Symbols of the world's religions

               

MEHER BABA'S FINAL DAYS

Eruch Jessawala

 
On January 27, 1969, Baba told me that although the doctors had recommended He should be moved to Poona, He would not go there until His customary time at the end of March. However, He was willing to permit Dr. Ginde to come and stay at Meherazad in order to check Him every day for the nasty spasms which were plaguing Him.

The spasms lasted almost continuously for about sixteen hours on the following day leaving Baba quite exhausted and restless. The sensation was like that of a very severe shock received by a person who accidentally touches a main, and it took four of the mandali to hold His body down in bed. Every jerk from a spasm almost broke Baba's back, and any movement on His part like raising His hands or fingers to tell us something, would result in a jerk that lifted the body from head to foot. Baba even found breathing difficult. Dr. Goher who was attending to Baba around the clock, advised that Dr. Ginde should come prepared if possible, to operate in Baba's room if it were necessary. Dr. Grant who examined Baba's nervous system, found everything normal except that His reflexes had diminished.

On January 30, Baba announced that He wanted five disciples to be always near Him, included among whom Padri and Chagan were specially mentioned.

The mandali began their watch throughout the day and that night attempting with Baba's encouragement, to press hard on His body to eliminate the spasms if possible, or else to hold His body down if the spasms came, in order to avoid jerks to His spinal cord that were causing Him severe pain in the back and shoulders. While we were pressing His body, we would first feel ripples passing under our hands and when they got stronger, we knew He was going to have another massive spasm. Accordingly, we tried to press harder but then the doctors advised that the pressure should be lighter, otherwise the jerks might damage the bones which had already been injured in Baba's two car accidents in 1952 and 1956.

This attention to Baba kept us all on our toes, including of course the women mandali. Baba had reduced His food intake about two weeks previously and Mehera did her best to provide nourishment by sending Him things like fruit, juice, grated apple and so forth. At first He said that He did not want the grated apple but Mehera would send word back that He should have it, and after taking a spoonful or two, Baba would offer the remainder to the mandali, much like prasad. However, since we felt that He needed the food, we would tell Him that we could not eat anything as we had just eaten pan, but that did not deceive Him. "Come on," Baba would say amusingly, "you are all making excuses, saying that you have just eaten pan in order to avoid eating what I offer you." Baba was very humorous up to the time He dropped His body.

Since the spasms did not lessen or disappear, Padri suggested homeopathic medicine and Baba agreed to take some of his pills. Chagan who was an ayurved specialist, recommended herbs which he said were very good for spasms. Baba wanted to know if they were really good and requested Chagan to read out their properties from his book, after which He would approve of certain ones and ask Chagan to administer them. So it was that Baba gave a chance to all the mandali members to minister to Him.

Somewhat earlier, Dr. Ram Ginde of Bombay who had sent word that he was prepared to come and spend some days at Baba's side, was informed that Baba would notify him, but meanwhile he should arrange his affairs so that his patients were not left stranded. At the time, Dr. Ginde thought he would be free by February 15 and when this information was given to Baba, He wondered whether he could not come sooner. Eventually Dr. Ginde was informed that Baba wanted him at Meherazad on January 31 and since he would be passing through Poona, we suggested he should see Dr. Grant whose last report would be helpful. Dr. Ginde then left Bombay in the early morning hours of January 31.

In Poona, Dr. Ginde was informed by Dr. Grant of the latest report on Baba's condition, and after receiving this medical report over a hasty breakfast, Dr. Ginde left Poona immediately for Ahmednagar.

Baba had only about two hours of sleep on the night of January 30 due to the frequency of the spasms and the intense pain He was having in the small of His back, and He was pleased to learn that Dr. Ginde was coming to see Him by lunch time.

It was close to midday when Baba looked at the clock as if to remind Padri that it would soon be time to give Him the last two homeopathic pills at noon and after taking them, Baba, reflecting His long-held opinion about homeopathic treatment, said to Padri, "What's the matter with your drugs? Your homeopathy is useless; it does no good. Throw the bottle out!" We all laughed and joked about the matter.

Meanwhile, Baba had not forgotten about Dr. Ginde and when an exchange of telephone messages revealed that he had not yet arrived at Adi Sr.'s office in Ahmednagar, Baba said it was getting late and that another message should be sent to Adi Sr. telling him not to detain Dr. Ginde on arrival with tea or anything, but to send him on to Meherazad forthwith.

It was at fifteen minutes after noon when a fresh spasm took hold of Baba as He rested in the reclining position to which His special bed had been set. As He was thus sitting with His head and back propped up, His frame shook with a final jerk. He flexed His arms, closed His mouth firmly, and all movement in the Beloved's body came to a halt, indicating to all around Him that He had left us to embark upon that "unique and direct journey to the unbounded and indivisible ocean of divinity."

I immediately opened His mouth and resorted to mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for a period of about thirty minutes while Dr. Goher gave several injections to help revive Him. But all our efforts in this desperate attempt to restore life into the One who gives and sustains all life, drew no response from the body on the bed, and I collapsed on the floor out of sheer exhaustion.

About thirty minutes later, Dr. Ginde and Dr. Brieseman arrived from Ahmednagar carrying an oxygen cylinder with them, they too made attempts to revive Baba. However, the heart had definitely stopped, the reflexes were gone and life was now extinct without a doubt.

In retrospect when Drs. Grant and Donkin together with Meherjee visited Baba on January 30, He suffered a spasm but said that it was His crucifixion and that His time had come but that everything was all right and there was no need for Him to go to a Poona clinic as Dr. Grant was suggesting. In fact Baba even discussed His forthcoming darshan programme with Dr. Grant who reminded Baba that it would be a very strenuous affair for which He should first get strong.

Once again Baba told the doctor not to worry, that He would indeed carry out the programme as planned, and invited him to see for himself from his house opposite to Guruprasad in Poona — the site of the darshan programme — exactly how He would give His darshan. "It will be something unique," said Baba. In connection with this, I might mention that previously Baba had told the mandali, "You will see My boys and My girls who will come with all love" in such waves that the great rush to Him will just push the mandali aside.

Baba was giving us hints that His stay among us was coming to an end but we never anticipated that He was going to drop His body even though, as we now look back on the discussions He held with us about His darshan programme, the hints were not so veiled.

We who were responsible for and knew what was involved in any darshan programme, were worried whether Baba would physically be able to bear the strain, but to Baba, the darshan He had in mind, was nothing for us to be alarmed about. "Don't you all worry about that;" He said, "giving my darshan this time will be very easy." And turning to Francis, Baba inquired, "Francis, will it be all right if I give darshan in a reclining position?"

"Why, have Your way, Baba," Francis answered.

"But what will My lovers think. Will they ask why is it that Baba is just lying like that?" persisted Baba who again stressed, "I will be reclining when I give darshan."

At the time we thought that this reclining position Baba was talking about would be due to the fact that He would be incapacitated by fever or some other symptom, just as we earlier thought that when He said His time had come, He was referring to the great days of the forthcoming darshan when His lovers would be coming with all love. We never realized then that it was all hinting at something deeper.

Anyway the more we thought about the darshan programme and Baba stressing a reclining position, the more we wondered about what it would impose on Him in the way of a handicap to His gestures and certainly of course to His facial expressions which always spoke so eloquently.

But Baba was prepared for this too. "What will be the harm if I give darshan in complete silence?" He asked, supplying us with yet a further glimpse of events to come. So we said, "All right, let it be Your way, Baba."

Even then Baba did not drop the matter. "They will feel let down about it, won't they?" Baba continued, but even though we assured Him that would not be the case, I still felt His body could not stand the strain of a programme which would most certainly stretch to four hours in the morning and another four hours in the afternoon, and I was afraid. When I expressed this feeling to Baba, He told me not to worry and at another time He rebuked me saying, "Don't talk about the darshan to Me. It will be very easy for I will be very strong. Go and attend to other work!"

And then He told us, "The time to worry is now when I am very weak and you have to take care of Me. I might be well, by say March, to meet the crowd on April 10, and March means 'quick march!'" It was another allusion which we missed.

Once during the confinement to His room, among the tidbits of daily information I brought to Baba, was a story I had read about a monk who was much revered by his followers. One day as this monk was preparing to walk out of his room, he informed his followers that he was leaving them but he would eventually return though he did not specify a time. Accordingly, the faithful followers prepared his bed every day with fresh bed sheets and clean linen in anticipation of the event and this routine, according to what I read, had resulted up to the time of the report, in the usage of millions of yards of bed sheets and linen because 2000 years had passed and there was still no sign of the monk.

We all enjoyed the report and had a good laugh with Baba saying that He too would return and adding, "But not like the monk!"

THE ANCIENT ONE, pp. 144-148
Copyright 1985 Naosherwan Anzar

               

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