03 November 2013

The Japanese Mystery Man

Who can forget the image of a lone East Asian man amid a sea of Westerners and Indians, with his hands in the gassho gesture (palms together), at Meher Baba’s men’s sahavas known as the Three Incredible Weeks (September 10th–30th, 1954)? We see him in film footage of the event—there are now two such videos, one narrated by Darwin Shaw and a recent one narrated by Bill Le Page. After he handed the mandali a calling card with his signature, the man’s name has gone down in history as “K. Hitaker.” It does not look like a Japanese name—could it have been Hitaka and the signature misread?

The Mysterious Mr. Hitaker

We read in the literature that “Hitaker” heard of Meher Baba from a “Dr. Muir,” the head of a Theosophical group in Japan. I am not sure who this Dr. Muir was—my research turns up a “Kanzo Miura” who founded a Theosophical society in Japan after World War II. Another name error?

Hitaker was said to have been in India at the invitation of a relative who was Ambassador to India, and this gave him the opportunity to meet Meher Baba (Lord Meher 13: 4465). I e-mailed the Japanese embassy in Delhi and asked who was the ambassador in 1954 (on the slim chance the name might have been the same). Interestingly, the first diplomat below completed his term on the second day of the men’s sahavas:

1      H.E. Mr. Tsutomu Nishiyama 15 Sep 1952–12 Sep 1954
2      H.E. Mr. Seijiro Yoshizawa    29 Jun 1955–12 Dec 1957

I was told: “A senior diplomat should have been in charge of the Embassy as ChargĂ© d’Affaires ad interim during the period from 13 Sep 1954 and 28 Jun 1955. However, we do not have the record.

I found this piece on Mr. Nishiyama in The Hindu (Aug. 5, 2002):

Miscellaneous—This Day, That Age
Dated August 5, 1952: India and Japan 

Mr. Tsutomu Nishiyama, 67-year-old ex-banker, was named to head the Japanese diplomatic mission in New Delhi. The Ambassador-designate was not entirely a stranger to India. He had spent four years in Bombay over 30 years ago, as an employee of a Japanese bank there.

In an exclusive interview with the Press Trust of India, in his spacious special office at the Foreign Office in Tokyo, Mr. Nishiyama, repeatedly emphasised the need to work for this understanding “so that the political and economic relations of the two countries will be based on cordiality and congenial appreciation of our two peoples.” He said he had very high regard for India's love of peace and her “spotless record of non-aggression” and expressed great admiration for India's stand in international relations. Speaking in fluent English, he emphasised that “it must be our common aim to work together for world peace and thus elevate the living standard of the masses of our peoples.”He pointed out that in many ways the two countries faced similar problems. “India is a new republic and Japan, in a way, is also a newly-born nation. We need peace as much as you do to improve our living standards.”

Enlarging on the need to bring about better understanding between the people of Japan and India, Mr. Nishiyama said: “National policies must be based on the peoples' understanding. Most Japanese don't understand Indian philosophy, the Indian way of thinking and Indian aspirations. The same is true vice versa, I guess. It is most important to bring about this understanding. When I go to India, although I am old, I will try to learn your way of thinking, your religions and your philosophy. And, I will do my best to see that your way of thinking is understood by the Japanese people at large also.” Although there were many Japanese businessmen in India before the war, their interests had been limited to their own business activities, and very little, or no, effort had been made by them to study the Indian people, their philosophies or their aspirations. “The result is,” he pointed out, “that the Japanese people are no wiser about India by the stay of these businessmen there. The whole approach of the Japanese people to India must be different,” he declared.

It seems likely Mr. Nishiyama was indeed Hitaker’s relative (it may have been confirmed by Katie Irani; see below), and he seems to have had an admirable philosophy.

A "False Rumor"?

It was evidently because of young Hitaker’s conversation with Baba that an idea sprang up that the Avatar would be Japanese in his next advent. Murshida Ivy Duce wrote:

“It is often said today that Baba's next incarnation will take place in Japan. Like many stories passed from person to person, this rumor is totally unfounded.

“During the men's meeting in 1954, a young Japanese man named K. Hittaker from Tokyo appeared and begged to see Baba only for a moment. Baba gave him some grapefruit juice to drink, and asked him,

'Why did you come from such a long distance? Baba is everywhere.'

“Hitaker replied, 'I would like to have you come to Japan.'

'After 700 years, I will come to Japan,' Baba answered.

Baba did not say that he would take birth there. . . .

“Baba did say in my presence that when he comes the next time, he will be educated as a great scientist—that he will not have to suffer so terribly for the world, because people will be more loving, and at the zenith of spiritual living. 'But,' he added, 'it will not stay that way.'”
—Ivy O. Duce, How a Master Works (1975), pp. 439-440; see also Lord Meher 13: 446

Darwin Shaw took “sketchy” notes of Hitaker’s meeting with Baba on September 19, 1954. In his book As Only God Can Love—under the intriguing subhead “The Japanese Man”—he writes:

“My notes are sketchy at this point, but I remember well what happened next. In the midst of the music playing, a card was brought in to Baba. It was from a young Japanese man outside, who was begging to see him, even for a moment. He had come to India in search of Baba. Baba said he could come in.

“A very dramatic scene followed. As I wrote to my family, ‘The Japanese young man was beside himself with love and joy. He kneeled and melted into Baba’s embrace. One more searching soul had found the Divine Beloved.’ Baba gave him grapefruit juice from his own cup and said, ‘You have come far, drink it all.’ I think we all felt very moved by this scene. 

“This was K. Hitakar, a young man from Tokyo who had heard about Baba years before from a Dr. Muir, the leader of a Theosophical group in Japan. He finally had the opportunity to come to India and make contact with Baba.
[Darwin then repeats the same exchange with Baba as in Murshida Duce’s book.]

“Baba told Hitakar to go right away to Calcutta to get an extension of his visa and then to come back in time for the 28th, in time for the big meeting.

“In my notes I also recorded Baba later as saying to us that he might have Hitakar ‘[sit] alone one week without food, or water. Then he may catch a tiny glimpse of me. He is a fine man—very much in love with Truth.’ Baba then said, ‘I have drawn him. He has no idea how.’”

—Darwin Shaw, As Only God Can Love, pp. 225-26

"He has no idea how"? So it's a mystery for Hitaker too!

From the account by Charles Purdom and Malcolm Schloss in Three Incredible Weeks with Meher Baba (pp. 101-2) we have this report:

“Baba came in the morning [of September 27], unexpectedly, when several of the group were not present. He said He did not want to come, as He had to deal with other things; but the women had presents they wanted Him to give with His own hands, and to distribute photographs to which He had put His signature.

“Mr. K. Hitaker, the Japanese, was called and told that from 12 mid-day until six o'clock tomorrow evening, he was to keep silence, to think of Baba and to read the messages.

“Baba then explained what was to happen on the 29th and 30th. . . . He then distributed the presents and the photographs, and said, ‘To all you meet and see, give My love—the only thing worth receiving.’

“He said to Mr. Hitaker, ‘You may become one of My chief workers in spreading My work in Japan and in other places, but you must first absorb Me and feel that you love Me. To tell others what we don't feel ourselves is hypocrisy.  So feel, then speak with conviction. I will help you, for I am in you.

"‘For the last seven nights, I had no rest, but I am happy.’"  He then embraced everyone and went away.”

In summary, there is no known documentation for Baba’s saying that the Avatar would incarnate in Japan in his next advent. However, there is also no record that he said it would not happen. Thus, although it's a “false rumor” to say that Baba explicitly predicted it, the fact is, we simply do not know. Where or in what firm the next advent will appear is a mystery. 

Meher Baba in Japan

Note that in his lifetime Baba did touch down in Japan, so it’s not as if the Avatar could not make it to Japan at all until 700 more years pass. Yet he does not reply to Hitaker’s invitation by saying, “Been there, done that.” No, he makes a very prophetic-sounding pronouncement: “After 700 years, I will come to Japan.”

It was in 1932 when Baba stopped briefly while sailing from Honolulu to Shanghai:

“On Sunday, June 19th, the boat landed at 6 A.M. in Yokohama. Baba got off with the mandali, and they refreshed themselves. At ten o'clock they went for a tour of Japan's second largest city. After an hour's taxi drive, they had a snack and walked through the crowded streets. They returned to the ship at noon and set sail at two o'clock.

“They landed at 8 A.M. on June 20th in Kobe, Japan, where Baba and the mandali again got off and strolled throughout the city. They returned to their ship at 1 P.M. and sailed two hours later.”
Lord Meher 5: 1670

Baba clearly had much interest in Japan. Let’s not forget that Katie R. Irani worked at the Japanese Consulate in Bombay for 28 years while under Baba’s discipline before retiring to Meherazad in 1978 as one of the mandali. In fact, her boss at the embassy was Hitaker's relative, as she states in a recording at the site Mandali Hall Talks). (Reviewing the dates, it seems to have been Mr. Nishiyama, although Katie's talk is not entirely clear.)* And an entire book could be written regarding Meher Baba’s universal work in connection with World War II, in which, of course, Japan played a highly significant role, and became the first and only nation to be attacked, by the U.S., with an atomic bomb.

Will we ever know the real full name of “K. Hitaker" and how he fared after meeting the Avatar of the Age?” It would be delightful to connect with one of his relatives or friends in this magical Internet age. Maybe this article could be translated into Japanese.

[Photos from the Meher Baba's Call video.]

*A friend who listened to the Mandali Hall Talk recently says he is not sure if Katie is saying that her boss in Bombay was the ambassador who was Hitaker's relative, or was just the Ambassador.

See Update, Dec. 19, 2014. Mystery solved.

Thanks to David Raphael Israel for pointing out a further comment by Bal Natu, in the Comment below.


David Raphael Israel said...

Very interesting, thanks for this good research, Kendra.

We also find a substantially similar account of K. Hitaker's initial conversation with Meher Baba in Bal Natu's book Glimpses of the God-Man, though it's to be noted that the author interjects an editorial remark worth noting (at least in passing). Here's from that volume:

(quote) While the music session was in progress, Baba was handed a small card that read: "If I could see You only for a moment, I would be eternally grateful." The card had come from a Japanese gentleman named K. Hitaker of Tokyo. He was ushered in, and very devotedly prostrated himself before Baba. Baba bade him to rise and conveyed through gestures, "Generally I don't allow people to come up on the H ill." But gazing at Hitaker with love, Baba offered him His own grapefruit juice to drink, and conveyed, "You have come far, drink it all."
Later Baba asked him, "Why did you come such a long distance? Baba is everywhere."
Hitaker replied, "I would like to invite You to Japan."
Baba replied with a smile, "After seven hundred years!"
I would like to mention here that, from the early '50s onward, whenever any of His lovers requested Him to visit their town, village, or house, Baba would usually reply, with a charming gesture, "After seven hundred years!"
Baba instructed Hitaker to return to Meherabad on the 28th to attend the special meeting, and he left that same day for Calcutta to get his visa extended. (unquote)

In pointing out, I should not like to suggest that Baba's remark about coming to Japan in 700 years should therefore be discounted. It may be that in his next Avataric incarnation, Meher Baba will indeed visit each of the several places promised (as noted by Bal Natu) during that period (in the 1950s) in his Meher Baba incarnation. Nonetheless, the surprising (to me) interjection by Bal seems worth adding to the mix of narratives here being cogitated over.

The "Hitaka" reading of HItaker does seem plausible. Assuming that to be a right guess, one wonders how the final "r" made its way onto his Englished calling card (and presumably, passport etc.)


Kenneth Lux said...

This is a great piece of Baba research by Kendra, about a matter of some importance, especially for us Nipponophiles. I happen to be just completing an article called "The Mahayana and Meher Baba." Kendra, let me know if you want to see it. And thanks again for this, Ken

moshiur said...

Very helpful website. Many important update information is here

All quotes of Meher Baba © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust unless otherwise indicated. Writings by Kendra are © Kendra Crossen Burroughs unless otherwise noted.