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5

 

There is Baba. He awakens something in one so that things that seemed of great importance before, fade away, material wants grow less and less and there remains only a great desire to understand. This becomes paramount, at least so it is with me. I marvel every day that I have been allowed to come. Above all, what a privilege to have been here for his 1937 Birthday Celebration!

 

Visitors began to arrive on the 16th of February, devotees and members of Baba's family. They were all housed in the vicinity, in various bungalows and rest houses. An enormous tent had been erected, and a special kitchen tent where Brahmin cooks were installed. Every day thousands of meals were served to friends and devotees of Baba's—rice and curry and lentils, eaten from plates of leaves, and everyone sat on low benches cross-legged, in Eastern fashion, and ate with their fingers.

 

On the 17th, ten thousand poor and more passed before Baba and he touched their feet and then his forehead. This act is called darshan, and instead of their touching the Master's feet and their own foreheads, Baba performed himself this act of humility, which had a deep spiritual significance known only to him. Outwardly he handed to each one a round sweet made of almonds, and, as they passed on, they were given a bundle, a piece of material containing rice and lentil grains, which we Westerners had been preparing for days previous. This stream of people began passing at eight in the morning and continued all day until evening, with only short intervals of rest for Baba. It was the fortieth day of his fast. I had never imagined such spectacles of poverty, blind leading blind, lame, deformed, beggars carrying all their worldly possessions, bundles of rags and a bowl. Mothers with large-eyed babies who sat on their hips, most of them naked. Others with only a loin-cloth, some with bushy unkempt hair, and still others with wonderful faces and sturdy bodies. The lepers were given the same darshan by Baba, only they were segregated and Baba came forward to them.

 

While this was going on, songs of Krishna were being sung, accompanied by drums and a small melodian. It was all so touching and simple, that I cried most of the time. The tent was crowded with rich and poor, all spectators looking at Baba, women in rags and women in beautiful saris, men in turbans or black Persian caps, every kind of costume and headdress, denoting all castes.

 

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