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A Tribute to Bal Natu

A Tribute to Bal Natu

 

Balteam

 


 


By Erica Hodgin and Amber Mahler

 

Bal Natu, one of Meher Baba's close disciples, first saw Baba in 1933, when Baba entered the railway compartment that 14 year-old Bal and his family were traveling in. Only later did Bal come to know that it was Meher Baba he had been traveling with. Bal wrote, "This occurrence was instrumental in kindling the desire to know more about Him."

As a teenager Bal suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis and when his father died suddenly, Bal began to look to spirituality for relief. Bal first began corresponding with Baba in 1943. In response to Bal's first postcard, Baba wrote that he could ask Him whatever he wanted. Instead of asking Him questions, Bal wrote back, "I wholeheartedly wish to learn the alphabet of spirituality at Your holy feet."

Bal next set eyes on Baba on the Nagpur railway platform before a darshan program in 1944. There, as Bal gazed adoringly at Baba's brilliant figure, a pickpocket stole his wallet and train ticket. "So when I met Baba I instantly became penniless and 'directionless,'" Bal wrote.

In 1949, Bal left everything to join Baba on the New Life, but due to his poor health, by Baba's order he returned to his job. Baba assured him that by obeying, "You will be with Me in My New Life." It was also at this time that Baba ordered Bal not to marry.

In 1948, Bal had received a letter from Adi K. Irani, in which Baba conveyed, "So far Baba's darshan contact is concerned, you have your contact directly established and, as Eruch, you have been given liberty to come for darshan anytime you like." Bal took full advantage of this, staying with Baba for extended periods in 1953 (traveling with Baba to Chennai and from Dehra Dun to Rishikesh and back), and twice traveling with Baba through Andhra in 1953 and '54. He visited Meherabad, Meherazad and, later, Guru Prasad whenever he could. During his summer stays, Baba directed Bal to take notes of the happenings at Guru Prasad.

During the 1960's, while Bal was visiting Meherazad, Baba called Bal into the Mandali Hall. Baba pointed to Bal and made the sign for "cracked," saying that he was "mad". Bal said, "Yes, Baba whatever you say." Baba then called in a few of the mandali and gestured again that Bal was "cracked," and He then added, "But there is a place for you here." In later years, Bal often told people, "Baba left me as an example that He is for the most ordinary of people." And then he often added, "And the mad too!" Bal summed it up by saying, "I am neither an aspirant, nor a follower, a lover, or a disciple - I am one of His children. And of one thing I am sure, He has accepted me."

* * *

What a gift and joy it was to work for that dear old man, Bal Natu! We both met Bal as youngsters when we first visited Meherazad with our families and then came to help him in his "work" in the late 90's. From the start it was clear that it was really Bal who was helping us. He was always reminding us that what we were doing in the Record Room was not "work," but a game to help us remember Beloved Baba.

Bal's days were filled with writing projects, keeping up with correspondence, Trust Office visits, greeting and sharing with pilgrims in the Mandali Hall or Record Room, preparing cards and books for free distribution, reading aloud, and so on. Throughout the day, Bal was with Baba and took different things, such as the watch beep or the bell's clang, as reminders of Baba's presence. At the sound, Bal would raise his index finger, "Right!" and sometimes that was the deciding factor if we were editing a passage of Conversations, for example, and had to choose between two ideas.

When we first started "working" for Bal he used to prepare a list each morning of things to do that day, thoughts he had had or some news. At the top it would start with some salutation to Baba, sometimes just in short he might say, "JM, JB, JA!" (short for Jai Meher, Jai Baba, Jai Avatar!) Bal was never bound by current style or tradition. He was always inventing or creating his own style of writing, dress, vocabulary, ways of interacting with his divine Father, with his friends, with the servants, with "work," with his mind. He often told us to befriend our minds, so that it could help us on our journey to remembering Baba more and more.

To many, it felt like entering the Record Room was like walking into another dimension. Fayre Davis who stayed at Meherabad and worked with Bal in 1996 described how, "When I was with Bal in the Record Room everything was so wonderful and happy. Baba was the Friend right there in my heart, continually conversing with me. The Samadhi was the Powerhouse of the Awakener's love and the golden finial on the top of the Samadhi was the divine satellite that I could locate with my heart's cell phone from any point in the world." Fayre explained how she was here when dear Mani joined Beloved Baba and felt worried about the future. She recalled how, "I finally got up enough courage to ask Bal, 'What is going to happen in the future, when all the mandali pass away?' Bal said, 'Don't worry about anything. It is just you and Baba.' He would often say to people to always remember that one's connection to Baba is the only thing that matters. The fact that Baba is right here, alive in our hearts, was evident every day with Bal."

Hearing Bal tell of his life, it struck us how many varied phases he passed through during his 84 years. For example, he had grown up as a devout Brahmin, but broke with tradition to follow a "Zoroastrian Master," and though a villager at heart, he ended up giving up the use of dhoti (traditional Maharashtrian wrap-around pants) and donned instead his own signature style of clothing. Bal also had a habit of wearing multiple layers of clothes. About this habit, his long-time maintenance-free friend, Steve Klein, (who helped Bal in his writing of the GlimpseS and all his subsequent books), recounts: "When asked about his layered-look, Bal explained that it wasn't so much to keep him warm, but to make him look bigger because otherwise people would worry when they realized how thin he actually was." Bal taught himself English by reading Baba's books. He was the first to incorporate the use of computers at Meherazad, and his Conversations were a very innovative way of sharing with readers his inner relationship with God. Bal took a great interest in anything that was creative, inspired, and intuitive, and encouraged many people to pursue their heart's calling.

Bal was very caring, thoughtful and humble. He was also very sensitive and attuned to the environment around him. If he read some particularly disturbing piece of news in the paper, he might go to the Samadhi and offer a garland for that person. One of his friends wrote: "Balaji was a walking Heart, a generous fountain of Baba's smiling love."

Bal was often suffering from some physical ailment or another and would openly call on Baba to relieve him. Because Bal trusted that Baba's plan for him was perfect, he ever remained resigned to His will despite his challenging condition. He shared with others this favorite quote, "No one suffers because of a neglectful God. One builds one's own body by one's past and present thoughts and deeds. Creation contains no accident or injustice. That which appears as physical misfortune is but the love of God operating in a concealed manner, providing special experience needed by the afflicted. When that particular experience had served its purpose, the appearance of misfortune will be no more...." (from Blessed Among Women) In the same light he liked to share this rhyming poem of his:

"Sometimes happy, sometimes sad,

Sometimes sane, sometimes mad.

Up and down in Meher Town

But He never lets me down."

Bal was very funny. His sense of humor may not have been a trademark quality, but those who knew him could not miss his quirky ways of looking at life. His poker-faced witticism often had us laughing. Bal was expert at sharing stories where he starred as the fool, but Baba's humor was always center-stage. Which one should we tell? The one where Bal cheated at marbles and thought the All-Knowing One wouldn't catch him; or when Bal offered Baba a gift of a dried leaf to test whether He was for all, even the poor; or the one where Bal, while trying to carry out Baba's order, goes through many adventures including swallowing tea leaves because he didn't know how to strain them out; or the time when Baba ordered Bal to use a book He had given him as a pillow because Bal wouldn't stop questioning Baba on the matter. While telling any of these tales, Bal would wholeheartedly join in the fun, tickled by his own silliness.

One of Bal's other habits that made for a lot of fun, was his delight in seeing the synchronicity in happenings and attributing worth to all meetings of chance, small "lucky" incidents and the like. He called these Baba coincidences (a word that has 3 c's in it) "CCCs," or he might simply say, "See, See, See!" whenever such a "happening" occurred.

We learned so much from Bal's natural way of relating to Baba, yet at the same time he would always encourage each to find their own relationship with Him. He had clearly taken his own advice, and would often tell stories that illustrated his specific way of relating to the God-Man. Bal literally means baby and he referred to Baba as his divine Father and Mother in One. He would also liken his relationship with Baba as one between a grandfather and grandchild, saying, "Just like the grandson of even the most powerful businessman can tug on his grandfather's sleeve asking for a chocolate, in this way, I can approach Him like a small child."

* * *

Bal authored the Glimpses of the God-Man, Vol. I-VI and the Conversations with The Awakener series, as well as, The Samadhi, Star of Infinity. He also compiled four books of others' Baba stories entitled, Our Constant Companion, When He Takes Over, Showers of Grace, and Tales of Meher Baba's Love. These books have touched the hearts of Baba lovers the world over.

Being involved with Bal's writing projects was a delight because Bal included all the opinions of those helping in a very loving way. He made us feel that what we thought was of great value and he gave worth to everyone's thoughts about Baba. He was able to clearly stick to what he wanted expressed without hurting the feelings of others. Bal had an uncanny attention to accuracy and gave importance to even the smallest of details. At times when we were working on a particular piece of writing, we might find Bal ready when we arrived in the morning with an intricate note of his thoughts on a certain section that he had mulled over through the night, coming up with the perfect solution. Even after giving it so much thought he would still entertain others' input and would accept small changes if he thought it improved the concept or delivery.

What an amazing gift Bal gave the world by sharing his heart's conversations with his Beloved, the Awakener. Bal wrote that the source of his Conversations with The Awakener was the One residing in each one's being -- unconditional Love. In this way, by not mentioning Meher Baba's name, Bal's writing about his relationship with God became accessible to a wide range of people of different faiths. One of Bal's friends, Paul Liboiron, described how before he knew Bal, he thought the character in the book was purely fictional, but when he spent more time with Bal, he learned that Bal also experienced the anxieties of life and had been writing about himself. (Bal explained that his CONVERSATIONS were his play with the Awakener's presence and not strictly biographical.) About Bal's writing, a friend wrote: "He was very open and he exposed himself in his books for our benefit because we all go through the same challenges - reaching towards Beloved Baba."In a card sent to Meherazad in memory of Bal, another wrote: "I'll bet the two of them are enjoying a long and spirited conversation!"

About his writing, Bal said with characteristic modesty and humor, "I myself even marvel at the number of works that the 'Bal pen' has written. And though the ink ran out of the original ball [point] pen that Baba gave me in 1967, the 'creative ink' that Baba inwardly gave me is still flowing." The creative ink really was still flowing in Bal right up to his last days. Even a week before his death he finalized one of his last Conversations and put the finishing touches on a number of accounts of his time with Baba at Guru Prasad, where he spent his summer months over the span of a decade.

Baba also gave Bal a pen in a dream he had in 1979. (About his dreams Bal wrote: "Beloved Baba has been guiding me through dreams since 1944.") Bal wrote: "On March 9, 1979, at Meherazad in Room No. 3, I had a dream about Baba. In the dream, He asked me for a copy of Glimpses, and also a pen. Baba was sitting on a cot. He made me sit near Him. I handed Him Glimpses and while giving Him a pen I said, 'Baba, this is the best pen, "Paper-Mate."' Baba smiled and signed MSI before the title Glimpses. At that time I was using a blue 'Paper-Mate' pen. After the dream, I continued to use it and preserved it as Baba's gift. To me it's a sign, that He approved my writing of Glimpses."

Throughout his life with Baba, as a way of concentrating on Him, Bal used to read each and every book by and about Baba. At the same time, he prepared an annotated, chronological log of the events of Meher Baba's life and His messages given for the year with meticulous source citation. This hobby of collecting material related to Beloved Baba was the foundation for many of his later writing works. This also made Bal the amazing resource that he was, many referred to him as a Baba encyclopedia.

* * *

After Bal retired from teaching in 1977, he moved to Meherazad and was one of the first to take a very keen interest in documenting the "new" Baba lovers' tales of coming to Baba after January 31st, 1969. He kept records of hundreds of people's narratives, compiled four books of such stories, and would recount these tales in the Mandali Hall. He called these his "B (for Baba) vitamins," saying that hearing such stories renewed his body, mind, and heart. Bal was especially touched by the "marvelous ways that Baba awakened their hearts." He told us that he believed everyone's story and experience of Baba; and being with Bal, we too believed.

On Meherazad days and off hours, Bal was a wonderful host to the pilgrims who would come from all over India and foreign lands to visit Baba's home. For many years Bal was affectionately known as the "verandah man" and would sit for hours with pilgrims who may have been too shy or unfamiliar with Meherazad to venture elsewhere.

On Meherazad days, Bal was especially attuned to the language needs of Indian Baba lovers and was very conscientious to make them feel welcome when talks or programs were in English. Bal had long been a Marathi liaison, and when with Baba, he often read out the Marathi correspondence to Him and sent Baba's replies. His command and breadth of knowledge of Marathi was profound, and throughout the years he served to further many people's understanding of the language. Not only was Bal an incredible source of knowledge of Marathi, but he also had an immense understanding of Sanskrit, especially complex, esoteric vocabulary. Bal also encouraged and took great interest in having Baba literature, as well as his own writings, translated into various languages. At the same time, Bal would share how Baba conveyed, "God does not listen to the language of the tongue, nor the language of the mind, He responds to the language of the heart."

When the pilgrims came in most recent years, even when Bal was feeling quite low, he would go out to meet and greet his old and new friends in Baba. He took particular interest in and care for those who were coming for the first time to "Meher Town." He might call them into the Record Room and have a semi-private chat with them, sharing stories that always seemed to put people at ease, often saying, "Don't get influenced by anyone, even me. It is Meher Baba who has brought you here. He will guide you. Follow the promptings of your heart." Bal's gentle charm and soft manner helped many to feel at home in Baba's Home. "He so intuitively picked up on first-time pilgrims' feelings, putting into words exactly what they were feeling at the exact moment they were feeling it," wrote one friend.

When answering questions Bal would sometimes tease the questioner by saying, "As soon as you ask, I will already have the answer." Astounded, the person might ask, "How is that?" thinking perhaps that Bal was psychic. "Simple," Bal would say, "My answer is 'I don't know.'" In a similar way, Bal would never get too personal with his many friends, saying, "I am a friend to many, but intimate with only One." He would tell all about his "PPP" guideline that referred to topics he preferred not to discuss. That is, things personal, matters of penny (money) and policy. He explained to us that Baba had instructed him not to get involved in the personal matters of others. Even though Bal didn't know the personal details of his friends' lives (and maybe even because of this!), he was one of the most caring and accepting friends we will ever know.

Bal liked to say that Baba had blessed him this life with many friends. Bal's "attitude of gratitude" for his many friends and helpers was one of the reasons his charm was so magnetic. He had a loyal fan club that he affectionately called the "Bal team," of which he was also a member. There are too many members of the team to list here, but we can't fail to mention the support he appreciated over the years from his dear friends Steve Klein, Mark Keller, and Pat Sumner.

In Bal's living will he gave special thanks to all the mandali for their help to him over the years. We include an excerpt here: "I am especially thankful to Adi Sr., Dr. Ghani, Pendu, Eruch and Sister Mani in lovingly guiding me in my relationship with Beloved Baba, which consisted in the unfolding of His unconditional grace. It is Baba who has accepted me, and stood beside me through all the events of my life, and it is the best course to melt myself in His divinely human and humanly divine presence."

Bal became a Trustee in 1975 and would travel in the car with Eruch, Mani, and Rano to the Office a number of times a week. As a Trustee, a few of the areas under Bal's supervision were scholarship allocation for poor students, Marathi correspondence, and helping organize different aspects of Amartithi, such as putting out the circular, having it translated and published in the different periodicals, contacting foreign pilgrims, and organizing Amartithi volunteers. During Amartithi days, Bal would travel from site to site checking that all was running smoothly and in particular enjoyed the company of his Indian friends, his dear brothers, and his extended family. During the silence on January 31st he could always be found sitting underneath the tree to the left of the Samadhi - one of his favorite quiet spots.

* * *

Although Bal's last year was marked by serious physical problems, he made great efforts to stay active and healthy, and six months after his January 2003 surgery, he began again to share for fifteen minutes or so in the Mandali Hall once a week. He also regained full use of his right arm and hand (thanks to the treatment, therapy, and care of many loving hands and hearts!) that had been paralyzed by stroke and learned again to sign his name. He then took great care to legibly sign the inscriptions he personally crafted for each recipient of the books he gave in Baba's Love. A few weeks before his last surgery, Bal was even reminding us when it was time for his walks on the verandah, and he started sitting again on his favorite bench in the garden.

Bal felt fortunate to have been able to visit Baba's Samadhi in the days preceding his last surgery. Because of his ill health he had not been well enough to visit in over a year. On this occasion, September 24th, he was also paying his respects in memory of his dear younger brother, Madhav, who had recently passed away. Bal distributed pedha sweets to all and was overjoyed to "place his head at his Beloved's feet" once more. Later we felt amazed at Baba's perfect timing. Bal's special feelings about Baba's final resting place have been immortalized in his book, THE SAMADHI, STAR OF INFINITY. We include here one of his more recent sharings about the Samadhi:

"When you enter Avatar Meher Baba's Samadhi, it is as though the marble slab is mysteriously lifted and direct contact with the Ancient One is established. He meets one and all with equal love and compassion, on the level of each individual. To visit His Samadhi is to gracefully link one's heart with the universal heart of the Avatar."

Bal went to the hospital in Ahmednagar on the 29th of September for a second surgery due to bowel obstruction. (Bal suffered from intestinal problems for decades.) Though the surgery was a success, post operatively he suffered a heart attack and contracted a respiratory infection. Despite the intense pain he was suffering and his disorientation from anesthesia, Bal remained as thoughtful as ever, reminding his caregivers to take care of themselves and to, "Be happy." Throughout Bal's last week, he spent most of his time repeating Baba's name continuously whenever he was awake.

On October 4th, while still in the hospital, Bal asked his long time caregiver, Shelley Marrich, "Can't we stop all medicines?" Because of Bal's deteriorating condition and his wish to cease treatment, we all felt that it was clearly time to go home to Meherazad. Once this decision was made, Bal's mood changed completely. He was buoyant and laughing with an open smile. Even in his frail state, there was nothing that did not tickle him. Bal seemed overjoyed to be returning to Meherazad, and his happiness thrilled us all. Bal even participated in the packing up of his hospital room by directing us to turn on the lights and to get boxes from the nurses. After we arrived at Meherazad, his relief to once again be in the Record Room in Baba's home was touching, and marked the beginning of his real journey Home.

Bal had expressed many times over the past year of illness, his wish that Baba take him. He wrote, "When I breathe my last breath as destined by Baba, my divine Father and Mother, it will be the happiest moment of my lifetimes." This made it easier for those who loved him to start making the transition toward Bal's departure from the scene.

Once he had returned to Meherazad, his friends and family were able to spend some last moments with Bal, reading to him from his favorite books (passages from Jesus, The Son of Man, Footprints of Gautama Buddha, Dear and Glorious Physician, The Bhagavad Gita, God-Brother, and of course Glimpses) and saying their goodbyes.

Throughout October 6th, Bal appeared to be in a deep sleep. What Bal had been longing for with all his heart was finally coming to pass, that his eyes go inward so that, "from now on I can only live to see Him." In the early hours of the 7th, he opened his eyes for the last time with a few friends gathered around him. We felt it was a gift from Baba to feel Bal "with" us once more. It was as if Bal was pouring out love from his eyes, giving us a window into what else he must have been seeing at the time, beyond the room and us in it. Within minutes, at 1:20 a.m., as we were quietly repeating Baba's name, Bal peacefully stopped breathing and passed Home to His Beloved.

We noted the significance of October 5th (the day after Bal returned to Meherazad), since in 1949 Bal had arrived penniless on this very day at Meherabad to join the New Life. Interestingly, Bal was the last of the "Yeswalas" from the New Life. In his own handwritten timeline about what transpired in October 1949, Bal had written for October 7th: "Baba's visit." He meant Baba's visit to Meherabad of course, but for us it held special meaning of Baba visiting Meherazad on that day 54 years later to take Bal Home unto Himself.

Bal's body was brought to Meherazad Mandali Hall and lay in state before Baba's chair, where for so many years he regaled pilgrims with stories of his times with Baba. Before dawn, Bal's eyes partially opened again and were sparkling. It was amazing to see him looking so beautiful; he was even smiling. Baba had told him that this life would be his last, that he would receive liberation (mukti) from the rounds of birth and death, and there was a very palpable feeling of joy in the Hall.

The mandali, Bal's family from Poona and Solapur, and his friends from Meherabad and Ahmednagar gathered around Bal to share remembrances, to read two pieces of writing he had requested be shared after his passing (see following writing pieces "Second Day of Darshan at Madras, 1947" and "Realization"), and to say Baba's prayers and arti together with Bal for one last time.

At 9a.m., Bal's body was placed in the Swanee van for his last journey to the Samadhi. Once there, Bal was placed at his divine Father's feet. Fayre Davis recounted, "Bal was with Baba, his body was in the Samadhi; it was just him and Baba, alone. What had always been in his heart was now manifested for all of us to see and feel."

As wished by Bal, chocolate candies were distributed by his brother Nana on the Sabha Mandap. Bal was then taken to the Meherabad Mandali Hall where hundreds came to say their goodbyes to this dear old lover of the Friend.

After his cremation, Bal's ashes were sprinkled at his favorite places around Meherabad and Meherazad. Later we joined his family to immerse his ashes at a spot meaningful to them. Bal's dear friend Frank Parker writes: "The last of the several remembrances of our dear friend, Bal Natu, was held on Friday at the confluence of three sacred rivers about 30 km. outside Poona. A group of about fifteen, family members and Bal's friends, gathered there to spread his ashes in the depths of the placid waters. It was a happy and peaceful event as were all moments this past week that began with Bal's blissful union with his Beloved Meher Baba."

One of Bal's old friends and editors, Judy Robertson, who arrived after Bal's passing, commented, "When I arrived at Meherabad I realized there was no place for me to offer a garland for Bal except at the Samadhi. Somehow it seems so fitting that Bal left nothing of himself behind. Everything has been absorbed into Baba's Samadhi, like a rainbow into mist."

Meherazad mandali, pilgrims and residents gathered in the Hall on the 9th of October to honor Bal's life and love for Baba. At the close of that program, Paul Liboiron aptly described Bal's way of being in the world, saying, "He took himself lightly, he wore himself lightly -- even his touch and embrace were light."

In all ways, Bal prepared for his death long before his passing. Perhaps he did this in response to a couplet that Baba dictated for him in 1959:

"If you want to live, live life in such a way that Life itself is completely satisfied, and

Die in such a way that you scare Death itself."

In reading this passage after Bal's death, we saw how Bal must have taken this instruction very much to heart by living each day as if it were his last. He treated all who came in contact with him with a kind of care only possible from one living as much as he could in the present.

We will always miss our incredible friend, Bal Natu, who taught us so much and filled our lives with his profound insight, humor, loving care, and understanding. We are so grateful to Baba for giving us the years with Bal and supporting us now as we grieve his loss. The serenity that fills the Record Room is unmistakable and we feel joy in the knowledge that Bal is now with his Lord Avatar Meher Baba for all time.

* * *

Ghazels and Glimpses

The following are two pieces of writing that Bal Natu requested be read out after his passing, a passage from GLIMPSES OF THE GOD-MAN, VOL. I. and a Hafiz ghazal.

 

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I. "Second Day of Darshan at Madras, 1947, A Stream Running Down the Mountain"

 

The second day of the Darshan at Madras was, and still is, precious to me. It was breakfast time on Friday, April 4, and the Mandali were going down the stairs. I saw Baba standing in the doorway, looking at us lovingly as we passed by. When I was about to start down, Adi Sr. called me. I entered Baba's room and found Him sitting in a chair. Without any introduction He gestured:

 

"You will have liberation (mukti)."

 

This spontaneous assurance lifted me to a new dimension. A feeling of timelessness crept over me, perhaps for a few seconds. I was brought to my senses when Adi Sr. continued to convey Baba's "say":

 

"But let your love flow on ceaselessly, like a stream down the mountain on its way to the Ocean. Obstructions there will be, of pleasures, of pains. Pass by these as passing phases. There will be flowers and thorns by the bank and in the flow. Do not get attached; do not get affected. Go on and on and let the stream become a river. Doubts may assail you, self-complacency may lure you, but with love in the heart, roll on, flow on to Me -- the Ocean. Worry not, fear not. I am the Ocean of Love. Now, go and have tea."

 

The instruction about tea made me aware of the room I was in. It is difficult to say what I felt at that moment. It is something beyond me and I cannot put it in black and white. The words, if expressed, might turn into barriers. It is too sacred to talk about. Perhaps everyone who came into Meher Baba's contact had such sublime moments. I wonder whether I had tea or nectar that day!

(From GLIMPSES OF THE GOD-MAN, VOL. I., p. 212-213)

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II. On 17th November, 1995 (Friday): Aloba, on his own, asked Hafiz's "Faal" about Bal Natu's biography of Baba, GLIMPSES OF THE GOD-MAN. In reply to this, Hafiz offered the following ghazal, "Dush vakte sahar" ("They gave").

 

(From DIVAN-I-HAFIZ, translated by Paul Smith)

 

Realization (Ghazal #218)

 

Last night before dawn, freedom from all suffering They gave me;

In the darkness of night, Water of Life-everlasting, They gave me.

 

They overpowered me with the brilliance of the Divine Essence;

A drink from the goblet of Divine Light overflowing, They gave me.

 

What a fortunate dawn and joyful night was that Night of Power

When the Supreme Authority of God's Commanding They gave me.

 

If my longing is fulfilled and my heart is in bliss, what wonder?

All of this as rightful gifts, because I was deserving, They gave me.

 

Now, together are my face and the mirror of the Glory of Beauty:

Beloved's Glory reflecting my true Self showing, They gave me.

 

All this honey and sugar that pouring from my pen is the reward

For patience; and a branch of sugarcane for writing They gave me.

 

Angel Gabriel the invisible messenger, gave me the happiest news:

When tyranny and violence comes, patience enduring They gave me.

 

It's such a wonderful miracle to be the slave of the Perfect Master:

I became His dust and the rank of the highest rating They gave me.

 

The Master raised me that day to reach to life Eternal without end;

When the writing of freedom from death, everlasting, They gave me.

 

Hafiz said: "The moment I fell into the snare of the tip of Your hair,

Release from the chains of anguish and of suffering They gave me."

 

Because of blessings I received and wishes of dawn companions,

Freedom from Fate's sickness and Time's grieving They gave me.

 

Hafiz, rejoice, rejoice, then thankfully scatter the sugar of thanks:

Realization of the Divine Beloved, sweetly swaying, They gave me.

 

In the weeks following Bal's passing many cards and messages have poured in describing how Bal touched so many lives. We'd like to end with a passage from Bal's Intimate Conversations with The Awakener that was included in one of the cards:

 

"O Real One, pull me into Your Being

to be united with You for all time

in Your immutable Silence.

This will be the miracle of

Your simple, unconditional Grace.

Amen!"

Jai Avatar Meher Baba, the Key!