Symbols of the world's religions



Dr. William Donkin

In the pleasant hours between supper and bedtime, when Baba's mandali sit about and talk of the day's happenings, or of anything in general, the topic often turns to the subject of Baba and his mast work. At such times, it is generally conceded that Kaka's outstanding achievement was that of bringing Karim Baba of Calcutta to Baba in 1940. The consummation of Baidul's work was, without a doubt, the almost miraculous accomplishment of bringing Chacha all the way from Ajmer to Satara in June 1947.

It is, perhaps, not possible to give an idea of the waywardness, the obduracy, or if you like to call a spade a spade, of the out and out obstinacy of a majzoob such a Chacha. In their relationships with the world and its workaday folk, such men take not the slightest notice of anyone. They appear either to harbour a kind of spiritual disdain for mankind, or are merely as utterly indifferent to it as a new-born child; and it is only when they feel the pull of a greater spiritual force such as Baba, that they occasionally comply with the requests of Baba's mandali. In this way, Gulab Baba of Ellichpur, whom Kaka brought to the Jubbulpore Ashram in 1939, was interesting, for the remarks of Gulab Baba showed that he felt Baba drawing him, fought against it, but was compelled to come to him, in spite of a part of his nature that struggled against it.

At the end of May 1947, Baba and his group moved from Mahableshwar to Satara. Plans were made for a mast ashram as soon as Baba arrived, and Baidul was despatched to Ajmer with orders to try to bring Chacha to Satara.

By the end of May the Indian landscape is scorched and forbidding, and the dry soil seems to yearn for the drenching monsoon rains that come in June. As Baidul traversed this dreary landscape on his way to Ajmer, one imagines the kind of long thoughts of hope and doubt that came and went through his mind as he drew nearer and nearer to Chacha's home. He reached Ajmer in the last week of May. The annual festival of Khwaja Saheb was in full swing, the weather was abominably hot, the water supply deficient, and the place was seething with crowds come to visit the great shrine.

For three or four days Baidul made frequent visits to Chacha, but all attempts to persuade him to come away were fruitless. On the evening of 31st May he went again, by now depressed by a conviction that his task was hopeless, and Chacha asked him to bring rice, mutton and curds, and to feed him. This Baidul did, and Chacha then asked for more. This request having been satisfied, he finally ordered, and was given, some iced water. Baidul was then inspired to gather the forces of his persuasion and throw them in a direct and final frontal attack on Chacha's obduracy, and grasping Chacha by the hand, he told him to come along with him. To Baidul's astonishment Chacha got up at once, picking up a piece of dirty blanket from the floor, and followed him out into the street. The two climbed into a tonga and went at once to the station.

Unless one has seen a religious fair in India, it is barely possible to visualize the colourful crowds of pilgrims wandering here and there in a mood of cheerful relaxation. If one is part of the crowd, busy with no special task, the sight of such honest folk is fascinating. Baidul, however, bent on the definite purpose of bringing Chacha to Baba, found these crowds an additional obstacle across his path. The railway station, as the gateway through which most of the pilgrims to Ajmer must arrive and depart, was obstructed by a milling concourse of passengers, and it was at once obvious that it would be impossible to get Chacha either into the station, or on to any train leaving for Bombay. Baidul, therefore, hired a taxi, and coaxing Chacha into it, drove to Beawar, about thirty miles to the south-west.

At Beawar, he managed to get Chacha into a train, and with many changes at many junctions, he bore his precious charge closer and closer to Baba. Whenever he had to get Chacha out of one train into another, he would call for the special chair that is kept on every important station for carrying invalids, and would have Chacha lifted onto this chair, and transported to the next train. On 3rd June the two arrived in Satara, and Baba's daily contact with Chacha began.

Imagine a small, rectangular room, with whitewashed walls, a cool floor of grey Shahabad stone, two windows, and a door opening directly on to a sunlit gravel space between the back of the house and the low kitchen buildings. In front of this room, a screen of tattya made a small enclosure about the size of the room itself and created a kind of private compound, so that the room was secluded from those walking to and fro on the various tasks of the ashram.

In one corner of this unadorned room, upon an oblong strip of matting, Chacha sat. Throughout the five weeks that he stayed in Satara he never moved from this room, and although most of the day he sat in his accustomed corner facing the doorway, he would occasionally spontaneously move a few yards, and sit in an opposite angle of the room.

Each day, Baba spent most of his time plying Chacha with tea and food, or sitting with him in silent conference. During these weeks, after sitting for an hour or two with Ali Shah, and particularly with Chacha, Baba would emerge with face pale and tired, and often with clothes drenched in perspiration. It seemed as if, in his silent conferences with these great masts, he had to focus the rays of his infinite power through the lens of his body — and his body felt the strain.

THE WAYFARERS, pp. 89-91
1988 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust


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