Meher Baba's Last Mass Darshan, Part 2
THREE INCREDIBLE WEEKS WITH MEHER BABA
Malcolm Schloss & Charles Purdom
Sunday, September 12, 1954
In response to Meher Baba's invitation to attend His important meetings at Meherabad in September, 1954, we eighteen* men disciples and devotees of Baba from Europe, Australia and America arrived at Meherabad late in the evening of September 11th.
Arising early in the morning of the 12th, we were transported shortly after eight o'clock to Wadia Park in Ahmednagar, where Baba's Last Mass Darshan was to be held. On our arrival at the gaily decorated park, we were led to the huge pandal, or tent without sides, which had been erected especially for the occasion. Some 10,000 people had already arrived, and were seated both in the pandal and beside it, the men on one side, the women on the other, as is the custom in India.
Sarosh Irani, who was elected Mayor of Ahmednagar while he was in the United States with Baba in 1952, greeted us warmly and conducted us to the platform at the end of the tent where Baba was to be seated during the darshan, introducing us to Swami Sahajanand Bharathi, the leader of the Congress Party from the Ahmednagar District; Mr. P.R. Kanawade, Member of Parliament from the Ahmednagar District, and Mr. K.G. Pardeshi, the present Mayor of Ahmednagar, all of whom were later to make addresses in honor of Baba. Also on the platform were fourteen women disciples of Baba's second Master, Upasni Maharaj, who had come from Sakori, led by Upasni's favorite disciple, Godavri Mai, who is now in charge of His ashram there; the Jessawalla and the Deshmukh families from Nagpur; several of Baba's devotees from Southern India; and several of Baba's Mandali.
Precisely at nine o'clock Baba arrived. Giving the impression of infinite, yet completely controlled power, He strode to the platform, spelled out on His alphabet-board,
"Not as man to man, but as God to God, I bow down to you, so as to save you the trouble of bowing down to Me."
Descending the steps to the edge of the platform while this announcement was being broadcast over a public address system in English and Marathi, Baba prostrated Himself before the assembled multitude.
Mounting the steps again, He spelled out on His board, "To make you all share My feeling of being one with you and one of you, I sit down beside you."
While this was being broadcast, Baba descended from the platform and sat first amont the men, and then among the women.
Returning to the platform, He washed the feet of seven poor men, after which He gave to each a gift of 51 rupees, saying,
"As each one of you is in one way or another, an Incarnation of God, I feel happy to bow down to you and to lay at your feet this Dev-Dakshana." Dev-Dakshana is a gift offered to a Perfect Master or to a deity.
Baba then resumed His seat on the platform, and the following two messages by Him were broadcast in English and Marathi.
Next, came seven speeches eulogizing Baba; the performance of Arti by six young women in light-blue saris, waving camphor lamps; bhajans, or devotional songs, by native musicians; and a repetition of the Arti by R.K. Gadekar, one of Baba's disciples from Poona.
Then came the main event of the program, the darshan and the giving of prasad, which means "a gift from God," to what seemed like an endless procession of men, women and children, flowing for eight hours past Baba, who had seated Himself on the lower edge of the platform, and who gave to each who passed a handful of sweetmeats, while they tried to touch His feet either with their heads or with their hands. The multitude, which had gathered early in the morning, was continually being augmented by new arrivals, even after Baba had left, with kirtans** being sung until ten o'clock at night, and by the time the program was concluded, 60,000 people had received their "gift from God."
The swiftly flowing stream of humanity that wound past Baba was at first smooth and orderly in its rhythm, a graceful procession of women in colorful saris, lovingly presenting their children to their beloved Master.
Towards noon the orderly flow of women and children was interrupted by a gigantic tidal wave of turbaned men, who, impatient for their turn, pressed forward on their side to the edge of the platform, in spite of all efforts by the Ahmednagar police and Baba's Mandali to restrain them. It seemed, for a few minutes, as if they would inundate Baba. The din was terrific, both on the floor and on the platform, where exhortations by Sarosh, Pardeshi and others for the men to return to their places were shouted into the microphone and broadcast throughout the huge pandal. Finally, Baba mounted His seat on the platform and motioned for them to go back, which they reluctantly did, and the stream flowed on again in swift but orderly fashion.
As the procession continued, Baba would now and then pat some child on the cheek, some man or woman on the head, or recall some woman who had been pushed ahead before He could give her prasad. In the early afternoon His right hand grew so weary that He started giving out the sweets with His left. When some of His disciples asked Him to rest, He replied, "This is My rest." Every so often He would glance about the platform at us, sometimes smiling, sometimes gesticulating, as the occasion seemed to warrant.
At three o'clock He left the platform and was away for fifteen minutes at another part of the park, where 20,000 poor people who were being fed by Him, were seated, waiting for Him to begin their repast, which consisted of wheat grains with curry- sauce, served on large leaf plates. They would not think of eating until Baba first partook of their food.
Seated alongside of Baba on the edge of the platform all during the darshan was Gadejai Maharaj, an elderly saint*** who is highly respected throughout India. Every so often loving exchanges would take place between Baba and Gadejai, and occasionally incidents would occur which seemed to amuse them highly. One woman, who evidently believed in collecting as many blessings as possible while she could, having touched Baba's feet and received her "gift from God," tried also to touch Gadejai's feet as she passed him. Gadejai drew himself up in displeasure, but Baba smiled and Gadejai softened.
One of the most extraordinary features of the program was the appearance on the platform, in the late afternoon, of those women disciples of Baba who had heretofore been in seclusion their first appearance in public.
It was wonderful to see again many of Baba's closest disciples, whom we had met and come to love either on previous visits to India or when they accompanied Baba on His journeys to the West, and to meet for the first time some of His devotees from southern India, all of whom contributed considerably to that strange, but marvelous dissolving process which always takes place when one is with Baba.
The last glimpse we had of Baba as He left the park was one in which He was seated on the top of an automobile, bowing in every direction to crowds of people reluctant to let Him go. He had seated Himself first on the hood, giving darshan to late- comers, but the press grew too great, and He retreated to the top, and the car moved slowly out of the park with the Avatar in a distinctly novel position.
For all of us this last "Mass Darshan" of Baba will be a memorable event which will grow in significance as we grow in understanding. We are grateful to Baba for having made it possible for us to participate in it.
*Two arrived later. RETURN
**Devotional songs. RETURN
***Baba said he was on the 6th plane. RETURN
THREE INCREDIBLE WEEKS WITH MEHER BABA
September 11-September 30, 1954, pp. 1-12
1979 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust