Proff. S.V. Arya
I met Dr. Arya for the first time when he was Dean of Agriculture Engineering at Jabalpur. He had arranged a Baba function at the University bungalow, his residence. Later when he became the Vice-Chancellor or the President of the Agriculture University of the State, we were a regular visitor to attend the Baba functions and meetings that were held in his huge University Mansion at Jabalpur.
I had come to know that Proff. Arya had not met Baba personally, but his understanding of Meher Baba’s philosophy and literature made us drowned to-wards him. Proff. Arya’s graduation in Engineering from Allahabad, a pivot of India’s education and research activities, and a further M.S. degree in Agriculture Engineering from the University of Illinois (USA), gave him a very reasonable opportunity to understand the Eastern and Western philosophies, in the modern and scientific context. He served as one of the founder Teachers of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) at Kharagpur for nearly 14 years, before joining the Agriculture University at Jabalpur.
It was all the surprise to know that not having met Baba, Prof. Arya was able to feel the intense love and longing for Baba and was in possession of an unshakable faith in the Godhood of Baba. I always felt that, if he had met Baba or Baba had known him, nothing better could have happened. The answer to the mystery was later revealed to me when one day I was spending my afternoon with Prof. Amiya Kumar Hazra at his residence at Jabalpur, and during the course of our discussions on Baba and His disciples, the context of our talk turned to Prof. Arya’s deep understanding and love for Baba. Whereas, the fact that Arya could not meet Baba, physically, or in person, was raised, Hazra remembered having received a letter from Baba regarding Prof. Arya. I asked Hazra to, let us find the facts, on this issue, and we searched through the box full of letters that Hazra had received from Baba and disciples from time to time and precisely found, the one written by Bhau Kalchuri, as dictated by Baba. Indeed it was the one we were looking for. In the letter Baba had remembered Prof. Arya and had directed someone to go and meet Arya, a Baba lover at Jabalpur.
I was more than convinced to see that letter and remember Baba’s words that “I am closer to you than your own breath”. It was Baba’s compassion that was flowing in all directions, remembering those who remembered Him. And unmistakably, it was the source, and the fire in the heart of Prof. Arya.
Prof. Arya, due to his scientific upbringing never believed in God in his earlier days. It was Baba’s “God Speaks” that turned the direction of his life. In his own words Prof. Arya said that “I had become almost and atheist due to effect of advancement in scientific thought. Arya Samaji upbringing and leftist leanings of my father had prepared ground for my doubts about the existence of any entity called “God”. It was the study of “God Speaks” that rekindled, in my mind, the faith in the Universal Being called God, and in Meher Baba being Avatar in human form”.
It so happened that he heard of Baba’s name through Mr. M. Appalnaidu (now living at Ankapalli), who gave him “God Speaks” to read. Prof. Arya has to say with great emphasis that, there is no other book in the world that explains metaphysics so beautifully. “God Speaks” and “Discourses”, jointly summarize, in most simple language, the most complicated ideas, used by all religions of the world, in a evolutionary order. The fundamentals of all Upanishads become particular cases of generalized frame work detailed in “God Speaks”.
Prof. Arya was born in the village Barwan, District Hardoi (UP), and he got his early education at Benaras and the nearby places of Uttar Pradesh, the largest State of India. He showed meritorious qualities right from the early age. He stood second in the State level Merit in Intermediate school exams. His father was a school teacher with a staunch devotion to social aspects of Arya Samaj’s philosophy. He was working hard for removal of untouchability and acceptance of the widow marriage by the society. Goverdhan Singh, Arya’s father, and his companions, regularly engaged in the discussions about Arya Samaj and the traditional Hindu religion. For young Prof. Arya These discussions were seeds of enquiry in to the aspects of God, Soul and Prakriti. It was later at Allahabad and during his higher studies in the USA that he came in to contact with Christianity, which enhanced the struggle in his mind, regarding the truth and life.
Later, while teaching Engineering at Kharagpur he felt that all these questions in his mind were not merely searching for an answer, but for someone who was a solution himself. He immensely felt that, he has enough of intellectual activity and what he had now needed was some one, with inner awakening. One event of younger days that influenced his thinking were related to me as following. Once Prof. Arya’s father took him to a theatre, which was playing the old mythological story of Ghantakarna, a mythological character, who wore little bells on his ears so as to prevent, the name of Vishnu or God from entering his ears. Every time Ghantakarna heard the name of God, he shook his head, in order to make the bells toll and prevent the God’s name entering the ears. In this drama, some artist in the make-up of Lord Vishnu appeared, and started performing his role. Young Arya was surprised to see the figure, which for him ment God’s presence. He wondered as to why people always said that God can not be seen. This moment he was seeing God in front of him in person. He resisted with difficulty the temptation of going forward to the stage to touch the feet of God in person. This disturbed the young child’s heart and he was restless for many days. As a child he had experienced the shadow of the inner joy and the craving that one goes through when he is in the presence of God, in human form.
On some other occasion he revealed to me another instance, that was regarding his friendship with a Christian American Missionary teacher Mr. Max Strong. Arya would often argue with the teacher that being a follower of the Arya Samaji school of thought, he did not believe in any Avatar, Rasool or Son of God. He said to the teacher that he may accept that Jesus was a great saint, but he can not understand Christ being “Son of God”. Mr. Max Strong, his teacher, replied and said: “Jesus himself has said that he is Son of God. If he told a lie, he can not be accepted as a saint of any level”. This argument struck on in Arya’s thoughts and led him to finally accept Avatarhood of Baba because `Baba said so’. Prof. S.V. Arya was a founder teacher of the first Indian Institute of Technology at Kharagpur. Later he shifted to Jabalpur, as the Dean of the faculty of Agricultural Engineering at J.N. Agriculture University. Prof. Arya ascribes his sudden rise in his career, less to his qualities, and more to the miraculous intervention of Meher Baba. It was in 1981 that he went to have a darshan of Baba’s Samadhi during Amartithi for the first time, and in the same year, he was chosen and appointed as Vice-Chancellor of the Jawaharlal Nehru Agriculture University , at Jabalpur. It was, off course, no bed of roses, yet as Vice- Chancellor, he was the first person to complete a full term of 5 years and even and extended period. Proff. Arya took the job as an opportunity to let the people know about Meher Baba. I met a lot of teachers of the University, who on being asked if they knew of Meher Baba, would present the delightful answer that “Since Prof. Arya has become the Vice-Chancellor, who has not heard of “Meher Baba”. He was Baba’s Ambassador in the University.
Prof. Arya is now well known to the present generation of Indian and western Baba lovers. He enjoys and maintains the gift of intimacy and a refined relationship with the contemporary Baba lovers and philosophers, and is a constant source of inspiration to the youngsters.
Although Meher Baba has always stated that he performs no miracle. He attributed the happening of the miracles to the faith of His disciples, they bestowed in Him. But in-spite of this humble proclamation, miracles happened all the time. Prof. Arya feels that Baba is with him all the time and leads him to act according to His will. He believes that all events, major and minor, relating his life, have been engineered by Baba. The way he was helped by various persons in all possible ways to pursue his studies. The way, amongst utter diverse conditions he was able to continue his studies and got second position in the State Intermediate examination and the further achieved a gold medal at degree level were not only miraculous, but were impossible without Spiritual grace. Baba led him throughout the life even though he did not know about Baba then. It was only Baba’s loves and compassion, leading us to His damman, knowingly or unknowingly. Divinity of previous Avatars were also revealed to a handful, during their presence on earth. In fact more people know about Baba as Avatar today, then knew Ram and Krishna. Prof. Arya in his own ways has strong reasons to believe that his destiny moved in such a manner which could not have been otherwise moved if he had not known, and believed, Meher Baba. He was not, the only one drenched in the showers of divine grace, but the descending grace of Love, was even felt and enjoyed, by those whom he wished, to be graced with Baba’s love. Telling one of the rarest stories of Baba’s grace, he reveled that once, it so happened, like it was a fairy tale of God’s miracle in his own village, where a young man, who murdered his cousin, and was sentenced to death, was waiting in gallows, for execution of the sentence. The appeals to the Higher courts only confirmed the sentence, and even the Mercy appeals to Governor as well as to the President of India availed no relief. It was certain now, for the young boy to wait for his execution, and leave the only chance of his survival, to the All-Mighty God. Knowing Prof. Arya, since childhood, he wrote a letter from jail, appealing Arya to do his best to save him from the gallows. Obviously there was nothing that anybody could have done, but to pray to God for saving the poor. It was only a matter of a few weeks time when he would meet the hangman. Pro. Arya could think of none other than Meher Baba, so he sent a small picture of Baba to his jail address, and told him in writing that ” it was a photo of none else but God”. He also wrote to him that he should believe and pray to the God in the photograph, and if it was Gods wish to save him, he would be saved, in-spite of all apparently adverse situations. Yet, if God wished him to be punished, he should submit to Gods wish, and go to heaven, for having seen God’s photo before death. Arya wrote the latter part because he knew, that there was no visible way of saving him, from being hanged till death, after his mercy appeal being rejected from the President of India’s office.
Believe it or not, the boy praying to Baba’s photograph in jail was saved in a manner most unusual and miraculous to the human understanding. I so happened that, the year in which he was to be hanged was the birth Centenary year of Mahatma Gandhi. On the 2nd of October, Government of India decided to declare that all the persons waiting in jails, to be hanged, will have their life sentences commuted to life imprisonment. This fellow was still in Jail, waiting for a date to be fixed for his execution, and received Baba’s grace in disguised. The compassion of the God bestowed on him and not only heard his prayers and saved him, but saved all others who were waiting for a death sentence in the Indian Jails. Prof. Arya met this man in his village later, after he had served the jail sentence for mandatory years, and was freed. This man died later of mouth Cancer.
Prof. Arya added that although Baba says He does not perform any magic or miracle that violates physical laws of the Universe, which he Himself has created, yet almost every day, more or less dramatic events that occur, incidentally or co- incidentally, are nothing but the reverberations of the faith that one holds in Baba’s divine presence. Arya’s life is full of, a continued presence of Baba, within and around him. He is like a open book with Meher Baba inscribed on each of the pages, accessed any time. All persons, Whether known or unknown to him, during an intimate conversation, find that the conversation only revolves around Baba, and a lively presence of the Avatar is felt by each around. The seed of Baba’s name that was continually spread by Prof. Arya during his tenure of services in the Indian Institution of Technology, as well as the Agriculture University, brought a large number of people close to Baba’s philosophy and teachings, and contributed to the understanding of the deep significance of the vedantic concept of the Avatar as Meher Baba, in the elite and studied circle of the society.
Prof. Arya, holds a paramount place amongst the foremost Agricultural scientist of the country, and has substantial contribution not only in the field of Technology, but also in the field of Urdu poetry, and a very rare composition of verses on Baba’s life and philosophy in the doha and choupai forms of poetry as used by Tulsidas while composing Ramayana, the story of Rama. He has also given the “Parvardigar” and the “Repentance” prayers, a poetic composition in Hindi. He has also a vast understanding and personal research work in the field of Ancient Indian and Moughal Coins, and is recognized as a distinct Authority on the subject, by a number of institutions, and researchers, who are engaged in crucial and critical understanding of the Coins of the country. Now spending his retired life at Jabalpur, Prof. Arya is always available to Baba lovers throughout the globe, through his potential and prompt correspondence with friends and disciples of Meher Baba. We all wish him a healthy and happy life, and a great time filled with Baba’s Love, poetry and philosophy.
by Niket Kale
(Ex-Vice Chancellor, Jawahar Lal Nehru Agriculture University)
Alok Nagar, Adhartal, Jabalpur. (MP) India
Tel.: 0761-2460533 / 4030656 Mobile: 09424606863 Email: chandar30 [at] gmail.com