MEHER BABA'S TRIP TO ALLAHABAD TO TOUCH 7,000 SADHUS
F. H. Dadachanji
The Kumbh Mela of Allahabad is known to be India's greatest fair, where several lakhs of people assemble once every twelve years. The Kumbh Mela of 1941-42 has the additional significance of being known as the Maha Kumbh Mela, having a cycle of 36 years. The spiritual significance of Allahabad, where the Jumna and the mythical Saraswathi have their confluence with the Ganges, draws hundreds of thousands of sadhus to the Kumbh Mela from all parts of the country.
The significance of Meher Baba's selection of the Maha Kumbh Mela of 1942 for contacting the 7,000 sadhus at this turning point in the spiritual history of the world, immediately after the demise of Upasni Maharaj and just before terminating His period of seclusion, etc., will be obvious to those who know Baba.
The creation of opposition by Maya and the consequent material difficulties appearing in every phase of the spiritual work of Baba is well known to His disciples. They also know that the difficulties eventually disappear with the same certainty with which they appear. The trip to Allahabad was no exception to the rule. Immediately after Baba's decision to go to Allahabad to contact the sadhus, we read in the papers of the decision of the Government of India to cancel all special trains to Allahabad important and usual feature of the Kumbh Mela on account of military requirements. Not only the specials were cancelled, but the ordinary number of trains had also to be reduced, as also the number of carriages in the remaining trains. A rush to get to the trains was therefore expected as a certainty, particularly on account of the evacuation of some of the eastern ports. We were confident that in spite of the difficulties Baba's work would be completed; but at the same time we were under no delusion about the troubles to be encountered.
Meher Baba decide to leave Meherabad on 29th December 1941 by the morning train. When we came to the station we were informed that the line was blocked by military specials and that it was not known when the passenger train would arrived at Ahmednagar; and that therefore we would not be able to get the Allahabad connecting train from Manmad. Soon we found ourselves driving with Baba on the Ahmednagar-Manmad road in a bus supplied by Sarosh Motor Works.
The road from Ahmednagar to Manmad passes some important spiritual centers, including the Dargh of Sai Baba; Sakori, the residence of Upasni Maharaj; and Dahigaon, where the meeting between Meher Baba and Upasni Maharaj took place. The question there which puzzled us was whether it was really an accident that we had to make this eleventh hour change, or whether it had deeper significance that Baba should go on His important spiritual mission crossing the spiritual atmosphere of Sakori and the surrounding country. As we were traveling in the bus, Baba pointed out to us the hut where He met Upasni Maharaj last. The quiet hut could be seen far away from the road.
The beautiful Ankai Hills, about ten miles from Manmad, are known to several disciples of Baba who have spent time in meditation there. As we came near the Ankai Hills, Baba called a halt for breakfast. All had enjoyed the memorable drive with Baba, and the rough road with the deep ruts and holes had added to the pleasure, while the bumps and jerks had made everybody all the more hungry. Baba sat near us under a huge banyan tree. A beautiful clear stream was flowing nearby and we had an excellent breakfast, then continued our journey and reached the station in time for the Allahabad train.
We arrived at Allahabad about ten o'clock in the morning on the 29th. After breakfast and a little rest at a hotel, Baba went out to the Kumbh Mela grounds with some of the members of the mandali. On reaching the grounds, we soon discovered that the work of touching the 7,000 sadhus was not going to be an easy task. It was hot and sultry, while the Mela ground was all sandy, and the sadhus were scattered throughout a radius of about two miles. Different schemes were suggested by the mandali for carrying out what seemed to be a herculean job; Baba did not approve any of the schemes. In fact, had He done so, several days would have been spent at Allahabad. Baba adopted His own scheme.
First of all, we had a reconnaissance round with Baba, which consisted of about four hours of strenuous walk in the loose sand and scorching sun. During this rapid survey, we crossed the Ganges and the Jumna twice in a boat. While passing across the confluence of the Jumna and Ganges, Baba remarked that Allahabad is known for its spiritual atmosphere from days of old.
Having seen the place generally and deciding upon His program of work, Baba started the contacts with the sadhus. It was about sunset time when Baba touched the first sadhu. This sadhu, whom we encountered accidentally, as it were, when Baba decided to begin the contact work, was a very typical person. He was gazing straight at the setting sun and shouting loudly "Jap! Jap!" (Meditate! Meditate!) He was the only sadhu amongst the hundreds of thousands of them in the Kumbh Mela who had put on a typically mixed dress, partly Eastern style and partly Western. The long garment of the average Indian sadhu with some dirty torn clothes perhaps represented the East; while the old and shabby hat on his head was the probable pointer for the West. The question as to whether Baba selected this first sadhu accidentally, or whether the selection had a deep meaning, would provide an interesting study to the lovers of Baba's work of universal spiritual upliftment.
It is impossible to describe in words the second sadhu whom Meher Baba touched. Those who have read the life of Shri Chaitanya Maha Prabhoo, or have seen some of the pictures depicting his divine ecstasy, might be reminded of the condition of Shri Chaitanya when he was experiencing Divine Love and when he was dancing with lifted hands on the seashore at Jagannath Puri on seeing the visions of his beloved Krishna. To get some idea of the unforgettable scene we saw at Allahabad on 30th December 1941 at sunset, when Baba met the second sadhu at the Kumbh Mela, you have to substitute the sadhu in place of Shri Chaitanya and Baba in place of his beloved Krishna and the sandy bank of the Ganges in place of the Puri beach.
The sadhu a young person about thirty years of age with a most handsome appearance and charming personality saw Baba from a distance of some fifty paces, and for a while he danced with lifted hands as if he were in the happiest moment of his life. He walked a little and then sat down as if the feeling had overpowered him. Baba met him like the most loving mother embracing the dearest child. The sadhu was completely naked and his body was covered with dust and sand, but the way Baba was treating him showed that to Baba the apparently dirty body of the sadhu was of no consequence. Subsequently, when referring to this sadhu, Baba said he was a soul merged in the ocean of Divine Love. Baba further remarked: "If someone were to ask me what makes me happiest, my reply would be 'embracing a mast' (a God-intoxicated soul) like the one you saw today."
Referring to the value of the love of the marvelous sadhu, Baba said: "Such love consumes the false ego and annihilates the lower self in the supra-conscious state wherein the highest asserts itself. Just as the state of man's communion with God, the soul's identification with the Oversoul and the lover's union with the Beloved are beyond the realm of understanding, so also is the state of this perfect lover of God indescribable."
The second sadhu a living Chaitanya Maha Prabhoo had such attraction for Baba that in spite of the most strenuous labor He had to undergo the next day in contacting thousands of sadhus, Baba insisted on meeting this individual again, and spent about half an hour with him, in spite of the heavy pressure on His time.
On the first day, after acquainting Himself with the location of the sadhu camps, Meher Baba touched 359 sadhus. All of us were completely exhausted. Nobody, however, liked to say this and thus to interfere with Baba's work. To everybody's relief, Baba Himself said that He was tired and that the work would be resumed the next day. That in fact Baba was not really tired, and merely came to our rescue by saying so, became clear to us when, the next day, He arranged matters in such a way that while He had to move about constantly in the soft sand, we had to remain at specific places where He could easily communicate with us, while He moved about almost like a machine with inexhaustible energy.
He had not only to move about, but had also to bend down to touch the sadhus who were to be found in different postures. Some were lying on the ground, some were squatting, some were themselves moving about, while some were found in small huts with narrow, low doors. While we admired Baba's energy and power of endurance, we were growing more and more anxious about the after-effects of this herculean task on His health.
By the evening Baba had exceed the figure of 7,000 in touching the sadhus. The actual hours of work were from about 6:00 in the morning to about 11:00 in the forenoon; and again from about 6:00 to 9:00 in the evening. The prayer time in the morning and evening selected by Baba helped Him considerably in doing the work quickly. Sadhus in groups of hundred were found collected at different places for the prayers. Similarly at some of the big camps called the "Akhadas" of the sadhus, hundreds of them were found early in the morning. Again at the "Annachatras" (centers for distribution of free food to the sadhus) many of them were found in large numbers.
Baba was not idle between 11 a.m and 6 p.m. on the 31st of December, the final day of the work of touching the sadhus. After late breakfast and about two hours rest, He took us to Naini, a place about five miles from Allahabad, to meet a mast. This mast had a charming personality and was known locally as Cha Sahib. We found him sitting on a cot inside a dark room where a fire was burning.
Baba had asked us to take with us tea in a large teapot, as Cha Sahib is exceedingly fond of tea. Seeing us at the door of the room, Cha Sahib got up from the bed and received us in a way that indicated he was expecting us and had known us for a long time. The sweet smile on his face, his sparkling lovely eyes and his lively gait showed that he was in the happiest of moods. He took the tea- pot from us and placed it on the fire and made us sit on his cot. He allotted a corner of the room away from us to Baba, and while pretending to talk to us generally about our health, and inviting us to have tea, he was all the while enjoying stealthy glances at Baba, who seemed to be so happy in the little dark corner of Cha Sahib's room. We again realized how Baba really feels so happy in the company of the masts. After spending about half an hour with Cha Sahib, Baba returned with us to Allahabad, where He went straight to the Mela grounds and completed the work of touching the 7,000 sadhus that evening.
On returning to the hotel at about 9 p.m., Baba had only a glass of ginger and then took a hot tub-bath before retiring to bed. With the strenuous work of the day, we were concerned about Baba's health, but He again gave us a surprise by getting up a five o'clock in the morning and feeling as fit as ever. His work having been completed to His satisfaction, Baba was in a very good mood, and after tea we left Allahabad by the Bombay Mail on the morning of the New Year, 1942.
TREASURES, pp. 153-159, ed. Jane Barry Haynes
1980 © Meher Spiritual Center, Inc.