by Delia De Leon
It was during the early part of 1948, whilst I was on a visit to my relations in Panama, that a cable arrived from Baba asking me to come to India for three months.
I had received a letter from Jean Adriel telling me that she also was going, and we were able to sail together from England on June 26, — it was an almost miraculous feat to obtain passages on the already overcrowded ships sailing to India.
All Baba's disciples had been asked to observe some special discipline, from a list of choices He had sent, which would last from June 2nd to July 20th. Jean and I selected the semi-fast of eating only one meal a day, with tea or coffee once, as this seemed the most practical selection during a period of travel.
Jean and I had many interesting talks and speculations about the future. Neither of us had seen Baba since we had said goodbye to Him in Cannes in 1937. We both felt that deep changes had taken place in our inner selves. We had been through material and emotional upheavals and had been delving in psychological research. Jean had written the book Avatar and had been instrumental in establishing the Centre, Meher Mount, in California. I had experienced the dark days of war with all that they implied. I could see why Baba had left me in the active world to be plunged deeper into duality and the illusions of Maya — it was psychologically what my character needed. We felt the moment was ripe for our starting a completely new phase.
It was with feelings of great joy that we watched the lights of Bombay come into view, for we knew we were to see our Beloved.
The next morning, July 15th, we landed and were met on the dock by four disciples. We were told that Baba had sent instructions that we were to be four days in Bombay, then go to Ahmednagar and stay at Meherabad, the ashram on the hill. Though He was staying at Ahmednagar, the note said we would not see Him until August 10th, when we would go with Him to Pimpalgaon. This was our first little test, for we had only been asked for three months and it looked as if a month would elapse before seeing Him. Our host and hostess, Homai and Meherji Karkaria, were two charming Persian disciples. They and others gave us a warm-hearted welcome and did everything possible to make our stay pleasant.
All were on some regulation, most of them fasting, but one remarkable group of four women decided to say the Divine Name 1,000,000 times a day. We had thought this a complete impossibility. The first day it took them 15 hours. (the name had to be said aloud). After that they did it in ten hours. At the end of the first week, Baba ordered to stop and to go into silence for the second week; the third week they performed another one of the "choices" — the feeding of a different poor person every day; the fourth week, they went on fast. One of the women, Dinah, had an extraordinary experience. She became unconscious, and one of the four women, a doctor, said she saw all the symptoms of death — the eyes turned up, the heart stopped, rigor mortis set in. They all called on Baba. Suddenly Dinah came to and wondered what was happening. She said she felt a deep inner peace and ecstatic calm.
Most people were inclined to agree with us that Baba in this new impersonal phase was trying to push His disciples away and forcing them to stand on their own feet without His outward aid.
We left for Bombay the evening of July 18th, changing to a local train at 3:30 a.m. All the stations we passed were swarming with refugees, living where they could, in a most pitiable condition of poverty and dirt. We were told the same conditions prevailed in Pakistan. This was the aftermath of freedom from Britain and partition — more people had been killed, apparently, than in World War II.
At 9 a.m. we arrived at Ahmednagar and were met by Adi Sr. and Kaka. They seemed surprised that we had brought so much luggage, but we explained that we came prepared by any change in plans, our stay might just as easily be three months of three