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MEHER BABA'S NEW LIFE
Meher Baba with New Life companions in 1949 in Meherabad.
On October 10, 1949, Meher Baba issued a very important circular: "Baba ends his Old life of cherished hopes and multifarious activities, and with a few companions begins his New Life of complete renunciation and absolute helplessness from October 16, 1949 ...." This New Life of Baba and his companions was governed by severe conditions and oaths, wherein, amongst other things, one chief condition was that money was not to be touched. Apparently the main activity associated with this life was that of wandering from place to place and begging for food by Baba and his companions. While begging, Baba wore a green turban, walked barefooted, wore a white kafni (robe) with an ochre?coloured satchel and carried a brass pot in the right hand.
On November 24, 1949, before going out for begging in Benares, Baba asked his companions to come before him after washing their feet. He then touched the feet of his companions with his forehead. Baba then had the following prayer read out: "I ask the most merciful God to forgive me and my companions for any shortcomings and any conscious and unconscious mistakes done singly or wholly or towards each other, or personally or impersonally, relating to the conditions or otherwise, as also for any lusty, angry, greedy or 'Old Life' thoughts or desires...
Keki Nalavala gives bhiksha (alms) to Meher Baba at Majri Mafi, Dehra Dun in 1949.
"I forgive you, my companions and ask you all to forgive me. I ask God to forgive us all not merely by way of ceremony but as a wholehearted pardon."
Earlier in August Baba had held an important meeting at Meherabad where he had discussed the questions of movable and immovable properties, and provision for dependent families and those who might not be able to remain with him in the future. "I have no cash," he said, "except an amount which is kept aside for a certain work. Everything I possess including ashram buildings, fields and houses, etc., both here (Ahmednagar, Arangaon and Pimpalgaon) and elsewhere and all furniture, cars, power?plants, cattle, chattels and in fact everything that belongs to me, is to be disposed of. Nothing is to remain as my property and in my name except the Meherabad Hill premises on which the tomb for my bodily remains has already been built and all should always remember that when I leave my body it has always to be buried there."
Baba invited the mandali to give their wholehearted cooperation in the task ahead of him and he warned them again and again to discard all fads, fancies, notions and vagueness, particularly in respect to spiritual leanings and beliefs. They were asked to look upon the prospect of going with Baba without expectation of any reward whatsoever, spiritual and material.
Meher Baba with Dr. William Donkin during the
The twenty companions of Baba in the New Life included four women: Mehera J. Irani, Mani S. Irani, Meheru R. Irani and Dr. Goher R. Irani; and sixteen men: Adi K. Irani, Dr. William Donkin, Gustadji N. Hansotia, Dr. Nilkanth Godse (Nilu), Dr. A. Ghani Munsiff, A.R. Irani (Pendu), Sadashiv Shelke (Patel), Vishnu N. Deorukhkar, Murli R. Kale. Anna Jakkal, Babadas Dharmare, Dr. Daulat Singh, A.S. Baria (Kaka), R.B. Baiduliyan (Aga Baidul), Ali Akbar (Aloha) and Eruch B. Jessawala. When I asked Eruch, "According to you what is the importance of the New Life?" he said, " When we set out for the New Life, my only aim was to follow Baba, wherever he went. I never thought of any end result. In fact, none of us thought of any material or spiritual benefits which would accrue from following Baba into this new phase. We, as his mandali, fulfilled his every wish and whim and obeyed him wholeheartedly and without any reservations."
During the period of the New Life Baba traveled extensively, staying for some time at Dehra Dun where he put before his companions several alternative plans for carrying on the New Life. Here Baba swept his own hut, cleaned his own utensils and washed his own clothes. The entire party ate only one meal a day. In March 1950, Baba with seven companions went to Rishikesh where he contacted sadhus, saints and mahatmas in their huts and caves. From Rishikesh he moved on to Motichur, Hardwar, Saatsarovar and other places. Baba explained that these contacts were very different from what he had made in the Old Life and that it was very important for his work. The task was very exacting for both Baba and his mandali. By the middle of the month, the total number of men contacted had reached 1,325 and by April of the same year, when the work ended, the number had risen to 4,510.
New Life companions on the caravan used by Meher Baba during his journeys.
The New Life was an extremely hard and important phase of Meher Baba's life. He often talked on the subject. Baba said:
"This New life is endless, and even after my physical death it will be kept alive by those who live the life of complete renunciation of falsehood, lies, hatred, anger, greed and lust: and who, to accomplish all this, do no lustful actions, do no harm to anyone, do no backbiting, do not seek material possessions or power, who accept no homage, neither covet honour nor shun disgrace, and fear no one and nothing; by those who rely wholly and solely on God, and who love God purely for the sake of loving; and who believe in the lovers of God and in the reality of Manifestation, and yet do not expect any spiritual or material reward; who do not let go the hand of Truth, and who, without being upset by calamities, bravely and wholeheartedly face all hardships with one hundred per cent cheerfulness, and give no importance to caste, creed, and religious ceremonies.
Meher Baba gestures silence during a darshan programme in Mahableshwar in 1950.
"This New Life will live by itself eternally, even if there is no one to live it."