Symbols of the world's religions



Arnavaz N. Dadachanji

In the third week of November Baba's health began to fail rapidly. Early in December, when He heard that Eruch's uncle had been given a blood transfusion, Baba said, "Meherji Mama was given a blood transfusion, so why am I not given one?" Baba was given two transfusions, and we later learned that the blood had come from a farmer. His condition did not improve, however, and he only grew weaker as the December programme approached, showing little interest in His surroundings.

As usual, we women gathered around Baba in His bedroom in the mornings, when He would often listen to His favourite ghazals on the radio. One morning Mani thought of playing the record "Precious Lord," which she knew He liked. Baba was sitting on the edge of His bed with His feet resting on a cushion on the floor. As I watched Beloved Baba listening to the words, "I'm tired, I'm weary, I'm worn," I felt as though He Himself were singing the words to convey to us what He was going through. Because Baba also wanted His men mandali to know the intensity of His suffering, He told Mani to type the words of "Precious Lord," and He gave a copy to each of the men, including Nariman. Baba then told Mani to carry the gramophone to mandali hall, where the record was played that afternoon in His Presence.

The atmosphere was heavy with Beloved Baba's suffering, His helplessness and hopelessness. As God-Man, He seemed to be beseeching God-Infinite to release Him from the tremendous burden He had carried during His physical life span, a burden that now appeared to be beyond His endurance. Not only was our darling Baba suffering from the physical pressures of His last universal work, but He also had to bear His knowledge of the agony all His mandali and lovers — especially His beloved Mehera — would have to endure without Him after He dropped His body. Baba carried this heavy cross alone; we could not fathom the weight of His load.

On 22nd December Mehera's birthday was celebrated along with the Navjote of the four children and the engagement of Dara and Amrit. After about two hundred Baba lovers were seated in the garden, Baba was brought in a wheelchair to the verandah of the main bungalow. I put Mehera's birthday cake with its single candle on a trolley and took it to Baba, who smiled and touched the cake, which was later distributed to the guests. The four children were then brought to stand before Baba for the Navjote, their parents standing behind them. Baba's message to the children, once again stressing that He had come to free us from religious ceremonies, was read out: "Religious ceremonies, instead of freeing one from Maya, keep one firmly bound to Maya. I have come to make people do away with ceremonies. God can be attained only through Love; therefore, Love Me more and more until you know who I am."

Following the Navjote Dara and Amrit's engagement took place. Baba held the rings before they placed them on one another's fingers, and they garlanded and embraced Him before returning to their seats. After the engagement Baba remained seated on the verandah while everyone took darshan, filing past Him at a distance with folded hands. A brief entertainment followed with some dancing and several funny songs, especially for Him.

Baba said to all those present, "My time has come. My time is near. My work is done. You who are here are very, very fortunate because you see Me sitting in front of you. At the Poona darshan in April, you won't be able to see Me like this." Baba gestured with His hand from head to foot. When Baba said this, I imagined there would be such a rush in Poona that all those who had been with Baba for many years would be at the back in order to give a chance to the newcomers. Baba then went to His bedroom, while Mehera stayed with the guests in the garden. After some time He called me to His bedroom and asked whether Mehera was enjoying herself and was happy. Baba knew Mehera was concerned that He was not well. I assured Him that all those around Mehera were keeping her company. Lying on His bed, Beloved Baba gestured for me to come forward so that He could give me an embrace, which in those days, due to His frail health, was a rare treasure.

The next day, 23rd December, was the marriage of Dara and Amrit. They had a civil ceremony at Villoo Villa, Sarosh's home, after which Baba sent the De Soto to bring them to Meherazad. Amrit and Dara sat on the verandah in two chairs, waiting for Baba. When He was brought out in the wheelchair, He again held their rings before they placed them on one another's fingers. After they had garlanded Baba, He gestured to the pile of garlands at His feet, brought to Him by His lovers, and told Dara and Amrit to garland each other. All those present again filed past Baba for His darshan, and following entertainment and refreshments they left, bringing the last darshan in Baba's physical Presence to an end. A few guests, including Nargis and Amrit's parents, stayed over for a few days; then Baba said to Nariman and me, "Let all the guests go, but I want you to stay."

On New Years Day we had hoped to cheer Baba up, to make Him a little more lively and happy, but we did not know how to bring a smile to His face. Everyone was depressed until Mani thought of the new tape recorder which had just been given to Baba, and she brought it to His room so that He could hear some of His favourite ghazals. Baba's face had been pale, but when He heard the music, His colour changed a little. Since it was chilly, Mehera had placed a bright shawl, knitted in the rainbow colours of Baba's flag, on His lap and over His feet. Suddenly we saw the big toe of Baba's right foot peek out from under the shawl, keeping time to the music. For a moment our hearts swelled, seeing Beloved Baba's temporary relief. However, it lasted only as long as the music was playing.

Sarosh Irani's son-in-law, Dr. Hirji Adenwala, was in Ahmednagar at the time, having come for Dara and Amrit's wedding. Goher was so desperate that she wrote him a note asking him to come the following day to see Baba, despite the fact that He had not allowed her to consult other doctors about His present condition. Hirji came to Meherazad as soon as he received the note, arriving in the evening after Baba had retired. He had not come to examine Baba at that time, but only to discuss with Goher every detail of Baba's symptoms.

Baba heard the car drive up and sent His night watchman to ask who had arrived. Even though He never received visitors after He had retired at night, Baba allowed Hirji to come to His bedroom and agreed to an examination. Hirji very gently questioned Baba and was surprised to find Him so alert since His blood urea had tested very high. When Hirji, who had not brought his medical bag with him, asked Goher for a stethoscope, Baba told him, "Never mind. Just put your ear to My chest." Hirji was very touched by such an intimate gesture. Normally the breath of a person with such high blood urea would smell strongly, but as Hirji raised his head from Baba's chest, he was surprised that no odour came from Baba's mouth. He very gently suggested to Baba that He consult specialists about His condition, even if only to please the mandali, who were so worried about Him. Baba's response to Hirji's urging was a smile and a short spiritual discourse. This meeting was the key that opened Hirji's heart to Baba.

Our Beloved Baba's condition worsened daily to the point where He could not even sit up on His own. It took at least four people to help Him, one supporting Baba's neck, the second holding His shoulders, another supporting His back, and someone holding His legs under the knees. Slowly they would lift Baba to a sitting position on the edge of His bed with His feet on a pillow on the floor. Another pillow would be placed behind Baba's back, and someone would sit against it, back to back with Baba, to give Him support. Even this position was very painful for Him, and Baba could sit for barely half an hour.

At times Baba would implore Goher to help Him, saying "Oh I am dying! Do something!" Yet He kept refusing to let her call a specialist. She would say, "I don't know what to do, Baba. Now only You can tell me what I should do for You!" Finally it was impossible for Goher to bear Baba's suffering any longer, and all the mandali agreed that she should arrange for an ambulance to take Baba to Poona for tests. She suspected there was something terribly wrong internally, as Baba was complaining of pain in His abdomen. Eruch's brother Meherwan made arrangements for a hospital room in Poona, and Eruch and Goher very gently pleaded with Baba to go. I was present in the room at the time and saw Baba firmly say, "No!" When Goher and Eruch continued to plead with Him, Baba, with a very stern face, finally said, "Don't take Me to Poona! I know everything. I am not mad. If you want Me to drop this body, then take Me to Poona." With these words Goher and Eruch fell silent, and they did not bring the subject up again. From that time on Goher simply tried to make Baba more comfortable, and she arranged for a surgical bed on which Baba spent His last days. This bed was later placed in the Blue Bus, where it has remained ever since.

Helplessness and despondency overcame us. I cannot describe the agony of those days. Baba was suffering so much and we could do nothing to alleviate His pain. He stopped eating; then He didn't even want to drink anything. Only with great persuasion would He have some juice or other liquid prepared by His beloved Mehera. He said that He had "a choking feeling," and He grew weaker and weaker. Dear Naja, who had cooked for Baba and the mandali for years, would prepare ten or twelve of His favourite dishes just in case He showed a desire for one of them, but He would not eat even a morsel.

One afternoon Mehera gave me a warm drink to take to Eruch, who was waiting to give it to Baba. As I was about to hand the cup to Eruch, Baba gestured that I should feed Him. Baba was lying down, and I tenderly spooned the liquid into His mouth. His eyes looked directly into mine, flooding me with love, yet I saw a sadness in them that filled my heart with anguish. In His love and compassion Beloved Baba allowed me to feed Him that day, knowing He would be with us for only a short time more. I realized later that despite his frail condition, He was finding a moment to give each of us as much love as He could in the time He had left. Later we all reminisced about these special moments with our Beloved.

Throughout the days, we took turns being with Baba, reading to Him, massaging Him, trying to get Him to eat something. Rano often read to Him while I massaged His hands, legs, or wherever He gestured. One day Baba sent Rano for lunch, leaving me alone with Him. For quite some time Baba had been having spasms in every part of His body — hands, legs, neck, everywhere — but they had been mild and infrequent. Now they were intense, increasing at a terrific rate. I was massaging Him when a spasm jerked His left leg so violently that my hands flew into the air. Startled, I shouted "Baba!" and quickly searched His face to see if He was all right. Baba looked at me knowingly, as if He wanted me to understand something, but I did not know what it was.

Twice during those days I noticed blue-grey shadows across Baba's pale face. His lips were dark gray and His eyes unfocused. I asked Goher and the others if they saw gray patches on Baba's face, but they said they saw nothing. I thought it strange that no one else saw them when they seemed so obvious to me. Then, when I was sitting alone with Him one day while He quietly rested with His eyes closed, the sight of Beloved Baba in His long white sadra brought an image to me of His lifeless body. I was horrified; I started perspiring and my heart pounded as I pushed the thought away, not wanting even to consider it.

GIFT OF GOD, pp. 185-190
1996 © Meherazad Trust for Avatar Meher Baba


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