(June 1926) SATYA MANG, a notorious criminal of Ahmednagar district, happened to come to Meherabad with his gang for Baba’s darshan. He had come hoping that with the Master’s blessing, his chosen profession would continue to be lucrative and that he would not be apprehended.
When he arrived, Baba was talking with about fifty of the mandali at the Makan. Baba was informed of a group’s arrival. No one had any idea who the men really were. Satya Mang and his accomplices sat on the ground before Baba after first prostrating themselves at Baba’s feet. Baba suddenly became very serious and remained quiet for a few minutes. He then asked, “Where do you come from and where are you going?” When Satya Mang had answered, Baba looked directly at him and spelled out, “You should be wearing bangles!”
Satya Mang did not follow the meaning of this and asked the mandali what Baba had said. Baba again repeated, “You should put bangles around your wrists! Why aren’t you wearing them?”
When one of the mandali explained, Satya Mang asked, “Why? What have I done?”
“You are a coward!” exclaimed Baba.
“What do you mean?” Satya Mang shouted.
“A hefty man like you can extract water from stone (meaning that he could work hard and earn an honest livelihood). But instead, you are a dacoit – a thief and rob people. Your very name strikes terror in the hearts of women and children who are unable to sleep when they think of you.”
Until then, the mandali did not know who this man was, but after hearing Baba, they felt sure that this must be the infamous Satya Mang who held the people of the district in fear and whom the police had been unable to catch despite their best efforts.
Baba continued, “You support yourself on illegal gains. Aren’t you ashamed to grow a moustache? You are not a man – you are a woman!”
Satya Mang replied, “I inherited my profession. If I do not pursue it, how am I to maintain myself and my family?”
“Can’t you find another occupation other than robbing people? What are the rest of the people in the world doing? Do you mean to say that everyone in the world lives on stolen property?”
To make such statements to this dangerous criminal was unheard of, for even the police were terrified of Satya Mang and his gang. But this wolf became like a lamb before Meher Baba (whom he called Maharaj) and humbly asked, “Maharaj, show me what I am to do. I am ready to give up this way of life if I find some employment to maintain my family.”
Baba replied, “That can be arranged immediately, but how can you stop stealing? Every blood cell of your body contains its germs!”
“No, Maharaj, I swear I will turn my face from such a life if provision is made for my children. Once that is done, I will never rob again.”
Baba then asked seriously, “Do you know before whom you are swearing? Do you have any idea to whom you are giving this promise? If you break your promise to God, your life will be ruined. God knows everything. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Maharaj, I understand. I will never repeat my past actions. I will never break my promise!”
At this, Baba stretched out his hand and gestured, “Give me your promise!” Immediately Satya Mang came forward and touched Baba’s palm with his own. Baba then warned, “If you go back on your word to me, you will become completely paralyzed. Remember this.”
Baba then arranged for the maintenance of his family and instructed him to come to Meherabad once a week. From that day on, the threat of robbery disappeared from Ahmednagar district and people were greatly impressed by this “miraculous occurrence.” Everyone was amazed at Baba’s intervention. For a robber like Satya Mang, who had successfully eluded the police for years, to submit to a spiritual Master and surrender to him was something unheard of.
Satya Mang held to his promise and remained faithful for some time, but again his hands began itching with the desire for stealing. He stealthily entered a house one night to rob it, and was about to steal a few valuable articles when he saw Baba standing in front of him! His body shuddered with fright and he recalled Meher Baba’s words:
God is ever present. He sees everything.
Nothing is hidden from Him!
Suddenly everything became dark as if he had gone blind. Satya Mang grew pale and closed his eyes. When he opened them, Baba had disappeared. Leaving the stolen goods behind, he hastened to Meherabad to find Baba, and later when he saw Baba, tears streamed down his cheeks as he confessed, “Maharaj, please forgive me this once. I have gone back on my word.”
Feigning ignorance, Baba asked, “What are you talking about? What happened?”
Satya Mang cried out, “God, you know everything. Forgive me!” and he fell at Baba’s feet.
Baba pardoned him because of his sincere repentance and warned, “Never do it again. Paramatma knows everything and sees all.”
Thereafter, Satya Mang never committed a crime or theft again and the police even availed themselves of his help in tracking down other criminals. Satya Mang made it a practice to be present at Meherabad every Thursday and take part in the gatherings there.
Faith in Meher Baba’s divinity was born in him and he completely changed. At one word from Baba, he was ready to sacrifice his life. On one occasion, he begged the Master for the chance to serve him. Baba replied, “When the appropriate time comes, I will surely give you the opportunity to serve me.” (1)
(1) Satya Mang proved to be of help to the mandali when Baba left Meherabad for his Nasik stay years later. He was in charge of security during the mass darshan in Nasik in 1937, on the occasion of Baba’s forty-third birthday.
Lord Meher, American ed., Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 3, pp. 811 – 814.