AHMED ABBAS (Khak Saheb)
Ahmed Abbas (Later nicknamed Khak Saheb) had grown up in Poona. He became acquainted with Merwan Seth (Meher Baba) during 1914, soon after Babajan had given Hi God-realization. But it was only later, when Merwan had the toddy shop in Kesba Peth, that Ahmed began following Him as his Master.
Khak Saheb had been with Meher Baba since the early days of Manzil-e-Meem, where he and Asar Saheb had written Upasni Maharaj’s biography in Urdu. Khak had stayed with Baba for long periods in Toka, Bangalore and Meherabad. Although because of his age he had not been able to join Baba on the New Life, he held fast to Him until the last. From Meherabad, he had gone to live with his family in Poona.
His biography in brief and lifetime experiences are elaborated as under:
On 14th October 1922, when the men had gathered in the dining room to offer prayers, the Meher Baba inquired if anyone had dreamt anything last night Then Abdur Rehman said, “I dreamt that Khak Saheb was talking to you, Baba.”
At this the Master said, “If his dream is true, then Khak Saheb will return from Delhi today.”
After breakfast, Baba ordered cricket to be played, saying, “Let Ramjoo and Abdulla [Jaffer] be captains and select their respective teams.”
Neither knew the first thing about cricket and Ghani began teasing them, “Abdulla and Khak would make a beautiful pair as captains with their spectacles sliding down their noses!”
This made Baba laugh, and he remarked, “Khak will surely return today.” After a game of cricket was finished, Khak and Asar unexpectedly arrived at the Manzil.
Khak Saheb and Asar Saheb had been staying in Delhi for the past ten days to persuade the Mohammedan Sufi scholar Hassan Nizami to write an introduction to Upasni Maharaj’s Urdu biography, which was to be titled Gareebon ka Aasara (Refuge for the Meek). However, there had been no news from them for some days. Hassan Nizami had agreed to write the introduction, and they had informed him of Baba’s prediction of the coming manifestation of the Messiah, saying that Meher Baba had indicated the “first spark” would be in India, especially Karachi.
After quieting down, the Master directed these critical remarks toward Khak and Asar: “Who is there among you who know more about shariat (outward religious ceremonies and rituals) than Myself? You won’t find a truer Muslim than Myself. I am what I externally am, but who among you knows what I am internally? Prayers and forms of worship are only meant for God. But you are so immersed in the formality of the thing and all its details; you forget God and worship the prayers.”
In this tense atmosphere, Khak lost his temper and began blaming Asar. Up until then, Asar had been quiet, but after being upbraided, he loudly reproached Khak. An argument ensued and became so heated that, forgetting the subject of the new orders, they both began shouting at each other. Asar was so exasperated he refused to share a room any longer with Khak and requested that Baba separate them. The Master, however, said they should both be on amicable terms or else they would have to leave the Manzil. Within a short time, both men calmed down. After final instructions, Baba left for Sakori with Sadashiv Patil on 14 October 1922. Before going, he made Khak and Asar promise not to argue further, to forgive each other and to continue working together on Upasni Maharaj’s biography.
During the evening of 16 January 1923, Ahmed Khan was supervising the marching of the mandali in the back compound. Ahmed had previously been in the army and, in smart military fashion, was shouting, “Left turn, hut! Right turn, ho!” The marching lasted for about an hour, and Ahmed made the men sweat like new recruits. Afterward, Baba disclosed the reason for the strenuous exercising: “Today is Kakaji’s daughter’s birthday, and he has sent us a large quantity of rich food. To create an appetite and to digest such food requires exercise.”
Baba’s routine of ingesting food and water only once every 24 hours — in only a very small quantity — continued in January. He would also ask for raw tobacco, which he would chew day and night on an empty stomach. In the evening he would take a hot bath with numerous buckets of water. Ghani and Gustadji were near him during the nights and both remarked that he continually tossed about, scarcely sleeping. Despite this abnormal behavior, Baba remained more active and alert than anyone else at the Manzil and continuously supervised the premises.
The mandali had sold raffle tickets for Khak Saheb’s car and the drawing was held at the Manzil on 28 th January 1923. The “lucky winner” was a Hindu named Satchitananda, one of the bhajan singers from Mahim (an area of Bombay).
Khak Saheb wanted to write more poetry in Urdu, and Baba told him, “Begin writing after a few days, when I go ‘in’ [into seclusion]. I will give you some experience, and your writings will then guide many souls.”
The four mandali priests — Kaikobad, Don, Khak Saheb and Kalemama — were then asked to read certain passages from the Avesta, Bible, Koran and Gita. Baba stated, “First of all, I want to invoke God’s forgiveness for myself, for the mandali and for all, through all four — Zoroastrian, Christian, Muslim and Hindu — approaches to God.”
At the end of the recitations, referring to the melodious reading by Khak Saheb of the Koran, Baba remarked, “If God cannot be moved by such a beautiful performance, then God must be either deaf or dead!”
In 1950, Baba invited the entire Poona bhajan group to Mahabaleshwar to perform on Mehera’s birthday that year. A week before this program, Khak Saheb handed Thade a song he had written, saying, “If you get a chance, the group might sing this song before Baba.” A few days later, on 23rd December 1950, Khak Saheb passed away in Poona at the age of 64.
Khak Saheb had been with Meher Baba since the early days of Manzil-e-Meem, where he and Asar Saheb had written Upasni Maharaj’s biography in Urdu. Khak had stayed with Baba for long periods in Toka, Bangalore and Meherabad. Although because of his age he had not been able to join Baba on the New Life, he held fast to him until the last. From Meherabad, he had gone to live with his family in Poona.
When Ghani read the song Khak Saheb had written, he too gave the group a song to sing before Baba. The Poona group attended Khak’s funeral and then left for Mahabaleshwar the next day, the 24th. They met Baba that evening, and each in the group sang individually for him in a small room.
Baba listened to bhajans and ghazals for some time, Gadekar wanted to tell Baba about Khak Saheb’s recent death, but because of the New Life restrictions against mentioning any such Old Life topic, he could not do so. But he hit upon a stratagem by telling Madhusudan to sing the particular ghazal to Baba that Khak had written before he passed away.
Madhusudan and the group continued to sing, and at one point sang the particular ghazal of Khak Saheb’s that Gadekar had requested. Hearing just two lines, Baba stopped Madhusudan and became quiet for some moments. He looked as if he were somewhere else, far away. As Baba sat absolutely still with a pensive expression, everything in the world seemed to have stopped for the moment.
After a few moments, Baba rubbed His face and eyes, and gestured, “He [meaning Khak] has come to me.” Although Baba had not mentioned Khak Saheb by name, the Poona group knew whom he meant. Then Madhusudan and the group resumed their singing, and sung the entire ghazal. Baba seemed to be in a serious mood as He listened.
“Who has composed this ghazal?” Baba asked.
Gadekar replied, “Khak Saheb.”
“When did he write it?”
“Just a few days before he died,” Gadekar replied solemnly. This was the news he wished to convey to Baba.
Baba asked Ghani to inform Khak Saheb and Asar Saheb about the spiritual regime which all the mandali had been following since the first of October. Ghani, accordingly, explained in great detail about the early morning rising, bathing, repetition and meditation orders. Asar openly objected to the pre-dawn rising and fixed hour for praying, asking why it was necessary. When Baba was told about Asar’s objection, he was upset. He rebuked Khak and Asar for questioning his orders and instructed all the Muslim members of the mandali to awaken whenever they liked and to do as they pleased.
Khak Saheb’s old Stower car had become a constant source of trouble and expense to him. At the beginning of their stay at the Manzil, Naval had recommended overhauling the car for Baba’s use. Baba wanted it to be disposed of at any price, but Naval had insisted that if repairs were made, it would be “worth its weight in gold!” Baba did not want the car, but agreed to keep it on the condition that Naval would have the car fixed. Although the car was rickety, it had been used to bring purchases from the bazaar, pick up and drop off the mandali working at the flour mill, take copies of Upasni Maharaj’s biography for sale, and convey Baba and/or the mandali to and from various locations, including some afternoon matinees at the cinema. But the mandali sometimes had to push the car to get it started, and they even had to have it towed via bullock cart back to the Manzil at times.
Naval tried his best, but the Stower could not be made reliably serviceable. It was decided therefore to sell raffle tickets with the car as the grand prize. The Mandali had sold raffle tickets for Khak Saheb’s car and the drawing was held at the Manzil on 28th January. The “lucky winner” was a Hindu named Satchitananda. One of the bhajan singers from Mahim (an area of Bombay
Once when Baba was in seclusion in lower Meherabad, Pendu and Sidhu were on night watch near him. Baba had a bad cold; he was coughing up a lot of phlegm and wheezing. Still, he would bathe at 5:00 A.M. daily, and Pendu and Sidhu would heat his bathwater and wash his clothes. One morning, after his bath, Baba directed Sidhu to bring chapattis and cream, and added, “Shout loudly for Khak the Virile Devil, Don the White Devil and Nilu the Black Devil! Call those devils here!”
Accordingly, Sidhu yelled, “Is that Virile Devil Khak present? Where is Don the White Devil? Is Nilu the Black Devil here?” The three men came immediately, and Baba laughed and served them chapattis and cream. Khak remarked poetically, “Thank you, Baba, for bestowing on me the title of Virile Devil. Today it has won me Wine!”
During another period, Khak Saheb became fond of going to the racetrack in Poona and betting on horses. He informed Baba and told him, “By your grace, at least once in my life let me win!”
Thereafter, Baba began to take interest in the daily horseraces, and even backed Khak financially and encouraged him to bet — and bet heavily. Baba even had a written agreement executed between Khak and himself, stating that if Khak won, half of his winnings would go to Baba. Each day, Baba and Khak would discuss upcoming races. Baba remarked to the men mandali, “It would be better if Khak wins big and fills our pockets! We both need the money!”
But, as the days went by, the more interest Baba took in the races, the more disgusted Khak became with the whole affair — losing a lot of money. Khak’s aversion became so strong that he had no desire left to bet. “Don’t quit now,” Baba urged him. “You are bound to win soon. I need the money; don’t fail me!” So Khak bet everything he had left, but again lost. Because of his newly acquired dislike for gambling, he did not feel much over the loss of the money and swore to never bet again. Baba reassured him, “Never mind if you lost. Bet again; I’ll stake you.” But Khak replied, “I will never bet again in my life! This loss is my gain. Now I only want to be the dust under your feet.”
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