Symbols of the world's religions



David Fenster

Another day [circa 1943], Baba took them into the city of Srinagar. Baba and Mehera rode in one tonga, with Rano sitting up front with the driver; Mani and Meheru rode in a second tonga.

They started out together, but Baba's horse was more alert and quicker, & the second tonga lagged behind. Baba gestured with a sharp frown, "Why are you so far behind? Come on. There's no time."

Mani was worried that they were displeasing Baba, but Meheru had a brainwave. Meheru, like the others, could not address the driver directly because he was a man, but she said loudly, "What kind of horse is this? The other tonga is so far ahead of us. We could have gotten there sooner if we had walked!"

Suddenly, the driver spurred the horse. It took off with a jerk, picked up speed, and pretty soon it was galloping at full tilt.

"We were hanging on for dear life!" Mani remembered. "We got nearer to Baba, and the horse started loudly passing gas. Meheru was convulsed with laughter. Then we passed Baba's tonga. Baba's frown was even greater and sharper to see the tonga gallop ahead and Meheru laughing."

"What's this?" Baba gestured. "You're passing my tonga?"

"'It's the horse,' we tried to say. 'It won't stop!' Baba wasn't looking at all pleased, and we were trying not to laugh."

That evening, as they were walking down the street, Baba was ahead with Chanji, when he suddenly turned around and said that they should do some shopping.

Mani recalled that they asked, "Shopping?"

It was the furthest thing from their minds; but that was the way it was with Baba.

"Suddenly, we have to adjust our minds," Mani explained. "Not when you want it, only when he wants it. We looked at each other, and Mehera said, 'We'll get some photo frames for Baba's pictures,' as they had such beautiful carved wooden items.

"Baba was striding ahead, so many passing him without seeing him. That always fascinated me," Mani continued. "Here's Baba walking unknown among these people, who are being blessed by his presence, not conscious of it."

They did not know any shops, but suddenly, Baba stopped and pointed to a huge signboard over one shop that read: SUFFERING MOSES. [Baba's gesture for Moses was a long beard.]

"Baba smiled," Mani said. "That tickled Baba. He gave such a chuckle. Like a burst of a bud opening.

"He snapped his fingers. 'This is where we'll go in.'

"We went in. We bought beautiful, carved walnut photo frames. I think we got a box for Baba's kerchiefs also."

They left Srinagar on the 9th to return to Lahore, and Baba almost immediately left again on 11 September to contact an advanced mast, who lived high up in the mountains. The saint pointed at Baba and told the crowd of followers around him, "He is my elder brother. He adjusts and protects the whole world."


2003 © David Fenster


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