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(Saint from Rishikesh)

Meher Baba met Swami Shivananda in his ashram on 3rd March 1953. At Rishikesh

Reaching Rishikesh at 3:30 P.M., they went to Shanti Koti on the Kogal Ghat, where they were to stay. Baba dispatched Eruch and Kishan Singh to Shivananda's ashram to make the appointment for that evening at 5:30, but when they arrived they learned that Shivananda was indisposed. Still, the meeting was arranged. However, Shivananda's secretary (who had had Baba's darshan several years before) insisted that Baba meet the ashram inmates first. Baba wanted to see Shivananda directly, but was told this could not be agreed to, since such a great personage as Meher Baba must be properly welcomed.

Baba arrived at Shivananda's ashram at exactly 5:30 P.M., where he was received with great reverence. Baba had informed those in charge of the ashram that no ceremony should be performed; but according to their custom, it was done anyway. The secretary saluted Baba by bending down and touching his feet, and Baba returned the greeting in the same way. Touching Baba's feet was prohibited, as Eruch had clearly and emphatically pointed out beforehand, but Baba's instructions seemed to be observed more in breach than in compliance that day.

The secretary led Baba to a hall where bhajan singing was in progress. He garlanded Baba and his Jai reverberated throughout the building. Baba was made to sit on a chair, but he immediately left it and sat on the floor.

He then indicated to Eruch that he should read out this statement (dictated in Dehra Dun on the 23rd and later issued in the form of a circular):

We should once and for all understand that no amount of learning, reading, and teaching, reasoning and preaching can give us liberation (mukti). Vedantic expressions, Sufi talks, mystical words and philosophical statements take us nowhere spiritually. Religious conferences, spiritual societies and the so-called universal brotherhood are apt to bind the soul, rather than free it.

Only when we transcend intellect and enter the domain of love can we aspire for liberation. When love for God reaches its zenith, we lose ourselves in the Beloved God and attain Eternal Liberation. Liberated ones are ever free from all illusory attachments. Good and bad, virtue and vice, cannot pollute the Ocean of Divine Truth.

Perfection does not merely mean escaping from the mayavic law. Man becoming God is perfection. But when man, after consciously becoming God, returns to gross consciousness as man, he has achieved the Supreme Perfection. Such a Perfect One is not only God, but lives the life of God as man. He is in maya and simultaneously beyond it. He is amidst the law of karma but not bound by it. Whatever his actions, they are non-actions, for the actions which bind ordinary man are not only non-binding when performed by a Perfect One, but are channels for his universal spiritual work of liberating mankind from the ignorance of maya. The Perfect Ones are free from Freedom itself, and so are free even from the non-actions that they perform for their Universal work.

To those who love Me and naturally wish to know about My activities I can only say that, as far as My inner life and internal activities are concerned, only God and those who are one with God can know and understand. As far as My external activities are concerned regarding My work with the God-intoxicated (masts), saints, sadhus and the poor, of contacting them, working with them, serving them and bowing down to them in wholehearted devotion, they have all been recorded by a disciple of Mine in The Wayfarers.

I enjoy games, chiefly cricket, playing marbles, flying kites and also listening to music, which I have on rare occasions enjoyed. From time immemorial to this day, I have been playing with the mayavic universe, and this enjoyment of playing still persists.

Although the rumour concerning me and my devotees regarding consumption of liquor at Swarg Ashram is absolutely false, it is a fact that once in a great while I give wine to my lovers and make them understand that it is not this wine of grapes, but the true wine of love-giving Divine Intoxication that helps toward union with God.

I allow vegetarians to follow their diet and non-vegetarians to eat meat, fish, eggs, et cetera. I do not interfere with any religion and permit all to follow their own creeds unhindered. When faced with love for God, these external ceremonials have no value. Love for God automatically and naturally results in self-denial, mental control and ego annihilation, irrespective of the lover following or renouncing these external adoptions.

I sometimes see motion pictures (mostly humorous ones), and enjoy My real state of being the Eternal Producer of the vast, ever-changing, never-ending film called the universe. I also find relaxation in listening to humorous stories, all the time being aware of the humor that lies in the aspect of the soul, which is the source of infinite power and glory being made to feel so helpless in its human bondage of ignorance, in its various forms of duality.

Once in a while, I give darshan and prasad of love to the people, each person benefiting according to his or her receptivity. I give updesh (advice) in the form of instructions to those who have surrendered to Perfect Masters, and I give help in the form of general advice to a few who long for the Truth. All this, of course, is effective in accordance with the worthiness of the recipient.

Perfect Ones can impart divine knowledge, bestow divine love and shower the grace of God-union by a mere glance, touch, or a single divine thought.

I feel very happy, and give My love and blessings to all. If My gesture of love is understood even by one among you all, My coming here today will have served its purpose.

Baba then saluted the ashram inmates and stated, "There is now no need for you to salute Me, as I am in you as well as in everyone, and I salute Myself in you."

The secretary sought Baba's permission to say a few words, and on receiving it stated: "The people of Swarg Ashram, where Baba stayed in 1942, were responsible for spreading the false rumour, and particularly a Swami Abhyan Ananda, an unpleasant character who has spread similar obnoxious gossip about Swami Shivananda."

He added, "I had taken your darshan in Madras at Sampath Aiyangar's place, and from that day on I have been taking you as my Master and myself as your disciple. According to the message you had given on that occasion in Madras, I am serving this ashram. Swamiji (Shivananda) has great respect and love for you and it is our good fortune that you have taken the trouble to come here."

But, in fact, contrary to what the secretary claimed, the rumor had not been started by Abhyan Ananda, but by Swami Shivananda It so happened that before Baba set out in the New Life, Mauni Bua had come for Baba's darshan in Meherabad. Baba had inquired if he would follow His orders, and he had agreed. But when Baba ordered him to eat mutton and drink wine, he was shocked. So Baba asked him, instead, to proceed to Rishikesh, and he did so willingly.

In the New Life, Baba was to go to Manjri Mafi from Benares, and was to contact many sadhus in Rishikesh. But for His own reasons, Baba did not wish to see Mauni Bua, and so Bal Natu was asked to go to Rishikesh and tell Mauni Bua to leave the area. Bal did so accordingly, informing Mauni Bua of Baba's wish.

Then Bal Natu saw Swami Shivananda, from whom he came to know about damage in transit to a parcel containing liquor bottles in 1942 and, coincidentally, Baba's supposed hurried departure from the place. Bal's faith in Baba remained unshaken and Shivananda could only attribute such faith and devotion to "black magic on Baba's part which had mesmerized" Bal. This false rumor spread in the whole of Rishikesh. In the land of the ancient rishis, such was the treatment given to the Avatar!

Bal Natu narrated the event to the ashram inmates in Baba's presence, and after he had finished Baba remarked to the secretary: "Up to now I have not come across a single true disciple in the whole world. Had I found one, he would have understood My divinity. In the whole world I am the only real disciple and all are My Masters. All My gurus are sitting here, even though I am the Ancient One."

He then addressed the ashram inmates: "I advise you to hold fast to Shivananda and carry out his instructions 100 percent. You have accepted him as your Master and so you should stick to him wholeheartedly."

Baba added, "If we want to know God as He is, we must be as honest as He is. The least hypocrisy creeping into our hearts keeps Him away. So let us be honest. I give you all My blessings and My love."

Standing up, Baba motioned to the secretary to take him to Shivananda. Baba entered Shivananda's room with Eruch and Bal Natu. Shivananda was suffering from lumbago and could not rise from his bed. As asked by Baba, Eruch explained to him everything that had been said before the ashramites. Eruch then read this message from Baba: "Whether you have personally and directly or indirectly spread the false rumour, or whether others have done so in your name, I bow down to you with My love for your having been an instrument of help in My Universal spiritual work."

Baba laid His head on the Shivananda's feet and then, sitting down on his bed, began pressing his legs. Baba gestured to Eruch to repeat the message delivered in the hall, and it was read out again. Baba assured Shivananda, "Don't worry about anything."

With folded hands, Shivananda replied, "When I came to Rishikesh, people, including the sadhus of this place, began to spread nasty stories about me, too. Let us be unmindful of such groundless rumours."

Baba asked Shivananda if he recognized Bal Natu, with whom he had talked one night in 1949 and to whom he had repeated the rumour. Bal spoke about the meeting and Shivananda remembered the painful incident. Again with folded hands he told Baba, "Baba, I don't speak ill about anyone or anything — from an ant to an elephant — but I regret that my tongue slipped in making that remark."

Baba spelled out on the board in reply, "It was to happen and it happened; otherwise, I would not have sent you this message and would not have come to your ashram or offered My namaskars to all the inmates."

He added, "God is honesty personified, and therefore let us all be honest. Let there be a link of love between us."

On a previous occasion, Eruch and Pendu had presented to Shivananda Baba's message on honesty (first circulated in Eluru) and Shivananda told Baba, "I have read your message on honesty."

Baba repeated, "Let the link of love be maintained."

When Baba was about to leave the room, Shivananda recited a Sanskrit prayer in Baba's honour, the chorus of which his devotees repeated.

After it was over, Baba pointed to himself and dictated on the board, "I am the Ancient One."

Hearing this, Shivananda struggled to get up from his bed, but as he was unable to do so, he shouted loudly, "I bow down to the Ancient One!"

Baba reassured him, "Don't worry. It is because you are dear to me that I have come to you today." He again admonished the secretary and followers, "You should stick to Swami Shivananda with all your heart."

On His departure, the inmates of the ashram burst out, "Sadguru Meher Baba ki jai!"

It was a touching scene, depicting Meher Baba's divine authority, His divine love and conduct; and it also demonstrated the humility of Swami Shivananda. It was Baba's love for him that had brought him to his ashram and made Him massage his legs, kiss him, behave forgivingly toward him and at the same time make him imbibe the essence of truth and honesty.

On the verandah outside, refreshments were served and the secretary informed Baba that it was Shivananda's wish that Baba partake of them. Baba picked up some dried fruits and gave them to the secretary as His prasad. He then touched all the food on the table with instructions to distribute it among the ashram inmates. Baba then left.

Along the way Baba remarked to the mandali, "I am deeply touched with Shivananda's love, and wish him a complete recovery."

Baba sent Eruch again to Shivananda to inform him that his name would be omitted from the message about the false rumor that was to be printed and widely circulated. Eruch conveyed this to the ashram the next day. While Baba stayed in Rishikesh for his work of contacting masts and sadhus, He continually inquired about Shivananda's health. Some days later, Shivananda recovered from his condition — proof positive of Baba's love for him.