Symbols of the world's religions



Mani S. Irani

The 'future' began at sunset on the 31st of January 1969, when we placed the body of our Beloved in the Tomb on Meherabad Hill. Overnight Meherabad was transformed from an isolated retreat into a crowded pilgrimage-ground. It swarmed with people, buses, cycles, taxis, cars, tongas, bullock carts. Padri, who has looked after the place all these years, had a tough job trying to accommodate the hourly growing number of lovers. Every foot of indoor and outdoor space was used for their camping in during those days and nights.

A 'Meher Baba Restaurant' sprang up by the roadside; and a signpost pointed to the footpath leading to the Hill. A railway track runs between upper and lower Meherabad, and trains obliged by stopping there to disgorge their load of lovers from Bombay and Andhra. Throughout the seven days, and for days after, we could hear passing trains give a long whistle as they went by the Hill — the drivers were saluting the Avatar of the Age.

Meherabad has no electricity, but there was enough light. There was God's lantern lighting the way for His pilgrims — the full moon shone in a clear sky during the entire Week. Neon lights blazed around the Tomb, shining with the love of His lovers of Vijayawada (Andhra) who had a generator installed and working all night through the Week and after. Crowded at all times was the improvised shade put up near the Tomb to shelter His lovers from the blistering sun.

Outside the Tomb's east window is a stone platform where the Prem Ashram boys often gathered to hear the discourses the Beloved gave them through the window, at the time when He was there in seclusion and did not step out. Now the platform was serving as a stage for groups of Baba-bhajan singers from Arangaon village, Ahmednagar, Poona, Bombay, Nizamabad, Navsari, Andhra State, and other places. The singing and music went on from evening till four in the morning, and we thought of the smiling remark the Beloved had made on His return from His Andhra tour years ago: "My lovers sang outside my window all night while I rested." They were doing the same thing now.

None wanted to leave Meherabad until the Beloved's body was interred. None could say when this would be. The time of 10 a.m. on February 1 as first declared, was based on medical advice that as the body was not embalmed the interment could not be delayed longer than 20 hours, even though surrounded by a border of ice- blocks as arranged. Mehera and I felt that the Beloved Himself would give an indication of when it would be done, that as long as His dear body remained fresh and lovely we would not have it covered up. Even after a week it was not found necessary to place the covering!

But as Baba had told us on the last day, the morning of 31st January, that after seven days He would be 100% free (from suffering, as we interpreted His hand gestures to mean), we took that as an indication. And so, seven days after the Event, at 12.15 noon on Friday the 7th of February 1969, the interment took place amid thousands of voices singing His glorious Name and resonant cries of AVATAR MEHER BABA KI JAI!!!...

Of the Meherazad men and women mandali who accompanied His body on that unbelievable journey to Meherabad, the role of Baba's beloved Mehera was the hardest. But she played it supremely, surrendering the anguish of her heart to the wish of her beloved who had asked her to "Keep courage"...

Although we started out from Meherazad on that Friday evening with hearts numbed and empty, our hands had been kept occupied in doing the things that the Beloved would want us to do. In the midst of many practical details that Eruch was seeing to, he reminded me to take along our gramaphone and the record of 'Begin the Beguine'. Eruch said that Baba had told him, many times over the years, to play this song by His side when He dropped His body.

And so on that night of 31st January, and the next day, seven times I played the song of 'Begin the Beguine' by His side — at first in the cabin where His body rested for a while and later in the Tomb. And while the song played, it seemed to convey to us His message that this was not an end but the beginning — the beginning of His completed work bearing fruit.

A day before dropping the body, even while the movement of His fingers brought on a renewed spasm, Baba told us, "All this, all that I have been through all along, has been a preparation for the Word — for just the One Word!" And with a quizzical smile He added "Just imagine!"


82 FAMILY LETTERS, pp. 344-346
1976 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust


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