The Dhuni of Meherabad

The Dhuni of Meherabad was lit at sunset on 12th March this year, as it is each and every month, an unbroken tradition set in motion by Meher Baba Himself. Baba first had the Dhuni lit in November 1925, and years later He gave the instruction for it to be lit on the 12th of every month.

Eruch used to tell us that such a fire was often associated with masters and saints, who would keep a dhuni burning near them, a symbol of the fire of God’s Love, or of renunciation by the seeker following His path. Sai Baba had a dhuni and so did Upasni Maharaj. Some of the masts* contacted by Baba kept dhuni fires as well.

When asked if the Dhuni isn’t a ceremony—since Baba usually enjoins us to give no importance to ceremony or ritual—Eruch would explain that the Dhuni is another way of remembering Him, and it depends on the motivations of our heart. “It is an opportunity to focus more concentratedly on Baba. But the real dhuni is the human heart. And the real fire is the fire of love for God. And if we had the courage, the daring, every day, every moment, we would be attempting to throw our attachments on this fire. Not just attachments, we would be throwing ourselves onto this fire. That would be the real dhuni.” [1]

* * * * *

On 10th November 1925, farmers from nearby villages came to Baba at Meherabad, beseeching Him to do something to alleviate the terrible drought that was threatening their crops and their livelihood. Baba had the mandali dig a pit and light a Dhuni, sending the villagers back to their homes. The day had been bright with no clouds, yet within a short while a heavy downpour began, lasting 15 hours, and thus the crisis was averted.

The Dhuni at Meherabad was thus established and became a respected symbol of the power of faith and of God’s compassion. In the early years the Dhuni was very much associated with bringing rains. On the 10th of November in 1926 and in 1927 Baba honored the anniversary of the first Dhuni by having it lit again, and on both occasions a heavy downpour followed. Baba referred to the story of the first Meherabad Dhuni while addressing a group of men in 1954. He said, “People call it a miracle, but it was only a coincidence. I will perform only one miracle—when I utter the Word. It will be my one real miracle!” [2]

1937 photo by Padri showing Baba’s Table House and the Dhuni pit
(seen between the viewer and the tree trunk).
(Photo courtesy of the MSI Collection)

Baba instructed that the Dhuni should be lit on the 12th of every month, beginning in December 1941. Baba came down the Hill that evening, shrouded in a white sheet, and at His instruction the Dhuni was lit. “The mandali thought this was perhaps for the purpose of bringing down rain since the Dhuni had previously been lighted with that intent. But Baba explained, ‘This time the reason for igniting it is not for rain; it is for a certain definite purpose of my work.'” [3]

Baba Himself lit the Dhuni for the Sahavas programs in 1954 and 1955. He told the lovers gathered there about the practice of each person dipping a piece of sandalwood in ghee and throwing it in the fire. “Baba … explained … that the sandalwood should represent a particular desire they wished to consecrate and burn to ashes.” [4]

Baba lighting the Dhuni on 24 September 1954.
(Photo courtesy of MN Publications)

During the 1955 Sahavas Baba said, “On the 12th of every month a dhuni is lit, and today at six o’clock we will be present there. The human mind is full of infinite thoughts. This mind is finite, but its thoughts are infinite. So burn your desires and thoughts in the dhuni today. At least let one thought of either lust, greed or anger be burnt in it.” [5]

Baba at the Dhuni in September 1954.
(Photo courtesy of MN Publications)

Villagers gather around Baba at the Dhuni.
(Photo courtesy of MN Publications)

—Irene Holt for Avatar Meher Baba Trust, 30 March 2017

* (God-intoxicated seekers)
[1] That’s How it Was, by Eruch Jessawala, p. 340.
[2] Lord Meher, online edition, by Bhau Kalchuri, p. 3562.
[3] Ibid, p. 2243.
[4] Ibid, p. 3787.
[5] Ibid, p. 3777