Irene Conybeare

 

Born :

Died :

 

 

 

Notes from a Diary: Hamirpur, 1952

 

by I. H. CONYBEARE

 

 

Large letter MY BOAT arrived at Bombay from London on the fourteenth of November, 1952. It was my third voyage to India . M. met the ship, and it was nice to know that BABA had already arrived, having traveled all the way by tedious bus journey, making three stops to visit the tombs of Sai Baba, Upasni, and Babajan. He had had a sleepless night, but I was very glad to see that he looked a lot better than when in London last summer.

 

Baba was staying in the flat of one of his close disciples, as it was the fifteenth and the first day of the "Fiery Life," I understood "a few people" were coming in the afternoon. However, it had got around Bombay that BABA was here, and instead of a few, all the afternoon people came in single file, in and out of the room. Garland after garland arrived, to be put around BABA's neck, and as they were taken off, more would be heaped on BABA, till he was almost smothered! The heavy scent of the flowers in the hot overcrowded room began to affect me after about two hours, and I was relieved when BABA told me to go.

 

I was much gratified to learn that I was to accompany BABA on the first days of his "Fiery Life" tour, but a little consternated to discover that I would be the only woman, and a Westerner at that. However, I was sent ahead with M. and traveled first class. The journey took over twenty-four hours to Kanpur , a very dirty, large manufacturing city in the north. We spent the night in the station rest rooms, as we had to meet BABA'S train early the next morning. It was distinctly cold, for in that part of India in winter time it is often bitterly cold at night, while hot during the day's sun. The station was crowded, as every place is crowded with humanity in this densely over-populated country. The people wore the scantiest clothing, and most of the women only had cotton saris. I wondered at the resiliency of their constitution.

 

At last BABA arrived, for the train was late; the party had traveled third class and were grimy and tired. Third class in an Indian train is an ordeal at any time, but life with BABA is no sinecure, and the men closely associated with the Master's routine work have to live the hardest and simplest lives. BABA came up to the rest rooms, and I was surprised that his first remark was a reply to an unspoken question at the back of my mind during the train journey north!

 

After some rest for BABA, we were to proceed to Hamirpur, a small and very isolated town, for it is entirely cut off during the monsoons. It was a distance of about forty-five miles. The men went ahead in a bus, while we waited for a hired car, which took a long time to arrive. I sat silently with BABA on a station seat, for he was preoccupied and "working," so I presumed, from the movement of one of his hands. But M. read some of the news from the paper; BABA always takes a great interest in the newspapers, which are carefully read to him. I was glad that no one appeared to recognize BABA as we sat there. A woman sadhu earlier in the morning had seen BABA, and immediately came up and questioned me, as she could well appreciate that a Master was present.

 

The drive to Hamirpur was quite pleasant, being cheerful with cultivated green crops, quite unlike the barren waste around Ahmednagar, which is a famine district. BABA pointed out things to me, remarking that I was seeing "the real India." Just before we came to the great Jumna river, we stopped at a village to enquire; it seemed that the people had succeeded in finishing the temporary pontoon bridge in time for BABA'S arrival, and our car was the first to go over it. I was thrilled to see the people saluting BABA all the time, as if they knew him, for they had been warned in advance of his coming. They gave the Indian salutation, which is raising and joining the palms together ... this is the act of paying homage to the divinity in man. No doubt the custom of the praying hands of the Christian was adapted from the Hindu tradition; for the oldest religion in the world, in its intrinsic purity, always regarded man as the Temple of God . The idea that man can become God has been forgotten in the West, though the early church seems to have had some knowledge of the distinction between Jesus and Christ, for they celebrated the birth of Christ at the Epiphany, which was also associated with the Baptism. For John the Baptist was a Perfect Master, and Jesus became Self-Realised during the Baptism.

 

This particular part of India has been the scene of some of Shivaji's exploits ... the great Shivaji, who founded the Marathi dynasty, lived between 1630 and 1680. There is an interesting book on his life written by Dennis Kincaid, who was a former Indian Civil Servant; it is called “The Great Rebel."

 

A large bungalow had been put at BABA'S disposal by the Resident Magistrate of Hamirpur and the district round. I was to stay with him, but owing to his house being very full, he had had a tent erected in the garden for me. I recognized the garden as having been laid out in English fashion, for the former occupant of the house had been an I.C.S. BABA said the house had been built where a former Marathi palace had existed. The magistrate is a young Kashmiri, a Muslim, and his charming wife is an Anglo-Indian. They were much impressed, so they told me, by BABA'S spontaneous welcome from the people.

 

After a rest and lunch, I joined BABA, as he was going to give mass darshan in a large enclosure, open at both ends, to allow for the overflow, as many were expected; for the people had been waiting a long time to see BABA, who had been in strict seclusion for so many years. BABA began first (in a small enclosed part) by washing the feet of six men and women, not saints or beggars, but 'just Good people.' We then went into the large enclosure. There was a raised dais for BABA, and a chair alongside for me, and BABA'S own escort, consisting of the twenty-four men who had traveled with him from Bombay , were posted round us.

 

The people were mostly sitting down on the ground in Indian fashion, and I was much struck by the general order and self-restraint shown, considering the great excitement of this auspicious occasion. Of course the local authorities had been entrusted with all the arrangements. To begin with, messages from BABA were given over the microphone, and there was singing of " bhajans " accompanied by that plaintive Indian music, which somehow stirs the heart, and from time to time, shouts of " Ki Jai

 

Suddenly without warning a strange wild-looking man appeared right in front of BABA ... he was triumphantly waving with rhythmic action a bowl with a flame in it, performing " arti. " My first impression was that the man must be a ' mast !' To my surprise BABA embraced him very warmly. I was told afterwards that this man had "rolled" twenty-seven miles to pay his homage to BABA! "Rolling" is a rare act of homage to great saints, occasionally made by devotees, for it is an effort of great physical endurance, which I imagine very few would care to undertake. BABA broke the man's fast by giving him some fruit.

 

Surveying the people, I felt strange, yet I had a curious sense of familiarity with the scenes before me, as if some lost chord in my memory of  time had been touched. There were also moments of some anxiety, when the crowds commencing to file past BABA, in their enthusiasm, were pressing on the dais, which several times shook so much that I feared the canopy might collapse on BABA'S head!

 

After it was all over, we visited a house in the town, and the streets were lined all the way; it was difficult to make a passage for the car. BABA gave several more darshans next day, and I got very tired and caught the most appalling cold in the head, the kind that glues one to the pillow. To make the story short, BABA'S program was all upset, and he had to leave behind M. to take me, when sufficiently recovered, on the long journey to Poona and civilization! 

 

Courtesy of The Awakener ; Vol.1, No.2 page 17

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK  PUBLISHED

 

 

IN QUEST OF TRUTH

 

OR HOW I CAME TO MEHER BABA

 

1962

 

Published by : Kakinda

311 p.

NOTES FROM A DIARY: Pimpalgaon, India—February, 1953

 

by I. H. CONYBEARE

 

 

HE Center here at Pimpalgaon would look from the air like a small green oasis in a desert, because of its clump of trees. There were no flowers or vegetables in the garden, as water from the well could not be spared. The shortage except at the monsoon time is always particularly acute in this district; but the trees, shrubs and plants in pots were a refreshing glimpse to eyes tired of the parched landscape. The Center was looking just the same as a year ago when I had been privileged to visit Baba a few days before he came out of His Man-O-Nash Seclusion, ending his "New Life Phase" and starting the dawn of fresh activities.

 

This time I had been called as Baba wished to discuss the publication of "Is There a Dawn?" And I was certainly anxious to have my manuscript properly edited at headquarters!

 

Baba was not celebrating his birthday in 1953, and was only taking a much-needed rest before going south on further strenuous darshan tours. So there were no visitors, only the regular inhabitants of the Retreat.

 

As Baba was born at 5 o'clock in the morning, he was having breakfast at that hour, so we all got up extra early. The women mandali were looking lovely in special saris (they usually wear European clothes). After we had garlanded Baba, we all stood at attention on the porch while the men mandali, exactly at the hour, called out from over the compound wall, the Name of God in seven different languages. Later in the morning, Baba took me around to the men's quarters, as he was going to wash the feet of Nahars gathered together from neighboring villages. These untouchables lead a miserable semi-starved existence and it is an important part of Baba's work to raise their status and break down the caste distinctions. There are, so I understand, some fifty millions of these people, and Baba tells me that the recent legislation will make little difference, it is the people of India who must change their attitude towards them.

 

I stood by Baba as I wanted to study the Nahars, that is to say, their reactions, for their faces somehow reminded me of weather-beaten boarding, as if they had suffered so much that their emotions were exhausted. The  first to come forward was a feeble little old man; he had to be helped on to the stone seat round the large tree where Baba's ministrations were taking place. He was pitifully aware of the inadequacy of his attire, and gave several little tugs to his old shirt in a vain attempt to lengthen it. I felt I wanted to pat him on the back and tell him that God loved him far more than those who despised him. I think Baba felt the same way as he gave him a reassuring touch on his chin. The women came after the men, as is the Indian custom, and I noticed that some of them were distinctly overcome with emotion. I wondered how much they could understand of the spiritual significance of Baba's work. It was a most poignant occasion for me.

 

At Pimpalgaon, there was an opportunity to ask questions, for Baba was at leisure. without visitors. So now was my chance.

 

"Baba! " I said boldly, "Where do the 'Flying Saucers ' come from?"

 

Baba's face relaxed into a broad smile. "I would not answer that question for anybody, but to you only! They do not come from another planet …”

 

The rest of the answer, I feel, should not be given out at present. but as books are being published to prove that the "Saucers" come from Venus, etc., this part of the explanation can be given.

 

Next question: "Baba! How old is Adam? "

 

Baba again smiled. “If I answer that the first man to come on this earth was 84 million years ago, what would that mean to you? But if the whole explanation will make you understand—about the first man evolved, and that this first evolved man has been repeatedly, millions of times, not only on this earth, but has appeared on millions of earths, and so is ageless, timeless—this has to be explained properly; and if Ramjoo, my disciple, has kept a diary, he might find out the explanation! The book which I have personally written when I had just stopped speaking and which I wrote in one year*—(and which now lies in — Bank, to be touched only when I order) explains this point clearly. It is important for the world and the scientists to know, and therefore I have explained,— about cycles; about the position of the earth for Realization; about the earth dying, and the simultaneous evolution of another earth (not any other planet) ...”

 

"When the first human being evolved, first Realized being ... whether 'egg comes first or chicken,’ etc., etc.... all has been written in detail in that book ... "

 

* 1926. 

Courtesy of The Awakener ; Vol.1 No.3 26-27

 

BOOK  PUBLISHED

 

 

 

CIVILISATION OR CHAOS ?

 

1955

 

Published by : Markham House Press, London

252 p.

Hardcover

 

 

1959

Revised & Enlarged

Published by : Chetana, Bombay, India

247 p.

Hardcover & Softcover

 

CIVILIZATION OR CHAOS?

 

The NEWEST BOOK about The Perfect Master and Avatar of Our Time

 

MEHER BABA

 

 

This extraordinary and unprecedented book, which is a challenge to orthodox religion, philosophy and science, is very welcome at this critical juncture in human history. For we need new ideas and new men to wrestle with the problems ahead, for it is feared uncontrolled tension in international affairs will bring about the catastrophe threatening our civilization.

 

But as the author of this remarkable book points out, the general unrest and upheavals going on all over the world, are due to the ending of an Age and the beginning of a New Cycle of time which will usher in the "Golden Age." Always, at such a critical juncture in man's evolution toward higher consciousness, the "Initiator" or Avatar appears, to restore the balance between good and evil, to establish the new and higher rhythms of consciousness, of love, peace and harmony for the New Era. There is today an universal expectation in all the religions, that another divine personality in human form must appear as the Avatar of this period. Many millions, East and West, believe it to be—SHRI MEHER BABA, the "Kutub " orSupreme Sadguru of our time.

 

Whatever we may believe, whatever we may think, we are all interested in the shape of things to come, which the author has clearly outlined in the description of the reconstruction that is going on behind the scenes in preparation for the New Age to come. The book ends on a magnificent message of hope for a despairing world. One whole chapter was dictated by Meher Baba Himself especially for this book.

 

The Awakener review.