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27

 

Our buildings stood in the centre of an enclosed area or com­pound, on one side of which was a cultivated garden, every shrub and tree planted and cared for by Valu and Naja. Because of Mehera 's love of gardening, Baba always encouraged it. Wherever we stayed, if for any length of time, the first thing you saw was Mehera and those working with her planning what vegetables should be planted and where. Flowers, however, always had the place of honor, that we might enjoy their variegated hues. Work was always accompanied by anxiety, due to a variety of day and night marauders, stray buffaloes and field mice being among the latter. Once in Mahabaleshwar, before the sweet peas and luscious ripening tomatoes could be enjoyed, a band of black-faced monkeys from the surrounding jungle descended on the garden and picked it clean; nothing daunted, Mehera and the others began replanting and the gardening continued.

 

On the opposite side of the garden was a large open space where we played games and walked. From time to time, there were housed in the compound many kinds of animals-monkeys, dogs, rabbits, cats, various birds, ducks, chickens, a peacock, a turkey, a lamb, a cow, donkey, calves, horses, a deer and some pigs—all Baba's pets —but given to certain individuals to care for and be responsible for (needless to say we did not have all the foregoing pets at the same time). Here we saw Baba's love and sympathy extended to all creation—down to the earthworm which he bade me on occasion not to thoughtlessly tred upon. He by his example, showed us that they too have a part in the Divine work of birth, suffering and death.

 

A portion of the compound served as a refectory and meeting place with Baba on all occasions. Here we played ping-pong, marbles, and other games with Baba, Baba playing with great speed and accuracy, and at the same time, no doubt, carrying on his inner work.

 

It was very evident that Baba preferred to keep our minds concentrated on work or games, rather than on ourselves and our problems. He would frequently end an explanation on some philosophical subject by saying, "It is all zero. Now, forget it. Go to your work.

 

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