Experiences of Meher Verma with Meher Baba
Ruzbeh N. Bharucha
“My name is Meher Verma.”
“You are named after Meher Baba?”
“When I was born my parents named me Madhubala. At the age of three, somebody from Baba’s mandali decided that I should be called Meher. Since then I have been called Meher. All my documents have my name as Meher.”
“When did Meher Baba meet you first?”
“Good question. The first darshan I had is a story by itself. To answer your question simply, I was two months old when I met Baba or should I say when Baba met me. Wherever I go, Meher Baba followers always ask me about my first meeting with Him. Before I start my story, it is important that I talk about my mom as her story and my story of the first meeting with Baba are interrelated.
“My parents hailed from a small locality near Rawalpindi, which is now in Pakistan. Since her childhood, my mom, Prakashwati Sharma, was a staunch Krishna bhakt (devotee) so much so that she only believed Krishna to be God and none other was considered God by her. So devoted was she to her Kanha, that if she was awake for eighteen hours in a day, she would spend at least twelve hours in pooja. The balance hours would go in taking care of the family and household work. She was very deep into the ritualistic form of prayers. Traditional poojas, artis, singing Krishna bhagans, decorating Krishna took up almost her entire day.
“There was a strong, deep rooted desire that always resided at the back of her mind. In her heart (mann) there was a fervent desire to meet God or take His darshan in this life itself, an uncontrollable wish that never left her alone. It was like a thirst that desperately needed to be quenched. Her clear thought was that God should give her darshan only and only in Krishna form (roop) because to her, only Krishna was God. Of course unknown to her at that time, this yearning of her soul to be blessed with the darshan of the divine was to be answered by Beloved Baba many years later. Her condition was that of a helpless Gopi during Krishna’s time. Back then when Krishna shifted from Vrindavan to Mathura, He eventually became the King and got busy with His work. There was a river that separated Krishna from all His lovers, the Gopis. Though the Gopis loved Him dearly, this river separated them from their Beloved. My mother felt like one of the Gopis longing for Krishna and this life was the river that prevented her from meeting her God. Like the Gopis who couldn’t cross the river, she too felt helpless and miserable.
“Now let me tell you an incident which is very important and through which my mother eventually realised that Meher Baba was her Lord Krishna. As already shared, my family hailed from Pakistan. When my mother was still living in Pakistan she had a female Sikh friend from the same village. One day this friend came and informed my mother, ‘Prakash do you know that there is a five year old girl in the neighbouring locality and people say that Krishna comes every day and plays with her. A lot of people are standing in a line to take darshan of that child. Do you want to go see the child too?’ Needless to say, my mother was more than agreeable. Although she was cooking at that time, she turned off the stove and left hurriedly with her friend. When they reached the location, they found that there was already a long queue outside the place where the little girl was housed. A loudspeaker was blaring out some bhajan and a lot of people had gathered there. A little unsure at first, my mother and her friend too joined the queue. After around fifteen minutes or so, they realised that it would take a very long time to get to see this wonder child as the line was long and moving rather slowly. My mother thought that since she had left the cooking midway, she should forget meeting this child for now and instead return home to finish her cooking. She figured that she could come back again early the next morning to beat the queue and meet the girl. She stepped out from the queue and when she was about to leave that place, there was an announcement on the loud speaker announcing something like, ‘Prakashwati, who has come from such and such an address, Pashi is calling you’. You see, the five-year old child’s name was also Prakash and she was lovingly called Pashi. For a second my mother was in disbelief but then both she and her friend hurried towards the entrance of the house. It didn’t strike her then how they got to know her name or her address or anything. She was just so excited that nothing mattered to her at that moment except meeting this child and seeking out Krishna through her. Within no time she was at the door and was ushered inside by the person standing at the door. Her friend wasn’t allowed to accompany her and was told to wait outside as Pashi had only asked for Prakashwati.
“When my mother stepped inside, she found herself in a small room with a chair toppled over on the floor. There was a table next to it, with a small steel bowl of white butter kept on it. There were very clear long swipe marks of fingers on the butter as if someone had swiped butter from the bowl using fingers. There was nothing else remarkable in the room, other than the five-year old child running around the room, playing. Mummy stepped forward to pick up the chair to sit on it. As she straightened it up and was about to sit, the child shrieked in her baby voice (as she must have just barely learnt to talk), ‘what are you doing, what are you doing, you are sitting on Bhagwan ji (God)! Bhagwan ji is sitting there, and you are sitting on Him’. My mummy said, ‘Pashi I can’t see your Bhagwanji anywhere’. The child said, ‘see He is sitting right in front, why can’t you see Him?’
“Then Pashi turned towards the chair as if addressing someone sitting on it and said, ‘You are sitting here, why can’t she see You?’ As if she had been replied to, Pashi turned to my mother and said, ‘your time hasn’t yet come’. Bewildered and yet excited, Mummy asked the child again, ‘Pashi ask Bhagwanji will my time come in this lifetime?’ Again Pashi addressed the question to the God whom only she could see and informed my mother, ‘Bhagwanji is saying yes’. Barely able to comprehend the situation and by now thoroughly shaking, my mother again asked Pashi, ‘how will I recognize Him, how will I know?’. The child after obtaining the reply from the God sitting on the chair conveyed to my mother, ‘Bhagwanji is saying that after the country has been divided’. The little girl further continued with the message, ‘on the banks of the river Ganga, I will meet you under a thatched roof’. Now you must understand those days nobody had even imagined about the partition of the country so my mother thought that this child was just randomly speaking anything that came to her mind. Wanting very badly to believe it, she still felt that it could be the fertile imagination of a child. Despite her doubts, my mother was still quite moved by the whole experience. Pashi then told her to leave and my mother came back home. As is normal for us humans, life took over, she got busy with her life and after a while forgot all about the incident.
“Now let us fast forward to almost fifteen years later. It was March, 1950, India had been partitioned three years ago and my family had relocated to Delhi. It was at this time that my mother got to know that Baba was in seclusion in Motichur, a place close to Haridwar in North India; a few hundred kilometers from Delhi. Baba was busy meeting and bowing down to Sadhus and Saints gathered for the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar. My mother, by this time had heard enough of Baba from my father but refused to accept Him as God (as only Krishna was God for her) and was determined to call this self styled God’s bluff and expose Him. She didn’t like the idea of my father following some charlatan parading himself as a God-man and despite my father’s best entreaties, explanations and requests she continued challenging my father about Baba’s divinity.
“So it came to pass that in March, 1950, when she realised that Baba was in Motichur, Haridwar, she decided to take matters in her hand and go over to confront Him and expose Him. My father was obviously aghast for he was a staunch believer of Meher Baba and he did his best to dissuade her from this foolhardy task but she was a headstrong woman and would not be easily swayed. He pleaded with her and explained to her over and over that Baba didn’t meet anyone when He was in seclusion and would be very displeased if she broke His order and simply landed up at His doorstep but she would have none of it. He beseeched her to meet Baba some other time and not defy His order. In fact my father too was getting very upset with my mother due to her stubbornness as He could not imagine how anyone could defy Baba’s orders. However, my mother was super stubborn and told him in no uncertain terms that she will go and she will do what she wants to do and in fact would also take her two-month baby i.e. me, along with her.
“As I said, Baba was in a house in a village called Motichur near Haridwar, also called the Haridwar Property, a name given by Baba Himself. From that place, everyday Baba and His companions would travel to Haridwar to attend the Kumbh Mela where He was bowing down to Saints and Sadhus as a part of His work.
“There were no hotels at that time for travelers to stay in Motichur, in fact there was just one main road from Motichur leading to Haridwar with a dharamshala (guesthouse) located on its side. By the time she reached Haridwar, my mother was a bit chastened and not entirely wanting to upset my father by landing up unannounced at Baba’s door. From wanting to expose Him, she had come now around to just seeing Baba from a distance and then making up her mind about Him. Her defiance was slowly transforming into a curiosity about Him, besides she was also now beginning to think, ‘what if? What if He really is God? What if she had been wrong about Him all these years?’ So she thought it best, better not to take a chance of defying God and simply take His darshan. Accordingly, once she reached Haridwar, she took up a room in this dharamshala and sat at the window looking outside, waiting. She assumed that as there was only one route to pass by and whenever Meher Baba would pass by, she would see Baba and take darshan from far and then leave quietly for home. She had already upset my father by defying him and turning up to meet Baba and she did not want to upset him even more by disturbing Baba while He was in seclusion. So she sat by the window from morning till late afternoon but didn’t see Baba pass by.
“It is human nature that when you are waiting for something and if it is taking time to come around, the yearning starts to get deeper. Her curiosity and desire to see Him started growing stronger. She waited restlessly till the late afternoon without any success. By now her curiosity became too strong to be contained and realising that this strategy of simply waiting for Baba to pass by might not work, she decided to take matters firmly in her hands. She came up with a plan to hire a horse tonga to go see Him wherever He was staying in Motichur. When I say wherever, it’s because she did not have His exact address! All she had was the name of one Sansarchand, the owner of the bungalow where Baba was staying. However, like I said, she was a stubborn woman. So, despite this challenge, the next step came naturally to her.
“Towards the early evening with nothing more than just the name of the bungalow (called Sansarchand’s Bungalow) as the only address on her, she went out looking for a tonga to take her to Motichur. However, much to her annoyance, most of the tonga drivers refused to go to Motichur because not only was it far from the dharamshala, but at night the route got very isolated and dangerous. She requested quite a few tongawallas to ferry her but no one agreed given that sunset was approaching and the route was forested and lonely. I guess no one wanted to take a chance with the safety of a lady with an infant in her arms.
“As luck would have it, after much searching, one tongawalla agreed to take my mother and bring her back. Gratefully, she got into the tonga with me in her arms and started on, what can only be called, an adventure. I was just two months old. After a few miles and with the sun setting, she started becoming a bit apprehensive. In the later years, my mother used to tell me that we were travelling into the densest part of the jungle, with each mile traversed she started getting worried, as she was alone with me and any time it would get dark. The worst part of it all was that she did not even know how far this place was in the jungle. She was already questioning the worth of the idea in her head and a lot of scary thoughts started assailing her.
“While she was still debating in her head if she should turn back or press on, all of a sudden, the horse pulling the tonga stopped abruptly at a spot and just wouldn’t budge to move ahead. No matter how much the tongawalla tried to persuade it, the horse stood motionless. Defeated by its stubbornness, the tongawalla began flogging the horse with a cane but the horse still refused to move.
“Feeling pity for the poor animal getting canned by the driver, my mother requested the tongawalla to stop canning it and seek out someone to find out how much distance further was the bungalow. Just across from where the tonga had stopped, she spotted a small shack where a person was selling tea. My mother decided to ask him if he knew the location to Sansarchand’s Bungalow. She thought to herself that if Baba was staying close by, she could cover the rest of the distance on foot and quickly get this entire exercise over and done with. When my mother enquired about the bungalow from the tea seller, who had been witnessing the entire scene, he began to laugh. My mother felt very awkward and yet again thoughts of her safety and for my safety came flooding back to her. After all she was a woman standing in the middle of a jungle at dusk, speaking with a stranger who seemed to be mocking at her. Upon realising that my mother seemed scared, the man immediately assured her, ‘no, no, sister, please don’t get me wrong. I was thinking that your animal is far more intelligent and smarter than you and that tonga driver’. He then pointed out to a gate across the road which both the tonga driver and my mother had missed and said, ‘Your horse knows it has arrived at its destination that is why it is stationed in one spot. That is Sansarchand’s Bungalow’ he said pointing out in the direction. My mother couldn’t believe what she had just been made aware of. She was shocked but also relieved at this revelation that despite all odds, she had actually managed to arrive at her destination.
“She approached the bungalow slowly and saw that it was a quiet property with a lawn in the front, closed off from the road with a gate. Slowly and apprehensively, she reached the gate and peeped in. There was no sign of anyone. Now unsure more than ever, she opened the gate and stepped into the compound, quite nervous about how surreal everything had started appearing to her at that time. She looked around for any signs of Baba or anyone else and spotted a gardener working in a corner of the lawn. Hesitatingly, she called out to him so that she could enquire about Baba from him. He looked over and was equally surprised to see a lady with an infant walk in from the gate when no one was expected to arrive there. It was twilight and the place was in the middle of a forested area. As he came to her, my mother politely enquired with him if anybody lived in the bungalow. Still surprised at her sight, he replied that there indeed was someone staying there but the person was not inside and would return only the next morning. On seeking further information about the resident, the gardener informed that the resident appeared to be a big seth (businessman) who had moved there for a few days and that the seth was from Bombay. On hearing about Bombay, my mother was once again intrigued and asked, ‘Have you seen this Man?’. ‘Oh yes, I have. He is so beautiful, so, so, so, beautiful. However, I am very upset with God’, he stated. ‘Why?’ inquired my mother. The gardener replied, ‘because God created such a beautiful, handsome face or murat but had not given Him a voice. The beautiful looking Man was dumb!’
“Instantly my mother knew and sighed in relief, now certain that she had reached the right place. Meher Baba indeed was staying here. The gardener informed my mother that the Man would now return only by nine the next morning and not before. Slightly disappointed but also strangely relieved, she at once made up her mind to come back the following day. Her plan was simple. She would arrive early, well before nine in the morning, hide herself behind a tree outside the gate and when Baba’s car passed by, she would see him from her hideout and leave quietly. None would be the wiser. As you can see, gone were her thoughts of confronting Him or exposing Him as a charlatan. In fact, now she was more curious than defiant and was almost wishing it to be true that He indeed was the God-man. Happy with the success of little adventure, she got back on the tonga and left for Haridwar immediately.
“The next morning, much as she had resolved, she reached Sansarchan’s Bungalow by tonga at eight in morning. She was pleased with her plan and felt happy that she was well in time to be able to execute it well. All that was left to do now was to find a suitable tree to hide behind, see Baba as He drove by and leave quietly after that. As per this plan, she would not even be breaking Baba’s orders which disallowed any visitors and ergo, even my father would not get upset with her because she didn’t break His orders.
“As she was well ahead of time, she reached the bungalow gate, opened it and again went inside, this time a little more confident of herself. As she did that, she came across the same gardener again. She greeted him and he immediately recognized her as the woman from the previous evening. She enquired of him if Baba would for sure come on time but to her surprise, the gardener informed her, ‘nahi, nahi, (no, no) today He came back very early, He is already inside’. Clearly disappointed at this unexpected development, she was at a loss about what to do next. Her well thought out plan was already falling apart. But she was a lady who was not easily deterred. Also, by now, her curiosity about Baba had further and inexplicably transformed into respect, bordering on reverence. So you see, her initial defiance gave way to curiosity and eventually transformed into respect, all without her knowing or understanding why. You can say it was Baba at work. By now, she was strangely drawn to Baba and only wanted His darshan.
“Improvising her plan, she realised that she had no option but to go forth and ask for Meher Baba’s audience. It was a small bungalow, with a jaffri (thatched bamboo) covered veranda in the front. The jaffri covered the entire verandah from top to bottom and even the roof was made of the same material making it appear like a room made of bamboo. There was only one entrance leading into this room and door was ajar.
“From where she was standing in the lawn, she saw a man seated in the verandah. It was Eruch, though of course at that time she did not know him to be Eruch. He looked busy in taking what appeared to be dictation from someone behind the jaffri wall, though she couldn’t see or hear anyone else. She immediately surmised that the person behind the partition had to be Baba even though she couldn’t see Him. There was pin drop silence as Eruch continued to write and occasionally look up at the other person and then again write whatever was being conveyed. She continued watching for a short time, all the while contemplating her next move.
“As I have told you, my mother was very clear that she would believe that Baba was God if and only if He gave her darshan in Krishna roop. She was also certain that she did not want to disturb Baba, yet, somehow she wanted to see Him. ‘What if He really was God in human form?’, she thought. For what seemed like a long time, she stood there pondering as to what should be done next. She wanted to see Him for sure but at the same time she did not want to disturb Him. Now I know that Baba is Khuda (God), He knows everything.
“At one point, a little while later, Eruch happened to look outside the door and spotted my mother. He was clearly alarmed to see a woman with a baby in her arms standing inside the compound of the bungalow where Baba was in seclusion. From his facial expressions, it was obvious that he was wondering as to, ‘where has this problem come from now?’ He must have been sure that because of this woman, he would get a scolding from Baba as Baba had given strict instructions to not let anyone come to see Him during seclusion.
“Well, Baba must have seen Eruch’s face and from his expressions understood that someone had arrived outside. Just imagine what is going on in a dramatic form here and then you will enjoy this scene. There is a jaffri with the door open with Eruch and my mother both aware of each other’s presence. My mother knew that there was someone else behind the jaffri and she thought that it could be Baba. Instinctively, mummy from the outside leaned and craned her neck to see who else was behind the bamboo partition. At that precise moment, Baba also leaned forward and turned His head towards the door to see who was standing outside, as their eyes met my mother stopped breathing. While hoping to see Him, she did not see Meher Baba. Instead, she saw the torso of Lord Krishna! Peacock mukut, flute in hand, earrings, and the same expression, complete roop or form of Krishna. She was actually getting Lord Krishna’s darshan!
“Mummy would share the incident in the later years with me and laugh and say that, ‘I got so nervous seeing Krishna in front of me, that my hands started to tremble, my breathing stopped and I lost all strength in my legs. You almost fell from my arms’. I was just a two-month old baby in her arms. The moment ended briefly but was imprinted on her heart and soul for eternity.
“Baba, appearing surprised asked Eruch to call my mother in. She went inside, still dazed I am guessing and stood in front of Him, knowing well that she had broken His order and was about to be reprimanded for the same. She then saw Baba in His usual form as Meher Baba. Looking at her, Baba asked through Eruch from where had she come? My mother was already trying to become normal by this time. Despite what she had just been witness to, she came around and replied, ‘Baba where you have placed me, I have come from there’. Baba must have appeared surprised at this smart reply I am sure. Through Eruch he further enquired, ‘don’t you know that I am in seclusion and I don’t give anyone darshan nor is anyone allowed to come and meet me?’ My mummy said, ‘I know this Baba’. ‘Then why did you come?’ Baba demanded to know. My mother replied softly, ‘Baba, does a daughter need permission to come to her Father’s house? I have come to my Father’s house only’. Baba smiled at her reply.
“Baba through gestures spoke for a while to her and then Baba asked her if she liked this place He was staying in? My mother said yes she liked it. The location was beautiful too as the cottage was on the banks of the river Ganga. Then Baba said, ‘everything is nice, surroundings are nice, the house is also nice, but the roof isn’t good’. My mother looked around and saw that the roof of the verandah where they were talking was thatched. It was at that moment that it struck her! She nearly dropped me from her arms a second time when she suddenly recollected what Pashi, that small girl, in Pakistan, had told her years and years ago, ‘After the partition of the country, on the banks of the river Ganga, I will meet you under a thatched roof’. There was no doubt in her mind what so ever, she had met her Krishna at last. Years of yearning had borne fruit and the most fervent desire of her heart had been fulfilled.
“Baba smiled and then told my mother that now the darshan was over and she must depart. Reluctantly, mummy got up, bowed down to Baba and walked out towards the gate to sit in the waiting tonga. She was so happy that she could not contain her emotions. Simultaneously, she was also relieved that she did not have to disclose who she was and where she had come from. She was inwardly quite pleased with her intelligent handling of the situation with Baba. At least now there was no chance of a complaint against her to my father as she never disclosed to Baba who she was and where she had come from. Scarcely had she finished thinking these thoughts while boarding her tonga when she heard Eruch calling out from behind. He ran up to her and told her to wait. Eruch said, ‘Baba is asking if you have come from Delhi?’ Totally taken aback by this query-cum-disclosure, all she could mutter was a yes. Eruch told mummy to wait as he would return. The rule with Baba was simple. If Baba has asked a question, you must answer it. If Baba is not present, the answer should reach Baba. It seemed that Baba had another question to be asked and so she waited. Eruch came back and said ‘Baba is asking whether you know Prakashwati and Kishan Singh in Delhi?’ Stunned at this question, my mother realised her cover had been blown and she couldn’t help laughing inside before revealing to Eruch that she herself was Prakashwati and of course she knew Kishan Singh. Eruch told her to wait and again went back to relay the news to Baba. My mother waited for Eruch but inside her heart she was elated. All the confirmations which she had ever needed about Meher Baba being God, she had received them all. She had met her Lord Krishna. Eruch returned and told her that, ‘Baba is saying that now you go, but make sure that if you come across anyone else planning to travel to seek His darshan, she should stop them at once’. My mother confirmed her acceptance of this order and left on her tonga for Haridwar.
“When finally she returned to Delhi, her entire family was about to depart to go to meet Baba. They all knew where He lived now. They were seated in a tonga, just about to leave for the station when she reached the main door of her house. My mother at once stopped them from leaving. She relayed Baba’s order to them forbidding anyone to come to Motichur to take His darshan. ‘Baba has said now no one should come to meet Him. If you still persist, I will lie down in front of the tonga and you will have to take the tonga over me to reach Baba.’ This was the level of change that had occurred inside her after just one touch of the God- man. She was ready to lay down her life for Him. Thus, as you can see I have grown up knowing that Baba is God and with Meher Baba being a part of each moment of my life. So this is how I met Baba for the first time.
“My father, Kishan Singh, met Baba many times. He believed in Baba as the Avatar from before he even met Baba and the moment he saw Baba for the first time, he was certain that Baba was God in human form.”
“What was your father’s age when he met Baba?”
“My father was born in 1901. He was forty four years old when he met Baba in Bangalore in 1945. My father had started corresponding with Baba since the late 1930s. India was still under the British rule and my father was employed with the Government as a Class 1 Gazette officer. During those times, there were very few Indians in this category. That’s the time when he met Baba. His story is also very interesting. From his childhood, my father was sort of an atheist. Forget doing any prayers and rituals like my mom, he didn’t even believe in God. He belonged to the Sikh religion, but he did not practice Sikhism. He wanted to meet God face to face to be convinced that there was a God. He would tell one and all that, ‘if there is a God, then I want to meet Him personally’. But despite his agnostic views, the strange thing is that if he ever got to know that there was a Sadhu or a man of God coming to so and so place or from so and so place, he would invite him home, feed him and for days take care of the Sadhu, his followers etc., all at his own expense.
“Towards the late 1930s, my father had already come to know of Meher Baba and was convinced that He was the real deal. He desperately wanted to have Baba’s darshan and had even started communicating with Him via letters seeking His darshan. This letter exchange lasted for about six to seven years without Baba allowing him an opportunity for a darshan. All that Baba instructed my father through letters was that he would be called in time. Now to make this moment come soon, my father was willing to do anything. He even started seeking powerful Sadhus who could bless him to somehow meet Baba soon. As a result of this, he was also conned a few times by fake Sadhus who promised him such a meeting with Meher Baba but only took advantage of my father to fleece money and favours out of him.
“Around this time, my father came in contact with a new Sadhu. As was his want, my father got him home and the Sadhu promised my father that, ‘if you do what I tell you to do, I will definitely make you meet God’. My father agreed and asked what was to be done. The Sadhu asked my father, ‘how many chapatis (leavened bread) do you eat in a day?’ My father informed him that he ate five. The Sadhu then instructed him, ‘you will have to increase the daily intake of chapatis gradually everyday and the day you reach twenty five chapatis, your heart’s desire would be fulfilled’. So from next day, my father asked for six chapatis, then slowly up to ten a day. In this way he kept on increasing the daily intake of chapatis gradually. When finally my father reached eating twenty-five chapatis a day, the Sadhu suddenly and inexplicably left my father’s house and disappeared! It was another broken promise for my disillusioned father.
“My father became even more desperate now. By then he had got completely fixated on Meher Baba. He badly wanted to go and meet Him. He began to write to Eruch and Adi pleading with them that he wanted to meet Baba. Every time he would get a similar reply that, ‘when Baba will permit, we will let you know, right now, you cannot meet Baba’. A long time elapsed. One day my father got to know that Baba was in Dehradun. My father who had been posted to Delhi from Pakistan prior to the partition of the country was living in a Government accommodation. Without seeking Baba’s permission, He caught a train and reached Dehradun looking for Baba. However, what is interesting is that while he knew that Baba was in Dehradun, he had no address, no contacts and no means of finding where Baba was staying in Dehradun. He was of the assumption that if Baba was such a big Man of God, then surely somebody must have heard of Him. As soon as he got out from the station, he came across a tea stall. My father decided to have a cup of tea and also find out if anybody there knew where Meher Baba was staying. He went and sat and ordered tea at the stall. That’s when the unbelievable happened. The serving boy who came to serve him tea was wearing a locket with Meher Baba’s photograph on it. My father had already seen Meher Baba’s photograph many times and pointed towards the locket and asked the boy excitedly, ‘who is He’? The young boy replied, ‘Meher Baba’. My father asked him about Meher Baba’s whereabouts in Dehradun and luckily, the boy had all the information. Thus over a cup of tea and with Baba’s grace, my father now knew where Meher Baba was stationed in the town.
“He immediately left for that place. But to his dismay he found out that Baba wasn’t there and in fact, some other family was living at that address. So my father assumed that he must have heard the address wrong. He went back to the tea stall to reconfirm the address with the boy but the boy wasn’t to be seen. He asked the owner of the tea stall for the boy. However, the owner looked confused. My father described the boy properly but the owner was certain that he did not have any such person working for him and certainly nobody who wore such a locket. My father again tried to describe the boy but the owner refused and said that there was no such person and showed him a man who was the only server at the tea stall. It was not the same boy who had served my father.
“My father went back to the address but clearly Baba wasn’t there and so dejected once again, he returned to Delhi. He then wrote another letter to Baba but got no reply and some more time passed by. A few months later in 1945, he got to know that Baba was in Bangalore. He thought that if he asked for permission to see Baba, again he would be denied. So he thought, ‘let me just land-up unannounced at His door and then let’s see if He still declines me an audience’. He caught a train to Bangalore. This time he had the proper address of the bungalow where Baba was stationed and he reached there in no time.
“At the gate, he met a man (later he got to know that his name was Vishnuji) who was from Baba’s mandali. The person inquired of my father as to what did he want? My father replied that he had come from Delhi to meet Meher Baba. Vishnuji replied, ‘Baba is not meeting anyone, go away from here’. Clearly Baba’s orders were not to allow anyone to see Him and the mandali would follow the orders even at the cost of their lives. Seeing that my father was persisting, Vishnuji became curt. My father was a very head strong man too. Once he had made up his mind on something, nothing could dissuade him. Besides he wasn’t going to return empty handed having come so close after years of waiting. So he replied, ‘you do whatever you want, I will meet Meher Baba and only then will I leave from here’. The man tried to make my father see reason, telling him that Baba wasn’t meeting anyone, nor was He going to step out from that bungalow for any reason so it was futile to wait here. But my father would have none of it and told Vishnuji in no uncertain terms that he would sit all day and night if he had to but he would not leave until he met Meher Baba. Anyways, Vishnuji told him that he couldn’t wait at the gate and that if he wished to waste his time, he was welcome to do so but away from the gate on the other side of the road. Thus, when he was refused an audience with Baba, my father crossed over and sat on the other side of the road facing the bungalow awaiting Baba’s darshan.
“He must have been sitting there for quite some time when another mandali member stepped out from the bungalow. He must have heard the earlier commotion at the gate and had come to see what the issue was all about. Upon enquiring, he was informed by Vishuji that someone was insisting on meeting Baba and creating a nuisance in the regard. This other person from the mandali perhaps took pity on my father sitting by the roadside in the heat and called out to my father. He heard my father again and asked him to write a small request to meet Baba on a piece of paper and that he would take the request to Baba and see what Baba had to say about it. Relieved at this positive development, my father quickly jotted down his personal details and a request to Baba for darshan.
“To my father’s unfathomable delight, Baba sent a word providing His consent to grant a brief darshan but with two conditions; one, the darshan would be from a minimum distance of two hundred yards and two, my father would not fold hands, bow down or prostrate in front of Baba. Of course my father accepted both conditions immediately. It was going to be the culmination of years of tapasya for him, waiting for Baba’s darshan.
“A little while later, the front door opened of the bungalow and Baba stepped out onto the verandah. Of that moment my father used to say, words cannot describe the beauty of Baba’s face and what He saw in Baba standing two hundred yards away at the gate. He said that at that moment, he did not care whether Baba was God or a Saint or some spiritual personality, all he knew was that he was instantly compelled from within to dedicate his entire life to that Personage in front of him. The moment my father saw Baba, he forgot about the two conditions imposed on him for the darshan and fell to the ground prostrating in front of Baba while the mandali members were jostling with him to make him stand up as per the agreed conditions. He always would tell us, that the moment he saw Baba, ‘I knew that I had met God’.”
“Did Meher Baba talk to him or meet him on that day?”
“No. After the brief darshan from a distance, Baba sent a word to the mandali to give my father lunch before sending him back.”
“How did your mother feel about all this?”
“My mom was against all this as this was five years before her own darshan of Baba at Motichur. At this time she was well and truly a Krishna devotee and would challenge my father constantly about Baba calling Himself God.”
“What happened then?”
“My father returned to Delhi. The next two years till 1947, the political conditions in the country were very volatile as the country was fighting for independence from the British. There was hardly any money and everyone needed to work. I was not yet born but my elder brothers would go out of the house to sell something or the other or do odd jobs to earn some money. Post independence, my mother felt that she too should do some work, so that she could earn something and help with the family expenses. She and my father would often have exchanges where she would tauntingly refer to Baba as, ‘Fashionable Baba’ as she had seen some photos of Baba in the West where He was attired in western clothes. How could God ever be dressed in such clothes? She challenged. But then something happened which made her question her doubts about Baba.
“The story is that she joined a typing school to first learn typing. She felt that through this acquired skill, she could land up with a job as a typist in an office and help add to the family income. She used to travel on a cycle to the institute every day. One day, perhaps on her way back from the institute, she met with an accident and fell down fracturing her arm. Being a very conservative time, those days if a woman fell on the road no man would touch her or pick her up. She was lying on the road in acute pain with no help forth coming. Then she saw a fancy black car come in her direction. A lot of people had gathered watching my mother lying on the road injured but doing nothing to help her. My mother used to tell us that, this car halted next to her and that from inside, a most beautiful woman stepped out. She would recall that she had never ever seen a woman with such striking beauty, neither before that incident nor after. She was the most beautiful woman in the world according to my mother. The lady was very elegant and was wearing a green saree, a watch with a black strap. She stepped out of the car and asked what had happened. Someone told her that my mother had met with an accident. She said, ‘okay, help me lift her a little so that we can make her lie down in the car so that I can take her to the hospital’. She took my mother and reached Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
“As soon as my mother was checked into the emergency room, the doctor told them that she had a fracture and that he would make arrangements for the plaster. That lady all through this time sat beside mummy’s stretcher and kept caressing the injured hand gently. My mother told us that she felt her pain reduce with each caress. In a short period of time the pain had disappeared but the lady kept caressing her hand. Then the lady told my mother, ‘I was going somewhere for some work, so can I go now? The doctor will return shortly and do what needs to be done’. My mother told her that she was better now and the lady could continue with her work. There was no pain anyways. This lady got up and went away. Two minutes later my mother realised that she hadn’t even thanked this lady and as there was no pain anymore. She managed to get up and run after the lady to express her gratitude for all her help but by then she couldn’t spot the car in the hospital compound. When she came out of the main gate, there was still no sign of the car there either. My mother asked the security guard about which side of the road did he see a woman park a black car. The guard looked at my mother and asked, ‘which lady and what car…I have been sitting here on duty since a long time and neither has any car entered nor exited the gate’. Those days cars were rare and a woman driving a car was even rarer. My mother assumed that this man was high on tobacco and went back into the hospital.
“The doctor returned and re-examined my mother’s arm and was surprised to see that her arm was absolutely normal. He diagnosed her as being fine because now the bone didn’t appear to be broken! He gave my mother some medicine and sent her home. My mother came back and started her daily routine. She told nobody of this incident in the fear that they may stop her from stepping out and then she would be unable to help the family financially.
“Anyway, a few months later, a person named Baba Das from Baba’s mandali, came to meet my father in Delhi. He entered our house and after some brief chat inquired with my mother as to how her arm was now. Mummy said that her hand was fine. At that point, it never struck my mother how he knew of the accident, when she had not mentioned about it to anyone within the family and certainly not to any outsider.”
“How did Baba Das know your parents?”
“Through my father. My father used to keep meeting and writing to the mandali.”
“After a while suddenly the question struck her and my mother rushed out of the kitchen and asked Baba Das, ‘how do you know of my arm because I haven’t even told the members of my family about that accident or then they wouldn’t permit me to go out again’. Baba Das laughed and told my mother, that ‘I will tell you, but let Kishan Singh come back from work in the evening’. All through the day my mother was restless, wondering who had told Baba Das about the accident and her injured hand. When my father returned from office, Baba Das brought up the incident of the accident and told them an amazing story. Baba Das said that sometime back Meher Baba was sitting with the mandali and talks were going on, even though obviously Baba wouldn’t speak, but in gestures and sign language. Suddenly, Baba stopped communicating and appeared to be withdrawn within Himself. A little while later, He started communicating again through gestures. Someone from the mandali asked, ‘Baba what happened? You seemed to have gone someplace?’ Baba said, ‘I had gone to help someone. You all don’t know that person’. Then He turned towards Baba Das and gestured, ‘but Baba Das you know her’. Baba then gestured, ‘you know Prakashwati who lives in Delhi. I had gone to help her. She is fine now’. Baba then explained to all what had happened. Baba Das asked Him, ‘how can you go to help her Baba?’ Meher Baba said, ‘what is so difficult in that, I quickly wore a saree, wore a watch around my wrist and I went off in a car’. When my parents heard about this, my mother was confounded and realized that there was more to Meher Baba than Him just being another man. Then her struggle began of whether to believe in Meher Baba or not as I have told you she only believed in Lord Krishna. She decided that till He doesn’t prove it to her that He was her Lord Krishna she wouldn’t accept Him.
“From my family, my maternal grandmother and my elder brother met Baba next, after my father’s meeting in 1945. Meher Baba had come to Dehradun in 1950 during His New Life phase. There was a village there named Mehermafi. Meher Baba was staying there and at that time if anyone wanted to give bhiksha or donation to Baba, it was only after His permission and that too only things which Baba could accept. Only the bare essentials were accepted by Baba at that time. Winter was on and I was born on 12th January in Delhi, the very day Baba that reached Dehradun. It was peak winter and very cold in Dehradun. Blankets were needed, warm clothes were needed but Baba and the mandali had already sold off their woolens and other belongings in Benaras to raise money to meet the expenses of the New Life. My mother couldn’t travel from Delhi to Dehradun at that time to meet Meher Baba because she was still recovering after my birth. So, my maternal grandmother, along with a friend and my elder brother, who was only nine or ten years old at that time, went to hand over woolens to Baba and the mandali, after Baba had allowed it to be sent by my father from Delhi. The three of them were carrying warm clothing and other essentials and went to Dehradun for the personal delivery because my grandmother wanted to have Baba’s darshan and this was a great excuse to do so.
“So if you see sequence-wise, after my father, my maternal grandmother and my brother received Baba’s darshan. When the three of them reached Dehradun by train, they took a tonga and left for Majri village which was located on the outskirts of the town. After exiting the town, their tonga turned off the main road onto a kaccha road going towards Majri. A short distance later they came across a group of people on foot walking in the same direction as the village. Barely had their tonga overtaken the group that my brother recognised one of them as Meher Baba. My brother had seen Baba’s photo many times before at home and knew His face well. The child that he was, he excitedly shouted out to my grandmother, ‘nani, nani, see Baba!’. They stopped the tonga immediately and got down to greet Baba. Baba met them with a lot of love and kindness and they were fortunate to receive Baba’s darshan. They handed over the things which had to be given to Baba and came back grateful for the opportunity. Two months later, my mother and I were granted the good fortune of Baba’s darshan as I have narrated earlier.”
“After your mother met Baba, was she completely devoted to Baba?”
“Yes. She changed completely, absolutely. All her rituals ended. It was only Baba after that. She truly saw Krishna in Baba. Where at one point in time my mother used to follow so many rituals, now there was nothing. I grew up in a home where our God was and is Baba. There were no other rituals followed after that. Baba returned to Dehradun, once again in 1953. I think Dehradun is the place where Baba has spent the maximum amount of unbroken time period in one go. I don’t think Baba has gone to any other place other than Dehradun for such a long stretch of time. Baba has stayed for nine months in Dehradun at one stretch during 1953. The mandali lived in our bungalow on Rajpur Road, the road leading to Mussouri from Dehradun. The bungalow behind ours was taken for Meher Baba, where Baba lived with the women mandali. Both the bungalows were on one side of the road. Across, on the other side, we had taken up a hall, which had a room and a kitchen for our residence. We shifted there, so that our home could be used by the mandali. Baba’s instructions were that no one could come and meet Him. Imagine my mother was across the road dying to meet Baba again but she couldn’t meet Him. I was barely three years old, too small to understand why we couldn’t just meet Baba even though He was just across the road. But now I understand.” She began to laugh aloud.
“When you go back in time, which is the first incident that you can remember clearly of Baba?”
“I don’t speak much of those days, may be because Baba doesn’t wish it, but I think I was six years old. There was a darshan in Guruprasad, the mansion in Pune, where Baba used to spend summers and meet His lovers. A few people were invited, mostly people from Dehradun. Baba had called us specially. I clearly remember, Baba was sitting on the sofa, I can see Him right now too, and one man had got his child who was around eight years old. Baba was seated in the center of the room. When the man came near Baba, I realised that the child was blind. I also heard somebody say, ‘the child is blind’. I remember clearly. The man and the child paid obeisance at Baba’s feet. Baba caressed the boy’s face. I don’t remember if He touched the child’s eyes or not. Then Baba told his father that, ‘without turning back, take this child and leave straight away for home’. The child started running. Then I heard another voice from the public, somebody shouted, ‘aray the child can see, the child can see’. I remember this incident clearly. I believe that Baba cured the boy. Baba always said that He does not perform miracles. But I remember this miracle for sure. In my own personal life there have been so many miracles which have taken place but I know that Baba doesn’t want us to talk about miracles. He just wants us to love and obey Him. Through the years we would get calls to meet Baba. Baba used to call us. Being a girl, my parents did not want me to be left alone, so I used to go along with them. I remember when I was a small child I used to love wearing lehengas. On every birthday of mine a lehenga was stitched for me. Baba had once called us and we went to Him. I must have been around seven years old. I used to trouble mummy a lot when we would be seated in front of Baba. So, once Baba who was seated in front of us, asked mummy, ‘what is she saying?’ I used to nudge her. She told Baba, ‘she wants to go and be with the women mandali’. Baba said, ‘send her, send her’. Not many were allowed to go to the women mandali. I felt privileged.” She again laughed aloud. A happy, loud, laugh.
“Then on 1st of May, 1964 the Poona Centre was inaugurated by Meher Baba Himself. During the Poona Centre’s inauguration taking place, for some reason a thought came to my mind, that Baba was not giving me importance. I wanted importance from Him.” She began to laugh aloud. “I felt that mummy and my father always got so much of importance and as I am their daughter, so even I should get importance. I told myself that I will observe how much attention Baba gave me. I went and stood at a place in front of Baba. Baba was looking at everyone else but He not once looked towards me. I thought maybe there was a large gathering thus His attention wasn’t on me. There was a balcony. I went to the balcony and stood in a manner that I was right in front of Baba so that He would have no other option but to see me. I stood there for a long time and kept seeing Him, kept seeing Him, but not once did He look at me. Of course, now after all these years I have understood that it was Baba’s way of keeping my attention on Him in this indirect manner. If He had seen me then my attention would have drifted away but because He abstained from looking at me even once, this made my attention be glued on to Him more. I became so engrossed in Baba that I forgot about all the other people who were present. I kept looking at Baba and hoping that now He will turn His eyes towards me, now He will look up and see me but He did not. A lot of time passed but He still hadn’t looked at me and I got tired. I decided if this isn’t going to work, let me go and stand in the queue. Baba was seated, loving everybody who came up to Him. The person in front of me also got a lot of love from Baba and His blessings. Then it was my turn. I thought, ‘now Baba will see me for sure’. I reached Baba and Baba started speaking to the person who was standing behind me. Through that entire meeting He did not look at me but indirectly made sure that I only looked at Him.” She began to laugh for a long time.
“I was a child at that time. He knew how to play with His children. Then there was an incident in 1962. There was a long queue and people stood in the line for His darshan. I used to go and sit in the pandal where there was a stall outside for selling books. I was twelve years old at that time. I went there to help them to sell the books. Mummy’s duty was to stand behind Baba’s sofa. She was standing behind Baba and she must have realised that she had not seen me for a while, so she began looking around for me. In a matter of moments, Baba turned and asked her through gestures, ‘who are you searching for?’ He always wanted everybody’s attention only on Him. Mummy told Baba that, ‘I am searching for my daughter as I can’t see her anywhere’. Baba told my mother, ‘don’t worry about her, My nazar is there on her’. I never understood such intense love before but now I have understood it with time. His nazar, His eyes, are always on His beloveds.”
“How did you handle your parents’ love for Meher Baba?”
“You see, nothing else existed in their lives but Baba. Thus, I was jealous of Meher Baba, when I was a young girl. The reason was simple. I wanted my mom’s attention and her entire being was focused on Baba. I was a teenager and for mom, except for Baba, had no time for anything and anybody, including me. She did the kirtan which Baba had initiated, thrice a day. She would go to three different places and do the kirtan. Kirtan means singing Meher Baba’s bhajans. Sometimes she would go to four different places to do the kirtans. She used to start the kirtans from morning time…then go to another place, then the third place. The ladies would go together.”
“When did you settle for good in Dehradun?”
“In 1952 –1953.”
“Okay. You were talking about how you used to feel jealous of your mother’s devotion and love for Baba”.
“Ah yes. I would tell both my parents, ‘what is this, the whole time all that you both do is Baba, Baba, Baba. What about me?’ You must understand that as a child I could not understand such intense love and devotion. When I returned from school, my parents weren’t around for me. They would be serving Baba in their own way. I now realise the deep love my parents had for Baba. What fortunate people they were, that they couldn’t see anything or anyone else beyond Baba. There was no meaning to anything else in life for them but Baba.”
“How did they take Baba leaving the body? Were they there during Baba’s Samadhi time?”
“Oh yes. I was there too. I was nineteen years old then.”
“So you remember everything?”
“Very clearly. Everything. As though it happened yesterday.”
“How did your parents take His passing over?”
“The day when they got the news it was a big jhatka or shock for them. But to tell you the truth, once the shock had settled down, we were fine. The reality is that though Baba had dropped His body, we always felt Him with us. We did not feel that Baba wasn’t there with us. We did not feel that Baba had gone away. Never. All those seven days when Baba’s body was kept in the crypt and after that time, Baba’s presence was always within and around us. My parents’ love for Baba not only remained till the end but in fact kept increasing. Kept increasing.”
“After Meher Baba left His body has your relationship with Him grown?”
“Honestly I really don’t know. Truly I don’t know. Today also I don’t know whether I love Him or not. Automatically His Name comes out from the mouth.” She laughed aloud. “It is very difficult. I know only one thing, I am convinced about this one thing that whether I love Him or not, is not important, what I am certain about is that He loves me. I pray to Baba but not like how my parents would pray to Him. But whenever I get it in my mind and heart, I talk to Him. My equation with Baba is that of Him being like my grandfather. For me, it is not important whether He is God or an Avatar but I know that He is like my grandfather; a very close family member because since the time I was born, I have seen Him through these eyes only. Like children see their grandfather and go to meet their grandfather, I would feel the same whenever I saw Him or went to meet Him. Also, whenever I went to Him, I was treated like a grandchild of the house. No one ever stopped me from doing anything. Wherever I wanted to run and play, I would do so joyously and no one ever said anything to me. I was fond of Mehera mai but I loved Mani aunty. Sometimes I think I loved Mani aunty more than I loved Meher Baba. She loved me back equally. She would make me and another girl sit on her shoulders and say, ‘on one shoulder is Ram and on the other shoulder is Laxman and I am Hanuman’. I truly miss all of them dearly. It’s not as though, life has been easy but Baba gives you the strength to go through whatever is in store for you.
“I thank my parents for the love which they had for Him. They loved Him completely. He is a very loving, tender, possessive, even a very jealous God. He wants our entire attention only on Him. Through life, He wants us to be only focused on Him. He wants our attention, our obedience and most of all our unwavering love only for Him.”
Be blessed always.
Ruzbeh N. Bharucha
I would like to believe that every word that has poured forth, has come through the unbound grace, love, mercy and compassion of Avatar Meher Baba. I would also like to thank my sister Jennifer Bharucha, Jimmy Khan, Mehernath B. Kalchuri, Roshani Shenazz and Jennifer Keating, who have been instruments chosen by Baba, with whose help these interviews have been made possible. I would also like to thank Jimmy Khan and Cyrus Khambata for their invaluable editorial inputs. Be blessed always. Jai Baba.
Ruzbeh N. Bharucha