Tipoo, the Arti Singing Dog, Part 1
Tipoo was the progeny of Rani, the Trust Compound watchdog who for years sat near Mani’s feet during the days she attended the office and kept Meher Nazar compound free of unwelcome visitors. In the late l980s Rani gave birth to Tipoo, an adorable puppy who came to Meherazad when he was about 2 months old. Tipoo soon became the darling of everyone here, especially Mehera and Meheru—there is even a photo of Mehera holding him as he enthusiastically licked her face. However, as Tipoo grew his temperament took an unreliable turn and he began to bite—and unfortunately didn’t restrict his biting behavior to outsiders. Tipoo eventually bit Manu’s hand very badly, so he was sent away for the first time. One of the Meherazad workers took him about 25 miles (40 km) to a farm where he would be well taken care of. Tipoo escaped and was back at Meherazad within three days.
Somewhat chastened by his exile, canine peace reigned for a while. But Tipoo’s temperament prevailed and he cornered another Meherazad resident on the veranda, snarling and growling and threatening to bite. This time he was taken just outside Pune—84 miles (135 km)—to a family who promised to keep him tied and take good care of him. About two weeks later when some of us were talking outside Mandali Hall, we noticed a mangy, scrawny animal making its way down the veranda. We were stunned to see our very own Tipoo, emaciated, with a shredded leash attached to his collar running to greet us with an expression of desperate relief and happiness on his face. He raised up on his hind legs and licked our faces as we stood there in shock. Evidently he had made his escape almost immediately and it had taken two weeks—obviously without much food—for him to find his way home. So what to do with an animal so determined to remain at Meherazad? We kept him but had him neutered which resolved a lot of his aggressive behaviour.
After some time Tipoo took up his post, when he was freed in the evening, on the big step of the main bungalow veranda where he would execute his duty as watchdog the whole night through. Suddenly one night as the women were singing the Bujaawe arti in Baba’s Room, he began to howl so loudly that they thought he was in pain. But it soon became clear that Tipoo was actually singing along with them. Night after night Tipoo would begin his aria as soon as they started singing—he’d be silent during the Repentance Prayer and resume his singing through the “Avatar Meher Baba ki Jai’s”—sometimes so loudly that they couldn’t hear their own voices. So every night around 7:30 pm Tipoo’s soulful baying would announce to everyone in Meherazad that the women were in prayers. And he was so determined to sing the arti that on the occasional night when the women didn’t do the Bujaawe because they had sung it at Meherabad earlier in the day, Tipoo would insistently sing anyway throughout the Repentance Prayer. He just had to. (Tipoo also sang “Happy Birthday” and even queued up along with everyone else to receive his birthday chocolate.)
—Shelley Marrich for Avatar Meher Baba Trust, 3 September 2015
[In 2 weeks, in “Tipoo Part 3,” we hope to include a recording of Tipoo singing the arti.]