lover, took the plane to Poona. What I am calling "the darshan" continued right through the ride. In the more populous railway stations that we passed through on the way the teeming crowds were remarkably still and quiet with little of the rush that is common-place in the U.S. Even in the late afternoon, when they are most crowded, the stations were peaceful and seemed like a vast human still-life. Everyone seemed to be suspended in contented waiting.
The Indian people are incredibly close to nature, especially when viewed through Western eyes. They are so organic, a people conscious of the earth and sun who live on the brink of pure naked being. As the sun set and the train moved out through the countryside, I could see family groups gathered together on the ground in quiet circles.
Twice I saw a solitary figure, sitting on a hill or outside a shack, legs crossed who seemed to be meditating or just contemplating the sun going down. This actually stunned me, for it seems to me that I had nowhere else seen a common man (so to speak) engaged in an act of meditation as a natural part of the day. I wondered how many high-rise buildings this was worth, or how many factories? Or was it priceless? I could see these people coming face to face with their existence, no false covering in between, and it is this that must be measured up along-side of what we call "poverty."
When I look back now upon these feelings I may ask myself if they were part of some romantic fantasy, but I basically know that I had contacted something very real. India is clearly God's country, the true holy land. It is the heart-beat of the world with Baba as the driving force of that heart. Without this sustenance, humanity would dry up and blow like dust. The purpose of everything else, all existence, all things, is located in this land with its seekers, saints, and the Avatar at the center.
The darshan program began the next day at 9:00 a.m. in Guruprasad Hall. We were met and embraced on the steps of the hall by Mani and some of the other mandali. Mani's eyes are twin disks of light and her embrace is all warmth. One of the members of the darshan group who very recently came to Baba, said that for him the embrace from Mani was the high point of the darshan. He did not even know who Mani was, and yet when they embraced he became flooded with Baba's love.
At Eruch's direction we sat ourselves inside the hall. Eruch was clearly older than he appeared in even the latest films from India, his hair now graying, and in this I could sense the ordeal of the past few months. At the head of the hall was Baba's chair, and placed in it was the photograph of Baba that is in the Universal Message brochure with a garland draped around the picture frame in a heart shape. Upon seeing the chair I felt a definite tinge of disappointment at not seeing Baba in the body, and for that moment he seemed painfully absent.
The clock in the hall chimed nine o'clock and Eruch announced, "We have kept an appointment with God," and that began to bring Baba back. He called for someone to recite the Master's Prayer, and Darwin Shaw volunteered. Darwin was evidently very moved by the moment and had to wait silently at the microphone for a brief interval before his emotions cleared enough to allow him to begin.
Following the prayer Mani and Mehera stood up before the group, and Mani spoke for Mehera, saying how happy Mehera was to see us. Mehera seemed very serene, subdued, and shy, but yet striking. I later came to realize how immense her grief has been at Baba's physical departure. The rest of the women mandali then joined Mehera and Mani and sang an arti that was written many years ago by Baba himself. It was very beautiful and a few days later the women sang it again at the group's request.
Francis Brabazon then spoke about our "Mighty Beloved." This Beloved likes variety and had asked Francis to compose 30 Ghazals. A ghazal is a love poem to God in the manner of the Sufi poets. Sometimes they are sung and then they are called Qawwali. Ghazals have never really been written in English before, and this task is what Baba set before Francis. On one of the following darshan days Francis read us some of these very striking ghazals.
After Francis, Adi K. Irani, said a few words. When I met Adi informally he seemed very gentle and I felt like a steamroller