Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A Pictorial Walk Up Seclusion Hill and Back.

Starting out from the little stile gate, back of Meherazad
I am going to be away from Meherazad (and Meherabad and India) for around ten weeks, and was feeling really down about leaving.  To cheer me up I took my new Experia phone with me on my morning walk up Seclusion Hill and took some pictures.  Then I thought, I could share the walk with my readers, so here are the pictures... 

Gabriel (or Gabby as he is fondly known) is our youngest dog. He is the embodiment of "Don't worry, be happy". Despite having only three legs he is always cheerful and loving and happy! Also always hungry. Some days he comes up Seclusion Hill with me, but this day he sat by the stile, and refused to climb. He cheers us up with his affection and his funny antics - his cute pose is to lie on his back and wriggle about! How can anyone resist that??
Our 3-legged ray of sunshine, Gabriel, refuses to walk further!

View of Seclusion Hill from the path
It was a clear and cool morning, with the dew sparkling on the grass which made it look like a silver carpet.  However, there is only on picture where I was able to capture that, and this one isn't it.  The hill looks beautiful and so lush and green, totally unlike it was in Baba's time... 

A few steps closer to the Hill now.
The next few pictures are views as I approach the Hill. 

Almost identical to the one above, isn't it?  But every step brings us closer.  It is like lifetimes.. if you learn nothing then the next life is almost the same as the one before, to quote Richard Bach in my favourite book of all time, Jonathan Livingstone Seagull. 
The picture below is taken halfway up the path from Meherazad to Seclusion Hill.

Nearly at the gate to the path up Seclusion Hill
A view of Khandoba AHill from the gate, with the sun rising.

The bunds look almost silver because of the dew drops!
Just outside the gate, a shaft of sunlight illuminates the grass while casting shadows over the surrounding trees.  On mornings like these Meherazad and the surroundings are like a fairy wonderland, with light, birdsong, scents and the wetness of the grass all combining to make it a very special time.  It is, of course, Baba's presence that permeates it all, keeps it all so beautiful, pristine and serene.  Thank You Baba!
The path gets harder to climb up...

Rather like the spiritual path, as Baba explained.

The path turns upwards again, and I'm nearly at the top...
 When I climbed the Hill with Eruch and Meherwan, I loved hearing them describe the times they went up with Beloved Baba.  How Baba compared the climb up Seclusion Hill to the spiritual path is detailed in another blog post previously, so I will not repeat the whole story.  But as the climb goes on, it gets harder and harder and from my experience (limited and meagre as it is) of this life-path of mine (which could be termed spiritual, I suppose) you need strong legs and lungs to keep going. A good heart helps too, otherwise your BP will shoot through the roof.  My daily climb is my morning meditation, my time with Baba, remembering Him and thanking Him for bringing me here and keeping me here all these years.  I usually say my prayers at the top..seen in the picture below.
The summit is in sight - but it is still a hard climb away..

Just before the summit, Baba's bench, where He rested.
There was a time when we used to sit on the seat and Eruch and/or Meherwan would give us chana and seeng - dried chickpeas and peanuts mixed with puffed rice, just before we made the final effort to get to the very top!  Now I come on my own and rarely sit there. I am happier on the top, saying my morning prayers and remembering Baba.  Daily prayer, "Baba, let me live with Your Name on my lips and Your Damaan in my hands and die with Your name on my lips and Your Damaan in my hands." Amen.
The seat itself - where Eruch, Meherwan, I and others have rested too..

Here is a really clear view of Baba's couch.  He used to sit there so that He was out of the drafts (Baba didn't like wind or drafts) when He stayed on the Hill for His Seclusion work.  There is only one person still alive who was with Baba and the mandali at the time, and he is a 94 years old farmer named Sampati.  He helped Donkin make the original path and carried water up for Baba's use.

Not taking time out at the seat, I climb up and take a few pictures of the views around the Hill.  See how green it all is?  Well, we have only had 18 inches of rain this year, so it is going to be hard in months to come.  All this land will be brown and dry, and there is going to be great hardship for all, including us residents at Meherazad. What looks like water is actually mist, but it does add a really special something to the pictures.

A panoramic view from the top..

And another one..

And another!!! It's so green right now, but hardly any rain..

On the walk down..lovely colours..
 Climbing down again, I looked over the treetops and saw the lovely pale green of the grass all lit up by the gentle sunlight.  Here it is for you all to share with me. This year there is an infestation of 'congress grass', a particularly toxic and virulent weed, on the Hill.  All these years we have managed to avoid this invasion, but this year with the drought, the seeds must have flown on the breeze and also been taken up by the cattle who graze there, on their hooves. 
The Young Adults Sahavasees came and repaired the pathway and also helped pull out a lot of the congress grass, but I keep finding new patches each day, which adds greatly to the time I take to go up and down the Hill twice each morning.  Some days I take so much time weeding, I can only manage one up and down trek.
Aloba's shrine to His Name.  Still there.
Aloba's spot originally, where he had made the first bed and put stones to spell out Baba's Name.  Now it is done often, but still the cows and goats walk over it and destroy the beautiful shrine.  But there are many willing hands to set it right again.  Meheru used to come up to here, and she would offer flowers, then come down again.  Some days she would be going up as I was going down, other days she went later in the day with Janet and Heather or someone else - always a pleasure to meet her on a walk.   
Almost the end of my walk.
 Almost at the end of the path.  It is now quite level and easy to walk.  You can see how it turns gently towards the exit (which is also the entrance). 

What a lovely scene!
Baba's grace and some really hard work has kept the Hill full of trees.  In His time there was only one, right on the top.  Soon the fencing of Meherazad properties will be done then there will be a large-scale afforestation programme to plant some indigenous trees and medicinal plants all around.  It will be a wonderful project for many volunteers for years to come.  I hope very much that I will be one of the first!!  

 Just look at the light in this picture!!  Perfect..

And someday, I will be able to share the sounds, the scents and the feel of the place.  At the rate science is progressing, this is not an improbable dream.

The very end of the path, only the turning to the gate left, then you are out and back on your way to Meherazad.  It has been a lovely walk and I look forward to doing it again very soon!!  Actually, I still have a couple of days left, but I needed to get this done before it was too late, and I ran out of time.  
The gate.

The gate...
Looking back on the way I've just come.

Almost at the stile gate now, and looking back on a wonderful walk with Him..


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