DHAKEPHALKAR MORESHWAR RAMCHANDRA (Dhake)
Dhakephalkar was one from mandali who had an opportunity of carrying Baba on his shoulders like Hanuman while crossing a shallow river. He remained in association with Baba for long time. His contacts with Baba and instances are narrated as under. Many of his lifetime events and conversation with Meher Baba is described as under:
In 1926, one day Moreshwar Ramchandra Dhakephalkar, 24, a Hindu went to Meherabad to observe the activities there. He was a friend of Pandoba, who was teaching in the school. Dhake, as he was called, was a teacher in Ahmednagar, and Pandoba had told Baba about him. Baba asked Dhake if he would work in the Hazrat Babajan School as a teacher. In reply, Dhake joked, “If you pay me Rs.300 per month and allow me to have the day off on all Hindu holidays. And if you do not abuse or beat me, for I am not interested in spiritual advancement.”
To Dhake’s amazement, Meher Baba accepted all these conditions. At the time, Dhake was only earning a salary of Rs.60 per month in Ahmednagar. Dhake then told Baba that he would come after a fortnight. Baba agreed and added, “What harm is there if you derive spiritual gain by serving here?”
Dhake replied, “None, but I am not coming here for that.” He left Baba without even bowing or folding his hands in respect, thinking to himself, “How can an Irani be a saint? What can an Irani teach a Hindu? What does this Zoroastrian know of spirituality? No religion in the world can compare to Hinduism!”
Dhake moved to Meherabad two weeks later. It was a Sunday and Baba reminded him, “Today is a holiday, so you should not start work until tomorrow.”
Dhake was highly impressed and thought: “Meher Baba remembered our agreement. He is keeping his promise. My ideas about Him were wrong.” Though appointed as a teacher, Dhake became a disciple as the desire to accept Meher Baba as his Master was awakened in his heart.
Once, Baba with group went back to the bus while travelling He exclaimed to Dhake, “Where are the laddoos?” The men all laughed and Dhake told Baba he would arrange for their food. His relative, Dr. D. W. Chobhe, lived in Rahuri and he went to him, asking him to prepare supper for the group in one hour. The doctor agreed most willingly. They went to his residence and the mandali not only had very tasty food, but laddoos as well. It seemed that Baba had actually come to Rahuri only to meet this devout soul, Dr. Chobhe, who received him so lovingly.
In 1927, Dhake moved back to Meherabad and began staying with the mandali. Although He still harbored doubts about Meher Baba’s divine stature, three events were to make a deep impression on him.
One day Baba found a chatti, an earthen pot for drinking water, uncovered. He made all stand in a line and angrily asked them, “Why did you break my order? Who will be responsible when worms are found in the water? What will happen if one of the children dies from drinking our water?” As a punishment, Baba began striking each of the mandali with a stick. Dhake was also standing in line and was afraid that “the excitable Irani nature in Baba” would forget His promise not to beat him, which Baba had made in 1925 when He accepted Dhake as a teacher. Baba moved down the line giving a stroke to each of the mandali in turn, but when He faced Dhake, He just smiled — and Baba’s smile embraced him. The next moment, Baba continued down the line and was as stern as ever. Dhake thought to himself, “Baba is after all Baba — a Master. No one else could display such a blissful smile in the middle of a tirade.”
Dhake witnessed another event which impressed him. A Hindu from Kerala came for Baba’s darshan and related, “I have come from Benares on pilgrimage and due to unfortunate circumstances, and I am now penniless.
According to my religion, I have to provide a feast to the Brahmins as soon as my pilgrimage ends. Last night, as I lay on the Ahmednagar railway platform, I was worrying over this problem. I fell asleep and God appeared in my dream and directed me to go to Meherabad ashram where Meher Baba would fulfill my needs. I woke up elated and for this reason I have humbly come to you today, begging you to contribute toward fulfilling my religious responsibilities.”
Baba replied, “What you say is true. It is obligatory to feed the Brahmins after a pilgrimage in accordance with the tenets of Hinduism. But last night I too saw God in My dream. And He told Me that today a lying rogue would come trying to extract money and deceive Me. He instructed that I should not pay him a penny, but beat him and send him running!”
Hearing this, the man was dumbfounded and knew he had been caught in his deception. Although Baba was not touching money since adopting His silence, He nevertheless called Behramji and had him hand the man some rupee notes. Taking the money, the man was about to depart when Baba sternly reminded him, “Remember, God loves honesty. Nothing is hidden from God.”
Meanwhile, Dhake wondered why Baba had given the man money when He knew he was dishonest. Baba explained, “The man knew I was aware of his deception and he will always remember what happened here today. He will never forget that Meher Baba gave him money despite seeing through him. Why did I do it? So that the next time he tries to swindle someone, he will remember Me, desist and improve.” The wisdom of the Master’s actions touched Dhake deeply.
Baba then conveyed to the mandali: “All are one and this oneness is completely indivisible. If you love Me as I should be loved, I will make you experience that oneness
On Friday, 15th April 1927, Baba called Chanji, Dhake, and others, and He expressed His dissatisfaction with the management of the school. Dhake protested, “I am disappointed to learn that you are grieved with My work, in spite of the fact that I am putting My whole heart into it.”
Baba took this to mean that Dhake was quitting. So he inquired of Chanji, Vishnu, Padri, and Nisal whether any of them would be willing to serve as principal, but they refused, saying that Dhake was the best man for the job and he did not intend to quit. Baba was displeased with their attitude and went to His Jhopdi.
He later called Chanji and Dhake and informed them that the school should be closed. Chanji, perhaps in the heat of the moment, suggested that in that case all the activities in Meherabad should be stopped and the mandali and students should be sent back to their respective homes. Hearing this, Baba replied, “I have promised the mandali to keep them here, whether or not there is a school. I wish the activities in Meherabad to be to My satisfaction.”
Chanji said, “Only Dhake is the proper person to be the principal as he is the best qualified and is supervising it very well.” Baba told Dhake to take more interest in the work and pointed out one or two things that were wrong, but allowed him to continue as before. At their request, Baba agreed to come to the mandali’s quarters every day, as he used to do previously but had not done for quite a few days.
Three days later, Baba again expressed His dissatisfaction with the administration of the school. Blaming Chanji and Dhake, Baba demanded an explanation. They replied, “To satisfy you is utterly impossible because you are perfect and we are not! To follow your instructions to the letter, in the work of the school, is difficult. We are not allowed any freedom whatsoever to run the school as we see fit. Our every duty is subject to your orders and scrutiny, and because we are not perfect, you remain dissatisfied.”
Chanji and Dhake were conscientiously carrying out their responsibilities, which they took very seriously. They were under constant pressure and were extremely careful not to do anything that might upset Baba. But Baba being Baba, always found some fault with them.
Baba replied at length concerning Meher Ashram and about the work of the mandali. In his own inimitable way, Baba scolded and appreciated the mandali at the same time:
Later that day, Baba severely reprimanded Dhake and Nisal for not meditating according to his orders. “Both should pack off after dinner,” Baba stated angrily. “It is useless and harmful for them to stay here if they are going to neglect my orders. Any of you who do not fulfill an order once given will suffer. That is why I don’t wish you to break My orders. It is better if you don’t stay here than break My orders deliberately. The consequences are very grave. If Dhake and Nisal do not wish to meditate they should say so, ask My permission, get themselves freed, and then not do it. That would be quite all right.”
Both asked Baba’s forgiveness. Dhake explained that he had simply forgot. In fact, he did not like to meditate, but now he had no choice. Before staying with Baba, Dhake attached great importance to meditation, but he had since learned that the best meditation was to carry out the Master’s wishes. Baba then gestured to Ramjoo to meditate in Dhake’s place. But Ramjoo requested that Baba free him of this order.
In the end, Baba exempted Dhake, Padri and Ramjoo from meditation, but ordered them instead to relate one detective story of Sexton Blake every night for an hour, to which they happily agreed.)
In 1933, after the Meher Ashram was disbanded, its former principal Dhake left to study law, financed by Baba. Dhake would occasionally come to visit Baba in Meherabad. One day when he was there with Baba and Adi Sr., Dhake humorously joked at Adi’s expense.
Adi was insulted and spoke cruelly in return to Dhake, hurting his feelings. Baba ordered Adi to fall at Dhake’s feet and ask forgiveness, which he did.
Baba then remarked, “To gulp down anger is the most courageous act one can perform. One who does it becomes humble.”
Dhake had disobeyed Baba’s order not to marry again, and had been banned from coming to see Baba. Dhake regretted defying Baba and repented greatly. Frequently, through Adi Sr., he would send messages to Baba. After almost a year, Dhake came to see Baba at Meherabad on the 26th with his wife, Sanjeevani. Baba asked the mandali present, “How should I punish this scoundrel for his disobedience?”
Everyone suggested some light punishment and Baba observed, “Were I to punish Dhake, what would be the difference between Me and you? I had picked him up from the dirt but he has again fallen into it!
Still, I will pull him out.”
Baba forgave Dhake and embraced him. Then Baba asked every member of the mandali to embrace him. The punishment for his disobedience was forgiveness from the infinite Ocean of Mercy!
In 1945, Dhake’s son Sudhakar was in poor health, so Baba kept him with the Meherabad mandali for treatment. Within a year, he regained his strength and recovered.
Dhake’s wife, Kashibai, had recently died. Dhake had much love for Baba, and once in Rahuri years before, Baba had visited his home. Finding Kashibai weak and run-down, Baba had advised him to give her complete rest. With her health in mind, Baba had made arrangements for her during his stay in` Toka during 1928, so that she and Dhake could live there in the family quarters.
After her demise, Baba had a private talk with Dhake during the meeting. He explained, “You are now free and I will look after your children. Now don’t fall into that trap (meaning marriage) again, and stay with Me permanently.” On Dhake’s agreement, Baba welcomed him to join the mandali, “From tomorrow, come to stay with Me.” To this also Dhake consented.
Baba then clarified, “Come to stay with Me permanently, after six months.” In this manner everything was settled.
In 1946, Dhake got engaged for a second time. When his wedding invitation was received, Baba immediately sent Kalemama to him with orders that he should not marry. Kalemama was unable to contact Dhake in time and the marriage was performed. Baba was furious over the affair and temporarily forbade Dhake from coming to Him.
Baba said: Dhake has been with Me for nineteen years. He is no fool. He is an intelligent lawyer. He has received no temporal benefit from Me. His wife has just died and yet there has not been the least difference in his love and devotion toward Me. Yesterday I called him and told him to give up his legal profession and do My work, and he has agreed to do so.
Ramjoo, Ghani and Khak Saheb suggested that the mandali should be served a good meal before their departure with Baba, to which Baba agreed
They requested non-vegetarian food and, for the first time, Baba gave His consent for meat to be served in Meherabad. When the meal was ready, Baba asked where it should be eaten. The large hall was suggested. Baba asked Dhake what he thought, and being an orthodox Brahmin, he said, “This hall is the sacred seat of the Avatar, and never, until now, has non-vegetarian food been served near your seat. So, in My opinion, I disapprove of it being taken there.”
Others protested that it was not good to divide the group because of one man’s prejudices. But Baba replied, “For Me the opinion of even one man counts. You are all on one side, and Dhake is on the other. So, I side with him and say let’s not eat inside.”
As a result, at 6:30 P.M., everyone had to have the meal in Kakubai’s cottage, while Dhake and Kalemama (also a Brahmin) had a mixture of sweets as their supper, which they ate in the hall.
While Baba served the food and distributed wine, whiskey and brandy that he permitted Sarosh to bring, Dhake read out a humorous speech titled “Farewell to Baba and Companions,” which Baba enjoyed. Adi Sr. and Ramjoo helped themselves to glass after glass of the liquor, and others too freely imbibed. But when Baba approached Feram, he indicated, “Don’t ask for more,” and then poured only two drops in His glass. Teasing him, Sailor elbowed Feram, urging him to plead for more. Feram held out his glass, but Baba ignored him.
Although there was joking and laughter, the argument over food had taken place prior to eating, so that by the time they actually sat down to the meat dishes, the general mood was spoiled. Even this “last supper” could not be held in a pleasant atmosphere, and that was Baba’s preference. He would make His closest disciples eat and drink, but at the same time create tense situations so that no one found any real pleasure in it.
Dhake would regularly send greeting cards and humorous notes to Baba, which Eruch would read out to him. In reply to one of Dhake’s letters, Baba directed Eruch on 23rd March 1966 to convey to him following:
You are in search of God not knowing that you are God! So also you crave to love your beloved Baba not knowing that you love him deeply and fervently! Moreover, Baba is very happy with your love — and yet you do not know whether you love Him!
Following are assertions of Dhake in his own words related to Meher Baba:
He could finish His work with me there itself without going all the way to Nagar. He pressed into my hands his ticket and Rs. 25/- towards part payment of my fees and handed over a vakaltanama signed by him. He thanked his stars for having met me on the way without proceeding further and went back home.
My eyes welled with tears of joy and gratefulness and I felt guilty that I had disturbed Baba for a trifle; I should not have tested Him for a trivial matter. He has always been with me. I resolved not to repeat it to invoke Baba’s help. Just then the bus started. My friends called me in. I was practically not in my senses. I was thinking of Baba and feeling His presence about me. He gave me the experience that He is always with me.
My birthday falls on the 16th January. Baba and His disciples were putting up at “darshan” in Madras and stayed there for a week. So, on the 16th January when the disciples gathered, Baba informed them that it was my birthday and it would be celebrated over sweet meats, for which Rs. 10/- was sanctioned.
At His bidding, I finished my bath and sat before Him. Baba gave me a garland and asked me to put it round His neck. I adorned Him with it. I bowed down at His Lotus feet with eyes full of tears. Baba embraced me and said that with that birthday, all the previous birthdays and the future ones were deemed to have been celebrated by Him and there was no need for me to celebrate any more birthdays thereafter. He asked all the disciples to wish me a happy birthday and many happy returns of the day.
I was in the habit of inhaling snuff. I just opened the snuff-box to enjoy a pinch of it hiding myself behind those disciples sitting in front of me. When I lifted my head and looked at Him, I found Him peering into my face.
“What is that?” Baba asked.
“Baba, it’s snuff,” I replied.
“Is it not possible to leave it, for good?”
“Yes, Baba, by all means.”
I threw the snuff down on the carpet and from that day, i.e. 16-1-1953 onwards, I have not touched snuff. Prior to that, I was consuming one bottle a day. Snuff was the last thing at night and the first thing in the morning. It is a very dirty habit, giving the smell of snuff to all the clothes; and all the handkerchiefs get stained with it and one does not hesitate to ease and clean one’s snotty nose anywhere and everywhere. I contracted this dirty habit from my brother-lawyers and I was not able to leave it. All my relations tried their best in vain to dissuade me from using snuff. But a mere suggestion from Baba was enough to wean me from this bad habit.
One of the disciples was smoking at least twenty cigarettes a day. Baba said to him, “Now you smoke only nineteen.” After a few days Baba brought it down to eighteen and so, in about six months, the disciple was made to give up the habit altogether. But He brought about this gradually so that the suggestion was accepted without any resistance. So also, another disciple was cured of the drink-habit. Baba helped many get rid of their vices.
One day Baba was giving a discourse on the alphabet board and Eruch was interpreting. There were about fifty of us in the hall and pin-drop silence prevailed. I was sitting about thirty feet away from Baba’s chair.
Now a fly had entered my mouth and stationed itself in my throat. I had a very bad tickling sensation. I went red and wanted to cough it out. But I dared not as the meeting was in progress. I was very unhappy and in great discomfort.
Just then Baba looked at me. Our eyes met. Baba gestured, pointing to His eyes that He had seen the fly entering my mouth and coming out of it and that there was no fly in my throat. I alone knew what He had meant though others were looking at us. So when I was assured that there was no fly in my throat, the uneasy sensation at once disappeared and I was my usual self once again.
The fly was quite near my eyes — just half-inch away. But I could not see it either getting in or going out of my mouth. Though I was seated far away from Him among a cluster of devotees, Baba could observe it. This was how Baba would keep a constant eye upon us every moment.
The meeting being over, I bowed down to Baba who enquired if I was alright. I replied that He had made me very happy.
Baba said: Dhake: since 1924, he is with Me. His love remains the same. Deep down in his heart, he knows who Baba is and boldly tells people. From head to foot he loves Me.
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- A.R. Abdulla
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