JUST LIKE THE CHRIST
Baba instructed some of the mandali to select different parts of the economically undeveloped areas in the district of Ahmednagar, and through local contacts of responsible persons and social workers, they delivered over four thousand tickets to needy persons, irrespective of caste or creed. The word "prasad" was printed on each ticket. These individuals were instructed to collect their prasad at selected places on different dates. The name of Meher Baba was not disclosed they were under the impression that a wealthy philanthropist was offering the food-grain to them as charity.
The work commenced on February 16 with a visit to Katol, which lies at the foot of the Western Ghats eighty miles to the north of Ahmednagar. The advance party reached the town fairly early. In the compound of the dak bungalow there were giant mango trees, under which the invitees began to gather in groups. In one of the corners, water was being warmed for washing the feet of the poor.
Meher Baba arrived by 8:00 A.M. Each person was first led to the bathing room and asked to stand on a low stool. With one hand Baba poured a mugful of lukewarm water over the feet as the other hand swept over them. One of the mandali, sitting at the exit, would dry the feet with a soft towel. Some of the mandali then requested that the people sit in lines to get the bundles of grain.
When Baba had washed the feet of all the ticket holders, He went into the next room where the bundles were piled, occupying a seat midway between the narrow corridors by which the villagers were to enter and leave. None of the mandali was allowed inside the room Baba distributed the bundles in absolute privacy. Over a thousand people were benefited and blessed at Baba's hands.
Baba paid a visit to Parner, twenty-five miles to the west of Ahmednagar, on February 18. Here it had been arranged to do the work of distribution in the local primary school. The procedure of washing the feet of the poor and giving out the bundles was outwardly the same as at Katol, but one small incident is worth mentioning. "While waiting for the washing of feet, one of the crowd an old man in rags was overheard to say in English (pointing to Baba at work), 'Just like Christ.'" It was very rare to find English-speaking poor persons in the Indian villages.
On February 20 Kharda was visited, a remote village to the southeast of Ahmednagar, where the school again provided the place for the work.
Two days later a similar program was arranged in a refugee camp at Visapur. The people were mostly from Hindu families from Sind who had migrated to India from Pakistan. At Visapur, the secret somehow leaked out to the poor that a saintly personality was going to wash their feet prior to their being given the prasad. The refugees argued that, in fact, they should be allowed the privilege of washing His feet. When Baba arrived He was told of their intention. He canceled the program and instead donated a goodly sum as a contribution toward the camp welfare fund.
About eight hundred villagers were collected on the premises of Meherazad on February 29, and they received bundles from Baba's hands. One humorous event in the solemn program gave Baba a hearty laugh. An elderly person, after receiving prasad, very gravely blessed Baba. Later Baba remarked with a smile, "For a long, long time I have been wanting someone to bless me!" His humor was a delightful, inseparable aspect of His life.
To compensate for the work that He had expected to do at Visapur, Baba instructed the mandali to choose some other place, so Vambori, twenty miles off to the north, was selected. On March 7 Baba visited the village and completed the distribution of the four thousand bundles of grain to the poor. At the four villages He also gave money as prasad to more than two hundred people....
Meher Baba once remarked regarding such work: "As Baba I gave; as the poor, I received." His is the non-dual life a life of love that knows no separation.
William Donkin, The Wayfarers, p. 32 BACK
GLIMPSES OF THE GOD-MAN, MEHER BABA, Vol 1 (Trust pdf pt2), pp. 281-283
1977 © Bal Natu