
On 30th August 1926, Sailor's wife Naja arrived from Poona to enroll their son, Dinshaw, in the Meher Ashram. Baba had held Dinshaw after he was born and would refer to him as His "disciple."
In 1927, Sailor delivered several crates of textbooks for the students, which Baba kept beside His seat on Meherabad Hill. Sailor was ordered to return to Poona to look after his elderly mother, and to move back to Meherabad after five months. Sailor left that same evening.
Again on 16th January, 1928, Sailor Mama's wife Najamai came the same day to see Baba as well as her son Dinshaw, who was studying in the ashram, but Najamai arrived late and had to depart without having Baba's darshan.
Sailor arrived on the morning of Sunday, 5th February 1928, but left that evening after meeting Baba privately. Sailor was instructed to return to Meherabad on Baba's birthday and stay for some days.
Sailor Mama was operating a café in Nasik, which later provided lodging to some. On 17th January 1930, Kaka Baria arrived with his sister and her husband, but Baba did not see them that night as they had not brought a boy, as Baba wanted.
They were accommodated at Sailor's, and the next day Baba told Sailor to charge them for providing their room and board. Sailor explained that he never charged such devoted followers as Kaka Baria's family, who had accommodated the mandali on several occasions at their residence in Bombay. Baba said all right, but told Sailor to charge others.
In the afternoon Baba suddenly left His seclusion. When He came out of the cage-cabin, Bhiwa was the first to greet Him, and Sailor was the first to take His darshan. It had been 22 days of cramped confinement.
Sailor along with mandali accompanied Baba in Bijapur and they were all living in Ajewkar Pleader's bungalow. In Bijapur, Baba had expressed His wish to enter seclusion. Since no suitable spot was located, Baba instructed that a cave be dug at Meherabad: "I will sit there in seclusion and it would be most desirable if the mandali themselves dig the cave." All the men were ready to share in the labor, but Baba selected Pendu, Chhagan, Sailor and Vishnu for the work, making Jalbhai the supervisor.
The mandali's plans were changed on 15th September 1933, when Baba sent Pendu to Meherabad with instructions to construct certain buildings there. Sailor, Sidhu, Bala Supekar, and Kalingad were sent along with him.
In 1934, Sailor Mama was operating a tea stall next to Circle Cinema. He was given certain restrictions by Baba regarding his expenses, which made Sailor become very angry. The tense situation over the general ashram finances was relieved when a cable from Norina in Berlin was received, saying that a friend of Elizabeth's in New York had arranged for $15,000 towards Baba's expenses to travel to the West and for the film work.
Baba arrived at Meherabad at noon on 3rd May 1940. Meherabad, once again, reflected its glorious atmosphere after ten months of Baba's absence. By now, all the masts from Bangalore, the zoo and the mandali including, Sailor returned to Meherabad. The men had traveled from Bangalore by train with 25 mad and masts, a gazelle, a lamb, a white rabbit, some geese, five dogs, three monkeys and pet birds.
In 1941, Sailor was with Meher Baba in Mahabaleshwar and he was given miscellaneous duties.
In 1945, about mandali Baba said: Sailor has been with Me from childhood. He has a thousand defects, but his love and faith in Me have been of such a high order that all his defects are of little consequence.
Once in afternoon, the mandali were divided into two teams and a volleyball match was played at Meherabad. Annasaheb Kale was the referee, Sailor the captain of one team, and Sidhu of the other. Baba awarded a prize of Rs.28 to the winning team.
Once in 1945, very early in the morning, Baba left Meherazad for Meherabad. Sailor Mama saw Baba's car pull up and informed all, "Baba has come, Baba has come." Everyone rushed to receive Him — all except Ghani's nephew Rashid, who was still sound asleep. Baba took a plate and ladle and went to his room. He began striking the metal plate with the spoon near Rashid's ear, shocking the boy into wakefulness. Baba scolded, "God has come to you, and you are sleeping!"
On the morning of 14th October 1949, the mandali at Meherabad were called to Meherazad to witness Baba symbolically end His mast work by shaving, bathing and clothing Ali Shah and Mohammed. Both masts were now living at Meherabad, being cared for by Sidhu. The masts were taken to Meherazad by Sailor and Gustadji.
In 1952, once all had reassembled, the singing started. Rustom Kaka, Abdur Rehman, sang songs one composed by Khak Saheb and the other by Ghani. He commented to the gathering that Ghani, Ghani's brother Abdur, Sailor (Khodu) and Baily were his childhood chums. Ghani had passed away, and in case Baba would also leave this world, He stated, He would be happy that "at least three (of us) will still be left!"
Baba added, "We all played together, we even quarreled, but the outstanding thing was that they all loved Me dearly."
Then He asked Sailor, "What do you think of Me now?" Sailor's instant reply was: "God-personified!"
Baba's face shone with pleasure, and He joked, "As My early childhood friends think so highly of Me, even after so many years, it is enough to make Me feel that there must be something extraordinary in Me!"
Once, Baba led the group up Seclusion Hill, picking up pebbles and tossing them on either side as He climbed. But, Sailor Mama was seen far behind. Baba halted and related to the group, "Sailor was My childhood companion but he did not believe in Me. He had no idea of My state. He was an athlete, whereas I was lean and thin. Once, when I went to His house, in a friendly way, he began showing Me his strength. To stop him, I pushed him a little, and he fell back ten yards! From then, he had faith in Me and began staying at Meherabad, where he lived for many years until the New Life.
Baba said, “I want to convey to you all is that My brothers and sister love Me very much. Some of My school friends, with whom I had played marbles in the street and with whom I had disputed mildly and quarreled, also love me because I am God. They believe Me when I say that — Dr. Ghani, Sailor Mama and others. It is not just a theory for them; they see something greater. They have that conviction; they believe that I am God.
On Sunday, 27th October 1968, Sailor Mama, one of the earliest of Baba's mandali, died in Poona from complications of diabetes, at the age of 78. Sailor was one of Baba's boyhood friends and had accompanied Baba to see Sai Baba at Shirdi and Upasni Maharaj at Sakori in December 1915. Sailor and his family lived in Nasik and Meherabad until the New Life began in 1949.