THE TRUST’S FIRST INTERNATIONAL YOUNG ADULT SAHAVAS took place this year at Meherabad from June 22nd to July 2nd. Using Hostel C at Outer Meherabad as its principal venue, the gathering brought together 72 young men and women (ages 19 through 35) from all over the globe – 41 from India, 24 from the US, five from Australia, and two from Israel. Reminiscent of some of the sahavas gatherings at Meherabad or Guruprasad in Meher Baba’s time, the Young Adult Sahavas provided an unprecedented opportunity for young Baba lovers from vastly different backgrounds to commingle freely, without regard to race, caste, religion, or nationality, in the common fellowship of His love.
Two main emphases of the Sahavas were service at Meherabad and the artistic celebration of Meher Baba’s love. Each day, after arti and breakfast, the mornings were devoted to service projects, in which sahavasees shared in the Meherabad work life. Service projects included the whitewashing of Mandali Hall at Lower Meherabad, planting trees near the Samadhi on Meherabad Hill, cleaning the Jhopdi, Table Cabin, and cemeteries, and painting Baba quotes on signs for the Meher English School.
These morning service sessions were supplemented later in the day by workshops on music and song-writing, painting, collage, beading necklaces, stitching and decorating tomb-covers, learning a kind of traditional Indian coloured powder-drawing known as “rangoli,” and dance. The afternoons were rounded off with a vigorous hour of sports – cricket, volleyball, soccer, kite-flying, and marbles.
After evening arti and supper, activities continued on into the night. Programmes open to the wider pilgrim and resident community included a concert by Madhusudan, bhangra and legum dance by the Arangaon villagers, and qawaali singing. Other nights the Sahavas participants watched films or held discussion groups among themselves.
Special highlights interspersed through the ten-day period were visits from Meher Baba’s mandali. Bhau opened and closed the Sahavas with talks; and Aloba, Meheru, Katie, and Bal Natu each paid visits and shared reminiscences. For a number of the Indian participants in particular, even though they had been coming to Meherabad at Amartithi since they were toddlers, this was the first time they had ever met the mandali personally and their first youth sahavas of any kind. Sahavas participants had the further opportunity to visit with the mandali at Meherazad on July 1st, Meherazad’s opening day.
Along with this diverse menu of programmes and activities prepared by the Sahavas organizers, in the middle of the first week Baba threw in some spicy masala of His own. For suddenly Shavasees began falling sick; and Soon, more than a third were bedridden. This gave occasion for some spontaneous and unscheduled service, as healthy sahavasees sat up through late-night hours by the bedsides of their suffering companions. As so often happens in Baba’s work, this shared hardship helped to break down barriers and create more informality particularly among Easterners and Westerners.
The Sahavas culminated on 30th June with an evening programme of “celebrations” in the Meherabad theater in which the Sahavas participants shared with the wider community the fruits of their workshops in the form of song, dance, skit, and other entertainments. On the next evening the sahavasees met for a closing session in Mandali Hall. There, those who felt prompted shared their thoughts and feelings about the previous ten days, and at the end, each took darshan at Baba’s chair. It was one of those occasions in which the floodgates of the heart were opened and Baba’s presence was most intensely felt. Several said afterwards that this final session was one of the most moving experiences of their lives.
In his concluding talk on 2nd July, Bhau drew attention to the real significance of Sahavas, which is the sharing in the intimate company of the Beloved. Giving words to what he felt was Baba’s own voice within him, Bhau explained that Baba’s Sahavas, once started, never really ends. For Baba is like one who brings children down to the Ocean, encouraging them first to wet their feet, then to swim, and at length to dive deeply, until there awakens in them the longing to merge into the Ocean Itself. Thus (as Bhau expressed it) the Beloved says to us – Know well that once you become aware of My Sahavas, it will not end until you become Me. It continues until that time. The programmes organized for the Sahavas will end, but the Sahavas itself will not end until that time when you unite with Me.