They were tears of love !
News had already reached Bombay by the evening of the 31st. Lovers rushed to the station to catch a train or a bus or got into cars and taxies to leave for Meherabad. Some arrived soon after Baba’s body had been placed in the Tomb. Padri and Chhagan stayed the whole night in the Tomb on Friday the 31st. (January 1969).
On Saturday, the 1st of February, the shocking news spread the world over. It was unbelievable. Some lovers wondered, “Had there been a mistake?” If it was a shock for Baba’s Mandali, how intense would be its impact on others who were far away! The sudden news was like a strong blow that literally stunned all. Many telegrams and phone calls were sent to Adi but unfortunately, replies were greatly delayed. The small telegraph office at Ahmednagar was busy only with Baba traffic. Those who heard the dreadful news and were destined to come for His final darshan left their homes immediately. Their love brought them to Baba. They needed no miracles to keep their faith whole and unswerving. Many came without official leave, many without clothes or cash. Only on arrival at Meherabad did they realise that their brush or soap or shaving set or some such thing had been forgotten….
At Meherabad, the trustees of the Avatar Meher Baba Trust had to wrack their brains to make arrangements for the thousands who were flocking in every day. A makeshift awning — a white cloth stretched over bamboo poles — was erected in front of the Tomb which served to give a little shade from the scorching sun. No food was available at first. To get a cup of tea or a biscuit, one would have to go six miles to Ahmednagar by transport which was far from regular.
Chhagan came to the rescue of all by getting vegetable “pulav” (rice with vegetables) cooked on Sunday, 2nd February, at Ahmednagar and brought to Meherabad. It was really a blessing for most lovers who had been living only on water and His love. On the 6th of February he got “puris” and a vegetable cooked which was served to all. Luckily, a small canteen sprang up at lower Meherabad which provided tea and snacks for those who could pay for them.
The hall at lower Meherabad was filled with lovers to the bursting point. There was hardly an inch of space to walk on the verandas around the hall. Not caring for the cold weather, many had baths with cold water in the early hours of the morning. Many had nothing to lie on nor cover themselves with at night. Padri was on his toes trying to provide bedding to the lovers from his meagre supplies.
At night, those whose hearts poured forth love alone, sat around the Tomb singing or glorifying their Beloved. While, down at the Meherabad hall, clusters of intellectuals would be talking about matters like Baba’s silence, His promises, sudden dropping of His body and other things….
Some became emotional and wept bitterly. An old lover who had taught the boys of the Prem Ashram could hardly stand for he was shaking so much as he sobbed aloud amidst profuse tears that were rapidly rolling down his cheeks in an unbreakable chain. He banged his head against the stone walls of the Tomb and had to be prevented from bashing his head. He was the only one who could control the Prem Ashram boys when they sobbed for Baba. Now, he had lost control over his heart. Baba has told this lover that he would die only after Baba had dropped His body. He cried, “Take me now! Take me now!” To say that he loved Baba was not enough. He was ready to wash those Beloved feet of Baba with the blood of his heart.
Two girls from Andhra Pradesh came in singing and weeping. They could not help giving vent to the sorrowful throbs of their hearts through soul stirring sobs. They were tears of love. The old and the crippled were brought into the Tomb on chairs lifted by four persons. They could not go down into the crypt but could see Baba from a distance. They too shed tears of love. Some fainted and had to be carried out. Each lover who entered the Tomb would not want to leave and they had to be requested to leave so that others could come inside. Not all were lucky enough to enter the Tomb. Thousands bowed down only on the doorstep and tried to catch a glimpse of their Beloved in the crypt. Before their eyes could accommodate the darkness in the crypt, they were pushed aside by the volunteers at the door. It was a pity to see so many being thus moved away even before they could set their eyes on Baba. But, if they did not see Baba, Baba definitely saw them and accepted their loving bow to Him. He gave them more, far more, in the space of a few seconds than what they had gained in years of earnest seeking, for Baba can bestow Divine Love, whereas others can only talk about it.
(To be continued . . .)
Photo showing Beloved Baba’s body lying in state inside the crypt. Baba had done a lot of spiritual work sitting inside the crypt intermittently for varying period of time.