Much thanks to Mother P4 for this, which was posted by that stellar team at Bhaulist:
A Journey to Baba Centers in Andhra, India
25th – 28th July 2014
By Mother P4/ (Joanna)
Mehernath Kalchuri (Bhau’s son), Mehernath’s wife, Raj, her sister, Shubhshree Deva, others and I recently returned from a Baba tour to Andhra Pradesh, in the south of India.
We were met at Vishakapatnam station by some lovely local people who had organized a beautiful Baba bhajan and talk program.
We even paraded around the town for about an hour, singing Baba’s name! All very lighthearted fun.
We stayed at Meherstan, in Kovvur. This beautiful rest house and Baba Centre is located near of the banks of the Godavari River which Baba had stepped in.
We were taken to the Godavari River by our Baba hosts, where we were able to step down to the waters and touch the water that Beloved Baba had purified.
There was a place near the river bank demarcated as the spot where Baba gave darshan. Opposite this spot was a temple for Sai Baba of Shirdi. It felt as though we were walking on holy ground.
One of the highlights for me was connecting with three girls who had been orphans (two sisters aged eight and twelve, and a friend, aged eleven).
They had been adopted (maybe not officially) by the Baba Centre in Rajahmundry. Someone in the group told us they could sing well, but the organized program was brief, and there was no time for their song.
While we were eating in the meeting hall, however, I asked them to sing. Normally, girls of this age would be shy. But these three, led by the youngest one, unhesitatingly belted out a beautiful bhajan.
It was a really touching moment.
Afterwards, hugs went all around afterwards.
I couldn’t help being in awe of the set of circumstances Baba lined up to bring those three little souls to that loving home. They spoke impeccable English and were clearly receiving first class education. What untold suffering they might have endured had they not been rescued by Baba’s compassionate love.
In nearby Kovvur, we visited Meherstan, a beautiful Baba Center complete with its own hostel accommodation.
The Center also features a life-sized statue of Beloved Baba. Another unique aspect about the Center is the many personal messages Baba Himself sent to the group upon its opening.
I was told by members of the Meherstan group that every part of Beloved Baba’s physical body and face were minutely measured prior to the creation of the statue.
One is left in awe that they can truly gauge His proportions in a true life-like way. His Presence there is no doubt filling the hearts of His lovers.
I must admit I returned to Meherabad and Meher Nazar with a renewed feeling of His Presence in my heart.
Following is an excerpt from the Meherstan blog:
At the opening of Meherstan, Baba said, “I will be present there at the time, and for all time as those who come to Meherstan to see Me and not My statue.”
As per Baba’s wish, Meherstan was opened by Santhadevi Gaukwad (Maharani of Baroda) and the Baba statue unveiled on 28th February 1963.
About the statue: Baba has not prescribed any procedure in laying the (statue) for he said (as clarified by Bro. Eruch in His letter dated 1st February 1963 to Sri P. Ramalingeswararao), “My living person is by itself is the real idol of God, and no other idol can replace it. It will be replaced only with His next advent after 700 years.”
His lovers should make Meherstan the house of true worship by expression of their pure love for Him, and they should believe the very presence of Beloved Avatar Meher Baba at Meherstan and not His idol or statue.
A photo of the statue can be seen at:
Baba sent eight special messages to Meherstan to be put in bold letters and prominently displayed in Meherstan.
1. Tear the curtain of set ceremonies and rituals, and you will find that I am the Worshipped, the Worship and the Worshipper.
2. To clothe simple worship with the garments of ceremony and ritual is to expose Me to the cold winds of ignorance.
3. To faithfully love God-Man is to truly worship God
4. To find Me here in Meherstan, search the depth of your hearts
5. Meherstan has been built for Me with love, but I may only be found here by My lover who brings Me here in his heart.
6. As the heart is, so is the house; as the eye is, so is the Image within the house.
7. The heart of man has always been the ancient temple for the worship of the Ancient One.
8. Nothing can house the Ancient One that does not house love.
Jai Meher Baba!
Andhra is well worth a visit. Here’s a couple of links to some of my impressions of it:
Both of these posts get steady traffic. When I went to Andhra, I was not on the Meher Baba dignitary circuit, by my own choice, because I find that circuit too limiting. So my view of the Baba community at Kovvur was from the bottom up, and the local leadership there is truly awesome. I got plugged into dancing and the whole community scene there, quite apart from who and what had descended from Maharashtra. There was one woman who literally went into spasms from dancing with me, by her own choice, and that’s kind of par for the course down there. She calmed down and became salik later, and was truly a sweet personality.
In a previous visit to Khammam, the dancing had been even more out into the realms of Divine Bliss, circle-dancing through the streets with over a dozen beautiful young Dravidan girls in the pouring rain at night. And yes, the wetter they got, the more beautiful they were. It flashed me back to ancient times. I am sure that Bhau Kalchuri and I had been Siddhas together in some Dravidian community in south Inida, and then Bhau went straight to God, and I pissed around and farted around in Central Asia and China, and am still suffering some of the karmic results.
Dravidian culture is very distinct from the Aryan cultures of Maharashtra and points north, and at this point it is more authentic. Ethically, Kovvur is more like what Ahmednagar was when I first encountered it in 1969, when if two people of opposite sexes so much as held hands in public, anywhere in Ahmednagar, Mani was the first to know. There is Maharashtra-stye noise and dirt in Hyderabad, and parts of Khammam, but when you get out into the countryside, it’s another story completely. Have you ever heard of a gang-rape in south India? In general it just doesn’t happen. Women are still safe there.
Kovvur is a place where all householders will get out and clean the streets in the vicinity of their home, and the whole town is usually spotless by dawn. I am sure that this is part of their morning spiritual practice, and the direct result of deliberate direction by long traditions of Shaivite Mahasiddhas. Serenity is big there and tamasha doesn’t happen. Dravidian culture is inward-looking, and this is what has allowed them to preserve their traditional values. They are suspicious of outsiders, and this includes those in the Meher Baba community, but they don’t stereotype. They’ll watch you and see who you are, and if you’re like them, they’ll accept you whatever your race and language is.
I was universally accepted in Kovvur for exactly the same personality traits that got me back-bitten and discrimated against in Meherabad. Andhra natives were demonstrating this towards me even before I went to their place. They loved it that I got up before dawn, took a cold shower, and sat for meditation in full view of the Maharashtrian materiaists. Just for the current record, I recently added to my repertoire of Shaivite and Bodhisattva traits, by tying my long hair into a topknot. Like the cold shower before dawn, and the morning practices, the topknot stays for the duration. It’s part of my appropriate demeanor. The topknot is not an empty ritual; it has always been worn by all serious Shavites, all serious Taoists, and all serious Bodhisattvas because it is necessary for the proper direction of personal energy at a certain level of yogic practice. So are periodic vrats, for that matter. By the next time I come to India, I will have adopted a nice simple uniform lay garb that clearly says: “ass-branded, bone-dyed and Precept-holding Bodhisattva.” But Bodhisattvas, with the exception of Earth Store Bodhisattva, don’t wear monk’s robes and neither shall I, not even for formal occasions.
From my experience, all of the above becomes more true the farther south you go in India. Tamil Nadu is safer, cleaner, and quieter than Andhra Pradesh. Pondicherri is somewhat of an exception because there are so many foreigners there, but the noise and dirt still never approach Maharashtrian standards. The south is where the spiritual strength of India lies right now, and furthermore, everybody speaks English and drinks coffee in south India. So, AMBPPCT, just an idea: fire all the western back-biters and hire south Indians. But only fire them for cause, OK? Otherwise we’re just descending to their level.
Avatar Meher Baba ki Jai!