For Baba there is no goodbye!
While the record “Begin the Beguine” was being played several times, Dr. Donkin arrived with an ambulance. Baba was lifted on a stretcher from His room in Meherazad and brought to the men Mandali room. The stretcher was placed on His aluminium bed. The Mandali came one by one and bowed down for the last time in Meherazad.
It was time to say goodbye, though for Baba there is no goodbye. Though Baba was leaving them physically, He was not really leaving them for He has said: “If you maintain a tight and lasting grip on My daaman, you will remain with Me on the highest of levels, or the lowest, wherever I am, wherever I may be….” All were quiet at this parting time. Even the birds seemed to have stopped chirping. The bougainvillea and the jasmine bowers in the garden seemed to be drooping, bidding farewell to their Beloved. The roses must have shriveled for, now, whom would they adorn? But they were lucky for they were carried daily to Meherabad and placed on His feet by the women Mandali…
Having lived for so many years in Meherazad, Baba was now leaving. After all had bowed down, the ambulance was dusted and the stretcher carrying Baba was placed inside it on the seat. Eruch and Bhau sat inside the ambulance next to Baba’s stretcher. When the ambulance started, all shouted: “Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai!” When the ambulance reached lower Meherabad, Padri sat next to the driver to guide him to the Tomb. At six in the evening, the ambulance slowly climbed Meherabad hill. Arangaon villagers who had already got suspicious with the noise of digging in the Tomb now knew for certain that their Beloved was no longer with them. The news flashed through the village like a forest fire. The ambulance came and stopped just opposite Baba’s cabin…
After the ambulance arrived at Baba’s cabin, the stretcher was lifted from it and placed in the cabin just opposite its door. The crypt floor had been dug one foot deep after the stone slabs forming its floor had been removed. Padri announced at 7:00 p.m. that the Tomb was ready.
Amid shouts of “Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai!” Baba’s stretcher was lifted from the cabin and taken to the entrance of the Tomb. With head first, Baba was taken inside on the stretcher and placed on the side of the crypt. The wooden board on which Baba was to be placed was first put in the crypt. Baba had once asked the Mandali whether it would be alright if He gave His darshan lying down. The Mandali had not the faintest idea of what Baba really meant by this and so had agreed thinking that His health would not permit Him to sit up for darshan. Baba had asked them to raise His head so that His lovers could see Him
from a distance. The true meaning of these words was now understood when the board was being placed in the crypt. Eruch placed three stone slabs that had been removed from the crypt floor under the board where Baba’s head would be placed. The board was thus at a slant with Baba’s head raised by about four inches.
Baba was lifted with the carpet on which He lay. Amid loud cheers of “Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai!” the carpet was lowered onto the board. Baba now lay in the crypt with His eyes closed, His head to the North and His feet facing the steps that take one down into the crypt. A pillow was placed under Baba’s head. The scarf tied around His head and over His ears and chin was rearranged. Baba’s hair was gently brushed. The bed sheets wrapped around Baba were made tidy and then blocks of ice were put in the small space between the board and the crypt wall. The ice surrounded Baba on all sides and yet did not touch His body. A flower garland was put around Baba’s head and He now seemed to be sleeping peacefully. Baba, who was never at rest though always divinely at Rest and who was motion in stillness and peace, was now really resting. A petromax light was initially hung in the Tomb but was later replaced by a fluorescent light, an electric generator being provided by the Vijayawada group. The gramophone record “Begin the Beguine” was played several times in the Tomb while the inmates of upper Meherabad looked at Beloved Baba, drinking in as much as they could of His loving presence.
With the news of Baba’s return to Meherabad, life was again revived in the quiet colony and activities of various kinds began preparatory to Baba’s arrival. The Tomb had to be got ready, water and food for those who were going to come for Baba’s darshan and many other details had to be looked after.
There were scores of people waiting for the Tomb door to be opened. They had come to have Baba’s last darshan. The women Mandali returned to Meherazad at midnight. Adi was busy sending wires and cables to lovers and Baba Centres in India and abroad. The All India Radio was informed and they announced Baba’s passing away at 10:00 p.m. on the 31st of January. The next day, announcements were being made on the AIR several times during the day. At times, even a short life sketch of Baba was announced. The BBC also announced the passing away of Meher Baba…
(To be continued…)
1. Mandali Hall in Meherazad
2. Baba’s Room (Cabin) in Upper Meherabad where Beloved Baba’s Body was placed before taking It to the Samadhi. A part of the stretcher can be seen in Baba’s Room.
Baba’s Room (Cabin)