Symbols of the world's religions



Eruch Jessawala

Every month, on the twelfth, the dhuni at Meherabad is lit. And every month, when there are pilgrims here, right around the twelfth, someone asks, "What is the dhuni? Why do we light it? What does it signify?"

Well, the story of the dhuni goes way back in time, back to the Sat Yuga, or Golden Age, thousands of years ago. In those days, when a man reached sixty years of age, he was considered to have completed his worldly duties. His children had been raised and they now had children of their own. His labor was not needed to support the family, and he was now free to dedicate the remainder of his life to finding God.

This was a sacred obligation, and the family did not object to his leaving them to find God; for finding God, ultimately, was the duty of everyone, and it is said that even if one member of a family realizes God, all members of the family for seven generations are benefited.

So, at the age of sixty, the head of the household left his home, renounced the world, and headed off, usually into the jungle or forests to search for God. But what did this seeker find? He found that with no house to shelter him, no blankets to wrap around him, it was cold at night. And the mosquitoes would bite him and distract him and make it difficult for him to concentrate on God. And there were wild animals in the jungles, especially at night, so his search was made very difficult for him because of all these worldly considerations. He had left the world to find God, but he found that it was hard to think of God because of the world.

So these seekers would light a fire at night. The flame kept them warm, and also kept the animals away, and the smoke would keep the mosquitoes away. And the ash from the fire they would rub over their bodies as protection from the elements, so the fire was truly a friend to them, a companion to them in their search for God.Over time, the fires that these seekers would build near their seats of meditation became associated with the search for God.

If someone went hunting in the forest and saw the remains of such a fire, the person would think, "Oh, a holy man has been here," and the place would be respected because the search for God was respected. If one came across the remains of such a fire, it automatically signified that someone had sat there repeating the name of God, thinking about God, meditating on God, and so the fire, the place, was respected, in much the same way that if you were to come upon a church or a temple, you would be respectful; it was a place of worship.

Now, the word dhuni itself might have evolved in several different ways. It might be based on the root word dhoon, which means repeating the name of God aloud. Or then again, possibly it is based on the root word dhyan, which means meditation. Dhyani means one who meditates, and dhuni might have evolved from it. At any rate, eventually the word dhuni came to be associated with these fires.

And, over time, as the tradition of all men once they were sixty renouncing the world and seeking God became less universally observed, the dhuni fire began to be associated specifically with the fires kept near the seats of holy ones, the saints and sadhus and Perfect Masters.


THAT'S HOW IT WAS, pp. 336-337
1995 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust


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