Manonash (Annihilation of mind) work at Hyderabad – A Detailed Account
(Extracted from Glimpses of the God-Man)
Manonash Cave, Khojaguda, Hyderabad (Left: cave from a distance; Right: Front view)
(Photographs taken in 2009)
Manonash Meeting at Hyderabad
1951 – Part II
The Unexpected Call
BY the first week of June 1951, Baba, the women mandali and the servant companions were at Hyderabad. A month earlier, Baba had wished to inform some of His disciples and devotees of the Old Life about a meeting to be held in the last week of June. A special letter of invitation from Baba was sent to selected Baba people. I give below a part of the letter I received:
To enable you to come within the field limits of my association for the period, I desire you to be present at Hyderabad [Deccan] for three days, 28th to 30th June, 1951. In compliance with this you should be present at Hyderabad for the occasion. If, in spite of your wishing it deeply and your trying for it utmost, due to unavoidable circumstances you are unable to come, do not worry . . . You are to come alone . . . Send the acknowledgement slip duly filled in and signed whether you will attend . . . If you are coming details of when and where to arrive at Hyderabad will be sent to you by Adi during the first week of June. – BABA
The letter points out how Baba was perfectly practical in arranging any meeting or program, big or small, to enable His lovers to attend it with a free mind. A few were summoned by Baba for ten days, some for seven days and the rest, by far the largest group, for three days.
At the Mahabaleshwar meeting everyone had the impression that they would never see the Beloved Master in person again. Baba’s life and activities whether in the Old or the New Life were simultaneously simple and mystical. Yet whatever He did or said was so perfect that it carried the stamp of finality. Therefore, the only hope of seeing Baba again lay in His perfect unpredictability. In one’s life with Baba the unexpected happens only when He leads you beyond all hopes. As one grows in His love, the intellect voluntarily agrees to be subservient to the Divine Will — the natural flow of Life — and then follows the fun of following Baba! Baba, though infinitely slippery, guides each one in learning and relearning the basic requirements of spiritual life — whole-hearted love and unconditional surrender to Him. But this is not an easy lesson!
When I received the earlier circular about “the irrevocable Step” it evoked a considerable concern in me. The intellect tried to interpret, understand and sometimes even rebelled against Baba’s mystical statements. But each time, in the end, the storm would subside with the heart reaffirming, “Whatever the Compassionate One does or says is for the ultimate good of all, irrespective of the outer crust, the words.” In such a reflective mood I received the unexpected call to be with Baba for three days and it filled my being with joy to its brim.
The rallying point for this meeting was Hyderabad. The northwest part of this extensive city is known as the Jubilee Hills. It’s a very clean and quiet locality, with many well-designed bungalows and villas, some with pretty flower beds and good lawns. A palatial building, (H.N.G. 2/529), was reserved for the meeting and also as a residence for those who were expected to come for it. Formerly this house was owned by Nawab Ali Nawaz Jung, a very influential person of the State and an architect of some renown. The spacious dining hall, the beautiful terrace, as well as a circular staircase winding round a fountain and other similar amenities which were provided expressed the high artistic caliber of the Nawab. As for me, I had never stayed in such a royal residence so the bungalow impressed me greatly. Of course, long stays with Baba in the palatial Guruprasad came much later.
The Arrangementwallas Arrived
On June 20, the few who were invited by Baba for a stay of ten days arrived at Hyderabad. They were either the Arrangementwallas or the old resident mandali members. On the first day of the meeting, as Baba walked up the staircase, He looked radiant as usual but a new slowness in His regal gait was noticeable. It could be assumed that the physical weakness was the result of intense spiritual work. He later conveyed to the visitors that He was suffering from piles and also had gnawing pain near the diaphragm. He had lost His appetite and the very sight of food was nauseating to Him. However, His general health after the strenuous seclusion, He gestured, was good. He then inquired of everyone present about their health and instructed all to be very careful about it during their present stay. He also asked them to forget all their worries and remain cheerful. Normal physical fitness and a free mind were the essential requirements to participate in any Baba gathering.
It was generally observed that prior to such meetings Baba would not be in good health. Was He taking upon Himself the sufferings of those invited and thus warding off the difficulties that the lovers would have encountered in their visit to Him? I have this thought because those who attended such gatherings often wondered how, despite great odds, they had managed to attend the meeting. And by the time Baba’s dear ones arrived, He would start regaining His strength and good mood.
In one of the informal sittings with the first batch of visitors, Baba mentioned that before taking the “Step” He wished to be free from any boja (lit. burden — physical/ mental) before October 1951. As a sequel of this intention, Baba wished to make some basic provisions till February 16, 1952 for the mandali. Baba instructed the Arrangementwallas about such provisions. With reference to the mandali’s spirit of dedication which was without any spiritual or material expectation from Baba, He proudly stated, “Compared with the importance of the day to day carrying out of the Master’s orders through thick and thin, even the courage of the martyrs is trivial.” On another occasion someone brought up, though inadvertently, the subject of mass darshan. In reply to this Baba conveyed, “At first I am going to have darshan of [the] Old Meher Baba State! or go blind. And this seems to me the only remedy for the many problems including the mass darshan programs.” He also added that darshan was worthwhile only if people were truly ready to avail themselves of the opportunity.
This reminds me of Kabir’s couplet wherein he succinctly says, “If the Master offers you anything, however insignificant it may be, it is precious like ‘milk’; if you ask for something, even anything which you think is the best, and the Master gives it, it is like plain ‘water’; and if you force the Master to give you something, it is as bad as extracting ‘blood’ [of the Master].” If you ever dare to receive the most precious gifts at the hands of the God-Man, surrender to Him totally and voluntarily, and do not ask. He KNOWS best what to give and when to give. True to Baba’s words about darshan we find that after the period of manonash Baba visited the West and some parts of India to give darshan.
And He awakened in some the rare spark of His love, a unique gift from the God-Man. And as love is essentially self-communicative, its radiance will continue to enkindle the hearts of others and keep aglow the Avatar’s work of awakening humanity.
In Baba’s Overwhelming Presence
On June 27 the third group of about seventy Baba lovers, from different states of India reached Hyderabad. Kalemama, one of the old mandali and the father of Murli, one of the New Life companions, came to Kurduwadi, my town, on June 26. We decided to travel together. In those days the trains were overcrowded but because of Kalemama’s old age and serene expression the passengers in the overcrowded compartment treated us well and we got sitting accommodations. We had to change trains at Wadi but we missed our connection and instead of arriving at Hyderabad in the morning we didn’t get in till late afternoon. Vishnu had come to the station to receive the Baba people. He also arranged for our transport. In the taxis we were driven to the bungalow on the Jubilee Hills. It seemed a lovely place. The flowers in the garden seemed to wave at us but our hearts were eager to greet the Divine Gardener, Baba.
From those who had arrived earlier we learnt that Baba was on the first floor and the new arrivals would be ushered into His presence soon. This made us extremely happy. We met Pendu, the manager, and we were directed to our rooms and beds. I also contacted Adi and paid him seventy-five rupees towards my lodging and boarding arrangements. This prompt payment on arrival was one of the conditions mentioned in the printed letter from Baba. After a quick wash, I rushed near the room where Baba was meeting His dear ones. Within a few minutes I was called in and there was Baba, as beautiful and radiant as ever, His entire form beaming with love. Though in the circular it was clearly mentioned that no one should ask Baba any questions, He, of His own, lovingly gestured if I had to ask Him anything, anything! I kept silent. He continued, “How is your health? Any worry?” “Nothing special, Baba. Sometimes physical weakness wearies me,” I replied. With a sympathetic smile He gestured, “Don’t worry about it, about anything! Again as long as you are here remain happy and cheerful; do good justice to lunch and supper.” And with a twinkle in His eyes He gestured, “Forget about school and family members, but do not forget to be punctual at the meetings! “The interview ended with my intimacy with Baba not just renewed, but invigorated as well. A fresh wave of love refreshed me. I felt my body and mind were geared to a new energy to face life, come what may.
About fifteen of us who arrived in the afternoon got together and we were apprised of the points conveyed by Baba in the earlier part of the day. In the morning, Baba told the gathering that He had to attain “the zenith of strength” at a time when He was at the “zenith of weakness”, in an impossibly short period of four months — October 16, 1951 to February 16, 1952 — and as such His life was at stake. To the visitors He conveyed, “You have been called here to bear witness to the Declaration that I am going to make tomorrow, before God.” “Witnessing the God-Man’s Declaration, what does that mean?” I thought. But in Baba’s overwhelming presence such thoughts vanished like mist before the bright sun.
In the evening, Baba left for His residence and we were told that He would be visiting Ali Nawaz’s bungalow by 8 A.M. the next morning. We were to get ourselves ready before that time for the meeting. After a sumptuous supper the Baba people lovingly shared many stories of the Master’s grace and compassion. Baba lovers from Hamirpur performed a bhajan program. Their simple love for Baba impressed me deeply. I was lodged in a billiard room with many pointers lined on the wall. I thought, ”We are like the billiard balls rolling on the table depending on the skillful strokes and touches of Baba.”
The rather long train journey had tired me but because of the intense inner joy of meeting Baba, I did not sleep well. There were not enough bathrooms to accommodate the number of guests. But everyone, as is the custom among Indians, wished to have a bath before meeting the Beloved Master. In fact, a bath was compulsory only if one had had a wet dream. However, by 4 A.M. most of the people woke up. They were attending to the morning chores, repeating slowly and melodiously the blessed name of Baba. We knew Baba’s habit of arriving earlier than the scheduled time. So, by 7 A.M. almost all of us had finished our breakfast. Baba arrived at 7:15 and was busy talking with some of the mandali in connection with the three day program. He also met some people from different groups.
Meher Baba’s Declaration
On June 28, the momentous meeting was to be held in a special hall on the first floor. As per the instructions, before getting near the hall we washed our hands and faces and we were eagerly waiting in the adjacent rooms for a call. At ten minutes to eight, Baba clapped and we started going into the hall. All squatted on the carpet in the Indian fashion. Baba, with flowing hair wearing a white sadra was sitting in a wooden chair. He inquired of Pendu, Adi and other group heads if all had come in. Then His fingers started moving on the alphabet board. Addressing the gathering He stated, “One thing I can definitely say with all emphasis is that for me, for you all and for those connected with me: by February 16, 1952 things won’t be as they are now, whether for good or bad, and I feel confident it will be for the best.” He continued, “To be honest, in the New Life I never felt so happy as I feel now. And this happiness makes me feel that God wants me to make the Declaration.”
Baba casually referred to the and told the gathering how enormously helpless and incredibly nervous He felt in that period. He added, “Last night I hardly slept. All of a sudden at about 3:30 in the morning, it was clearly revealed that God wants me to take the irrevocable Step. Since then I am happy and do not feel nervous at all. I feel deep down in my heart that God will definitely help me to regain the Old Life Meher Baba State by February 16, 1952.” Asking us to be very attentive, He gestured, “Be here wholly when you listen to the Declaration.” He got up and washed His face and hands in a basin that was placed in a corner. As He occupied His seat He looked very solemn but of course not without the Divine glow about Him.
Before the delivery of the Declaration, Dr. Ghani read out its Corollary — What God Has Determined — to the audience. The important parts are given below:
1. The period required for this inevitable Step will be from October 16, 1951 to February 16, 1952.
2. The Step God wants me to take is one of complete and absolute annihilation. That means, that during this period of mental annihilation, I will, in the natural course of events, be facing physical annihilation as well, without my actually seeking it.
3. Irrespective of what I was, am, and will be, God in His Infinite Justice will see to everything. My strongest and only advice to each one of you is to hold fast to your faith and love — at least in the same proportion as now, if not in greater.
4. I will plunge deeply into the act of Annihilation from October 16.
5. I ask God in all humility to help me achieve the desired end by February 12.
6. In the event of my physical death the Arrangementwallas have to carry out the instructions I have given them.
7. I will be away from Hyderabad from October 16 to February 12, 1952.
8. Anyone who wants to go through this dying process with me can join me, but … I will have absolutely no responsibility and might have no concern whatever for anyone accompanying me.
9. I order the servants who are with me, to choose between two things; to join me in this hopeless task, or to stay at Hyderabad doing whatever duty I allot to them.
10. From July 1, to February 12, I might be available either to all, to a few, or to none.
11. Even if there is only one of you accompanying me I shall be quite pleased and satisfied and even if many choose to come with me I will not mind.
12. Also, from amongst those offering to come with me, I will finally decide who is to accompany me, and who is to stay [behind].
13. During this period of annihilation my actions and mode of living will be free from any binding conditions. I might beg for anything, demand anything, accept anything or reject anything, or perhaps I might do none of these things. I will do anything ordinary or extraordinary, good or bad, as the occasion may demand of me, based on the Will of God for this great Annihilation. 1
Dr. Ghani also read aloud the Urdu and Hindi translation of the Corollary and Deshmukh its Marathi version. After this reading, Baba got up from the chair and gestured for all to stand up. He folded His hands in a devotional manner. Most of the visitors did the same. Baba also closed His eyes. Dr. Donkin on behalf of Baba very solemnly read out the following Declaration:
In the presence of God, and bearing in my heart all the Perfect Ones of all times as witness, I declare that by the help and Will of God, I will definitely take this Step of Annihilation on October 16th of this year. God helped me to do the seclusion work of the 100 days to my entire satisfaction and I feel absolutely confident that God will help me to attain to the Old Life Meher Baba State by 16th February 1952, and to manifest universally.
To those present, Baba gave the following order:
I want everyone of you who is present here as witness to this Declaration, to fast for 24 hours on tea and water, on the 16th of October, beginning from 8 o’clock in the morning of that day.
This profound and sublime Declaration was received in great silence and admiration by the Baba people. Baba, as He took His seat, declaring a break of fifteen minutes. Whenever any serious message or discourse was given, Baba would generally order a short recess.
The Discourse on Manonash
When we assembled again Baba looked very cheerful and relaxed. He told the gathering that from the middle of October He would not be in Hyderabad for four months. To give all an idea of the magnitude and seriousness of His work that He had to accomplish during those months He spelt on the board, “It would be facing 400 deaths in four months!” He asked the servant companions and all the visitors to seriously and honestly consider if they really felt like going with Him during that period. Baba reminded all that He would bear responsibility towards none. No one who wished to join should expect any material or spiritual benefit from Baba; on the contrary he would have to face sleeplessness, sickness and starvation. One of the old persons asked if there was any age limit in accompanying Baba. With a smile Baba gestured, “No age limit! But for heaven’s sake do not say ‘yes,’ assuming that I may order you to stay behind.” Looking at the gathering He added, “Don’t fool me and fool yourself. After knowing your decisions I shall decide for each one wishing to join me.”
Then Baba commenced dictating from the alphabet board a discourse in English on Manonash (annihilation of the mind). It was simultaneously translated into Hindi. A few, including myself, tried to note down Baba’s words to the extent that we could. I must state that I am neither a steno nor a typist. But MANONASH MEETING AT HYDERABAD 339 from whatever I scribbled in long hand and with the gaps filled in from my memory I am trying to reproduce the matter in this chapter. I have, however, tried to maintain the sequence in which the discourse was given. Later on, the notes on this discourse were edited, compiled and published in a book, Meher Baba and the God-Determined Step, by Ramjoo Abdulla. To me this discourse is a superb commentary in simple words on the Sermon given by Baba at Mahabaleshwar.
Baba opened the subject:
Mind. Mind changes according to the sanskaras [impresssions] but it is not [basically] transformed. Mind is of the false and it remains false. Being false it can be annihilated. Today you think “I am a man.” If your body falls and you get a body of a woman, you will think, “I am a woman.” This “I” of being a man or a woman is false and it continues to think so till there is real transformation. Mind is never transformed; Ego is transformed only once. Ego is of the Real and it shall ever remain Real. By Ego, I mean your very Being as Astitva. Ego by itself is not false; mind makes one think so. Mind creates worlds, delusions and illusions yet it is never One in itself. Ego [as witness consciousness] is always One in itself. The Real Ego that each of us has is apparently bound up by the mind and makes the Real Ego think of itself as false. Mind makes you think birth and death, happiness and misery are real; and nothing can be more false than this. You are never born but mind gives the impression: “I am this.” “I am that.” “This is my wife.” “This is my child,” etc. Mind always keeps you in a tap dance. If you know that you and your wife and your children and all are One, and that you never die, never suffer, what else would there be to know?
So mind which is made up of false impressions makes the Real I think itself false. Mind may make You say, “I am God,” but not make you feel, “I am God.” So as long as mind is there, Ego cannot be transformed from its false assumption [attitude] of its Real State. You are really Infinite and Eternal. But you do not feel it. To experience this Original State, mind must go. But who is to destroy mind? The very act of destroying creates impressions and mind gets bound. The magic (jadu) of sanskaras has bound you so tight and skillfully that the more you try to come out, the more you get bound. The only recourse is that mind has to annihilate itself by itself. So Hafiz says:
Tu khud hijabe khudi,
Hafiz, uz miyan burkeez (Hafiz, remove thyself for thou art the veil.)
But how to remove yourself? The very process of removing creates impressions.
So the Perfect Masters laid down different paths that subsequently direct towards destroying mind, retaining consciousness. These paths are based mainly on action, meditation and love. The Masters knew that actions which have false ego and mind full of impressions as its background, instead of destroying mind, feed it. And there is no escape from action. So some Masters demonstrated the path of “actionless action”. The secret lies in performing action in a way, [as if] it had not been done at all. Then what happens – past impressions of actions done get spent up and [as you have no self-interest] no new impressions are formed.
It was lunch time and Baba told the gathering that it was no good in getting on with the discourse (though on Manonash) on empty stomachs. We were with Baba for about four hours but we became time conscious only after hearing Baba’s remark. In the dining hall the tables were already spread. After a delicious lunch and a little rest we were back in the meeting hall by 2 P.M.
Decisions about Accompanying Baba
Baba first asked the servant companions about their decisions. He made it clear that if anyone or all of them wished to stay behind, He would provide for each good boarding arrangements plus some pocket money! Baba of Himself asked Vishnu to attend to the lodging and food arrangements of the women staying at Hyderabad. Nilu was sick and so he did not attend this session. Murli decided to stay behind. Donkin very devotedly said, “Baba, my heart will go with you but my body shall stay at Hyderabad.” The remaining six servants, Pendu, Gustadji, Baidul, Eruch, Kaka and Kaikobad, decided to be with Baba.
Then turning to the visitors, Baba asked those to stand up who were willing to go with Him for four months, accepting the conditions laid down by Him. Out of 75 Baba lovers, 15 showed their readiness to accompany Baba through thick and thin. They were: Minoo Kharas, Nana Kher, Pankhraj, Goma Ganesh, Sailor Mama, Todi Singh, Kishan Singh, Daulat Singh, Pritam Singh, Gadekar, Babadas, Shripat Sahai, Kain, P. D. Nigam (Pukar) and A. C. S. Chari. The Arrangementwallas were not to consider anything about this subject as they were given certain duties from the beginning of the New Life. Baba concluded, “Today you have decided for yourself; tomorrow I will decide for each of you. As for me, whatever I have already declared is final.” Baba continued, “In fact, this New Life [phase] is only for me. I began it on October 16, 1949. Till now, although I am leading the New Life, I have not been able to live it as I wanted to. In the coming period of four months, I want to live the whole of the New Life and end it for me.”
Baba looked very happy for the main subject of the meeting was over. He, however, did not wish to continue the discourse on Manonash; He desired to complete it the next day. He further suggested, “Now let us not be serious. Tell me some good jokes or humorous stories. Make me laugh and laugh yourself.” If I remember correctly I vainly tried to entertain Baba with a joke I had recently read about the “sane sailors”. When a large steamer was in midocean these “wise” sailors were ordered to throw a passenger from cabin No. 36, who had recently expired, overboard. In all readiness they went there. Surprisingly enough the man in the cabin said, “But I am alive! Perhaps you got the wrong number.” “Who are you?” asked the sailors. “I am a press reporter,” the man nervously replied. “We don’t believe reporters! They give false news,” said the sailors jointly and holding him tightly they threw him overboard! I do not recollect how far I was successful in telling this joke but my diffidence in speech and poor presentation must have amused my friends, I hope. Of course there were some funny stories and jokes in Hindi, Gujarati and English that made Baba and the whole group laugh heartily. As opposed to the solemn morning session the afternoon atmosphere in the hall was one of joviality and light-heartedness, vibrant with Baba’s loving presence.
Born Once; Die Once
The next day, June 29, all assembled in the same hall by 8 A.M. Baba had already arrived. He told us that He had not slept well the previous night and so could not make any decision about those to accompany Him during the Manonash phase. He added, “As I want to be absolutely free from any kind of interference the selection is difficult. I find servants Pendu, Eruch, Gustadji and Baidul O.K. but, God knows, I have not yet finally decided about them. I had a very restless night and hence I could not take any decision. Now till I decide I cannot sleep! If I feel that even to have one [person] with me is a hindrance, I shall go alone. But again that does not seem possible.”
After such casual talk, Baba wished to continue the discourse. He gestured, “This is the last thing I wish to explain in my New Life.” But before Baba began the discourse, Ghani directed His attention to the question of “one birth and one death” as believed by Mohammedans and Christians. To enlighten all on this subject Baba replied:
The real Goal of life is not the death of the ego but the death of the mind. When Mohammed or Jesus or Zoroaster talked of being born once and of dying once, it was of the mind [and not of the body]. When mind dies totally, the false ego becomes Real I [i.e., false ego is completely effaced and Real I manifests]. In reality ego is not born and as such it does not die. Ego [as witness consciousness] is always Real. It is only due to mind that ego acts and feels limited and false. Mind takes the body according to its good and bad impressions. Taking up and giving up of bodies is not the mind or the ego taking birth or dying. Every time when body is discarded, mind survives, impressions remain. These impressions press on mind to spend them by taking another body. So mind takes another body according to the impressions; ego witnesses. And another body and another. When you are in sound sleep, ego, mind and sanskaras are there. Sanskaras wake up mind. They say, “Go on, spend us.” Waking up from the sound sleep is, in a way, an everyday birth for the body. When one body is left, another body comes up though there is a time lag between the giving up of one body and taking up another. Mind exists even when a new body is not given to the ego; it is the mind-state of heaven or hell. But mind has to die while it is in a human body, retaining full consciousness. This is the Goal.
At the close of His reply to Ghani’s question, looking at the gathering Baba gestured, “If you can really grasp the central point of what I have been explaining now, it will be easy to follow the rest [of the discourse on Manonash].”
The Three Paths
Through simple words Baba further elucidated:
Yesterday, I told you that the Perfect Masters chalked out different paths for the annihilation of mind. Let us commence with the path of action because the main activity of mind through body is of actions. As long as mind is there body is there and actions too are there. Actions leave impressions and impressions feed the mind. So for the false ego to be transformed into Real there is no other remedy than manonash. Therefore the Masters wanted actions to be done in a way so that the effect of the impressions becomes impotent, hence no result, no binding. For example, a scorpion generally wags its tail and stings. It is natural for it to sting someone. What is the result? The person suffers. Even if the scorpion’s sting is cut off its act of wagging and stinging continues. But as the “thorn” is removed the person concerned does not suffer. So, the Masters thought of the following remedy on actions: act in a way so that the results do not bind and no impressions are created. But for this, the action has to be rendered impotent in the matter of its dangerous results and this is not easy. Why? I will explain.
There are three ways by which the actions done do not bind. One is to act but absolutely without having any self interest. But this selfless action which is referred to as selfless service is almost impossible. Even the feeling of pity for others should not be there. The moment you think that you are serving or uplifting others you get caught and bound. The second way is to dedicate whatever you do to God or to the Perfect Master. This dedication must be constant and continual, without a moment’s break. If you are able to do this then actions have no impressions created. But this is very difficult. The third way is to act on the orders of the One whose mind is annihilated and so is free from impressions. If you do whatever He tells you to do, you are not bound. This too is not simple for you must have 100% unflinching faith in the Perfect Master.
The second path is of meditation. Some Masters put forth the way of defeating the mind through mind itself, through meditation2 and concentration. When mind is concentrated, its further function is weakened and the sanskaras exhaust themselves. Thus the sanskaras which are like [earth] worms and which must have execution, eat themselves. But during this process the mind feels frustrated and gets more desperate. Unwanted thoughts, that you never had, assail you and eventually one of the three things happen: 1) you get fed up and you can no more concentrate; 2) you get sleepy or drowsy; 3) you continue to get more and more bad thoughts. For the very few who persist patiently with a brave heart the result is that the mind is temporarily stopped. Then one experiences ecstasy [bhav] but it becomes like a dope to which one gets addicted, or one goes into samadhi [trance]. But this is not manonash. Thus through concentration, annihilation of mind is not possible.
The third path is of bhakti [devotion]. When one is totally devoted to God or the Perfect Master he forgets himself and his mind gets no chance to form new, binding sanskaras. The Eternal Beloved is ever present but unless you step out of your old habits how can you aspire to meet Him? So Hafiz says:
Hazoori gar hami khahi
az uoo ghayeb mashow Hafiz
(O Hafiz, if you want the Beloved’s Presence, do not absent yourself from Him.)
But even through the path of devotion, complete and continual self-forgetfulness is practically impossible. So, no Manonash.
At the close of this discourse Baba stated:
The mind’s part is to make ego think through body, feel false and experience the sanskaras. But when mind sees that the false ego is not ready to accept its dictatorship, then submissive, loose and weak impressions are formed which eventually lead one towards the Goal. Thus either through selfless service or meditation or devotion, though not perfected but if persisted, with 100 percent faithfulness a stage comes when mind is permanently at rest or becomes totally quiet and sees God everywhere [and longs for Union with Him]. Only the Perfect One, who is free, can uproot [annihilate] the minds of others, even of the masses.
In conclusion Baba continued:
All the paths are meant for manonash, to make you feel, “You are God, the Infinite, the Eternal.” We are all the same, One God, but we are misled by the besharam [illusive] mind. With the death of mind, ego feels [experiences], “I am God; I have no connection with the body.” If this shock [of gnosis] is too strong, the body drops down, otherwise the momentum [of the impresssions] keeps the body going for some time and then it is shed. This is the state of a Perfect Majzoob [Majzoobiat]; mind is not there but Real I and body remain. Few after manonash keep their bodies and get minds too, but these minds have “impressionless impressions”; then Real I, Real Mind and Real Body remain. Such a one is a Perfect Master.
When mind dies ego realizes Reality. With manonash, dawns the Knowledge. By Knowledge I mean the experience of “I am God State.” Then God’s Knowledge is yours. God is All-knowing. So in a flash you know Everything; you KNOW that there was/is nothing to know.
When the discourse was over Baba conveyed, “I am absolutely in the New Life and full of weaknesses. To achieve this extremely difficult task of manonash, I have four months in hand. It is like a lame person wanting to reach the top of Everest in four months. But I feel 100% confident that God will help me to achieve this. On October 16, when you all fast that day, pray for five minutes from the bottom of your hearts asking God to help me gain this end.”
We Thanked God
Baba concluded the discourse and proposed that in the afternoon He would like to have some indoor games. He added, “This will be a sort of relaxation for me and will help me to decide about the persons who should be with me during the Manonash period.” From this serious subject the minds of all were thus switched to playfulness and fun. Different persons suggested different games and Baba attentively listened and even joked about certain proposals. Unexpectedly He ordered an interval of half an hour. During this period He interviewed one by one all the twenty-one persons who had volunteered to accompany Him. Baba freely discussed the commitments, liabilities and responsibilities that each one had to shoulder as most of these men were householders. He appreciated the courage and devotion of all and their loving response to His call. Any honest and sincere offer or expression always evoked Baba’s admiration. But He comforted them all and asked each one to wait for the opportune moment. When we all gathered in the hall we were told that out of 21 persons, Baba had decided “No” for fifteen.
Pendu, Eruch, Gustadji and Baidul were to accompany Baba definitely for four months. About Minoo Kharas and Daulat Singh, He was to give His final decision on Sept. 7, 1951. Baba instructed Adi to issue a circular to the Baba people instructing them not to have any correspondence with Baba and not to try to see Him, even if they happened to hear of His whereabouts. The suggestions for games were again invited. Baba, being very practical, directed the discussion to a program of light entertainment, including a fancy dress parade. He, Himself proposed the names of some who were to participate in the program.
After lunch the Hindi group was apprised of the discourse in English on Manonash given by Baba in the morning. Pendu was busy having a small stage put up in the hall. Exactly at 3 P.M. the “show” commenced. An atomsphere of joy and lightheartedness prevailed. Dr. Ghani appeared on the stage as a Pathan to loud applause. Savak Kotwal, though in his forties, danced so well that his skilled performance gave Baba the surprise of the day. The last item was a song by Mirabai, sung by Rustum Kaka (Hatidaru), with the accompaniment of a harmonium, in a very melodious manner. The refrain of the song was:
Payori mainay Ramaratan dhan payo.
(Verily have I found the most precious pearl — the Divine name of the God-Man, Rama).
As the song proceeded Baba looked very solemn. With a steadfast gaze, He commenced looking outside the window most of the time. This was unusual. It seemed that He was gradually withdrawing Himself from everything about Him. This had its effect on the audience too. Rustum Kaka with eyes closed continued to sing in his warbling, inviting voice.
When the song was over, with a remote glow in His eyes, Baba conveyed, “I have heard this song and some similar songs many times. But today it is something different! The song has evoked ‘something’ in me and in the presence of God I felt that the work I have undertaken will be done successfully. So let us thank God whole-heartedly.” At Baba’s indication all the people rose up and thanked God from the bottom of their hearts. It was 4:30 P.M. At the close of the program, Baba gave a locket (with His picture on it) as a present to each one who had tried to entertain Him. The rest of the people felt that they had lost a good opportunity to receive something precious from Baba’s hand. Perhaps sensing this feeling, Baba called for some roses and very lovingly gave a petal to one and all. He dictated, “The main program for which I have called you is over. Tomorrow we go out for sightseeing to Osmansagar.” Someone suggested that a group photo with Baba be taken; Baba agreed and this made all happy. This was perhaps the first and the last group photo in the New Life (see picture below). A great treasure! We were to get ready by 7 A.M. the next day.
Fig 1 The group photo of Baba with the participants of the Hyderabad Meeting. Photo taken at the steps of the Kohinoor Bungalow, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad
Fig 2 The same Kohinoor bungalow as it stands today (2010). The steps where the group photograph was taken is replaced with a ramp now.
Grand Game of the God-Man
On June 30, we were in the hall in the morning. Baba had put on a yellowish silk coat over His usual white sadra. He had His hair plaited, though a few loose strands were still flowing about His earlobes. To me He looked rather slim but very beautiful and powerful too. He dictated from the board, “These two days have been of extreme happiness for me. I hope you too must have shared this happiness. Having made the Declaration in the presence of God and the Perfect Ones of past, present and future and you to witness it, I feel extremely happy. Honestly I feel happy.” Baba put the board aside and at His gesture we left the hall for the two buses waiting outside. We reached Osmansagar, a very extensive man-made lake (sagar literally means a sea). We walked along the bridge and reached the other end of the garden. A very cool and charming place indeed!
Then we drove to Char Minar (the famous four minarets) and Madina Masjid (mosque). To make us feel more refreshed, Baba asked all to have tea in a good hotel. Then we were taken to Bagh-e-Aam (public gardens). With Baba in our midst we quickly strolled through the garden. Stopping on the way Baba conveyed, “I like Hyderabad for its spiritual atmosphere; specially for its Hindu-Muslim unity in matters spiritual.” He also told us that He had not washed His head for the last two months but after our departure, He intended to wash His hair. Some wondered why Baba should tell them about such a personal thing. Was it not a sign of intimacy towards those who had come?
The party returned to Ali Nawaz’s bungalow by 10:30 A.M. The photo was taken on the steps of this building. Baba again called us on the first floor and distributed prasad packets (sweets) to all. He instructed each one not to open it until one got home. Once there, however, we were permitted to share the contents with our family members and whomsoever we liked. Baba was lavishly showering His love on us all. As He left for lunch, He told us that He would be back again by 2 P.M., and that no one should ask Him any question at the time of farewell. We had our meals and we packed our bedding and bags. We were about to rest but Baba’s car rushed up the driveway and within a few minutes we were in His presence. It was again a session of humorous stories and good jokes. By afternoon we collected our small supper cartons. Baba gestured, “Don’t waste a single particle from this stuff.” Prasad, from the abode of the God-Man, is indeed one of the most precious things to receive. With a cheerful face He waved at us and gestured, “Don’t worry. Be happy.” What a loving parting!
The next morning I reached Kurduwadi. For a number of days the happenings in the hall at Hyderabad often filled my being with a delightful feeling. Thoughts about Baba and His graceful gestures brought me luminous, lively remembrances. Yet, sometimes, a part of my mind would raise questions about the discourse on Manonash and especially Baba’s New Life — its inauguration and imminent consummation. My heart continued to remain steadfast in His love but the mind would not keep quiet. How can it ever understand the grand game of the God-Man who in fact is leading His own self in and through us all beyond births and deaths. The explanation given by Meher Baba linking the reincarnation theory of Hindus with the no rebirth concept of Muslims and Christians was undoubtedly superb and matchless. Till this day, I personally have not come across such simple yet most convincing statements made by anyone on such a paradoxical spiritual subject. Besides, Baba’s statement that each time one gets up from sleep it is a new birth in the same body appealed to my heart very much. “What a challenge and an opportunity each day, for a new life!” I thought.
And the New Life? This phase was and still is a divine enigma to me. Can the limited mind ever fathom the Universal Mind? Never. Yet, my monkey mind went on speculating upon this phase. Now, years later I may add that Baba had to become an “extraordinary” ordinary person of the New Life subsequently to declare on September 7, 1953 His status as the Highest of the High (Perfect God: perfect man) which is beyond the phases of the Old and the New Life.
The Declaration of the irrevocable Step of Manonash at Hyderabad was an intensely profound event of the New Life.
Beginning of the Manonash Phase
1951 — Part III
A Tentative Program
AFTER the momentous meeting held in the last week of June, Baba and those accompanying Him in the New Life continued their stay at Hyderabad.
In the second week of August, Baba called Meherjee, Adi, and Adi Jr. (Baba’s youngest brother) to Hyderabad for a meeting in which He discussed certain arrangements to be made in the near future. With reference to the immensity of manonash, Baba hinted that there was the possibility of His dropping the physical body during this critical phase. He also told them that during the specified period of four months (October 16 through February 16) He would be absolutely free to act as He liked. He would, if He so felt, change any previous plans at any moment. He would exercise absolute freedom from any conventional bindings. During this meeting, He also chalked out a tentative program for the four months which consisted of the following phases:
(1) Baba wanted to spend thirty to forty days on a hill which had a spiritual background. He wanted the hill not to be too close or too far away from the city of Hyderabad. (Baba informed Meherjee and others that He had already approved of such a hill and that preparations had been undertaken to make the place suitable for His stay.) His work on the hill was to be the first phase.
(2) In the second phase Baba planned to march on foot from Hyderabad to Aurangabad. He casually mentioned that during this journey He might don just a loin cloth (langoti) or any other dress; He might eat four times a day or fast for days on end. In short He would do whatever God would want Him to do.
(3) The third phase depended on Baba’s physical condition. Adi was to find a suitable hill near Ahmednagar or Poona where Baba would be concluding His manonash work. Baba also stated that because of the two preceding phases, wherein He would be deeply absorbed in achieving manonash, there was the probability that His physical body would be on the verge of being shed. If such a situation would arise, Baba wanted to spend the days till February 16, 1952 at a place associated with His Old Life Meherazad Hill. In anticipation of such an exigency, He gave certain instructions to Adi and Adi Jr. to consult Sarosh and Padri about repairing the cabins and erecting a tent on the top of that hill.
Such indefiniteness and refusal to commit Himself to a set program was not treated by His close ones as a gap in or lack of knowledge on Baba’s part. They were deeply convinced that Baba was setting an example for man, the way he should totally trust, under any and all circumstances, in the Omnipotent Will. Owing to this element of unpredictability, Baba’s New Life is regarded by some as a period of utter incomprehensibility; they are not completely wrong. The Divine Life of the Avatar is beyond the comprehension of human understanding. In addition, it cannot be denied that the New Life of Meher Baba was an unprecedented phase!
Unexpected Help from Baba’s Schoolmate
In the third week of August a circular from Meher Publications brought the following news to Baba people: “Baba never has had and never will have any concern with politics. He, therefore, desires that if any of you do political work you must never involve Him or make use of His name in connection with that work. Baba desires that all His Old Life followers should not give way to the temptations of pursuing selfish ends. [They should] kindle in their hearts the light of love for God.” Perhaps by this Baba meant that the real religion of man lies in loving God selflessly.
Here I would like to include an excerpt from Meher Baba’s Message on “Religion and Politics” delivered a year or so later, clarifying His approach towards these two much talked of subjects. He stated:
As the Divine Life embraces in its being One and All including even the members of the animal and vegetable kingdoms, and since from the moment of the attainment of manonash [annihilation of the limiting mind], I have attained complete unity with that immeasurable and illimitable Divine Life, I cannot and will not identify myself with any caste, creed, religion or political party. From my point of view, all religions are great, but God is greater. In the same way, all political parties are, in their own way, noble, at least in their consciously accepted objectives. But the claims of the undivided and indivisible life are irresistibly supreme, and, as such, greater than those of any party, howsoever noble.3
The issuing of the previous circular about participation in politics had also a practical reason. In August, 1947, after India’s independence from British rule, the Nizam of Hyderabad tried to establish his sovereignty apart from India. Soon a stage was reached where the Indian government had to intervene by declaring a “Police Action” against the Nizam who eventually had to surrender, and Hyderabad state became an integral part of the rest of the nation.4 A year had passed by but the communal unrest and political rivalries had not subsided. Movements of people visiting Hyderabad from different parts of India were looked on with apprehension, and Baba’s companions, a group belonging to different religions and even nationalities, were sometimes unduly interrogated by the police.
In the earlier meetings with the mandali, Baba had hinted that during the manonash phase He would exercise absolute freedom from the conventional ways of life. So it was rightly presumed that if such behavior on Baba’s part evoked inquisitiveness in people, it would unnecessarily bother Him and might even impede His work. Eruch thought that before the commencement of this phase it was essential to meet the Superintendent of Police and inform him of Baba’s activities, especially the proposed march on foot from Hyderabad to Aurangabad, for this division was under his jurisdiction. He also planned to request the authorities to issue a departmental notice informing the police outposts along this particular route about the movements of Baba and His group.
So one day Eruch visited the Superintendent’s office and tried to convince the junior officer to grant him an interview with his superior. He did not reveal his intention except to say that he had to see the Superintendent on some urgent and serious matter. The sub-inspector in charge reluctantly led Eruch to the chamber of his boss. Mr. Reddy, the Superintendent, seemed to be a fine person. He said to Eruch, “What can I do for you?” Eruch explained, “We are a party of six. My elder brother and one other member of our group observe silence. We intend to go on foot on a pilgrimage from Hyderabad to Aurangabad. During our journey my elder brother, in His own way, wishes to offer some financial help to needy persons. Besides, He wants to pay His respects to the God-intoxicated ones. We are from the Bombay area. In view of the present situation, as a precaution, I request you to inform the police stations on this particular route about our journey so that our intention will not be misunderstood and that we may not unnecessarily be detained anywhere. And sir, if you could give us a letter of introduction we shall be grateful to you.”
Mr. Reddy very attentively heard each word but he asked Eruch to wait awhile and he phoned his residence to say that he would soon be returning home with a guest. Eruch thought that Mr. Reddy was preoccupied with some other work. The talk, however, continued and at the end the Superintendent unexpectedly asked Eruch to accompany him to his bungalow. With a feeling of wonder Eruch followed him to the car and in a short time found himself in a well-furnished house. Mr. Reddy asked him to make himself comfortable in the living room and he went inside the house. After about ten minutes a servant brought some refreshments and tea but the host did not return. After a few minutes more of suspense Mr. Reddy entered the room. He looked happy and was holding an old glass photo frame in his hand. In it was a group photo of young students, a cricket team. Pointing at Baba, Mr. Reddy said, “Is M. S. Irani your elder brother? I guess I am right.” This was a great surprise to Eruch.
Mr. Reddy explained that he had studied at St. Vincent High School with Baba at Poona and that they had been on the same cricket team. It became clear that Mr. Reddy, as the Superintendent of Police, already knew about Baba’s stay in Hyderabad and from Eruch’s talk he had definitely concluded that Eruch was referring to his schoolmate, M. S. Irani. Eruch could no longer conceal Baba’s identity. After some cordial conversation, he left the house with the assurance that he would get the letter of introduction and also a confirmation that information about Baba’s activities would be issued to the police stations on the Hyderabad-Aurangabad highway. When Eruch told Baba about this unexpected response from the Superintendent, Baba looked very pleased. However, because of the New Life conditions the “two good old cricketers” could not meet each other. Within a few days Eruch collected the required certificate without any difficulty from the office. Thus, a friendly gesture from an old schoolmate saved the Baba party from any type of interrogation from the police in the state of Hyderabad.
It was about this time that another of Baba’s schoolmates who was also one of His dearest disciples, Dr. Abdul Ghani Munsiff, breathed his last. On August 20, at about seven in the evening he passed away of a heart attack, in Poona. Baba dictated a special circular about Ghani; a part of it read:
Of the many things I have had to renounce and to suffer in this New Life, the passing of Ghani is among the greatest . . . To me, more than to any of you, Ghani was unique and of all the work that still remains to be done for me by others, there is much that could have been done for me by Ghani and none else. The big head of his was truly a treasure house in which wisdom and wit were blended to perfection. We were intimate friends since our earliest years, and no one knows better than I how courageous, and how loyal and loving, was his heart. To me, therefore, Ghani is irreplaceable, both as a friend and as a tool for my work.5
Models Safely Reach Khojaguda Hill
Khojaguda Hill is about 15 to 18 kilometers from Hyderabad. On its top there is a dargah of Hazrat Baba Fakruddin who lived in the fourteenth century. He was regarded and revered as a 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’s 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 Fakruddin preferred exposure to the heavens for all time. On one of the hill sides there is an old temple of Vishnu, with an image of the god reclining on a big coiled cobra (Shesh), its hood spreading over his head. Another important place close to the dargah is a cave about 20′ by 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 Manonash.
Fig 3: Manonash Cave, Khojaguda, Hyderabad. It is enclosed three sides with huge boulders. On the fourth side, a wall was constructed to make it an enclosure for Baba’s work. Photograph taken in 2009.
Fig 4: Darga of Baba Fakrudin. Photograph taken in 2009.
Fig 5: The Vishnu Temple in the vicinity of the cave. It is roofed with a huge boulder. Photograph taken in 2009.
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 here 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 purposes 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 an agyari).6 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 an agyari the place of worship for the Zoroastrians or the Parsees because he had never seen the interior structure of a fire temple. So Eruch sent him a drawing of a fire urn which is kept in the sanctum of any Parsee place of worship. Accordingly all these models were cut in alabaster. The approximate size of each was about 7″ by 7″ by 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 and inside the pagoda was a tiny image of Lord Buddha. When Baba learnt that 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.
Fig 6: The models which are kept in the Museum at Meherabad
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 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 had started rolling backwards. He rushed towards the car but it had already started picking up speed, so it was impossible for him to open the locked door and get hold of the steering wheel. He helplessly tried to run alongside the car and slow it down but soon he had to give up for, unbelievably, the car started leaping over rocks and bushes. Fantastic! Sometimes, confronted with an obstacle, the car would stop, back up or turn aside. Extremely quixotic! Eruch had left the car in neutral and had put the emergency brake 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 its 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, perhaps for the models’ safety. He knew that the other pieces of luggage were replaceable but not the alabaster models. These had been designed under Baba’s instructions and it was obvious that He definitely wanted them for His work, beginning on October 16. Eruch anxiously got near the car and cautiously opened the door. He was sure that the car had been seriously damaged. He turned the ignition key and the engine started, but it made a frightful noise. With his hands on the steering wheel, Eruch was trying to think of what to do next. Just then a truck, which had brought faggots (fuel) for the Baba party, arrived. With the help of this truck, they towed the car from the muddy field onto the regular road. Eruch and the driver of the truck inspected the car engine and found that the paddy straw and leaves had gotten into it. 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 pieces of luggage along with 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!7 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 companions were late in getting back to Hyderabad. Baba inquired about the delay. Gustadji, one of the mandali, who was observing silence and had silently witnessed the whole episode, was also a great mime and exquisite story teller. He related the entire episode, Eruch interpreting Gustadji’s gestures. This gave Baba many a hearty chuckle. Nevertheless, He neither expressed any surprise over what had happened nor did He make any passing remark about this mysterious happening, not even in later years.
Second Anniversary of the New Life
On October 15, Donkin drove Baba to Khojaguda Pahad (hill). Vishnu, Nilu and a mulla (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 P.M. Donkin’s car, wet with rain, 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 Fakruddin. After a short while the mulla, in the presence of Baba and His companions offered the conventional prayers, 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 witnesses to the Declaration made by Baba and they were ordered by Him to fast on October 16 for twentyfour 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 (near Bombay, M. S.) 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 the 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 followers were then asked to request that this person fast on October 16. On this day, after taking a 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.8
On this day, in the dargah of Baba Fakruddin, Baba went into seclusion at night, till the early hours of the 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, (the God-Man), Hazrat Babajan, one of Baba’s Sadgurus (Man-God) 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 lover, 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 one’s rationality after coming to Baba. As long as one has a mind one is 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 one’s inability to understand the hidden meanings 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 quiets 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 Khojaguda Pahad 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 Vishnu’s temple. In the afternoon He contacted a mast named Gulam Hussain. Baba’s work in seclusion continued for nine days on this Pahad 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 Pahad (near Hyderabad. A.P.) 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. During this journey, depending upon Baba’s mood and the urgency of His work, the party sometimes traveled by bus, goods lorry or even a bullock cart. The first halt of this march was at Lingampeta. In a dak bungalow the party rested for the night and the march was resumed the next morning. During the first week of tramping, Baba once noticed that dear old Gustadji looked rather tired. Though he did not complain of any fatigue, Baba, under this pretext, allowed the whole party to avail itself of the opportunity to travel by truck. In fact, it was loaded with so many odd things that the companions had somehow to accommodate themselves on pieces of luggage of various sizes.
At Jogipeta the party got some information about a mast of that town and got down. The companions tried to find this person but all their efforts were in vain. At the next stop, Sadashivpeta, Baba was very happy because he contacted a good mast. This God-intoxicated soul looked bizarre for his eccentricities had veiled the flame of love that had lit his heart. The party moved on to Chitgop and another “fool of God” named Gopal was contacted. In his divine intoxication, Gopal seemed to flout the laws of hygiene. Love indeed is self-sufficient; it does not depend on anything but itself.
In the Old Life, the mandali were not allowed to witness Baba’s meetings with the masts. With the commencement of Baba’s New Life the ban was lifted and the companions could watch the loving responses of the masts in the company of their Divine Beloved. The masts would often be drawn closer to Baba with sudden affection. Sometimes, overpowered with emotions, they would gaze at Him, beaming with intimacy and inner recognition. Baba’s redeeming touch and radiant glances would fill the hearts of the masts with rare ecstasy and “blissful agony” which, I presume, later opened wider visions in their states of involved consciousness.
Source: P329-366, Glimpse_Two_P2.pdf
Photos: Not part of the Glimpses of the God-Man book
1 Circular NL 26.
2 During this meeting Baba did not explain further regarding the path of meditation. But as this subject is of great interest to some seekers of God, I quote below some excerpts from a discourse which Meher Baba gave in later years:
There are various retreats in India where meditation classes are held and different but set techniques of meditation are observed, which, if followed faithfully and for a 1ong time, result in slight occult experiences such as seeing flashes of light, colors, even visions, etc. These occult experiences by themselves are nothing, are in the domain of illusion, and not only have no direct bearing on the incomparable reality of God-Realization, but can actually become a hindrance and obstruction to the aspirant’s path to God.
The direct Path to God is the Path of Love. Love is not derived from meditation — it has nothing to do with it. Love is a grace of God. One in many has it, and it is all sufficient. Love does not depend on anything but itself. Love without meditation is enough — meditation without love is not. That is why Sadgurus or Perfect Masters do not set meditation for their disciples as a necessary routine. Rather, they stress the aspect of love and selfless service. The masters of the Path, on the other hand, not having reached the Goal themselves, advocate meditation to the aspirants following them.
In the Prem Ashram the boys were touched with the spark of Love …Then, when the phase o£ intensive meditation followed (with the resultant flashes of occult experience), the love aspect began gradually to decline. (The Awakener, Vol. III, No. 4, p. 31.)
3 Meher Baba, The Fiery Life and Seven Other Messages, (November 1952).
4 In 1951, on the basis of linguistics, Hyderabad State was divided and merged into three existing States; Andhra, Karnatak and Maharashtra.
5 Circular NL 30, issued on 1-9-1951 360
6 Lit: Friendship with fire.
7 At present these models are preserved in a glass case in the Museum in Meher Retreat, Meherabad
8 Cash or kind offered to a person as a mark of respect for discharging spiritual duties.