Sarnath – Dec. 1949: Initiation and Conditions for Membership in the Order

The importance of the new life is not from us but from those who keep it alive. If we were to fail in the conditions, we would disgrace the new life, and if an outsider were to obey the conditions hundred percent, he would uphold the honour of the new life. -Meher Baba, Sarnath, Dec. 1949

New Life Circular #2, p. 3

Baba and companions’ stay at Sarnath lasted for 12 days from December 1st. During this stay, through Dr. Nath, Baba and ladies were lodged in one bungalow and companions in another bungalow—a furlong separating the two. Here the camel, came-cart, the two cows, two donkeys and the white horse came to be delivered. The caravan, the bullocks and cart brought by Padri upto Benares, also arrived. All this made the management and feeding of the animals as big a problem as that of the human element of the party. Don also brought from post office the much awaited printed copies of ‘The Song of the New Life.’

The most notable event here for Baba and companions was the prayer-in-langoti in a subterranean passage at Sarnath ruins. The place is associated with Gautam Buddha (600 B.C.) who preached his first sermon of initiation at this spot to his five associates. When Buddha left his associates, these five came to Sarnath and stayed there till the Master thought of them and came to give them the initiation.

The greatest convert to the Buddhist faith was Emperor Asoka who reigned from B.C. 272 to 232. Asoka is said to have built thousands of Stupas enshrining the relics of Buddha in various corners of his far-flung empire. Three such Stupas unearthed at Sarnath can with certainty be associated with the Asokian period. The magnificent column found a few yards to the west of the main shrine was erected by the Emperor to commemorate the reputed spot where the Buddha preached his first sermon. The brick Stupa or relic tower of the Maurya period is situated near the Asoka Pillars. The main attraction for visitors and pilgrims is the life-story of Buddha from birth to death, painted by a Japanese artist in a colourful imagery in the main modern building (Vihara). In fact, the place is studded all over with monasteries, temples and shrines.

In such an ancient, historical, peaceful and spiritual atmosphere and background afforded by Sarnath, Baba and his companions sat down in the subterranean passage one morning almost naked in ‘langoti’ in biting cold weather to read mentally for about 15 minutes the following prayer:

“God, give me strength to follow the conditions hundred per cent. God, help me speak the truth and not to tell a lie under any circumstances. God, help me to control anger, and to keep away from lusty and greedy desires. God, help me to be just, fair, honest and kind towards my companions and towards those who come into contact with me.”

After the mental reading was over, the companions were asked to don their clothes and to stand in a row. Baba took his stand at one end of the subterranean passage and called upon each one to hand over to him the prayer-chit. While receiving it, Baba held forth his hand and shook hands warmly with the giver of the chit. In this little function in the subterranean passage, while shaking hands with the companions, Baba’s face wore an unusual glow of satisfaction and happiness. The overflow of happiness over some work being accomplished came to be demonstrated outside of the subterranean passage, when Baba called upon Ghani to utter loudly seven times the words “Ho-gaya” (finished). Baba himself joined in these repetitions of “Ho-gaya” by the lifting up of his right hand.

New LIfe Circular #2, p. 4 – Membership in the Order

(Meher Baba) “The present companions, selected out of the 1200 signatories, and who said ‘Yes,’ we will call them ‘Andernas’ and all the others will be called ‘Bahernas.’ Today when we discussed about accepting or refusing any ‘Bahernas’ who would be hundred per cent fit and who would h u n d r e d per cent follow the conditions, many points were made clear. It was also found that my understanding and the understanding of the companions between each other was a misunderstanding, and that I had forgotten the words I had used for the ‘Andernas’ to be called to join the New Life when I would want them to do so. I also found myself erring consciously or unconsciously in being round about and vague in the presentation of facts. It was further found that the companions, although definitely unanimous about their understanding , were at variance in accepting the right view, I definitely agreed with Ghani when he said that his understanding made him proud for being one of the only fixed companions, but I definitely disagree with him when he said that accepting a Baherna, who is hundred per cent fit from every point of view, would mar the importance of the new life.

The importance of the new life is not from us but from those who keep it alive. If we were to fail in the conditions, we would disgrace the new life, and if an outsider were to obey the conditions hundred percent, he would uphold the honour of the new life. One thing is hundred per cent honestly certain that I do not want to make any of the companions feel the least bit let down by me due to any understanding or misunderstanding, because those of you who follow the conditions hundred per cent, would definitely have far more importance than the Bahernas who would follow the conditions hundred per cent, as you are my ‘old-life’ disciples and ‘new life’ companions. From all this I have come to the conclusion:—

(1) I will stick to my word to Sarosh etc, and if and when I think fit, I can call any Anderna to join the new life.

(2) Any Baherna, who, of his own accord offers to join and whom I find hundred per cent fit, will join the new life by majority vote of the companions.

(3) Ghyara, Kaikobad and any other whom I may have consciously or unconsciously promised before 16th October 1949, to be considered as Anderna.

Procedure for Baherna for joining the New Life:

(1) Only men are eligible.

(2) One must offer of his own accord to join the New Life.

(3) He should be called the ‘New Life new companion.’

(4) When he offers, Baba must feel that he is hundred per cent fit or liked by Baba.

(5) He must then be given conditions to read and study.

(6) When he decides to follow the conditions hundred per cent, he should be put to the vote of the companions.

(7) If the majority agrees to accept him, he should be made to sign yes and take the oath.

((This is exactly like the establishment of His Order by Gautam Buddha, and I think that for what is called the “post-Mandali era” at AMBPPCT in its current (July 2013) “In His Service” newsletter, this procedure for accepting outsiders, which I have never seen cited anywhere, including Lord Meher, is far more significant as a precedent than the initiation ritual. I don’ t think that all of these conditions, particularly “Only men are eligible” are necessarily appropriate now, but the the presence of conditions as qualifications for membership, as opposed as a “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” attitude by which anything is finally acceptable, is the valuable precedent here. Clearly, Meher Baba meant to spread the New Life beyond its original members, but he established that a bar needed to be passed, and in that bar were both behavioral rules and judgement calls by already existing members -vshr))

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