ARDESHIR N. HANSOTIA (Slamson)
Gustadji became one of the first among Merwan Seth’s circle of disciples. His younger brother Ardeshir N. Hansotia (nicknamed Slamson), had also h`ad contact with Sai Baba and Upasni Maharaj and also now became one of Merwan Seth’s close associates.
His lifetime interactions with Meher Baba are elaborated as under:
In 1919, Gustadji, Slamson and Nervous were now working and managing the toddy shop in Kasba Peth, and Merwan Seth was not involved much in its business affairs. He still oversaw their work and made certain everything was spotlessly clean and that the toddy was of good quality. He had made it a rule for everyone from the Kasba Peth group to take Babajan’s darshan at least once a day, individually or as a group. After closing the shop, Gustadji and others went home only after having Babajan’s darshan, even if it was after midnight.
That very night, an incident occurred that enabled Baba to emphasize this aspect of strict obedience while living with him, and the men mandali were made keenly aware of their responsibility toward Him as their Master. This first lesson came shortly before they left Poona.
Baba decided to call for refreshments for all and he sent Ghani, Adi Sr., and Slamson to bring tea, bread and cream from a nearby restaurant. When they placed the order, Adi started feeling hungry and was wondering if it would be all right to eat his share then. Seeking Ghani’s advice (he was 9 years older), Adi was told it would be all right. However, his snack made them late in returning with the refreshments. When asked the reason, Adi admitted that h One afternoon Baba walked on the verandah and saw Padri, Slamson and another of the men talking casually with the keeper of the Shiva temple. He sent someone to inquire as to what they were doing by that temple and what they were discussing. The three men went to Baba and explained that they were simply passing the time talking about God, religion and spirituality.
“Very good!” Baba exclaimed. “All right. Now, the three of you, take your baggage and get out! Go make that man your guru! From this moment on, I am not your guru! Our connections are severed!”
Baba was extremely angry, and the three young men stood before him frightened, pleading to be forgiven. They promised they would not do it again.”
“You heard me, get out of my sight!” Baba shouted. With a disgusted look he said, “You act like fools! You have left your homes and dear ones to join me. You have now lived with me for more than a year; you are following me, obeying my instructions.
“Why did you go to that temple? Never, never go to anybody else! Suppose that man gave some explanation, or some kind of advice, or an order contrary to mine — which would you follow?”
They kept quiet.
Baba then exhorted them, “You have made Me your Master. In turn, I’ve promised you I will never let you sink.”
During Agra tour of Baba and mandali, Slamson was in charge of the travel arrangements, and because of his instructions, the group took the wrong road through the city. This mishap resulted in a heated argument between him and Ramjoo.
In 1923, Baba had chosen a lovely and enchanting spot to rest in: peacocks were flying and dancing around them, various saplings and trees decorated the landscape, and a charming village was seen in the distance. The natural beauty of the place seemed to soothe their tired spirits. They rested there after lunch until three o’clock. At first, it was decided to stay in Jetalpur until the following day and then proceed to Kaira, but a villager told Ramjoo there was a shortcut to Kaira by way of the main road to Barejadi, four miles away. Baba only smiled when Ramjoo put this idea forward and then nodded approval of the new route. The mandali were still learning that when someone suggested a change in the Master’s fixed program, Baba would usually agree to it; but, more often than not, the results were unforeseen difficulties and additional hardships.
Slamson was ordered to go to the market and bring food for Gustadji to prepare lunch. They had rice and dal around noon, but ate with difficulty as their thirst was still tremendous. Baba did not allow them to take more than one and a half glassfuls of water during the meal.
In 1919, Slamson, Gustadji and Nervous worked and managed the toddy shop in Kesba Peth and Merwan Seth (Meher Baba) was not involved much in its business affairs. He still oversaw their work and made certain everything was spotlessly clean and the toddy was of good quality.
During this period, a flour mill on Elphinstone Road (near the railway bridge) was purchased by Behramji, Rustom, and Asthma to provide employment to those men at the Manzil who needed jobs. The mill, however, was located in an undesirable area at Parel — a thickly-populated place with stinking sewage flowing in gutters nearby. The building was dreary inside and in a dilapidated condition. To operate the mill there were three engines and about six grinding machines.
Despite the unwholesome atmosphere, Faredoon (Padri), Abdur Rehman, Ramjoo and Slamson began working there each day as ordered by the Master. Faredoon was the mechanic; Ramjoo and Abdur Rehman the cashiers; and Slamson the manager. The mill machines would frequently break down, and at the end of the month the cash returns showed more of a loss than a profit. Ghani, in his own sarcastic manner, referred to the mill as the “White Elephant Mill on Elphinstone Road.” Soon after, the mill was closed down.
In 1923, when Baba and group reached Arangaon the men were thirsty but, despite there being a well close at hand, they could not draw water from it as there was no bucket. Behramji and Slamson approached a Christian and told him, “We are pilgrims in need of food. We will gladly pay you for whatever you can provide.” The man’s name was Gangaram L. Pawar and he explained that he could not afford anything more than bhakri and chutney, and that it would take some time to prepare. “It doesn’t matter how long it takes,” said Behramji, “as long as you will cook it. We will return in an hour; meanwhile, kindly loan us a bucket, some rope and a cup so we may drink water.” Gangaram obliged. They returned to where Baba was seated and refreshed themselves by drawing water from the well.
Gustadji’s brother Slamson was granted an interview with Baba on the evening of 30 August.
In 1933, Slamson along with others was also engaged most of the time in selling the Marathi edition of Upasani Maharaj’s biography by Nath Madhav which the circle & Company had recently published.
On 30 December 1952, Slamson, Gustadji’s brother, brought a mast from Indore to Ahmednagar. When he was taken to Meherazad, Baba immediately sent him back, indicating the mast was not very advanced. He instructed Slamson to bring another better mast.
Slamson read a letter to Baba from Vishandas Maharaj, the mast-saint who had been brought to Meherazad from Indore during Baba’s Manonash phase of work in January 1952. Vishandas Maharaj had written: On October 23rd, before a gathering of 500 persons, I have opened a spiritual center in your name [in Indore]. I have placed there your three large-sized photographs. I have lighted a flame which I want to remain lit forever. I also wish to open a new center at Kalyan. The completion of the work at Kalyan will be done by God’s will.
The saint, Vishandas Maharaj expressed his deep feelings toward Baba and wished that Baba’s name and work gather momentum day by day. He also expressed his desire to have Baba’s darshan, to which Baba stated, “After April.” Baba directed Slamson (who was from Indore) to tell Vishandas Maharaj to continue the work he was doing for him.
He had eaten in the restaurant, and Baba was extremely displeased. Adi explained that he suddenly felt hungry and asked Ghani if it would be permissible. Baba turned to Ghani and asked him if that was true. Ghani denied it. Baba then slapped Adi across the face. Baba was irate at all three men and told them to get out of his sight and never come back. They started to walk off, but he called them back and warned them, “Never again be unmindful of what I wish. Learn what I want and what I don’t want!”
The rest of the men were taken aback by this sudden change of mood. Baba sternly told every man present, “From now on, while living with Me, you must take care at every moment to please Me. Although there was no order by Me not to eat outside, Adi should have known that this was not the proper time or place to satisfy himself when I was waiting for their return.”
This strict attitude created a new sense of tension for all the men, as the days of being serious and dutiful to every word of Meher Baba’s began.
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