I settle Baba in Melghat

Posted By Author on September 19, 2011


At 1.30 A.M., we packed luggage on Chandrashekhar’s car.  Ramanidada, Haribandhu, Chandrashekhar and myself were crammed in the front seats.  Gitamasi, Chinu and Shri Baba occupied the rear seat.  The car was overburdened.  In a confused and bewildered state we set off.  I decided to go to the Melghat forest in the lap of the Satpuras hills, a distance of about forty-five miles.  I told Chandrashekhar to head for Dak Bungalow of Ghatang on top of the ridge for the first halt.  All were asleep except Chandrashekhar and me.  We took the car via Walgaon road, Paratwada to Ghatang.  Reached at 3 A.M.  There we snatched a few hours sleep.  Shri Baba slept in the open courtyard.  Dada and Gitamasi with Chinu occupied the front verandah while Haribandhu, Chandrashekhar and myself slumbered in the rear verandah.

When we got up, it was already Sunny.  The Khansama (also khansamah)  and his son came.  Khansama is all in all, a caretaker, cook, collector of bill, etc.  I gave him five rupees as baksheesh.  He managed milk and prepared tea.  We enquired with Khansama whether he knew any secluded place.  He suggested one. We searched labourers.  Then took rest.

Shri Baba on the rear seat and Pandurang, Khansama’s son, Haribandhu, myself occupied the front seat.  Chandrashekhar drove along the road to Dharni.  After eight miles we came at the Ghuguria Bridge.  There was a hairpin bend to the road. The stream was Ghuguria with flowing water.  All of us alighted for inspection.  We walked down along the stream.   After about hundred yards there was a waterfall about fifteen feet deep.  Then there was a bench of twenty feet and again a fall of couple of hundred feet.  A cave was nearby.  The bed of the river was covered with protruding bald basalt outcrops.  After full inspection Baba rejected the spot because he would not be able to get morning and evening Sunrays in his eyes.  I knew it was a pretext.  Basically he did not like the place.  We discussed the matter.  I explained the topography and convinced him that if he needed morning and evening Sun, we would have to occupy a plateau and then water would be far off.  If he wanted both then the hill station of Chikaldara was best but problem of crowding of people would arise.

We climbed up. Shri Baba suggested he would have a look.  We climbed over a knoll adjoining the road on the left side and from there down was a terrace.  Beyond that was a cliff going down about two hundred feet to the bottom of a deep valley.  The west was well guarded and to the north was shallow valley of Ghuguria to which Shri Baba could reach about twenty feet below.  Shri Baba approved the spot.

There was a milestone denoting 18 miles on the road from Achaplur towards Dharni. There was a board of caution for sharp turn, and warning prohibiting heavy vehicles.  Our site was to the left of the road.

We returned to Ghatang.  Shri Baba told Chandrashekhar to manage rupees two hundred and fifty.  He agreed. We then collected labourers at forest naka of Ghatang.  Forest ranger Mr. Deshpande was out to Paratwada but his clerk Mr. Tiwari was helpful.  We managed four boys at the rate of rupees two per day and two adults at rupees three per day with their meals on us.  It was a contract for the month.  In addition Pandurang was engaged on a monthly salary of rupees ninety.  Chandrashekhar and myself left labourers with implements at the selected site in two trips.  Haribandhu remained there for supervision and direction.

With Chandrashekhar I returned to Ghatang.  However, before leaving the labourers at the site Shri Baba was indignant due to following incident.

I informed Shri Baba that some amount by Chandrashekhar would be sent after eight days as he was in a tight corner. Instantly Shri Baba did burst in fury.  He warned Chandrashekhar to take away the car along with me immediately.  He became wild and poured spleen out.  Rebuke and rebuke that we received.  Chandrashekhar remained silent like a statue.  Both of us were well conversant with his usual tactic of squeezing money.  Shri Baba then changed his mind and told Chandrashekhar that he should take Shri Baba to market at Paratwada and then leave them all at the selected spot at Ghuguria.  Then he would quit.

20/11/1968. I sent Chandrashekhar for breakfast.  I was alone with Shri Baba.  I explained to him that Chandrashekhar had done many things beyond his capacity for me.  That I had already taken lot of money from him as the Ashram could not refund the loans.  The amount borrowed at Raipur was also to be refunded through him.  Then Shri Baba calmed down.  He then called Chandrashekhar and told us that his anger was not because money was not received but because total urge was not shown for the sacrifice.  Then time limit was extended for us.  Actually by first plan Haribandhu was to come to collect money after a day.  Shri Baba then told Chandrashekhar to get rupees two hundred and fifty early.

Chandrashekhar and I took brunch. Chandrashekhar grumbled that whatever he was doing was for my sake and not for Shri Baba.

With Shri Baba, Chandrashekhar and I drove to Paratwada market.  I had a cash of rupees one hundred and twenty and Chandrashekhar had rupees eighty.  The market place is known as ‘Gujri’.  Shri Baba moved from shop to shop, would ask rate and place order.  Our job was to collect things and make payment.  Both of us became bankrupt.  Shri Baba therefore deferred shopping.  We began our return journey. Just outside the township adjoining the road, there was an orange grove.  The owner was Mr. Dhawakal Seth of Paratwada and he was standing at the gate near his car.  I stopped the car and requested for oranges.  He told the servant but refused to accept money.  Three dozens good oranges were in our possession.  Mr. Dhawakal Seth did Pronams to Shri Baba and had a talk.  We left in the evening. Shri Baba desired for more oranges but being given free gift could say nothing.

On way I ruefully expressed my hardship and how and what parents deserved from me.  Shri Baba assured and encouraged, “Tolerate now we will see later.”  Then Shri Baba contemplated and said that he was thinking of establishing one of the five universities of the country at Lonawala.  But then he was thinking of shifting it to the Melghat.  However he said he was not sure and certain about it then.  He was in a good mood.

We reached Dak Bungalow at Ghatang.  Collected Dada, Gitamasi, Chinu, and all luggage and drove towards our destination ‘Ghuguriya’ next to ‘Shirasban’.  We were about to miss the entrance but luckily spotted it.  With luggage all of us climbed the knoll and walked down to the campsite.  The forest was dense and fearsome too. The skeleton of Shri Baba’s hut was ready. Fire was lit.  Shri Baba insisted on us to have dinner.  We had to prolong our stay. He himself cooked vegetables and ‘khichari’. We enjoyed the dinner.  Shri Baba then warned us not to come to the camp on our own accord.  We promised.  He said that on rupees two hundred and fifty he would live there for a month and half or else might go to Trimbakeshwar (Nasik).  He would send the word to me accordingly.  Then I bade final Pronams to Him.  Came to Gita.  Had a chat.  She was not in good mood. Red ants stung me.   She laughed to see me dancing. I bade her good-bye.

I was fatigued, mentally, physically, and economically and consequently slumbered unknowingly dispensing the rule not to sleep by the side of driver I knew not when we reached Amravati.  Thanked Chandrashekhar and parted.  Reached home at 2 A.M. and managed to sleep in the outer room without disturbing anyone.  Later I came to know that yesterday my wife had gone to Murtizapur to see her parents.

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