“A day will come when nothing will benefit you – neither wealth, family, friends- nothing except submission to Allah with a pure heart.”
The fakir of the mausoleum had up to the age of thirty six been entangled in worldly affairs. His excessive liking for a special brand of whisky had earned him the nickname of ‘White Horse’. Adversities made him decide to commit suicide. When he tried to carry out his tragic determination, a person appeared who prevented him from doing so. Dismissing the man as a hallucination of his deranged brain he continued his superficial pursuits until a new misfortune put him again in a depressive mood. A second attempt was again foiled by the apparition of the same personage. It was only after a third unsuccessful attempt to put an end to his life and a third unwelcome interference that his resistance collapsed and that he asked for help. The mysterious man told him to go to the shrine of Haji Malang at Kalyan near Bombay.
At this mazar he became very sick. For more than a month he vomited continuously and for more than a year he behaved as a mast.
The time for him to be a mast ended, when a day, an old malang came to him and said: “Now you have become like a child.”
Three more years of peregrinations and associations with diverse dervishes passed, before he finally settled in the mausoleum where he became the attendant of a mast baba.
How he came to stay at his present place is a classical example of a set of strangely connected incidents that molded the destiny of many a baba. A night after having prayed at the shrine of Muin ud-Din Chishti in Ajmer, he had a vivid dream in which a man suggested to him to move to another specific shrine. Having by now learned to rely more on his dreams and visions than on his own personal opinions and conclusions, he set off the next morning for the indicated shrine. There he joined the fakirs and beggars at the gate. After a week a man came to him who handed him an envelope and told him to keep it for him, while stipulating that the envelope contained precious papers. The fakir accepted the papers. Ten days later, as the man had not yet come back, the fakir opened the envelope to look for an address to send the papers to, but great was his surprise when he found only two photographs: one depicting the shrine of Haji Malang, the first shrine he had been directed to and the other showing the mazar where he was staying now. With tears running down his face he carefully put the photographs back among his few belongings.
While living as a beggar at the mazar he was regularly accosted by a mast baba of the terrible type, who dwelled alone in a mausoleum some distance away. Many times the old mast told him: “You must come to my place, I have been waiting for you.” At first the fakir was reluctant to go and live with a mast known to be hot-tempered, but when he met the baba again during an out-of-the-body journey and he disclosed to him that he needed him to take care of the tombs as he was about to die, the fakir consented.
The mast baba had an attendant who had been with him for more than twenty years. He sent him away. The attendant remained for some days outside the tomb imploring his master to be allowed back in his presence, but the mast baba refused. To outsiders this decision looked very cruel, as the mast had also been notorious for beating the same attendant often for apparently no reason. The only plausible explanation was that he was a jalali mast. But the mast told the fakir that he only beat his former attendant when he came to know telepathically that his mind had become distracted and had stopped doing ‘perpetual zikr’.
Shortly afterwards the old mast died and the fakir replaced him in the mausoleum. For fifteen years now he has not slept one night outside the mausoleum.
Dervishes have a deep respect for masts and majzoobs. Many of them have in one way or another been transformed by a meeting with a mast or majzoob, or have passed themselves through the experience of being a mast. Some assert that the state of mast is inevitable for most dervishes. The condition of mast and majzoob may last for short or long periods or till one dies. Some are born a mast or majzoob.
Meher Baba kept up throughout his life a special relationship with masts and majzoobs. This relationship was both remarkable and unique. Meher Baba went himself for a short period through the state of majzoob. One afternoon in 1913 as he was coming back from school and passing the dwelling-place of an old woman fakir, who was reputed to possess occult powers, she called him to approach. She took his head between her hands and kissed his forehead. He reached his home in a dazzled state of mind.
In 1936 Meher Baba began to show an intense concern for divinely intoxicated people. He sent his disciples to all provinces of India in search of masts and majzoobs and set up several ashrams for them. He himself visited and contacted hundreds of them during his many travels. With some masts and majzoobs he sat in seclusion for hours and days, communicating and receiving powers on a supramental level. He explained that he was helping masts to reach a higher stage or that he was using their minds as a medium to transmit particular energies to other parts of the world, as their minds reach far beyond the ordinary levels known to us. He went into a state of ‘two in one mind’ with them. After sessions with certain masts Meher Baba was completely exhausted and perspiring. While distinguishing divinely intoxicated people from ordinary mad people who “can at best hope to return to normality by suitable treatment”, he said that masts and majzoobs occupy a significant position in our world.
In Afghanistan while staying with the Sufi group whose sheikh advised me to become a Muslim, I once went on ziarat outside the city with Mahmud and a mast malang. Just outside the gate of the mazar, the malang became immobilized: his left leg slightly bent, his head turned towards the tomb. Mahmud waited some minutes, then called his name and touched his back. No response. He remained motionless and mute. People gathered around us. They surrounded the malang in a reverent manner. Some invoked Allah. Mahmud explained to me that the malang had passed into a state of enchantment. Intense contact with the vibrations of the tomb or some other power had dazed his mind. This state could last for hours or days, no one could tell. In the late afternoon a man came by, put both his hands on the malang’s head and went his way. An atmosphere of timelessness emanated from the malang. Finally he made a movement. The bystanders shouted sacred sayings. He was not puzzled at all, and walked away as if nothing had happened. He seemed not to remember anything of the time spent in his state of enchantment.
I had another experience with a mast whose name was Kala Baba and who originally came from Bengal. I had known him for years as a sweeper in a shrine in Pakistan. We used to have a lively contact, but with the years his mind became more and more empty from ordinary subjects and our communication became reduced to a quick smile– and an exchange of a cigarette. Sometimes I even forgot to look for him. Then, one day when our external contact was at its lowest, while I was standing near the pool for ablutions, Kala Baba approached me. It was no ordinary approach. Looking at him my mind contained his mind and we became one mind. I saw that his mind was totally empty and that for the moment he was helplessly linked to my train of thought. He reacted to whatever came up in my mind. I was also spellbound. The experience was not pleasant. His hands were trembling. Gradually I became aware of an obstacle in my mind. When I succeeded in removing the obstacle he stopped trembling and our minds disconnected. Kala Baba had taught me an important thing.
Once when questioning a malang about his spiritual affiliation he answered: “My pir is a majzoob. In these times the orders have little baraka. Most of the sons of the great sheikhs have lost it centuries ago. Only at particular epochs does the Light of Allah come to many individuals. Now is the fourteenth century.”