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25

 

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

 

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