Experiences of Rajan Tiwari with Meher Baba
Ruzbeh N. Bharucha
“My father, Bhagirath Tiwari, came to Baba in 1930 or so, along with my paternal aunty for Baba’s darshan. My father was ten years old. When he met Baba, Baba looked at him and asked him, ‘will you stay with Me?’ My father was an orphan. Both, his mother and father had passed away and he lived with his aunt. My father immediately told Baba, ‘yes Baba, I will stay with You’. Baba said, ‘okay, I will call for you’. In 1933, Baba sent Adi kaka to go and meet my father and his aunt and inform my father that Baba had called for him. My father was thirteen or fourteen years old at that time. Baba had told Adi kaka that, ‘you personally go and bring Bhagirath with you, he will stay with us from now’. Since then my father began to live in Meherabad along with the mandali. It was around three years of living with Baba and the mandali, when my father was around sixteen years old, for some reason my father told Baba that, ‘I don’t want to live in the mandali, I want to live independently’. Baba told my father that, ‘if you want to live independently then you will need to learn some work to help you to support yourself’. Baba thought for a while and then He asked my father, ‘what will you learn?’ My father was not sure. Baba asked him whether he would like to learn to operate the movie projector or would he like to become a mechanic. My father replied, ‘I want to learn mechanic work Baba’.”
“Why did your father not want to live with the mandali?”
“Pappa was still very young at that time and he would say that he didn’t enjoy the ashram life. He wanted to stay independently outside but still serve Meher Baba. I guess to live in an ashram doesn’t appeal to youngsters. As a young boy of that age he had his own aspirations and thoughts. He was just fifteen or sixteen years old.”
“Yes, true. Then what took place?”
“Baba told him to pack his bag and He called for a car. Baba took my father along with him and they went off to Nashik. Imagine, Baba took the trouble to take my father Himself and travelled all the way to Nashik a few hours away from Meherabad. Adi kaka’s brother, Rustomji, had a petrol pump, a car agency and a garage there. Baba introduced my father to everybody and then told the main person in charge of the garage that, ‘Bhagirath is going to be here from today. Teach him how to repair a car, a truck and all types of vehicles’. The man said that he would do his best to teach my father everything. Baba then called the accountant and inquired as to what was the usual salary for a mechanic? The accountant said they usually paid fifty rupees a month. Baba told the accountant that, as the man was going to teach Bhagirath how to repair vehicles, he should be given at least five rupees more for all the trouble he would undertake to teach the young boy. After settling my father, Baba left. My father started living and learning how to become a good mechanic. He learnt well and a year later, around 1937, Baba came to Nasik and asked my father if he has completed his mechanic course, he said yes and Baba said, let’s go back to Meherabad. Seeking Baba’s approval, he began to work at Sarosh Motors. Remember, he was still a young man of eighteen, so, Baba told him not only to learn how to become a good mechanic but also how to start his own business. In 1940, my father’s brother bought a truck for my father. Once, when my father’s paternal aunt passed away, my father was heart-broken. This aunt had taken care of him since he was a child and she was like a mother to him. Those days, Baba lived up on the hill, and He came down around ten in the morning to lower Meherabad. That day, when He came to lower Meherabad and was moving towards the Mandali Hall, He saw my father crying and hence asked him what had happened? My father told Baba that, ‘my paternal aunt has passed away’. Baba embraced my father and through gestures said, ‘don’t worry, I am your father and your mother. Why are you crying? I am with you always’.
“In 1948, my father got married, of course with Baba’s blessings. His wife’s name is Kokila. Baba asked him through gestures, ‘where will you live now? You don’t have any house’. At that time Baba had taken the women mandali and gone to a bungalow known as ice factory, which has now got converted into a hotel. Baba told my father through gestures, ‘Bhagirath, I am leaving this bungalow and going, you do one thing, you and Kokila have newly got married, both of you live in this bungalow’. My father was overjoyed. He felt as though his father was taking care of him personally. Baba left that bungalow. There was some furniture left, Baba gave it to my father and then my father and mother, started living there. Baba then called him and said through gestures, ‘you all don’t have any vessels, no stuff, or grains. Kokila, how will you cook?’ She didn’t say anything. Baba said through gestures, ‘okay, do one thing, for eight days I will bring food for both of you, till then make other arrangements.’
“For eight days continuously, Baba Himself would get food from Meherabad and sit in front of my parents and make them eat. My father had no close relatives here. Baba would see to everything for my father. I think once a week or so, Baba would take the women mandali to Sarosh Talkies, in Nagar, for a movie. He would bring them early in the morning to watch English movies. He did not want anybody to see the ladies mandali, so they would come for the movie at five or six in the morning. While coming from Meherazad, Baba would pick up Kokila (my mother) too. This timing of the movie was kept for Baba specifically. Baba would make my mother sit in between Mehera mai and Mani aunty. He would tell Mani aunty to explain the movie to my mother (as they would watch English movies, and my mother did not understand the English accent). Thus, as you can see, Baba really took care of my parents, as though He was their father. Baba was everything for my father. There was almost never a day when they did not meet Baba. Later on, I was born. Baba told my father through gestures, ‘how will Kokila live alone in such a big bungalow?’ My father had a transport business, so he would keep travelling and would not be present at home for days at a stretch sometimes. Baba told my father, ‘you shift into Khushroo Quarters’, which is now called Meher Nazar. It was Adi kaka and Gulu mai’s bungalow. Since I was born, I have grown up seeing Baba.”
“Which year were you born in?”
“I was born in 1950. I grew up in Khushroo Quarters. Baba came there often and whenever He would come there, we met Him. Then, when Baba went from Meherabad to either Meherazad or Poona, His first stop was at Khushroo Quarters, at Adi kaka’s office. As we too lived there, we were very fortunate to meet Baba regularly. Then, later on, when Baba would call the Ahmednagar lovers to Meherazad we again got the opportunity of spending time with Him. Just being around Him and just looking at His most beautiful face was like being in Heaven. I cannot describe those emotions. I remember, I was around eight or ten years old when Baba had called us to meet Him. My father had told me that, ‘Baba loves Sher-o-shayiri, Urdu poetry, so memorize one sher and recite it in front of Baba’. There was a Persian Professor named Abdul Karim from Ahmednagar College. He too was coming along with us to meet Baba at Meherazad. He taught me one sher. We met Baba and sat in front of Him. My father told Baba, ‘Rajan wants to tell You a sher’, Baba gestured, ‘very good, suna (recite)’. That was the first sher or poem that I recited in front of Baba. I am now reciting the sher to you. ‘Arz kiya hai,
baage bahisht say,
mujhe huk me safar diya tha kyun,
Kaare jahan daraaz hai,
ab Tu mera intzar kar.’
“The meaning of this couplet is that Adam is telling God, ‘You sent me from above to Earth and since You have sent me here, I have a lot of work to do, so I won’t be back to You too soon, You will have to wait for me’. Baba loved this couplet. Since that day I do not remember a single occasion when I met Baba without Him asking me to recite a sher .
“Every time I would go in front of Baba I would recite a new sher. As many times I went in front of Him, through gestures, Baba would say, ‘come on, quickly recite it’. I remember one incident so vividly. Baba travelled from Meherazad to Poona during summer. In Nagar, there were two stops. One was at Khushroo Quarters, which is now called Meher Nazar. Baba halted there for sometime. Then Baba would halt at Akbar Press Bungalow on Station Road too. There were a lot of things to be taken from Meherazad to Poona. My father took all the things which needed to be taken, in his truck. Thus, my father would get to know the exact travel details of Baba. His plans were not revealed to one and all. I knew that Baba would pass from here.
His schedule was perfect. Those days, we had shifted to another house, which was en-route that Baba took to travel to Poona. There is a bungalow opposite Akbar Press Property and we had begun living there on rent. This place was on Station Road, near the old bus-stand. I knew the exact time when Baba would pass by and I had developed a real liking to make Baba hear the Urdu couplets. Since I knew the exact time when Baba would pass by, I would stand on that road. I had told myself that if Baba were to ask me what I am doing here, I would say that I was playing. Once Baba’s car reached Akbar Press, I could see it from our place. I went and stood on the opposite side of the road. As soon as Baba left for Poona in his car, Baba saw me standing by the road side and He told the driver, ‘Rajan is standing there, so stop the car’. The car stopped next to me, Baba rolled down the window and gestured that, ‘quickly, recite a sher’. He knew that I was standing there to recite a sher to Him. So, immediately I recited the sher, as I was ready and knew it by heart. I don’t remember which sher I had recited at that time on the road but I still remember that day, as though it happened just yesterday. Baba heard the sher, smiled, controlled His laughter and then left from there for Poona.
“A similar incident took place in Guruprasad where Baba gave darshan. There was a very big hall in Guruprasad and we were sitting there. I was sitting very far away from Baba and the only thing that was going on in my mind was that, ‘today, how will I make Baba hear a sher? There is such a large crowd here and we are sitting so far away from Baba. I don’t think there will be a chance to make Baba hear the sher today, which I had memorized for Him’. These were the thoughts running through my head. Everyone was seated in the hall and Baba was very busy with all these people. Suddenly, Baba gestured towards me. I thought Baba was gesturing to somebody else. I was just a kid and not for a moment did I think that Baba would single out a child from such a large gathering. Then Eruchji called out my name and said, ‘Rajan, Baba is calling you’. I got up and approached Baba. Baba gestured to say, ‘chal, suna’. I still remember the sher :
‘arz kiya hai,
alag baithay thay,
phir bhi nazar Saaki ki padi hum par,
alag baithay thay,
phir bhi nazar Saaki ki padi hum par,
agar hai tishnagi kaamil toh paimane bhi ayengay’.
It means, ‘I was sitting aloof, still my Lord’s eyes fell on me, if you really have a want for Him to quench your thirst, then He will Himself call you, and make you drink from His goblet’. Imagine what an apt sher and Baba heard me and then looked deep into my eyes and through gestures said, ‘My nazar is on you always’, and then he asked me to stand next to Him. In every five or ten minutes He would ask me to recite a new sher, I must have recited at least eight to ten shers on that day. Baba was like our family member. I have seen and been with Baba since my birth. I could not imagine my life without Baba’s presence. I grew up and went to college in Nagar. In 1969, Baba left His body. That time, the first feeling which I got was that, without Baba’s permission not a step is taken in our family. What will we do now? I remember, once Baba had some work and called for my father but my father had gone for some other work. When he returned, Baba called him and said, ‘where had you gone and why did you not tell Me?’ My father said, ‘Baba, I thought why I should bother You for such small things’. Baba said through gestures, ‘nai, even if you have to pick up a small stick and keep it from here to there, you have to ask Me; every single thing you do you should ask Me’. Thus, the entire atmosphere at home has always been around Baba and that Baba is the head of our family. When Baba dropped His body, the first thought that went through my mind was, ‘what will happen to us and what will happen to our lives and our home?’ Baba saw to everything. Even as a small child I got these thoughts that, what will we do after Baba leaves His body?”
“You were present in Meherazad when Baba left His body?”
“I was not in Meherazad when He left the body, but when they got Baba’s body to Meherabad from Meherazad, I was there. We were all there. I remember one instance during those seven days, it was evening time, Baba’s body was placed in the Sabha mandap, near Baba’s room. On one side the Sun was setting and on the other side a full Moon was rising simultaneously. I remember this incident so clearly. It was as though, both, the Sun and the Moon were paying homage to Baba.”
“When did your father pass away?”
“Daddy passed away in 2017.”
“Was his entire life spent being dedicated to Baba?”
“Yes, his entire life was surrendered and dedicated to Baba only and with Baba only. Till the end he was madly in love with Baba. He was a Baba lover through and through. In his life, he had many friends who had become very big in the spiritual field. They had become Mahatmas and Sants, Masters and Sages but my father never ever bowed or touched anybody’s feet. He only bowed and touched Baba’s feet. He treated those highly evolved souls like friends. He only spoke about Baba to them and he brought a lot of people to Baba. He brought very high spiritual people to Baba. The strange part is that after Baba dropped His body, I felt and feel Him closer to me now. I think of Him not just every day but every moment.”
“What about Mehera Maa?”
“Mummy had a very close relationship with Mehera mai and the women mandali. Even after Baba dropped His body, Mehera mai and the women mandali came to our place and ate lunch with my mother. Every year, at least twice a year, they would come home. The entire women mandali would come in the morning, have their lunch here, watch some movie together and spend the entire day at our home. In those days, they had those video cassettes and they watched some nice movie together. They drank their tea and then left around four or five in the afternoon. We never stayed at home when Mehera mai and the women mandali came. Pappa would leave the house before they arrived, I stayed back to wish them Jai Baba and then leave. Only my wife and my mummy Kokila would spend time with the women mandali.”
“Mehera mai was very pleasant, very soft in nature, very dignified. I forgot to tell you about a very interesting incident. Baba had called all of us Baba lovers to Meherazad. Everyone went on their own, in a bus or car. We also reached there but we reached a bit late. As I got down from the vehicle and I started walking, I heard a voice saying, ‘catch’ ‘catch’. I looked up and saw a ball moving towards me. I caught the ball. Then, I came to know that the ball was hit by Baba. Baba began to laugh silently. Everybody started shouting, ‘Baba out, Baba out, out’. Baba said through gestures, ‘he plays good cricket’. My father told Baba, ‘Baba, he also recites commentary very well’. I mimicked cricket commentators who gave commentary on radio. Baba gestured to say, ‘is it! Come on, let’s listen to his commentary. Then, Baba gestured again, ‘just wait a minute’ and He sent a message to the women mandali, to come outside. Baba said, ‘Rajan is going to recite commentary for Me, come and listen’, so even the women mandali came out. Of course, we could not see the women mandali. They sat in a place where they could see us but we could not see them. Once, when the women mandali came home to spend the day with my mother, it was then that Mehera mai said, ‘Rajan, it was a very good commentary, we were listening from behind’. That is how I came to know that they were also listening.
“Baba would make His presence be felt through Mehera mai, Mani aunty and the women mandali. Everything we did was in reality done by Baba. When mummy had some medical problem Goher aunty would come and take mummy to the doctor. My mother had to undergo an operation. Goher aunty was there with my mother inside the operation theatre. Thus, everything was done by Baba and the mandali for us. We had nobody else. I got married in 1983 and though my wife had never seen Baba physically, she is very close to Baba, as she has spent time with Mehera mai and the women mandali. I truly miss Baba and those days. Often, I recite a sher knowing that Baba still hears me and I can still see His eyes twinkle and He saying, ‘suna, suna, I am listening’.
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