John Martin (Noddy), Cedar Creek Rd., Mapleton
I was a spiritual seeker, I read the Bhagavad-Gita and about two weeks later I heard about Baba. It was around 1965. It was through Paul Smith and Adrian Rawlins about the same time. Originally I was from New Castle, thatís where I met Joy. I went to East Sydney Art School and lived in Sydney and caught up with Joy again, she was with Steve who was a Melbourne person. They went to Melbourne where they heard about Baba through Paul and Adrian. I had deep respect for Adrian and what Adrian was into. Later I met Paul and Anne who were then living in Sydney and working at Callan Park Psychiatric hospital. They had a lot to say about Baba and because I knew Adrian I took what they said about Baba very seriously.
I went down to Melbourne and through Paul Smith I had bought some Baba books, God Speaks and maybe The Everything and the Nothing, I canít remember what the other things were, maybe The Discourses. I was living in New Castle at that time, Steve and Joy and I had been up to North Queensland and then I came back down and got a job working for the Erickson telephone company and Steve and Joy went back down to Melbourne to try and get some money out of Steveís oldies so we could head back up to North Queensland. So anyway, after a couple of months they came back and they had the Baba books. So I quit my job and we headed back up to North Queensland. All this time we had the Baba books with us but no one had read them you see, but we felt there was something really important about them, we werenít going to part with them or anything.
And then, after a while, we decided we were gonna have a trip to Japan together, we actually booked the tickets to Japan and while we were waiting for this trip to Japan we went into one of the Op shops in Cairns and we got one of these National Geographic magazines and there was heaps of things about Japan in there so we read them all and by that time we decided we knew enough about Japan, we didnít want to go there anymore! So we changed the whole plan and decided to go to New Zealand and thatís when the four of us went to New Zealand. The funny thing is that by the time we got on the boat we still hadnít read the Baba books yet but we still had them with us. On the boat ride to New Zealand it was so bloody boring that we started to actually read the Baba books. The one I read was God Speaks, that was the first Baba book I read, and Iíll tell you that by the time we got to New Zealand I was totally convinced that Baba was the Avatar, that Baba was God. I mean, it was the words that really sort of made sense to me and touched me really deeply, but the photo was really rather overwhelming.
Knowing that Baba was still alive and still there, I think we all had a desire to go to India. During the time we were in New Zealand we met one of the Baba people in Christchurch, Anthony Thorpe. I think we went around to visit him one night and spent a few hours talking to him.
Somehow after all this I moved to Melbourne and I met Phillipa and we got married because she was pregnant with Luke. We must have moved up to Brisbane in Ď67 because Luke was born in December 1968. We actually spent a fair bit of time at Mayís place. It must have been, I suppose, when we first heard that Baba invited us for the Darshan that we started to save. I donít think we could have saved before then, we were pretty poor. I was working as a wards man at the local hospital so I did have a regular job. Phillipa was always really interested in Baba since she heard of him. Phillipa stayed behind when I went to India because Luke was just born and because we were given the advice that if one of us were to go it should be me.
I was at work at the hospital and May Lundquist and another friend from Brisbane came into the hospital to tell me that Baba had dropped his body and I nearly fainted, I had to sit down for about 20 minutes or so and I said, ďI have to go home.Ē I couldnít stay at work; I spent the rest of the day at home. I couldnít comprehend what it all meant, we were all set to go to India at that point. I donít think I ever really hesitated to go to India because by that stage I was convinced that Baba was God anyway, so I thought, ďWell, if He arranged this darshan and He is God, He must have known He was going to drop His body before the darshan.Ē We were meant to go; I couldnít see any other way really.
My first impression of arriving in India was the incredible contrast of walking out of the airport into the slums outside of the airport. After I got over that it was amazing how much I really felt at home in India. I donít know if it was because I had past lives there or what, but I really did feel right at home pretty much straight away. I never felt any fear when I was in India while I was on that trip either. A few times I wandered out to the streets by myself and I never had any problems, no one ever hassled me or anything.
We only had one night in Bombay and then we must have caught the bus to Poona. I remember Francis greeting us, I knew all about Francis by that point of course, but none of us had met him because he had been living in India with Baba all that time. First of all I thought, ďThis little grizzly old man with lines all over his face,Ē but I was amazed at his eyes because they were so blue and so bright and they just looked like a childís eyes in this old manís face. I thought, ďWow, thatís really incredible.Ē You could tell from his face that he had been through a lot but somehow he managed to retain that childlike quality in his eyes.
To me Poona just seemed like a fairly small Indian town in the desert. I couldnít see much greenery in the place. Guruprasad though, I loved it. I just thought it was a beautiful place. Not because it was a mansion but just because of its association with Baba. The thing that really struck me about the whole darshan at Guruprasad was I felt Babaís physical presence there so strongly, probably because it wasnít that long since he dropped the body, but also because of the atmosphere and all the mandali were there who had spent most of their lives with him. I felt it hard to believe that He wasnít there physically. Sometimes when I looked at His chair, I thought, ďHeís really there, I just canít see.Ē I really felt His presence there so strongly at that time. The funny thing is, I had certain memories but a lot of it I felt like I was in a daze or a dream. The whole experience felt unworldly to me like nothing that Iíd ever experienced before in my life.
I canít remember all the mandali but I know that I related really well to certain male members of the mandali. I think Kaka was one maybe, I do remember Eruch from that time but it was later on, when I had visits later on, that I got to know Eruch. Baidul, I think it was Baidul. They seemed so loving towards us all. I didnít really have that much to do with the women. Back then it seemed the women mandali were there more for the women and the men more for the men. Thatís the way it seemed back in those days but of course I had an amazing respect for them because of staying so long with Baba.
When Eruch and Francis addressed the group, I felt they had the power of Babaís truth behind them. I only vaguely remember the trips to Meherabad and Meherazad because we had to go by bus from Poona back then because there was no accommodation. I certainly remember meeting Padri and Mohammed was there as well. I felt like Padri was a General basically, and you wouldnít want to cross him basically hahahahaha! I mean he had just a commanding air about him; no one was going to argue with him as far as I could see! Mohammed was there because Padri took us to meet Mohammed as well, and that was a pretty amazing experience because we had already read about him in The Wayfarers and things. To actually see him in the flesh was pretty amazing I must say, and all of us felt so happy just being in his presence. That was what amazed me. I donít know that inner joy or whatever it is that he had inside him it just communicated to all of us. He was smiling the whole time, and Joy had a silk scarf and she gave him the silk scarf and he took it and I think he might have put it around his neck, but he accepted it anyway. †I knew Baba was at the tomb but itís hard to express what I felt when I went to the tomb. Iím not sure how I felt when we went to the Samadhi. It was very simple back then.
I remember going to Babajanís tomb and then we did a trip to the Ellora caves, I thought that was incredible. Theyíre the ones that are all carved out of the mountain sides. I know Bill was with us, the whole lot of us went and it took the whole day. The thing that impressed me most was that the caves had been carved out through the centuries and no one knew who the artists were because no one had carved their names and I thought, ďThatís so much different to Western art, thereís no ego involved!Ē
I remember Babaís brother Jal and Adi and Dr. Donkin used to come to the hotel in Poona. It was only years later that I discovered that while we were staying in that hotel, Donkin didnít trust the cleaners and he was actually cleaning all our toilets. Isnít that amazing? And he didnít tell anyone! I only found out years later.
I regretted that I had to go back home even though I had a wife and child there! Hahaha. I felt the real culture shock when I went home from India, not coming to India. I did feel pretty much at home when I got there and then I came back into Australia and just seeing how materialistic our society was freaked me out, it really did. I just felt that the whole experience there was such a deep spiritual experience and then coming back I just felt how really little spirituality there is here.
When we were living in Brisbane and May would tell us when things were happening up here [Avatarís Abode] you know, the Anniversary or whatever, and we started coming up, Phillipa and I, and it helped us. We used to visit May quite regularly. It helped us stay in touch with Baba. The women mandali gave us all a lock of Babaís hair to give to anyone who hadnít come and I brought that to Phillipa as well. We actually moved back to Melbourne because Iíd left the job at the hospital so I could go to the Darshan, so we decided to move to Melbourne so we could save and come back up here and buy some land.