His Hand Was Very Very Soft

“We cannot see God, but He is there,” my fourth-grade teacher said during a moral science class. I attended a Catholic school, St. Andrew’s, in Bombay, and during the period when my Catholic colleagues studied Catholicism we non-Catholics studied moral science.

I raised my hand, and the teacher called on me. I stood up and spoke, “You can see God,” I said. “I saw Him—He used to live in Ahmednagar.” The teacher politely, but firmly, asked me to sit back down. I was embarrassed, but that is how I remembered Baba: He was God and I had met Him once in Meherazad.

It happened in December 1968, and I was six years old. We had travelled from Bombay, where we lived, to Meherazad, where Baba would perform my navjote, the Parsi rite of initiation. I recall being in a small room where my mother, my aunt Arnavaz, and some other ladies were gathered and helping us children get dressed for the occasion. From that room we could see the verandah where Baba would perform our navjote.

The sequence of events is unclear to me but I have some distinct memories. People had gathered in the garden and were sitting in chairs facing the verandah of the Main Bungalow, where Baba was seated in His chair, and various events were taking place on what seemed to me to be the stage. A man and a woman were clearly being married to each other. (Later, when I was older, I learned that they were Dara and Amrit Irani.) A young girl performed an Indian dance in traditional dress, after which Baba showed his appreciation by gesturing, “Very nice.” A man sang a song, which must have been funny because Baba laughed and seemed thoroughly amused.

When the time for our navjote arrived, three of my cousins and I, along with our parents, were standing on the verandah facing Baba. I was told that I was not to embrace Baba but to place a garland in His lap and bow my head down and place it on His knee. I stood there looking at Baba. It excited me to think that I was standing that close to God. When my turn came, I walked up to Him and did as I was told. I placed my head on His knee, and He put His hand on my head. When I close my eyes and think of that day, I can distinctly remember how it felt: very, very soft.

Navjote ceremony. Naozer is the third child from the left.
(Photo extracted from the film taken of the ceremony.
You can watch the video clip at the end of the story.)

Many years later, my aunt Arnavaz told me that the original request was for Baba to perform the navjote of two of my cousins. After readily agreeing, Baba asked if there were other children in the family who should be included. After a little thought, another of my cousins was mentioned. Baba indicated that she too should be included, and asked again whether there was anyone else. After further thought Arnavaz said that there was me, but that I was just six years old (too young for a navjote). Baba indicated that I too should be included, and He then stopped asking whether there were any others.

In my adulthood, especially during difficult times, I draw great comfort from the memory of His soft touch and His sweet way of letting me know that He had remembered me.

—Naozer Dadachanji, for Avatar Meher Baba Trust, 31 December 2015

Click here to watch a video clip of the navjote ceremony from “The Last Film of Avatar Meher Baba.” (Courtesy of Sheriar Foundation and Meher Prasad. Used by permission.)