Meher Baba copyright 1987 Charlie Mills

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2959MANONASH1950

Madhusudan, a superb singer, was a regular member, and had started composing and singing bhajans about Baba. Subhadra Bundellu was also a fine singer, and the Thade family would join them in accompaniment. Three brothers — Laxmikant, Kishan and Narendra Thade — their parents and others such as Bapusaheb Shinde, Laxman Kamble, Rangole, Bade, Narayan and Krishna Bundellu, and a young man, Pratap Ahir were part of the bhajan group. The group was directed by Gadekar and his wife Gunatai; and their children, Digambar and Nalini, also sang. The Poona bhajan group hoped to sing bhajans before Baba one day, just as Rustom Kaka and his wife Silla Kaku of Ahmednagar used to sing on special occasions in Meherabad and Meherazad.

On his return to Mahabaleshwar, Baba asked for a photograph of each member of the Poona bhajan group. Pointing to Madhusudan's and Narendra Thade's pictures, Baba remarked, "I will keep these two with me for some days."

Baba invited the entire Poona bhajan group to Mahabaleshwar to perform on Mehera's birthday that year. A week before this program, Khak Saheb handed Thade a song he had written, saying, "If you get a chance, the group might sing this song before Baba." A few days later, on 23 December 1950, Khak Saheb passed away in Poona at the age of 64.

Khak Saheb had been with Meher Baba since the early days of Manzil-e-Meem, where he and Asar Saheb had written Upasni Maharaj's biography in Urdu. Khak had stayed with Baba for long periods in Toka, Bangalore and Meherabad. Although because of his age he had not been able to join Baba on the New Life, he held fast to him until the last. From Meherabad, he had gone to live with his family in Poona.

When Ghani read the song Khak Saheb had written, he too gave the group a song to sing before Baba. The Poona group attended Khak's funeral and then left for Mahabaleshwar the next day, the 24th. They met Baba that evening, and each in the group sang individually for him in a small room.

Mehera's birthday was celebrated in Mahabaleshwar on Christmas Day, Wednesday, 25 December 1950. Kitty and Rano were also invited to attend this program and thus spent their Christmas holiday with Baba.

Madhusudan and members of the bhajan mandali sang devotional songs that day, and then the Song of the New Life. On hearing the latter, Baba commented: "To live up to this New Life song is the success I am seeking in the role of being the humblest and lowest of beings, full of weaknesses and defects [shortcomings]. Whatever you sing now will be addressed to the Old Life Meher Baba and not to me, as I can't accept it in this New Life.

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