Symbols of the world's religions



Amiya Kumar Hazra

Yes, just when we were expecting to see Baba again that summer, news came that He had dropped His body on the 31st of January 1969 and that we could go to Meherabad tomb shrine to have His final physical darshan. When I heard the news I did not immediately register any reaction. I hurried to the place where other Baba-lovers had gathered. We were to discuss the mode of conveying the news to lovers in our town and surrounding areas. We also had to arrange for our trip to Meherabad. Just when we were discussing what to do Matadin Bari burst out weeping, "You all had never allowed me to see Baba. Every year you all said, 'Matadin, you attend your school duties. Next time we shall let you go.' And now…" and again he burst out weeping. And then it was difficult for us to hold back our tears. Really we had wronged this man who so much longed to see Baba, but what could we do now? Even an apology would be too crude.

Soon, I was at the station. Hundreds of Baba lovers were rushing to Ahmednagar. People from all over the world had heard the news and were hurrying to have the last glimpse of Baba's physical form. How long would they keep the tomb open? We were uncertain. Dr. Jaya Prakash Vaidya (Dr. JPV) suddenly reached the station. He straightaway told me that he too was going. "But you don't have any luggage, not even a bag," I exclaimed.

"Yes, I have just heard and have come from the medical college. Well, I don't need anything. I only want to see Baba."

"But what about your scooter? And your family?"

"Please get the scooter sent home by someone you know at the station. Please also send the news home."

I looked troubled. But so intense was his determination to go for Baba's last darshan that I had to rush to see if a ticket could be had for him, his scooter sent home and his message conveyed. All was done just in time for us to board the train and I was perforce reminded of Baba's ways, which seemed to remain the same now, even though He had shed His body three days back. The same hurry and worry and then that feeling of relief when "all's well that ends wel1." Dr. JPV was the last man to get in the train, and he had not a single spare shirt or sheet with him. But he, in spite of never having come in Baba's physical contact, revealed a love that puzzled us. It must be Baba drawing the doctor, I said to myself, and tried to forget the issue.

I will not detail out the last darshan of Beloved Baba for the simple reason that it causes so much pain to me that I lose sight of His loving smile and the words that you might often find quoted below His photographs, "Don't Worry. Be Happy!" Suffice it to say that thousands and thousands of lovers, all in tears, were slowly going up to the Tomb where He lay, still so radiant that it was difficult to believe that He was physically dead! The body was kept for darshan for seven days because Baba had expressed the wish that He would give a seven-day darshan to His lovers.

My readers might be curious to know about my reaction when I saw my Divine Father's body lying in state for the final darshan. Well, I hardly felt any pain at that time, to be frank. I only felt that Baba, the Baba I have come to know, can not die, never dies and is not dead. It was only later when I missed His guidance through letters that I felt very keenly His physical absence. But to my surprise, my first reaction was correct about his physical death, as I shall describe....

Meher Baba's story is seemingly endless, because even after He has dropped His body people come and tell me how He is guiding them, appearing in their dreams and visions and leaving in their hearts an indelible impression of His loving presence. One such story is mine, too. In 1970, a year after Baba had physically bid us goodbye, there was a gathering of Baba lovers in Hamirpur. I did not want to go anywhere and only constant appeals to me by His devotees compelled me to go. Although I had managed to say "no" to several devotees, the request of an elderly woman seemed to be the last straw on the camel's back. She said, "you ought to be at the gathering because Baba wants you there." Now, I was a bit irritated to hear such a downright statement and only with difficulty did I avoid saying, "How do you know?"

Nevertheless, it was she who made me, most unwillingly, undertake the journey. I generally do not like to do anything in which I do not find my heart responding, and this trip was one of that kind. At Hamirpur, I found a large number of devotees, many of whom knew me and came forward to embrace me warmly. The touch of their love made me feel better. The initial internal apathy over, I started taking interest in the proceedings.

The following day there was a symposium that I was to initiate. For a while I spoke, and then sat down to listen to the distinguished lovers and scholars who were participating in it. As Dr. C.D. Deshmukh was speaking, I suddenly saw in the second row in front of the dais, Baba sitting with his cheek resting on one of His hands, attentively listening to what Dr. Deshmukh was saying about Him. He was in His pink coat and white sadra. My head reeled. I cleared my vision to see if it was some mistake. But no, there He was just as He used to be in front of us during darshan programmes. He was so clearly visible that if it was hallucination, then all the darshans I had had of Him right since 1957 could also be called hallucinations. But what intrigued me was why others were not noticing Him. I turned aside to one of the devotees on the dais to talk to him. But that was a costly mistake. Instead of helping him to see Baba, I lost sight of Baba myself, for the moment I turned to where Baba was sitting, I found Him gone!

The gathering went on and the deep currents of love for Baba that flowed from His lovers blended into an ocean threatening to drown me in it. The same atmosphere that we had experienced during Baba's physical sojourn was evident. On my way back, as I lay on my berth in the railway carriage, I saw the cheerful face of Baba looking at me with a twinkle of approval. He was pleased with me and my heart at last accepted the remark of that lady that Baba wanted me at Hamirpur. I did not rue the trip any more.

My relationship with Meher Baba was and is that of a Loving and Compassionate Father (who differs from fathers in general in that He is all-powerful) and His unworthy son. Back in 1983, Baba proved it again that the relationship was intact. A few days before 31st January, I had my railway reservations done to go to Ahmednagar to attend the Amartithi function at Meherabad. Then, to my consternation, I found gum trouble, an occasional complaint of mine, flaring up again.

Inflammation and pain and slight pyrexia followed. Those who know what toothache is will surely chuckle and sigh for me at this juncture. I immediately rushed to the dentist. I feared pus pockets and I told him so. He smiled, gave me tablets, and did not lacerate my gum, much though I wished it. I came back home. By the evening of the 28th, the pain was simply unbearable. The pain succeeded in killing the pain-killing tablets. I felt bitter and angry at Baba, whom I blamed for giving me such a hell of a time just when I was ready to go for the Amartithi the following evening. Was Baba really dead, or was He just being cruel to derive a malicious pleasure out of my pain? I wondered. After swallowing a couple of tablets, I went to bed and tossed on it in spite of a sleeping pill. Tears came to my eyes and you can imagine the state of a man of 52 years having to shed tears just when he was hoping to have all joy for a few days. I do not know when sleep came and my mind closed to the outside world.

Suddenly, I saw a dream. There was Baba, followed by Sri Eruch walking down a corridor. As He came near where I stood, I saw Him turn towards me, our eyes met, He smiled and then came forward. Holding my shoulders by His hands, He put His lips onto my lips and then deeply sucked something out. The next moment, He turned away and walked on with Sri Eruch. An intense fragrance of millions of roses greeted my nose.

I woke up and sniffed around. Yes, the fragrance was there all right. It was coming from my body, my clothes, from my pillow, from the blankets and from the entire room. I inhaled that wonderful fragrance to my heart's content. It was the same fragrance that had greeted us when we used to go to Baba, the same that sometimes filled the room when Sardar Pritam Singh "Meher" wept and told his stories. So, Baba had really come and met me in my subconscious state, that He had kissed me and gladdened my sad heart. Again, I fell asleep.

Soon the family members woke me up with the bed tea that they had brought for me. I sipped it. Then to my great surprise I found that the pain in my gums had absolutely gone, as though I had never had it! My heart was brimming with gratitude. Beloved Baba, how often I misjudge, how often I reproach, how often I throw You away from my heart! Yet every time, You — the Christ, the Rasool, the Avatar, the God-man — put up with me lovingly, forgive me, and humour me as if You were at fault all the time, and not me!

Well, that was 1983 and since then hardly a month passes before He comes to me in my dreams and gladdens my heart as nothing can do. So the darshan of Meher Baba for me still goes on. While many new lovers come with their stories in ever-increasing number, I do not wonder for the Meher Baba story shall never end, as Baba is really eternal and His periodic physical manifestation is only underlying His constant presence on all the planes and spheres of cosmos and beyond.

To conclude … I refer to an American young man who had come to the Amartithi function in the early eighties. When I asked him why he came when he had never seen Baba, he said, "You talk of seeing Meher Baba. Well, you saw only the bottle containing the fragrance. In 1969 that bottle was shattered and now the fragrance is everywhere. It is because of that fragrance that I am here!"

I had no possible reply to what he said.


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