((Originally published on 7 Jan 2014 from Pondicherri, on Meher Chowk. I have added to the end to finish the story of my stay in Pondicherri, writing on Amartithi, 2014, from Hawaii -vshr))
The Two least-honored Fixed Conditions of Meher Baba’s New Life:
1. Fear Nothing and No One.
2. Cheerfulness in the face of all calamities.
Well, Good Morning, Viet Nam!
And Good Morning, Meher Baba Community!
Are we having fun yet, Folks?
On 4 Jan 2014, a star-studded group of AMBPPCT Trustees and long-time Meherabad residents informed me that because of legal action by Mehernath, I would have to leave MPR to avoid a police incident on the property. It would have been bad for the pilgrim business.
In addition to that, I was advised by this group of experts on how to disappear people from Meherabad to:
1. Leave the area, and
2. Leave India.
I was advised to write an apology to Mehernath, promising to delete this blog, which perhaps could avert the order for my arrest which had already been issued. I did that, and then, in the company of the Trustee Jangali (sp?) carried it to the Ahmednagar head police station where we met with Mehernath and the police, and got the matter dismissed.
I have not yet deleted this blog because of the subsequent persecution by Mehernath and his agents that followed, I have not had an opportunity to go online before this instant. I still intend to keep my promise, but not for another week, to allow for what we shall characterize as “processing time.” Because of the prominence of this blog in the community, my readership, whether in or out at Meherabad, deserves and needs to know what’s going on.
Many have witnessed here that his blog provides the only information coming out of Meherabad that isn’t simply and blatantly just so much PR. This is obviously fair and balanced reporting, and that’s why my traffic is so high, and what I have provided is some real insight about a thorougly opaque community that a lot of people are starting to get interested in. And on balance, the picture that I have presented is positive. If I simply delete the blog, leaving no record behind of why it happened, it will be a huge shock to both the community and new prospective pilgrims, both of which will have a hugely negative effect on the pilgrim business.
But all of the above notwithstanding, a promise is a promise, and I will delete this blog within a week. Meanwhile, I will set up another blog on the same blog host entitled “Mehernagar” to continue this discussion.
So then let’s unpack what I meant by “persecution” above. After that star-studded meeting in the MPC dining hall on the morning of 4 Jan 14, and after we concluded our business in Ahmednagar and the police released me from custody, I immediately cleaned out of my lock-box at MPC, and then went up to MPR and cleaned out of there as well. My usual driver was there to spirit me away to Mumbai, and hopefully, America. But then the gate guards refused to let us leave, for reasons that they wouldn’t specify, despite the fact that I had been told to leave by virtually the entire administrative staff at Meherabad, in full council assembled, mind ye.
The administrative office at MPR finally got control of the guards long enough to let us leave, but then after a number of phone calls, the driver stopped not five minutes from MPR for “just stop for 10 minutes.” This was not acceptable to me, and after further stalling I asked to talk to his boss, the proprietor of the car service, and told him that I HAD to be gone this instant or I would get out of his car and hitch a ride on a passing truck. He then ordered the driver to continue, which he did through an ongoing storm of phone calls intended to intimidate him into stopping. After hours of this, he finally took a right-angle turn into a cane field, and took the SIM card out of one phone and inserted it into another. I believe that this scrambled the GPS, but it didn’t stop the junk calls, which altogether went on for a good four hours. In the middle of that, a responsible third party wanted to talk to me and he informed me that the proprietor was getting a lot of calls from Mehernath insisting that you have to come back, and what do you think of that? My answer was: “Mehernath and Jangali and I spent two hours talking to the police this morning, and I was released and told to leave, and that’s what I’m doing. I will not come back.” He said OK, and eventually the junk calls faded and died.
All af this was Mehernath’s attempt to return me to Meherabad after I had been expelled from MPR, which has proven, over three years of persecution by Mehernath, including two attempts on my life, to be the only safe place for me to live in Meherabad. Then I would have simply been his prey, since the Ahmednagar police department is in cahoots with him. For proof of that, tune in to the next gripping and juicy episode, about further stunts and games by Mehernath’s machine in Mumbai.
(continuing on 9 Jan 2014)
After the 8-hour car ride chronicled above, beginning at approximately 1630 in Meherabad om what was already a signally stressfl day, I was pretty exhausted when I arrived at Mumbai airport close to midnight on 4 Jan. I have a confirmed departure ticket on Korean Airlines for 31 March 14, and I was hoping to get that changed so that I could get on a plane and ge out of Dodge. But I spendt the rest of the night in the transit lounge, being misdirected about the availability of the Korean Airlines staff who, as it turned out weren’t there at all because they had no flights that day or the following morning.
So the next morning I got waylaid by this local airline reservation wonk who was sure he could solve all my problems. He took me to a very cometent travel agent, and over the next 24 hours wer finally confirmed beyond the shadow of a doubt that there was no possibility of getting a seat on that flight in the holiday season; I would be India for at least another month unless I could afford a whole new ticket on another airline, which I couldn’t.
Meanwhile I had checked into an obscure hotel that was found by my friend the reservation wonk, on the morning of the 5th, and Mehernath’s trogdolytes traced me to it within hours, which they couldn’t have done without the cooperation of the police.
Frankly, I think that the Ahmednagar police are just as fed up with Mehernath as everyone else is at this point, and I think they’re on to him. Mehernath works maliciously from the bottom, buying or terrorizing such people as rookie policemen, gate guards, and household servants. I don’t think that the Ahmednagar police department as a whole is in cahoots with with Mehernath, but some individual in it clearly is, or perhaps their records have been put online and hacked.
In general, my whole experience on this journey has been of a solid wall of ordinary Indian citizens and competent professionals, united in their intention to protect me from what they have accurately percieved to be malicious harrassment by an individual operating outside of the law, and without the knowledge, let alone the approval, of the institution that he is has been appointed to represent, namely and to with the Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust.
Let’s unpack what I was referring to by “harrassment in Mumbai.” When I checked into the said hotel, I was thoroughly exhausted, and it was obvious to everyone, even me, that I really needed to crash. So I stayed inside that room the whole day making up for lost time, and in the afternoon I caught a really superior Gongfu flick on the TV: Shaolin – the 36th Chamber – , which is kind of on task for me, and I recommend it. The room in question had unforseen advantages, in that it was separated from the front office by a thin wall so that, although I couldn’t hear normal office busness or conversation, I was certainly privy to any outrageous ranting and yelling which might occur.
And that is exactly what happened periodically throughout that entire day, the following night, and the following morning. I missed a lot of it because I was either sleeping or blocking it so I could enjoy the flick of my choice, but it was clear that the subject of much of this was exactly me. I didn’t understand much of the language, but the words “Meherbad,” “Mehernath,” and “Meherwan” were clearly repeated numerous times. Those words had not come out of my mouth since I had arrived in Mumbai. And the whole story had been conveyed to the hotel clerk who consistently defended me through increasingly vituperous rants that went on into the night and started again the next morning. Watch my back? Hell, Bharat Mata is watching my back! Mehernath was accurately percieved as a renegade, operating beyond the law and with the knowledge, let alone the approval, of the august institiution that he has been appointed to represent, namely and to wit the Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust.
A final visit to the travel agent on the morning of the 7th confirmed that no Korean airline reservation would be forthcoming, and so I asked him to cut me an air ticket co Chennai instanter. This was my original idea, but he agreed that it was a good solution to my situation, and said that I would find the Korean Air office in Chennai easier to deal with. I arrived in Chennai on the evening of the 7th, and promptly went deeper into Tamil Nadu, which I’ve never visited before, but which I love more with each passing day. The farther south you go in India, the more Hawaiian it gets.
Since the beginning of this journey, the traffic to this site has risen and is approaching 100 hits/day, ((UPDATE: On 8 Nov 14, this site was hit 464 times, a new high) and I am sure that some of that is from police authorities. So I would like to publish this friendly albeit unofficial open letter to the Chennai Police Department:
Open Letter to the Chennai Police Department:
I am an American national named Michael Pettingill who is currently living in your jurisdiction, having fled to Tamil Nadu to avoid continuous harrassment by a renegade individual from Ahmednagar in Maharashtra, who filed one police complaint against me which we got dismissed, but who has also threatened to file another.
I want to make it clear that I am not in beautiful Tamil Nadu as a fugitive from the law. I always follow the law, and I always cooperate with the police. I have submitted my passport and visa information to the establishment where I am living, and I will continue to do that, and will cheerfully comply with anything else you may require of me.
In conclusion, I do not intend to move from Tamil Nadu until I return to Hawaii. If there is any responsible individual from AMBPPCT, and by that I basically mean the members of the star-studded team that let me go, and other Trustees but not Mehernath, who wants to contact me for any reason, please send your messages to the Tamil Nadu Police department, and ask them to forward them to me. Thank you.
Avatar Meher Baba ki Jai, and Jai Ho!
((Continuing from Hawaii on Amartithi (31 Jan) 2014)) Having arrived at Chennai on 7 Oct 2013 in a state of exhaustion, I spent one night in an upscale Hotel, the Vijay Park, simply because there was a free ride to it. I had given Sri Aurobindo’s Ashram as my reason for coming to Chennai, and it turned out that this hotel was within walking distance of the Pondicherri bus stand.
So the folloing morning, I was allowed to store most of my luggage at the Vijay Park, and the busboy issued me a tag for it, saying “I don’t care if you’re gone for three months. Just give me the tag (when you return), and I’ll give you the bags.” It was clear that these guys had seen pilgrim behavior before. I departed with little more than one change of clothes and my toilet kit on the four-hour bus ride to Pondicherri, which turned out to be the MOST CIVILIZED berg that I have ever encountered in my admittedly limited experience of Bharat Mata, never really having wandered beyond Mehernagar ((i.e., the major MB pilgrimage sites in wthe Ahmednagar District of Maharashtra Pradesh, (except to attend some other MP programs in Maharashtra and Andhra on previous years). I’ve shamelessly stolen this word, Mehernagar, for this use. There exist other places in India with this name, but this is what I have decided to make it refer to. -vshr))
When I say Pondicherri, I mean that town, not Auroville, which is a separate phenomenon enirely, a yupped-out New Age community close by in the hills back from the ocean. I never made it to Auroville, because I could feel its vibes from Pondicherri, already, and I could FEEL that it was essentially too like MPR to be trusted. Pond scum and bottom-feeding predators from Maharashtra, being used to the western trust-fund brats who habitually show up at MPR from Auroville, were sure to make inquiries about me there, first order of business. And you know what? Banana Republic western pilgrim admins in India all think alike. Once one set of them evicts you, they’ll all evict you, simply because all they know how to do is to take care of their own asses in the hostile environment that is India anymore, and basically they just don’t care who they send down the tubes for what reason in the process.
But Pondicherri itself? Hey, now we’re talking serious deviance from all available norms that you might propose about any other place, institution, or population in India. This is a very civilized ocean resort town, and believe it or not, it was never colonized by the Brits. It was colonized by the French, it has the greatest concentration of civilized French architecture that I have seen anywhere, a greater concentration of both westerners and East Asians (the majority of whom, in both cases, are Francophones) than I have seen anywhere else in India, and probabaly the cleanest, most spacious, and most rational street layout that I have ever seen anywhere. The Pondicherri police wear French attire: tropical dress whites, if you please, and red pillbox hats. And of course, many of them were fluent in Frenh. It was instantaheously clear to me that if I was going to be apprehended by Indian cops, these were my first choice. Between the differences beween the Aryan language and culture of Maharashtra and the Dravidian language and culture of Tamil Nadu, plus the differences between English and French ideas about public administration in general, It was clear to me that the whole process of getting me into custody was simply going to be more than Motormouth could negotiate, no matter how many lowlife luzers he bought for the purpose. In fact, the hoteliers of Pondicherri weren’t particularly enthusiastic about government paperwork either. I’m sure that if I really needed to hide, it wouldn’t have cost much. But since I really had nothing to hide, what would have been the point? It was in my interest to leave a paper trail everywhere, and that is exactly what I did.
The three words “Sri Aurobindo Ashram” had been planted in my fertile brain by the riksha driver that picked me up at the Pondicherri bus station, still not totally thinking straight, so that’s where I asked him to take me, thinking that this must be what’s in the legendary Auroville. Mais non, je ne sais pas pourquoi. The Sri Aurobindo Ashram is actually a two-story (when the lower story has 12-foot ceilings) hollow quadrangular compound enclosing a central courtyard, and what should be in the center of that, shaded by a massive spreading acacia tree with a crown diameter of a good 30 feet, but Aurobindo’s Samadhi?
And guess what happens at 7 AM and 7 PM (the exact time when the primitive Meher Baba religion in Meherbad does its totally ritualized devotions before Meher Baba’s samadhi)? Would you believe that this community gathers before the Samadhi of its choice at exactly those same two times every single day without exception, but what they do has absolutely nothing in common with what happens at Meherabad?
What happens in Aurobindo’s Ashram in Pondicherri is that an older woman hands out incense to all comers, totally free of charge, and each person gets to individually peform Sri Aurobindo’s aarti (but silently) by waving incense over his Samadhi. The Samadhi is totally out in the open except for its protecting acacia tree, and you can gather on all sides of it and take the great Saint’s Darshan. Of course, I prefer the feet. Then people sit in silent meditation. On about half the days this is organized. People are told to turn off their cell phones and to clear the Samadhi, and then a bell is rung for a meditation perod of some 40 minutes.
When the riksha driver delivered me to this Samadhi straight off the bus from Chennai, I knew right on the spot that wild horses were not going to drag me away from this first class sacred site for the duration of my stay. Aurobindo spent most of his working life on the 6th plane, and then was God-realized by Meher Baba at the time of his death, and his Samadhi is not exactly the same as that of a Perfect Master, but it’s close enough that it doesn’t get clogged with sanskaras. And for someone like me, with neglected yogic characteristics that were totally wigged out by the irresponsible, chaotic and destructive monkeyshines of a “spiritual” community dominated by ABSOLUTELY THE most blatantly witless bhakts that can be imagined, it was ideal.
Aurobindo’s Samadhi certainly doesn’t have the voltage of Meher Baba’s. Nothing is ever going to come up to that for the next 700 years, for sure. But then, inferior voltage wasn’t exactly my problem. My problem was more like a whole community of meddling fools who just didn’t recognize the symptoms of God’s descending Force, which, if you just stop fighting it, and stop being bugged to smithereens by blind fools who simply have zero qualifications for any kind of authority whatseover in a spiritual community, can blow you all the way to God in one swell foop, certified and guaranteed in spades by experts, dudes and ladies of merit, Amen!
While on the subject of yoga, which is destined to be permanently taboo to the profound cluelessness of Meherabad’s professionally pathless bhakts, before I left Pondicherri, I donated all the books by and about Meher Baba that I had accumulated to the library, hoping to create links to Meherabad for some of the denizens of the place, and then that weight in my luggage was filled by a copy of Shankaracharya’s Yoga Sutra Bhasya, reputed by Ward Parks, in a series of informal lectures about Meher Baba’s Infinite Intelligence at MPR, to be among the greatest philosophical treatises ever written. I agree with him, it is that. But what Ward can never see, as in the case of Infinite Intelligence, which he edited, is that it’s also a practice manual. But you’ll never percieve that if, like Ward, you simply refuse to practice anything but your own purely intellectual capacity to make people admire your need to reel off endless recitations of new and ever more mind-boggling accumulations of indigestible information and the dead-end POV’s thereof. Shankaracharya was a Perfect Master; every word that he wrote directly deletes poison from our minds, and that happens even if we don’t understand one single sentence, in fact, I think that what we get from him is inversely proportional to our understanding of him.
I have wandered, again. It happens. Continuing to go to morning and evening aarti was all I did in Aurobindu’s community in Pondicherri. I did not read Savitri. I already did that 30 years ago. I did not read anything by Aurobindo or go to any gathering of his people other than those before his Samadhi. And what I was doing there was to make a deal with the Master: “If you will help me get the hell out of here, I will help you bring down the Supermind.” That was his project, and it was the equivalent of what Meher Baba meant by the dawn of Intuition, and I could help that dynamic because of this descending Force of God that Meher Baba had given me at Meherbad. So that was my intention in all the incense-waving and all the meditation, and it worked. My mind gradually cleared out from the traumatization of the terroristic threatening by Motormouth and all his obligatory scumbag buddies, and so I could very gradually find creative solutions in a whole cultural mileau abut which I basically did not know one single thing going in.
So it took 18 days to get clear enough to leave in a good way. It was worth it. In the future, I will continue to establish a seat in India at Pondicherri. I will land at Chennai, and gradually work my way north via various AMBC in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Andhra, perhaps never actually reaching Meherabad on any given pilgrimage, or perhaps booking a domestic flight from Chennai to Poona, and then taking the bus to Ahmednagar and Meherabad. And when I depart, it will be from Chennai, most probably via Poona. I am through with Mumbai. It’s noisy, vicious, chaotic, violent and inhuman, and I just won’t do it again. Ditto Delhi and north India in general.
Avatar Meher Baba ki Jai,
Vishveshwar Bodhisattva, Amartithi 2014