ABDUR RAHMAN (Munshi ji)

1918-20 : Bombay – Courtesy of Lord Meher Vol. 2 p. 384-5

Shaikh Abdur Rahim. Munshi ji was the storekeeper at the Public Works Department in Poona. His office assistant was Sayyed Saheb, through whom Munshi ji had heard about Merwan Seth (Meher Baba)

Episodes of his contact and experiences with Meher Baba are produced below.

Occasionally, Merwan Seth would revisit the toddy shop in the evenings. But no matter how large the crowd there would be or how busy the shop was, he would not lend a helping hand to Behramji. Instead, he would politely excuse himself and go to the house of a Muslim named Munshi Shaikh Abdur Rahim. Munshiji was the storekeeper at the Public Works Department in Poona. His office assistant was Sayyed Saheb, through whom Munshiji had heard about Merwan Seth.

One day Merwan Seth went to Munshiji’s office concerning some business with the toddy shop. Without knowing who he was, Munshiji was so taken by Merwan’s appearance that he could not even say, “May I help you, sir?” Munshiji simply stared at the striking figure and wondered who this young man was. Merwan introduced himself and proceeded to get his work done. After he left, Munshiji longed to see Merwan Seth again.

Soon after, Sayyed Saheb invited Merwan Seth to visit Munshiji’s home. Munshiji inwardly recognized Merwan Seth to be someone spiritual or highly advanced and offered his home near Sassoon Hospital as a center for Merwan Seth’s activities. His offer was accepted.

Munshiji, 42, was a faithful Muslim but he was also a generous, simple-hearted, unassuming person. He believed in the Prophet hood of Muhammad, but was not orthodox. He enjoyed socializing with his friends, but most of all he enjoyed playing cards. This he hesitated to admit to Merwan Seth, thinking it was not spiritual. One day Merwan Seth casually asked, “Munshiji, why don’t you ever play cards?”Munshiji haltingly answered, “I do, but in your presence I would not …” Merwan Seth interrupted, “What harm is there in playing cards? I will play a game with you.” Munshiji was overjoyed.

Munshiji gradually became convinced that Merwan Seth had the ability to read his thoughts. One evening he was thinking, “For some days now, I have been eating meat — tomorrow I must eat fish. But how can I buy fish? It is not the season.” The next morning, Munshiji was surprised when he saw Merwan Seth bicycling toward him, carrying a large fish in his hand. Merwan smiled and, handing the fish to Munshiji, pedaled away without a word. This incident convinced Munshiji that Merwan Seth knew everything, for he had not told anyone of his desire to eat fish.

Another evening, Munshiji went to bed with a fever. He woke in the middle of the night, took a bath and swallowed two quinine tablets. Early the next morning, Merwan Seth came to his house and said, “What a novel remedy you took for your fever: a bath in the dead of night and two tablets of quinine!” Munshi was again wonderstruck at Merwan’s omniscience.

A group of Merwan Seth’s friends and associates began gathering every evening at Munshiji’s house. Merwan Seth would have the Divan of Hafiz read for an hour or two, explaining the poetry’s mystical meaning to His comrades. Afterward, the group would sometimes play a game of cards or have some light entertainment. Munshiji, a bachelor, was a good cook and would serve some food.

Baba expressed a wish to visit Mandwa, and asked Munshiji to telegraph certain persons in Poona and Lonavla and invite them to join him on the journey. Before leaving Bombay, Baba’s omniscience was demonstrated one morning at Munshiji’s, when Baba was busy meeting visitors. Far away, a few of the close men were joking with each other in an off-color manner (something they would never do in Baba’s presence). Suddenly, someone came running towards them with a message from Baba: “Stop all this nonsensical talk at once and feel ashamed for talking in this way. If you have nothing better to talk about, leave this place at once and never show your faces to me again!” It was an object lesson for the early disciples to be conscious of their conversations and actions, even when not in Baba’s presence

Meher Baba had not bathed during His entire six-month stay at Upasni Maharaj’s ashram in Sakori, and His clothes had become ragged and full of lice. Reaching Bombay by train, he went to Munshiji’s house on Charni Road. Munshi was now an important official in the Bombay Backbay Reclamation Scheme. He was very happy to see Baba, but was shocked by His condition. He pleaded with Baba to bathe, and Baba consented to do so with Munshiji’s help. Before bathing, Baba agreed to be photographed, and Munshiji sent Sayyed Saheb in his car to bring a friend of Munshiji’s who was a photographer. After Baba had bathed, either that day or a few days later, a second photograph was taken of Baba in a suit and tie. (Lord Meher-p-256-1922)

Baba was the guest of honor at the wedding of Munshiji’s adopted son Usman on Sunday, 20 August 1922 and stayed at Munshiji’s that whole night listening to a qawaali singer.(Lord Meher-p-316-1922)

No one was allowed to leave the Manzil without Baba’s permission, and no one could enter it, either. As instructed, Ghani wrote a letter on the Master’s behalf to Professor Abdul Kadar of Elphinstone College in Bombay and handed the letter to Munshiji to deliver. Munshiji promptly delivered it to the professor. The letter simply said that Professor Kadar should not come to Manzil-e-Meem unless he was sent for. On reading this, a surprised expression came over the professor’s face, and Munshiji asked the reason.

Kadar explained: “I was about to go to see Meher Baba at five o’clock this very afternoon. I was wondering how I would get his permission to enter, so I decided to stand by the gates until I was allowed to see him. But now that his order has come, how can I go?” Munshiji consoled him by explaining that it was best to wait until Baba called him.(Lord Meher-p-328-1922)

In 1922, Naval had recommended to Munshi to purchase a second-hand De Dion automobile for Rs.100, but repairing it cost Rs.300 more. On the afternoon of 5 October, Baba, Behramji, Gustadji and Munshi ji rode in it to Malabar Hill for a test drive. When they returned, Baba remarked, “The engine is so noisy that while talking one has to shout to be heard! It stalled twice, and Munshi ji had to shout to the driver over the roar of the engine.” When Naval came to the Manzil, Baba told him facetiously, “You were right — the car was a steal! You really are a miracle-worker. Would you believe that we drove the car all the way up Malabar Hill at terrific speed without having to blow the horn once? It’s a fact. The noise of the engine was so loud that it was sufficient to make all pedestrians give way — and then make them strain their necks to see who would be fool enough to ride in such a car!”

Because of His hurry to return to Meherabad, Baba did not go to see Munshiji in Bombay. When Munshiji learned that Baba had come to Bombay and left without seeing him, he became so disturbed that he stopped eating. News of his fast reached the Master five days later. Solely because of Munshiji’s situation, Baba once again left for Bombay; but before departing He asked the mandali what special things He could bring for them. Such simple acts of kindness toward His men and women disciples touched them deeply and kept them at His feet under all circumstances.

Baba visited with Munshiji for two days and persuaded him to start eating again. When Baba returned to Meherabad, He was informed that a student was ill, and He promptly went to the hospital. After seeing the boy, He inspected matters at the school. Vishnu had asked him to bring samosas (vegetable turnovers) from Bombay, and Baba distributed them to all. Vishnu’s broad smile was evidence of his gratitude.

One day, Mr. Munshi tearfully told Chanji, “I wanted to kiss Baba’s sadra, but I could not do so, thinking it would be disrespectful. I could see nothing but light around Baba. I cannot explain it. It is the greatest good fortune to have had His darshan and my great luck to have met Him. What a privilege to be traveling with Him on the same ship! I feel that this is why I have been sent to the West — only so I could meet a Buzurg (Great Being) like Baba!”

Munshi Rahim’s adopted son, named Usman came suddenly in the evening to see Baba after several years. When asked how he had come to know of Baba’s presence, he too, said he had dreamed previous night of seeing Baba and had taken it as a sign that the Master would be in Nasik.

Naval cabled Baba that Munshiji died in Nasik of a heart attack at the age of 57 on the morning of 19 December 1933. Munshi had been one of the first in contact with Baba in Poona when, as a young man, Baba worked in the toddyshop in Kasba Peth. Sayyed Saheb had been close to Munshiji, having worked for him, and it was he who told Munshiji about Meher Baba. Munshiji had great love for the Master. Baba cabled Naval, “The grand old man has come to me.”

Sayyed Saheb was deeply saddened by Munshiji’s death, and Baba called him, Naval, Abdulla Jaffer, and Ramjoo from Nasik to Meherabad on the 22nd. Knowing how Sayyed missed Munshi, Baba consoled him, “Death is like sleep; and as sleep is essential to man, so also is death a necessary part of life. In reality, no one is born and no one dies. This is all a dream. And what worth does a dream have?

“Munshiji has come to Me and is happy; so it is not right to feel sad about him.

Once Baba said, with time, all the mercy was spent, Munshi Rahim loved Me much. He would visit Manjil-e-Meem. Once, he came and said he dreamt of Me and that I had instructed him about something which he had forgotten. I replied that, although he has forgotten, I would tell him. I said I was in need of money. He brought it and it was spent in no time.

Baba said Munshi was Aurangzeb and he returned to His Darbar due to his past connection with Him.


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