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16

 

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

 

 

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