Experiences of Pratap Chandra Nigam with Meher Baba
Ruzbeh N. Bharucha
“My name is Pratap Chandra Nigam and I am seventy-two years old. Meher Jyoti, whom you have interviewed, is my cousin. Our fathers were brothers. As you have been told, he had already taken Meher Baba’s darshan and since the time I was growing up, our family only worships Meher Baba. I was born in 1947 and Baba came to our village, Mahewa (Meherastana), in November 1952. I was around five to six years old when Baba first visited Mahewa (Meherastana). I do not have any memory of His visit but when Baba returned in February 1954, I have glimpses of seeing Him and being around Him. I remember standing very close to Baba. I distinctly remember Baba moving His fingers on the alphabet board and Eruchji interpreting what Baba was conveying through the alphabet board. This memory is still very fresh in my mind, till today. After this, I received Baba’s darshan in Guruprasad in 1960 and met Baba again in 1962, where we all received Baba’s darshan at the East West Gathering. Then, in 1965, we had the good fortune of receiving Baba’s blessings, love and darshan. I distinctly remember my uncle, Keshavji, reciting the Meher Chalisa to Baba. As you know, he had recited the Meher Chalisa many times to Baba but the first time when he had recited it to Meher Baba was on 23rd November 1952, in Meherastana, which Baba had declared as, ‘My house’.
“I had the good fortune of being present once, when Baba asked Keshavji to recite the Meher Chalisa. He was seated and our entire family was present along with other devotees and by the time the Meher Chalisa was recited, there was not a single person in the room who did not have tears in their eyes. Baba has strange ways of directing everybody’s lives. I remember, in 1965, Keshavji had begun to get affected by the Parkinson disease. It started showing its symptoms in the thumb of his right hand. By 1967, the disease had spread quite a bit. That year, with Baba’s permission and grace, I was living with Keshavji. Every morning, Keshavji would dictate articles to me as he found it very hard to write anymore. So, I would sit in front of him and take down his dictation. He would dictate articles to be sent to journalists who were keen to know of Meher Baba or those whom we wanted to inform about Baba, so that they could write articles about Him. Also, we would reply to the letters from Baba lovers. Keshavji would dictate all this and I would quickly write down everything and then make a fair copy and then the letters were dispatched.
“Alongside this work, the translation of God Speaks had begun too. Baba had given permission to Keshavji to translate God Speaks in Hindi. Since no one else could manage to translate this book and many had told Baba that they wanted to read this book in Hindi, with Baba’s permission and grace, Keshavji had begun the translation of this book in Hindi and I had the good fortune of taking down the dictation and putting it all down on paper. Baba had said that, ‘the translation of God Speaks can be done only by the person who has these three qualities. One, the person must have very good knowledge of Hindi. Two, the person must have very good knowledge of English. Lastly, the translation of this book will happen only by the person on whom My Krupa is there’.
“Keshavji was the only person who qualified with all the three conditions laid down by Baba. He would first recite the English lines and then translate the lines in Hindi and then I would write down whatever was translated. All this took place when Baba was still in the body and with His blessings, grace and in Baba’s physical presence this translation was rendered from English to Hindi. After the translation got over, the book was printed in Hindi, titled, Ishwar Vaani. Along with God Speaks, Baba had asked Keshavji to translate and publish a few more books too. Thus, at a very young age, I had the good fortune of being a part of the translation process of various books written by Meher Baba and be a part of the writing, proof reading, printing and publishing. I had a full life. I would attend college, work and the rest of the time I sat with Keshavji and do this work. The strange part of it all was that Keshavji had so much love for Baba that whenever I was with him, I too felt and experienced Baba’s presence through Keshavji. This presence of Baba was real and I felt it every moment when I was with Keshavji.
“I am truly blessed. Keshavji believed that all his work was in reality being done by Baba and Baba was only doing the work through him. All throughout his life, whenever I spent time with Keshavji, I would feel Baba’s presence. I remember those times in 1980, when Keshavji couldn’t speak or talk nor move around. We would reserve a bus, in which our entire family, sixty to seventy of us, along with Keshavji, travelled to Meherabad and I always felt that if we are going with Keshavji, our yatra (travel) would be safe and sound.”
“Would you all go to Meherabad for Baba’s Amartithi?”
“Yes. In my summer vacation I would be with Keshavji twenty four hours a day. I would not go out anywhere. To be with him, was to experience Meher Baba’s presence all the time. From morning till evening, I was with him. I cooked for him, feed him nashta too, I did everything. I had the good fortune to be with him alone. I had the fortune of being with Baba only during darshan times.
“You know of the story of Baba being present in Meherastana and telling Keshavji that He would not give darshan to anybody and not eat food but then He changed His mind seeing the love of those who had gathered around Him. So, Keshavji once told me, that after giving darshan, Baba called Keshavji and told him that ‘Keshav, I am feeling hungry, I will eat dal and rice and I should get this in half an hour. Keshav, I won’t rest tonight, I will do jagran and this jagran will start at 9pm. Feed My mandali food before 9pm. In the night’s jagran My mandali will be present, chief workers will be present and only those lovers whom you feel are true, bring only those lovers’. Women and children were not allowed in this jagran and the space outside the jhopdi was also quite limited. Qawali, Sufi spiritual songs began to be sung and in between Baba said, ‘I am very happy today, (Mere sharir say sholay nikal rahay hai) from My body sparks are flying and they are getting absorbed in every molecule here’. When Baba was saying this, those people who were sitting there for the jagran, said that there were sparks coming out from Baba’s body at that time. At midnight, Baba called Keshavji and said, ‘you don’t know what bhagya I am giving you at this moment’. Keshavji joined his hands and said, ‘other than You, no one else will know, Baba’. Baba didn’t reveal what blessing He had given to Keshavji. Then, at 12.50 am, that same night, Baba took the alphabet board and indicated, Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai, and while indicating Jai, He rose His right hand. His right hand went into this particular Mudra, or symbol, which said ‘I am very happy’. He said, ‘I have revealed and declared that I am the Avatar for the first time, in this Avatar roop, at this place and I will come here after 700 years’.
“In 1987, when Keshavji dropped his body, we took his body from Hamirpur to Meherastana on 9th February. It was the same date when Baba had come to Meherastana. We kept his body in the open space outside the cottage, did the arti prayer and then gave him burial in the south direction in the same jungle which Meher Baba loved so much. Hence, that spot was dug and kept ready. It was on 9th February when Baba had declared Himself as the Avatar and Keshavji too had dropped his body on the 9th that is why, that night too, the jagran took place. All the people, men, women, children, old people, all did jagran there. This date has coincided with Baba’s visit and since then, every year on this date at night, in the memory of both, Baba and now even Keshavji, a jagran takes place. Why I have spoken so much about Keshavji, is because of the intense love which he had for Meher Baba. So intense, that everybody around him felt the presence of Meher Baba.”
“What profession did you take up eventually?”
“I was the biology lecturer in Inter College. I did Baba’s work and through that I got the good fortune to do my M.Sc. After completing my M.Sc, I became a lecturer and in the end I became a principal too. I received everything and I always feel that I received all this as a reward for doing Baba’s work.”
“Would you meet Mehera Maa?”
“Yes, but got Her darshan from far only. She would join Her hands and say Jai Baba, as men didn’t have permission to be very close to Her. The women mandali had put a rope and only women were allowed to go beyond that rope. Men were allowed only to join their hands and say Jai Baba from far.”
“Had you gone to Meherabad to pay your respects when Meher Baba dropped His body?”
“We couldn’t go at that time as I was in Illahabad for training and just couldn’t leave. I guess I did not have the bhagya for that but I remember from 10th April to 10th June 1969, I got to take darshan of Baba. Every day, I recite Meher Baba’s prayers, sing the arti and recite the Meher Chalisa, I feel His presence. His messages and words attract me like a magnet. When I speak of those words and messages that Baba has given us and talk to people about them, even if I am speaking for an hour, no one is ready to even move as Baba’s words are so filled with power. His messages have such Shakti (power). Baba had once said that, He has attached something like a spiritual atomic bomb of energy to each of His words. So, the messages which Baba has given in His state of silence are so filled with power that it can overwhelm everybody who hears them. We must live by those teachings and messages of Baba. I have also tried and applied His messages in my own life. For example, Baba has said ‘let Me help you’. Once, I was going through a very difficult period and I pleaded for help from Baba and told Him, ‘Baba, now I have become helpless, hopeless, and don’t know what to do. You have said ‘let Me help you’, so please help me’. As soon as I said those lines, I received immediate help. This has happened to me many times. One must believe in what one prays. One must truly seek help. One must completely surrender.”
“I keep trying to incorporate Baba’s messages in my life. For example, Baba has said, ‘when you speak, I conceal Myself and when you are silent, I reveal Myself’. Thus, in an argument or any dispute I try and implement this philosophy and keep silent, so that Baba can reveal Himself. When we tell the opposite person, ‘you are right’, we end the argument. When a leaf doesn’t move without His approval, I leave all to Him. Baba has said, ‘if My actions cause confusion, it is because of your lack of complete trust’. One must accept His Will even if one does not like what is happening. Accept His Will, not only when His actions are in favour of us but also when His actions are against what we wish for. That is a time when we must say, ‘this too is Baba’s marzi (will)’ and be happy in that trust, His marzi. This is what Baba wanted from us, to accept His Will completely. Sometimes, we falter and don’t have that kind of trust, as much as we should have but we must never give up. We must always accept His Will gracefully. I have faltered many times. I have told people who have come to meet me, ‘yes, I have faltered and I have often not had that kind of faith and trust as I should have in Baba’s wisdom’.”
“We are human beings and we falter often.”
“Yes. We have to keep rising and walking and making Baba happy. Let me give you an example of Eruchji, in regard with what we are talking. Eruchji joined Baba and became His shadow from the year 1938. As Eruchji was blessed by Baba to interpret whatever He indicated, first through the sign board and then through sign language, Eruchji, was always with Meher Baba. In the 1962, East West Gathering, an incident took place which Eruchji narrated later on. He said that, though He agreed to all that which Baba stated and agreed about His divinity, even after over two decades of being with Meher Baba, He didn’t have complete trust in Baba. He once said, ‘I conveyed Baba’s messages for sure but the mind always had this slight doubt that is He all that which He says He is?’ ”
“Yes. An incident took place in 1962 in the East West Gathering, which finally brought clarity to Eruchji. Imagine, when Eruchji took nearly twenty-four years, from 1938 till 1962 to gather that kind of complete trust and faith in Meher Baba, then who are we? When Eruchji, who was like Baba’s shadow too could entertain some doubt about Baba’s divinity, Godhood and not have that level of complete faith or trust (vishwas) in Meher Baba and he kept grappling with it, then who are we (hamari kya aukad hai) to say that we have complete faith in Meher Baba? Sometimes, we all fail during testing times. Vishwas or trust is tested only during examinations, when we are in trouble and sometimes, we fail. If our faith wanders or we get disturbed or we shift our focus or not remain centered, it only proves that we don’t have complete faith or trust in Baba. I always try to achieve this constantly and Baba’s teachings and messages keep reminding us of what needs to be worked on.
“Remember, Meher Baba has said, ‘All talk about the path and the goal, is as a lantern carried by a blind man. A blind man needs a staff in his hand; the seeker needs his hand in God-Man’s.’ Baba said that a blind man has two options, either hold a lantern or a stick, but he/she has picked up the lantern. That is why, Baba lovers these days write that a blind man has picked up the lantern but what they should write is that, a blind man should pick up the stick; a blind man can go ahead with the help of a stick at least. The messages and words given to us by Baba are our sticks to help us walk ahead. I feel Baba is saying, ‘the stick are My messages, to obey My orders, through these means you can go ahead but you can’t go ahead with just talks’. When Baba Himself says that, you can’t go ahead with talks, then why spend so much time in organizing talks etc. Thus, many times I have refused to come on stage and talk. Just hearing talks or reading Baba’s messages and not implementing them, makes no sense.
“I started absorbing all the messages which Baba has given on silence. Another message on which Baba has laid great emphasis on is, ‘if My silence cannot speak, of what avail would be speeches made by the tongue?’ He would say, ‘silent are the words of My silence and My lovers love My silence.’ Another message is, ‘I am never silent. I speak eternally, the voice that is heard deep within the soul is My voice’. ‘To those who are receptive to this voice, I speak.’ Even today, more than fifty years after Baba has dropped His body, there is 100% presence of Baba. Today, anyone can ask for help from Him and they will receive help but such a prayer needs to come from the depths of one’s heart and soul.”
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