Symbols of the world's religions

               

BIRTHDAY SHOWERS

Bhau Kalchuri

 
To honor Meher Baba's birthday every year on February 25th, Baba lovers in south India would hold large public celebrations. If it was Baba's seventieth birthday, for example, the Andhra lovers would celebrate it in some places for seventy days. Cities and towns throughout India would have some public observance — processions through the streets, singing programs, feasts for the poor, and so forth — in which groups as well as individuals participated with much love and effort, and Baba was always very appreciative.

On the 25th of February at Meherabad, the men mandali would always get up at four in the morning, take their baths and dress in their best clothes. At five o'clock, the moment of Baba's birth, the men would shout "Avatar Meher Baba ki Jai!" seven times in the hall; and when Baba came, each one would go to him and receive an embrace. Then the work of answering the birthday letters, cables, and cards had to be attended to; so in some ways Baba's birthday was a day of more work for him.

In 1968, Sarosh Irani, President of the Ahmednagar Center, informed Baba that for his seventy fourth birthday the Ahmednagar devotees were planning a large public celebration with a festive procession, singing, and lectures about him. This was the second year in a row that the Ahmednagar Center was celebrating Baba's birthday publicly, and Baba was very happy when Sarosh explained the whole affair.

On the day of the birthday, after his afternoon session with the men mandali, Baba returned to his room at three o'clock and I went with him to keep watch. After some time, Baba arose and gestured, "Today the Ahmednagar people are going to celebrate my birthday publicly. This evening they are having a large procession through town. I know that they have all worked very hard, and this makes me very happy. I want them to be pleased, and I want the celebration to come off well."

I nodded. Baba paused and then said, "But if it rains, it will spoil everything. Do you think it will rain?"

I answered, "No, Baba it won't rain. The sky is very clear."

"But if it rains, then what will happen?" he questioned.

Although I reassured him that there would be no rain, Baba continued, Sarosh will feel very sad because he has worked day and night for this. The celebration is a public one."

Again he asked, "Do you think it will rain? Go and look at the sky."

I went outside and looked at the sky, which looked fine. I went back inside and repeated the same thing: "No, it will not rain, the sky is very clear. There's no sign of rain, Baba."

So Baba lay down, but five minutes later he sat up again and gestured to me to go outside and see if there were any clouds. Again I went outside, and upon seeing no clouds at all, reported to Baba. "This isn't even the monsoon season," I reasoned. "It never rains in February."

Baba continued to send me out to look for clouds every fifteen minutes or so, but none appeared. However, at five o'clock when I went to check, I saw to my amazement that dark rain clouds fill the entire sky! So hurried in to tell Baba.

Baba gestured anxiously, "See! Now what will happen?" and just then it started to pour. I was stunned. Baba quickly motioned, "Go right now and tell Aloba to cycle to the pumping station and phone Adi to see if it is raining in Ahmednagar! Go!"

As it was pouring outside, I started to ask Goher for an umbrella, but Baba gestured impatiently, "Hurry! Go right now!" So without an umbrella, I hurried across the compound to the men's side, getting soaking wet on the way. I gave Aloba the message and returned to Baba.

Baba immediately asked, "Did you tell Aloba to bring the message to me here after he phones?"

"No," I said, "how could I tell him that?" No one is allowed to come to your room unless you yourself call him."

"Go! Go and tell him," Baba said. "I have never in my life seen such an idiot like you!"

Again I had to dash out into the pouring rain to give Aloba the instructions. When I returned, I was completely drenched and somewhat irritated, thinking, "Why all the hurry about phoning Adi? If it is raining in Ahmednagar, it's raining! What will Baba do about it anyway" Here I'm soaking wet, and I have to sit here with Baba until midnight in these wet clothes."

As I entered Baba's room, he said, "If there is rain in Ahmednagar, everything will be ruined."

I said, "Whether the program there gets rained on or not, my program here is completely spoiled. I'm drenched!"

Baba just smiled and gestured to me, "Come here," and taking his handkerchief, very tenderly and lovingly he began to wipe my face. I said, "No, Baba, please, I can do it," but he went on wiping. Then he said, "Take off your clothes and hang them on the line to dry. Take this bed sheet and wrap it around you."

I was so touched by Baba's loving compassion and his tenderness that I no longer felt the least bit annoyed, although I still wondered why there had been such a fuss about phoning Adi.

Soon afterwards, Aloba hurried back with the happy news: "Baba, there aren't even clouds there! The sky is perfectly clear, and the procession is just beginning. The birthday program is a big success!"

Then I understood why Baba had been so concerned.

Baba just smiled at me and said, "My birthday is a grand success."

WHILE THE WORLD SLEPT, pp. 65-67
1984 © Bhau Kalchuri

               

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