The inception of the Ahmednagar Center in Khushru Quarters occurred in 1959. With the growing number of devotees in Ahmednagar, the need was felt for a larger accommodation, as the old building could only seat about fifty people. Sarosh headed the renovation committee, and two rooms at Khushru Quarters were joined to form a single large hall. Sunday, October 21st, 1962, was fixed as the opening day and, despite not feeling well, Baba accepted Sarosh’s invitation to attend the function and declare the Center open. He arrived in Khushru Quarters at 9:00 A.M. with several of the men mandali. About five hundred people attended.
When he arrived, Baba walked up the three steps to the Center’s front veranda, cut the seven-colored ribbon and opened the doors. He entered the hall, which had been beautifully decorated, and took his seat on the dais. Sarosh garlanded him first, followed by his son Merwan’s fiancée, a Swiss young lady named Anita. Baba assured her not to worry and to remain happy.
The Ahmednagar bhajan party, including Lata Limaye, sang a few songs. Lata had not been selected as a candidate for a singing competition to be held in Delhi that year, but Baba assured her not to worry about it. “A day will dawn when you yourself will be one of the selectors,” he remarked to her.
Eruch then read Baba’s message for the occasion:
I declare the Avatar Meher Baba Ahmednagar Center open for all those whose hearts are open to receive my love blessing. All of you present today will always be able to receive my full blessings if you love God wholeheartedly – so wholeheartedly as to completely forget the affairs of the world.
But remember, the slightest hypocrisy on the Spiritual Path debars one from further progress. To love God wholeheartedly is to see God in everyone and in everything. Therefore, you should love God in such a way that everywhere you look you see nothing but God!
For Sarosh, the renovation of the Ahmednagar Center, which has been done so beautifully, has been a true labor of love. My love and blessings to him and all those who have worked to make this Center possible.
After a song, Baba gave this discourse about love:
Love for God is a gift from God to man, and therefore it is impossible for man on his own to love God as he should be loved. Unless man becomes the recipient of this gift, it is not possible for him to love God. However, the grace of the Perfect Master can enable man to love God as He should be loved, and when one begins to love God, the world and its affairs no longer exist.
Love is the cementing force that keeps the world going and gives meaning to our life. Without love, everything of the world is nothing but trash!
Lata Limaye sang a ghazal Adi Sr. gave her, and as she did, Baba gently nodded his head and beat out the rhythm with his hand. Explaining its meaning he stated: “The ghazal conveys that one should not feel satisfied basking in the rays of the Sun but should become the Sun itself. It is not easy to become the Sun! It requires daring, and only one in a billion can achieve the impossible through total effacement of his self and surrender to the Perfect Master. The obligation of love is total surrender to the Perfect Master.”
Navle was near the dais, and Baba asked him if his family were present. On Navle’s replying affirmatively, Baba commented, “Everything is illusion and there is no substance in it.” He then informed Navle about the East-West Gathering and joked, “You will not be admitted unless you have the token of my love!”
Sarosh spoke a few words, thanking Baba for attending the opening ceremony. Dhakephalkar stood and spoke in his usual lively Marathi, rambling about the cause and purpose of creation and declaring Baba to be God in human form, who comes time and time again to redeem humanity by making it aware of its True Self.
Dhake’s verbosity was checked by Baba, who remarked to the audience: “Whatever he has said is not easy even for me to follow! Although the mind can grasp it to some extent, the irony is that when the mind is gone – annihilated – then only can one experience what words mean! It is not only that one then knows It, one becomes It!”
Baba further stated: “I am not what you see. I am the Infinite Ocean of Love which is infinitely vast. It is the play of your mind which makes you see me as I appear, and it will be the play of the same mind that, when I leave this place, will make you forget that Baba was here. Even so, your love has pleased me ever so much, and I give you all my blessings.”
Baba joined his hands and offered his namaskars to the gathering. Several military and civil officers were there with their families, and Adi brought a few to the dais to meet Baba. One was the District Superintendent of Police in Ahmednagar, D. S. Soman. Adi informed Baba that he had given a copy ofGod Speaks to the man. Baba remarked, “If you read through the entire book carefully, you will come to know what true spirituality is.”
Baba then touched the sweets meant for distribution as prasad. His arti was sung by the Ahmednagar singers and Baba stated, “Before I leave, I have asked Lata to sing a ghazal. When she is finished, none should come forward to bow down to me as I leave the hall.”
Lata Limaye sang the song which Baba explained: “It says that one should drink deep of the wine of divine love, and get intoxicated to such an extent that one forgets everything and is aware of nothing but God. To realize God, that sort of intoxication is required!” Baba embraced Lata Limaye and the program came to an end with acclamations of “Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai!” He left for Meherazad at about 10:15 A.M.
Lord Meher, American ed., Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 18, pp. 5938 – 5941.