Symbols of the world's religions

               

QUAKER OATS

Eruch Jessawala

 
It so happened that in 1958, two of my cousins were to marry each other. Meher Baba told me to attend the wedding, which was unusual. As it turned out, this was the last wedding I ever attended, but I didn't know that at the time. I just thought it would be an outing for me and I was happy to go. Little did I know what was in store for me.

The time for the occasion was four o'clock. We were staying in Poona at Guruprasad at the time, and as I prepared to leave for the Zoroastrian temple where the wedding was to take place, Baba gestured, "Have a good time. Come back soon."

As I entered the large compound of the temple, I noticed that all the invited Baba lovers were grouped together. There were, in all, some six or seven hundred people there. Some were Baba lovers and some were from the Zoroastrian community and some were friends of the wedding party. Naturally I went to join the Baba group and, as I did so, someone came to me, hugged me and greeted me by saying, "It is good that you have come."

I said, "Yes, Baba permitted me to come today."

"Will you please come over here?" he asked and then led me to a group where a heated discussion seemed to be taking place.

At the center of the group was the editor of the local paper and he was saying, "What is this? I hear that Meher Baba is trying to draw people to him. His lovers go to people and say, 'You are a devotee of Rama? Forget about Him, He is dead and gone. Now you are to hold to Meher Baba.' So too the devotees of Krishna are weaned from Him and told to only follow Meher Baba. To devoted Christians, the Baba lovers say, 'This is all past history. Now you need Meher Baba. You have to believe in Him. He is the same Ancient One, come yet again.' Is it fact that Meher Baba says this? Why does He do this? Why does He try to wean others from their devotion?"

I said, "So this is the discussion? But we have come here for a wedding, not for a lecture or study group."

"But I would really like to know," the editor replied. And some of the Baba lovers from the local center said to me, "This has been going on for an hour or so. It is good that you have come. Did Baba say anything on this?"

"Whatever I have gathered," I replied, "I will tell you. The fact is that what you say is absolutely wrong. Meher Baba has never said such things, and He has never told His devotees to do so. He does not send people out to the marketplace, or ask them to visit people and tell them that they should forget their devotion to Krishna, or Rama, or Jesus, or Zoroaster, or anything of that sort. On the contrary, Baba says, 'You belittle Me if you do that. I am that same Ancient One. If others are devoted to Jesus, Rama, Krishna, and if you drag them out of their devotion and try to divert it to Me, you belittle Me in their devotion because I am that same Rama, Krishna, Jesus.' This is what I have heard from Meher Baba."

"Is that so?" the editor asked. "Then why are Baba people saying such things?"

"I don't know," I said. "But this is what I have gathered from Meher Baba. In their fervor, some Baba lovers may say something else, but this is what I have heard from Baba Himself."

The editor seemed very happy to hear this. So then I added something else, a little anecdote Baba had told us once and which possibly some of his devotees had misconstrued. "Are you familiar with Quaker Oats?" I asked the editor.

"Yes," he answered, "as a child we used to have them, and we still give them to our children."

"I, too, was given those oats as a child," I said. "So when Baba asked us if we knew the brand, we did. Baba went on to explain that the oats were good for children, as they gave nourishment and enabled the children to be strong and vigorous. He then told us the following story."

"Let's say," Baba began, "that a mother has been feeding her son with Quaker Oats. She has been doing this for years and is quite convinced that the oats are beneficial for her son. Well, one day, as she pours some out for her son's breakfast, she notices that she only has enough left for one more serving. It is just after the war and there is a scarcity of consumer goods, there is rationing. So the woman is very concerned. She doesn't know whether she will be able to find any more tins of Quaker Oats in the stores.

"After breakfast, she rushes down to the store, and to her great relief, she notices that there is one tin left on the shelves. Immediately she goes over to get that precious last tin when the storekeeper appears and says, 'Don't take that tin.' The woman is startled and says, 'But I have to have this tin. I am almost out of Quaker Oats at home, so I need to get more.'

"'I understand that,' the storekeeper replied, 'but please don't take that tin.'

"'But I'm your old customer,' the woman pleads, 'I have been shopping here for years. Surely you can sell that to me.'

"'I know you are my old customer, that is why I am asking you not to take that tin. I can sell it to you but. . .'

"'I will pay extra,' the woman suggests, thinking that this is what the storekeeper has been leading up to. 'I don't care what you charge; I have to have that tin.'

"'No, no, you don't understand. It is not a question of paying extra at all. You see, I have just received a new shipment of Quaker Oats. That is the last tin from my old stock. Let me get you a tin from my fresh stock.'

Baba then asked us, "What mother is there who would insist on buying the old stock when she could purchase a tin of the fresh new stock? I am the fresh stock," Baba added. "It is all Quaker Oats, the ingredients are the same, but I am the fresh stock."

THAT'S HOW IT WAS, p. 272-275
1995 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust

               

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