Symbols of the world's religions

               

A SEVERE PENANCE KNOWN AS CHILLA-NASHINI

David Fenster

 
Khorshed's father, Kaikhushru Masa, was also spiritually inclined. Before Khorshed was born, her father performed a severe penance, known as chilla-nashini, where an aspirant draws a circle around himself and vows to stay inside the circle without food or sleep for 40 days and 40 nights.*

It is a dangerous practice, for the aspirant must withstand the onslaught of terrible apparitions and other mental torments. If he steps outside the circle, it could mean madness or death; if he succeeds, whatever he desires will be given to him.

Kaikhushru, a jeweler by trade, entered the circle in the hopes of gaining great wealth. Despite being frightened by visions of devils and demons tempting him to step out of the circle, he remained inside it for 39 days. On that day, he saw a vision of Lakshmi, Goddess of Wealth, but instead of showering him with wealth, she held out a baby to him. When Kaikhushru protested that he was after riches, the Goddess told him that he would gain much more through this baby girl, whom he should name Khorshed.

When Khorshed herself was eight, she was playing outside one day when two tiny fairies appeared. They led her by the hand to the terrace, where Khorshed saw a vision of Lakshmi, seated on a golden throne. Flowers were draped over the Goddess, and perfume filled the air.

Lakshmi asked Khorshed to promise her never to marry. Khorshed did so, but the Goddess told her, "Think it over carefully before promising." The Goddess make her promise three times.

Once Khorshed had firmly agreed not to marry, the Goddess held out her hand and allowed Khorshed to wear her crown and sit on her throne. When she did so, Khorshed too began shining like the Goddess.

Then Lakshmi showed her a vision of men behind bars and said, "The men of the world are giants, kept behind bars. Never trust them. I am showing you this to warn you. Be careful, and always remember your promise to me not to marry. It is for your own good."

Khorshed never told her parents about this vision, since she thought they would not accept her vow. But when she came to Ahmednagar for Rustom and Freiny's wedding, she heard the discussion in Baba's presence about Mehera's marriage proposal and became worried that Baba might tell her to marry.

So one day, later on, when she was at Meherabad, she saw Baba and ran after him to ask about it, calling, "Merwanji!"

Baba turned and said to her, "I know everything. I will never ask you to marry."


*Note: Meher Baba's father, Sheriarji, had performed the same penance when he was told that what he sought (God) would be granted to him in a son.

 

MEHERA-MEHER, A Divine Romance, Vol 1, p. 95
2003 © David Fenster

               

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