DR. ABDUL GHANI MUNSIFF (GHANI)
(Mandali & Baba’s boyhood friend)
Dr. Ghani was a boyhood friend of Meher Baba. For Ghani, Baba was a friend till he had unusual experience. Meher Baba made him instrumental in many events to teach a lesson to him and His mandali.
Ghani and Merwan had been in the same classes together in high school and college. Since Merwan had quit college after His contact with Hazrat Babajan, Ghani had lost track of his friend for over seven years. In the meantime, Ghani had finished college and had become a homeopathic doctor. He had married and moved to Bombay where he opened a homeopathic dispensary on Sandhurst Road. He was also appointed an honorary magistrate — a munsiff — and functioned as a subordinate judge in a small claims court in Bombay. Hence he was addressed officially as Dr. Abdul Ghani Munsiff.
Some of his encounters in his life time and dialogues with Meher Baba are described as under:
One day, during 1920, Baba was at Munshiji’s house with many of Munshiji’s Muslim friends who had gathered to meet Him. Ghani, who knew Munshiji well, happened to drop by on a casual visit. Seeing his boyhood friend after so many years, Ghani cried out, “Merwan, you are here?! I thought you might have been dead all these past years. Whatever happened to you anyway, old friend?”
Hearing this, Baba only smiled. However, the Muslims present did not like Ghani’s familiar way of addressing their guru. Ghani glanced at those in the room and sensed their reproach. “Merwan is my old, old friend,” he explained. “We were on the same teams together when we played as boys. We were classmates at St. Vincent’s and Deccan College. We lived in the same neighborhood.” But Ghani’s remarks fell on deaf ears and the devotee’s eyes held scorn.
Munshiji quoted the adage, “A friend of the past is an awkward customer — alas!” (Meaning that an old friend is a bad client in business.)
Ghani was taken aback, thinking: “What did I do wrong? Is there something disrespectful in what I said? Why do these fellows misunderstand my intention? And why are they paying so much respect to Merwan?”
Baba, however, intervened and broke the tension in the room. He had His old friend sit near Him and talked affectionately with him, reminiscing about their boyhoods together.
Baba ended by advising, “Ghani, you should visit Me whenever you come to Poona. I will always be happy to see you when you come back here.”
Shortly after Baba left. The group of men confronted Ghani, saying, “Don’t you know who Meher Baba is? How dare you talk that way in front of Him? He is no ordinary man! He is a Qutub!
He is connected with the Perfect Masters Babajan and Tajuddin Baba.” They explained Baba’s recognized spiritual status, and each one described his experiences in Baba’s contact. Ghani apologized, though he did not understand what they meant.
Later, Ghani would visit Poona frequently to see Baba, who would take him to an Irani restaurant in Char Bawdi opposite Babajan’s seat. There, over cups of tea, Baba would initiate discussions on various topics, particularly politics, and ask probing questions of Ghani, who would always reply in a lengthy way about the political situation in India. Ghani’s complex explanations would have tired a normal man’s mind, but Baba would patiently listen to Ghani’s long-winded answers.
During this period, although Ghani was deeply influenced by Baba and would stay until late in the evening at Munshiji’s house, Ghani had not yet recognized Meher Baba as his Spiritual Master. Among all of Baba’s friends and early disciples, Ghani was considered the most intelligent and was even nicknamed ‘Socrates’ because of the size of his head! Even this enormous intellect would bow at Meher Baba’s feet eventually.
A series of incidents was instrumental in deepening Ghani’s faith in Meher Baba. During 1920, when Ghani was visiting Poona, Baba decided to go to Bombay for three or four days to attend concerts. He invited Ghani and told Baily to come along to keep Ghani’s company. At first, Ghani had been reluctant to join, citing various excuses, but Baba demolished each reason and Ghani soon agreed.
It was during the monsoon season (June to September) and Poona had been dark and cloudy continuously for four days. In Khandala, a town along the way to Bombay, it had rained continuously for a week. The sky remained overcast as the group boarded the train in Poona. As they passed Talegaon, Baba remarked to Ghani, “I don’t think we will reach Bombay.”
Ghani was preoccupied reading the newspaper and remarked a bit scornfully, “What do you mean? The train is headed toward Bombay, and if you say it won’t arrive there, you must be either a pir (saint) or a madcap! And I know you are not a pir!”
Baba replied, “You have a bad habit of ridiculing everything one says. Listen to Me. Not only do I think, but I positively know that we will not reach Bombay. And you will find out what I say is true.”
With amusement, Ghani replied, “Tell me, do you speak only concerning ourselves or for all the passengers as well?”
Baba frowned in annoyance, saying, “Of course, what I say applies to all. This train will not arrive in Bombay.”
“Perhaps not, maybe it will proceed to Persia or Turkey instead!” Ghani joked.
Baily intervened, “But, Baba, if the train will not go to Bombay, then where will it go?”
“It is possible it might return to Poona!”
For his companions, it was difficult to believe that the train would turn around after covering only a short distance, when there seemed no reason to do so.
Ghani scoffed derisively at Baba’s words, “Nonsense!”
Baba remained quiet in response to Ghani’s protest, but Baily prolonged the topic, saying, “Ghani, Baba must have some sound reason for saying this. Why else would He declare such a thing?”
Ghani remarked, “You seem to be an idiot also! Don’t you know that Merwan was asleep when we left Talegaon?”
“Certainly not!” Baily retorted, “He was absorbed in His thoughts at the time. But what does your remark have to do with my question?”
Ghani said, “If your brain was not full of sawdust you would have noticed that it was after leaving Talegaon that He spoke of such a ridiculous event. He was abruptly awakened. What He was talking about was only a dream He had. So it would be better if you just forget what Baba said!”
Baba interrupted, “Undoubtedly you are right that I spoke after leaving Talegaon, I admit that. But I will tell you further that we will have to go back from Neral!”
“Merwan, please end this unpleasant conversation,” Ghani burst forth, irritated, “or else I will soon be accompanying you to a lunatic asylum!”
Baily started thinking that Baba was purposely playing a trick on Ghani. Ghani agreed that, to pass the time, Baba was indulging in a joke.
The train arrived in Lonavla and continued on to Khandala on schedule. Torrents of waterfalls from the Khandala hills were rushing into the valleys below and the lush, green scenery was a beautiful and refreshing change from the city. The train steamed ahead, passing through the mountain tunnels and arriving in the town of Karjat. There the two engines pushing the train from behind disconnected and the train continued its course, descending toward Neral.
By this time it was raining heavily, and the showers did not let up the entire way but increased as the train approached Neral. Ghani and Baily started wondering if perhaps the train might be delayed.
Baba was sitting still, resting His head on the window-pane. He had not said a word after their discussion and had not moved. He seemed intoxicated.
Some of the passengers became restless and started moving about, but Baily and Ghani paid no attention to them. After a long wait in Neral, they learned that heavy rains had flooded the tracks between the villages of Badlapur and Ambarnath, and it was now impossible for the train to proceed to Bombay, just 50 miles ahead. Suddenly, the conductor announced that the train was going back to Poona!
Upon hearing this, Ghani became uncomfortable. As the train headed back, thoughts overwhelmed his mind and he stared at Baba, as if longing for an explanation. Ghani had called Baba mad, but now his own state of mind was that of someone mentally disturbed. Baily was also stupefied. Neither man uttered a word.
Baba himself broke the tension by casually asking, “This is Neral, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” Baily replied, “It is the same Neral which has crushed our hopes of a holiday in Bombay.”
“But why? What is the matter?” Baba asked.
Baily spoke up, “You know the reason! You foretold that the train would not proceed farther than Neral — and now you claim you don’t know why?”
“To tell you the truth, I don’t know anything else about it,” Baba replied, seeming genuinely perplexed. “I Myself wonder why I predicted such a thing!”
Baily, irritated by Baba’s remarks, blurted out, “I cannot believe it! Like a prophet you foretold what was going to happen, but you could not have done so without some sound reason! You cannot tell us that you don’t know why you predicted this!”
“Of course, what you say is true,” Baba replied, “but what I say is also true. It is beyond My comprehension how I could have foretold this. Thinking it over, I believe that it was not I who spoke, but someone else! It was some power whose medium I was that made Me speak accordingly.”
Ghani, who had remained silent throughout this exchange, could not bear it any longer and interrupted, “Merwan, you really make me wonder what kind of man you are! I do not want to argue with you ever again. I request, though, that you do not predict such things ever again in my presence. I am now afraid of you and the power that is within you.
I fold my hands in respect before you. I know now that you know everything and I bow down to you!”
One day during, 1921, Dr. Ghani came to Poona to see Baba, who inquired, “How is your dispensary doing?”
Ghani complained, “Despite my best efforts to obtain certain medicines from America, I have not received my order. This delay is a nuisance and I am wondering what to do about it.”
“Write one more letter to the company in America,” Baba suggested, “but bring that letter to Me first. Let Me write the address on the envelope and we’ll see what happens.”
Ghani complied, but remarked, “I have been trying to obtain these medicines for the past two years. The company does not even reply, so I doubt if one more letter will help.”
Baba replied, “You will see. You’ll receive the medicines on the day I set foot in Bombay, which I plan to do soon.” Ghani wrote out the order. Baba then wrote the address on the envelope and Ghani mailed it that day.
After some days, Baba decided to visit Bombay. Ghani was in Poona at the time and traveled back to Bombay with him and his companions. Baba wryly said to the group, “Let’s go see the great doctor’s dispensary.” When they arrived, Ghani opened the door and noticed a letter in the mailbox. It was an invoice from the American company about the dispatch of the medicines he wanted. Discovering Baba’s words to be coming true, Ghani was again profoundly impressed with Meher Baba’s omniscience.
Later, accompanied by Munshiji, Baba visited Dr. Ghani’s dispensary and inquired how he was doing. Ghani bitterly complained that the dispensary had shown no progress, very few patients had come, and he was disgusted with his medical practice. Baba advised, “If you sweep your dispensary and keep it clean yourself for six months, instead of having the servant do it, you will prosper both materially and spiritually.”
On 25th February 1922, Ghani arrived in Poona for his weekly visit. Baba had instructed His followers who lived elsewhere that whenever they came to Poona, they should first pay respects to Babajan and have her darshan, before doing anything else. On this particular day, however, Ghani delayed visiting Babajan, and it was not until late that night when He finally went to her. Upon His arrival, Babajan grabbed Ghani and began shaking him in the presence of the crowd around her. “You scoundrel!” she scolded him. “You were due here in the morning and are arriving now! You have no shame to show your face here!” Ghani was in utter shock.
The next morning, Ghani went to see Baba at the hut, carrying a basket of luscious fruits which he had especially brought from Bombay to be used as prasad.
Ghani had learned to listen to his old friend and he took His words seriously. From that day on, he began sweeping the dispensary. Things did change after months of doing such work, although not as Ghani had expected.
Baba boarded a third-class train compartment to Poona the next morning with Gustadji, Ghani, Baily, and Ramjoo. During the journey, the topic of the circle again arose, and Baba further explained about the mandali:
Baba explained: Although the circle of a Perfect Master has twelve important members, the total is fourteen (with two women), and each person has one shadow. So the complete total of the circle is 28; 14 members, with 14 other members as their shadows.
The original fourteen will be inevitably like the Sadguru — one in God. The fourteen shadows will see God. To see God, however, is not a trifling matter? From thousands of yogis, mahatmas and walis who intensely long to see the light of Truth, very, very few by their own efforts, and without the help of a Sadguru, reach the state [of sainthood] where they can actually see God. But to become one with God is impossible without the help of a Perfect Soul.
Baba turned His face away when Ghani approached, then soon after told him in a harsh tone, “Throw that basket of fruits into a well and immediately return to Bombay. Why did you come here without My permission?”
Ghani tried to placate Him, but Baba demanded that he obey. Ghani left, but from this he learned that by not following Baba’s orders, he would be unwelcome in his Master’s darbar (royal court). This was the first time that Ghani had been given a cold reception and the incident revealed to him the inner link of communication between the two Perfect Ones — Hazrat Babajan and Meher Baba.
In August 1922, once while Baba and mandali were playing cards, Ghani stole a card just the way Baba would pilfer, Baba stopped the game and told mandali men a true story of a Perfect Master going to candy, bakery shop where disciples copied Him but at blacksmith’s shop where he took red hot iron piece in His mouth and disciples scared not to move. Perfect Master admonished saying, “are you parrots? Never do as I do, but do as I say. Ghani said to Baba, “I bow down to your knowledge. You have answered my question superbly.
In Manzil-e-Meem the routine for mandali was; to wake up at 4 a.m. quick bath with cold water, prayer, and at 6 a. m. Breakfast and tea after that watering and rolling of the play ground area. Ghani was not in habit of taking daily bath and never a cold bath in morning so he adopted a peculiar mantra of “Shash, Shoo, Shoosh” followed by a peculiar hissing sound was all more prominent as he poured water on floor, never taking off clothes. This was discovered by others and promptly reported to Baba. One day Baba suddenly entered and caught him in the act of breaking the discipline of the ashram. Baba gave him a cold bath with His own hands.
Ghani’s friend, Abdul Rezak, arrived with refreshments. Ghani suggested halting in the more comfortable setting of Rezak’s house in Khopoli, but Baba chose to rest outside the town by a mountain brook. It being Thursday, the traditional Hindu day of worshiping the guru, Upasni Maharaj’s arti was sung, and afterward all had tea and mangoes which Rezak had brought.
Two days prior to moving into the new bungalow, Baba had Ghani prepare a list of seven orders which every man was given to sign. The seven orders were to come into effect on the day they moved into Manzil-e-Meem. These seven orders, as dictated by Baba, were:
To follow to the letter the spiritual instructions given by me.
to keep or break the special connection with one other man or more than one from the group or otherwise that I order.
To abstain totally for twelve months from alcoholic drinks or intoxicating substances, as well as sexual intercourse, except when allowed by me with your legal wife.
To eat, drink and dress in accordance with the other residents in the house. To avoid eating fish, meat and eggs under any circumstances.
To be present in the premises from 7:00 P.M. to 7:00 A.M — barring accidents or mishaps.
To perform faithfully the external duty given to each.
Under no circumstances to give up my company, even if one finds that the whole world turned against me, except when ordered to leave me.
Note: If any of the above seven orders is intentionally broken by anyone who binds himself to my orders, I shall lock myself up in my room, avoiding completely all food, drink and company.
Dr. Ghani had been advised to sweep his dispensary himself for six months, with the assurance that he would have a successful medical practice.
Ghani acted accordingly, but instead of his business prospering, there was further financial loss. One day Baba asked him, “If I permitted you to live in the Manzil, would you be able to return here by seven o’clock every evening after your dispensary closes?” Ghani replied that it was not possible. Baba then said, “According to the Manzil’s rules, you must return by seven o’clock. It is better if you now dispose of your dispensary altogether and live with Me.” Ghani agreed and, on 12th July 1922, he closed his dispensary for good, and was given a single room at the Manzil. This is what Baba had meant by “success,” but it was not the kind of prosperity Ghani had envisioned. A few months later, the dispensary’s turnover improved in the hands of a new doctor.
It was well known among the men that in His youth the Master was an accomplished poet and loved to quote the poetry of Hafiz. On 19th July, Baba requested that a few of the men start composing poetry and encouraged them in their efforts. He told them to try with all their hearts, without caring if the poems were “polished.”
Dr. Ghani composed this ghazal:
O Meher, your love has made us forget everything,
Although we remember your stories and discourses.
I have pledged myself to obey you,
But you alone know what doubts plague my heart.
You had promised us God-realization, but we cannot describe
How we have carved that promise in our hearts.
We had never heard or dreamt of the pain and suffering that has overpowered us;
Or the secrets that have been revealed to us.
May you, too, now determine to start for Medina,
What dissimilar types of caravans are making their way there!
O Meher, the suffering which Ghani is passing through in your name — and because of your friendship — is indescribable!
Many pen names for Rustom Jafrabadi’s were suggested, but Ghani’s was approved. Ghani said, “Bidal was a well-known Persian poet, but since Jafrabadi’s couplets are far superior to his, we should call him Baidul.” Everyone liked the name (which in Persian means marble) and Baba instructed that, henceforth, Jafrabadi should be known as Agha Baidul — the Great Baidul.
Baidul then earnestly requested of Baba, “When I start writing poetry, the onrush of thoughts is so great that I cannot cope with it. I pray to you to instruct someone to write down what comes from my lips at that very instant — otherwise it will be lost forever.” Since Ghani had thought up his new name, Baba appointed him as Baidul’s secretary with instructions that whenever Baidul felt inspired, Ghani should immediately write down his poetic inspirations.
On one occasion, Ghani was in the toilet, and Baidul went there and started knocking on the door. “Ghani, come out immediately!” he said urgently. “The muse is inspiring me! If you don’t come out soon, I will not be able to recover all these wonderful lines.” He was so insistent that Ghani had to quickly button his trousers and write down Baidul’s spontaneous creation. Ghani related this incident to Baba who was much amused.
On 28th July 1922, Baba went to Sakori, before leaving; Baba dictated this message for Ghani:
I am going (to Sakori) for some important and serious matter. The troubles relating to the internal world, about which I spoke to you some time back, are about to begin. Shri Upasni Maharaj will settle the whole affair with Me and the matter will begin with Myself. Thereafter, Maharaj and the whole world will turn against me! I therefore, again, hereby desire to bring home to you the seriousness of the whole affair and enjoin upon you not to be influenced by any extraneous circumstances and stick to Me to the end, at all cost, as per your promise given to me some time ago. Also, in My absence, to obey Gustadji implicitly and not to break any of the seven orders given to you by Me. Have faith and courage and, God willing, everything will be all right.
Even when Baba was in the toilet, Adi had to occupy the right stall and Ramjoo the left one, as Ghani stood in front. Occasionally, they would take a different seat when permitted; but without Baba’s consent, they could not do so. If Baba became upset with any of them and sent them away, Sarosh was to take their place.
What was more alarming was that, at any time, Baba would suddenly ask them what they were thinking, and they were required to admit their sometimes dreadful thoughts. For instance, once a week people would come to Manzil-e-Meem for darshan, and very often this included attractive young ladies. One day a beautiful young woman came and bowed to the Master. Adi was standing on Baba’s right and, admiring the buxom lass, had some undesirable thoughts. Baba turned to him and said, “What are you thinking?”
“Nothing,” said Adi quickly. The incident was not forgotten, and Baba’s probing went on for days. Each time, Adi would reply, “Nothing.”
Ghani also was not free from such lustful thoughts. Once Baba addressed them both and said, “Do you think I’m a fool? Do you think I don’t know what you’re thinking? I know everything. I know what you thought yesterday, I know what you are thinking today, and I know what you will think tomorrow. The past, present and future are open books to Me.”
He then startled both by narrating some intimate incidents in their lives that had occurred before they had met him — revealing the dates, locations and circumstances — information only they could have known. Both were dumbfounded as to how the Master could know these details, and they began to weep.
“Don’t tell Me lies,” Baba said. “You two scoundrels have been lying to Me for days.”
Adi blurted out, “Then don’t ask us such embarrassing questions in front of others!”
“Nothing of the sort,” Baba said. “I will ask you whatever and whenever I like. You must obey me!” And Baba did continue to question them often, and they would openly confess their thoughts — good or bad.
On 2nd October 1922, Baba was in an exceptionally good mood all day. But when He was retiring for the night, He called Ghani and said, “I have a high fever.” Ghani felt his hand and found the fever was slight; but his forehead and chest were burning hot! Baba said, “This is the second illness, and quite different from the first.” He was in much pain, complaining about aching knees and feet, and felt restless. He seemed delirious, muttering incoherent words, as Ghani massaged His legs. Although the windows were open, Baba oddly complained of feeling hot. After some time, He complained of feeling cold. Ghani covered Him with a blanket, and was told to leave Him alone.
At first, the other men could not understand why Ghani, who was the laziest of the lot, was singing with so much gusto. But when he kept repeating the same couplet about the doomed Persian lovers, they all caught on and began laughing, as did Baba, who then called Ghani before him and told the mandali, “Look at the face and features of this Farhad! Is this My lover?
What luck do I have? Look how big this man’s head is!” From that day on, Baba freed Ghani from the common labor and engaged him in proofreading the manuscript of Upasni Maharaj’s Urdu biography.
That afternoon, Baba called Ghani to massage His legs, and as he was doing it, Baba uttered, “May God help you!”
Ghani burst out laughing and when Baba asked Him the reason, He replied, “We generally find it very difficult to follow the drift of your utterances.
Your words seem to have a deeper meaning than that denoted on the surface. Only yesterday, you remarked that I looked healthy and particularly said that my neck had grown quite fat and strong. Now look, today my neck is very stiff and is causing me a lot of pain!” Hearing this, Baba laughed.
Ghani asked, “Didn’t you tell me that the worldly knowledge, education and cleverness of a person before realizing God remains the same after Realization?”
Baba clarified the point:
What I had told you is quite correct. There are two kinds of knowledge: (1) the worldly knowledge or the knowledge relating to the material world, and (2) the divine knowledge which is acquired after becoming one with God. A person having become one with God — when dealing with matters relating to this material world — His actions and words thereafter reflect the divinity in Him. Hence the utterances and actions of such a person are invested with a sort of secrecy and grandeur about them. But this is usually lost sight of by worldly people. For example, a ruby in the hands of a rustic will not be really appreciated by him; but the same piece of stone will be treasured in the hands of a jeweler who knows its worth.
The person who has become one with God is able to make the best use of His worldly knowledge on the strength of His divine knowledge which, however, is not drawn upon in the least. Hence, the difference between the utterances and actions of the ordinary human being and the perfected divine personalities is vast.
Baba asked Ghani to bring a little coconut oil and He began rubbing Ghani’s neck, promising, “Hereafter, you will never suffer from a stiff neck.”
After confrontation with Gustadji over God-realization, Baba went to Ghani’s room and asked him what he thought about what had happened.
Ghani replied, “However long a man may be laboring on this Path, he is after all human without the experience of God; and being human, there is a limit to his patience and forbearance. Gustadji has at last spoken his mind and opened his heart today.”
Baba replied, “No doubt Gustadji conscientiously tries his best to help Me, but in his own way, and therein is his mistake. Everyone knows that he is the one who looks after My person, My individual needs, and sees to My comfort from morning to night; but all must obey Me implicitly in every situation.”
Around two o’clock, Baba sent Ghani to find out what the other men were doing. He found them scattered throughout the bungalow, talking, relaxing and singing. Only Vithal was asleep, snoring loudly. Baba called Vithal and ordered him to immediately leave for Poona. Baba then asked Ghani to name those who were reclining on the sofas. He reported the culprits to be Rustom and Sadashiv. Baba immediately called the men and rebuked them at length:
On the afternoon of 10th October 1922, Baba asked Ghani to remind Him about the matter of killing mosquitoes when he was having his dinner. In the evening, when Ghani was about to remind Him according to His instruction, Baba forbade him to utter a single word until he had finished his meal. Thereafter Baba scolded Ghani, “You have failed in following My order because you did not remind Me at seven o’clock about the mosquitoes.”
Ghani replied, “I had not forgotten, but before I could say a word you ordered me not to talk until you had finished eating.” Baba replied, “It is true that you had to keep quiet because of this second order, but you still could have reminded me through gestures!” When some others conceded that he could have tried, Ghani acknowledged his mistake, although it was unintentional.
That evening, Ghani, Adi and Ramjoo were sitting on the front steps of the Manzil, complaining of the hard life they were leading. Ghani vented, “Baba is steadily increasing our difficulties. Afternoon tea has been stopped, sleeping hours have been curtailed and He insists on our stuffing food into our stomachs, despite our disinclination to eat. We no longer get fresh bread at breakfast; we have to kill at least 50 wretched mosquitoes daily; and each day new orders and instructions issue forth. He is always on us about something; we cannot breathe freely for even a moment.”
Ramjoo agreed that he was right, and that their difficulties seemed to be increasing. Ghani added, “I feel Baba’s grip is tightening and growing stronger day by day …” But hardly had he begun to finish the sentence when Adi was suddenly called by Baba. After some time Ramjoo and Ghani were also called.
Baba scolded Ghani, “You don’t do any work around here and, on the contrary, instigate others to become lazy!” He then scolded Ramjoo and Adi, and ordered them not to talk among themselves for the next ten months! Before sending them away, He asked them, “Do you feel hurt about this?”
Ramjoo and Adi replied that they did, but Ghani said, “I did not feel a thing. On the contrary, I began thinking I might make some mistake in carrying out this new order.” Baba did not appreciate hearing his comment and withdrew the order concerning Adi and Ramjoo, but ordered Ghani not to talk with anyone in the Manzil for the next ten months. He then directed Ramjoo to write the following on the notice board:
SENT TO COVENTRY:
Everyone in the Manzil is strictly prohibited from talking, or holding any sort of communication by signs or through writing, or in any other way, with Ghani.
11th October 1922
During their evening supper, Baba again emphasized that no one in the Manzil should have any connection with Ghani and to ignore him. He even went as far as to say that they were to treat him as if he were part of the furniture! For some days, Baba stopped talking with or seeing Ghani altogether and then sent Gustadji to ask him, “Now do you feel sorry in any way?”
Ghani reiterated, “I do not feel anything.”
Baba became all the more displeased, berating him, “If I am anything, I will make you tell the truth!” He then added to what was already written on the board:
If Ghani has any shame left in him, he should immediately leave the Manzil.
Baba asked Ghani to explain himself. “According to you, when God has a father, what error is there in supposing He has children, too?”
Baba retorted, “Having a father does not necessarily mean one must have children! But it is true that God has innumerable children. The multifarious powers that emanate from Him can be said to be God’s children. The Hindus call God Deva, and His 33 crore (330 million) powers are called devtas.”
At Manzil-e-Meem on 18 October 1922, Baba called the mandali to the hall and said: “From the 1st of November, I am beginning my inner work very seriously, and those who want to continue to stay with me should sign an official agreement on stamp paper. But they should think it over carefully before signing it; for after putting their signatures, they should be ready to hold fast to My feet even if any calamity befalls their families. In case someone in your family dies, or is seriously injured, or is overtaken by some misfortune, you will have to remain with Me throughout.”
The Master asked Ghani to read out the agreement:
We the undersigned, in full possession of our senses and of our own free will and accord, hereby agree not to leave Meher Baba under any circumstances from 1st November 1922 to 25th April 1923. We also agree to stay on with him, unmindful of any family events, even if our families face some misfortune like the death of our nearest relative, friend or parents. After lapse of the said period, Meher Baba binds himself to fulfill the promises which he has already verbally agreed to before the 10th of June 1923. However, if any of us fail to stay with Meher Baba under any difficult and trying circumstances, then he is not obliged to keep his promise.
On 3rd November, 1922, Baba told Ghani to put up some posters printed with Upasni Maharaj’s picture, advertising the book in the Mohammedan locality of Jumma Masjid, and to distribute the handbills to Muslims there. Reluctantly, Ghani proceeded to the popular mosque accompanied by Aspandiar (Pendu, a Zoroastrian) and Arjun (a Hindu). Ghani had frequented this mosque in the past. When his fellow Muslims found him plastering the posters of a Hindu guru on the walls of the mosque, they teased and ridiculed him.
Since the day Baba had started His one-meal fast, He had been serving food to the mandali Himself. On Friday, 29 December, when He was serving Ghani’s plate, Ghani said, “I don’t have much of an appetite today; I don’t wish to eat.”
Baba became upset by this remark and angrily told him, “You have just broken one of the 28 orders.”
Ghani replied, “According to my understanding, I have not broken any.” While scolding Ghani, Baba suddenly threw the plate he was holding at Behramji. The atmosphere was tense as Behramji cleaned up the mess, but within a short time the argument stopped and Baba became calm.
Ghani left the room without eating. He was distressed throughout that whole day and the next, and wept frequently. On the 30th of December, he had a vivid dream of Hazrat Babajan:
I found myself sitting near Babajan at Char Bawdi in Poona. At first, I felt Babajan frowning angrily at me. But after some time, she drew near and made me sit in an odd position — back to back with her. In this position, she continued rocking me to and fro. Then, reclining in my lap, she began to play in a most lovable manner. I then had a novel experience: one moment I felt Babajan laughing and playing in my arms, and the very next moment it was Baba, instead! This continued for some time.
In 1923, while napping in the afternoon of the next day, Ghani had a dream of Narayan Maharaj:
I saw Narayan Maharaj walking on the road, followed by a throng of devotees. Some of our mandali, too, were with him. When my turn came to approach Narayan, I saluted him reverently. He asked me many questions about my life. I told him I had renounced the world in the service of Upasni Maharaj. Narayan took my hand in his hand, looking at my palm for some time, told me, “You are 25 years old.” I have forgotten what else he said.
Then the scene changed and I found myself in front of my house in Lonavla. There were many other people, some standing and others loitering about. I saw Asar Saheb talking loudly and cracking obscene jokes about women. I turned my back to him and, seeing this, Asar remarked, “Why should Ghani listen to us now, he has become a wali!”
Meanwhile the crowd began shouting, “Upasni Maharaj ki jai !” Turning around, I saw Maharaj coming toward my house. I could see he was extremely tired. He was covered with dust from head to foot, and looked as if he had traveled a long distance. Khak Saheb and myself were the first to approach him, kissing his hands in reverence. Although internally I offered shashtang namaskar (prostrating before a guru] externally I could not do so with the crowd of Muslims outside.
In reply to the obeisance given by the people, Maharaj himself did shashtang namaskar to the crowd and then walked straight into my house.
No one was inside the house except the women of my family. They kissed Maharaj’s hand in reverence. He sat down on the bare floor and told them in a serious tone, “I have come to talk about something with these people.” He meant us at the Manzil, but I was the only one from the mandali present. “They don’t understand things and misinterpret everything! They are trying to find loopholes in the orders so they can escape from them instead of facing them boldly.”
He then told me, “Are you a child not to understand these things? Do you eat hens’ droppings? Be particular to take a bath.”
Ghani awoke at this point and was happily relieved to find that his mental distress had left him. After he narrated these dreams to Baba, Ghani posted a description of them on the notice board. A register was kept in the main hall for recording the dreams of the mandali, and occasionally Baba would ask someone to read from it.
Once in 1923, late that night, Ghani was pressing the Master’s feet, and Baba told him to retire at exactly 1:30 A.M. Ghani wondered how he was to know when it was 1:30, since there was no clock in the room and he was not wearing a watch. Ghani was puzzled as to what to do. He thought if he did not leave at 1:30 he would be breaking the order — but if he did leave, the sound of his departure would probably disturb Baba. After some time, Baba appeared to be sleeping but suddenly turned over and asked what time it was. Ghani left to look at the clock and was surprised to find it was exactly 1:30.
Ghani asked, “Why did Ghous Ali Shah have to contact nineteen different Masters — eleven Mohammedans and eight Hindus — prior to God-realization? Why was it necessary for him to contact so many Spiritual Masters?”
In actuality, God-realization is always given by only one Master. But to gain normal consciousness and Knowledge, it is sometimes necessary to contact other Masters. It is also very often the case that the Sadguru who realizes a person also brings him back to gross consciousness.
In My case, Babajan gave Me God-realization in a moment by lifting the veil, but for worldly consciousness and Knowledge I had to spend seven years with Upasni Maharaj.
During this period of My return to normal consciousness, I had connection with other Perfect Masters, and I contacted them, too. Thus, if a Sadguru realizes or advances one, He is then entitled to be called one’s Murshid or Master; although, as far as Realization is concerned, there is only one Master.
Ghani then asked why an authorization in writing — known as sanad-e-vilayat — is required prior to a saint’s being put in charge of a spiritual jurisdiction. He cited the incident of the Mohammedan saint, Ali Ahmed Sabir, who was ordered by his Master to obtain the authority of his sainthood signed and have it endorsed by another Master, Hazrat Jamal Hansvi, prior to assuming his duty as the chargeman of the town of Kalyar (near Roorkee).
Baba gave this explanation:
A signed letter or document is one of the ways of transferring the spiritual charge externally. During My last four months in Sakori, I Myself had to take the charge from Upasni Maharaj in writing. The government] stamped paper and other agreements I have dictated and had executed from the mandali, although not as important as the sanad-e-vilayat, still are not without deep meaning and spiritual significance.
The spiritual transfer of power and authority that takes place between a Master and disciple must always be symbolized by giving it a concrete external form. Among Mohammedan walis and pirs, such saints invariably give their chosen chargemen the “robe” of chargemanship in the form of some wearing apparel, like a cap, a turban, an apron, or some other such tangible token.
Sometimes Ghani would deliberately quote Persian or Urdu couplets from ghazals, in the hope that Baba would offer some comment or explanation. On the night of 29 January, finding the Master in a communicative mood, Ghani recited this couplet:
Love originates in the heart of the Beloved.
Unless the lamp burns, how can the moth become mad after it?
Baba “took the bait” and explained it to Ghani:
It is assumed that there is a lover and a Beloved, and the connecting link between them is love. Although God is universal love, let us, for the sake of argument, concede that God at first begins to love or attract a talib (aspirant) by means of sufferings. The aspirant, not understanding the true significance of such an overture from Him, begins to protest and resist. This results in easing the situation for the time being, and again a pull is exerted toward the one to be attracted. But the instant sufficient love is kindled in the heart of the aspirant, which expresses itself in the desire for seeing God, the Beloved becomes indifferent. In this way, the game of attraction and repulsion continues for an undefinable period, but ultimately ends in Union with God. This is exactly what Hafiz explains when he says:
“One tip of a strand of hair is in my hand, the other in the hand of the Friend.
Our tug-of-war has been going on for years.”
Whatever degree of love you have for Me, in the same proportion, at times, you will hate Me also. This hatred or repulsion is the resistance offered by you when I am trying to attract you toward Me by my internal love. In the course of time, you will begin to respond to My love with equal intensity. Then the force of My love will relax and, at that time, I shall become indifferent.
A Master has love for all members of His circle. This treasure of divine love, which has come to Me through Babajan and Maharaj, will be shared at its proper time with the members of My circle and others, in accordance with their connection, services and sufferings. The esoteric fact which I want you to remember is that the Beloved is more keen and eager to realize the lover than the lover’s anxiety and longing for such union.
Later that evening, Baba became displeased with Ghani and told him, “If you wish, you can stay at home for two months or else stay here. But if you stay here, I will ignore you and have no connection with you!” Ghani did not like either choice but did not reply. Baba then told him, “You may stay here with no other orders except the original seven and the general 28 orders. But you must not speak or write to Me. Otherwise, you are free to do as you like. Sleep for 24 hours at a stretch. I have no objection.” Later in the night, Baba forgave Ghani. But Ghani still had no idea what he had done to warrant such treatment.
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