Tuesday, 18 February 2014

No One Could Check Themselves...?

A while ago I received an email with this extract from "Growing Up With God" by Sheela Fenster:


  Sheela Kalchuri Fenster with David Fenster
  Baba's family arrived from Poona around 8:00 P.M. Mani 
  stepped out of the cabin, and Jal started crying badly. 
  Rustom and Sohrab were behind him. They too were 
  crying. "No, it is not proper," Mani chided. "Stop. Not a 
  single tear. Baba wouldn't like this. You cry like this? See 
  me. I was with him my whole life, and I am not crying."
  "Mani Auntie, Baba left us behind," the twins said.
  "No, he didn't. No tears. Please stop that!" She was 
  wagging her finger at them, speaking so strongly. 
  Rustom, Sohrab, Gulnar (their sister), and Beheram 
  (their father) could not stop weeping.
  Mani continued: "Inside, Mehera is crying. In front of 
  her, no one should shed a tear. If you show her your 
  tears, she will cry more. Don't cry. Baba wouldn't like it. 
  He would be so upset, you don't know that? He didn't 
  leave us. He is always with us. When did he leave? 
  Never. So why are you crying"
  "Just look at me and don't cry. Just think of what will 
  happen to Mehera. If you go inside and she sees your 
  tears, she won't remain alive. She will die. Please stop 
  before you go inside. Don't cry."
  They tried, but they could not stop. Jal came in the 
  cabin, took darshan, then sat behind the cabin, 
  weeping. Even though we told ourselves not to cry, not 
  to show Mehera our tears, our tears too would not 
  stop. Mani was telling everyone the same thing.
  Inside the cabin, Goher and Naja turned their face 
  towards the window and wept silently into their 
  handkerchiefs, which they held in front of them so 
  Mehera would not see the. But a soon as they looked 
  at Mehera, they would start crying aloud. No one could 
  check themselves successfully.
  Goher, Naja, Meheru, and Mehera wept almost 
  continuously for the seven days that Baba's body 
  remained uncovered on the hill. But somehow, with 
  unimaginable courage and fortitude, Mani never did.

  GROWING UP WITH GOD, pp. 725-726
  Copyright 2009 David and Sheela Fenster

Having read this account, and having been there myself, I drafted a response that I then sent to Baba's family in Pune, so that I would not inadvertently get something wrong.  I give my response below:

Actually, I was there too. 

Baba's family arrived on 1st Feb in the late morning or early afternoon, 
certainly not at 8 pm when it would have been dark already. 
(Rustom told me later that they all arrived on 1st Feb at around
9 a.m.) And since I was near the Samadhi, handing out ashes to all the
people who came by (there was a big afarganiyu the curved vessel we
Parsis use to burn sandalwood, just outside the door of the Tomb, on the
platform where the cabins used to be) from 2nd February to the time they
covered Baba up, I watched the ladies come and go, plus we were staying
in the now library room with Naja and Rano there with us for the last 3
or 4 nights, and definitely none of the other women mandali was crying
loudly in Mehera's presence. In fact they weren't even crying loudly
when they were alone. No, Goher, Naja, Meheru most certainly didn't weep
continuously. And I don't recollect seeing Sheela or her mother
anywhere near the women Mandali during those 7 days. They weren't
staying on the Hill with us nor do I recall seeing them around the
ladies. I have particularly vivid memories of the 7 days because the
moment I laid eyes on Baba's Body in the Tomb, I had like an epiphany -
I realized that He hadn't gone anywhere, and I was so happy, so
incredibly happy to finally understand what my family meant when they
said Baba was God, because only God could be so instantly felt even
though I was looking at what was His Body - that after that everything I
saw was imprinted with this glow of joy and I still can see it in my
mind's eye. However, so that there could be as little inaccuracy as
possible, I have also cross-checked my memories with my uncle Meherwan Jessawala and a
few close ones to whom the women Mandali had described the 7 days while
Baba's Body lay in the Samadhi. They all agree that I recall it right,
as do the twins. Back to the subject of Baba's family, of course they
were crying. They had lost their beloved Baba, the mainstay of their
lives, as had we all. But Mani Aunty couldn't leave Mehera even for a
few minutes because she (Mehera) was so distraught, I don't think. And
after the twins came out of the Tomb I didn't hear them cry any more,
any tears shed were quiet tears, I suppose. I am copying Rustom in on
this so he can read and if necessary, correct any inaccuracies in my
account, which was, after all, limited to what I had seen through the
eyes of an almost 10-year old, from where I was situated! Of course,
Gaimummy and Manufui (Eruch's mother and sister) were with the 
ladies most of the time, as shown in the videos and photographs of 
those 7 days. And they were not crying constantly either, though their 
hearts were breaking. 

Besides, no matter what, writing about people without checking out the accuracy of
the account is, to my mind irresponsible and careless.  Rustom and Sorab
should have been asked to read through this account and correct it (by
Sheela), because it certainly needs correcting. Verbatim
conversations??? How is it possible to hear everything that Mani said
to them (if you assume that Sheela's got it right)? Was she following
Mani Aunty and would Mani Aunty talk to her family with a spectator
there? Mani Aunty kept her family matters so very private that even we
who were so close to Baba's family in many ways were never permitted to
know anything and she never talked about family matters in our presence,
so in my opinion, no, she would not. Again, Rustom has confirmed that
this was so, and he does not recall seeing Sheela anywhere near the
family when they came to Meherabad in 1969. As I said, I was there, but
most important, so were the twins. To publish something as fact and 
without verification is not appropriate, especially when it pertains to
someone who is still around to verify the accuracy of anything she
wrote. Hope this helps. 


I received a prompt response from the family, which I also reproduce.

Great job done dear Mehera,thank you so much,  Meheru told us too that she was very upset with the wrong stories.

Eric should not only withdraw the post as this has already been posted but should write that the account sent is totally wrong and just a made up account.

Jangu is sending by speed post a strong letter to Sheela/David & a copy to you for your reference.

May our Beloved Baba's Love ,Grace and His Sweet Nazar be always upon you.

Much love.
Baba Khodaiji

Indeed, the letter from Jangu did arrive, and with his permission I am sharing this below:

To: The Authors, "Growing up with God" David & Sheela Fenster, at Post Meherabad, A'Nagar.
From:  All family members of Beloved Baba's family, Baba House, Pune.

Having gone through the email extract of "Growing up with God" describing the scene at Meherabad Hill on 31st Jan. 1969, we state as follows:

1)   Baba's family reached Meherabad Hill on 1st Feb. 1969 at about 9:00 AM, having left Pune by the night train on 31st Jan. 1969.
2)   We are sure, the authors are aware of the professional etiquette of checking details of a subject they are writing about.
3)   It was totally unethical on the part of the authors to have written about the scenario at Mehearbad Hill on 1st Feb. 1969, without checking details from the near ones, who were present at the Samadhi.
4)   Baba's family members were present at the Samadhi at aout 9:00 AM, along with members of Jessawala and Kerawala families. 
5)   The author who has written these details was never present at the Samadhi, nor even anywhere nearby.
6)   Beloved Baba's brothers, Jal and Beheram, having taken Darshan stood silently and solemnly without uttering a word near the Samadhi, throughout the day.
7)   The younger members of Baba's family, having taken Baba's Darshan with silent tears rolling down, stood solemnly with a brave front, convinced of Baba's presence, but missing His physical presence.
8)   Beloved Baba's sisterMani, who herself put up a brave front, appreciated the brave front exhibited by Baba's family members.

It behoves on the part of the authors to make necessary corrections regarding the incorrect material published in their book.  

Kindly acknowledge in writing that necessary correction will be made at the earliest.

A copy of the corrected version should be sent to us.


(Jehangir Sukhadwala on behalf of all members of Baba's family, Baba House, Pune.)

Why am I blogging this?  It is because those of us who were there and are still around feel that it is now or never.  If we don't correct inaccuracies and tell it as we saw and experienced it, then it will never be told.  Once we are gone, there will be no way to verify or change the printed words written about Baba and those close to Him.  I would never, ever narrate a story about someone else in relation to Beloved Baba.  If I even thought about it, I would make sure I asked permission and got it right.  Baba's family feel the same way, as do others who were close to Him and had the great good fortune to have been in His physical presence.

Of course, it is natural that our memories, perspectives and ideas are biased.  It is human nature to see things from your own point of view.  So what we would like to do - lovingly and at our own pace - is to tell it as we saw it.  In this way everyone has the choice to believe what they want.  If nothing else, they at least have a different version, a different point of view.  

If in doing this it causes offence, then I apologize in advance.  It will be necessary from time to time to quote from printed sources, because we can only give our story against something that is already out there.  I will always acknowledge the source and copyright of anything that I use. Baba will guide us and we hope that what is there becomes a record of His advent from our own tiny perspectives.  There will be many records in years to come, but we who were born in His time, received His love and attention and were brought up under His loving gaze are not getting any younger.  If we don't do this now, then it will be too late. 

I am having some formatting problems with this blog - please excuse this.  

Jai Baba.


  1. I appreciate your efforts to clarify the record. Please always continue to do it in every way no matter what, and in the kind, respectful, responsible way that you have done here. It is a very good and much needed example for us all. As ever, in Him, Dan Sparks

  2. Good job Mehera. It is important to correct the public record of Baba's Advent the moment it becomes skewed. I might add about Sheila's book that, apart from the inaccuracies and fabrications, the tone of the writing on every page I have glanced at is peculiarly sour. Why would this be so, I wonder?

  3. Thank you both, Dan and Bill, for your comments. I will continue to bring to the blog stories from the book along with the other side as told by people who were there. I have a lot of comments from Manu because I was reading the book before she died, and would ask her about things to do with Guruprasad and about her experiences and observations when she was in Meherazad with the women mandali for a month each year. I am also talking to Meherwan Jessawala and of course, the Baba family and other close families are fully supportive of this effort.

    As Eruch said so many years ago, "By Your Grace anything is possible", even getting a more accurate version of these events before the Baba community!! :)

  4. It is astounding to me that I am here and able to read this...it is a fresh time now and the need for this most loving accurate account of these times are so important for future. I too found the Growing up with God book steeped in a sour brew, and am so glad Baba's family has gathered to correct Sheila's account, and so lovingly, an example in all aspects!

  5. So glad, Mehera - it seems there are fewer and fewer ones out there to straighten us out when we misrepresent and fabricate/elaborate what actually happened.


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