Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Meher Darshan – a Hindi epic of Baba's life

One week before he dropped his body Meher Baba told his night-watchman and disciple Bhau Kalchuri to write a book telling the story of his life in Hindi verse. Baba gave Bhau several specific requirements. It should be eight hundred pages. It should be in four different poetic meters. Baba told him to make it very interesting. About the meters of the verses, Baba explained to Bhau that he would give him these later, and that all would be clear to him about the poem he would write.

This then is the story of that book.

Baba dropped his body only a week after conveying to Bhau these details. Baba died without ever giving Bhau the poetic meters he promised. Bhau was left quite perplexed by this. Francis Brabazon, another poet who was a disciple of Baba's, told Bhau that since Baba had not given him the meters, Bhau was off the hook. But Bhau felt unconvinced. He resolved to at least begin to study Baba's life in preparation, not knowing what he would do about the meters when the time came.

Then, in May 1972, after researching the life of Baba until it was clear to him, Bhau had a dream.

In the dream Baba stood before a blackboard. He gestured at the blackboard and whispered to Bhau, "You want the meters, here they are! Take them!" When Bhau awoke he could not remember the words on the board, but he knew it was within him and he was inspired to start.

For the next four months Bhau wrote almost continuously, and by September he was done.

Titled Meher Darshan, Bhau's epic Hindi poem, containing 14,000 couplets and 28,000 lines of rhyme, comes out just over eight hundred pages as Baba requested, with an introduction by Shaligram Sharma. Thus by 1972 Bhau had fulfilled Baba's order given him in 1969.

However, it would be another twelve years before Meher Darshan would be released. In 1984 the book was published and printed by Meher Pukar Press Trust,
Hamirpur, India. The first printing was of one thousand copies.

Meher Darshan by Bhau Kalchuri, original printing
Courtesy of Meher Spiritual Center Library
Above is a photo taken by my daughter of a copy of this first edition. This is the single copy of Meher Darshan that is held at the Meher Spiritual Center library in Myrtle Beach. Interestingly, I was the first person to ever check it out of the library, and the librarians did not know what it was. Inside it contained a note from Kitty Davy (now deceased). See photo below. The guess by Kitty that it was the Hindi verse version of Meher Prabhu (the original title of Lord Meher) was very close. However, it shows the confusion of the period over the history of Meher Prabhu. Meher Darshan and Meher Prabhu are entirely different books, though the two are related. See "How Lord Meher came about" for details. Anyway, all that is history now. The librarians at the Meher Spiritual Center now know what the book is and can lead you to it.*

Kitty's note (click to enlarge)
Below is the first page of Hindi verse.

First page of the main body of the actual verse poem,
from 1984 first edition
How many pages Meher Darshan has is a bit confusing. Pages 1-24 includes the preface by Shaligram Sharma (pp. 1-8), a poetic invocation by Bhau (pp. 9-17); and 9 songs/poems by Bhau (pp. 18-24). Then, when the main text begins (Chapter 1), the numbering begins at page 1. So the text of the poem is 839 pages divided into 16 chapters (page 840 contains a sort of short poetic coda that is not apparently considered part of the last chapter). Thus the published book contains 840 + 24 = 864 pages, but the text itself is 839 pages.

There are indeed four verse forms, the most commonly used being doha ("couplet"), and geetika ("short song"). The third is "soratha", less commonly used. Finally, the least commonly used is "chhand". Each time he uses a different form, it is specifically noted.

Meher Darshan has a foreword by Shaligram Sharma, followed by a dedication and preface by Bhau. The body of the text consists of 16 chapters in verse, using four different meters. It is written in couplets, with the final syllable or two in each pair rhyming.

16 Chapters
  1. Avatar
  2. Descent of the Avatar
  3. Five Sadgurus
  4. Avatar Meher Baba
  5. “Mission”
  6. Meherabad
  7. Meherabad established 
  8. Meherabad, Meher Ashram & Prem Ashram
  9. Travelling at home and abroad
  10.  Mast travels, seclusion & fasting
  11.  New Life
  12.  Free Life
  13.  Sahavas
  14. Disturbed sleep (1958-1969) [apparently referring to the period during which Bhau served as night ewatchman]
Meher Darshan
My Beloved!
Can I dedicate my words to you? Can your every breath fill me with that dedication?
How can I even offer (it) to your lovers when with each word of this book I write I may die.
May 5, 1972 Bhau Kalchuri

Two Words (preface)
My Father!
Doha: You, Meher, are my Lord; You are my support.
You are the breath of the entire universe.
Geetika: Having accepted your order, Beloved, I am writing
  I recall that day when you instructed me to write
 But I am perplexed about what you would have me write
The ancient knowledge that pervaded the universe took bodily form
I did not know that you would abandon your form
In one week you departed, breaking my heart
Tears continue to flow…now that is my life.
But if you were here, Beloved, you would make those into tears of love
I know that you are pure; whether you are here or there
Ignorant, I ask this, but where are you, where are you?
I have become yours; I know you are there
Yet the question remains, where? Wherever you are, I am not there.
Tell (me) your story, unlock your mystery
By hearing this, may all people feel a yearning to merge into You…..
Chapter 1: Avatar
Doha: I bow to you, Lord; bless me
You are always my mirror; I continuously bow to your feet
Now you are Lord Meher! Preserver of the world
For the benefit of the world, tell people the story of the avatar.
I am dull-witted and slow, without much wisdom
Lord, I don’t have the knowledge to write in meters
To write even for you is worldly business
I hear the voice and write each word only for You.
You are infinite and unfathomable, You are without compare.
You are the one and only God, Jai Jai Jai Avatar. 
Geetika: In what way was the creation made? It was just a whim.
It is said that this was done by God, yet why was it born?  
Before anything, there was a fathomless ocean
Consciousness was not there and whatever was there was fathomless
A king was sleeping whose name was Sarvasva (“Everything”)
There was another, who had no work to do, whose name was All-Knowing/Omniscience
There was also a queen there with them, whose name was Vaikunth (“Paradise”)
All three of them had to keep sleeping, but there was no awareness of rest
At that time Queen Vaikunth was a maiden at the feet of Vishnu
But at that time whoever was there had no awareness
Being at the feet of Vishnu was the only work of King Sarvasva
Where was the awareness of work? ………………….
Breath was, sky was, both came together
They were in the hand of the queen, how fine they were together.
All fell into the ocean and the ages began to flow
None of them had any consciousness, they were one and just kept on
Their names were different but they were One, just One.
They were not aware of their original forms, but they were worthy.
Doha: In the ocean was Oneness, the abode of the One
One is always One, it has no segmentation
The Ocean means Lord Brahma
In such a state of peace, there is no chaos **

2009 edition of Meher Darshan
Since the original first edition, a new edition was released by Avatar Mehar Baba Cosmic Foundation in 2009, also hardcover. It can be purchased at Meher Darbar and Meher Nazar Books in Meherabad. 

* Clues to the location of Meher Darshan in the Meher Center library and photograph of the note by Kitty Davy, courtesy of Anthony Zois.

** Detailed description and excerpt translation of Meher Darshan by James M. Hastings, Ph.D.

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