Meher Baba's Last Mass Darshan, Part 1
THREE INCREDIBLE WEEKS WITH MEHER BABA
Malcolm Schloss & Charles Purdom
Between September 7th and September 10th, 1954, twenty* Western men, disciples and devotees of the Perfect Master, Meher Baba, arrived in Bombay. They came from Europe, Australia and America. Their ages ranged from 25 to 80. Their occupations varied widely. There were several literary men; a petroleum chemist; an interior decorator; an importer-and-exporter; a postal officer; a luggage instructor; a buyer for an antique shop in London; a town planner; an economist. On September 11th we set out for Ahmednagar in two buses which had been chartered by Meherji Karkaria and Nariman Dadachanji; two of Baba's intimate disciples from Bombay, who also accompanied the Western group to Ahmednagar. There we met two more devotees from England who had arrived earlier.
It had been planned for the Western visitors to stay in the houses of a number of Baba's disciples in Ahmednagar, but Baba finally concluded that it would be better and easier for them and for Him to have them all together under one roof. So He decided on an unprecedented move. Upon the hill at Meherabad was the large two-story stone house which had served for years as a retreat for Baba's secluded women disciples. Baba had been the only man to set foot in the retreat, with the exception of Dr. Nilkanth, a Hindu disciple, who, being a physician, was called for consultation when needed. Baba decided that the retreat should now be used for the Western men, who were accordingly conducted there late in the evening of September 11th.
The upper story had been converted into a dormitory, where 20 iron beds, with springs, mattresses, sheets, pillows, blankets and mosquito nets, were ranged along the sides of the large room. (The Eastern men in the ashram below slept on bedding-rolls stretched out on the stone floor). There were several dressing tables and a number of wardrobes for clothing. A bath towel and a face towel were provided for each visitor. In addition to the dormitory there were two rooms on the ground floor, with accommodations for several men. Also on the ground floor was a large community lounge.
Back of the house was a refectory with three tables stretched lengthwise, end to end, under a corrugated iron roof. Here the meals were served by three men waiters. A little beyond were the kitchens, where a cook and two or more assistants functioned; five bathrooms, three washstands with soap and running cold water and mirrors for shaving; and five toilets. Early in the morning buckets half-full of steaming hot water were brought by several men servants to the bathroom as required, where they were mixed with running cold water from taps on the wall. Soap and a large cup for dipping and pouring stood on a shelf above.
The meals were nourishing, varied, and delicious. For breakfast there was fruit, cereal, eggs, toast, butter, marmalade, cheese, milk, tea, coffee. The luncheons and dinners were equally sumptuous. Our clothes were laundered, pressed or cleaned as it became necessary. Our outgoing mail was posted for us and our incoming mail was delivered to us. Medicines were supplied for those who needed them.
In charge of all these arrangements were Sarosh Irani and his charming wife Viloo. Sarosh provided everything, from cigarettes to station wagons, and assisted by his most efficient secretary, Savak Damania, attended to all our necessary government papers and other bureaucratic red tape. Viloo was busy from early morning until late at night, planning our menus, securing supplies, supervising the preparation and the cooking of the food. In all this she was ably assisted by Savak Kotwal, who stayed at the retreat with us and saw that everything ran smoothly. Savak rose at 4 a.m., awakened the servants at 4:30, and retired after we did, which was usually by 10:30 p.m., although some of us were occasionally working until midnight. The sanitary arrangements and our general health were in charge of Dr. Donkin who came up every morning with sprays of various kinds and insecticides and other necessary supplies.
Nothing that could reasonably contribute to our comfort or well-being was overlooked. Baba proved Himself to be a perfect host as well as a Perfect Master.
What follows is a day-by-day account of what happened externally, from the morning of September 12th to the evening of September 30th, when we left Meherabad for Bombay and our Journey home. Actually, what happened externally was only important as a manifestation of the loving care with which we were treated by Baba on down to the humblest of the servants. Even the teaching that Baba gave us, on which He spent hours of careful exposition, was relatively unimportant. Actually, it was a diversion intended to satisfy our intellects while Baba worked on the deeper levels of our consciousness. As Baba said, during a relatively small darshan program which He gave on the afternoon of September 26th, to take care of some 2,500** people who had missed the large mass darshan of the 12th, "No explanations or discourses can compare with this personal contact." And we, for some reason known only to Baba, were privileged to live in intimate association with Him for three wonderful weeks!
*21, counting Zandor Markey who came for the Last Meeting. RETURN
**Darwin Shaw gives 8,000 as the figure. RETURN
THREE INCREDIBLE WEEKS WITH MEHER BABA
September 11-September 30, 1954, pp. xi-xii
1979 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust