Symbols of the world's religions

               

THEREBY BECOME ONE FAMILY

Elizabeth Patterson

 
The little village of Arangaon, with its four hundred inhabitants, is about a quarter mile from Meherabad. We can hear its temple bells from our hilltop. The village had its importance, together with Ahmednagar, in the time of the brave Mohammedan queen, Chandbibi, who lived several hundred years ago in the Mogul period, and who led her armies to victory (although she, riding on her white horse, was killed in the battle)....

There is an ancient feud existing in Arangaon, the true details of which are lost, but which is kept alive in the village through the inhabitants taking sides; two "parties" have long been formed. The village has always been divided against itself, despite the fact that the inhabitants are practically of one caste....

It happened ... that some minor crime was committed in Arangaon, and the ancient feud flared up; one village party was on the point of killing the other when they remembered Baba. They sent a delegation to Him, saying that only Meher Baba could settle their differences. He returned word that He would meet a contingent from either side, both at the same time, at the ashram in Meherabad that evening.

As we rode up, the two parties were seated, divided on either side of the building, and Baba arranged that they were kept waiting for a few moments and then suddenly called into the ashram. In this way they came inside all mixed as one party and Baba requested them at once to be seated on the floor.

One villager with murderous thoughts against the other found himself seated next to one of the opposite party — they were so intent upon putting their side of the question before Meher Baba, believing Him to be the True Judge, that they did what on other occasions would have been impossible without bloodshed.

Baba had several of His able, staunch men disciples conduct the gathering, and if more than one villager spoke at a time they were quietly but strongly kept in order. Baba showed extreme patience and listened to about forty anguished souls with all they had to say. Finally one old woman came forward and swayed back and forth, almost as if she were reciting an incantation of all the woes of the race. One of the village men stepped forward and pushed her aside, as even they could not stand so many woes!

At another point, when evidently the particular offender was speaking, about ten men arose and commenced yelling at one another. Baba smiled benignly and then clapped His hands for silence. The effect was instantaneous and amazing; the men so rough and loud and Baba so gentle in comparison, not speaking, but with only a hand clap of command that abated their storm of passion.

On His board, interpreted by one of His disciples, He informed the gathering that, as evidently they had made up their minds not to be peaceable, there was nothing to do but to leave the matter to take its course, and when it reached the authorities they would deal with it in their own way. Baba arose to leave. Upon this the villagers, who were enjoying their ill feelings towards one another and wished to talk all night, were taken aback and their faces visibly fell, for suddenly the arguers were left without an argument, as fire without fuel!

Meher Baba paused at the doorway and, seeing them crestfallen, stated that He would remain only if they would abide by His decision — to which they agreed. First He took the headman to task for not having kept better order in the village. Some began to feel rather sorry because they felt in their hearts that they were really to blame in this matter. Then He told the dissenters that they must "forgive and forget and become one."

As long as they had two parties they could never accomplish this. There was much discussion amongst themselves, and I thought, of course, that they were objecting to giving up the two parties; but instead there was objection to eating together, as it had been proposed that a village feast be held. The question at issue appeared to be that one side would not accept food from the other. In Indian custom if both parties agree to eat together, it becomes a bond; similarly, in our Christian Bible it refers to breaking bread together as something sacred; but we in the West have lost the significance that the East still has for this rite.

It was agreed finally that if Meher Baba Himself would give the food, they would both accept from Him and thereby become one family. In this concrete manner, a few days later, Baba thus blessed this flock of black and white sheep, uniting them from ancient hatred into fellowship.

 

TREASURES, pp. 76-79, ed. Jane Barry Haynes
1980 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust

               

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