" Meher Kuti "
Madhya Pradesh, India
land that was given to Meher Baba in 1939, where Baba indicated that one of His Universal Spiritual centers was to be established and
directed that a replica of His Samadhi be built in Deodhara, a suburb of
Address : Sahastradhara Rd, Dharanaula, Mandla, Madhya Pradesh 481661, India
Mandla in nearly 94 kms ( 58 miles ) from Jabalpur. Meher Baba visited Mandla twice in 1939 and also in 1949. Baba contacted Dhaniram Dada and Thanthanpal Dada at Mandla. A land with 1 lakh ( 100,000 ) mango trees was gifted to Baba and Baba wanted to establish His Ashram at Mandla. This Samadhi which is now known as MEHER KUTI was constructed by Baba with a view to make it His final resting place. Later Baba dropped the idea. The construction at Mandla is exactly a replica of "Samadhi" at Meherabad Hill, which can be seen from above.
A special thanks to the AMB Trust Archives for the images from the Jessawala Collection & to Lord Meher on-line web site for the text.
There are no known photos of Meher Baba at Mandla. The image below was taken 2 days before Baba travelled to Mandla for the first time on 27th Dec. 1938.
The distance from Marble Rocks to Mandla is 124 kms ( 77 miles ).
Marble Rocks to Jabalpur is 30 kms ( 18 miles ).
On the 18th December, 1938 morning at six o'clock, Baba and the group left Nanded for Nagpur, reaching there in the evening at seven. Pappa Jessawala had rented a small cottage for himself where all were somehow accommodated. Since his family was with Baba, Pappa was feeling alone and sad. To improve his mood, Baba brought him round with humorous sallies, and his dejection left him. Also Gaimai ( Jessawala ) had arrived with Baba, and her birthday was celebrated that day in her hometown. Pappa was happy to see her and their children.
The next morning, a few people came to see Baba. Chanji had stayed behind in Hyderabad to settle matters, but he met Baba in Nagpur before proceeding to Jabalpur to make arrangements there. Deshmukh and his wife came, and Baba went to a hospital also to see one of his lovers who was ill. Before departing Nagpur, Mahendra Lal Chowdhary, a wealthy landowner from the town of Mandla, came to see Baba. He was terribly worried for he was involved in a murder case which had been dragging on for years. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.
The next morning around eight o'clock, Baba went with the women to Mandla. They stayed at the Circuit House there, and the mandali ( Pappa, Eruch, Kaka, Chanji, Jal Kerawalla ) stayed in a nearby private bungalow belonging to Mahendra Lal Chowdhary. Referring to Mandla, Baba remarked, "Mandla was inhabited in ancient times by great saints, yogis, ascetics, recluses, and tapasvis who performed great penances here. Its earth is soaked in spirituality."
Baba then visited a popular pilgrimage site, the Sahastradhara Temple on the Narmada River. While dangling his feet in the water, Baba remarked, "The Avatar sanctifies the waters of any river when he puts his feet in it."
An attorney named Murlidhar D. Pathak came to Baba on the 30th December 1938 and said, "There is a very good place here for setting up an ashram. Please come with me to see it." The man was a friend of Jal Kerawalla ( who had been posted to Mandla in 1937 ) and had heard that Baba was looking for a spot to establish a center. Pathak was told to return the next morning at 8:30, but was late. Baba cancelled the appointment and he was just leaving the Circuit House, when the attorney arrived. Another appointment was given for 10:30, and this time Baba went with him and saw the spot. He liked it and instructed Jal to purchase 100 acres if the price was reasonable. Baba and the group then left for Jabalpur in two cars and a bus. Baba's car left at one in the afternoon, and arrived in Jabalpur at around three-fifteen.
Two unexpected visitors arrived at 7:30 P.M. on the 3rd January, 1939. They were Mahendra Lal Chowdhary of Mandla and Pathak Pleader. Pathak had taken Baba to see a site in Mandla for setting up an ashram, but at that time Baba had not made any definite commitment. Chowdhary prayed to Baba to accept a small gift from him, as the murder charges against him had been dropped. Baba asked what it was, and Chowdhary replied that it was his land behind the Circuit House — 37 acres with 300 mango trees on it!
Baba resisted, replying, "I want only love, not dakshina [monetary offering]. The dakshina of pure love is the highest type of donation one can make."
But Chowdhary and Pathak sincerely entreated Baba to accept the gift. After a discussion lasting over two hours, Baba finally accepted the property. Chowdhary said, "I am blessed today as you have accepted my dakshina." He later told Chanji, "It is our great good fortune to make an offer to Baba, and for him to accept it for a cause such as his."
Early January, 1939
Finally, acceding to Chanji's request, Baba was about to interrupt darshan and go for his meal when Chowdhary and Pathak of Mandla arrived. Chowdhary invited Baba to Mandla to view the land he had offered to Baba, and the next day Baba went there. Baba liked the beautiful place very much and sat for half an hour under a tree.
He remarked, "I am infinitely old and eternally young ... This is my old, old spot," and looking at Chowdhary and Pathak added, "And here are my old, old friends." Baba did not explain their past connection.
Baba returned to Jabalpur the same day and assigned to Jal Kerawalla the work of legally transferring the property to his name.
Present day images of Meher Kuti - March 2020. Google images.
I love all children and all youth with their unclouded vision, enthusiasm and energy. I will have a centre large enough to have a number of them with me that I may train them in my own way for future work ...
A beautiful situation and right in the centre of India, 70 miles from this important town. Two important rivers meet in Mandla and our property is eight furlongs [one mile] from the river and with such a large number of trees that some may have to be cut. I was there again yesterday to make final arrangements and to have the deed signed.
The climate is wonderful and suited to both Easterners and Westerners. The donor owns large properties in this neighbourhood - 117 villages. He is a very spiritual man and very interested in the centre which will embrace every activity of mine. It is also a very spiritual part of India and suited in every way to my needs.
***Chowdhary donated 37 acres in Mandla and Baba subsequently purchased an additional 71 acres of adjacent land, so the property became 108 acres.
Meher Baba's letter to Will & Mary Backett
On 7 April 1939 at eight o'clock in the morning, Baba was driven in Elizabeth's car to Mandla with Chanji, Jal Kerawalla and a follower from Jabalpur named Dube ( pronounced DU-bay ). For an hour the trip went smoothly, but then the radiator began spewing out water and they stopped the car to let it cool. They were five miles from Mandla and the radiator was leaking so the car would not restart. Baba suggested an unusual solution to their problem. To their wonder, he directed them to read a passage from the Bhagavad Gita out loud before trying to restart the car each time it stalled! Thus they went to Mandla ( where Baba held a meeting with some community leaders there and contacted masts), and all the way back to Jabalpur following this same strange ritual. Baba afterward gave the book to Dube, with these words, "Don't give this Gita to anyone, nor lose it. It is my prasad."
21 April, 1939
Baba again contacted Magar Shah in Jabalpur and, in a village ten miles away, another mast named Dada Thanthan Pal. Soon after this, he contacted a very high mast in Mandla named Dhaniram Maharaj (who was also known as Lohewala Baba). Baba also went to Allahabad for a day during this period to find and contact other masts. "The Ocean was in search of those drops who knew the Song and were singing their hearts out!" Age reflected. "Its painful melody compelled its Composer to find them."
The question of establishing an ashram was being further discussed during this period. After accepting Chowdhary's offer of land in Mandla, a plan had been drawn up. Some people in Mandla knew about Baba, but to make the general public more aware of who he was, a public meeting was arranged on the 12th May 1939, in which Deshmukh, Norina and Nadine delivered speeches. Norina was most interested in setting up the new ashram and would gather information and seek support by contacting influential citizens. Baba, however, did not participate actively in this as he was too occupied with his mast work, which he indicated was more important above all other matters.
The decision whether or not to open an ashram in either Jabalpur or Mandla remained questionable. Baba kept the issue pending and, on Monday, 15 May 1939, he decided to leave Jabalpur for Meherabad. Baba rode in Elizabeth's car with Mehera, Mani and Memo, and the other women rode in the Blue Bus (which Eruch drove with Kaka in front) following behind the car.
The Blue Bus
25 May 1939
Baba and the women departed from Lonavla for Meherabad at five-thirty on the morning of the 25th, arriving the same day at 11:30 A.M. Immediately upon returning to Meherabad, the discussion about a center in Mandla or Jabalpur began again. The Western women liked Mandla, and Baba implied that he did too. Norina, subsequently, began planning the inception of a center there.
Elizabeth Patterson's 1935 Ford 48 - V8 4-door Deluxe Convertible Sedan
Until the 30th of July 1939, much discussion had continued about shifting the men and women's ashram to Jabalpur, where Jal Kerawalla had arranged living accommodations for all. Baba had informed Kerawalla that he would be coming to stay at Jabalpur from the 1st of August, and long discussions were held about opening a center in Mandla. But then Kerawalla was suddenly informed that he was being transferred to a different area of India and, although Baba liked Jabalpur, he had to change his plan and decided instead to move his headquarters to Mysore, where he and the women had stayed three years before.
Baba broke his orange juice-and-lettuce fast on Tuesday, 12 March 1940 and declared, "Between the 11th and 20th of March, something very sensational will happen that will affect the world and the war, and especially Britain."
He therefore informed all that it would be necessary for him to fast again on the 20th.
The postponement of opening an ashram in Mandla disappointed many people there. Their letters requesting Baba to reconsider came frequently to Bangalore. It was therefore
decided to build a small structure on the property in Mandla. For that purpose, Baba sent Pendu, Pappa Jessawala and Homi ( Kharmen Masi's son ) there. Baba instructed Pendu to build an exact replica of his Tomb on Meherabad Hill. Pendu and Pappa were to look after the construction work for two months and Homi was to cook for them.
"Mandla is my spiritual home of ages ago," Baba remarked. "I am having this small structure
built there because of my link with it from the past."
1940 - World War 2 Timeline
March 11 : Meat rationing starts in Britain. ...
Italy sent a note to Britain protesting the British blockade of German coal shipments to Italy. German submarine U-31 was sunk in the Jade Bight by British aircraft, the first time a U-boat was sunk from the air.
March 13 : Hostilities between the Soviet Union and Finland ceased at 11 a.m.
March 16 : German air raid on Scapa Flow causes first British civilian casualties.
The Battle of Wuyuan began. Chinese Nationalist forces against the Japanese.
March 18 : Hitler met with Mussolini at the Brenner Pass in the Alps.The two agreed that Italy would come into the war in due course.
In accordance with the circular, on Wednesday, 8 May 1940, Baba and the whole of both the men and women mandali at Meherabad and Bangalore fasted, and Baba fed the poor and distributed sweets.
The following day, Baba stated: "I want to open twelve centers throughout India before I speak. Of these, six have already been established: at Meherabad, Nasik, Toka, Madras, Byramangala and Mandla.
"For the remaining six, different places around India are still to be selected. That was one of the objects of my last tour."
As soon as Baba set foot in Meherabad, he paid strict attention to and arranged everything in the ashram. He expressed his intention of going into seclusion from the 1st of June, for "reasons of internal working." This coincided with events in the war. News on the war front in Europe was distressing. On 10 May 1940, vast forces of the German army swept into neutral Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland and France, and within a month had captured all of those countries.
German Invasion of Western Europe, starting 10th May 1940
18 April 1949
From Jumunia, Baba drove to Mandla and contacted Dhaniram Maharaj, a high fifth-plane mast, with whom he had worked ten years before in 1939. During this encounter, the mast questioned Baba, but before Baba could reply, the mast answered for him: "Where were you all these days? I know who you are!"
On the 19th of April, Baba went from Mandla to Katni, where he continued his mast work, communing with Mehtab Shah. An unusual tale was told about this mast: Several years before, he had died in a village called Panagargh. He had come back to life from the grave three months later, and had returned to live in a tailor's shop. Samdi Mast also lived in the shop of the same tailor who took care of Mehtab Shah. Samdi's arms and legs were arrayed with numerous rings and bangles of iron and brass. This unusual tailor thus gave refuge to two God-intoxicated souls in his shop.
During this period, Baba had sent Dadi Kerawala and Sohrabji Vakil of Surat to Mandla in Central India, to farm the land of Baba's center there. They were on their way on 12 May 1949 when Sohrabji suddenly had a heart attack and died while the train halted at Gadarwara.
Dadi was in a state of shock as he sent telegrams to Baba and others, and he contacted the proper authorities.
When at last he came to see Baba on 2 June 1949, Dadi thought Baba would be interested to hear the particulars of what had happened. But as soon as Baba saw Dadi, his only comment was: "Sohrabji is freed." He did not say or ask anything further, and his equanimity, under the circumstances, put Dadi off.
Baba commented to him, "You did well in Mandla; I'm happy with you and the work you've done for me.
Early March 1948
During this period, Eruch's cousin Dadi Kerawala, 20, received his bachelor degree in agriculture, and came to Baba one day. He asked, "What should I do now?"
"Do my farming," Baba replied.
Dadi did not understand and inquired, "How?"
"Go to Mandla and farm the land at my center there. By doing this you will learn how my farming is done," Baba instructed. Baba sent him to Mandla with Sohrabji Vakil of Surat. By cultivating the farmland there for a year, Dadi came to understand what Baba had meant. Baba would continually pester him by sending frequent instructions, which he had to act upon immediately. Only then did he grasp that to follow Baba's behests at all times is doing his "farming."
Meher Kuti over the decades....deterioration
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