When the time is ripe heart awakens- memoirs of a Zetetic
Meher Baba Speaks -12
These days I am reading a 371-page tome with an interesting title, ‘The Memoirs of a Zetetic’. I bought the book in February while on a visit to Ahmednagar. What prompted me to pick up the book from the shelves of Meher Nazar Books was the name of the author, Amiya Kumar Hazra. I heard about him and his work in Jabalpur from scholars like Prof S Bhatnagar, who heads the Ajmer based Centre for studies in Indian history, culture and religions. The Memoirs, as the title suggests, is the story of Hazra, an English Professor, and his love for Meher Baba, whom he met for the first time in December 1957.
Generally I don’t take long time to read any book on any subject. But with ‘The Memoirs…’ I could read just 20-pages in six-months. The publisher’s recommendation - ‘Like the hammering of a blacksmith forging a piece of red-hot iron into shape, Baba’s unseen hand has hammered all the personal traits and weaknesses of the ego in Amiya to prepare him into shape for participating in the design of Baba’s work in awakening slumbering humanity’ – did not persuade me to read the book in full. And it remained confined to the small rack near my bed. Till six-days back
Keith Gunn made me to return to the book. He is the editor of the ‘Memoirs …’. His advice: ‘If you suffered getting into it (the book), you will soon be rewarded by some excellent Baba material’.
‘The thing about Memoirs’, Keith wrote, ‘is that the first 40 or so pages were written deliberately in the style of Wordsworth, a 19th century English writer, whom Hazraji found captivating. It makes the reading difficult because of the 19th century style, and this difficulty persists for a while, more or less 40 pages. After that bit, Hazraji begins writing pretty much as he speaks (e.g., normal style for him, slightly internationalized by me…)’.
Armed with this tip, I returned to Amiya’s stories and agreed with the Editor’s assertion that these stories were amongst those ‘you find worthy of retelling or recollecting’ as the tales of ‘the stubbornness of a lover and the whim of the Beloved’. The stories unfold over 42-chapters. Up to Chapter 11, it makes tedious reading.
Once you are in Chapter 11, which thoughtfully is named ‘Prelude’, you find narration becomes racy. You will not put down the book till you reach the last para and find a ‘thank you’ from the author ‘to all readers who have patiently gone through this book’, and a ‘wish’ that the readers would be granted ‘some sideways glimpses’ of the ‘supreme experience that Baba has said is the only one worth having’.
The Bengali speaking English Professor is an interesting person, as the Memoirs tell you. He puts his Master to test not every now and then but every minute. He makes demands on his Master not occasionally but regularly. And his wishes some times sound outlandish. Like, for instance, when he forced himself on Meherazad with his mother to take guidance on a domestic issue. Both of them were hungry. They had not eaten anything since the previous evening. Baba asked Eruch to give them some food.
As the personal secretary to Baba was perhaps about to motion them to go to the dinning room, Amiya’s heart, notorious for desires, in a flash longed to eat in the presence of Baba, right inside the Meherazad Mandali meeting hall. ‘….Baba looked at me and then Eruch and gestured to bring the food there in front of Him! The plates arrived- humble fare- but how delicious! Baba sitting before us, smiling and supervising like the Ancient Father, asked us to eat at leisure. So again a gift – the manna from Heaven, the Bread from Christ’s hand. The one who feeds the whole world indirectly, invisibly, was now feeding us in His direct presence….’
The Memoirs of a Zetetic is replete with stories that highlight the need for obedience. Amiya is personification of obedience. Not in the conventional sense. In his own way of absolute disobedience. An exasperated Baba once remarked, ‘Amiya is very dear to me. Only he doesn’t obey me! He is, you know what? My problem child!’ (Page 314).
Another time Meher Baba extracted a promise from the Professor that he would not worry ‘too much’. And teased him saying, ‘Amiya is my son- but in spite of being a scholar he has one screw loose in his head’.
Promptly Amiya pleaded: ‘why don’t you tighten that screw?’
Baba’s replied: ‘How can I do that? Keeping your company My own screws are getting loosened’. (Page 318)
A couple of sentences strike the reader and will remain etched in memory.
“Why did you ask for anything? Did you not know that I have forbidden all my lovers to ask for anything,’ Baba admonished Amiya when he pleaded for a cure from a ‘strange’ neck pain. And went on to tell him ‘I shall pulverize your body’. Not that the professor was not provided ‘relief’. That happened in the ‘most routine’ manner. On his part, Amiya cried for ‘forgiveness’ and Baba sternly told him ‘If you again break my orders, I shall not forgive you’.
I came across Meher Baba lovers who had gone through tough phases in their lives. Some went through economic problems. Some had health related problems. These problems were so severe that the families concerned were literally at their wits end.
In the case of one family, grown up children were so distraught that they asked their mother: ‘Why daddy is following Meher Baba? He is no good. He is making daddy’s life and our life miserable’.
The lady of the house and children found ‘solace’ in Sai Baba. They became regulars at Shirdi.
The poor chap, ‘head of the family’ stuck to his grove. He did not come in the way of his wife and children, though. He accompanied them to Shridi and to various temples, whenever he could, to please them.
In fact, he had visited almost all major shrines in the country while on his official tours - from Vaishno Devi near Jammu to the Shiv temple at Rameshwaram on the east coast and from Darga of Khwaza Moinnuddin Chisti in Ajmer (Rajasthan) to Kamakya temple in Guwahati (Assam).
‘I have no problem visiting any religious shrine’. But he did not ask his family to think of Meher Baba.
Hear his logic in his own words:
‘It is not for me to tell them about Meher Baba. Who am I to tell about the Avatar to them or to any one? I may be the husband and I may be the father. But it is for them to know. It is a matter of faith, a matter of belief, a matter of conviction. Faith, belief and conviction stem from the heart, not under some one’s pressure or after hearing a discourse on TV. Just because they are not acknowledging my Meher Baba, He cannot be wished away. He is there very much. They will turn to Him when their time is ripe’.
He was seen recently visiting Meherabad with his wife and daughter. Apparently the time is ‘ripe’!
-Asian Tribune -