Parameshwari "Pukar" Dayal Nigam

 

Image colourized by Anthony Zois
Image colourized by Anthony Zois

 

Born : 1918

Died : 8th May, 1980, India - heart attack

Married : Jankidevi Nigam ( d. 27th Sept. 2020 )

 

INDIAN

 

Pukar met Baba in 1950.

 

Image courtesy of : Pukar's Diary book cover - taken in Meherabad 25 Nov 1955
Image courtesy of : Pukar's Diary book cover - taken in Meherabad 25 Nov 1955

Parmeshwari Dayal Nigam— known later as Pukar was a leading figure of the Communist party of India before India’s independence. Before being caught in the fishing net of Meher Baba, he actively wrote articles against Meher Baba in hopes of discrediting him as a fraud or hypocrite. But as events unfolded, Pukar and Keshav Nigam underwent an inner transformation and became solely dedicated to Baba’s cause in a few years’ time.

 

In 1950, back in Hardwar, Parmeshwari Dayal Nigam (Pukar), his maternal uncle Bhavani Prasad Nigam and Raisaheb Ramashankar had a strange experience. They had also come to the Kumbha Mela from Hamirpur. When they found out where Baba was staying, they went to the bungalow. From a distance, they saw Baba walking on the upper floor of the house. But when they neared it, no one was there! They inquired, and were informed that Baba had already left the day before. They could not accept this, for they believed they had seen Baba a short while ago. They were escorted round the house and at last, dumbfounded, they were convinced Baba was not present.

 

 

 

1960s Guruprasa, Poona, India. Pukar is on the left next to Francis Brabazon. Image colourized by Anthony Zois.
1960s Guruprasa, Poona, India. Pukar is on the left next to Francis Brabazon. Image colourized by Anthony Zois.
1960s Guruprasa, Poona, India. Pukar is on the left next to Francis Brabazon
1960s Guruprasa, Poona, India. Pukar is on the left next to Francis Brabazon

 

 

In 1950, Baba saluted all his Old Life disciples and devotees, and accepted monetary contributions toward his mast and poor work. When Baba was being offered contributions, the stout communist leader Parmeshwari Nigam handed Baba all the money he had and a piece of paper, on which he had written, “This body, mind, wealth and everything I own, I give in the hands of Baba for his work with the poor.” Then he stripped off his clothing, and standing only in his loincloth, offered these as well! He stretched out on the ground in front of his Lord and began sobbing. Parmeshwari head bowed low forever at the Beloved’s feet. His heart burned with as much determination to spread Baba’s message as he had originally had to defame Baba!

 

Baba showed his happiness at Parmeshwari’s gesture. “Whatever you have offered Me,” Baba dictated on the board, “I accept it all.” Jalbhai handed Baba the clothing, which Baba embraced and kissed, and then returned to Parmeshwari, along with all his money, except a token amount which was accepted as his contribution.

 

Pukar near Meher Baba at a Darshan event.  Pukar is the tall man left of Baba.
Pukar near Meher Baba at a Darshan event. Pukar is the tall man left of Baba.
Pukar ( left ) with Bhau Kalchuri. Image colourized by Anthony Zois.
Pukar ( left ) with Bhau Kalchuri. Image colourized by Anthony Zois.
 Pukar & Bhau Kalchuri. Courtesy of MN Publ.
Pukar & Bhau Kalchuri. Courtesy of MN Publ.

Parmeshwari edited a Hindi weekly political newspaper, titled Pukar (The Call), and Baba gave him this nickname. He became known as Pukar from then on. In 1952, Baba went to Pukar’s home in Hamirpur; he became quite serious and stood perfectly still. He said, “Baba, when I was a child I once dreamt of Lord Ram. This is the exact spot in my dream where I had seen Ram and had his darshan!”

 

On Sunday, 23 November 1952, on their way to Meherastana near Mahewa, Keshav Nigam told Baba, “A Muslim friend of mine conducts an orphanage. He wishes, if it pleases you, for you to pay a visit to his institution.”

 

Baba agreed on one condition: “After washing and laying my head on the children’s feet, I will give them prasad; but they should remain absolutely quiet and not move when I take their darshan.” Keshav accepted and made the necessary arrangements in the orphanage. When Baba arrived, six or seven boys were brought before him. Baba began by washing the feet of the first lad. But when he tried to bow down to him, the boy suddenly stepped back. Baba was noticeably peeved and commented, “When the boy pulled back his feet, had my head touched the ground, this world would have gone to hell.” However, Baba did lay his head on the other children’s feet and gave them about 20 rupees each as prasad

Baba said His work was spoiled and that he would not visit any more villages in the district. Pukar and Adarsh Khare began to weep. On the way, Baba had the car stopped and he got out. Pukar spread his coat on the ground, and Baba sat on it under a tamarind tree. He told Keshav and Pukar, “It did not go well. It is an unlucky happening and bodes ill for the orphanage and the village. The only remedy to free them from bad luck is for me to bow down and give prasad of Rs.14 to fourteen handsome and intelligent orphan boys under fourteen years old, the moment I reach Meherastana.”

 

Keshav and Pukar agreed, although Pukar was skeptical about locating enough boys of that description in a village as small as Mahewa, with a population of only 400. Further on, their journey was delayed by a collapsed makeshift bridge. While the work of repairing the bridge was going on, Baba pointed to a young village boy and told Pukar to speak with him. Asked his age, the boy replied, “Fourteen.” Baba looked very happy and gestured, “This is a good sign.” He blessed the boy and later remarked, “Someday, he will become a saint!” Keshav and a few others did their best to locate the number of boys required, and fourteen of the correct age was eventually found. Thus, on arriving in Meherastana, this was the first activity Baba performed.

 

 

 

 

 

In 1954, Pukar placed his printing press in Mahoba at Baba’s service. He wanted to begin publishing a magazine dedicated to Baba, and Baba appointed a committee consisting of Pukar, Keshav, Sripat Sahai, Bhavani Prasad, Gaya Prasad and Laxmichand Paliwal, who was made chairman. After a few months the Hindi magazine Meher Pukar (Meher’s Call) came into being.

 

Pukar’s wife was expecting at any moment. Baba assured her, “I have blessed you with a very good soul who is to come. Don’t worry about anything.” He gave her special prasad, reminding her to remember him. Baba also visited Pukar’s flour mill in Hamirpur, and poured grain into it with His own hands

 

Baba said Pukar (who was stoutly built), “You are My Hanuman. Do you know it ?

Pukar said, “When you give me that experience, I will know it.”

 

In 1954, Baba said to Pukar, “I have assigned a year’s work for you to do during my retirement. You have to fast for seven days from the 15th (February) and thereafter, wander from place to place for a year spreading my name and love. Before starting the journey, you have to make arrangements for your family. Knowing all this, why are you here again, wasting time and money?” Pukar kept quiet, and Baba asked, “When are you going to provide for your family?” Pukar said, “I will do so soon, but I don’t yet understand how I am to begin the work, and so I have come to you for guidance.” Baba smiled and replied, “Don’t worry. Begin the work and you will know what you have to do. But do it wholeheartedly and sincerely. Go from place to place, and if necessary you can visit your home also. But don’t sit idle there! As soon as you take care of your family affairs, start immediately for my work and thus go on doing it for a year.” Pukar’s mother had come with the intention of complaining to Baba about Pukar, but Baba told her, “You are very fortunate to have a son like him. I have given you five children; can you not give me one of them?” The mother said, “Yes, Parmeshwari can stay with you, but he should also look after us.” Baba teased, “You want him to play the tabla with one hand and the dholak with the other!” meaning to have it both ways. “Now your ‘child’ is passing out of your hand!” Then his mother responded, “Let him go! Beyond your nazar, where can he go?”

 

Pukar started this work for Baba, he would walk 30 to 40 miles every day, spreading Baba’s name from village to village. When he reached a village, he would roam about from one street to another, announcing that the Ancient One has taken human form as Avatar Meher Baba. “He is the same Ram, Krishna, Christ, Muhammad and Zoroaster come again,” Pukar would shout. “He is Love Incarnate! Those who want to hear more about him should come and see me.” He would spend the night in the village and there arrange a Baba gathering with kirtans and bhajan singing, whereupon he would tell the poor villagers about Baba. If he found that the people were receptive, he would stay a day or two more in that village. The next day, he would be off to another village or town, where he could do such work of spreading Baba’s name.

 

Late 1970s. Avatar Meher Baba Centre in Hamirpur. Photo taken by Bobby Buggia.
Late 1970s. Avatar Meher Baba Centre in Hamirpur. Photo taken by Bobby Buggia.

In 1955, one day, Baba embraced each man and cracked jokes in between embraces. He teased Pukar, “Oh, you haven’t shaved! How many puris did you eat last night?” Pukar answered in kind, “Because I had a cold, Baba, I could hardly eat fifteen!” Baba laughed, “Only fifteen? But you didn’t tell me you had a cold! Now that you have embraced me, I will catch it, too!”

 

Once, after tea, all gathered in the hall where Vishnu of Dhagwan sang bhajans at Baba’s request. Addressing Pukar, Baba said, “Do you have a (singing) voice?” Pukar rejoined, “I can speak, so I must have a voice! “Everyone laughed, and Baba asked, “What sort of voice do you have?” Pukar said, “That is for others to judge.” Baba asked him to sing a song, and he attempted it in a soft, off-key tone. Baba commented, “What a small voice for such a large body! Your voice only you can hear!” Smiling, Baba added, “I enjoy teasing you, Pukar!”

 

In 1957, Baba had previously instructed Pukar to travel throughout Hamirpur District and spread his message. He also asked for a full account of his travels. Pukar related an incident when the pujari (caretaker) of a temple had not allowed him to sleep there, even though Pukar was exhausted. The priest thought Pukar was a dacoit. Baba suddenly stopped him and asked, “Did you see any tiger or serpent in that village?” Pukar had forgotten to mention this and said, “Yes, I did see a large black cobra. In fact, by not allowing me to spend the night there, the priest perhaps saved me from being bitten.” Baba replied, “Then, why don’t you tell me about it?” But before he could reply, Baba interjected, “I am everywhere. I am the snake and I am everything. I know everything. There is no necessity for you to relate to me what you did on the tour. I know all about it. I was with you throughout your journey, doing my work through you.”

 

Sometimes Pukar would escort Baba to the hall after Baba’s work with Nilkanthwala. “After finishing the work,” Pukar recalled, “Baba always looked very tired. He would be sweating, breathing hard, sometimes shaking. Whatever work he was doing with the mast was very laborious. It was hard for Baba even to sit in his chair in the hall.”

 

Pukar was sent to contact and bring either the sixth-plane mast Sharir Baba of Chhatarpur (whom Baba had contacted the previous year), Goverdhan Maharaj of Amraoti, or any other genuine mast. Baba asked him also to find a boy similar to Balak Bhagwan. Despite his best efforts, Pukar was unable to persuade Sharir Baba (“I see Baba from here; why should I go there with you?”) or any other mast to accompany him to Baba. He returned alone to Meherazad, feeling very dejected that he had not obeyed Baba. But Baba was not displeased with him and, on the contrary, held him up as an example to others.

 

In 1959, Pukar’s son died. Baba had sent Pukar to Hamirpur for a month, and he returned to Guruprasad at the end of July. Pukar also had not wept over the death of his son, and Baba praised him publicaly for his stoicism and cited him as an example of the type of love he wanted. During Pukar’s stay at Guruprasad, Baba gave him a good amount of “His special prasad” by daily striking him soundly on his large abdomen with an aluminum basin (kept by Baba’s side for washing his hands).

 

Late 1970s : The inner sanctum of the Avatar Meher Baba Centre, with Pukar and others. Photo taken by Bobby Buggia.
Late 1970s : The inner sanctum of the Avatar Meher Baba Centre, with Pukar and others. Photo taken by Bobby Buggia.

 

One day when Pukar was about to take ( Dr. ) Kenmore for a walk, there was a heavy rain shower so they could not go. Thinking Kenmore’s shoes and socks would get wet as he went to his room in the cottage opposite mandali hall; Pukar lifted Kenmore on his back and carried him across the short open area to his room. Rano was there and reported the incident to Baba, who, the next morning, reprimanded Pukar. “Why did you carry a heavy man like Dr. Kenmore?” he asked. “My sitting on your back is different. From this, you may get a heart attack.” Several days later Pukar did suffer a heart attack. Baba told him, “You have brought this on yourself. But you won’t die. I want to keep you alive until my manifestation. You will see my manifestation. I do not fulfill your wants, but I do fulfill your needs.”

Baba used to tease Pukar by prodding his stomach with an aluminum basin used by Baba to wash his hands, and which was kept by his side in mandali hall. One morning when Baba prodded Pukar, he smiled at the resultant sound it produced and said, “Pukar is full of emptiness,” and added, “To be full of emptiness is the ideal state. Do you understand its real meaning?”

 

One day Baba asked him, “How do I look?” Pukar replied frankly, “You look somewhat old today.” “What?” exclaimed Baba, “Pack your things and immediately leave for Hamirpur?” Pukar hastily reconsidered, “You look young, Baba!” “That’s better. Remember this, I never grow old. I am eternally young.”

 

 

Image colourized by Anthony Zois.
Image colourized by Anthony Zois.

 

 

In 1964, while at Guruprasad, Pukar had discussed with Baba an idea he had been thinking about for a group of devotees to purchase a huge piece of land so that they could establish a settlement in Hamirpur. Baba permitted it, and plans were made on a grand scale to inaugurate the project in Hamirpur at the annual Meher Mela in Hamirpur, from 15-19 November. Baba sent Hoshang Bharucha of Navsari, and Sanjeevani. Dhakephalkar of Ahmednagar, as his representatives. Baba embraced them and remarked, “Carry my embrace to the thousands collected at Hamirpur.” Many lovers from all over the country took part in the mela, including Shuddhanand Bharati, Dr. Moorty, Begum Akhtar, Mohan-Saigal, and others from Poona, Bombay, Delhi, Dehra Dun, Jabalpur, Nagpur and Ahmednagar.

The colony was christened Meherpuri. (Puri means a sanctified settlement for a community.) In the central area of the colony, a foundation was laid for erecting a life-size marble statue of Baba. A marble stone slab was brought by Meherjee on which to mount the sculpture. (This slab Baba had especially stood upon with folded hands and saluted the men mandali.) Two large rocks from Seclusion Hill blessed by Baba were also sent, and these were placed in the ground by Hoshang Bharucha on 18 November and covered with cement and bricks. Baba also sent a special photograph of himself which was unveiled by Gajwani.

 

On Baba’s first visit to Hamirpur in November 1952, while traveling by the eventual site of Meherpuri, Baba had pointed out the place to Pukar. Pukar could not follow the meaning of Baba’s gesture at that time, and thinking that Baba was asking about the standing crop in that field, he innocently replied that it was millet. Baba smiled, and Pukar wondered what it was Baba had wished to indicate, realizing there was more to his gesture than he had guessed. It was only twelve years later, when this same land was selected and purchased for Meherpuri, that he realized the significance of Baba’s gesture.

 

Courtesy of : AMBprasarkendra.com
TRUSTMEHER.org

 

 

Recorded April 2017 - An Allen Powell Presentation. 'Step Into His Holy Fire.' Discussing the first American Sahavas 1975 with guest speaker 'Pukar'.

Courtesy of MeherBabaLibrary

 

 

BOOK

 

 

 

PUKAR'S  DIARY

My visits to Meher Baba 1957 - 1960

 

PUKAR NIGAM

 

Edited by : DAVID FENSTER

 

2022

 

Published by : Meher Nazar Publications

253 p.

 

 

 

Pukar first met Baba in 1950. He was one of the very few “non-resident” mandali who were permitted to stay with Baba at Meherazad or Guruprasad for a few days, weeks and sometimes months at a time.

During his visits in 1957-1960, Pukar kept a diary in Hindi, an edited translation of which is presented here.

Original B/W photos