Symbols of the world's religions



Eruch Jessawala

I was in charge of seeing to the preparations [for the East-West Gathering], and I had just lain down for an hour to get a brief rest when someone came to me and told me that the darshan ground was full of red ants. Apparently, when the ground had been scraped and dressed, the ants' nests were disturbed, and now there were millions of red ants crawling on the ground.

Now, this was a real problem. Red ants are not like black ants. Red ants bite and their bite hurts. They are not big but the bite can be quite painful. We couldn't have so many thousand people sitting there and getting bitten the whole time by red ants.

And the other hand, I knew from my experience with Baba that He was always most particular never to kill ants. Mosquitoes we could slap. In fact, in the early years, Baba use to encourage the mandali to kill mosquitoes. In Manzil-e-Meem they each were responsible for killing a certain number of mosquitoes every day, by Baba's order. But ants Baba never wanted harmed.

If we were walking along, Baba would sometimes suddenly alter His stride and then point down to the ground and gesture to us to go around. "Be careful," He would gesture, "there are ants here, don't step on them." And so we would take great care to step over them, to walk around them, so we wouldn't inadvertently kill any.

I knew this. I knew Baba never wanted us to kill ants. Of course sometimes it was unavoidable. You couldn't always be looking at the ground as you walked, and no doubt when I would drive Baba in a car we must have run over so many ants, but if we could avoid it, if we were aware that ants were there, then Baba always wanted us to make the effort not to kill them.

So I didn't know what to do. The program was scheduled to begin the next morning at nine; something had to be done right away, but what? And Baba had told me that He didn't want to be disturbed for anything. So what could I do? And yet I knew how important the darshan program was. I knew how important Baba felt it was, so I knocked on His door and woke Baba up.

"What do you want?" Baba gestured. "Didn't I tell you not to disturb me?"

"Yes, Baba," and then I explained the situation. "So what's to be done?"

"Can the ants be exterminated?"

"Yes, Baba." You see, we were very lucky. The city engineer for Poona at that time happened to be a Baba lover and was helping us with the arrangements at Guruprasad. With his help we could get the exterminators that night to spray the ground and kill all the ants. And, by working all night long, we would be able to set the chairs in place before the morning darshan. I told all this to Baba. "But Baba, should we kill the ants?" I asked.

"Why not?" Baba gestured.

"Because I know You have always wanted us to avoid killing ants if we could," I explained. Baba made a dismissive gesture with His hand.

"Kill them," He replied. "My lovers are more important than the ants."

And so we had the exterminators come in and spray the ground, and that cleared the area of the red ants. We worked all night long and by morning all those thousands of chairs were in place and no one ever knew what had happened. That's when I got an inkling as to the importance of Baba's lovers. It didn't mean that we should no longer try to avoid killing ants, but it put things into their proper perspective, a natural perspective.


THAT'S HOW IT WAS, pp. 172-173
1995 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust


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