Lyn Ott, the painter who painted so many wonderful paintings of Meher Baba, was already legally blind when he met Baba for the first time. At that meeting, Baba noticed that Lyn hadn’t shaved.
“Come feel Baba’s shave,” He said to Lyn. After touching Baba’s face and feeling His shave, Baba asked Lyn what he thought.
Lyn’s reply was that he had never thought that God shaved.
“I am more human than you are,” was Baba’s reply.
One August day in 1924, while speaking to a small group of followers at His ashram in Sakori, India, Upasani Maharaj began relating a dream that He had the night of the previous day and then again on the night of the following day.
“This dream consists of three parts, He said. “On the previous night’s dream I had an urge for a nature’s call and I began to wonder where I should go for the same. I had to visit a latrine that time; but when I approached it I suddenly found that the place was a part of the house!
“The place was divided into an inner and an outer part by a wall that had an opening without a door. To answer my call, I had to pass through that opening in the wall of the outer part to get into the inner part, and I did.
“When I entered that inner compartment, I found strewn everywhere night-soil in different stages of drying, from an absolute liquid state to dried pieces. You may exclaim as to what it is that I am telling you! But don’t you see that to me, whether the stories are of God or of night-soil, they are one and the same?
“I have told you once that if I have attained Godhood, I have done it through the night-soil and so, is it not natural for me to speak about it and talk in respectful terms about it?
“You may ask if I am suggesting that all of you should do likewise, but how can I tell you what to do when all that we do depends on our Purva Sanskaras—our previous impressions. Anyway, I will relate to you my dream…” – The Talks of Sadguru-Baba Maharaja, Volume II, Part B
In the mind of the average person, thoughts and desires arise as the result of impressions. Impressions are created when actions—gross, subtle, or mental—are performed and experienced. These experienced actions create more impressions…
In other words, the gross, subtle, and mental actions of the average person are the result of impressions stored in the mind. Dreaming is a way of reviewing these impressions.
But the mind of a Perfect Master is quite different. No desires lurk in His mind. No impressions—gross, subtle, or mental—exist in His mind. And without impressions, no actions—gross, subtle, or mental—are performed or experienced. Yet Perfect Masters appear to do things…
Upasani Maharaj explains that the mind of a Perfect Master is like a mirror—whatever is held up before it is reflected back to the source of the reflection. If the one who stands before the mirror has abundance of papa—due to having committed many faulty actions—then the Master is seen to be disagreeable and unpleasant. On the other hand, when one with an abundance of puna—the result of many selfless and compassionate actions—stands before the mirror of the Perfect Master, the Master is seen to be all bliss and love.
So, how was it that Upasani Maharaj could have a dream, when there was nothing of Himself to instigate it and no ordinary person standing in front of Him at the time? The only answer could be, God! But we are getting a little ahead of our story, so let’s return to Upasani’s dream.
“When I went into the inner apartment, I suddenly found the night-soil to be in a semi-fluid state—almost everywhere in heaps—and it was flowing through the opening in the wall in the outer room. I began to wonder where to go.
“In the inner room the night-soil was in such great heaps that a person going in would have been drowned. I began to wonder as to who might have passed all that night-soil and why nobody ever cleaned that place. I wondered if I had come to a public latrine, and I wondered why the whole thing started flowing out like that.
“I went into the outer room and sat down to relieve myself and noticed how my night-soil and that which flowed out from the inner room merged and became one. I began to shift here and there—by then my feet and buttocks were smeared with night-soil.
“There was, however, no stink or any flies. Was it purified night-soil or what? It was not scented either. In a short while the outer room was filled with it. There was not an inch of space without it to stand on. I began to wonder where it was all coming from, and in that state I woke up.” – The Talks of Sadguru-Baba Maharaja, Volume II, Part B
Upasani’s dream continued the next day. He had fallen asleep while prayers were being dedicated to Him by His followers. He later explained that a lady wearing marks of Saubhagya entered the hut. (These days, the most recognizable mark of Saubhagya is the red dot seen on the forehead of married Hindu women). He described the appearance of the woman saying;
“She looked a simple decent woman—neither very pretty nor very well-dressed. She wore no ornaments.”
Upasani recounts their conversation that I will recall here without quotation marks:
I – Who are you?
She – Have you not recognized me? Yesterday I visited you.
I – You are the same, is it?
She – I am the same; I was flowing out of that inner room.
I – What!
She – You were coming in and I was coming out.
I – Night-soil?
She – Yes.
I – Oh, you are dirty—unholy—you soaked me in.
She – Yesterday I came in that form, but today, I have come in this form.
I – I have not recognized you.
She – I am the Ganga.
I – It was you who was flowing yesterday?
She – Yes.
I – Are you night-soil?
She – That is my true form.
I – I have seen many a time heaps of night-soil.
She – I was all that.
I – I see; that is why there was no smell or flies.
She – Yes; I am that.
Necklace adorning the worlds!
Banner rising to heaven!
I ask that I may leave of this body on your banks,
Drinking your water, rolling in your waves,
Remembering your name, bestowing my gaze upon you.” – Gangashtakam
The Ganga, also called the Ganges, is a river whose journey begins high in the Himalayas. Fed by numerous rivers and streams, it winds through India and Bangladesh and empties into the sea at the Bay of Bengal. Like all rivers, it can be seen as part of a larger closed circuit of earth and water, sea and sky. The river is considered sacred and for thousands of years devotees have bathed in it, washed in it, worshipped it, and dumped in it. But this description is only part of a greater story…
Long ago, many cycles of yugas before the cycle of yugas that contains our present Kali Yuga, (a cycle of yugas is roughly 438,000 human years) a powerful demon threatened the delicate equilibrium that maintains all of the various forces that sustain the existence of creation. Creation—all of the entire gross, subtle, and mental worlds—is controlled by that one aspect of Almighty God called Ishwar. Ishwar has three aspects, the Creator, the Preserver, and the Destroyer, often represented respectively by the personifications of Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh.
And so, when Brahma became aware of the threat to the Creation, He appealed to Vishnu who incarnated as the dwarf Vamana and tricked the demon by asking him to grant him as much of his kingdom as he could measure in three steps. With the first step he covered all of Earth. With the second step he covered all the heavens and while doing that Brahma washed Vishnu’s feet in his kamandula (water pot) from which Ganga would be born. With the third step Vamana pushed the demon back to the underworld.
But Ganga was not originally born as a great river; at first, Ganga was born as a beautiful girl who danced in heaven to the delight of the gods and souls with subtle and mental consciousness—well, perhaps not to delight of all, because in heaven there is always some kind of intrigue and drama going on, and it so happened that Ganga became the recipient of a curse from a powerful rishi named Durvasa. The curse was that Ganga would become reincarnated as a great river in which all humans would seek purification.
Now in heaven, and this heaven is not the heaven of the heaven and hell states described by followers of most religions, but the heaven of the third plane of subtle consciousness as described by Meher Baba, which contains the abodes of gods, angels, and advanced souls, exists the eight Vasus, a category of deity who control and maintain creation’s forces of earth, wind, fire, and space, and the existences of the sun, sky, moon, and stars.
It was these eight Vasus who obtained a vow from Ganga that she would become their mother and as soon as they would incarnate on the earth—this incarnation being the result of a curse put upon them by a great Rishi—that she would manifest on the earth plane and drown them and put an end to their incarnation.
One might raise the question, why the Vasus would not want to incarnate on the earth, but remember that their existence in the higher planes of consciousness was blissful beyond any earthy happiness or delight, and was free of death, disease, and suffering. For the Vasus, the curse of an earthly incarnation was viewed as the worst kind of fate.
The story of Ganga takes many twists and turns, much like her course as an earthly river, but eventually she is called upon to fulfil her destiny and honor the vow she made to the eight Vasus. It is said that she continues to purify the people who bath in her as she, herself, is purified by the real saints who bathe in her waters also.
And so, this is Ganga, the very same one who visited Upasani Maharaj in His dreams.
“All the while she was standing outside the cage and was lying in the cage. I told her not to enter the cage, that I was quite content with her yesterday’s darshana. Then I spoke to her a little more and then she went away. I woke up at this stage, but I began to repent the fact that Ganga herself had come, and now I had lost her. What an unfortunate fellow am I.” The Talks of Sadguru-Baba Maharaja, Volume II, Part B