Kodury Krishna Rao had established Mehersthan (House of Meher) on the western banks of the Godavri River in Kovvur, Andhra, where Baba had given darshan in 1954. A life-sized bronze statue of Baba had been built and installed at Mehersthan. The opening ceremony was fixed for February 28th, 1963. Baba sent the following eight messages to Kodury to be displayed in Mehersthan:
(1) Tear away the curtain of set ceremonies and rituals and you will find that I am the Worshiped, the Worship and the Worshiper.
(2) To clothe simple worship with garments of ceremony and rituals is to expose me to the cold winds of ignorance.
(3) To love faithfully the God-Man is to worship God truly.
(4) To find me here in Mehersthan, search the depth of your heart.
(5) Mehersthan is built for me with love, but I may only be found here by my lover who brings me here in his heart.
(6) As the heart is, so is the house; as the eye is, so is the Image within the house.
(7) The heart of man has always been the ancient temple for the worship of the Ancient One.
(8) Nothing can house the Ancient One that does not house love.
When the eight messages were received in Kovvur, there was much discussion as to what exactly Baba meant in regards to observing rituals in the newly-built Center. One Hindu man who took the view that Vedic rites should be allowed was P. Ramalingeshwara Rao, an attorney in Kovvur. His letter to Adi K. Irani on January 19th, and Eruch Jessawala’s subsequent reply are reproduced in full. They contain important guidelines about these type of questions for future generations to reflect upon:
January 19th, 1963
My dear brother Adi,
Pranams [salutations] to the Lotus Feet of Beloved.
For the unveiling of Mehersthan, Beloved has favored eight messages to be inscribed in Mehersthan as well as in the hearts of all Meher lovers.
Our Andhra Meher Center met recently at Kovvur. The very first message which had to be translated into Telugu was interpreted in one way, while I am under a different view. As this is one of the primary messages, it is my earnest prayer to Beloved Avatar that it should be clarified, as we who are near Mehersthan should ourselves know the correct view what Avatar meant for us. This letter is a faithful question by a beloved of Baba to his sweet Beloved, as it should be clarified to one and all.
Baba said: “Tear away the curtain of set ceremonies and rituals and you will find that I am the Worshiped, the Worship and the Worshiper.”
It is mostly the chief opinion of most of our lovers that rituals should be totally avoided, and that Baba means it so. I am totally unable to agree with the above friends of mine. I, for myself, do not feel that it is the wish and intention of the Avatar.
Holding the above firm view, some expressed that no Vedic ceremony will be followed for the unveiling ceremony. I do not know whether it is the order of Baba that Vedic rites are not necessary at the installation. The Vedas are the creation of the Avatar, Baba, himself. It is in the Vedas that we have to study our religion. The authority of the Vedas, you will agree, is for all time to come, as they are his own creation.
Rituals are the kindergarten of religion. They are absolutely necessary for the world as it is now, only we shall have to give people newer and fresher rituals. I am sure that Baba does not totally advocate the abolition of rituals; out of the existing rituals, new ones will have to be evolved. There is infinite power of development in everything; that is my honest belief. Baba must clarify and open my intuitive eye as well as that of everyone.
All along the history of the Hindu race, there was never any attempt at destruction, only construction. However, the Buddhists, the one sect who wanted to destroy, were thrown out of India. Ramanuja, Madhava and Chaitanya were constructive. (1)
The progress of the Hindu race has been toward the realization of Vedic ideals. Whenever there was any reforming sect or religion which rejected the Vedic ideal, it was thrown out. This was past history.
There are innumerable opinions and innumerable paths leading to God. Baba as Krishna, in his universal divine song Bhagavad Gita, laid the three paths of dnyan [knowledge], karma [action] and bhakti [devotion, love]. Further it is a well-known fact that the knowledge of a worldly person, knowledge of a devotee and the knowledge of an Incarnation are by no means of the same degree. Also it is an admitted fact that there are different levels among the devotees – superior, mediocre and inferior. All this has been described in the Gita.
To attain God-Love, at first the company of holy men is needed, which awakens shraddha (faith) in God. Then comes nishta (one-pointed devotion). After nishta comes bhakti (love). Then dawns bhava (ecstasy). Next maha-bhav. Lastly prem or divine love. Of course, if the grace of an Avatar descends, love dawns in a flash. That comes to one in a million. When there are so many paths, stages and levels among devotees coming from the past, Baba will agree that one cannot be King Janak all of a sudden. Even Janak practiced much austerity in solitude. (2)
Ramakrishna Paramhansa [Sadguru of Calcutta] said that without having realized God, one cannot give up rituals altogether, and he too worshiped for a long time.
Of course, this is an Avataric time when the Avatar floods the entire universe. It is easy to break open the curtain with the grace of the Avatar. I agree Mehersthan is built with Baba’s love; one who visits Mehersthan and loves Baba deeply gets his grace and strength to tear off the curtain. When one feels he is one with the Divine, the curtain is removed. But that is not the first state to all commonly.
The Eternal Religion, the religion of rishis, advocated all forms of worship. Rishis of old, in spite of their will power, in order to set an example to others, followed austerities. Baba [as Krishna] in the Bhagavad Gita stated that even he is unattached when he performs karmas to set an example to the universe lest there is destruction. Shloka: “Yadyad Acharathi Srestaha” – “The remembrance of God is the best karma.”
Baba fully knows a worldly man cannot be guileless. Hypocrisy is prevalent. Worldly men profess to love God; but it is not easy, as Baba stresses often, to love him.
If we are to advocate that Baba wanted rituals to be destroyed, as some of us most easily concur in the present times – if Baba does not mean it – is it not another crime for us?
Adi will forgive me and my anxiety in penning a long letter. It is not that the Avatar does not know, as he knows everything, and it is he who made me write and it is he who must lovingly respond and open our intuitive eyes.
As this relates to Mehersthan, I ventured to address my brother Adi so that he will be pleased to read over to Baba this soul’s agony to its “Oversoul” and clarify these points, opening my intuitive eye, as the Avatar is in our midst in flesh and blood to dawn the correct vision and grace with his loving message to all:
(1) Whether rituals are to be totally avoided?
(2) Whether in the ensuing opening of Mehersthan Baba does not concur with me that Vedic rites be sung in praise of the Highest in the installation ceremony, as was done in the past during the incarnation of Lord Ram when he installed Sri Ramalingeshwara at Rameshwaram?
(3) That Baba should prescribe the procedure in laying the idol. His wish as to how we should all conduct ourselves?
(4) That after installation, how regular conduct of worship is to be done and the manner of daily conduct and its running.
Yours affectionately, P. Ramalingeshwara Rao.
(1) Ramanuja (1055-1137) was a renown Hindu saint and Vedic philosopher in Shrirangam, Southern India, the founder of the school of thought called “Qualified Non-dualism.”
Madhava was a rishi (sage) under another rishi named Manu Bhautya. Madhava is also another name for Lord Krishna.
Chaitanya was a Sadguru (1485-1534) from Navadvip, Bengal, who emphasized the path of divine love to attain the Realization of God. He perfected the mantra “Hare Krishna! Hare Ram!” — “O God Vishnu, Krishna! O God Vishnu, Ram!”
(2) King Janak was the father of Sita, the wife of Lord Ram. Janak was one of the five Perfect Masters of his time. In Hindu mythology, Janak is considered an ideal benevolent king, who combined yoga and love of God with enjoyment of the world.
(Baba’s reply through Eruch will be posted tomorrow, January 20, 2011 for the sake of continuity, although it is dated February 1, 1963 )
Lord Meher, Bhau Kalchuri, Original Publication, Vol. 18, pp. 6071 – 6074.