Symbols of the world's religions

 
               

BUDDHA AND MEHER BABA

Bhau Kalchuri

 
Baba decided to leave Benares for Sarnath on the 1st of December. He sent word to Dr. Nath and Dr. Khare to forward the camel, camel cart, cows and donkeys there. They were doing everything possible for Baba, but Baba was not actually seeing them, and was keeping in communication only through the companions. Yet they felt satisfied and happy with even this much.

Baba was desirous of having a white horse in the caravan, and Gaya Prasad Khare saw this as an opportunity, expressing his wish to procure such a horse for him. Baba accepted, instructing that the white horse, too, should be delivered in Sarnath when obtained. Thus, during Baba's two-week stay in Benares, both families rendered invaluable services to him.

Baba started on foot for Sarnath with the men and women companions on Thursday, December 1st, 1949. The men companions formed the advance group, walking while shouldering their meager belongings. Baba and the women followed a furlong behind. Baba at times went ahead to be with the men, and then returned to the women. Each one's heart echoed the chorus of the New Life Song:

"Listen to the silent words of Meher Baba,
which contain the history of all lovers of God..."

The companions marched triumphantly to the beat of this silent language of the Lord's as he returned to where he preached as Buddha. As if to hail this momentous occasion, Baba spotted a mast on the road. Baba embraced him and decided that this God-intoxicated soul be included in the retinue. The mast walked the four miles north to Sarnath alongside the group of men.

In Sarnath, Dr. Nath had rented the bungalow of a friend for Baba and the women, and another, an eighth of a mile away, for the men. The Nath and Khare families were to send meals by car from Benares, and thus continue to oversee all arrangements from a distance.

Sarnath is the most sacred place to Buddhists all over the world. Sarnath is connected with the times of Gautama the Buddha, being the place where, after his full Enlightenment in Bodhgaya, he preached his first sermon and initiated his first five disciples. After this time Buddha's seat remained solely in Sarnath, where he set up his center of activity for all of India.

There are many Buddhist temples and giant stupas in Sarnath. In the main temple near the stupas a Japanese artist had painted frescoes depicting scenes from Buddha's life. There are also separate underground stone rooms originally used for meditation, with steps leading down to them. At that time, these underground caverns were in a mostly ruined condition.

When Baba took the women to show them this place, he directed his sister Mani to write down on a slip of paper the name of the known Avatars in this cycle, and give it to him. When Mani handed him the piece of paper with the names of Zarathustra, Ram, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad, Baba put it in his pocket as he walked down the steps leading underground.

On the harsh, cold morning of December 7th, Baba walked back to the underground rooms in the subterranean passages of the Sarnath ruins with his men companions, each man clad only in langoties — loincloths. Almost completely naked, every man shivered painfully in the bitter cold. Each companion was handed a copy of the prayer to be offered. Sitting down on the steps, Baba directed each to read the prayer silently in his mind for fifteen minutes when he signaled to begin.

The ancient surroundings, where Gautama the Buddha had conferred diksha (initiation) to his disciples, were peaceful and still.(1) Sitting on the steps, all gazed at Baba, who smilingly signaled them to begin silently repeating the following prayer:

"God, give me strength to follow
the conditions one hundred percent.
God, help me to speak the truth,
and not to tell a lie under any circumstances.
God, help me to control anger,
and to keep away from lusty and greedy desires.
God, help me to be just, fair,
honest and kind toward my companions,
and toward those who come into contact with me."

After fifteen minutes, Baba signaled to the companions to put on their clothes and stand in a line. Baba was standing at one end of the passageway, and when the companions were ready, he directed them to approach him one by one and hand over the prayer paper. As he took it, he warmly shook hands with each.

Baba's face burst into a brilliant glow exhibiting his complete satisfaction with the fulfillment of his work. Smiling, Baba and the companions ascended the steps and reached the door, where Baba asked Ghani to loudly repeat seven times, "Ho gaya! Ho gaya!" — meaning "Finished! Completed!"

When Ghani was repeating the two words, Baba himself joined in by raising his right hand each time.

On the way back to the bungalow, Baba advised the companions to carefully preserve the langoti they had on at the time of the prayer, not to use it again, and to keep it separate with a special mark on it.

(1) Ironically, in that very place, where Buddha consecrated his life and the lives of his disciples, Meher Baba was praying with his companions to snap the Master-disciple connection.

The names of Buddha's first five disciples were Kondanna, Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahanama and Assaji. A man named Yasa was the first to record the teachings of the Buddha. During the time of Buddha, the city of Benares was known as Kasi, and Sarnath was a deer forest known as Isipatana. It is legend that Buddha used to gather his disciples under a mango grove and preach to them at the edge of the deer forest. It is at these spots where Buddha spoke of "Nirvana" that the great stupas were erected after he passed on.

LORD MEHER, Vol 9 & 10, pp. 3508-3510
1996 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust

               

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