The following is Eruch Jessawala’s full reply to P. Ramalingeshwara Rao:
February 1st, 1963
My dear brother,
Your letter of 19th January was forwarded to me by dear brother Adi for being read out to Beloved Baba and for reply to you.
In spite of Baba’s ban for a full year on the flow of correspondence to and from him, and despite his present phase of seclusion, he permitted me to read out your letter to him, for it was from one who has endeared himself to him as “Baba’s P. A. (Personal Assistant)!”
Without beating about the bush, I will attempt to answer your queries according to indications as gathered by me from Baba. As a matter of fact, your long letter can be replied in a short sentence by asking you simply to read Meher Pukar (a Hindi periodical) – the January-February 1962 issue, pages 27 to 31. However, I will reply to your four points as requested by you in your letter which, on the whole, seems based mainly on your questioning one of the eight messages of Beloved Baba that he has given for the opening of Mehersthan on February 28th, 1963. This message reads as follows:
“Tear away the curtain of set ceremonies and rituals
and you will find that I am the Worshiped,
the Worship and the Worshiper.”
(1) Your first query is: Whether rituals are to be totally avoided?
In reply to this query I must tell you, dear brother, that Meher Baba as the Avatar of the Age wants you to believe that he does not want the true worship of his lovers to be entwined by rites and ceremonies of yagna (sacred fire) and homa-havan of any other forms of ritual. Baba does not want his lovers to ever offer their prayer to him padded by any sort of formal practice or set customs. Any ceremony on which the rust of past ages of formal observance has long since set in, should never be entertained in his House of Worship.
Baba often stressed that he has come again as the Avatar of this Age to cut clean through the thongs which restrict the voice of true worship to God to the point of strangulation.
Beloved Baba further clarifies that when love for God is expressed spontaneously, then it is worshiping Him indeed, and such outbursts of true worship can be seen sometimes in the form of an offering of flowers and garlands, in singing hymns and bhajans and arti, in ecstatic dancing or rolling in the dust, et cetera. When such expressions are spontaneous – not formal – and are in praise of the Highest of the High, they constitute true worship of God, for this reaches Him and is acceptable to Him.
But when the mind expresses itself in patterns of formal rites and rigid ceremonies, it is nothing more than an empty echo of the habit of countless generations, performed automatically without “heart.” Baba says that such a worship not only does NOT reach Him, but holds the worshiper more firmly in the grip of ignorance.
(2) Your second query is: Whether at the opening of Mehersthan Baba does or does not concur with you that Vedic hymns be sung in praise of the Highest in the installation ceremony, as was done in the past during the incarnation of Shri Ram when he installed Sri Ramalingeshwara at Rameshwaram.
Before replying to this query, I must first draw your attention to the fact that a statue of Beloved Baba is not to be installed, BUT that Beloved Baba’s dear person embodied in bronze is to be unveiled.
After the unveiling, not only Vedic hymns may be freely sung in praise of the Highest, but also full freedom should then be given to Muslims to recite the Koran in praise of the Highest, to the Christians to sing their hymns in praise of the Highest, to the Zoroastrians to sing their monajats in praise of the Highest, and to the Harijans to sing their bhajans in praise of the same Highest of the High!
Indeed, Lord Ram may have installed Sri Ramalingeshwara with Vedic rites and singing of hymns, but remember that any action of the Avatar’s doing is NEVER the same as our doing that same action. As Baba himself has often told us: “Do as I tell you, and not as I do!”
Also, we should remember that, although whatever the Avatar does must be right (since he is God), his actions at a particular time are not necessarily for all time. Furthermore, in each successive advent, the Avatar has to clear away abuses which have become attached to his former actions, even at the cost of apparently denying the validity (at the time) of those actions.
(3) Your third query is: That Baba should prescribe the procedure in laying the Idol; his wish as to how you should all conduct yourselves.
This very question arises from the misleading idea that you will be installing an idol of Baba! Baba says that his living person is by itself the Real Idol of God and no other idol can replace it – it will be replaced only with his next advent after 700 years! No amount of ceremonies for pran-pratishta can ever breathe the life of Baba into an idol! The moment you think of an idol of Baba in Mehersthan, you wash away the very foundation of your own faith in Baba, your own love for Baba and your own obedience to Baba’s dictates! Only those who fail to feel his presence anywhere else than in the bronze image of Baba, will find Beloved Baba as a mere statue or idol in Mehersthan.
Lovers of Baba should make Mehersthan the House of True Worship by expression of their pure love for him, and they should believe that in it is housed the very presence of Beloved Avatar Meher Baba, and not his idol or statue.
The answer in a nutshell to your third query is that you should believe in the very presence of Beloved Baba at Mehersthan, and drive away all thoughts of replacing Baba’s presence with installation of an idol of Baba “sanctified” by Vedic rites.
The bronze statue of Beloved Baba can be of help to perpetuate Baba’s presence in Mehersthan for posterity.
4) Your fourth query is: That after installation, what should be the daily regular conduct of worship?
In answer to this I must say that this question will never arise if all lovers of Baba enter Mehersthan with the belief that Baba himself is in it. Your conduct should be as it is when you are in the presence of your Beloved Baba at Ahmednagar or Poona.
Any lover of Baba who enters Mehersthan is in himself the pujari (priest) of Baba; every lover should have full freedom of expression of love for Baba according to the dictates of his or her heart. Anyone should have a free access to Baba in Mehersthan and be allowed full freedom of expression of love for Baba without any reservations of caste or creed or race. There can be no better form of worship in Mehersthan than repeating Baba’s name and singing in his praise – and those who cannot sing can read, recall and repeat Baba’s messages and discourses, can recite the Master’s Prayer of Parvardigar and the Prayer of Repentance, can read aloud the messages of the Highest of the High and Meher Baba’s Call, can listen to bhajans on Baba and, above all, can spend most of the time sitting quietly in Baba’s presence, recalling the incidents and happenings of all the sahavas and the recent East-West Gathering.
In short, there should be no restrictions whatsoever for the conduct of worship in Mehersthan, and love for God should have full scope of expression without any reservation of high and low, rich or poor. The precious eight messages given by Beloved Baba for the occasion of the opening of Mehersthan are by themselves the code of true worship. Nothing that is strictly formal, or set, or merely customary practice should be adhered to while worshiping in Mehersthan at Kovvur.
However, there should be strict rules framed and displayed to maintain discipline, cleanliness, and hygienic conditions in and around Mehersthan. Mehersthan should have a watchman to look after the property, but no regular and paid pujaris, for every lover of Baba is in himself a true pujari.
This letter has become very long, and I hope that you will feel satisfied with the answers to all your queries. I have tried my best to be faithful to what I have gathered from Beloved Baba’s indications given on points raised by you in your letter and given from time to time in response to such points raised in the past by some other lovers seeking enlightenment from him who is All-Knowledge and Compassion. Hence, if you had tried, dear brother, you would equally have found answers to your queries in the various literature of Baba in English as well as in Hindi in “Meher Pukar,” “Prem Mahima” and “Divya Leela.”
Now that you have received this letter, Baba wants you to make the best use of it by sharing the contents with all Baba lovers in Kovvur and all lovers of Baba in Andhra. Baba also wants you to explain the contents of this letter faithfully to Shri and Shrimathi Kodury Krishna Rao.
Beloved Baba sends his love to you and to all his dear ones of your parivar [family] and wants you to acknowledge this letter.
Meher Baba’s unique leela (interplay) was to tear away the veil of ceremonies and rituals, and he used Meher Dham in Nauranga, Hamirpur, and Mehersthan in Kovvur, Andhra, as his medium. While remaining free of dogmas and tenets, Baba has shown the way for humanity to offer loving and sincere worship to God, and Ramalingeshwara Rao fully accepted what Eruch wrote. With the establishment of Meher Dham and Mehersthan, people were awakened to what true worship is, and their traditional doctrines and religious dogmas and ceremonies were gradually abandoned. They became aware of how useless ceremonies and rituals are, and in so doing became aware of the reality of the Spiritual Path.
Lord Meher, Original Publication, Bhau Kalchuri, Vol.18, pp. 6075 – 6078.