Manonash (Annihilation of mind) work at Hyderabad – A brief account
Manonash Cave, Khojaguda Hill, Hyderabad
(Where Baba stayed in the cave during his manonash period from 15th to 24th October , 1951)
Khojaguda hill is about 15 to 18 Kilometers from Hyderabad. On it’s top there is a dargah of Harzat Baba Fakhruddin who lived in the fourteenth century. He was regarded and revered as great Wali. At present, although this dargah has become a place of yearly pilgrimage, strangely, it has no roof. On inquiry one learns that in the past, quite a few times, the Wali admirers contributed to build a roof over the tomb, but every time ,within a few days , it was blown off. This led people to conclude that Baba Fakhruddin preferred exposure to the heavens for all time. On one of hill side there is an old temple of Vishnu, with an image of the god reclining on a big coiled cobra(Sesh), its hood spreading over his head. another important place to the dargah is a cave about 20’ x 15’. the height from the entrance gradually decreases and the darkness increases as one gets inside. In the interior part there is a ledge which served as a shelf for the models which Baba kept near Him during His special work of Mononash .
Baba, on His first visit to the hill instructed the companions to construct two improvised rooms in the premises of the dargah. He asked them to keep the three places- the dargah, the temple and the cave-clean. Baba wanted to stay there for a fortnight, but the scarcity of water threatened to upset this plan. The companions, while walking about happened to notice a pond of stagnant water. Baba seemed happy to hear this. Having regarded this site as an ideal place for His work, He told the companions that they could use the water for all purpose after boiling and filtering it. At the foot of the hill were paddy fields and palm trees, some standing erect while a few grew close to the ground. This hill itself was barren and had no vegetation; it only abounded in big black stones.
Before the inauguration of the manonash phase, a month or so earlier, Baba had asked Eruch to get five models; a temple , a mosque, a church, a pagoda and a fire-temple (known as agyari). These respectively represented five religions of the world: Hinduism , Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism. A craftsman from Agra was assigned the job of preparing these models. He, however, expressed his inability to carve on agyari- the place of worship for the Zoroastrians or the parsees- because he had never seen the interior structure of a fire temples Eruch send him a drawing of a fire urn which is kept in the sanctum of any parsee worship of worship. Accordingly all these models were cut in alabaster. The approximate size of each were about 7” x 7” x 7”. each one could be separated into four or more parts and could easily be fitted on a very thin plate of soft marble. The temple had a small shivling (a symbolic representation of Lord Shiva) and inside the pagoda was a tiny image of lord Buddha. When Baba learnt the all the models were obtained intact at Hyderabad from Agra, He looked especially pleased. The companions, however, had no idea of the way Baba was intending to use these models.
On October 13, Baba instructed some of His companions to take the necessary luggage to Khojaguda hill, along with the box containing the models. They packed and placed every piece carefully in the car and set out. The car stopped at the foot of the hill. Pendu, Gustadji and Baidul started to walk towards the dargah to inspect the site and the rooms. Meanwhile , Eruch parked the car, rolled up the windows, locked the doors and then followed the other companions. He had hardly gone ten to twelve meters when the sound of the moving car made him look back. He was greatly astonished to find that the car started rolling backwards. He rushed towards the car but it had already started picking up stopped. Hence it was impossible for him to open the locked door and get hold of the steering wheel. He helplessly tried to run alongside that car and slow it down, but soon he had to give up for, unbelievably, the car started leaping over rocks and bushes. Sometimes confronted with an obstacle, the car would stop, back-up or turn aside in an extremely quixotic manner. Eruch had left the car in neutral and had put the emergency break on. In spite of this the car started “skipping over” slanting toddy palms as if it were possessed by some spirit. This erratic movement of the car could be regarded as symbolic of the frenzied mind, waiting for the annihilation at the end of the manonash phase! Eventually, after this incredible display of jumping, the car got stuck in a muddy paddy field.
Pendu and others who were watching this strange phenomenon felt relieved at its expiration. Eruch, however, looked worried for the models safety, as the models were very important for Baba’s work. Eruch was sure that the car had been seriously damaged, he turned the ignition key and the engine started, but it made a frightful noise. The car which was stuck in the mud was towed by a truck which had brought faggots (fuel) for the Baba’s party. He then removed the paddy straw and leaves which had gotten into the engine with the help of the truck driver. When these were removed the engine no longer made a queer noise and despite its mysterious jumps, there were no visible signs of damage to the car.
The luggage along the box containing the models were carried up the hill. In one of the rooms, Eruch, somewhat nervously, opened the box and had another surprise. All the models were perfectly safe! (At present these models are preserved in a glass case in the museum at Meherabad). Not a piece was broken, not even a scratch was noticed on any of them. And all heaved a sigh of relief. Owing to this unforeseen event, the companion were late getting back to Hyderabad. Baba inquired about the delay. Gustadji, who was observing silence, then communicated the entire episode with gestures, which were interpreted by Eruch. This gave Baba many a hearty chuckle. Nevertheless, Baba neither expressed any surprise over what had happened nor did He make any passing remark about this mysterious happening, not even in later years.
On October 15, Donkin drove Baba to Khojaguda hill. Vishnu, Nilu and a mullah (a Mohammedan priest) accompanied Baba in the car. The five companions – Gustadji, Baidul, Pendu, Eruch and Daulat Singh – who were to stay with Baba during the manonash phase, had already arrived. Minoo Kharas, who was permitted by Baba to be with Him, could not join the party for reasons of health. It was drizzling and at 3 PM, Donkin’s car arrived at the foot of the hill. All walked up and after a quiet round of inspection, Baba looked pleased with the arrangements made in the dargah of Baba Fakhruddin. After a short while the mullah, in the presence of Baba and His companions offered the conventional prayer, and those who came with Donkin, except for Baba, returned to Hyderabad.
The next day, October 16, was the second anniversary of Baba’s New Life, and it seemed that He wished to plunge deeply into His manonash phase – “the abnegation of the personal will in the Divine Volition.” This was also a day of great importance to those who had attended the meeting called in June at Hyderabad. The participants were regarded as witness to the Declaration made by Baba and they were ordered by Him to fast on October 16 for 24 hours on tea and water only. in the premises of the dargah, Baba offered five slightly different prayers to God, the Infinite One who during the Avataric Advents assumed the human forms of Zoroaster, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed. As all the companions were solemnly standing, Baba gestured to Eruch to read the following:
“O Ahuramazda! In the name of your Infinite Greatness and in the name of your Beloved Self, Zoroaster, and in the name of all prophets and saints and your lovers, Meher Baba beseeches you to help him to carry out successfully his four months work beginning from today, the 16th October, 1951, and asks you in all humility to have his desire fulfilled and the ultimate object achieved by 16th February, 1952.”
With a few changes in addressing God, the Eternal One, as Paramatma or Allah, the above quoted prayer was proffered in the names of the Beloved Avatars – Krishna and Buddha, Beloved Son Jesus, and Beloved Mohammed Mustafa.
On the same day, according to Baba’s earlier instructions, five of His dear ones who were in the Old Life were deputed by Him to visit Udwada (Gujarat), Mathura(Uttar Pradesh), Sarnath (Bihar), Goa and Ajmer (Rajasthan). According to the Indian traditions, these towns respectively represent one of the principal places of worship for the Zoroastrians, the Hindus, the Buddhists (including the Jains), the Christians and Mohammedans. These are also the centres of immense spiritual importance. The nominated Baba lovers were to visit these places in advance to find one righteous, poor person belonging to the faith, the place of pilgrimage stood for. Baba lovers were then asked to request this person fast to fast on October 16. On this day, after taking bath, the man was to visit that sanctifying abode – an agyari, a temple, a pagoda, a church, or a mosque – and recite a special prayer previously dictated by Baba. At the end, on Baba’s behalf the nominees were to offer each one of these five persons a hundred and one rupees as dakshina (cash or kind offered to a person as a mark of respect for discharging spiritual duties.
On this day, in the dargah of Baba Fakhruddin, Baba went into seclusion at night, till the early hours of morning, continuously for seven hours. The companions were posted outside, on watch, so that nothing should disturb Baba in His work. Only the five models were keeping Baba’s company. Thus began the phase of manonash in earnest.
Manonash means passing out of the separative self (mind) to abide in God. Baba being the God-Man, whose manonash did this phase indicate? He did not explain. With reference to Meher Baba’s Advent as the Avatar, Hazrat Babajan, one of Baba’s Sadgurus, used to refer to a Persian couplet meaning:
Of your own, you were free;
Of your own, you allowed yourself to be bound.
And any Baba lovers, as an ordinary man, may dare say that Baba, out of His compassion for those who are ordained to be in the orbit of His love, took on Himself this additional binding (of manonash), so that its consequent consummation could help His dear ones break the shackles of their minds to get closer to Him, in His own time. One has not to forsake ones rationality after coming to Baba. As long as one has a mind one id apt to have views whether he expresses them or not. However, after sincere and honest efforts there comes a blessed moment, when one cheerfully accepts inability to understand the hidden meaning behind the actions of the God-Man and one totally gives in. Perhaps with the development of such an attitude Baba lovingly reveals a glimpse of Himself in the heart of such a person that quietens the mind. The more the heart is emptied of dogmatic interpretations, the more it is filled with the light of His renewing love. Then the apparent contradictions and paradoxes do not bother such a lover. it is love alone that counts.
Baba’s visit to the cave on the Khojaguda hill started on October 18. Eruch carried with him the box of models and according to Baba’s instructions arranged them on the ledge inside the cave. The first sitting was of seven hours at a stretch. A day later, in a similar way, Baba spent three hours in the nearby Vishnu’s temple. In the afternoon He contacted a mast named Ghulam Hussain. Baba work in seclusion continued for nine days on this hill and He felt satisfied. So He changed His previous plan of staying there for fifteen days and decided to set out on the march on foot. Two routes in India shall especially be remembered by Baba lovers for the Avatar of the Age having journeyed on foot on these roads during His New Life. One is in the north of India – Benares via Sarnath (Bihar) to Najibabad (Uttar Pradesh) – and the other to the south – from Khojaguda hill (near Hyderabad) to Meherazad hill via Aurangabad, Khuldabad and Imampur in Maharashtra.
In the afternoon of October 24, Baba with the five companions left the memorable hill of Khojaguda with their bag and baggage. It took him about a month to reach the most memorable and significant Seclusion Hill at the back of Meherazad.