Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Yad Rakh Never Happened

After many years, when Baba departed, I was feeling so lonely. Still I feel lonely because I did not see Him speak from beginning to end.

Please note it down and know well that He did not speak, either in English or in Hindi. Only gestures.
— Bhau Kalchuri, Jan 7, 2012
This isn't the first blog to use that sensational title, Yad Rakh Never Happened. Although this is the first to remove the question mark that originally appeared with it. That title was not the original use of a brightly lit headline on the same topic, as anyone can discover by referring to Glow International, Spring 2012, page 3, where one will find an article titled, Meher Baba Never Broke His Silence; The words “Yaad Rakh” were expressed in gestures, In a Glow International Exclusive, Bhau Kalchuri, Chairman, Avatar Meher Baba Trust, clarifies his earlier remarks about Meher Baba’s Silence. Now that's flashy!

Bhau Kalchuri
Baba's beloved Bhau Kalchuri has, since all this hullabaloo, gone happily to his Beloved, and so I'll give some clarification of what I'm talking about to those who don't know. Baba died in 1969. One of his night watchmen, Bhau Kalchuri, was often near him through his final night. The next day Baba died silently at fifteen minutes after noon on January 31, 1969, in a moving scene, surrounded by only his most intimate close disciples, as he gave final orders and conditions with hand gestures to them, as he always had for over four decades of his famed and mysterious silence. Baba's silence, that began just three years after he started his life's mission, is the center of his mystical life, and its central mystical riddle. The very title of his most famous and important book God Speaks is a clear and direct allusion to its inner meaning, since Baba dictated the book on an alphabet board in total silence. As early as 1964, one of his earlier biographers wrote of Baba's mysterious silence, in an attempt to interpret it:
Why he ceased to speak and write Baba has explained only vaguely, though much natural curiosity is aroused; the first question asked when people come to know about him or to see him is why he does it. That both silence and nonwriting are of great significance is certain; not surprisingly Baba does not explain. Silence is the answer to silence. (The God-Man: The Life, Journeys and Work of Meher Baba with an Interpretation of His Silence and Spiritual Teaching. C.B. Purdom, George Allen and Unwin, 1964, p. 407) 
When Baba died all agreed that his silence remained a mystery, as none came forward to announce ever witnessing him breaking it. And this became his biography. A man who spoke of breaking his life-long silence almost as soon as he began it, over and over in endless circumstances, yet never apparently did so. It became a sign of his imperfection to some who did not care much for him to begin with, and to those who did care, something to inwardly contemplate as of inner significance. In fact a scholarly paper was recently published by a professor of semiotics on the subject of the possible inner meaning of Baba's communicating without spoken words. You can view the article in the peer reviewed journal Signs and Society, Vol. 2, No. S1, Supplement 2014 – viewable here.

Now for the drama, and what this article is all about. Thirty years after Baba died, when most of the other witnesses were gone and could not comment, Baba's night watchman, by this late time the administrator of the Avatar Meher Baba Trust in India, Bhau Kalchuri, wrote that he had heard Baba speak a two-word sentence in Hindi (which interestingly was not Baba's first spoken language) in a very clear voice to him while he was with Baba alone on his final night, around midnight, just twelve hours before Baba's death. This of course went round the world creating a minor international sensation among those who cared about the life of Meher Baba. This naturally in-turn cast Bhau into the bright spotlight of the Baba-world, as the only person to whom Meher Baba broke his silence in any literal sense of uttered words, and Bhau is recorded on video and audio tape repeating it over and over around the world to amazed crowds of people. Such was the Baba-buzz for the first decade of the dawn of the third millennium.

In 2013 beloved Bhau Kalchuri dropped his suffering physical form and went to meet his beloved Baba.

But Bhau's passing happened only after, in the last few painful years of his life, he recanted his original remarks about Baba speaking to him. This thus obviously flashed around the world, as Baba lovers, so eager to trust Bhau, could hardly make head nor hair of such an odd reverse-revelation. Not once, but twice, Bhau (the administrator of Baba's nonprofit Trust) had asked the world of those who believe in Baba to stand their beliefs about Baba upside down. What to make of it? No one has ever seemed to be able to perfectly resolve it.

It is my opinion that future generations, more divested from their emotions, will see the truth quite easily. So, in lieu of that time, I simply provide what sources I have.

Thus I provide the events as described in the first printed edition of Lord Meher by Bhau Kalchuri, the second from the edition revised according to Bhau's remarks, and then Bhau's recanting remarks.

Lord Meher, 1986 original edition
(click to enlarge)
Lord Meher, 2014 revised edition
(click to enlarge)
Here now is Bhau's now famous 2012 retraction of his 2000 statement that Baba spoke to him.

Jan 7, 2012
My dearest Dr. Venkat,
I received your email dated 4 January, 2012. This is your dream, and you don’t remember your dream. Baba never broke His silence. “Yaad Rakh,” is the important thing, and that was in gestures that He told me. “Yaad Rakh.” In English, too, “Remember this.”
So what should I tell you? After many years, when Baba departed, I was feeling so lonely. Still I feel lonely because I did not see Him speak from beginning to end. I was waiting and waiting for this - that Baba would speak to me. But “Yaad rakh,” - this incident was in my heart, not in mind. Mind had no scope to reach me.
Please note it down and know well that He did not speak, either in English or in Hindi. Only gestures. Really speaking, Baba said in Hindi, “Yaad Rakh,” not in English. This much I know.
Jai Ho! Jai Ho!! Jai Ho!!! Jai Jai kar Ho yours in the world, my dearest Dr. Venkat, Jai Ho!
With all love and Jai Baba to you,
In His Love and Service,

Here now, for anyone to examine, is the original full email correspondence, in which this retraction took place. It was in final email response to continual respectful questioning by a medical doctor in South India. The conversation is thus between this doctor and Bhau during several days between late 2011 and early 2012, the full exchange given here in PDF form for the first time.

   Click here to view online

   Click here to download to save to your computer

When asked if it was okay to publish this recanting statement by the publisher of Glow International, Bhau Kalchuri was very happy that it be put in print before his death. The doctor who wrote the original email too has given his permission for this publication of his part in the ordeal. No one involved that I am aware of has shown the slightest interest in any cover-up of these events, but instead has enthusiastically supported all efforts that this information be made broadly public.

Update 8-3-14:

Some readers have expressed being confused how Baba could convey through gestures a particular language, such as that Bhau could say he said such and such in Hindi with gestures. Baba gave up the alphabet board in 1954 and this message was given by gestures in 1969.

Bhau himself attempts to explain this, if one will click on one of the links to his full account above.
His gestures would be such that people would know that He knows the language of Andhra, Marathi, Hindi, Telegu, Russian! all the languages, through the board, and then through gestures, while keeping silence. (Bhau, by email, Dec 30, 2011)
I do not know anyone living who knew Meher Baba's hand gestures well enough to explain this statement more clearly. However, Bhau went on to say that Eruch could see the difference in signs for different languages and would convey messages as such as he traveled with Baba through various states in India. Different languages are spoken in different states in India.

I did, however, find an interesting corroboration of this claim by Baba in Bal Natu's book "Glimpses."
During this seclusion period, Baba also composed some couplets in Gujarati which Kaka gathered from Baba's gestures. In the last stanza, out of His sense of humor, in addition to Gujarati, Baba used Marathi, Hindi, Urdu, Persian and even English words. (Glimpses of the God-Man, by Bal Natu, Vol. 2, pp. 36-37)
This occurred shortly before Baba gave up the alphabet board for good. However, the fact that this statement by Bal, where he refers to Baba communicating in different languages through gestures, does apparently refer to 'gestures' as it says, and is not simply a mis-statement, seems to be corroborated throughout Glimpses, where Bal is careful to distinguish between Baba communicating with alphabet board or gestures, or a combination of the two. Thus Bal does not appear to have made a mistake.


  1. Chris,
    On a rather incidental (indeed tangential) note: in the 1st paragraph, Bhau says Baba also said (meaning, gestured) the same in English. In the 3rd paragraph, Bhau says Baba gestured it only in Hindi, not in English.

    Life is full of mysteries.

    Overall, you give a good summation of basic & salient "facts of the case," while the significance flowing from those facts is left open for the reader to pursue, construct, imagine, or determine, or wonder about!

    Jai Meher Baba!

    1. David,
      Thank you for pointing out this seeming problem. However, for those who click on the full email thread, that gives the full context of what is said here, one will read where Bhau attempts to explain this seeming contradiction. What you see here posted in courier font, is only the last of a series of four emails that took place in 2011-12 between the surgeon and the Trust administrator.

  2. Thanks Chris -- will re-read the full text. I do believe I've seen and read all of it already (as published to Facebook not very long ago by you, if I'm not mistaken) . . . It's indeed good to have this material documented.

  3. I think you must have been Sherlock Holmes in a previous life. Or maybe Dr. House whose character was based on Sherlock Holmes. Anyway as always great job! Have you ever researched how many men touched Mehera? In total ignorance I went to embrace her the first time we met in July of 1972, and she jumped back and put out her hand and we shook hands. I think Baba said that she could only be touched by male doctors. Have you heard any more stories like this? Rick Berman

    1. Wow Rick! Never thought of it. It's a 'touchy' subject. I'll give it some thought.

    2. Lorenzo Durham April 12, 2014

      Hi Christopher. I haven't seen you in many years but I was part of the original Chapel Hill Group and was a member of the Myrtle Beach/Chapel Hill/east coast Flights to the Great Darshan in 1969. Rick's experience prompted me into writing of my experience with Mehera in 1969. I typed it out once already but do not understand your profile dropdown so it was lost after the first typing [sadly I didn't save it] so I'm rewriting my story and hope this one will send to you.
      I penned this story and more for Barbara Scott when she was writing her book on our Chapel Hill Group's story but I have not seen the publication and do not know how much of my story she actually used in the book.
      On the day we all went to Baba's Chair in the main hall at Guruprasade for individual darshan, I stood from the chair platform and 'planned on' backing up, turning and then walking out to the veranda and going to Baba's bedroom to sit quietly and 'gather myself' That is not what actually happened. I will only tell the parts pertinent to Rick's question now. As I approached the back of the main hall, there was a door to the right and I was 'drawn' to turn through it. There stood Mani with a small package in her hand. She said: "Oh, Lorenzo. I am so glad you were able to come for Darshan. Here, Mehera just gave me this so it must be for you." and she handed me the small zip-lock bag containing some of Baba's hair. Mehera had apparently entered this hall from behind the area of the main hall were the Women Mandali were seated and she was now approaching us. Mani graciously introduce me to Mehera and told her that she had given me the package of Beloved's hair which Mehera had just given her. Mehera held out her hand and took mine in hers. In awe, I thinked her for the precious gift of Baba's hair and she, in turn, thanked me for our bringing Baba's Love through us back to all of them in Guruprasad. Mani then said: " I bet you were intending to go to Baba's bedroom werent you?" I said : 'Yes' and Mani said: "come, I will go there with you." And, we left Mehera standing there inside the entrance to Women Mandali's Hall as we walked back into the main hall and on out to the veranda and into Baba's bedroom. Mani stayed with me for a few moments and then left me there alone to try to come back fully into my body in the glow of all that had happened. It is an experience I shall never forget...even the touch of Mehera's hand. I have a few ideas of my own, that have gathered over the years since, about how I was permitted to both meet and to touch Mehera but we can talk about that at another time.
      Side note: about a month after returning from Darshan, a group of us were gathered at the Center in Myrtle Beach and were sitting around sharing descriptions of our various Darshan experiences. Dolly [then Lux] asked me to tell of meeting Mehera. We had shared many experiences in Poona and Amednager so she was one of the few who knew what had happened for me. I told the story to the small group of Darshanees and a few other guests at the Center. A young male visitor jumped up and began accosting me shouting: "That's a lie. NO men were allowed in Mehera's presence at that time, much less to be allowed to touch her!" I quickly recovered from my surprise at the lack of "Divine Manner" at the Center but was sad that he could not enjoy the beauty and upliftment of the event which might spread through me to others who remember Mehera.

    3. Lorenzo, with your reminiscences added to Rick's, I will give the subject extra thought. Perhaps it would be appropriate to write a post about men's experiences with Mehera. If I do I will be sure gather these stories there, and encourage more.

  4. By the way, Chris, when I saw your title, "Yad Rakh Never Happened," another possibility (not suggested in the above) spring to mind: I thought perchance you were going to propose that there was no such utterance (even in gesture) as "Yad Rakh" as described by Bhauji. That might be called the more radical "it never happened" reading; the more conservative (but still significant) "it never happened" reading is the one that seems suggested (or implicit) in the above: namely, yes Baba gestured those words, no he did not physically utter them. Beyond this, there are other available readings: such as, he *heard* the words and at some point (in his recollection -- more specifically, when writing the imaginative "Awakening" narrative that was the original, first- published locus classicus for this story) interpreted that recollection of the sensation of *hearing* as physical sensation, while on subsequent review of the recollection (viz., when replying in 2012 to the email inquiry noted here), he then interpreted the situation as is noted: yes gestured, no not spoken.

    Yad Rakh is seemingly a Zen koan that Baba & Bhauji have left us to puzzle out -- a little sub-species of the larger (and wider) puzzle of his silence and its breaking, per se.

  5. Bhau, in the best of traditions, has handed us a snake with no tail, a puzzle with no solution, and it is only within our own hearts that we can parse this puzzle. And that's the point: Bhau, the rest of the Mandali, and of course, the Perfect Beloved were always giving us conflicting stories that sent us back to the core, beyond the realm of fact, fiction or the twilight zone inbetween.

  6. What's significant is that, as Chris writes, Bhau waited thirty years to announce that Baba said "Yaad rakh" instead of gesturing it. Waited until the people who could confirm or deny this astounding piece of news were gone. And then, he waited another few years before retracting this statement. If this is not Baba's Leela, His Divine sense of humor, then I don't know what else to call it.

    However, it is important that if David Fenster chooses to revise the original story in Lord Meher to reflect that Bhau said that Baba spoke the words "Yaad rakh", then he also should print the retraction, even if it be as a footnote, for the sake of accuracy. To ignore the retraction or explain it away saying Bhau was by then physically and mentally exhausted is just not enough. This means that Beloved Baba's official biography is open to manipulation and misdirection.

  7. Let me add that Nosh Anzar told me that both David Fenster and Mehernath Kalchuri sought to dissuade Nosh from publishing the retraction as both of them thought that it would reflect badly on Bhau! Well, indeed it does. In this, as in other matters, Bhau was an indefatigable publicity hound.

    1. And I thank Baba that Bhau is an "indefatigable publicity hound". What he has actually done, as a true, beloved, close mandali member, is once again do the work for his Beloved.

      What I mean to say is, Bhau has, in making this a source of ongoing contention, managed brilliantly to have this extraordinarily crucial quote: Remember this: I am not this body" thrust in the limelight again and again. Because it is an extraordinary idea.

      It doesn't matter whether Baba said it outloud or not. Bhau knows that. At great personal expense and humiliation (he never cared what anyone else thought of him) he is highlighting the crux of Baba's message, again. and again.

      What Gannett and others are doing is concentrating on the pointing finger, arguing about the flaws of the finger, hang nails etc., instead of looking at, or even considering, the incomparable light the finger Baba's messenger is pointing to.

  8. To call Baba's disciple night watchman is like calling a soldier a gun man. Even if he was just a watchman, he was the avatar's watchman, and it is an honour and a status that most of us do not have. We have heard and know of so many who wanted to but were not granted such an opportunity of being the servant of the Lord.
    As for whether he spoke or not, it seems like Baba continues to keep the mystery of his silence active in the collective consciousness of his devotees. Baba in his lifetime repeatedly declared that he would break his silence and then he would not. Long after he is gone he continues to this tactic, now through his disciple or watchman as you call him. Bhau had his own unique personality, and if Baba is the avatar, then we cannot say that what his disciple or watchman ends up doing so many years later was out of the realm of his knowledge or he made a mistake in picking the right night watchman or disciple. Then, we are actually saying that Baba was a limited ego mind. It is good to contemplate on such facts as Baba's play of illusion, but to start to make judgements with the limited ego mind is to go astray.

    1. The word "night watchman" appears fifty two times in Baba's biography Lord Meher. So you should bring your concern up with its writers if you are not pleased with the phrase. As for whether Bhau was the right night watchman, I am not sure what line in the article says anything to the contrary. The only judgments made here are the ones made in your own essay.

    2. I appreciate your website and this discussion. However, my only objection was that in your introduction of Bhau, I did not see anywhere the word Mandali or disciple and only the word watchman was used. Introducing Bhau as only a night watchman changes the viewpoint completely and takes things out of context. Bhau has had many other duties in Baba's lifetime other than being a watchman. As far as I have understood he is a mandali, and that word suits him best. Having read your story of Yad Rakh,it seemed to me that you were suggesting that Bhau was either after deceiving people or he was just confused. Now I agree that perhaps that was not your intention and I misinterpreted. In which case, I apologize. I Know Bhau was not as coherent as the other Mandali and did not always make sense, however, I also observed how he brought so many people to Baba and how worked on strengthening their faith and understanding true spirituality. In the end I like to say again that I have truly enjoyed reading all the Baba quotes you have gathered and want to thank you for it.

    3. Dear Nima,
      I'm very happy you like the blog and the quotes. I see that you felt the article did not properly give background on Bhau's long and important life and work. However, if you look carefully again at the post you will see that in lieu of introducing Bhau in detail I linked to a post of mine made six months earlier:

      That article in turn links to the Wikipedia article on Bhau, which I wrote. I think if you read these you will see the tone with which I discuss Bhau, and the due credit I have always given him. Also, Bhau's book "While the World Slept" was actually republished by me and a friend, who wanted to do something for Bhau in his lifetime. We did this with full permission of Bhau, and the proceeds for that book go directly to his surviving children Mehernath and Sheela.

      So don't worry so much about Bhau. He was a night watchman and a mandali, as you rightly say.

    4. Thank you. I really enjoyed reading "while the world slept". It was one of the first Baba books I read. Thank you for taking the time to reply.

  9. Jai Baba! This is a response that Eruch J. sent to me when I asked him if Baba had actually made the physical "m-m-m-m-m" sound (as reported in a 1992 Glow article) that The Master said He would make when He broke His Silence...