Experiences of Rashna Eruch Karadia with Meher Baba
Ruzbeh N. Bharucha
“I will try and tell you all that I can remember. My husband Eruch is not too well so I will have to speak on his behalf too.”
An old man sat by my left. He had his eyes shut. A smile played on his lips. He was there and yet not there with us.
“How did your journey begin with Meher Baba?”
“Actually my husband met Baba in 1953 at Poona station. At that time though he had heard about Meher Baba but he did not take to Him nor did he believe in Him. He was studying in Poona College, Engineering and one of his friends came across a leaflet announcing that Meher Baba was coming to Poona and the friend insisted that as Meher Baba was coming to Poona and that they should all go and meet Him. The friend insisted as Eruch was connected with Upasni Maharaj of Sakori. So the friend told my husband, ‘what is the harm to meet another Baba’. My husband Eruch refused but they just dragged him to the station. They saw Meher Baba standing on the platform and there was a crowd present to meet Him. Eruch was actually scared of going close to Meher Baba as he feared that Meher Baba would mesmerize him. He had funny ideas in those days. So his friends actually pushed Eruch in front of Baba.
“Baba saw Eruch and with His hands gestured to indicate to him to come closer. Eruch was worried that Meher Baba was a fraud. There was a certain section of the Zoroastrian community that was very anti Meher Baba and there were a lot of rumours being spread against Baba. To create further confusion in his mind, Eruch saw Meher Baba embracing all the women who met Him. There were a lot of women from abroad and also Parsi women, whenever they met Meher Baba, He would embrace each one of them. Eruch thought that if this Man is a God Man, how was He so openly embracing every woman who came for His darshan. Eruch decided to stay away from Baba. Baba Himself motioned Eruch to come to Him and when Eruch stood in front of Him, Baba first embraced him and then indicated through hand movement that, ‘what you see, I am not that. What you don’t see truly of Me, I am That’.
Baba embraced Eruch again and Eruch began to cry. After this meeting Eruch forgot about Meher Baba. Then in 1954, Eruch was staying in Navsari, as we have a house there. A very good friend of Eruch, by the name of Dr. Hoshang Bharucha told Eruch that he was going to Meherabad and asked if he would like to join in, as there was a sahavas or a gathering taking place which was meant only for men. My husband was in two minds. He told Dr. Bharucha that he would have to seek permission from his Guru, Upasni Maharaj’s heir, Godavari Mai and if She were to give him permission then he would come along to Meherabad. Eruch contacted Godavari Mai and to his surprise She told him that She Herself was going to be present in Meherabad.
“So, Eruch went along with Dr. Hoshang Bharucha and the group from Gujarat. He stayed in Meherabad for about seven days and took part in all the lectures. He attended all the lectures in the sahavas and took part in all the activities.”
“So he met Meher Baba again in Meherabad?” I inquired.
“Yes, Eruch once again met Meher Baba in Meherabad. Meher Baba observed silence and a doubt came to Eruch’s mind that did Meher Baba really observe silence all these years or was He play acting. Did He maintain silence in the world but once back home did He speak? So one day he decided to find out for himself. During lunch break he went down to lower Meherabad and in one of those small cottages there was a dining room where Meher Baba ate His lunch. Eruch decided to quietly go and observe whether Baba spoke or not. When He went there He saw Meher Baba and even there Meher Baba was observing silence, communicating with hand gestures to His mandali and something within my husband decided that Meher Baba was genuine and that is how his journey with Meher Baba really began. Eruch commenced to regularly go with Dr. Bharucha to Meherabad and meet Meher Baba and take His blessings.”
“When did you meet Meher Baba?”
“I met Meher Baba in the month of May 1960, when I was just nine years old. I went with my mother Sheroo and brother Xerxis for the first time to meet Meher Baba, the Lord of the Universe. I consider myself very fortunate that I am in the hands of the God-Man. I remember that day very clearly. I had lost my father when I was six years old. We were in the room with Meher Baba. Alu Khambatta was there, Eruch Jessawala was present, Arnavaz Dadachanji, Dr. Goher and Mr. Meherji/ee Karkaria, the latter was also related to my mother’s family, we were all sitting in a room. Though it was my first meeting with Baba, my mother had met Baba a few months prior. We were all sitting looking at Baba when suddenly Baba clapped His hands and gestured to everybody to go out of the room. This was His daily routine, He made people go out and then come in. So we also got up to go out. He gestured to say, ‘no no, you three don’t go, you three stay’. So He gave us a quiet darshan. We had got a garland. I put the garland around His neck. Then He removed a flower from the garland and threw it on us. He then told my mummy through gestures that, ‘you don’t worry about them. They are My children. I will always look after them’. My mother was so relieved that there was somebody to look after us as she was taking care of us all alone. She had lost her husband at a very tender age. She was only thirty two years young when she became a widow. Then, I remember saying a poem or prayer in Gujarati and after that everybody was called in again. Baba again gestured to my mother to say, ‘you don’t worry. I will look after them. You are worrying too much. I will be there for you’. We all felt blessed and happy. Thus, we began to go to Pune and visit Meher Baba at Guruprasad every year. Our summer holidays were spent in Pune, meeting Baba and spending time with Him, whenever He called us to Guruprasad.”
“How did you all hear about Meher Baba?”
“We met Him through Alu Khambatta. My brother wasn’t keeping too well. He was very young then. Alu aunty ran a medical clinic in Saint Joseph’s School at Wadala. So my mother took my brother for a medical checkup and met Dr. Khambata. She was a homeopathic doctor. On her desk Meher Baba’s photo was placed. Whenever my mother went to meet the doctor, she would talk about Meher Baba. My mother had heard of Meher Baba but as she came from the Zoroastrian priestly class, her father had made it clear that all those who claim to be Babas are frauds and one must only focus on one’s religion and Prophet Zarathustra. The doctor and my mother became friends and she began to visit our home. Those days too we were staying at Dadar and the doctor came here to conduct homeopathy classes. My mother’s faith in Meher Baba began to grow and that is how in 1960 we all met Meher Baba.”
“What was your first impression when you saw Meher Baba?”
“Oh, I was only nine years old, thus I can’t really tell you what I thought or felt during the first time when I saw the Avatar. Though my mother would keep telling me that He is God and I didn’t really understand all that but when I met Him, I just knew that He is God in human form. So, in a way that was my first impression of Meher Baba, a firm conviction that He is the Avatar.
“My mother knew Eruch, who later on became my husband, as they both were from Navsari. I was too young. Eruch is much older to me. My mother knew him well. In Guruprasad, I always sat very close to Baba. Only on Sundays the Central Hall was used. Otherwise Baba sat in a small room. Only a few people were called and we were called all the time. I would sit very close to Him and go on staring at Him, looking at Him, observing all His actions, expressions. He would be very happy and then suddenly His expression would change to being upset or thoughtful. I could never really make out when His expressions would change. I would think that Baba is angry, suddenly He is happy, suddenly He is upset and I would get scared. Another thing is that He used to look so fast…. like that like that…. You must have seen in His movies, His eyes would move very fast. When He looked at you, you couldn’t look back at Him. For example, I can stare in your eyes, I couldn’t stare like that in His eyes, one really got scared to look into His eyes. We met Baba regularly till 1967. Then He went into seclusion and then His health began to deteriorate. Thus, He had stopped calling His lovers for darshan. My mother would go every year to meet Him and He would always tell my mother through gestures, ‘why are you coming every year, you are spending so much money. I can see you wherever you are, My blessings are always with you’. My mother would say, ‘no no when You are here I can’t stay away from You’. So, somehow we still managed to come and have a glimpse of Baba.”
“Did He ever tell you anything personally?”
“No, nothing special. My brother was a mischievous child, along with Rustom and Sorab who were nephews of Baba, they would be up to mischief in Guruprasad. There was a pond along with a fountain there. These boys played outside all the time. They would never sit inside and they were up to mischief all the time. They took everybody’s chappals and shoes and threw them into the pond. One day Baba suddenly gestured to the mandali, ‘go go, see, these boys are making mischief again, call them’. My brother was one of them, who was brought in front of Baba. Baba twisted his ears and told my mother through gestures, ‘tell him not to come for eight days over here’. My mother said, ‘if he doesn’t come, I will also not be able to come to meet You Baba, nor will Rashna be able to come’. My mother profusely apologized and so did my brother, then Baba relented.”
“He was very strict?”
“Oh! He was very strict. What I miss even today the most is not being able to embrace Him as when we bowed down to Him, we would embrace Him every time we meet Him.”
“What did you feel for Meher Baba?”
“I always feel that He is someone who is looking after us. Though I lost my father when I was very young, I always knew that Meher Baba was there protecting us and looking after us. I had a fatherly feeling for Him. Yes, He is the Avatar, I know but it was more than that, He was like a father to me.
“I remember that we were all there for the East West Gathering in 1962. All the Westerners were to sit in the front and all the Indians were to sit behind, as we had opportunities to meet Meher Baba so much more than the foreigners. I was very young and didn’t understand why we were put behind the foreigners and I wondered why had Baba put us so behind? He would get up so many times and wave out, indicating that, ‘see I am far but I am with you’. Then we lined up for darshan and when my turn came to bow down to Him I looked at Him and He didn’t look at me. I got very upset because He didn’t look at me. I was heartbroken that Baba did not look at me. Every time whenever we met He would embrace and kiss me and that day He turned His face away from me. I was heartbroken. I now understand that He did this as I was not happy with the fact that we were kept behind the foreigners. It was His way of telling me to surrender to His every wish and demand, to obey Him implicitly. I was very young then. You know how it is when you are young.
“In 1960 when we all went to meet Meher Baba we stayed in a small flat in a building where Dolly Bastani was staying with her family, who also were very close Meher Baba lovers. In that small flat we were many who stayed together. There was Khorshed Irani, Sarosh Irani, Darabshaw Umrigar, Tehmina Umrigar, Dr. Alu Khambatta, my mother Sheroo Pavri, my brother Xerxis and myself along with Kharman masi. Baba had said that in His next advent as the Avatar, Kharman masi would be His father. We went for darshan in the morning and in the evening we were free. We decided to make merry. We decided to go out somewhere. One day we took a luxury bus and went sightseeing around Poona. That day was an off day. I think we had gone out from morning. In the evening it began to rain heavily. It rained so much that the whole house was filled with rain water, as the windows were left open and the rain water had come in. With the help of buckets we removed the water. The next day, as usual, we went to Guruprasad to meet Baba and He asked each one through gestures, ‘How was your day? What did you eat? Did you all sleep well?’ Our turn came and the elders spoke about what had taken place the previous day, that we all went sightseeing and when we wanted to come back to where we were living, there was no vehicle to get us back home. Somebody gave us a lift to come home and also about how the rain water had entered the house and how we had to clean the place up. Through gestures Baba said, ‘I had told you all not to go anywhere. Have you come to see Me or have you come to sight-see Poona?’ Baba was very possessive. He wanted our thoughts and attention only on Him.
“Then one day another incident took place. Baba had told us not to eat mutton during a particular time period. I don’t know what happened but everybody forgot about this instruction. We went to the market and got one full leg of mutton as there were many people living together. We got it in the evening so that in the morning we would cook the mutton and then go to Guruprasad for darshan. During that time there was no fridge. They kept the mutton in a big vessel and a lid was kept on it. I think it was immersed in ice. We slept soundly at night. Many slept on the ground because of lack of space. Mr. Umrigar was sleeping on the veranda and it seems a dog came in, from where, God alone knows, went to the kitchen and then somehow lifted the lid of the vessel without dropping it or making any sound, removed the mutton and to make matters worse, the dog with the large chunk of mutton in his mouth kept walking around the house. Suddenly an elderly lady, I have forgotten her name, hearing some noise woke up and got the shock of her life seeing a massive dog, walking around with a large chuck of mutton in its mouth and she started screaming, ‘mutton….mutton….mutton’ and she actually ran after the dog who ran out of the house still holding that mutton in its mouth. The dog ran out of the building followed by this aunty screaming ‘mutton…mutton…mutton’. Aunty reached the road and there was no sign of the dog at all. We all ran after the dog but there was no dog in sight. Logically at least we should have seen the dog somewhere but it was no where. The aunt searched in all the lanes but there was no sign of the dog. It had disappeared. Also, when a dog takes a large chunk of mutton in its mouth, there should be some sign of blood or water on the floor but there was no sign of either blood or water. Anyway after searching for a while it was decided to forget the dog and the mutton. Next day, we were in Guruprasad seated near Baba and Baba inquired as to what did we eat today? We narrated the story of what took place and Baba began to laugh. After Baba stopped laughing, He said, ‘I had told you not to eat mutton during this period, why did you bring mutton?’ There was a reason as to why He had told us not to eat mutton during this period. We don’t know what the reason was but He knows best. Like this, we met Baba till 1967.”
“I also remember that when we went to Poona, the Dadachanji’s family, stayed at Mobo’s hotel as Guruprasad was very close by. We could not afford staying at Mobo’s because it was very expensive. So we stayed in the Soonawalla Guest House on Sachapir Street. It was a bungalow and we stayed there. Baba had given an order to Arnavaz Dadachanji that whenever He called for their family, our family should be brought along too. Baba would call at any time of the day, there was no timing. Sometimes He would call at three in the afternoon, sometimes at twelve noon, anytime of the day, so whenever He called Adi Dubash, would come in a rickshaw to bring us and he would say, ‘come come, come fast, Baba is calling’. We were always ready, knowing that Baba would call us at anytime. When he would come to pick us up, we would all go with him. It was then decided that in the morning we would have our breakfast and then go to Mobo’s hotel and wait for Baba’s call. Once Baba had called and said, ‘come, let us go for ice cream’. Once we had gone for a movie with the mandali. Baba hadn’t come, we went for a movie with the mandali. Those were beautiful days.
“Baba was very mischievous. He loved to play cards. I have never played cards with Him. He played with others. He always won. Those who lost had to rub their noses on the ground in front of Him. He would say that it was a good punishment actually, as in front of your Master your Karmas were getting wiped clean. Everybody asks, ‘what did Baba give you?’ Actually what He has come for is to wipe our sanskaras and Karma. Once, we were all sitting in the small mandali hall. My mother, my brother and I were was also present. Baba said through gestures, ‘all these people seated here have come with Me from past lifetimes (mora saathay janmo janam ti avech).’ It means that we have been with Him since many lifetimes. That means in this birth, as well as when He was Muhammed, when He was Christ, we were all with Him. That is what He meant. I am very happy about it.”
“Were you there when Baba dropped His body?”
“No, for the last darshan I wasn’t there.’
“I don’t know, at that time I had just joined my new job and my mother was to go but we got the news in the evening and they said that Baba’s body will be put into the crypt the next day in the morning and it would be shut.”
“His body was kept in the crypt for seven days which was kept open for His lovers.”
“Yes, but those days communication was not very good. We would keep getting different news.”
“What did you feel when you heard that Meher Baba had left His physical body?”
“I remember, I had just come back from work. My mother said that Baba had expired. I just sat on the chair and my first reaction was to say aloud, ‘oh my God who will look after us now’. Those were my words. I was in complete shock.”
“After Meher Baba left His body, till today, you have remained His follower?”
“Yes, till today. I shall always follow Meher Baba.”
“Has He ever come in your dreams?”
“Only once He came in my dream. I just saw Him and I was very happy. He didn’t say a word. I was so happy to see Him. I can’t describe that feeling.”
“What about Baba’s interaction with your husband?”
“Baba was very fond of him and he was also very fond of Baba. Once when Baba was in Poona, my husband Eruch came to meet Him. He had gone to Calcutta for a job. He was a flight engineer. He then came to Bombay and joined Indian Airlines. He met Baba in Poona and Baba asked him through gestures, ‘why have you come to Bombay, to get married?’ Eruch said, ‘no Baba, You have told me not to get married’. Baba smiled and indicated that his time for marriage had come and soon with Baba’s blessings we were married.”
“You must have kept meeting your husband in Guruprasad?”
“Yes, I used to see him in Guruprasad and in Navsari too when went for a few days. I am much younger to him and he would usually just caress my head. He is sixteen years elder to me. Obviously at that time I had no idea that I was going to get married to him. The first time I had met him was when I was seven years old. Dr. Bharucha did Baba’s arti daily but on Thursdays people came to attend the arti. Eruch would attend it. I too went for it. At that time I had not even met Meher Baba. As a child Dr. Bharucha would pick me up and make me bow down to Baba’s photo and to Baba’s holy chappals which were kept there. Those days I had no idea who Meher Baba was. Thus, I guess from the beginning of my life Meher Baba has been with me.”
“What about Mehera Maa? Did you meet Her?”
“Yes, many times.”
“What was your impression of Her?”
“Mehera mai was very sweet, calm, a very loving lady whereas Mani aunty was filled with too much of josh and energy. Mehera mai had a lot of restrictions. She sat where no male could see Her. Baba sat on the sofa in the big Guruprasad hall and there was a side room, where Mehera mai would sit with a fan. She could only see Meher Baba and if anybody came in Her sight, She would cover Her face with the large hand fan. She could only see Meher Baba and She was kept that way by Baba. Baba would tell us through gestures, ‘first go and meet Mehera’. We went inside the rooms where the women mandali were, just to meet Mehera mai, Mani aunty, Goher, Rano.”
“Mehera mai communicated with my mother. We were too small to say anything to Her. We would just kiss Her, hug Her and She would ask sweetly and softly, ‘How are your studies going on?… How is your school?… When is school reopening?’, such questions.”
“But She was very kind and tender?”
“Oh yes! Most kind and tender but then of course after Meher Baba dropped His body, I met her often till She left Her body too. We used to go to Meherazad and meet Her on the veranda. She sat on the sofa. When She dropped Her body I had gone and paid my respects.”
“What have you learnt from Meher Baba?”
“Meher Baba has taught me to be patient, to love all fellow beings and to be kind towards them. This is what I have learnt. He has not taught us through words. We have learnt it by seeing Him, through Him and He has sown these seeds in us. To be kind, giving and patient. Baba would say, ‘once you come to Me, there is no need for you to go anywhere else but if at all you want to go, go to My Five Perfect Masters only, Sai Baba of Shirdi, Upasni Maharaj, Narayan Maharaj, Tajuddin Baba and Babajaan’. I have been to the Samadhis of all the Five Perfect Masters.”
“Do you miss those days?”
“Oh! So much! So very much! Once we went for Mehera mai’s birthday. Meher Baba was also present in the body at that time. So, all of us assembled in the Meherazad garden. All were given plates, with cake and wafers and we were all standing and eating. Baba used to move around. That time my brother was very small, so he had a plate in his hand. Baba took one piece of the cake from his plate and ate it. My brother kept telling my mother, ‘Baba ate my cake (Baba moru cake khai gaya)’. Mummy told my brother, ‘keep quiet, it is good that He ate from your plate’. I miss those days a lot. Most of all, I miss embracing Meher Baba so much.”
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