SAGA OF A CHILD'S LOVE
Without bedding roll, food or money he started on foot for his destination. He managed to sell three silver buttons in his shirt for three annas (about eight cents), a few of which he paid out for a short train journey, which would take him quickly out of range of his family or friends. Then he proceeded to tramp across the country in the scorching Indian sun. By the time he had walked about fourteen miles, it was nightfall and he found himself out in the open country. Muscle-weary, he climbed up into a large tree, which he thought would be safer than the ground; there he tried to rest,stretched out on some broad limbs. But since the Indian nights are cool in winter, and he was without covering, his sleep was very fitful. At dawn, he resumed his journey.
Having only two annas left, he knew his breakfast must be slim, so he satisfied himself with a few cold biscuits and a handful of water. At a village, an inn-keeper took pity on the bedraggled little boy and offered to secure transportation for him in one of the passing motor buses. But Ahmed feared he might encounter someone who knew him and who would report having seen him to his family; so he refused the offer and continued his way on foot. At noon he spent another few coins for some sweets, and rested a little while under the shade of a tree.
As he was hiking along the road, a European motorist gave him a lift to Poona, which considerably shortened his journey. His evening meal consisted of a handful of nuts for which he spent his last money. That night he tried first to sleep on a bench beside the public road, but the cold winds sent shivers through his poorly protected body. Later he curled up in the corner of a building and managed to doze a little.
The next morning, being in the neighborhood of Babajan, his Master's Master, Ahmed stopped off to pay his respects to her. She appeared to be sleeping with her head under a shawl when the boy reached her; so he tiptoed softly and when within a few feet from her, he bowed reverently before her prostrate form. At that moment Babajan's beautiful snow-white head emerged from its covering, and peering directly at Ahmed, gave him a look of melting love, which sent a thrill of delight through the little fellow's being.
Feeling recharged by contact with her loving presence, he proceeded on his journey. At noon an old man offered him some bread and chutney which the boy gladly accepted, as this was the first substantial food he had eaten in forty-eight hours. That night, upon the old man's advice, Ahmed took shelter in the village mosque, but since it was cold, he slept but little.
The next day he subsisted on the fruit and leaves of the tamarind trees which grew along the road. After walking sixteen miles he felt exhausted from both fatigue and hunger, so he rested a short while. Then with sheer force of will he hiked for another six miles, until he reached a railway station. Here he tried again to rest, but the fire of hunger now raged within him so fiercely that he was driven to beg for food. He approached a Mohammedan who led him to the railway station restaurant and ordered rice and curry for him. But the boy, thinking the curry would contain meat the eating of which would have violated Baba's order said he preferred only tea and bread.
Later, his hunger somewhat appeased and his body relaxed, he fell into a sound sleep on the station bench, until an officious policeman awakened him and drove him away from the station. The remainder of the night he passed under a staircase. Here he was comforted by his Master's presence in a dream.
The following day he walked from dawn to sundown without food and little rest. At another railway station an old lady on the platform shared with him an unsolicited meal. That night he ventured again to take refuge in a railway station and this time was undisturbed.
On the sixth day he started his journey at daybreak. This time he fed himself on jawari plants in the passing fields, eating as he walked, for now he knew himself to be within a short distance of his goal Meherabad. Once more he begged, not for food, but for flowers to be given as an offering to his Master. This was Baba's neighborhood, where he is held in great reverence by the country-folk. In response to the boy's request, a gardener eagerly presented him with an armful of roses. Sitting by the road, the child used some of the flowers to weave a crown for the King of his heart. A little while later a haggard and hollow-eyed little fellow was placing his offering upon his Master's head.
Thus was completed another saga of a child's love for Baba, the Master. We in the West, who know so pitifully little of higher states of consciousness, may think we have disposed of such a phenomenon as the magnetic drawing of these children to Baba, when we apply to it the psychological term of 'fixation.' Even if we granted this, what have we explained? What do we actually know of the tremendous motivation which must inspire a child to undergo such severe hardships and suffering?
Certainly no merely human desire, however intense, would induce a small boy to forego sleep and food for six days, while compelling his body to undergo the rigorous ordeal of walking fourteen to twenty miles a day. In spite of any possible prejudices such incidents compel the admission that Baba is certainly no ordinary man, to be measured by the usual intellectual yardstick.
While in India, I met a number of these 'school' boys, now grown into manhood and wholly dedicated to their Master's service. For the sake of those who quite sincerely may think that such spiritual upheaval as Baba caused in these young lives might be disastrous in its later effect, I can say with equal sincerity that I have never met men more normal or finely balanced, mentally and emotionally.
The impressions of a European disciple, Mr. C. Leik, who lived at Meherashram during these days, illumine this phase of Baba's work:
"The Master's love knows no bounds. One must see him among his Ashram boys to understand the tie of affinity which exists between Baba and his pupils. How touching it is to watch these urchins crowd around him when he is in their dormitory They rush from their beds to embrace him, placing their tiny arms around his waist, while Baba, playing with them, teasing them gently, fills their hearts with childish glee."
AVATAR, pp. 110-113
1947 © Jean Adriel