BABA'S BIRTHDAY 1958
Arnavaz N. Dadachanji
After sitting through half of The Ten Commandments, Baba returned to Ashiana with Eruch, this time allowing the others to see the whole movie. As usual before retiring, He called Mehera and the rest of us to Him. He said that this movie was the best He had ever seen and confirmed that when Moses went up to Mount Sinai, he indeed heard the voice of God and was given the Ten Commandments. Baba also told us that Moses was on the sixth plane and became God-realized at the time of his death. A year later Baba had Adi, Sr. send Nariman a copy of a letter from Cecil B. de Mille, the director of The Ten Commandmants. A Baba lover in the United States had written to tell him that Baba had seen his film and enjoyed it, and de Mille, who had met Baba in Hollywood in the 1930's, replied that he was happy to learn that "this venerable religious leader" remembered their meeting. He also expressed his appreciation for Baba's ". . . silent, prayerful work . . . and prophetic leadership."
Two days after Baba and the men saw The Ten Commandments, Mehera and the rest of us women went to see it. Dina was in pitiful condition, and I seated her next to me so I could comfort her. During the scenes depicting Moses' mother in terrible agony over losing her son, Dina again cried and cried, her empathy with Moses' mother helping in her grief over the loss of Khurshed. If she had been spotted by her neighbours or relatives, they would have been shocked by her presence in a theatre five days after her son's death. But when we live in obedience to Baba, we have to cast aside many worldly concerns, even if that means being humiliated in front of those who do not understand.
The following month, February 1958, Baba held a gathering for Easterners at Lower Meherabad. By Baba's order Dina had sent to England for her son's ashes, which she brought to the Sahavas. When she gave the packet of ashes to Baba, He held it on His lap, cradling it as if He were holding a child. He told Dina that Khurshed's ashes would be buried in Meherabad.
The Eastern Sahavas, attended by hundreds of Baba lovers, was a memorable, intimate, and heart-filling event. Two groups came for five days each, first those who spoke Hindi and Marathi, then those who spoke Gujarati and the South Indian languages. Four large tents were put up, one for a women's dormitory, one for a men's dormitory, one for a dining hall, and one in which Baba gave sahavas and darshan to His lovers. Each morning He would come from Meherazad to spend the entire day with His lovers.
Prior to the Sahavas Baba had sent circulars to all who were to attend, asking us to obey certain orders, among them that no one was to bring Him flowers or garlands. Baba began the Sahavas by giving darshan and, as always, flower sellers from town had gathered by the roadside. In India offering flowers is such a longstanding tradition that despite Baba's order, several people in the long queue were holding garlands to offer Him. Then, unexpectedly, Baba had it announced that anyone who wanted to could bring flowers for Him. Everybody ran to get some, and I was going for money myself when someone came up to me, asking if I wanted one of the two garlands she had.
I took one and immediately felt a pang of doubt in my heart. I thought, "What am I doing? I am not obeying Baba's original order." In the circular Baba had said that no one should bring flowers; now He had said, "If you want to..." I was forgetting to heed Baba's exact words, and I wanted to obey His original order. Holding the garland in my hand, wondering what I should do with it, I was relieved when someone approached me and asked where I had bought it. I gave it to her straight away, feeling great relief that Baba had helped me to obey Him implicitly.
Baba gave a specific discourse during that Sahavas about obedience and faith in which He explained three types of obedience. Using as an example a man named Gadekar, who was seated in front of Him, Baba said, "You all have seen Gadekar sitting here. Suppose I were to tell you that he is not sitting in front of Me. The first type of obedience would be simply to agree that he is not there. The second type of obedience would be to agree, thinking there must be some special meaning attached to My statement. The third, and rarest, type of obedience would be not to see Gadekar sitting there."
One strong memory I have of the Sahavas is that for three consecutive days, exactly at 4:00, Baba coughed violently. On the first and second days He said nothing about it, but on the third day He commented, "This cough is reminding me of the black cloud that is drawing very near." Baba never explained what He was referring to.
This Sahavas was also the occasion for a joyous celebration of Baba's birthday, one of the rare times it was observed publicly. On 24th February, Baba called me to His cabin where He was having lunch to tell me that He wanted some festivities for His birthday. Excited about this news, I immediately got together some women to begin practicing birthday songs in Gujarati, Hindi and English. On auspicious occasions such as birthdays, marriages and engagements, a "ses" is always prepared, so I ordered one from a Baba family in Ahmednagar.
On the morning of His birthday Baba was taken by car in a procession from His room to the darshan tent. Two of us carried the ses and walked in front of Baba's car, the others following behind it. Gaimai, Eruch's mother, had been chosen as the elder of the family to place the tili (red mark) on Baba's forehead, and when He arrived at the foot of the platform, she dipped her right thumb in the red paste, put a round shape of it on the middle of Baba's forehead, and pressed a few grains of rice over it. Then, as is the custom, Gaimai took the coconut from the tray and tried to break it open on the stone floor, to the right of Baba. She tried twice, but the coconut wouldn't break. She turned nervously to me, as if to ask what she should do next. Deciding to try again with a very forceful bang, she finally broke it. Baba, who always enjoyed something serious becoming funny, had a hearty laugh.
Baba then walked up the three steps and sat on the platform. The women gathered below Him and sang the songs they had rehearsed, after which all those present joined in singing "Happy Birthday" to Beloved Baba, rejoicing to see Him enjoying Himself. This was to be the last time that Baba's birthday was celebrated in His presence with a large number of His lovers.
Five days later, when the second part of the Sahavas had come to an end, a special reserved train stopped right at Meherabad for those who had attended this gathering. Hundreds of hands reached out the windows to wave to Baba, who stood beside the tracks, His sadra and hair blowing in the wind, waving goodby to His lovers as the train pulled away.
GIFT OF GOD, pp. 158-161
1996 © Meherazad Trust for Avatar Meher Baba