During Baba’s stay in Guruprasad back in 1960, several lovers from Hamirpur expressed their desire to have a life-sized marble statue made of Baba and to house it in a mandir (temple) built for it in the village of Nauranga. Baba acceded to their wish, but at the same time warned against making his statue a focus of empty ceremonial worship, reminding them of what he had often said regarding temples and ceremonies, that the real house of God is the heart and the real worship is that service done in love to one’s fellow beings.
Over the next year and a half, the temple and statue were built, but the unveiling of the statue was not to take place until the annual mela (fair) held in Nauranga from November 25th to 27th. For that purpose, Baba sent Adi and Maharani Shantadevi to Nauranga, and also Meherdas from Meherazad, who carried with him several of Baba’s old personal articles (a much-used coat, a pair of sandals, an old cricket bat, a letter in Baba’s handwriting dated back in 1922, a curl of his early golden-brown hair, and other items) to be exhibited in the temple for the lovers to bow down to and thereby take darshan. The main function was held on the 26th of November. The building where the statue was to be housed had been named Meher Mandir (Meher Temple), but sending a telegram that day, Baba changed the name to Meher Dham (House of Meher). (1)
Baba sent word to them that no ceremonies or rituals should be performed in the temple – no ringing of bells or puja – and that people should take darshan of the statue in the same way as if they were taking Baba’s darshan in person. He also ordered that over the entrance of Meher Dham, so that pilgrims might read it before entering, should be written in large letters – carved in stone, not painted on boards:
I belong to no religion. My religion is love. Every heart is my temple. Although it is in love that you have built this house of stone, I am only in it when your heart brings me here.
And inside the building should be carved:
Always remember that ceremonies cover me but pure worship reveals me.
Baba sent this message with Adi to be read out to all who attended the mela:
On this particular occasion I will be among you as one of my own lovers. All those who surrender themselves in love to me will see and adore and realize the Reality behind my form.
Thus, through the combined labor and untiring effort of dedicated lovers such as Babu Ramprasad, Hiralal, Mungalal, Dillipati, Siddh Gopal, Narsingdas and others, the temple called Meher Dham came into being. Narsingdas, in fact, literally sacrificed his life in Baba’s cause while laboring so hard on this project and died before seeing its successful completion.
(1) The temple in Hamirpur was also called Dham, meaning House of God.
Lord Meher, American ed., Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 17, pp. 5875 – 5877.