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Avatar Meher Baba Pune Centre Celebrating 50 years!
Beloved Baba's Birth Day Celebration at Pune Centre.
Bhawsar came to stay in the same compound where Sadashiv Gaikwad and Ramchandra Gaikwad were staying. In fact, Ramchandra Gaikwad vacated one of the rooms in his house for Bhawsar and his wife to stay. The couple had newly got married. This was around 1950. Ramchandra Gaikwad started telling him about Meher Baba but it did not have much impact on him. He was much engrossed in building his own career, seeking to get a B.A. Degree. So, he was not inclined towards spirituality and was not interested in any spiritual master or Baba. He would avoid any encounter with Baba people. However, he could not avoid Ramchandra Gaikwad because they were sharing the same house. One day, Ramchandra Gaikwad dragged him to Mali baba’s place where there was a bhajan program and Ramchandrarao and Subhadra sang bhajans. Bhawsar was impressed with Subhadra’s singing and was also somewhat drawn to Malibaba. On that day, Malibaba was in a communicative mood and while talking with Bhawsar, he mentioned about Bhawsar’s native place and its history so accurately that Bhawsar wondered how Mali baba knew so much about his native place.
One day, Malibaba was so overjoyed by Subhadra’s songs that he took out a garland from his neck and garlanded Subhadra. Malibaba asked her, “Whose love is great?” “Mother’s love” she replied. On this Malibaba told her that Guru’s love for his disciple was greater than any other love in this world. He also told her that one day she would realize this truth.
One another day, Malibaba told Bhawsar that he was fortunate and that one day he would come in contact with a great Mahamata. Bhawsar was yet to come in contact with Meher Baba but in his childhood days, his parents used to take him to Upasani Maharaj because Bhawsar’s native place was Satana, which was also Upasani Maharaj’s native place. In Pune during his school days, Bhawsar has lived for seven years in Anath Vidhyarthi Gruha.
On 16th October 1951, Bhawsar attended a program in Devji Bua Math. This was the period of ‘manonash’ which was an important phase in Baba’s life. Bhawsar was inspired by Gadekar’s lecture and decided to have Baba’s darshan. He got this opportunity when Baba visited Bindra House on 17th February. 1952. Baba told him, “I am the only Reality, all else is illusion. Love me more and more and your will realize me.” From this time onwards, Bhawsar was stung by Baba’s love and started attending meetings.
Bhawsar had tremendous energy and was an untiring worker. Every day after his duty hours he would work in Poona Centre up to midnight. As his family expanded, he had to work extra to earn some additional income. Through his contacts with some printing presses, he would bring work of proof-reading and compete the work before going to bed. The next day morning, he would return the material to the press on his way to his office. This had made his eyesight worse and he had to use very thick lenses. During this time, Bhawsar and his family had to face a tragedy as he lost the only son which was born after four girl-children. This was a great shock to Bhawsar and his wife. After Baba dropped his body, Bhawsar was transferred to Mumbai and broke all the connections with Baba activities and Baba group. It seems through all the years of hardships in Bhawsar’s life Baba was watching him and his family very closely and helping and guiding him. During the last few years of his life, he came back to the sphere of Baba activity, rejoining his old associates and took interest in Poona Centre’s work. It would be apt to say that Bhawsar was KK Ramakrishnan’s right hand and KKR depended on him for the Centre work. His service to Poona Centre was exemplary and can never be ignored or forgotten. I remember after his long absence from the Baba activity when Bhawsar resumed the Baba work, he emphatically used to say to us,” I have realized one thing in my life though rather painfully; that everything other than Meher Baba is a bog zero.”
Through Bhawsar, another loving family in Pune had come into Baba fold and contributed to the Poona Centre activity. This was the Whavhale family and the head of this family, Narayanrao and his wife kept close contact with Poona Centre till the end of their lives.
In the later years of Guruprasad phase, the Poona group was always in readiness to entertain Baba in multiple ways - by singing, by playing marbles, by playing with Baba the card games of La-risque, Howrah Bridge, by accompanying Baba during house visits, to watch cricket matches and cinema movies and in whatsoever ways Baba wanted them to.
During the East-West Gathering which was held in Guru Prasad in 1962, the whole team of workers, volunteers and Bhajan singers of Poona Centre were working day and night looking after the various arrangements. While the Western lovers were being attended by Meherjee, Merwan Jessawala, and Nariman. The responsibility of making arrangements of accommodation, food, and transportation for Baba lovers from various parts of India was entrusted to Ramakrishnan and his local team which they carried out to Beloved Baba’s satisfaction. It was an unforgettable event of our lives, a life-time opportunity. The Poona group put their mind, their energy, their time, their talents and everything that they had to fulfill the task that was entrusted to them by Baba.
After Baba had dropped his body, Madhusudan participated in the program as leader of the bhajan group for two more years. 25th February of 1970 was the last day of his participation in the Centre’s function. From that day onwards, for some reasons, he and his wife, Subhadra, discontinued their involvement with the Centre and with any Baba activity for a long time. They had completely withdrawn themselves.
There was another phenomenon that was taking shape and was very encouraging. The children of Poona Baba family started presenting dance and drama programs based on Baba’s teaching. The performance gained popularity and was soon being discussed at different Baba forums and Centres. The children’s group was invited to participate at various Baba functions. Young boys like Prashant, Mehernandan, and Nitin More picked up the reigns from the senior members and started writing, directing and acting in Baba plays. This was a big Baba family involving Thade, Ahir and Bundellu families with many participants from the Baba lovers’ families of Poona. All of them were pooling in their talents in Baba programs. Swaroop, Sanjay, Rajiv, Uday, Nitin, Deepak, Raja, Bhushan took up either acting, playing instrument or singing. It was a beautifully collaborative effort and it created a charged atmosphere during Amartithi and Birthday functions. The girls in the family - Alka, Jyoti Ahir, Jyoti Bundellu, kanti, Madhavi, Vaishali, Kalpana, Arpana, Smita, and Arti shared the responsibility of presenting various dance performances. Thereafter, the women members like Smt. Sunita Thade and Shobha, apart from their contribution in singing, picked up the back-stage activities of choreographing dances, making costumes and putting make-up on children. This was a self- sufficient team of artists who were in there teens. Later on Akshay, Amita and Hirabai from the Bundellu family also joined the bandwagon and increased the momentum of this work. Hence, though the exit of Madhusudan and Subhadra from the scene came as a dampener initially, it did not any way hamper the activities of the Centre. All the trustees and local Baba lovers encouraged the children. KKR and Homai Malati showed special affection towards the children. Some of the performances that were presented during those days were so inspiring, heart touching and thrilling that when I recall those days, I feel as if we were enjoying a dream - a long enchanting dream!
The journey of Baba’s Own Poona Bhajan Mandali is continuing through generations….