Symbols of the world's religions


MEHERBAD

Dr. H. P. Bharucha

 
Meherabad means a flourishing land of mercy, kindness and fullness. In April, 1923, Meher Baba and a few of His disciples came along the road from Ahmednagar to Dhond. They rested and refreshed themselves from a well about six miles from Ahmednagar. This area where the well stood belonged to Adi's father. When Meher Baba said that He liked the place, Adi's father dedicated the property to Baba's Cause. The ashram consists of a lower and an upper part, the latter being on a small hill. In between the two runs a railway track. A furlong away is Arangaon, a small farming village.

The main building on the hill was originally a dis-used stone water tank, 40' x 20' x 15' built by the British army during the 1st World War. Two doors and windows were added later, and it become a centre for training Baba's women devotees in strict seclusion. In the early period, Baba used to descend to the dark floor of the tank for seclusion through one of the windows by means of metal rings set in the wall.

He also sat in seclusion in a cavity outside the compound. It was dug at His behest in 1927. Surrounding it were four walls, a door and one window in the East side. The roof was of tin sheets. In 1938 it was roofed over with a dome and is now Baba's Tomb. The inside of the Tomb has been decorated with lovely murals by Helen Dahm of Switzerland. At each of the four corners of the domed roof is a symbol of a great world religion — a cross for Christianity, a crescent for Mohammedanism, a flame for Zoroastrianism, and a temple for Hinduism. This snow-white building bears the inscription over the door, "Mastery in Servitude."

Near Baba's Tomb are the tombs of those who were close to Baba in the West and in the East: Nonny Gayley, Nadine Tolstoy, Norina Matchabelli, Doulatmai Irani (mother of Mehera) and Baba's parents, on whose tomb one reads, "In eternal memory of Meher Baba's parents, who are now merged in Baba's Infinity." Other smaller stones bear the names of five faithful dogs who had served Baba; one named "Chum" used to keep guard near Baba's door and would not allow even the Mandali to come near.

Outside the Tomb compound was a shed which was the mast ashram. In a separate room adjoining it, now called Baba's cabin, Baba used to rest at night when He was in Meherabad, This cabin was built in 1935 soon after Baba returned from Mount Abu.

In 1938 an upper floor was added to the tank-building which serves as a dormitory. The tank-building is now used to exhibit Baba's clothes, pictures and other personal things. Rising from the main building is a staircased tower which commands a view of the surrounding countryside. From the tower flies Baba's seven coloured flag. Up the hill were the women's quarters. Surrounding the ashram is a stone wall about six feet high. At the main entrance is an iron gate. In between the Tomb and Baba's cabin is a row of seven little cells for meditation, each with its own door and a common platform in front, built on the site were Baba used to sit and play with the Prem ashram boys. Often they would sit there while Baba gave discourses from the East window of the Tomb when he was in seclusion in it.

In lower Meherabad there is a big hall where Baba used to hold meetings and sahavas programmes. A dispensary was built to which the poor from the neighbouring villages came for free treatment. A little beyond were the men's quarters. Next to Baba's room was a weather-bleached teak cage so small the one could not stand up straight inside it. In this Baba spent about a year from July, 1925, writing a book which He said was to be published only after He dropped His body. In addition to the dispensary, a hospital, an ashram for boys, a leper asylum, a mast-home for the God-mad, a dharamshalla or free shelter for the migrant poor sprang up. Baba supervised the boys, lepers and masts and washed their clothes and cleaned their toilets. All these were run free and were open to people irrespective of their caste, creed or class. Water is brought from the well in lower Meherabad to upper Meherabad.

Baba had once said, "The major portion of my Universal work was done on this hill (Meherabad hill). I have selected this spot for my last resting place; when I drop the body, it shall rest here in my Tomb. I have fasted here for six months. I used to lie down here in the crypt taking only water and coffee, not tea...After I drop my body the physical remains will rest here, and this hill will become an important place of pilgrimage of the world. After 70 years this place will be a place of great privilege and pilgrimage. A big township will grow around here."
 

MEHER BABA'S LAST SAHAVAS, pp. 17-19
Copyright 1969 Dr. H. P. Bharucha

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