History and Importance of Hamirpur (U.P.), India, A.M.B. Centers And Places Of Pilgrimage
The entire district of Hamirpur in U.P., India, had the unique privilege of being chosen by Avatar Meher Baba to start what He called as His Fiery Free Life phase. This was in the year 1952. His Fiery Free Life started from 15 November 1952. Baba started for Kanpur, U.P., on the night of Sunday, November 16th, reaching there on 18th where He and the accompanying mandali were joined by Meherjee and Irene Conybeare. For the next ten days, from the 18th to the 27th of November, Baba gave darshan to the masses at various places in Hamirpur district. About His Fiery Free Life Baba had said: "My sole concern in the Fiery Free Life, commencing from November 15th, will be with the Divine Truth of my Realization, which I would like to share with those who seek it. The consuming of freedom and bindings, which is characteristic of the Fiery Free Life, means that there is a complete blending of the God-state and the Man-state, so that one does not live through opposition to the other, and there can be no question of the one encroaching upon the province of the other." "In the Fiery Free Life, all the frailties of the ego-life are completely consumed, and there is complete emancipation from all wants, desires and temptations. And the result of this Fiery Free Life will make the world understand that Meher Baba and everyone is One with God."
During the ten days, darshan programs took place at the towns and villages of Hamirpur, Bharwa Sumerpur, Ingohta, Maudaha, Meherstana, Mahoba, Kulpaha, Panwari, Rath, Nauranga, Majhgwan, Jarakhar, Dhagwan, Amarpura, Khangaram, Dhanauri, Banda and Harpalpur. Meher Baba's accompanying mandali consisted of Aloba, Baidul, Chhagan, Dhake, Eruch, Gadekar, Gustadji, Jal (Baba's brother), Kaikobad, Kumar, Madhusudan, Nana Kher, Nariman, Pankhraj, Pendu, Ramjoo, Savak Kotwal, Sidhu, Thade, Vishnu and Yeshwant Rao.
Hamirpur district is adjacent to Chitrakoot, an important pilgrimage town in India, where Ram passed twelve years of His exile with Sita and Laxman. Meher Baba as the Avatar gave great importance to rivers Betwa and Narmada. Betwa flows through Hamirpur. Referring to Hamirpur, Meher Baba had disclosed:"In one of my previous advents, I stayed in this area."
Baba and mandali reached Hamirpur town on 18 November.1952. Baba's staying arrangements were made at the P.W.D. Guest House. The mandali were lodged at Bhavani Prasad's house. Irene Conybeare's staying arrangements were made at the residence of Mr. Mahmood Batt, who was the District Magistrate. Baba and the mandali visited the houses of Bhawani Prasad Nigam, Keshav Narayan Nigam and Pukar, who were the devoted Baba lovers and main organizers. Baba stayed in Hamirpur for two days i.e. 18 & 19 November. During this stay, He also visited Mahmood Batt's residence to meet Irene and on way back made His car to encircle a vast millet crop field. He emphatically pointed the millet field to Pukar, who was with Him in the car. Years after, a huge Meher colony of residents and a spectacular Meher Temple came into existence in that very area.
Every year Hamirpur celebrates the first visit of the Avatar on 18-19 November in the form of a big Meher Prem Mela. Hamirpur is an important Avatar Meher Baba Center and Meherpuri Trust runs a school as well. After Keshav Narayan Nigam and Pukar, now Shaligram Sharma is the main anchor person and lives nearby Meher Temple. "Meher Pukar", the famous Hindi Meher Baba magazine, is also published from Hamirpur. Shaligram is the Chief-editor of the magazine.
Baba and mandali reached Ingohta on 20th November. His staying arrangements were made at Laxmichand Paliwal's home. It was in the front compound of Paliwal's home, Pukar had the vision of Meher Baba as Ram and fainted on the ground in ecstasy. Ingohta is now an important pilgrimage town as a beautiful Meher Temple -Avatar Dham- has come up there.
From Ingohta, Baba and mandali reached Meherstana (village Mahewa) on 21 November evening. Meherstana is a tiny village where on a hillock, Keshav Nigam and his brother Mukundlal had a very good mud hut built exclusively for Baba's stay while mandali stayed at a distance. Baba very much liked the hut named `Meherstana' (Meher's Abode) and the unique surrounding scenery. It was there that, for the first time, Keshav Nigam read out to Baba his long poem "Meher Chalisa", which he had composed two years before. Baba commented:
"These verses have deeply touched my heart." Baba had His message "Highroads to God" read out there, which gave indications about the future importance of the place. In this message Baba says: " The rituals and ceremonies of organized religions can lead the seeker only to the threshold of the true inner journey which proceeds along certain highroads. ... The quickest of these highroads lies through the God-Man, who is consciously One with the Truth. In the God-Man, God reveals Himself in all His glory, with His infinite power, unfathomable knowledge, inexpressible bliss and eternal existence." No wonder that Meherstana was chosen by Meher Baba as the place where, for the first time in His life on earth, He hailed Himself as the Avatar of the Age during His second visit to the place in 1954.
On 9 February, after a night long session of Bhajans and Qwalees,at 11.40 midnight, Baba asked everyone to wash his face and hands for prayers. At zero hour, Eruch read repentance prayer in English, Ramjoo in Urdu and Dhake in Marathi. At fifty minutes past midnight in the first hour of 10 February morning, Baba spelled on His alphabet board "Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai" and raised His right hand to hail the declaration. He then revealed that after dropping His body He would come again as the Avatar after 700 years.
Meherstana, therefore, is one of the most sacred Meher Pilgrimage places in the world. Later at around 8 a.m., Baba again spelled "Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai" on His board and said, "Today is my birthday and it is the first time I have called out my own victory cry."The village celebrates the days of Baba's first visit on 21-23 November 1952, in the form of a big Meher Prem Mela.
From Meherstana, Baba and mandali came to Rath where on 25 November 1952 some twenty thousand people have had His darshan in a public program. From Rath, Baba reached Nauranga where Babu Ramprasad arranged things for Baba and His mandali. An hostile group there burst a canal dike obstructing entry into Nauranga. Baba gave darshan outside the village. The opposition shortly thereafter turned to ashes during Baba's Fiery Free Life, and Nauranga now has a beautiful Meher Temple named "Meher Dham" made with the permission of Avatar Himself, though given reluctantly. At the opening ceremony of the temple , Baba deputed the queen of Baroda State and Adi Sr. to participate. Nauranga also celebrates Baba's first visit in the form of a big Meher Prem Mela.
Icchaura, a village 15 miles away from the town of Orai and situated on the banks of Betwa, is a place which got the name of "Meher Prem Teerth". Baba, together with His mandali (Aloba, Baidul, Bhau, Eruch, Gustadji, Kaikobad, Kishen Singh, Kumar and Pendu), visited this remote village in February 1954. He sanctified the Betwa river by bathing with its water. A rare spiritual meeting was held by Baba during the night and the villagers were instructed to remain inside their homes. However, some laborers from outside and not aware of Baba's instructions, reported that the entire area radiated with brilliant light reaching down from heavens above. They also saw radiant beings descending down in light globes.
Hamirpur, Meherstana and Nauranga together constitute what can be called as Meher Prem Mela & Sahvas Triangle. Pilgrims attending these Meher Love Festivals not only get a glimpse of rural India but also get the feel of the warmth and depth of Meher Love of simple village people.
The address and contact person for the Centre is :
Shaligram Sharma, 9/88 Meher Nazar, Meherpuri, Hamirpur 210301 (U.P.); Phone 05282-22217
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