SO DIFFERENT FROM FAMILY LIFE
Mehera J. Irani
I could not believe that I was seeing Meherabad from the train! I leaned out the window and saw Baba standing near a wire boundary along the railway track. As the train came near, Baba looked so sweet in His white sadra with the sun shining on Him. We were all waving to Him, and He was waving to us. And we kept waving to Baba as the train passed by until He became so tiny we could hardly see Him. And still He waved to us.
Then, in August 1923 Baba came to Poona, and my mother and I went for His darshan. Baba asked me whether there was anything personal that I wanted to speak to Him about, but as I could not think of anything, I replied, "No, Baba."
Baba then said, "Do you keep fasts?"
I replied, "Yes, Baba, I fast on Ekadasi (tenth lunar day according to Hindu religion), but I'm never quite sure when it is."
So Baba told me, "Never mind, from now on keep fast every Hormazd Roj and Behram Roj (first and twentieth days of the month according to the Zoroastrian calendar)." And this I did for many years.
As I have said, by now my mother's love for and faith in Baba were such that she wanted to serve Him and to be with Him always. So when she went to take Baba's darshan, she told Him, "Baba, I want to stay with You and serve You always."
Baba replied, "How can you serve Me? I'm not staying in one place. But when I do decide to stay in one place, then I will call you."
Then I went to Ahmednagar from Poona to stay with my sister Freni who was now married to Rustom. Baba was still travelling, but I did have His darshan once at Khushru Quarters when He stopped at Meherabad for a brief time.
Staying with my sister I found that I did not like family life; somehow I felt aloof from it. And when Gulmai had to visit Sakori, I went with her. We wanted to stay with Baba, but as I have said, in those very early days Baba had no women mandali, and He was not settled anywhere.
I liked the life at Sakori and the atmosphere there. It was so different from family life. There was devotional singing, arti and meetings with Upasni Maharaj. "Upas" means "fast" and "maharaj" means "great king", so Upasni Maharaj means "the great king who fasted". He was given this name because He fasted for a very long time before He received God-realisation from Sai Baba.
The young Brahmin girls who stayed in the ashram sang songs and played on their drums in the temple. I, too, joined them, and learned to play the little drum called a dholak, the kind that Baba used to play, and we would sing Mirabai songs and Krishna songs, Upasni Maharaj songs and Sai Baba songs. We were all just girls; there were no men with us.
And while I was there I also helped to build some small huts for the ashram. Small Khorshed (Soona Masi's daughter) was also there, and we kept each other company.
One day we were all in Maharaj's hut, ready for arti, when a Brahmin woman came to Maharaj and offered Him a gold ring. This woman wanted to put it on Maharaj's finger as a bond and expression of love. She tried to take His hand, but Maharaj got upset and refused to permit it, saying, "What are you trying to do? Can't you see I'm wearing a gunny sack? I'm a fakir and you want Me to wear a gold ring?"
She replied, "Maharaj, I'm offering this to You."
He told her, "I don't want any gold. Put it down!"
She looked so dejected that Maharaj finally told her to put the ring on His little toe.
After arti the men took darshan and left; then it was the women's turn. Darshan means bowing down and putting one's head on Maharaj's feet, then joining hands to Him. The ring was still on His toe, and the Brahmin girls this time were taking longer to bow down, and they were lingering afterwards. I felt inside that they were wondering to whom Maharaj would give the ring, and that each one was hoping it would be she.
After most of the girls had taken darshan, I approached Maharaj. As I lifted my head after darshan, Maharaj said, "Wait." He took the ring off His toe and put it on my finger. He told me, "Keep it on, wear it, and never take it off." I was very surprised that He had given it to me, but it fitted my finger perfectly. I bowed to Maharaj and left.
MEHERA, pp. 42-44
1989 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust