Experiences of Mehernath Kalchuri with Meher Baba
Ruzbeh N. Bharucha
“After Baba dropped His body, did your father start living with you all?”
“No. Bhauji lived in Meherazad and he began his work of researching for writing Lord Meher. He went to different places to collect material, which I told you about. Then, he came here, to Adi’s office to collect information from the records and he sat from morning till evening in the record room.”
“Where was he staying at that time?”
“He would sleep on a cot in the record room here.”
“He didn’t stay with you all?”
“He started staying at Khushru Quarters when he began to write the book but he did not stay on our side of the compound. My mother and myself would take food for him in the record room. He sat on the floor, a desk was there, a forty volts bulb was burning because at that time nobody had money. Adi didn’t have money and he couldn’t afford putting a hundred watt bulb. So, a dim bulb gave out some light. On the desk Bhauji would write for nearly eighteen hours a day. His hand started shaking.
“One night, he became unconscious and we took him to a hospital. Most of the times, he took only liquids, like water, buttermilk or tea. He became very weak and thus, he got unconscious. I think he wanted to drown himself in work because he was missing Baba’s physical presence tremendously. Yes, he was obeying Baba but to work the way he did was to drown away his sorrow in work.
“Then, he became the trustee in 1973. In 1969, when Baba dropped His body, there was the Avatar Meher Baba Private Trust. The Trust had started in 1959 according to Baba’s instruction but it came in function after Baba dropped His body. Only then it came in function because Baba was looking after everything. They had a few meetings at Meherazad but nothing much.
“In 1969, Adi gave a room to Kutumb Shastri, the Trust Chairman, to start the Trust work. He got people from Andhra, a clerk and one peon. The mandali people were dissolved in Baba, so they were not attending to the Trust. Their lives were with Baba. The outside world had disappeared for them. It was difficult for them to pay attention to these worldly activities because they were involved with the Lord. To become one with the illusion was difficult for them. They were simple people whose entire life had been spent under the protection and guidance of Baba. Baba guided them for every little thing, so they did not know how to go about life with the world.
“They spoke to Baba lovers and they would feel very happy in their company. Amongst outsiders, Government officials, it was very difficult for them to communicate. They were dissolved in Baba and it was difficult for them to become one with the illusory life.
“Adi also didn’t pay much attention to worldly life. He was Baba’s secretary and he only knew how to do Baba’s work. Kutumb Shastri’s son had been working with Adi. When Baba dropped the body, Adi did not have money to pay salary to him. Adi told the boy, ‘go to your father’s place and work with your father’. He said, ‘no, I don’t want to work with my father’. Adi got him work in the Ayurvedic Pharmacy. Adi told the others that he couldn’t pay anybody their salaries. Only Laxman and Suman stayed back. The others left.
“Kutumb Shastri started his project. When he started his project, there were Trust beneficiaries. In the Trust deed, Baba had kept forty people as beneficiaries to receive benefit twice a year. Kutumb Shastri said that he would have to stop giving money to these beneficiaries. The mandali members asked why? Kutumb Shastri said, ‘I will use that money for purchasing land for the Trust. I will not give that money away’. When the time came to distribute the money to the beneficiaries, Kutumb Shastri went to Andhra. There is a provision in the Trust deed, that the Chairman and one trustee can sign and withdraw money. There was another provision that three trustees can also sign and withdraw money.
“So, the three trustees signed and withdrew the money and distributed it to the beneficiaries. They wanted those in need to get the money. When Kustumb Shastri returned, he got upset, and filed a case in court against the Trust and the trustees. It became very difficult for the mandali to handle the case. The case was going on and then Kutumb Shastri suddenly died in Andhra and after that, the Trust won the case. Baba with Ramjoo Abdulla had written the Trust deed and at that time it was decided, first Kutumb Shastri would be Chairman, then Mani, then Adi K. Irani. So, when Kutumb Shastri died, Baba’s sister Mani became the Chairman.
“Nariman Dadachanji observed everything and told the mandali, ‘all this isn’t possible for you people. Bhauji is there, make him the Trustee as only Bhauji will be able to handle this work’.
“I think Bhauji was appointed in 1973 as a trustee. Bhauji converted the Trust into the Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust. Then, Bhauji got all the exemptions, regular exemptions, income tax exemptions, land revenue exemptions, 80G exemption, all other exemptions.”
“He was the trustee till which year?”
“He was the trustee till Mani expired in 1996. When Mani expired, he was appointed as the Chairman in Mani’s place. He was the Chairman till the year 2013, till he expired. After 2013, Mr. Kelkar was appointed as Chairman. Bhauji started developing Meherabad. During Baba’s time there were only twenty to twenty-five acres of land in upper and lower Meherabad belonging to the Trust. Today, the Trust has more than five hundred acres of land. Most of the land was purchased under Bhauji’s guidance and permission. All through his life, his only goal was Meher Baba. Only Meher Baba. Nothing else. He never paid attention to us, even after Baba dropped His body. He only focused on Baba, all his life.”
“When did he start staying with you all as a family?”
“When he became a trustee, he would come to the Trust Office, here, Khushru Quarters, Meher Nazar from Meherazad in the morning by car with Mani, Eruch and Rano and go back to Meherazad in the evening. Then, if there was any work in other places, he went by bus because the Trust didn’t have a car or anything like that. He travelled by bus for income tax cases, Charity Commissioner cases, for different cases, he would attend in Nasik and in Poona. He would go to Delhi by train and to Bombay by bus. He would stay here at Meherabad for a few days for work purpose and then again he would go to Meherazad. He would stay in different rooms here in the compound or even on the verandah, not on our side. He was aloof from us.
“In reality, all the mandali members, their life was restless, not like a common person, a totally different life from common people. Their focus and concentration was towards God, Meher Baba. When people stay near the fire, what will they become? Different. We should not take them like the common general public. Slowly, Bhauji began to spend more and more time here but only doing Baba’s work. After Baba dropped His body, the Trust work was immense. He would go to the Revenue Department, he would go to the Collector, to Mantralaya in Bombay, to the Ministry in Delhi, everywhere he went personally. He worked like a slave. What Baba taught, to become a slave – he was one hundred percent the slave of his Master.
“Bhauji has taught me to always put Baba’s work before one’s individual self. Thus, even now, before you came to meet me, I had gone to the National Highway Commission, who wasn’t present, so, tomorrow, I will have to go there again. We are trying to get Trust land compensation. When I go for Meher Baba’s programme I feel natural but when I go for a marriage or outside people invite me, I feel unnatural. I never feel one with them.
“Before Baba dropped His body, Baba told me, ‘never join any political party’. He also told me to do MBBS. He told Sheela to join an Ayurvedic course. I joined commerce and completed law because the medical field was too difficult for me. I can’t see dead bodies or cut up bodies to study. My nature is not like that. I am a lawyer now. I completed taxation law DTL, but most of the time my calling is Meher Baba, nothing else but Meher Baba.”
“How was dad before he passed over? Was he healthy?”
“No. Bhauji had colon cancer and he was operated twice. He underwent many health issues. He stayed in his room for most of the day. Shaheen, Chiana, Janice, Joanna and other caretakers would bring him here, on our side of the land, in the evening. It was difficult for him. He was unable to walk. They would bring him on a wheelchair and he sat here. Around ten to twenty people would come here and sing Baba’s songs, Baba’s bhajans in front of Baba’s photo which was kept there and Bhauji would feel very happy.
“Then, Bhauji would say, ‘Brahma, Vishnu Mahesh’, by clapping his hands. Maya started her work. Some of our people started spreading rumours that Bhauji feels that he is the Perfect Master. Our own people spread a lot of rumours and gossip against Bhauji. He was disabled, it was difficult for him to walk. In the evening time he would come and sit in the veranda. Some would sing, some would read out the work which Bhauji had written, just spend time with him.”
“Why was there so much slander for a man who loved Meher Baba so much?”
“In every God’s place there is a lot of jealousy and hatred. It’s everywhere and has existed since the beginning of time. Even during Jesus’ time the same thing existed. In the time of Krishna, Buddha and Rama all these things existed, thus, during Meher Baba’s time too such pettiness existed and exists. People mostly don’t talk openly about all this. I am the witness to everything. When I go for talks or discussions, I speak of Meher Baba and nothing else. My aim and goal is Meher Baba.”
“Was your father heartbroken in the end, with all the politics and all this pettiness?”
“He was sad but he would say, ‘don’t worry about all this, don’t care about anybody, just care about Baba’. Every time he would say, ‘I too will die, then what will you do?’ He would say, ‘You can throw my body in a garbage box as it shall not matter to me as I will be with Baba’. He never took care of his physical body. He wasn’t like that. He was totally different. Why just him, even Pendu, Gustadji, Baidul, Baria, were not very well understood by most people. Today’s people who are here don’t understand the mandali. They don’t understand Baba or Baba’s inner journey. They take Baba as a worldly God. Baba is an inward God, not a worldly God. This worldly way is not what Baba has taught all His life.
“Meher Baba created a Trust to look after the property, to look after His lovers…to create accommodation and to look after His lovers. He created the Trust for His lovers. The Trust has the responsibility to carry out Baba’s work in the outer world. Meher Baba is the inner world. Meher Baba is the inner structure, not the outer structure. He created the Trust for His outer work. We have to keep Baba all the time in our heart, for He resides within us and has faith in our love for Him. When the outer structure is honest and we are obeying God and doing the day-to-day work for that purpose, it takes us to the inner journey. As Trustees, we have the responsibility to lead life according to Baba’s instructions. Trustees will change. Everything will change but Meher Baba is unchangeable.”
“Life must have been very different and difficult for the mandali after Baba dropped His body?”
“It was difficult for the mandali because after He dropped His body, the mandali did not know what to do. Did you know that Baba had promised that He would break His silence before He dropped His body and He kept His word? On 30th January, 1969, a day before He dropped His body, Baba said verbally thrice; first at 10 o’clock, then at 11 o’clock and lastly at 12 o’ clock midnight, ‘Yaad rakh’, (Remember this) and then pointed towards His body and gestured, ‘I am not this body.’ He actually spoke out ‘Yaad rakh’ with His own voice. Eruch, Goher and Bhauji were there as witness to this. Baba gestured to them to tell what He had said to everybody. To tell the world.
“Bhauji, much later wrote that Baba said, ‘it was the breaking of My Man-silence, not My God-silence.’ After Baba dropped His body it became very difficult for the mandali to tell the world that Baba had broken His silence. ‘Yaad rakh,’ just this much. Nobody mentioned this because everybody was apprehensive that if they revealed this fact, what would the world say or think? That is why they never mentioned this to anybody. Only Bhauji started telling people and wrote about it after thirty years had gone by.
“At 10 o’clock He said ‘Yaad rakh’ and gestured to his body and indicated that, ‘I am not this body’. The same at 11 o’clock, in a spoken, audible voice and again at 12 o’clock midnight. ‘Yaad rakh’ means ‘Remember this’. He said the words, ‘Yaad rakh’ aloud and then He pointed to say that, ‘I am not this body’. The next day He dropped His body and became universal, unlimited.”
“I find it strange that nobody has talked about this or this fact isn’t widely known?”
“I told you that the mandali did not know what to do, how to go about breaking this news. Also, they were clueless as to how to run all these activities and pay for the staff, electricity, water etc. It was very, very, very, difficult for them. They were not worldly and they started worrying about what was to be done. It was a difficult time for them.
“Baba had appointed the mandali members as trustees based on their devotion and dedication to Baba. Baria was a trustee, so was Rano but Baria did not know anything about worldly matters. He couldn’t talk properly because of the urea in his body which had spread all over. It was difficult for him to explain and talk. Baba had made simple, good, honest people as trustees but they had no idea how to deal with the world or handle worldly matters. They were one, inside and outside.
“When Mani was the Chairman, once, the Charity Commissioner came from Bombay along with his family and they stayed at the Ashoka hotel. Bhauji told Mani, ‘we will have a meal with them at Ashoka Hotel, as he is the Commissioner’. Bhauji told Mani, ‘You also come’. Mani said, ‘no, I will not come. You go along with them’. Bhauji said, ‘You are the Chairman, you just come and sit, I will talk to them’. Mani said, ‘that is good but there is a difficulty here, since long I have not used a fork and it is difficult for me to eat with one. With those people, if they come and eat with a fork, I will make an embarrassment of myself’. Bhauji said, ‘I will start eating with the hand and if I do that, they will also do the same. Then everybody will do that. Don’t worry about that’. Then Mani felt happy. This is how simple and pure the mandali members were and so not of this world. They were actually not a part of the world. They were completely immersed into Meher Baba. They were like children and Meher Baba was their father and mother and all relations rolled into one.
“Take William for example. After the New Life, and after he had completed writing The Wayfarers, Baba did not give William any work. It was difficult for William to survive without work. He needed work to keep sane. He was a doctor. He had shifted from Meherabad to Ahmednagar and was our neighbor here, too. He couldn’t handle any sort of noise. Noise irritated the hell out of him and he would come outside his room at night and scream at us to maintain silence. We were kids. Also, those days the toilet system was different. They kept a box underneath the toilet. Once, the stench started coming through and William took the box with all the excreta and urine and spread it on Adi’s table. He was irritated with Adi, as he felt that Adi should have taken care of the situation. Then, Adi complained to Baba about this and Baba called William and Adi and told William never do such things again. They were like children.
“William would always obey Baba, like the rest of the mandali. Often, the mandali had no work to do beyond a point but they were not allowed to go out anywhere. They had to stay wherever Baba had told them to stay. There was no work and nowhere to go. Sometimes, this could go on for a long time for a particular mandali member. What should the person do? Nobody understands all this about the life of the mandali members. Life with God is totally different. Very hard. Only the mandali members knew how hard it was to live with God. It was a totally different life and a very different world.
“The mandali maintained total obedience and discipline even after Baba dropped His body. Now, the pattern has changed. People who come here, go about the activities, come and stay at Meherabad to be with Baba. Morning arti and evening arti, people sing at the Samadhi. They enjoy all this. They flock at Amartithi and on Baba’s Birthday, all this is very nice. This is our devotion for God. During Baba’s time, it was very different. Life was not all smiles and roses.
“Baba has given the satsang for the modern world and that is most important. He said that the heart is His real Centre but He told people to open Centres all over the world, taking His Name – to have meetings, Sahavas, programs in their Baba Centres – see Baba films, read books about Him, discuss, sing His Name. Not worship, not puja, not shariat, but satsang. In this Avataric Age, this get-together is spirituality for the common people, not for the mandali but for the entire world, so the focus will go to Meher Baba, not through ritual but through Love.
“What about Mehera Maa?”
“Mehera Mai’s only aim and goal was Meher Baba. When Baba dropped His body and I would go to meet Her, She would open the cupboard and say, ‘this is Baba’s badge, Baba has given this, this is Baba’s cup. This cup Baba has used.’ This is Baba’s something…this is Baba’s something else… She only spoke about Baba, nothing else. Not a thing else. Baba did this and Baba did that. Do you think Mehera Mai could have handled the world? No. As only Baba was Her world.”
“She had known you since a child right?”
“Yes and She was the least worldly of all Baba lovers.
“Even Naja, Pendu’s sister, was like that. Life started and ended with Baba. She cooked food for Baba. Once, we were in Poona and Baba told Naja, ‘take the children to the Peshwa Park Zoo’. So, she took us there, in Baba’s car, to the zoo. Baba would tell the ladies to cover the entire body and Naja dressed in that manner. Completely covered. We were small, Sheela and myself, and I remember the other children at the zoo started teasing her, ‘gol gappa’. Basically teasing her that she was fat and in reality teasing her that she was different. She didn’t pay any attention.
“The mandali’s life was difficult. Their entire hundred percent concentration and focus was on Baba. They would listen and obey what Baba would say. Their minds had stopped thinking. Their minds too only followed Baba. Baba took care of everything and everybody. Only His wish was their wish. They would do only what Baba said. How to talk, dress, eat, obey, work, love, everything was decided by Baba. “In 1967 Baba told them, ‘You are free now. You can eat whatever you want. I used to control, but now, you can eat whatever you want’. They said, ‘we don’t want anything. Whatever You will give, we will eat that’.
“That is the mandali’s life. They never complained to Baba about their life. It was hard and they lived the hardships because of their love for Baba. Pendu, I think he got prostrate cancer and he suffered tremendously. He was admitted to the hospital. There were not many people to look after him. He was in great pain and he was alone. I used to go and sit with him. In Booth Hospital, there was one European ward, which was kept only for Baba lovers, His mandali and close ones. The mandali members used to be put up there.
“Sheela and myself would go and sit with Pendu while the poor man suffered. He would shout very loudly. From time to time Dr. Goher came from Meherazad to visit him but no volunteers were there like nowadays; everyone depended upon servants. Two servants were kept for Pendu but he would hold my hand and say, ‘don’t go, because these servants shout at me and they say they hope I die soon. God should take you soon! They say. That’s why please sit here, you don’t go, if you are here then they won’t say anything to me’.
“That was the life of the mandali people. Kaikobad’s life was very difficult. Adi’s life was a very simple life. When Baba dropped His body, Adi had shortage of money. It became difficult for him to survive. It was difficult for him to even pay the electricity bill. They were simple people, the mandali. Suffering is the gift of God. If you see in the past too, all the Avatars have suffered; all Sadgurus, all Perfect Masters, suffered. Those closest to Them suffered too. Without suffering, how will we be able to clean our sanskaras or inherent tendencies? That suffering is most important. Most of the mandali members suffered. In fact according to me, everybody in the mandali suffered. They had spent their whole life with God, so, the world had disappeared for them.”
“Do Baba lovers know about all this?”
“They don’t know. They think that life with Baba was very peaceful and Baba was always smiling, tender and loving. Yes, for the devotees, Baba used to be only love. He was like a tender grandfather to the world but with the mandali He was very strict. The closer you got to Him, the stricter He became. He would love most tenderly but He would also become very strict.
“We were used to such a simple life. We don’t like today’s life. Baba’s discipline, I used to enjoy. Till today, that life, I feel was the best and I was the happiest during those days. Sheela, my sister, feels the same. That is why most of the time Sheela also remains at home, doesn’t like to mix up and socialize with most people.
“Only if there is Baba’s work I get charged. I maintain distance from most worldly people as their way of talking, thinking and their world is different from mine. Living life with God is very different. When you get closer to God, then life becomes more different and life becomes more difficult but strangely you don’t feel happy with the world and worldly people. You just want to go back to the time when your God was in the human body and life was simple and all was well with the world, as God was so close to you in the body.”
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