The repair work in Arangaon of cleaning the mess hall, applying plaster to its ruined walls, and fixing the roof commenced again soon after their return. There was little time to oneself. Meher Baba’s orders came first; each man became more involved with his duties than his person. Right after the mandali finished their breakfast of bread and tea, they would be occupied with this work the entire day. Some would draw water out of the well and carry it, some would prepare the clay-mud plaster, and others would apply it to the walls. At noon there would be an hour’s respite for lunch of rice and dal. In the evening, dinner consisted of a potato dish with bread. For long intervals during this period, Baba would fast only on liquids, taking no solid food.
After the repairs were finished, the structure was white washed. Being unaccustomed to painting, the men’s hands became severely blistered and, despite applying oil and lotion to them, the pain lasted for several days. After several days of work, the mess hall, known as the mess quarters, was finally reconstructed and ready for occupancy.
Leaving the Post Office on the evening of May 22nd, (1923) the mandali, each (including Baba) carrying his own bedding and baggage, moved into the mess hall quarters. Baba selected particular spots where each man was to spread out his bedding. On the right side a small room was reserved for Baba. In his room, Upasni Maharaj’s photograph was hung with burning incense placed before it.
During the night as the mandali were talking, Gustadji felt something soft under his pillow and, when raising it, found a snake. Padri immediately killed it. They wondered from where it had come since no snakes were seen while repairing the building, and Gustadji had spread his bedding after thoroughly sweeping the area. They had killed some scorpions, but had not seen one snake.
Meher Baba then concluded, remarking, “In order to be on the safe side, let’s move back to the Post Office.” So all again shouldered their belongings and bedding rolls and, in the dark, walked back to their original shelter.
While they were making themselves comfortable, Baba said, “Arangaon is not such a good place. It is no good remaining here now. Think of some other place which is free of snakes and scorpions.” Several places were mentioned, but none was approved by Baba. Pendu then suggested travelling to Quetta. Baba liked this prospect since he had promised Pilamai to visit Karachi. Baba later concluded, “Not only should we leave Arangaon, but we should also leave Ahmednagar, Bombay and India altogether, and go to Persia (Iran) by the northern route of Quetta and Karachi.”
Baba had previously thought of farming the land at Arangaon. Preparations had been underway for some days, bullocks had been ordered and a pump was to be installed at the well. Rustom had already sent the pump, but the very next day it was returned to him, and the order for the bullocks was summarily canceled.
Before leaving Arangaon, the topic of giving a name to the place was discussed and the Master renamed it “Meherabad” – “Abad” meaning a prosperous settlement, or a flourishing colony. A large signboard was painted, and Nervous nailed it between two poles and planted it near the railway tracks.
Arangaon was then a quiet, tranquil setting. Had anyone, who witnessed this any idea of how important this place would become in the future? How fortunate these few men were to be with Meher Baba when he first stayed there. The history of mankind’s pilgrimage was being transformed there. Many years later the world would realize the significance of these days in May 1923, when this land was sanctified.
God’s mercy was to flourish!
Meherabad – not Arangaon – was the name
that would be remembered by our Age.
“Pilgrimage to Meherabad!” would become
the future cry of mankind
Lord Meher, Original Publication, Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 2, pp. 518 – 519.