Experiences of Wamanrao Naik with Meher Baba
Ruzbeh N. Bharucha
I spoke to Wamanrao’s son, Avinash, as Wamanrao wasn’t too well. He sat by his son and guided him throughout the interview. Wamanrao paid attention to every word spoken and kept guiding his son intricately about all the facts and experiences. Avinash would speak to his father who spoke in Marathi and reply back to me in English.
“My name is Avinash Naik. I am fifty-seven years old and I am the secretary of the Nagpur Center of Avatar Meher Baba Adhyatmik Kendra. My father met Avatar Meher Baba in 1944, when he was eleven years old. Meher Baba had come to Nagpur for the first time and there was a darshan programme for six days, from the eleventh to the sixteenth of November. First, there was a bhajan programme of Tukdoji Maharaj, a Saint, in Gorakshan, around thirty thousand people had attended it. My father first saw Meher Baba here and took His darshan. Thus, in 1944, my father had darshan of Baba twice, in Saoner and in Gorakshan which is in Nagpur. My grand-father had taken my father for Baba’s darshan. My father says that he clearly remembers that day. He remembers attending that programme and most importantly he remembers Tukdoji Maharaj making Meher Baba sit on Tukdoji Maharaj’s shoulders and carrying Baba till His car. My father clearly remembers this incident. After this darshan, Baba returned again and there was a two-day darshan programme, from 31st December 1952 to 1st January 1953. My father took Baba’s darshan then too. He met Meher Baba again in Meherabad during the Final Declaration, in 1954, 30th September. He remembers all these dates very clearly. He attended the sahvas again in November 1955, which was held for the Marathi and Gujarati group. Can I tell you one short incident which took place in 1955?”
“Yes, please do.”
“In 1955, my grand-father who was an ardent follower of Meher Baba had plans to attend the sahvas. My father had an examination for a job which he had applied. As my father had to give his exam, my grand-father told him that, ‘since you have your exam, don’t come for the sahvas’. He agreed and stayed back at home, while all the others left for Meherabad. My father appeared for the first paper of the exam and it did not go well at all. He had to appear for two exams. As the first exam went very badly, my father decided that there was no sense in appearing for the second paper, as he was certain that he was going to fail in the first paper itself. He decided that instead of wasting time on the second paper, he might as well leave for Meherabad and take Baba’s darshan and attend the sahvas. He reached Meherabad and met his father who wasn’t too happy about the fact that my father had skipped appearing for the second paper. After attending the programme they all returned to Saoner.” Wamanrao then spoke something to his son. “As they reached home, my grand-mother told my father, ‘a letter has arrived in your name’. My father opened the envelope and was stunned to read the letter, in reality it was an appointment letter for the job which he had applied for. He sat down completely shell shocked. First and foremost, he had not answered the first paper well, he was certain that he had failed. Secondly, he had not even attempted the second paper. It was understood that those who fared the best in both the exams would be short listed for the job and here he was, holding the appointment letter in his hand. My father joined the service soon after. He was convinced that this miracle could have happened only with Meher Baba’s grace.
“The important thing to understand is that though my father had met Meher Baba a few times, Meher Baba had never spoken to him personally. Like thousands of people, my father too had only sought Baba’s blessings and be in His divine presence. Even then, all his life, my father has been completely devoted to Meher Baba and my father believed that he had got this job through Baba’s intervention and blessings, my father never sought another job. All his life he worked in this same office and later eventually retired from this same office itself. He always tells me, ‘this job was Baba’s prasad to me, how could I search for anything else?’. It has been about twenty-eight years since he retired. He retired in 1991 as an audit officer from the A.G. office.”
“What did your father feel when he met Baba?”
Avinash translated what I had asked in English. His father replied. I could understand Marathi but for some reason neither father or son thought that it was possible that I could understand Marathi, thus this via-via way of doing this interview.
“When my father first met Baba, he was around eleven years old. My father says that there are no words to describe how beautiful, handsome and magnetic Baba looked in real life. His face was divine, glowing, and whenever my father met Baba, which was in the years, 1944, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1958 and in 1962 for the East-West Gathering, he says that there is no way through which he can explain Baba’s beauty in words. Though in 1962, Baba was in a lot of pain due to the accident but His beauty radiated like the Sun. He always says that, ‘Baba was very sunder (beautiful), very beautiful in looks, but even after explaining His beauty, I still cannot do justice in explaining how truly beautiful Baba really looked’.
“How did your father get to know about Meher Baba?”
“There was a lawyer named Bhavarkar Vakil in Saoner. Baba was staying at his bungalow. At that time my father was eleven years old. Baba came out on the balcony and that was really the first time when my father saw Meher Baba. My father had the opportunity to click photographs with Baba too. My father tells me to tell you that he got married in 1957 and a year later there was a sahvas for women. There was a complaint from many women that Baba gives more importance to men, thus a sahvas was organized only for women. My mother’s family was a complete atheist. My father convinced my mother to just attend the programme. He told her that she did not have to believe in God and that there was no harm in attending a programme held by a truly noble human being. For whatever reason my mother agreed and since women could not go alone in those days, my father accompanied her for the mahila sahvas. They stayed there for about seven days and during that time they got darshan of Baba.”
“Your mother attended this programme without truly believing in Meher Baba?”
“Yes, my mother had been brought up in a family that had no faith or bhakti for anybody. In her father’s house, there was not a single idol or a photograph of any Goddess or God. But there was a secret which she had not shared with anybody.”
“What was her secret?”
“That is a nice story. You see, my mother had got married at a very young age. She got pregnant for the first time in 1958. My paternal grand-father had great interest in education and felt that his daughter-in-law should study and excel in her studies. He made my mother appear for the eleventh standard exam. Before appearing for the paper she was very confident but when she went to answer the paper, she got completely blank. She was unable to write anything. When she went to Amravati for her first delivery, my mother was very worried that if she failed what would people think about her father-in-law and what would her father-in-law think about her. She felt guilty that people would make fun of her and also, she wanted to make him proud as he had gone out of his way to make her study and attempt the exam. So, she folded her hands to Meher Baba and said to herself that, ‘if You are really Parameshwar or Bhagwan then You will make sure that I pass the examination’. When the result was declared and her name appeared in the list of the successful candidates in the news-paper, she was shocked. Remember that she had hardly attempted answering the examination question papers, so her passing only meant that it was a miracle and if this miracle had been performed, she realized that only Meher Baba could do it for her. Today, my mother is eighty-three years old and she is more devoted to Meher Baba than I think even my father. She starts her day at five in the morning praying to Baba and other than Baba she has no real interest in life. Till the time she sleeps, she has nothing other than Baba on her lips and in the mind.
“After the 1958 sahvas was completed there was the East-West Gathering in 1962 at Poona, at Bund Garden road. My eldest sister and elder brother were born and I was still in my mother’s womb at that time. I was born in February 1963. Baba had said that, ‘people can place their heads on My feet’. My entire family was present for the East-West Gathering. Thus, in reality, though I was still in my mother’s womb, I too attended the Gathering and took Baba’s darshan.” Saying this he began to laugh. His father tells him something. “Yes, my father says that though I got darshan of Baba through my mother, I am blessed because of that.”
Wamanrao whispers to his son again.
“My father has asked me to inform you about a rather strange incident. It will show you how much love my father has for Meher Baba. My date of birth is 26th February, 1963. In reality, I should have been born on 25th February itself, which is Baba’s birth date but due to my father’s prayers to Baba, we all believe that I was born a day later. At that time there was a Centre of Baba at Nana Kher’s house in Nagpur. Even today, we have a Meher Baba Trust at this place of Nana Kher which is also our Centre. Those days Meher Baba’s programmes took place at his house, especially on 25th February every year.” The father again whispers something to Avinash.
“Yes, yes, I am telling Mr. Ruzbeh exactly that,” he tells this to his father and then turns his attention to me. “The doctor had told my parents that I was going to be born on the 25th of February. My mother got admitted but my father was extremely sad as he wanted to attend Baba’s birthday celebrations. He prayed to Baba and told Him, ‘Baba, I want to attend Your birthday celebration but I cannot because my wife is going to deliver my child on Your birthday. I cannot leave her as what will the people think? They will gossip and drag Your Name too. I know You will be present in spirit for Your birthday celebration. Can You please postpone my child’s birth for a day, that way I can attend Your birthday gathering and be present with my wife for my child’s birth too’.
“After saying this prayer my father went and spoke to the doctor and the doctor told my father, ‘go ahead and leave all to your Master’. My father attended Baba’s birthday gathering and returned and I was born the next day, in the morning. In reality I too would have been born on 25th February, on Baba’s birthday and celebrated my birthday along with Baba but due to my father’s desire I was born a day later,” he began to laugh.
“From my grandfather’s time we are ready made Baba lovers. We have nothing else but Baba.”
“Were your parents present when Baba took Samadhi?”
“No, at that time they weren’t there. You see, nobody was sure till when they would allow Baba lovers to pay respect to Baba and His body. We never thought that this would be permitted for seven days. Around that time, a marriage proposal had come for my sister and my father had to be present. The most important reason for not being present in Meherabad in reality was that his financial condition wasn’t good at all. In all honesty he did not have the money to undertake the expense of travel at that time but on 31st January every year we go for Amartithi to Meherabad. My father is telling me to tell you that it was his wish that Baba should look at him properly but Baba never did but just being in Baba’s presence has made him the happiest person in this world. Baba has fulfilled all his dreams. There is no lack of anything.
“I must tell you an incident that took place years later. In 1992, there was a dakaiti (dacoits indulging in loot) at our place. There were around sixteen to eighteen dacoits who barged into our house. They had blocked the entire road with their presence. It was around eleven at night, they took a very huge stone and began to break our door. My mother, my father and my elder brother tried their best to prevent the door from breaking. They were on the other side of the door. I wasn’t well and hence I was sleeping in one of the inner rooms of the bungalow. The dacoits entered and began to thrash everyone. First they hit my brother on his head with a stick, his blood sprayed all over the ceiling. Then, they hit my father badly. My sister-in-law and her seven month old daughter were present too. They snatched the child away. My mother felt that they would fling the child on to the ground and kill the child. Meher Baba’s photograph was there in the hall and my mother just took the photograph and held it tightly. Immediately they hit my mother hard on her leg. My mother pleaded with them to take whatever they wanted but not to harm anybody. By then they came into my room. They didn’t hit me. We gave them everything that they wanted. They didn’t do anything to me. I gave the keys and whatever was asked. My father was not aware of what was going on inside. He feared that they would kill me and the rest of the family. He rushed outside to call for help but to his shock he saw around twelve dacoits standing with weapons, barricading the entrance and the lane. They began to hit him very hard with huge mud pots. My father was certain that he would die but he was sadder knowing that both his sons would be killed too and his daughter-in-law and wife would become widows. Many times after this incident he told me that through all these thoughts and pain on being beaten up, he was happy that he was dying with Baba’s Name on his lips and that he kept chanting Baba’s Name. He kept chanting Baba… Baba. This went on for a long time. I gave them whatever they wanted and eventually they left. Soon after, the police arrived and we were rushed to the hospital. They took all of us very fast to the hospital. Pitaji says that the mitti ghamla’s (mud pots) were so big and the way they were hitting him with them, throwing them on his head and back, it is only a miracle that he got out of this incident alive. All the time he called out to Baba, through the beating, he did not feel slight pain. Baba took all the pain away. Later on, when my mother went to Meherabad, she asked Mehera mai and Mani ji, as to why did this incident take place. Mehera mai told my mother that, ‘whatever was destined to happen, has taken place, but Baba has helped you completely and saved you all, saved your bodies, your lives and not let any grievous harm come to you all’. This is true, as only Baba saved all of us. Whatever had to happen, took place, that can’t be avoided but Baba didn’t let anything happen to my father, even after all the beating and pots broken on him. My brother, who had head injury, blood loss and a fractured leg recovered very soon and he too was saved. I have met Mehera mai, Mani ji, Eruch bhai. I have met all of them. I used to go to Nagar as a volunteer earlier.”
“What does your mother have to say about Mehera Maa?”
“Ah, Mehera mai. I will make you hear one more incident. We had gone to Meherazad once. Where Baba’s dining table is there, Mehera mai called my mother and told my mother, ‘sit here around the table where Baba used to eat food’. My mother felt a little awkward. She felt, ‘how can I sit here with all of Them!’ Mehera mai still insisted. Then Mehera mai told my mother, ‘do you know how blessed you are? Baba sat here, ate food and drink tea on this table and this chair and you are sitting on the same table today’. Then Mehera mai made my mother drink tea. She was truly a divine Soul.
“Baba’s Nazar is there on our family always. My sister Sadhna, wanted to get married to a boy living in Mauritius. Our family was against it. We didn’t want her to get married to somebody living abroad and frankly we were not so rich that we could afford going abroad and hold her marriage. On 31st January, 1980, we took my sister for the Amartithi. In the gathering my sister was standing very far away from Mehera mai. Mehera mai motioned her to come to Her. My sister felt that Mehera mai must be calling somebody else so she looked around but Mehera mai gestured to her to come. Mehera mai then said, ‘don’t worry, everything will be fine for you’. Even though there were innumerable people gathered, Mehera mai called her and told her this. In three days, my family suddenly had a change of heart and in a short while they got married.
When my sister was young, my parents had taken her to Baba’s house in Poona. There is a well in Baba’s house in Poona. My sister bent to see the water and she saw Baba in the water. She was very small. Imagine Baba showed Himself to her. My entire family believes only in Baba and we don’t worship any other God. He is our God.”
Be blessed always.
Ruzbeh N. Bharucha
I would like to believe that every word that has poured forth, has come through the unbound grace, love, mercy and compassion of Avatar Meher Baba. I would also like to thank my sister Jennifer Bharucha, Jimmy Khan, Mehernath B. Kalchuri, Roshani Shenazz and Jennifer Keating, who have been instruments chosen by Baba, with whose help these interviews have been made possible. I would also like to thank Jimmy Khan and Cyrus Khambata for their invaluable editorial inputs. Be blessed always. Jai Baba.
Ruzbeh N. Bharucha