MEHERA'S BIRTHDAY AND THE NEW LIFE
At this time, Gadekar wanted to tell Baba about Khak Saheb's recent death, but because of the New Life restrictions against mentioning any such Old Life topic, he could not do so. But he hit upon a stratagem by telling Madhusudan to sing a particular ghazal to Baba that Khak had written before he passed away.
Madhusudan and members of the bhajan mandali sang devotional songs, and then the Song of the New Life. On hearing the latter, Baba commented: "To live up to this New Life song is the success I am seeking in the role of being the humblest and lowest of beings, full of weaknesses and shortcomings. Whatever you sing now will be addressed to the Old Life Meher Baba and not to me, as I cannot accept it in this New Life. But you can sing bhajans wholeheartedly full of love and faith."
Madhusudan and the group continued to sing, and at one point, the particular ghazal of Khak Saheb's that Gadekar had requested. Hearing just two lines, Baba stopped him and became quiet for some moments, as if he was far away somewhere. As Baba sat still, everything not only in the room but in the world seemed to have stopped for a while.
During those still moments, Baba looked serious and pensive absorbed. After a while, Baba moved his palms and fingers over his face and eyes, then gestured, "He (meaning Khak) has come to me." Although Baba had not mentioned Khak Saheb by name, everyone in the room knew whom he meant. Then Madhusudan and the group resumed their singing.
Khak Saheb had been with Baba since the early days of Manzil-e-Meem, where he and Asar Saheb had written Sadguru Upasni Maharaj's biography in Urdu. Khak had stayed with Baba for long periods in Toka, Bangalore and Meherabad. Although because of his old age he had not been able to join Baba on the New Life, he had held fast to him until the last. From Meherabad, he had gone to live with his family in Poona, where he had died two days before the bhajan programs on December 23rd, at the age of sixty-four.
Baba continued to listen to bhajans and ghazals for some time, and Padri took several photographs of Baba's expressions, while listening to the music and songs. The women companions were listening behind a curtain in another room.
At one point, a ghazal Dr. Ghani had composed was sung. The ghazal was of a complaining tone, but had a humorous vent, and no sooner than two lines were sung than Baba laughed and gestured "Mola Doka"! meaning Big Head! One of Baba's nick-names for Dr. Ghani was "Big Head." Baba was in very joyful mood during the singing of Dr. Ghani's ghazal, but very serious during the singing of Khak Saheb's ghazal.
Baba had earlier indicated his desire to keep Madhusudan and Narendra with him, but on that day instead he chose young Pratap Ahir, and instructed him to return to Mahabaleshwar in a week after obtaining permission from his school principal, even though school was out for Christmas holidays. The Poona group left for their homes the same day. Mehera's birthday had given them their first opportunity to sing before Baba.
The companions were taken aback at the news of Khak Saheb's demise. But since even the casual mention of any person from the Old Life was forbidden, each could only silently recollect incidents of the past in his mind.
The following is a wonderful story regarding Khak Saheb. Once, during the 1940s, Baba was in seclusion in Lower Meherabad, and Pendu and Sidhu were on nightwatch near him. Baba had a bad cold; he was coughing up a lot of phlegm and wheezing. Still, he would bathe at 5 A.M. daily, and Pendu and Sidhu would prepare his bath and wash his clothes. One morning, after his bath, Baba directed Sidhu to bring chapatis and cream, and added, "Shout loudly for Khak the Virile Devil, Don the White Devil and Nilu the Black Devil! Call those devils here!"
Accordingly, Sidhu yelled, "Is that Virile Devil Khak present? Where is Don the White Devil? Is Nilu the Black Devil here?" The three men came immediately, and Baba laughed and served them chapatis and cream.
Khak said humbly, "Thank you, Baba, for bestowing on me the
title of Virile Devil. Today it has won me wine."
LORD MEHER, 1st USA ed, Vol 9 & 10, pp. 3661-3664
1996 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust