Symbols of the world's religions



Bill Le Page

[Meherwan Jessawala] remembers that Shireen, Baba's mother, would come and be with them for varying periods from time to time. Shireen took a particular liking to Gaimai, and Baba granted her wish that she should have Gaimai look after her. Baba said to Gaimai: 'Do whatever she asks of you.'

There was a very loving relationship between the two women, and perhaps this was a part of Gaimai's preparation to be the Avatar's mother next Advent, as Baba once said she would be.

Gaimai delighted in hearing stories from Shireen of Baba's early life, and often she would ask Shireen to repeat them. Once when Gaimai did so Shireen in exasperation began to scold her. Just then Baba came in, and upon coming to know the reason for His mother's outburst, told her that His stories were always fresh no matter how often they were told, and exhorted Shireen to keep repeating them!

As Baba's mother she had certain prerogatives, yet she was also required to accept restrictions in line with Baba's orders for the ashram. She was a very strong-minded woman, lively, very intelligent, with a zest for life and an enjoyment of the good things in life. The following is a delightful example of these qualities.

Gaimai was asked by Baba to write to her sister Banumasi in Bombay to bring her two sons for the Thread Ceremony of Sam and Meherwan. On the side, Shireen asked Gaimai to add a P.S.: 'Please bring two nice fresh fried pomfrets (fish) with you.'

Now at the time there was strict vegetarianism in the ashram, and in any case everything coming to and out of the ashram had to have Baba's permission. But of course, Gaimai did as Shireen asked, because of Baba's order for her to do whatever Shireen wanted. So Banumasi duly arrived and with her came the fish.

Shireen was very happy and after Gaimai had heated the fish, Shireen sat down to enjoy them. Just as she did so, and was about to take a morsel, two cats suddenly jumped on her shoulders, one on each side, and Shireen, not liking cats, screamed loudly and threw the fish onto the floor to distract them. They promptly made off with the fish, and at that point, Baba came into the room saying, 'What is this smell of fish? How is it that the ashram has fish?'

Gaimai became very frightened, 'Baba, Shireen asked that it be brought from Bombay.' Baba as usual professed total ignorance, 'But without my permission!'

Now Shireen flared up, 'Yes, Merog, I called for it! How could You do this? You did not want me to have the fish and You sent those cats to harass me!'

'But, mother, you know that there is strict vegetarianism here, so without My order, how could you do that?'

'You know I like fish, and I am your mother.'

'Yes, you are My mother but remember, I created you!'

What a delightful relationship existed between Baba and Shireen! Gaimai told of a time when she was massaging Shireen's feet. It was evening, and suddenly Baba came into the room, inquired of something, and then said, 'Mother, I would like to sit on your lap.'

Gaimai described the scene as very touching and very lovely. Shireen was shocked, 'Merog, behave yourself! There are people here, what will they think, and in any case you are too big, too heavy!'

But Baba said again, 'I want to sit on you lap,' and proceeded to do so. It was, Gaimai recalled, such a delightful scene.

As a contrast to that scene, Eruch has told of a time when Shireen had written to say that she would stay for a period with Baba. She was permitted to come and go as she pleased, even though Baba would complain that her presence disturbed His work, that she would be unhappy with this or that of ashram life, and would involve Baba in her complaints.

This particular incident occurred in Lonavla, and it was during the wet season when there were many snakes and scorpions. So Baba sought to take advantage of the season and the fact that Shireen was extremely afraid of snakes, and He told Eruch, 'Mother is coming, meet her at the station, and give her a vivid picture of the very heavy rains here, and of the many, many snakes and scorpions. Do it to such an extent that she will hesitate to stay. But be very careful, mother is very shrewd!'

Eruch met Shireen and when she asked for news, he took the opportunity of saying 'Everything is fine, but the weather is awful, raining all the time and because of that there are many snakes, and only the other day the watchman killed three.'

Shireen said quietly, 'Really!' and Eruch went on, 'And the scorpions are huge, six inches long, dark green and black with hair on their bodies.'

Shireen quietly responded, 'Oh really — and what else did Merog tell you to tell me!'

Eruch sought to look innocent, but Shireen again said, 'And what else were you told to tell me to scare me away from here? I am His mother, I know His ways.' Once more Eruch tried to bluff his way out of this predicament but Shireen said, 'Oh keep quiet, you are but a youngster and don't know anything!'

Later, when Eruch told Baba of the exchange, He said, 'See, as I told you, she is very shrewd. You could not have said it convincingly enough!'

There would be at times, Meherwan recalled, friction between Shireen and Baba, and at those times it was best to be absent. But there was one such occasion which had an amusing twist. Shireen sought to find out from Baba certain incidents in the ashram life, and Baba kept giving her evasive answers. Finally Shireen said, 'Merog, call Meherwan and if the child says it's so, then I will believe it.'

So Meherwan was called and immediately Baba gestured to Meherwan to look at His face when replying. But Shireen, noticing Baba's gestures and knowing His trickiness, said, 'Merog, he is a small child — don't teach him to lie. It doesn't behove You as God to lie and You mustn't teach the lad the same.'

Baba protested, 'Did I tell the boy to lie? I never said any such thing!' But Baba would wink at Meherwan when a question was asked and Meherwan, responding to Baba, would say anything that he thought would please Him.

So mother and son would interact, sparks would fly, yet of course there was also such a deep love between them.


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