Sleeping on a bed of roses!
Two volunteers remained in the Tomb all the time. One would fan Baba while he sat on the landing of the crypt, the other would be busy collecting flowers at the door and swabbing the floor with a wet cloth to remove the dust that flew inside in plenty with thousands stamping and bowing at the door. The windows of the Tomb had to be cleared of lovers who tried to have a peep of their Beloved. This was necessary to maintain fresh air circulating inside the Tomb. Eau de Cologne was sprinkled lavishly on the floor at hourly intervals to clear the floor of ants, insects, flies and mosquitoes. Baba had always liked lavender and Channel and so these were sprinkled on Him.
Lovers would want to take turns in fanning Baba so as to remove flies and mosquitoes which invariably came on the clothing of the villagers who entered the Tomb. At first this was done with a fly swatter, later with a small fan and lastly with a stick on which a scarf had been tied. Their fanning helped to fan the flames of love in their hearts and make it aglow, enabling them to help others in darkness. While fanning Baba, many lovers had wonderful experiences. One felt he saw tears roll down Baba’s cheeks; another felt that he saw Baba’s eyelid flicker; another said that he saw Baba smile. While they sat there, they were composed with the balm of Baba’s healing presence, but when they left the Tomb, tears flowed down their cheeks, purifying tears in which joy and pain strangely mingled.
Mansari, one of the women Mandali living for many years on Meherabad hill, would come regularly to keep aglow a small oil lamp. Thrice a day the doors of the Tomb were closed while Eruch and a couple of other lovers changed the blocks of ice surrounding Baba. It was a difficult task for Eruch to balance himself on the ice blocks and remove the ones that had melted and were not stable. New blocks were arranged and fitted snugly in all the crevices. Saw dust was sprinkled on the ice blocks. As roses were brought daily in abundance, rose petals were sprinkled on the saw dust covering the ice blocks. The effect was that it ppeared Baba was sleeping on a bed of roses.
From the time that Eruch had tried mouth to mouth resuscitation on the 31st, he worked night and day in the Tomb, not caring for food, drink or sleep. He had brought no clothes from Meherazad and hardly had time for a bath. Day and night one could see him in the Tomb consoling some lover, showing someone down into the crypt, taking flowers and putting them on Baba, arranging ice blocks, cleaning saw dust from Baba’s clothes, pouring Eau de Cologne or lavender on Baba and doing many other things….
Beloved Baba’s sheet was not changed but a new one was put daily over the one in which He was wrapped up. Flowers were arranged and changed two or three times a day. Around Baba’s head was the scarf tied at Meherazad. Surrounding this, a pink piece of cloth was placed around His head, the tail ends of which covered His chest. Roses made into wonderful garlands woven according to each one’s imagination adorned His chest. Roses from Meherazad, so loved by Baba because of the tender care taken by Mehera for them, were placed on His heart by the women Mandali. From the door it seemed Baba was wearing a pink coat and lying on a bed or roses.
As evening approached and it became a little dark inside the crypt, one volunteer would flash a torch light on Baba’s face while he sat on the landing above the crypt. The effect was gorgeous. From the door Baba’s face seemed to be lighted up with a halo. Baba never liked incense sticks being burnt near Him and so these were avoided inside the Tomb. Just outside the East window on the platform where the Prem Ashram boys used to sit, was kept an urn in which sandalwood was burnt. Many came inside the Tomb and clicked their cameras, both movie and still. Meelan studio of Poona, which has probably taken thousands of photos of Baba by now, came daily to picture Baba from different angles. As a result of these pictures, lovers could see how natural Baba’s face looked even though His body remained in the open crypt for seven days.
When Eruch was busy arranging ice blocks around Baba, Dr. Goher went down into the crypt and examined Baba’s body for signs of deterioration. Surprisingly, the abdomen did bloat a very little on the first day but after that there were no signs of abdominal distension. Only the skin of the face was visible as it was not wrapped in His bed sheet. It remained smooth, shining and lustrous for all seven days.
The face looked natural and Baba seemed to be sleeping. In fact, when a high ranking Government officer came to see Baba on the sixth day, he spontaneously exclaimed, “He looks as if He is sleeping.” In short, changes that should have occurred in a dead body did not occur with Baba’s body. When the lovers realised this, there were strong rumours that the body would be kept indefinitely. One person even suggested that a glass coffin be made and this should cover Baba so that Baba’s darshan could be had for all times by posterity!
(To be continued…)
Photo : Baba sleeping on a bed of roses.