Mansari: Did He Leave the Tomb?
The following account is narrated by Mansari Desai, a member of the women mandali who by Baba’s order spent her life on Meherabad Hill as the keeper of the Samadhi, or tomb shrine, of Meher Baba.
Source: Judith Garbett, Lives of Love (1998), pp. 3-4.
[See also Chris Ott’s account of this incident at his blog, where further details are given, notably a mark in the earth that Mansari saw.]
It was on 5th August 1969 that Dr. Donkin came to Meherabad to visit “The Boss,” as he always called Baba. After spending time in the Samadhi, he came and talked with me for about two hours on this and that, again went to Baba, and then left. He looked so completely well and healthy that day.
The next morning when I got up I was already ten minutes late. I took my bath quickly and got ready to go to Baba. I had a strong feeling of urgency — inside me something said: “Come quickly, come soon.” It was not like a physical sound. I said to myself, “Yes, Baba, I know, I’m ten minutes late!” And I took a lantern and hurried across. I do not take my glasses when I go in the morning to Baba, but that morning I took a lantern although it was not very dark.
I came to the doors of Baba’s Samadhi, and lifted the lantern. Even when the doors are closed and locked they do not exactly meet, there is a crack, a slit, between them. When you are standing at the doors you can see a little bit inside, just in front of this crack. As I raised the lantern I caught a flash of something white moving by that crack — like a white sadra — just the hem, I could not see any feet. I thought, “Oh, Baba, will I find you sitting there, or standing, or what?” I undid the lock and opened the doors. Nothing was there — just the crypt with its earth, and the platform round it.
At that time of course the Marble was not there — just the earth in the crypt, which was level with the platform. We kept a heavy sheet over the earth — because at first the people coming would take a pinch of earth to put on their foreheads; but then they began to take some away, and we wouldn’t know where it would go, or how it would be used. So we covered the earth with a sheet, and to stop them lifting this up, I used to put a pile of incense ash at the foot.
But as I went in that morning I saw there was a hollow; the sheet was depressed just over Baba’s feet, exactly where we put our heads when we bow down over the Marble. And the top part of the sheet over Baba had been moved — it looked as though it had been pushed aside, just as a bed looks when one gets out of it in a hurry, and the pile of incense ash was put to one side, carefully.
I thought, “Could someone have come in? But how could they get in?” I went quickly up onto the platform and looked at the windows; they were all securely closed, and the door had been locked. I said: “I must go for my glasses, and make sure I am seeing it all properly.” So I closed the door and hurried to get them. Yes, that depression in the earth was there under the sheet. But no one could have got into the Samadhi, it had been properly locked. What had happened? What to do?
I called the watchman, the old man who was there then, and asked him had he seen or heard anything in the night, but he had seen no-one and hadn’t heard anything. I sent him hurrying down the Hill to find Padri to ask him to come immediately. I wanted someone to see it all before anyone else came, and Padri was the best one to see it with me, and he was also a Trustee. So I latched the doors again, and paced up and down, up and down, waiting.
A boy came to me and said Padri was taking his bath, and that he would come soon. I sent him down the Hill again: “Tell Padri that Mansari says come immediately, it is very important.”
After a few minutes Padri came, and I opened the doors and we went in. “What could cause this?” I asked him.
“Termites!” he said. But I knew it could not be so — no ants would be disturbing that earth.
Now that the two of us had seen it, we agreed we should restore it to normal. Padri was on the platform at the head side, and I was at the foot — where the steps which led down into the crypt used to be, the spot where we all now come to bow down to Baba. Together we worked — and as I leaned over the earth a wonderful Fragrance came up to me — so sweet, so beautiful it was. I kept quiet. Was it really there?
Then Padri came down from the platform, and I watched him. Suddenly he said, “Did you put perfume?”
He looked at me. “Did you smell it?”
He stood there for a moment. “Keep the windows closed, don’t put any flowers. Let’s see who are the lucky ones today.”
He went out — and by 10:00 a.m. people were coming up the Hill. All that day, and the next, and the next, they came. That old man, the watchman, had been telling his story; and it had gone on from one to another in Arangaon, had spread like fire to Ahmednagar, and to other places. Some even asked, “Is it true that Baba ran out of the Samadhi and has gone away?”
For four days that beautiful Fragrance was there, wafting all over the top of the Hill, around the back, and down to where the path has a flat part. The crowds kept coming each day, those fortunate ones, and all experienced it.
Then some time on the 9th August, in the same way that the Fragrance had come, it was gone. It was on that day that Dr. Donkin died.