With growing desirelessness, sometimes the person becomes outwardly inactive. Is it lethargy and dullness? Why does it happen?
Many things are possible, and it will depend. Certainly many desires will drop and many actions also. Those actions which were just caused by desires will drop. If I was running for a particular desire, how can I run if the desire has dropped? My running will stop. At least the same running on the same route will stop. So when a person becomes desireless, at least for an interim period, for an interval – and how long it will be will depend on the individual – he will become inactive. The desires will have dropped – and all the actions that he had been doing were concerned with desires, so how can he continue? They will drop.
But by dropping desires and actions, energy will be accumulated – and now energy will begin to move. When it moves, how it moves will vary from individual to individual, but now it will move. There will be a gap, an interim period, an interval. This I call a pregnancy period. The seed is born, but now it will gestate for at least nine months. And it may seem strange, but it happens. This nine months period is meaningful. Near about this, eight months or ten months, will be the interim period, and you will just become inactive. This inactivity will also vary. Someone may become so inactive that people may think that he has just gone into a coma. Everything stops.
For Meher Baba it happened like that. For one year he was just in a coma. He couldn’t even move his limbs. Action was far off; he couldn’t stand up because even the desire to stand had gone. He couldn’t eat; he had to be forced. He couldn’t do anything! For one year continuously he became just helpless – a helpless child. This was a pregnancy period, and then, suddenly, a different man was born. The man who became inactive was no more: a new energy – energy accumulated.
Lives and lives of dissipated energy create this gap – because you do not have enough energy. When desire is not there to invoke, provoke, stimulate, you just drop. Your energy is not really energy, but just a pushing and pulling. Anyhow you go on running because the goal seems just nearby. A few moments’ endeavour more and you will reach! You pull yourself on; somehow you carry yourself and run. But when the goal is dropped, when there is no desire, you will drop. An inactivity will be there. If you can be patient in this inactivity period, after it you will be reborn. Then energy will begin to move without desires.
But I say it depends. It may happen suddenly as it happened for Meher Baba: that was a sudden case. It happened in Bombay. It happened by a kiss from an old lady, Babajan. Meher Baba was just passing, coming back from his school. Babajan was an old Sufi mystic, an old lady who was just sitting under a tree for years and years and years. Meher Baba was just coming, and Babajan called him. He knew this old lady. She was sitting for years under the tree, and he had passed by that street daily on his way towards his school and towards his home. She called and he came near. She kissed him – and he dropped as if dead just there. Then he had to be carried home.
For one year continuously the kiss remained on him and he was in a coma. It may happen suddenly like this. Mm? This was a great transfer, and Babajan died afterwards because she had just been waiting for this moment to give someone the whole energy. This was her last life, and there was not enough time even to explain what she was giving. And also, she was not the type to have explained. She was a silent mystic. She had not touched anybody for years. She was a only waiting for this moment when she was to kiss someone and the whole energy was to be transferred in a single transfer. Before this she had not even touched anyone, so this touch was to be total.
And this child was simply unaware of what was going to happen. He was ready – otherwise this transfer would not have been possible – but he was not aware. He had worked through his past lives. He was just coming up. He might have become aware later on, but just now he was completely unaware. This happened so suddenly that he had to go again through a second pregnancy. For one year he was as if not. Many medicines were given; many, many doctors and physicians tried to help, but nothing could be done. And the woman who could do something, she disappeared, she died. After one year he was a different man – totally different.
If it happens so suddenly, then it will be a deep coma. If it happens through some exercises, then it will never be so deep a coma. If you are doing awareness exercises, meditation, then it will never happen so suddenly. It will come so gradually, so gradually, that you will never even become aware of when it has happened. By and by, inactivity will be there, activity will be there, and very gradually inside everything will have changed. And the desire will drop, the activity will drop, but no one will ever feel that you have been lethargic or that you have become inactive.
This is the gradual process. So those who follow yoga or any method will not feel the suddenness. There are also methods in which sudden happenings become possible, but one can be prepared. Babajan never prepared this boy; she never even asked his permission. It was a one-way affair. She just transferred the energy.
Zen monks also transfer, but before transferring they prepare the ground. A person can be made ready to receive the energy, then this reaction will not be there. He may feel lethargy for some days, for some months, but no one will feel outside that inside everything has become inactive. But that needs preparation, and that can happen only in schools. And when I say “school”, I mean a group working.
Babajan was alone; she never made anyone her disciple. There was no school; there was not a following in which she could have prepared anyone. And, also, she was not the type. She was not the teacher type; she couldn’t teach. But she had to give to someone, to whomsoever passed and she felt: “Now is the moment, and this one will be able to carry it,” so she could just deliver it.
So it depends. Inactivity is bound to be there – more or less, but it will be there, a period will be there. And only then can you be reborn, because the whole mechanism has to change completely. The mind drops, old roots drop, the old habits drop, the old association of consciousness and desires, consciousness and mind, drops – everything old drops and everything has to be new.
A waiting is needed, patience is needed. And if one is patient, one has not to do anything: just to wait is enough. The energy begins to move by itself. You just sow the seed and then wait! Don’t be in a hurry; don’t go every day to pull the seed out and see what is happening. Just put it inside and wait. The energy will take its own course. The seed will die, and the energy will sprout and will begin to move. But don’t be impatient. One has to wait.
And the greater the seed, and the greater the possibility, the potentiality of the tree that is going to be, the more will be the waiting. But it comes. It comes! The deeper the waiting, the sooner it comes.
The story of Hazrat Babajan as related in Lord Meher by Bhau Kalchari
“It is I who have created all! I am the source of everything in creation.” Upon hearing these ecstatic declarations, an angry mob of fanatic Baluchi soldiers buried the old woman alive. Over ten years later, when some of these same soldiers happened to be in Poona, to their utter amazement they saw the same old woman, Hazrat Babajan, giving her blessing to a group of devotees. Realizing their terrible mistake, the soldiers approached Babajan and begged for her forgiveness, placing their heads at her feet in reverence.
Babajan’s nature was regal. It angered her if anyone addressed her as “Mother.” The old woman would vehemently protest, “Do not call me ‘Mother,’ you fool. I am not a woman, I am a man!” For after attaining the highest spiritual state possible for a human being, the state of a Qutub, or a Perfect Master, Prakruti became subservient to her. Thus this woman, known as Hazrat Babajan, became a Perfect Man.
Hazrat Babajan’s given name was Gool Rukh. The girl was born to a royal Muslim family of Baluchistan in northern India between 1790 and 1800. The girl’s name truly befitted her; Gool Rukh means “like a rose” or “with cheeks like roses.” Her physical appearance was beautiful, and her inner spirit was like a rose whose fragrance and beauty never faded. Gool Rukh retained this delicate beauty throughout her life, and as Babajan, people were attracted to her wherever she went.
Gool Rukh was raised as a rich, noble princess; no material expense was spared in giving her the training and education appropriate to her royal position. The girl was bright and intelligent, and as a child learned the whole Koran by heart, becoming known as a Hafiz-e-Koran at a young age. She also became fluent in several languages, including Arabic, Persian, Pashtu, Urdu and even English.
Spiritually inclined from childhood, Gool Rukh spent much of her time in solitude reciting the prayers she learned from the Koran, or in silent meditation. When her childhood companions came to her house to play, they were disappointed to find that she preferred a quiet room to their games and they sorely missed her. As the girl grew into a young woman her spiritual inclinations increased, and Gool Rukh spent more and more time alone. Her physical beauty also increased and seeing her was such a pleasure that people remarked that Gool Rukh’s husband
ESCAPE FROM BALUCHISTAN
would be a lucky man indeed. When Gool Rukh matured to a marriageable age, her parents broached the topic, but were astonished at her staunch refusal to marry. For a Pathan princess to remain single was unheard of – especially one as lovely as she was. The young woman’s parents then tried to force her into wedlock, not knowing she had already chosen her Beloved – God Himself. The maiden had fallen in love with the One who had captured her heart long, long ago. No prince or handsome groom could take this One’s place. Gool Rukh’s heart was intoxicated in divine rapture, and she wept in divine love to become united with her Beloved.
As the months passed, her parents became even more insistent and made plans to celebrate her wedding on a certain date to a certain prince. Gool Rukh was informed that she had no choice; all arrangements had been finalized. Although she loved her parents, their plans were unbearable to her. Her longing to find her true Beloved overcame all obstacles and hardships, and she escaped from home and Baluchistan – never to be found by her parents.
Gool Rukh journeyed to the northeast, first to Peshawar and then to Rawalpindi. For a young maiden of eighteen years to run away from home and travel alone across the mountainous regions of India was an incredible undertaking. But Beloved God was watching over her, so on the rough mountain roads she was neither recognized nor captured. While travelling, the young maiden wore the traditional Muslim veil – but how long could her Beloved keep his loved one veiled? The Beloved was starting the necessary preparations to remove the veil of duality and transform her into the All-Existing One.
Gool Rukh’s heart was burning with the fire of divine love, suffering the terrible pangs of separation from God, and the state of fiery restlessness made her oblivious to hunger, thirst and sleep. The young princess had now become homeless in this world. Day and night she roamed the streets of Rawalpindi absorbed in divine madness for Beloved God. A wayfarer now, this constant restlessness was her only rest. Who knows how many lifetimes of severe penance and austerities had created this spiritual longing in her? It is said that she had been the famous Rabia Al-Adawiya of Basra, Iraq, in a previous incarnation – the woman saint who was exceptional in her beauty and grace –
QUTUB MAULA SHAH
but Gool Rukh was destined for that which is greater than sainthood. People saw what appeared to be a madwoman wandering the streets and alleyways, but her only wish was to gaze upon the Beloved’s face and her heart would cry out, “Come my Beloved to meet me! Come soon or I shall die!”
Years passed like this, but Gool Rukh’s tears of longing never stopped; the divine madness had become a divine intoxication which would always give her more tears. It was only after tears had broken her heart that Gool Rukh met a Hindu Sadguru (his name is not recorded) whose destiny was to guide her perfectly. Under this Sadguru’s guidance she climbed a mountain in the wilderness and lived in a secluded cave. For a year and a half she remained in the mountainous regions of what is now Pakistan, undergoing rigorous spiritual austerity.
The Sadguru beckoned her to go. She then left this region and journeyed on foot into the Punjab of India. The flames of separation were now consuming Gool Rukh, and her heart cried out, “Come oh Beloved, come! I am going. I am gone! I cannot wait!” Except for the pink cheeks of rose, the princess was unrecognizable after almost twenty years of austerity. Gool Rukh was thirty-seven years old when she was completely ready to die the final death. Not even a sanskaric speck of worldly attachment was left to prevent her from finally departing. The Beloved, too, was anxiously waiting to embrace her, then to absorb her.
IN MULTAN, she met a Mohammedan Qutub, known as Maula Shah, whose divine grace made Gool Rukh disappear forever, allowing the Beloved to unite with her soul. Gool Rukh died the final spiritual death; she became God-Realized and nothing remained but God. Her soul cried out in all-consuming bliss, “I alone am. There is no one besides me. I am God! – Anal Haq!” The illusion of the universe faded away before her eyes as she became the Creator.
Time, too, disappeared. But Gool Rukh was not destined to escape Prakruti, although she had temporarily lost all consciousness of the universe and herself. In her state of majzoobiyat, she was aware of being God-Conscious, but unconscious of creation and her body and mind. The goal, “Anal Haq!,” had been achieved. But Prakruti knew that this woman, who had become God-Conscious, could not remain in this state of divine absorption indefinitely. This woman, now spiritually perfect, had to know
MECCA & MEDINA
and control illusion as illusion, in order to play the supremely magnificent role for which she alone was destined – to summon the Awakener to earth – to unveil the formlessness of God.
From India, in her God-Realized state, Gool Rukh now in her late thirties, journeyed back to the northern regions, drawn again to Rawalpindi to her previous Hindu Master. The Hindus called her a “Brahmi-bhoot” – she was aware of being God but was unconscious of herself and the external world. The goal had been achieved but the master’s consciousness to lead others to the goal was not perfected in her. In her perfect bliss, she alone existed. Gool Rukh had become perfect, One with God, but had no consciousness of the illusory existence of Prakruti in Infinite Existence. The female majzoob was God-Conscious but felt no sanskaric consciousness with the cosmic illusion. In this state of majzoobiyat, there is no existence of duality or manyness; the divine “I” or “Ego” alone is. Gool Rukh had become a perfect majzoob of the seventh plane – God unto herself. She had no awareness that the whole creation was hidden like a shadow in the light of her Godhood.
After several years, with the help of her Hindu Master, Gool Rukh regained consciousness of the universe, of duality, and was transformed into a Perfect Master. Along with her divine consciousness of the Unlimited Ocean of Reality, she began seeing every drop as a drop and was empowered to turn each into the Ocean Itself.
UPON BECOMING ONE of the five Perfect Masters on earth, she left Rawalpindi and embarked on several long journeys through the Middle Eastern countries– Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and others. It is said that she traveled to Mecca disguised as a man, by way of Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and doubling back into Arabia. At the Kaaba in Mecca, she offered the customary Mohammedan prayers five times a day, always sitting at one selected spot. While in Mecca, she would often gather food for the poor, and personally nursed pilgrims who had fallen ill. She also spent long hours gathering fodder for abandoned cattle.
From Mecca, Gool Rukh journeyed to the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad at Medina, where she again adopted the same routine, offering prayers and caring for her fellow pilgrims. Leaving Arabia, she wandered overland to Baghdad, and from Iraq back to the Punjab. In India, she traveled south to Nasik
GOOL RUKH IS MURDERED
and established herself in Panchvati, an area known by Hindus to be sanctified by Lord Ram. To the local people, her spiritual “manliness” was apparent. The power of her glance overshadowed her feminine body and attire. From Nasik, Gool Rukh went further south to Bombay, where she stayed for several months. After finishing her spiritual work there, she returned to the Punjab and spent several years wandering throughout northern India.
During this period, while in Rawalpindi she was in a glorious spiritually intoxicated state of ecstasy and declared in the presence of a group of Mohammedans that she had divine authority. “It is I who created the universe! I am the creator of everything!” Such wild declarations caused a group of Baluchi soldiers to become furious fanatics. The soldiers had no idea that she whom they considered insane was actually conscious of being God. They attacked her and held her by force while some dug a pit. Then they buried her alive.
These soldiers were extremely proud of themselves, for they considered her utterances blasphemy against holy Islam. By killing this madwoman they believed they would be spiritually rewarded; they had safeguarded Islam’s sacred truth. Having saved their Mohammedan religion from her blasphemy, these fanatics left her grave, reveling in their wicked deed. The soldiers had carved a special niche for themselves in Paradise by killing this kafir – infidel or heretic. In spite of being left to die in a nameless grave, Gool Rukh did not die. It is not known how she survived this ordeal, but around 1900 she managed to return safely to Bombay, over a thousand miles south, where she lived on the sidewalk of a street called Chuna Bhatti near Sion, Bombay.
When these same soldiers saw Babajan alive in Poona years later, however, their pride and ill-formed conceptions were completely shattered. Then they understood that it was not Babajan who was the unbeliever, but they themselves. They were overcome with repentance for their horrible deed and fell at her feet seeking forgiveness. Some of these same soldiers became her devotees and served as bodyguards. Gradually, Gool Rukh’s fame spread and many believed her to be a Qutub. The Mohammedans began referring to her as Hazrat, meaning Your Highness, and began worshiping her as a person who was One with God – Babajan.
VOYAGE TO ARABIA
Babajan was seen in Bombay again around 1901. She wandered particularly about the district known as Pydhonie. Occasionally she would meet with the saint Maulana Saheb of Bandra, and with saint Abdul Rehman of Dongri. It was glorious to see how happy the ancient woman was in their company, and she would lovingly address them as her children. These two saints became part of her circle of disciples and later she was to bestow God-Realization upon both of them; in fact, Abdul Rehman became a Qutub by her grace.
IN APRIL 1903, Babajan sailed from Bombay on the ship S.S. Hyderi on her second pilgrimage to Mecca. Although every moment Babajan was absorbed in her blissful state, aboard ship she acted quite normal. She would openly converse with the other passengers, reciting couplets from the Persian poets Hafiz and Rumi and expound in simple terms about the deep mysteries of the Absolute. All were attracted to the old woman, now well over one hundred years old, including the crew, with whom she spoke in English.
One unusual incident occurred during this voyage. It started raining heavily and a terrible storm arose. All were terrified and people panicked, convinced the ship would sink. Babajan appeared on the deck unmindful of the danger. In an unusually loud voice, she shouted to one of the passengers named Nooma Pankhawala, “Wrap a kerchief around your throat to form a bag and approach every passenger – including the children and Europeans – and collect one paisa from each. Then have them beseech God with this prayer, saying, ‘O God! Save our ship from this storm. On reaching Medina, in the name of your Beloved Prophet, we will offer food to the poor.'” Immediately, the man, Nooma, collected one paisa (penny) from each person and all fervently repeated what Babajan had commanded. Gradually the storm subsided and miraculously they escaped what appeared to be certain death.
Upon arriving in Mecca, word of the miraculous rescue spread and a great multitude gathered to be personally blessed by Babajan. At the Kaaba, Babajan assumed the role of an ordinary pilgrim, performing prayers five times a day at the shrine, but after a few days she journeyed north to Medina. There in the name of Muhammad, the Prophet of the All-Merciful, she distributed grain to the poor.
AJMER & POONA
About 1904, Babajan returned to Bombay and soon afterward proceeded to Ajmer in northern India to pay homage at the tomb of the Sufi Qutub-e-Irshad, Mu’inuddin Chishti, who established Islam in India. From Ajmer she returned to Bombay and then soon after traveled east to Poona.
When she first lived in Poona, Babajan would not remain in any fixed place. She would wander in the Cantonment area or roam about the city and frequent even the filthy slums. Although her clothes were ragged and soiled, her beauty and the glow of her face attracted many people to her. She had been a princess; now her true majesty was unmistakable – it was that of an emperor.
After a while, Babajan was never found alone, but always surrounded by a crowd. Her physical needs were practically nil and she seldom ate. She was fond of tea, however, and her followers would bring cup after cup for her, which she would offer as prasad. If someone happened to bring flowers, she would abuse the person for wasting money, criticizing, “Why didn’t you spend your money wisely on something like sweets or tea which all can enjoy? What good are these flowers?”
If Babajan happened to look at someone who was passing by, the person would stand transfixed, gazing at her divine face. Restaurant owners and fruit vendors would beg her to visit, and offer her whatever she wanted. If Babajan happened to comply, they would consider themselves fortunate in God’s eyes.
When Babajan went to the Poona Cantonment area, she frequently visited the house of a Muslim named Shaikh Imam, a watchmaker. Seeing her ragged clothes, the Shaikh’s mother wished to bathe and dress Babajan in new clothes, but she always refused. One day, however, Babajan agreed, and with the utmost difficulty and patience, the Shaikh’s mother gently bathed her old body and attired her in a new clean robe and undergarments especially stitched for her. This was the last bath Babajan was to have for as long as she lived. But despite this, her body was always fragrant. It was free from the impurities of the world, as if it were always bathed in the wine of love that flowed from her intoxicated lips and eyes.
Having no permanent place to stay in Poona, Babajan would rest alongside any street at night. Once she stayed near the Muslim shrine of Wakadia Bagh and from there went to sit for
some time near another Muslim shrine Panch Pir at Dighi. There were many ant colonies near Panch Pir’s shrine, and the ants would swarm over Babajan, biting her and causing large welts on her body, yet she remained quietly seated as if nothing was happening.
One day a man named Kasam V. Rafai went to Dighi, and upon seeing Babajan covered with ants, tears ran down his cheeks. Kasam, with Babajan’s permission, attempted to remove all the ants, but he was not successful. Somehow he persuaded Babajan to come to his house where, with much difficulty, he removed hundreds of the tiny insects – one by one. Throughout this painful ordeal, Babajan barely indicated any discomfort.
After temporarily staying at several different places throughout the city of Poona, Babajan took up residence under a neem tree near Bukhari Shah’s mosque in Rasta Peth. (The mosque was next door to the home of a devotee named Sardar Raste.) Larger crowds began to congregate there and Babajan was hampered by the limited space around her. Her devoted followers implored her to change her seat but Babajan sternly replied, “One devil is here and unless and until I get rid of him, it is not possible for me to move an inch.”
Opposite her chosen site was a large banyan tree and when the municipality chopped down the tree to expand the road, Babajan suddenly decided to move. For two weeks she was seen near a deserted tomb in the Swar Gate locality, and from there she shifted to the area called Char Bawdi, meaning Four Wells, on Malcolm Tank Road, where she sat beneath a neem tree. This spot proved to be her final site, where she remained for many years until the ancient woman discarded her form.
When Babajan first moved to Char Bawdi, there was just a dirt road infested with hordes of mosquitoes; plague germs were even suspected there. During the day the area was desolate and deserted, but at night it sprang to life with thieves and the city’s most dangerous criminals who met there.
In Char Bawdi, Babajan remained seated under the neem tree – a rock of absolute Godhood in the shifting dust of pitiful ignorance moving about her. After months of exposure to nature’s elements, she grudgingly allowed her devotees to build a shelter of gunny sacks above her. Here she stayed throughout all seasons – alleviating humanity’s suffering by allowing anyone
NEEM TREE COURT
to come to her – to sip the wine of her continual presence. Several years later, there was a marvelous change in the locality. Large modern buildings were constructed, tea shops and restaurants appeared and electricity was brought to the homes in the area. Due to the establishment of Babajan’s seat under the neem tree, Four Wells became a charming area in which to live and raise a family.
NO ONE can escape the light of illumination when one nears its source. Even when veiled, one feels the effect of this light; its flame burns away the veil. Such was the light of Babajan – in her and around her. The Court of Babajan was on the street. Qawaalis (Persian and Urdu devotional songs) were sung before her, crowds came and bowed to her as an emperor, the fragrance of flowers wafted on all sides, the sweet burning of incense purified the air. Those who received her darshan and were blessed by her thanked God for their rare good fortune.
On one occasion in 1919, Babajan forewarned the large group gathered around her, “All should leave immediately for your homes. Go!” Her wishes were respected but no one understood why she was so insistent on sending them away. Shortly thereafter, however, a tornado with heavy rains swept through Poona, causing terrible damage throughout the city. Babajan’s devotees begged her to come to their homes for shelter, but she refused to move from under the tree and sent them away. Although she saw to the safety of others, she herself withstood the rigors of the furious storm.
Gradually the ancient woman’s fame spread and Muslims, Hindus and Zoroastrians from different places came for her darshan. Char Bawdi became a holy place of pilgrimage and Babajan poured wine unto the sincere. After meeting the old holy lady, a person’s heart was content and grateful. Day after day the number of devotees increased and Babajan was worshiped and revered by thousands throughout India.
The British military authorities were annoyed at finding the road near Babajan blocked with traffic and surging crowds each day. The authorities were helpless, however, to do anything about it, because they knew that if Babajan was forcibly removed, there would be an uproar which would not easily subside. It became apparent that a strong, permanent shelter needed to be erected for the old woman. Initial funds were provided by the
EMPEROR & FAKIR
British military, but when the new shelter was finished, Babajan obstinately refused to shift, since it had been constructed a few feet away from her original seat. So the structure was extended at additional cost to the city authorities to cover her seat under the neem tree, but again she refused to sit under it. When her devotees pleaded with her, at last she consented, muttering her bitter complaints that it was not quite right.
Babajan’s nature was majestic. She was an emperor in a fakir’s rags. Although between 120 and 130 years old, Babajan’s wrinkled face was still like a blossoming rose, and the expression in her brown-blue eyes would draw anyone to look at her more closely. It is said that her gaze had driven some mad – mad for God! She was somewhat stooped and short in height, but her gait was of one intoxicated. Her skin was white, her wrinkles were deep, as if carved, her crown of soft hair was pure white and curls fell at her shoulders. Her voice was uncommonly sweet and pleasing to the ear. She did not beg, although she lived as a simple fakir; she possessed only what she wore, but her simplicity held invaluable and untold treasure. Seated in the street, she had become like dust; no one knew that she had been raised as a princess and had renounced her royal heritage. Her renunciation showed that by her life of utter purity she had gained priceless divine wealth. Inside her was hidden everything. It was this divine inheritance – Qutubiyat, Perfect Mastery – that she consecrated to the world.
Whether in winter or summer, Babajan would dress in loose white cotton pants with a long white tunic. A shawl always lay across her shoulders, and besides these humble garments, she wore no other protection against the elements. Her head was always bare and her hair was never washed, combed or oiled. When she walked down the streets, her stride was swift like that of a young girl’s. While she listened to devotional music, her body would rock to the rhythm of its melody. Babajan’s physical condition changed frequently. One day she would have a high fever and the next, without taking any medication, she would be fine.
She would address everyone, whether young or old, man or woman, as “child” or “baba.” If any person called her “Mai” (Mother), she would grimace and rebuke them, “I am a man, not a woman.” This strange declaration of hers was faithful to the words of the Prophet Muhammad, who said, “A lover of the world
is a woman, a lover of Paradise is a eunuch, and a lover of God is a man.” People would, therefore, affectionately call her “Amma Saheb,” meaning Mother and Sir at the same time.
MIRACLES were associated with Babajan. She was a physician in her own unusual manner. If someone sick approached her for relief, she would utter, “This child is suffering due to pills.” Pills really meant that the person suffered from the sanskaras of his or her actions. Babajan would take hold of the painful part of the person’s body and would mysteriously call to an imaginary soul. She would then shake the afflicted part two or three times and tell the cause – the sanskaras – to go. This method of treatment inevitably cured the sufferer of his or her complaint. One day a Zoroastrian child who had completely lost his sight was brought to Babajan. She took the child in her arms, mumbled some incantation and then blew her breath upon the child’s eyes. Immediately, the child regained his vision and jumped out of her lap joyfully crying, “I can see! I can see!”
Babajan lived as a poor, homeless fakir on the street, but out of reverence, her devotees would bring her expensive cloth or jewelry as gifts. Babajan was indifferent toward such material offerings but thieves would slyly snatch the cloth or jewelry away; some would even steal from her while she watched. Babajan never tried to stop them. Once Babajan was seemingly sleeping under her tree covered by a fine shawl. A thief sneaked up and, seeing the shawl, was tempted to steal it. But as a corner of the shawl was under Babajan’s body, to pull it out was risky. The thief was wondering how to manage it when at that moment Babajan turned over. Taking advantage of her changed position, the thief grabbed the shawl and ran away. In this way Babajan helped the thief, who was never caught, fulfill his desire.
On another occasion, a devotee from Bombay brought Babajan two expensive gold bangles and after bowing to her put them on her wrist. The man told her that through her past blessing some worldly desire of his had been fulfilled, and as a token of appreciation he had brought the bangles for her. The man had no idea of her indifference to them. One night soon after, a robber crept up behind Babajan and roughly forced the bangles off, causing her wrist to bleed. The robber attempted a speedy escape, but people nearby witnessing this incident shouted for help. Hearing their cries, a policeman came and inquired about the uproar.
PERFECT MASTER’S WAYS
But what did Babajan do? The old woman startled the crowd gathered by raising a stick and exclaiming, “Arrest those people who are shouting. It is they who are disturbing me. Take them away.”
Babajan was seldom seen eating. A man was appointed as her mujawar, whose duty it was to look after her personal needs and serve her. He was a good-humored person, and whenever he would ask Babajan to eat, he would jokingly say, “Amma Saheb, the jodna (patch on a cloth) is ready now.” This referred to Babajan’s constant protests that eating was like patching a torn cloth – meaning that ingesting food was similar to patching this cloth of a body to preserve it.
Babajan would constantly mutter seemingly incoherent phrases such as, “Vermin are troubling me incessantly. I brush them away but they gather again.” She would then vigorously brush her body as if removing dust or cobwebs.
Perfect Masters, such as Babajan, have their own inner way of working. For example, one night, in the town of Talegaon about twenty miles from Poona, a play was being staged in a local theater. There was a large crowd and the theater was packed to capacity. Seating was sold out and the management locked the doors to prevent people from entering. During the play a fire broke out and the audience panicked, since the doors were locked. Simultaneously in Poona, Babajan was observed to be behaving quite strangely. She began restlessly pacing back and forth quite excitedly and angrily shouted, “Fire! Fire! The doors are locked and people are going to burn. You damn fire! Extinguish!” The people around her could not understand what was happening. But in Talegaon, as the people there later related, suddenly the doors of the theater flew open and the panicked crowd rushed out, averting a horrible tragedy.
The Perfect Masters’ ways are unique as well as curious; the boundlessness of their spiritual work is outside the limits of rational human understanding. One example of this is the following incident. Although Babajan had an aversion to presents of jewelry, she kept tight, gaudy rings on her fingers which she would never remove. One ring was so tight that her finger began to swell and a deep wound developed. Maggots crawled in and out of the wound. When the worms would fall off, Babajan would pick them up and placing them back on the wound utter, “My children, feed and be at ease.” Naturally, people tried to take her
BABAJAN & TAJUDDIN BABA
to a doctor, but she always refused, not even agreeing to let a doctor come to her to treat the infection, and consequently, gangrene set in, the finger wasted away and fell off. The wound healed on her hand, but seeing her condition, the ancient woman’s devotees would shed tears and she would scold them saying, “Why do you weep? I enjoy the suffering.”
Babajan was generous toward the ailing and destitute. If a hungry man came to her, she would hand him her own food; in winter if a shivering man approached her, she would give her shawl to him. But once an exception was observed in her generosity. It was bitterly cold one night and an old man, shaking pitiably, came to her. He had a severe cold and high fever and prayed to Babajan to cure him by her nazar – gaze. Babajan, however, became furious and angrily snatched away the thin blanket wrapped around his shoulders which was his sole scanty protection against the cold. After this, Babajan ignored him and the old man quietly sat down to spend the bitter night beside her. However, by morning he was feeling unusually strong and looked healthy, and happily left fully recovered.
Babajan would usually speak in Pashtu or Persian and frequently utter the names of the Persian poets Khwaja Shamsuddin Muhammad Hafiz-e Shirazi and Amir Khushru. She would often quote these couplets:
“Despite millions of learned pundits
and thousands of wise men,
Only God understands
His own way of working!”
“Wonderful is Your creation, O God!
Wonderful is Your game!
You poured jasmine oil
on the head of a shrew!”
Sometimes she mentioned different saints or masters and would remark particularly about Tajuddin Baba, “Taj is my Khalifa – Supreme Ruler or Successor… . What Taj gives he gets from me.” On August 17th, 1925, at midnight, Babajan suddenly exclaimed, “My poor fakir Taj has gone.” No one could understand what she meant, but the next morning when the newspapers carried the story of Tajuddin Baba’s demise in Nagpur, people grasped the significance of her utterance.
BABAJAN’S BELOVED SON
IN MAY 1913, her flame also kissed the Light of the Age, Merwan Sheriar Irani (Meher Baba), whom Babajan always called, “My beloved son.” To unveil Merwan was her mission; it was for her “beloved son” that Babajan had traveled to Poona from the Punjab so many years before. Her seat under the neem tree was just a few streets away from his home. Often she would see him pass by, walking with his friends; but she waited many years before she embraced him. People would see her weeping, and when they inquired why, she would reply, “I weep out of love for my son.” This statement was astonishing because it was inconceivable for this old woman fakir to have given birth to a child.
With tears in her intoxicating eyes, she would utter, “One day my son will come… He will come and shake the world!” No one had any idea what her words meant.
Babajan’s physical presence on earth lasted between 130 to 141 years. On September 18th, 1931, one of Babajan’s fingers was operated on at Sassoon Hospital, but afterward the ancient woman did not appear to be recovering, and a few days before she dropped her body, Babajan muttered, “It is time . . . time for me to leave now. The work is over … I must close the shop.”
One of her devotees pleaded, “Do not say such things Babajan. We need you with us.”
With a quizzical gaze she replied in cryptic fashion, “Nobody, nobody wants my wares. Nobody can afford the price. I have turned my goods over to the Proprietor.”
On September 21st, 1931, at 4:27 in the afternoon, Hazrat Babajan dropped her body. People were speechless when they learned that this ancient woman had died. Tears flowed throughout Poona, gloom hung over the city as if clouds had become her shawl. Thousands of people joined the funeral procession for her last journey through the streets of Poona. Babajan was buried under the same neem tree where she sat for so many years and people still come to her tomb every day.
Although Babajan, the Rose Cheeks of Beloved God, is sleeping in her tomb, her devotees and lovers know that she is always awake in their hearts.
O Babajan! Our loving and full-hearted homage to you.
Your kiss awakened the Awakener and gave him bliss.