ABDUR RAHMAN (Barsoap)
Abdul Bahaman being Son of Ramjoo was in Baba’s love since child hood. Introducing Abdur Rehman, Baba remarked, “He is My childhood langoti friend (bosom buddy).” Abdur Rehman then sang ghazals.
In 1923, after an incident, Baba nicknamed Abdul Rahaman “Barsoap”. During the meal, a humorous incident occurred. By everyone’s plate there was a small dish containing a piece of soap, cut artistically to resemble an after-dinner mint. This was meant for people to wash their hands after the meal. Dinner was almost over when Abdur Rehman popped the piece of soap into his mouth, thinking it to be a piece of cheese! He immediately spat it out and tried to pretend nothing had happened, but his misjudgment did not escape the notice of those at his table. Word of this amusing incident soon spread, causing laughter as soon as the story was repeated. When Baba came to know about it, he called Abdur Rehman and asked, “Don’t you know how to behave? Why did you eat the Barsoap?”
Embarrassed, Abdur nervously explained, “Sometimes, at the end of feasts, there is a small piece of cheese or sweets served … I ate it, thinking it to be cheese.”
Soon after, to add further to Abdur Rehman’s discomfort, Baba had the gong struck to gather the mandali and told them to read what he had written on the notice board. From today, Abdur should be called CHEESE. — Merwan
In 1923, the Ghamela yoga labor concentrated on reconstructing the well for Ardeshir’s orchard area. Because of the intense heat, the arduous physical labor and each man’s own strong personality, tempers would flare. For example, for several days a bitter resentment had been brewing between Barsoap and Gustadji. Barsoap had been quite angry and did not mince his words, abusing Gustadji’s miserliness as a tight-fisted household manager.
That same evening, when the mandali were gathered, Baba asked Barsoap, “Has your anger against Gustadji subsided?” Barsoap openly admitted that it had not.
Baba then said, “However someone may treat you, you should always be calm. However one may pierce you with sharp words, you should bear them quietly with patience. This is real bravery and courage. A man may subdue a whole army but be unable to control his own anger!”
In accordance with the new diet on the tour, on 30 June, one sack of grams and one larger sack of parched rice were purchased. But being of poor quality, and thinking that they would be a bulky hindrance while walking, Baba told Baidul and Barsoap to return them. Baidul started to lift the smaller sack full of grams and Barsoap protested, saying Baidul should carry the heavier bag of rice. They quarreled for some time, but Baidul left with the smaller bag. Barsoap refused to touch the bigger one and hired a coolie to carry it back to the shop. When Baba came to know of this, he scolded Baidul and then ordered Barsoap to pick up the rice sack and, as a punishment, made him circle the bungalow with it on his head.
To make the mandali gain more control of themselves, Baba issued the following two rules:
Each morning every member of the mandali should touch the feet of every other member and say, “You are my brother!” During the 24 hours of the day, if anyone expresses anger and speaks bitterly to anyone else, I should be informed immediately. I will then fall at the offender’s feet and salute him.
Barsoap countered, “The first rule is against the shariat (customs) of my religion (Islam).”
But Baba explained, “This rule only requires the touching of the feet with both hands; there is no question of either bowing down or laying one’s head on another’s feet.” However, Barsoap insisted that it was against the shariat to touch the feet of another. So Baba instructed that, instead of touching the feet, Barsoap should shake hands with the other men.
Munshiji had arrived from Bombay that day, and Sayyed Saheb had come from Nasik a few days before. Baba had a private talk with Munshiji and later sent for the mandali to join them. He explained to Munshiji how, “On religious grounds,” Barsoap had broken His order of bowing to every member of the mandali. Baba asked him, “Is My order against the principles of Islam? Does Islam ban paying respects to one person by another?”
Once a staunch Muslim, Munshiji stated, “From the Islamic point of view, I do not find anything wrong with this order. But what has religion got to do with your orders? Your very orders are our religion!”
This reply made Barsoap feel abashed. Baba then suddenly confronted Barsoap, “Will you fall at their feet?” Not getting a quick enough answer, Baba was extremely vexed and slapped Barsoap soundly. )
21st June 1926, was the Muslim holiday of Bakri-Id, celebrated in memory of Abraham’s offering of his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God. The holiday was observed at Meherabad, and two of the Muslim mandali, Karim and Barsoap, were made to stand up and explain the significance of the holiday as best they could. Remarking about the Muslim custom of slaughtering a goat on this day, Baba conveyed, “They feel that if the Prophet killed a goat on this day, they should do it, too. They should try to kill their minds instead of goats! What is the use of slaughtering defenseless animals?”
Baba added, “If I ordered the mandali to wear hats and not to go out in the sun bare-headed, after some years it will be considered a religious practice to always wear a hat in the sun.”
Barsoap had been among the visitors to Lonavla recently, but he hadn’t stayed long. As Chanji described it: “Barsoap caused great trouble to Baba with his obstinacy in not leaving for Poona as per Baba’s orders, and also assuming a sense of ‘supernatural understanding.’ Baba displayed great patience and forbearance in dealing with him. Barsoap’s pig-headedness in interpreting Baba’s instructions, obeying them whenever it suited his whims and disregarding them if they were against his own inclinations, made almost all the mandali disgusted with him. But Shri (Baba) remained quite calm and collected in spite of it all.” Barsoap came to Meherabad from Poona on 3 January and caused a further disturbance by trying to extract Rs.5, 000 from Baba.
Barsoap even claimed that Babajan had sent him for this purpose. Seated alone with him on the verandah, Baba patiently explained for hours to him His own predicament of being short of funds, and reminded him of the promise all the mandali had given, not to ask for anything either spiritual or material from Baba, but Barsoap would not listen. Baba then directed the mandali to deal with him and he went inside the hall of the Mess Quarters. When Barsoap tried to follow, the mandali prevented him. He strode off angrily and sat under a tree by the road.
Sitting alone for some time, Barsoap realized his folly and sent word to Baba to forgive him. Baba called him to the Jhopdi and forgave him, presenting him with Rs.100. However, He informed Barsoap that from then on He would have no connection with Him and that he should not come to see Him. Barsoap left and never saw Meher Baba again.
Some days later, Baba narrated an amusing incident about meditation:
I had a follower named Barsoap. While meditating, he would go to sleep, but in the posture of meditation. When anyone shook him awake, he would claim he was in deep meditation! But one day I caught him, and he admitted he was sleeping.
So, like Barsoap, don’t go to sleep during meditation, but sing the names sincerely.
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- A.R. Abdulla
- Abdul Ghani Munsiff
- Abdul Rahman (Barsoap)
- Abdulla Haroon Zaffar
- Abdur Rahman (Munshi ji)
- Adi Sheriar Irani (Adi Jr.)
- Ahmed Abbas (Khak Saheb)
- Amar Singh Saigal
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