Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Story of The Stone - How Baba's Tombstone Happened.

All of us have seen it.  We have all bowed down to it, but how did this particular slab of marble come to be blessed to become the Avatar's Tombstone in His Samadhi? 

After a particularly successful session of fencing in Meherazad (where two contentious areas were finally fenced in with the help of our local police force), I went to Meherabad yesterday and said "Thank You" to Him who made it all possible.  Later, while I was treating Meherwan (Jessawala) before he went to bed, we started reminiscing about the Tomb, and then I asked Meherwan if he remembered how we got the marble that now forms Baba's Tombstone. 

It is an interesting tale. It all started with Beloved Baba dropping His Body on 31 January 1969, of course.  It was a given that in time, once the earth had settled on His Body, a stone would have to be put on the crypt.  A fitting memorial would have to be found.  One that befitted the Avatar of the Age's Samadhi.  Rano Gayley, Baba's mandali and a very accomplished artist in her own right, had ideas about what it should be like.  She had also, around that time, received an inheritance from her father.  He had been a very successful lawyer in New York, and had left her a substantial inheritance.  This was Baba's perfect timing in action!!  

She decided that the best use of this money would be to get a beautiful slab of Carrara marble from Italy.  Rano asked Fred and Ella Winterfeldt to go to Italy and pick out the stone, told them what needed to be engraved on the slab and specified that it should be pink and gold-veined marble.  This is one of the rarest of marbles, and to get such a big slab would not only be very expensive but also very difficult. Once it was bought, getting it to India and finally to Baba's Samadhi in Arangaon would be an even bigger challenge.  But hey, it was for Rano's Beloved Baba, and nothing was going to stop her from trying her very best.  So the plan was put into action.  

Fred and Ella went to Italy and found what they thought was the perfect slab.  It was then commissioned to be cut and engraved, the writing to be highlighted in 24 carat gold inlay.  In time the stone was ready.  Then it was shipped, through a very circuitous route, because the import duty on this slab would have been almost impossible for the newly emerged Trust to pay, there was just no money in those days.  After many travels and travails, it arrived in Mumbai, by sea.

Later, it arrived in a truck to Bindra House and we had it there for a day or two.  It was put in Meherwan's room, which Baba used whenever He stayed in Bindra House. I remember looking at this huge slab with awe!  I'd never seen a slab of marble so beautiful.  It was waiting to be collected and transported to Meherabad where Padri had a team of 12 workers, all strong men, drilling daily to pick up this huge weight and carefully put it in place over Baba's crypt. Typical Padri, he had been practicing for months, since he knew that the stone was ordered and being brought over to Meherabad.  There were no cranes, no mechanical aids to put the marble in place, only muscle power. Meherwan says that the stone weighed over a ton!  Meanwhile, there was a big commotion...the slab had a flaw.  After all this trouble, there was a dark vein (not pink or gold) running through the lower part of the marble slab.  What to do?  The company that made the stone was contacted, and offered to replace the stone if it was sent back. Sent back??  It had only just arrived after much time and effort being put into getting it to India!  Were they mad?  I am not sure who among the mandali came to look at it and said that there was no need for any exchange, the stone was perfect as it was, but it was a great relief to all that this was it.  

By now the earth over Baba's Body had settled.  During the months between the crypt being filled and the stone being set, there was gradual settling of the grave.  A strange phenomenon was observed.  There was a deeper depression where Baba's head was, and a very strong scent of roses came out of that part, it filled the Tomb with the fragrance.  I remember going to take darshan around that time, and smelling this fragrance and feeling a deep happiness that Baba was everywhere now, and He was telling us so!  

When the marble arrived in Meherabad, Padri's workers executed the manoeuvre flawlessly.  The stone was home!  It had come to where it's destiny through many lifetimes as stone had brought it, to the Avatar's final abode on this gross plane.  There is a very unique twist to the ending of this story.  Pink and gold veined Carrara marble is very rare.  So rare that the Italian Government banned its export.  Meherwan says that this was probably the last slab to be exported, and then there was no more.  Baba allowed Rano's wish to be fulfilled, because she loved Him so.  

Mehera bowing down to Baba's picture.  Gaimai Jessawala in front left corner.


  1. Thank you so much for this precious bit of history.

  2. Eric Teperman and Nick Principe have more details about the story, and I hope they will post it on this blog soonest!

  3. Lovely story Mehera! Thank you Baba!

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