REMEMBERING DR. H. M. MUNJE

REMEMBERING DR. H. M. MUNJE

 

27 November 1911 – 19 June 1989

This is a story of my dear father, Dr. Harilal Mehraji Munje or popularly known as Dr. H. M. Munje. My late husband Dr. Harry T. D. Rost (known as Tim Rost) began research on my father’s life and services with intention to write his biography. Sadly, with his unexpected passing the work could not be completed. I took over what he had started and collected information about Dr. Munje from various sources. It needs to be mentioned that this story of Dr. Munje who lived a full life of 78 years, filled with immense Bahá’í activities is in no way exhaustive. It is only an attempt to give some glimpses of the life and legacy of this great soul.

Dr. Munje as I wish to address my father in this story will forever be remembered in history as one of the Indian Bahá’í community’s most outstanding teachers, consolidators and scholars of the Faith. He was born in Bombay on 27 November 1911 to parents who were both noted Bahá’í teachers.

Munje’s father, Meher Ali, as a teenager travelled to Bombay with his brother and started a business in making and selling ‘topis’ (a cloth head-dress for Muslim men) and became famous as a ‘topiwala’. Meher Ali was deeply religious and a God-fearing man and was always searching for truth. He met some Christians who taught him about Christianity, and he became a Christian. In a short time, he met a Muslim who taught him about Islam, and he became a Muslim. Yet his spiritual thirst could not be quenched. He was destined to meet Jamál Effendi, an Iranian from Tunukábun in Mazandaran. Bahá’u’lláh had sent Jamál Effendi to India to teach the Cause, when the Afnáns of Bombay requested Bahá’u’lláh to send someone to teach the Cause there. When Jamál Effendi taught the Faith in Bombay, Meher Ali accepted the Faith immediately and his search for truth was completed.

How Mariam met my grandfather Meher Ali is another fascinating story. One of my grandfather’s friends knew Mariam who wanted to go for a Muslim pilgrimage. But she did not know how to go about it. Meher Ali  wanted to help her and made arrangements to meet her in the evenings or during holiday at her home. When meeting Meher Ali she investigated more about the Bahá’í Faith and exchanged verses from the Qur’an and the Bahá’í Writings. After two years of search, Mariam accepted the Faith and married Meher Ali. A son was born in 1911 and he was named Harilal Munje, who later became known as Dr. H. M Munje. A new chapter began not only in his life, but by extension in the history of the Faith in India.


Infant Munje with father Meher Ali and mother Mariam.

EARLY DAYS OF MUNJE

Meher Ali observed that Munje was very intelligent with capabilities and rare skills. He advised his son to study all the scriptures of the world’s great religions and learn many languages. Munje at a very young age became an erudite scholar in all the major religions of the world and learnt 14 languages. He was able to read, write and speak in Hindi, English, Sanskrit, Urdu, Marathi, Gujarati, Persian, Arabic, Pali of the Buddhist Faith and Zand of the Zoroastrians with such a fluency that amazed everyone. Whenever he spoke in one of those languages, the listeners believed that he was a scholar in that language. When in Iran they took him for an Iranian. He had a high command of the English language as he was trained by reading the writings of the Guardian. He could recite the original Sanskrit verses and then present his own translation in English or Hindi, as required. Because of Dr. Munje’s proficiency in various languages, whenever translations were required he was called upon to translate the talks of the speaker.

 


A child Munje with his father Meher Ali.

Knowing several languages and religions enabled him later in life to teach the Faith to people of all different backgrounds and was able to prove the truth of the Faith. Dr. Munje also took his father’s advice to heart and made the Faith the only goal of his life. He even sought knowledge of the Faith from Bahá’í youth. When he was a young boy attending school, his father passed away. With his character of sticking to his goals, he continued his studies. He encountered many hardships during this time and had to study under the street lights and work to earn money in order to continue schooling. Dr. Munje worked for a real-estate person as an accountant-cum-manager and because of his honesty and hard work he could continue to pursue his job as well as his studies through self-study. Then working with a Homeopath doctor and getting hands-on practice, he became a Homeopath doctor.

MARRIAGE OF MUNJE

In 1936 Munje had saved up enough money and was able to send his mother Mariam Munje for pilgrimage to Haifa. She was the guest of Munirih Khanum and the Guardian for 6 months. While she was in the Holy Land she had made a vow to herself that she will have her son Munje married to the first proposal she receives. And true enough my mother Nalini was the first proposed for my father and the marriage took place.

My mother Nalini Irani was the youngest daughter of Mehraban Bomassy and Morwari Irani, Bahá’ís of Zoroastrian background. Zoroastrians do not marry non-Zoroastrians. The Zoroastrian priest warned them that if this marriage took place he would have them both killed. The two families consulted, and my father and mother went to the priest’s house with a marriage invitation card and some sweets. The priest was so transformed that, though he did not come for the wedding, he sent a bouquet of flowers showing his acceptance. The marriage took place in about 1937. His wife Dr. Nalini Munje is Shirin Boman’s younger sister. Shirin Boman was appointed on the Continental Board of Counsellors. Later Dr. Munje and Mrs. Shirin Boman worked hands in glove for the furtherance of the Cause.


Just married

Dr. Munje and Mrs. Nalini had eight children, three of whom survived infancy and childhood, and were brought up to be disciplined Baháʼís of good standing. Their eldest son Mohan married Tuba Yaganegi of Bangalore. At the request of Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Muhájir, Mohan and Tuba went pioneering to Nepal and were instrumental in forming the first National Spiritual Assembly there. Upon return to India, they settled in Calcutta at the behest of Dr. Muhájir. Another son Ishwarlal could not pioneer or leave his hometown as he opted to look after our parents, but was an active believer. Ishwarlal married Faranghis Rahmanian, an Iranian Bahá’í serving at the New Era School in Panchgani in 1972. Unfortunately, Faranghis ascended to the Abhá Kingdom and had left one son Arun. Ishwarlal married after 10 years to Faigheh younger sister of Faranghis in 1982. And here am I, Radha, who married Dr. Harry T. D. Rost, an American pioneer in the Bahá’í Temple gardens in Uganda in 1971. As my parents would recall they were proud that all the three siblings were firm in the Faith and have added lustre to the Faith through their humble services.


The Munje family in Kanpur, 1962. Seated L-R: Nalini Munje, Dr. Munje and Radha.
Standing, Mohan Munje at left and Ishwarlal at right.

HOMEOPATHIC PRACTITIONER

Both Dr. Munje and Nalini became homeopathic doctors, practicing first in Bombay and then at their pioneering post in Benares, Uttar Pradesh. The family happened to be the first believers to have settled in Benares for the period 1946  to 1947. While in Benares, the family faced many difficulties from thugs and thieves. But the spirit of the family remained strong with unshakable trust in God.  In 1947 Dr. Munje moved to Kanpur.

In Kanpur often other doctors referred difficult cases to them for treatment, and many doctors themselves were Dr. Munje’s patients. One of the patients was an aunt of Sir Padampat Singhania, an industrial tycoon from Kanpur. Dr. Munje treated her and was later appointed the family doctor. The family then moved to Kanpur with address at Dr. Munje’s Clinic, Kishori Niwas, Birhana Road. There, the children were able to begin regular formal schooling. Mrs. Nalini Munje stayed in Kanpur most of the time while Dr. Munje was often travelling for teaching trips to almost all the States of India. Thus, Mrs. Nalini looked after the clinic and handled the affairs at home. With the invaluable help of my mother, Dr. Munje could be away for teaching for long period of time. Mrs. Nalini was truly a pillar in the community and an anchor in the family.

It was while in Kanpur that Dr. Munje helped establish a homeopathic medical college there. He also established a Bio-Science Research Laboratory and prepared many medicines such as his Goldium Tonic, Buti eye drops, Biovision, Dentogum tooth paste, Biolax and Nuvita. He patented several medicines. They were so effective that some of them are still in demand.

His medicines were so effective and popular that some homeopathic practitioners asked Dr. Munje to sell the formulas for a big amount of money. But Dr. Munje refused on the grounds that medicine should not be commercialised. He was a very firm believer in the homeopathy as a cure. He always carried in his wallet a statement that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had mentioned on this branch of medicine and shared with people. There were several cases of patients who could not be cured using allopathic medications. Dr. Munje took them under his care in Kanpur and cured them and amazed everyone.

He valued his independent service to the Cause and wanted to stand on his own feet financially so that he was not dependent on the Bahá’í Fund. He would carry a box of medicines with him on his travels so he could work whenever there was time or opportunity. As for the patients from the deep villages of India, he would offer free treatment free medicines for them. Such was his magnanimity. But he never taught the Faith in the clinic during clinical hours. If anyone wanted to know about the Faith he explained only after the business hours, mostly at home.

A SCHOLAR

With the ability to read and write in the  fourteen languages, Dr. Munje was able to get a vast ocean of knowledge available in those languages. As an example of his linguistic abilities, he translated The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh from Arabic, Persian and English into Sanskrit. This book was praised by a professor of Sanskrit at Fergusson College as “reading just like the Vedas”.

It was in 1945 when he had pioneered to Varanasi the Hindu seat of learning and culture that he went into the heart of Hinduism and connected his findings with the Bahá’í Faith. Dr. Munje understood the philosophical pulse of the Hindu. He was tremendously interested in Hindu prophecies and was the first scholar to relate the advent of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh to Hindu.

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Local Spiritual Assembly of Kanpur, 1952. Seated L-R: Dr. Munje, Mrs. Mariam and Mrs. Nalini Munje.

He discussed Bahá’u’lláh and Hindu beliefs at great lengths with Hindu pundits. Dr. Munje wrote to the beloved Guardian of his intention to do research and bring out some books about Hinduism and the Baháʼí Faith. The Guardian replied that this was a very laudable endeavor and assured him of his prayers, but also told him that the study of this ancient religion of Hinduism was going to be a very bewildering exercise.

Dr. Munje could also bring both Hindus and Muslims together, demonstrating to them that the two religions are one and the same when viewed in the right light and context. In his deepening classes Dr. Munje could convince the followers of both Faiths of the reality and coming of Bahá’u’lláh. He had the great ability to show the thread that connects the teachings of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Zoroastrianism with the Bahá’í Faith. He just could speak with great elucidation and clarity about the other religions.


Visit by Hand of the Cause of God Miss Dorothy Baker to Kanpur, 1953. Seated L-R:  Mrs. Nalini Munje, Dorothy Baker and  Mrs. Mariam.
Frontmost row, L-R: Ishwarlal, Radha holding the signboard of Kanpur Bahá’í Centre, and Mohan. Dr. Munje stands at the back of Dorothy Baker.

Dr. Munje’s deep knowledge of the Bahá’í Faith, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Zoroastrianism, and other religious teachings, enabled him to effectively convey the healing message of Bahá’u’lláh on various levels to what must have been hundreds of thousands of people over his lifetime. Dr. Munje had developed charts about the chain of prophets, right from the beginning of creation, and he explained the development of religion step by step, and identified each one of the world’s major religions. In Winter Schools, Summer Schools and Youth Conferences, audiences would be enamoured by his profound knowledge and his fascinating style of explaining subjects in great detail, especially when it came to prophecies and to understanding religious scriptures.


A gathering in Deolali in Maharashtra, 1957. Dr. Munje stands at the back holding the Greatest Name. Standing at the extreme right is Mohan Munje.

LITERARY WORKS

He wrote some important Bahá’í booklets, including “The Whole World is But One Family”. The booklet “1844: Pinpoint Target of All Faiths” was published in Malaysia for the first time in 1982, with the first Indian edition in 1987. The booklet begins powerfully with statements from Bahá’u’lláh proclaiming the greatness of this Day, the fulfilment of the promises of God as reassured in the Holy Scriptures, the appearance of the promised Manifestation, a new Revelation, a new world order, and a new creation. His other book, “The Reincarnation Mystery Revealed” is one more of his great works, in which Dr. Munje examines the origins of the doctrine of reincarnation in Hindu belief. Comparing these traditions with the Bahá’í sacred writings and the original Sanskrit texts of the Hindu sacred writings, he has brought a fresh outlook on the progress of the soul, both for Hindus and for followers of other religions. He also has added a chapter relating the Bahá’í Faith to Hinduism to the Indian publication of Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era in Hindi and English. At times he included his own important translation of portions of sacred scriptures, particularly from Hinduism, in these publications. A small booklet of a speech which he had given earlier in the city of Puri in Odisha was published in Bhubaneswar in both English and Oriya languages. He had contacted several Indians in high positions who wrote a few laudatory things about the Faith, which he collected.

BOOK WORM

Over the years Dr. Munje had accumulated numerous books and arranged them in his personal library, as he was an avid reader. He had some very old books, some out of print or no longer available. Many of those books were stored away in various boxes. He was selective of his books and made notes on some pages in red ink. Dr. Munje had a unique way of keeping notes with neat handwriting. Anyone who has seen his copy of “The Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh” must have noticed how many portions have been marked, some with annotations, some with margins, and with different coloured pens. His collections of various types of books in various languages ranging from humanities, psychology, and morals of the children and musical notes. Yet most of his books were about religion and some on medicine, which were his main focus all his life. He also had so many dictionaries, along with thesaurus, books on antonyms and synonyms in various languages. Friends could come and read the books at his place and even discuss them with him but were not allowed to borrow them. He also had so many diaries which he started writing from the age of six.

OCEAN OF KNOWLEDGE

Dr. Munje was known as a man of vast knowledge on a wide range of subject. He had committed to memory whatever he had read and was able to quote instantly. Most of the time he spoke without any notes. Everything was at his fingertips. Whenever someone challenged him, he would refer to the exact paragraph from the exact page of the books. He was often known as a master of all subjects. He was a self-taught scholar – a pundit to the Hindus and an ulama (scholar) for Muslims. As such Munje was one of the rare kinds in the community. There was an incident during his visit to Malaysia in 1982. One believer asked him to explain Hinduism. The moment the believer mentioned the word “Arjuna” Dr. Munje replied Arjuna is a left handed warrior, referring to the paintings to substantiate his claim.

Whenever a question arose on Hinduism it was always Dr. Munje who became a natural choice to answer them. To cite a case in point, when Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum came to India in 1964 she visited Cuttack, where they had asked her questions on Hinduism. She said she would send someone well-versed on the subject to answer their questions. She flew to New Delhi and proceeded to the Baháʼí House, where the National Spiritual Assembly was in session. She appealed to Dr. Munje to go to Odisha at the earliest, saying enquirers needed answers for questions on Hinduism. Dr. Munje, respecting the wishes of Amatu’l-Bahá immediately packed up and landed in Odisha. From New Delhi, Amatu’l-Bahá went to Bombay where she told the friends gathered there that Odisha was her baby, and someone had to go there and take care of her baby. Then pioneers and travel teachers like Mr. Neekoi and Mr. Jawanmardi started visiting Odisha.


Hand of the Cause Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum at the extreme left with Dr. Munje next to her during her visit to India in 1964.

His favourite topic was fulfilment of prophecies as mentioned in all the past religions. He would go as far as quoting from the Hindu scriptures pertaining to the Revelation received by Bahá’u’lláh in the Siyáh-Chal, including the exact days when He was incarcerated there. Such was the depth of his study. Many questions were posed to him on Sanatana Dharma or ‘Eternal Religion’. Friends were really infused and inflamed with the fire of the love of Bahá’u’lláh. That prompted him to write books on the Hindu Faith.

That he was a highly knowledgeable person was widely known at local and international levels, including Hands of the Cause of God. When Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum represented the Universal House of Justice at the first National Convention of Andaman Islands, she spoke to Tina, the eldest and the only granddaughter of Munje at the airport. Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum had this to say to Tina, “Tina, he’s not only a knowledgeable man, but he’s also one of the most, knowledgeable Baháʼís that we have in this world today. And you should be proud to be his granddaughter.”

A GREAT TEACHER

Teaching remained Dr. Munje’s pivotal passion, aim and objective in life. He started his teaching activities at the very early stage of the establishment of the Faith in India. He was one of the first believers of Bombay who started mass teaching in the early 1960s. For 50 years there was not one month during which he did not leave his home to serve the Cause. His humility was evident in his willingness, despite his broad knowledge, to learn from others.

The couple started mass teaching in Kanpur and its surrounding villages with great success. When mass teaching was initiated by Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Muhájir in the 1960s, he was in the forefront with many others, bringing and enrolling hundreds of thousands of friends into the Faith, especially in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Following that he helped to establish thousands of Local Spiritual Assemblies in those regions. Teaching and consolidation went on simultaneously. Deepening institutes were established. The Indore Institute is a famous one and it remained a permanent institute for many years. When Dr. Muhájir asked Dr. Munje to go to Indore Institute, he immediately left his well-established Kanpur practice to go there. He stayed at Indore Institute for over six months. In 1966 Dr. Munje who was serving as an Auxiliary Board member gave the Message to the staff and students of a Tibetan Refugee School in Mysore, India.

He was very focused on deepening the friends and it became a passion for him. He visited and participated in Bahá’í programmes in almost all the States of India. He had a prepared package of over a hundred subjects and topics from which persons or groups could select a talk which they deemed suitable to their gathering. With individuals or small groups, he would listen to people for hours. Then when he spoke to them, they were enthralled by his knowledge. He would literally spend weeks, months, or even years teaching an individual at any time of the day or night, often discussing the Faith with a man all night.

ELOQUENT SPEAKER

Dr. Munje was a spellbinding, powerful, and well organized public speaker, capable of expounding on a wide variety of subjects, convincing the masses listening to him. Dr. Munje spoke to general audiences as well as specialized groups with equal confidence. He simply spoke with such a fervid eloquence that the listeners were captivated. A talk he gave at the Spiritual Summit Conference held in Merton in Calcutta in October 1968 would be sufficient for one to pause and reflect at his oratory skills. Representing the National Spiritual Assembly of Bahá’ís of India, he presented a paper on “A Bahá’í Viewpoint” at the conference. He spoke, “The most important and emergent question of the world today is a planetary solution for the whole of mankind, for a living peace and justice in action. Indeed, the lessons of two world wars have not sufficed to bring mankind to its senses. We are numbed with fear and do not want to dwell on the awesome reality of atomic warfare. Philosophies, economic systems, and politicians have led us nowhere. It is crucial for mankind to find out whether religion has the answer. Hence the question of relevance to modern society; the economic plight of the world and the injustices we see everywhere. How powerful is religion to revive the failing fortunes of a harassed humanity?”

He gave talks in Rotary and Lions Clubs, law associations, universities, colleges, women’s groups, writers’ and journalists’ groups. When he visited different States in India he ensured that he met people of capacity and dignitaries such as the Chief Minister, Governor, or other Ministers with portfolios. In his later years of life too he kept on involving himself in such activities, as it was rare to find others who could do so. In fact, to my mind he was himself a dignitary and person of capacity. Wherever he went, people who met him could never forget him and his personality.


Dr. Munje speaks at the World Religion Conference, Lucknow in 1977.

His sense of humour was definitely one of his distinguishing characteristics. He gave his talks according to the audience and in most cases he would add wittiness to his talks to keep the crowd in stitches that they would be ready to listen to him for a long time. People would understand him very fast through the wittiness that he employed in his talks. That high sense of humour was a virtue that attracted many to him. He was fond of using analogies to substantiate his points.

SOME MEMORABLE GATHERINGS

Dr. Munje was at major Bahá’í gatherings of India from the very early days. As it would not be possible to list down each of those gatherings I wish to state some.

The ninth session of the Summer School was held in Karachi from October 9 to October 23, 1946, with participants representing fifteen centers. There Dr. Munje spoke on “Station of the Prophets.” Outside activities during this school session were lectures given by Dr. Munje at a Hindu High School and at a Polish Refugee Camp. These talks were so well received that the organizers returned a second time by request him to speak on the Faith. The National Spiritual Assembly later sent a Polish translation of the book Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era to the camp.

In 1958, Dr. Munje and his son gave two lectures – one at the Devlali High School and the other at the Rotary Club. Devlali, is a small hill station and a census town in Nashik district of the Indian state of Maharashtra. The latter talk resulted in an invitation by the president of the Rotary Club and the president of the Literary Society to give a Bahá’í lecture to the Literary Society, composed of military officers and their wives. Two other high schools, with audiences of 300 and 1000 also heard Dr. Munje speak on the Bahá’í Faith with several fireside discussions following. In 1962, representatives from several villages attended a week-long study course in Sholapur, India with Dr. Munje as the instructor who coordinated the study.


Dr. Munje with Mrs. Banu Jehani presenting a book to the  Rotary Club in Sholapur.

Dr. Munje as member of the National Spiritual Assembly of India visited Baroda for five days during June 1969. Almost all the leading newspapers of Baroda and Surat published the news of each of his lectures at the University, Mahavir Vidyalaya, Rotary Club and a public meeting at the Jubilee Garden where 3,000 people attended.

On 25th of December 1971 the Bahá’í youth gathered at the Mala’s Hotel in Panchgani ‘to live the Bahá’í community life’ at the Winter School held through the 30 December. The youth deepened their knowledge of the Faith through the learned and distinguished teachers including Dr. Munje.In May 1972 a successful Forth National Youth Conference was inaugurated by Hand of the Cause Mr. A. A. Furútan and aided by the presence of Counsellor S. Vasudevan, National Assembly representative Dr. Munje and Auxiliary Board members B. Afshin, Mrs. S. Kermani and S. B. Mobedzadeh. Press reporters were present in one of the sessions of the Conference and the proceedings of the gathering appeared in five leading newspapers.

When the Local Spiritual Assembly of Lucknow sponsored a proclamation in the summer of 1975 it brought about unprecedented publicity in India. All four members of the Continental Board of Counsellors in South Central Asia participated in the proclamation. They are Counsellors Zena Sorabjee, Shirin Boman, Salisa Kermani and Dipchand Khianra. In addition to the Counsellors, Bahá’í speakers included Gloria Faizi, Charles MacDonald, Ray Johnson, and Dr. Munje.


Intercontinental Conference in New Delhi, 1967. Seated L-R: Mrs. Shirin Boman, Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Muhajir and Dr. H. M. Munje.

EXTENSIVE TRAVELS

Not many in India would have travelled the length and breadth of the county as Dr. Munje did which is not to be covered in this story. Dr. Munje also undertook international travels for the Baháʼí Faith. In the 1960s he had travelled to Pakistan, Afghanistan and England and even to Iran — just before the revolution. At all these places, many public talks were arranged in universities, Rotary Clubs, and other organisations that had similar aims as that of the Bahá’í Faith.

In 1971 he went to Mauritius. The Mayor of Vacoas and Phoenix received the Bahá’ís in his office and signed the declaration proclaiming the 24th of October 1971 as The United Nations Day of the International Year for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination. At a tea party attended by the United Nations Representative in Mauritius and the Chairman of the National Spiritual Assembly of India, Dr. Munje, talked on the activities of the United Nations and the part played by the Bahá’ís to promote United Nations activities. The National Spiritual Assembly of Mauritius organized a public exhibition at Ghandi Ashram Hall in Vacoas where Dr. Munje spoke on “Man One Family.”

He attended the first National Convention of Nepal in Ridván 1972, representing the National Spiritual Assembly of India. Representing the Universal House of Justice was Hand of the Cause of God A. A. Furútan, who read the message from the Supreme Body. Dr. Munje, representing the National Spiritual Assembly of India remarked that “Prayer is your powerhouse and the National Spiritual Assembly is the power-driven machinery. You must constantly pray to receive more power.”

From 18 to 20 October 1978, Dr. Munje represented the national institution of India at the centenary celebration of the establishment of the Bahá’í Faith in Burma held at the Bahá’í National Center in Rangoon. More than 1,700 believers attended the event. The Burmese Bahá’í community is among the oldest in the world, having received its first Bahá’í teacher, Jamál Effendi in 1878 at the instruction of Bahá’u’lláh Himself.

He also visited Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania in 1971 first and later in 1976, for one year, where many programmes were arranged for him, including gatherings with the Indian communities, colleges and universities, Rotary and Lions Clubs and Law Associations. During the last days of his stay in East Africa Dr. Munje travelled the length and breadth of East Africa. Upon returning to India, he travelled to a number of places in India to share what he had learned and observed about the people of Africa who were so receptive to the Faith.

His second trip to Malaysia was in 1982 and visited several communities including Petaling Jaya and Penang. A special gathering at the prestigious Hilton Hotel in Kuala Lumpur for the believers to meet him for a discussion on Hinduism.  In Malaysia he met Baháʼís from Indian, Chinese, and other indigenous backgrounds. He spoke in many places about Hindu concepts, Buddhism and Christianity, and their relationship with the Baháʼí Faith. Many were inspired by his talks as he was able to quote from Hindu and Buddhist scriptures, as well as from the Qur’an and the Gospel, all from memory. The Malaysian believers saw him as a distinguished person with vast knowledge on comparative religion.


Dr. Munje with the believers of Penang, Malaysia, 1982.

SERVED IN SEVERAL CAPACITIES

Dr. Munje had served in various capacities in India. He was on the National Spiritual Assembly of India for more than 20 years, starting from 1960 to 1986, except for the years 1965-66, 1966-67, and 1977-78. In 1966 he served as an Auxiliary Board member. Dr. Munje was much of that time as Chairman. He was a firm believer in the art of consultation and never failed to stress the fundamentals of the Faith from the Writings. He would never get angry or annoyed at others when contrary ideas were put forth. On the request of the national institution, he had undertaken vast travels, at times to solve very complex problems in some communities.

He also served on the Baháʼí Publishing Trust Committee of India for about two years. He was always encouraging the production of Bahá’í books. He would often help in reviewing manuscripts.

MAN OF RARE TALENTS

Not many would know that Dr. Munje was also a well-known poet in Hindi and Urdu and was often invited to the literary “Kavi Sammelan” and “Mushaira” meets. All the songs he wrote out were spiritual and inspired by the Baháʼí Writings. They were always highly appreciated by the listeners. He had written many songs and poems in Hindi, English, Gujarati, and Urdu.

He was a great man and yet simple in many ways. He had a simple heart like a child. He was always with a spontaneous joy, and all he wanted was to make others happy. He would relate jokes to bring cheer to those around him. He would come to the National Baháʼí office in New Delhi as an ordinary man, without any pomp. On many occasions he slept in a small room somewhere in the corner. He did not look for any comfort. At times he slept in the hall on the floor, laying down his mattress himself. He was very simple as far as his personal needs were concerned. He had a special aluminium suitcase. Sometimes at busy railway stations when it was so crowded that there was no place to sit, he used this suitcase to sit on, and it was strong enough to take his weight.


A great Dr. Munje addresses the simple village people.

He was never proud or arrogant; rather, he was a mountain, an ocean of patience. He was a man of humility who believed in others and treated them with respect, never getting angry. He was gentle, kind, loving and hospitable. He never looked at the status or background of people. He loved all, regardless of background. He had the ability to transcend and shun barriers and acquaint himself with every situation.

He had the talent to address people from all backgrounds -from the most literate to the most common man. Once in Andhra Pradesh he easily travelled in a cycle rickshaw and went around teaching despite his heavy body. He did not care for the numbers. If there was one enquirer who wanted to know about the Faith, he would go looking for him. And if he had to address a large crowd, he was comfortable as well. At a Peace conference organised in Jamshedpur in 1984, he addressed a crowd of some 3,000 people on his ideas with quotations from Hinduism, Christianity, the Bahá’í Faith and Islam, on how to establish world peace. People of different races, different castes, different creeds, and different religions. They ranged from the illiterates in the villages and slum areas to the highly educated and even priests. He had no fear of the stage or the crowds. And whenever he spoke, an hour with him was like a few minutes as he was such a speaker with penetrative impact.

When visiting villages, he was happy with whatever meals he was offered. He attended conferences not only in big cities, but also in the most remote villages of India. He did not care about status, position, or lots of respect from others. His manners were very humble. Dr. Munje could have travelled through first class train tickets, but he travelled second class three tier to save money. Even at his advanced age he would travel, without seeking assistance from anyone.

Perhaps Dr. Munje was one who had attended most of the conferences in India. Dr. Munje had participated in several conferences as a speaker and had impressed the audience with his insightful thoughts.


National Youth  Gathering  in Pune, 1971. Dr. Munje is seated in the centre.

Although Dr. Munje was most loving a person, his sense of justice was very strong. He was a very courageous person that he would not allow injustice to creep in any way. In 1976 he visited the Patna Bahá’í Centre in the state of Bihar on behalf of the National Spiritual Assembly to negotiate the purchase of the first State Bahá’í Centre. He met the owner and studied all the papers. It was an old two story building with a large hall and about ten rooms, right on the main road. Half way through the negotiations the owner wanted to back out, apparently someone wanted to pay more. Because a preliminary document of intent was already signed by both parties and because of Dr. Munje’s had legal background he did not let other party withdraw. He threatened them with litigation if they did not go through the deal. Thus, we got the Centre for Bihar. A few years later the building was sold for double the price and we bought a Centre in a better location. Where he had to be firm, he showed the force of strength.

MEETING DIGNITARIES

He was very good in winning the hearts of the dignitaries. Dr. Munje was also a great friend of many dignitaries of India such Dr. S. Radhakrishnan and Dr. Zakir Hussein, respectively the second and third Presidents of India. He was also a friend of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, first Prime Minister of India.

Dr. Munje was almost always on the Bahá’í delegations that called upon those highest in authority in India. To mark the centenary of the Proclamation of Bahá’u’lláh to the Kings of the world, the National Spiritual Assembly of India presented copies of the book The Proclamation of Bahá’u’lláh to several dignitaries in 1968. On 22 May 1968, a copy of the book was presented to Dr. Triguna Sen, Minister of Education of India. Present were Auxiliary Board member Dr. Perin Oliyai, Dr. Tahira Vajdi and Dr. H. M. Munje. Dr. Sen showed an interest in the teachings of the Cause and requested books on the subject so that the teachings could be incorporated in the curriculum of the schools throughout India.


Dr. Munje with the King of Mandi, Himachal Pradesh.

In May 1980 the Bahá’í community of India began its celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the Faith on the subcontinent. The minister for Home, Shri. Giani Zail Singh, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shri. P. V. Narasimha Rao arrived and praised the Faith in their speeches. The Bahá’í speakers were Dr. H. M. Munje and Dr. S. Vasudevan who spoke in Hindi and English, respectively. Delhi TV included mention of the celebration in its newscast. Widespread publicity appeared in the next morning’s newspapers as well as on radio. The national radio networks carried the news throughout the country.

In 1982 Dr. Munje was part of a delegation that went to meet the Minster of Education in Orissa state. Dr. Munje explained to him the principles of Baháʼí education and the importance that is given to moral education. The Minister was so impressed that he asked for the Bahá’ís to teach moral education to all the schools in Orissa. That would be a gigantic task which numbered thousands at that time! On the request of Dr. Munje a pilot program was approved. The Minister wrote a letter to the Director of Education to start off the program in Bhuvaneswar, the capital city. The Director in turn issued letters to the 14 schools in Bhubaneswar to hold sessions on moral education with Dr. Munje. So, the program began, Dr. Munje would tell them stories and explain topics from moral education. Throughout his life Dr. Munje was always meeting some dignitaries.


Visit by Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Enoch Olinga to India in 1964. The hand is seated third  from left with Mrs. Elizabeth Olinga at the extreme left, and their two children. Dr. Munje is seated at the extreme right.

When the Peace Statement was issued by the Universal House of Justice in 1986, Dr. Munje and Mrs. Bharti Gandhi, representing the National Spiritual Assembly of India presented the statement to the Dalai Lama of Tibet at Bodhgaya, India. Dr. H. M. Munje reported to the National Assembly that “… His Holiness appreciated the Bahá’í Teachings and remarked that the timely issuing of the peace statement will greatly help in moulding world opinion in favor of peace and international understanding.”

UNFULFILLED WISH

Dr. Munje had always wanted to be a pioneer and have his bones buried at the pioneering post, which was fulfilled and his mortal remains are buried in Kanpur. But he wished to again go on pioneering . One day in 1985 he arrived at the Office of the Baháʼís of India in New Delhi with his bag and baggage. He arrived there to prepare to go to Papua New Guinea for pioneering since there was a call for pioneers to that country. His close friends were very surprised to see the spirit of Dr Munje who was already of advance age wanting to pioneer at that age to such a challenging and difficult place like Papua New Guinea. Dr. Munje’s spirit was really remarkable. The members of the National Spiritual Assembly though admired the missionary zeal in him spent some time persuading him not to go pioneering on account of his age. Finally, Dr. Munje returned to his home, quite disappointed.

HIS PASSING

In 1987, his beloved wife died. He was very sad on her passing. He used to say this of her, “Always upholding, supporting, and cooperating in all our affairs in times of happiness and sorrow; that is the kind of woman my wife Nalini was. Thus, I had the freedom to move around to carry forth the Baháʼí activities.”

Dr. Munje did not go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land during Shoghi Effendi’s lifetime, but he carried on an extensive correspondence with the Guardian. In approximately 37 letters Shoghi Effendi encouraged him to pioneer, to write books, to research Hinduism and how it related to the Bahá’í Faith, and to teach Hindus.

Then in 1988 he went on his second pilgrimage to the Holy Land with the Rost family. The first time he had the bounty to go on pilgrimage as a member of the National Spiritual Assembly to the International Convention. During his last days, bedridden in a hospital in Kanpur for heart ailments. When the doctors wanted to give him an injection, he rejected saying, “Injection is harmful for my body because my body is addicted to only homeopathy medicine and allopathic doesn’t suite my body”. Instead, he would ask visitors to sing prayers in praise of Bahá’u’lláh. When the singers missed certain lines, Dr. Munje would stop them and point out the correct lines. Although his health was failing, his memory was keen and alert. While hospitalised Dr. Munje resigned to the Will of God. The night before he ascended to the Abhá Kingdom, he was talking to his grandsons about what Zoroaster had said – that there is only One God – the Omnipotent, the Creator. He passed away in the arms of Radha and John, one of his grandsons on 19 June 1989. A very great man had gone to the Abhá Kingdom.

The Universal House of Justice sent a message that read:

GRIEVED PASSING STALWART PIONEER TEACHER PROMOTER CAUSE DR. H. M. MUNJE. HIS DEVOTED SERVICES MANY FIELDS HIS LEARNED EXPOSITION FAITH IN MANY LANGUAGES HIS EAGERNESS TO ANSWER CALL DUTY AT ANY MOMENT AND ABOVE ALL HIS RADIANT FAITH IN BLESSED BEAUTY REMAIN AS EXAMPLE FOLLOWERS GREATEST NAME IN INDIA. ASSURE BELOVED FAMILY FRIENDS ARDENT PRAYERS HOLY SHRINES PROGRESS HIS SOUL ABHA KINGDOM

Dr. Munje had been Baháʼí for a long time and spanning many decades. He moved across the country as a colossal figure. During his lifetime he had met many internationally prominent Bahá’ís such as Hands of the Cause of God. He met Hand of the Cause Dorothy Baker in the 1950s when she came to India. Dr. Munje was a translator for her during some of her travels and the times when she addressed various audiences. Another great teacher, Miss Martha Root, came to India in the 1930s and Dr. Munje may have translated for her. He met Hands of the Cause of God Shu’á’u’lláh ‘Alá’í at the national convention of India of 1962, where Dr. Munje was elected to the national institution. He was with Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Tarázu’lláh Samandarí in the presence of the Bahá’ís of Srinagar (Kashmir) on May 14, 1966. He associated with the many Hands of the Cause of God who arrived on Indian soil, including Mr. Abu’l-Qásim Faizi, Shu’á’u’lláh ‘Alá’í, Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum, Mr. William Sears, Enoch Olinga, Dr. Muhájir and many other Hands of the Cause at various occasions such as Mr. Musá Bánáni in Uganda and Mr. Furútan in Haifa.

Dr. Munje’s devotion to the Faith was unquestioned. He would arise before dawn for prayers each day and would pray for long periods of time. He would not attack or condemn any institution or individual; instead he remained silent.

Throughout his life Dr. Munje prayed for himself and for others in distress. He used to get up at 4:30 in the morning and perform his Obligatory Prayer. Throughout his life he was a very organised person always doing things meticulously. He would never stop working and took pains to reply to all letters and enquiries.

Throughout his life Dr. Munje also kept writing to defend the Cause against the assailants. Bahá’u’lláh has said, “If any man were to arise to defend, in his writings, the Cause of God against its assailants, such a man, however inconsiderable his share, shall be so honored in the world to come that the Concourse on high would envy his glory. No pen can depict the loftiness of his station, neither can any tongue describe its splendor.”  I am sure Dr. Munje is richly rewarded in the next world for defending the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh on this earthly plane.

Suffice to say that the generation to which Dr. Munje belonged to was before ours. The services of great souls such as Dr. Munje laid the foundation for the present-day Indian Baháʼí community. They all have to be remembered, recalled and admired for the indelible legacies they left for the current and future generations to emulate.

Dr.  Radha Rost
Panchgani
Maharashtra
India

31 December 2023

About the author:

Born and brought up in a Bahá’í family she was encouraged and guided by her parents and grandmothers. Her father Dr. H. M. Munje is one of the greatest scholars and teachers of the Faith in India. She studied medicine and has master’s degree in general surgery. She worked for 7 years in the Government hospitals and medical colleges in the city of Kanpur in India. She pioneered to Uganda in 1971 where she met Dr. H. T. D. Rost, an American pioneer whom she married in the same year. This marriage produced three sons. In 1973 the couple moved to Kenya. There she worked as as Senior Medical Doctor for some 12 years in the Kenyatta University College. In December 1984 they went to Panchgani, India to start the New Era Development Institute on the instructions of Office of Social and Economic Development. Dr. Radha worked there till 2004. She is currently working at New Era High School in Panchgani, India.

 

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25 thoughts on “REMEMBERING DR. H. M. MUNJE

  1. Dear Dr. Radha Rost,

    I am writing to express the profound impact your narrative had on me, as you beautifully chronicled the extraordinary life and selfless dedication of your esteemed father, Dr. Munje, in service to humanity under the banner of the Greatest Name. Your evocative recollections provided a vivid tapestry of sacrifices, fervent teachings, and the pivotal role he played in shaping the Faith. These stalwarts, including Dr. Munje whom I regarded as a ‘spiritual powerhouse’, paved a trail of arduous efforts—imbued with fervor, establishing Local Spiritual Assemblies, and nurturing believers from diverse walks of life. Their collective impact not only instilled knowledge but kindled an unwavering commitment to service, igniting a flame in every heart both near and far.

    Dr. Munje emerges as the embodiment of selflessness and knowledge, a sentiment resonantly echoed by the Hand of the Cause of God, Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum, who esteemed him not merely as knowledgeable but as one of the most knowledgeable Baháʼís globally. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s profound teachings further attest to the transformative power of a soul made holy, purified, and sanctified—a soul whose eyes open wide to the gates of divine knowledge when touched by the magnetic force of God’s love.

    It is conceivable that these stalwarts, Dr. Munje among them, were illuminated by concepts later succinctly articulated in the 28 December 2010 message by the Universal House of Justice. This pivotal message underscores the Administrative Order’s significance as a blueprint for future society, emphasizing not only the capacity to address complex material and spiritual needs but also the imperative to expand in size. The vision challenges the notion that a small, prosperous community, despite shared beliefs and high ideals, can sufficiently serve as a pattern for societal restructuring. Instead, it calls for a collective effort that engages with the realities faced by the broader humanity, urging us to venture beyond our comfort zones.

    I was touched to learn that Dr. Munje visited Malaysia during a time when I was still a child, and this personal connection adds a special dimension to your father’s enduring legacy. Your passionate recollections serve as a beacon of inspiration for all who aspire to walk the path of service with unwavering dedication. May the glory of God continue to envelop Dr. Munje’s radiant soul, rejoicing among the esteemed company of choicest stalwarts and purified souls, including his beloved wife Dr. Nalini, who preceded him. God bless.

    With loving Bahá’í greetings,

    Velayutham Gopal
    Phnom Penh
    Cambodia

  2. His contribution to Baha’i scholarship is well remembered. His assistance in the teaching work along other servants of the Cause, contribution to building the administrative structure of the Cause in Asia, are all celebrated by next generations of the believers in India.

    Bijan Bayzayee
    Chicago
    USA

  3. My Dear Dr. Radha Rost,

    I thank you for writing a biography of your illustrious father who is one of the most famous scholars of several religions of the world. He was certainly a well-known Pandit in 14 languages. May his blessed soul be blessed by Baha’u’llah forever.

    While going through this story with one sitting, my mind recollected all those facts and life history of Dr. Munje is true and correct, which is narrated by Dr. Munje long time back to our Baha’i friends in Secunderabad, especially to me and my wife during his stay along with us. I had personally associated with Dr. H.M. Munje during my stay along with my wife as a caretaker and serving on several Baha’i higher institutions at Baha’i Institute in Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh India. Now it is Telangana State. In about 1986 Dr. H.M. Munje visited Secunderabad in order to serve the Cause of Baha’u’llah in Combined Andhra Pradesh, India. Dr. H.M. Munje stayed along with us at Baha’i Bhavan in Secunderabad and shared all his experience with our Baha’i friends, especially with me and my wife. He brought thousands of oranges (Mosambi- Bathaayis) from his native place Kanpur and he used to share with all of us and told us not to throw the white skin of those fruits, which contained more vitamins.

    Dr. H.M. Munje requested me to type his notes at night and sometimes it went past midnight. I typed his articles on Homeopathy and Baha’i writings in English. He used to get up at 3 am every day. Whenever he comes to Secunderabad, he used to stay along with us for two to three months. He loved our family very much. We too respected him so much. He could keep standing several hours a day while giving Baha’i scholarly speeches. But he could not walk normally, because of his over-weight. One day Dr. Munje asked me to accompany him to visit one family at Asiana Apartment, which is located at the same Tatachar Compound. He took more than half an hour to reach that apartment on foot. Dr. H M. Munje shared all his experiences and backgrounds of both his and his wife’s religious backgrounds as well as those of his family members. Over time I got to know many of his family members personally- Mr. Mohan Munje. Mrs. Tuba Munje Mr. Ishwarlal Munje and of course Dr. Radha Rost and her late husband Dr. Tim Rost. They all have served the Faith very well.

    Baha’u’llah gave Dr. Munje an opportunity to carry out correspondence the beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, and has associated with several Hands of the Cause of God.

    I have read these books written by Dr. H.M. Munje are Bahá’í Viewpoint, The Whole World is But One Family and Reincarnation Mystery. The Whole World is But One Family was translated in Telugu as “Vasudhaiva Kutumbam”. This book is available with almost all the Baha’i friends of Andhra Pradesh in both Telugu and English languages.

    In the Baha’i Holy Year of 1992, National Spiritual Assembly of the Andaman Nicobar Islands requested all Telugu Baha’i literature to be placed in its their library. During the Baha’i Holy Year, Baha’u’llah gave me an opportunity to serve as the Secretary of the State Baha’i Council of Andhra Pradesh in 1992. During this period, I personally sent Telugu Baha’i literature to the NSA of the Andaman Nicobar Islands. “Whole World is But One Family” is one of those Telugu Baha’i literature in the library of the NSA of the Andaman Nicobar Islands.

    May Baha’u’llah shower His choicest blessings upon you and your family members in serving the Cause of Baha’u’llah with several capabilities for promotion of His Cause.

    Jaya Raju Thota
    Greater Visakhapatnam
    Andhra Pradesh

  4. I loved this story. It is inspiring to learn of the work of such great souls and ask their assistance in what we have to do while we are still in this world.

    Warm Regards
    Verona
    Fiji

  5. I love this story so much. l have always heard a lot about Dr. H. M. Munje, but did not know much about him. Thank you very much Dr. Radha Rost for bringing this wonderful story, which has made it much clearer to know and understand his life and services in the Faith. The old Baha’is of Nepal remember his son Mohan Munje during his pioneering time. He and his wife Tuba have contributed to the election and the establishment of Nepal’s first National Spiritual Assembly. I missed knowing Dr H.M.Munje in person. But I am lucky to know him through his book, “The Whole World is But One Family”. This is one of the best quick reference books, and I keep it always handy in my reference library.
    Thank you dear Dr. Radha Rost for bringing this inspiring story.

    Narednra Pande
    Kathmandu
    Nepal

  6. The early history of the Baha’i Faith bears witness to the fact that giant figures like Dr. Munje play important roles in carrying the words of Baha’u’llah to new victories. Dr. Munje, whether from a personal or
    collective standpoint, is remarkable in accomplishing his life’s work. The fertile mind that mastered so many languages was prepared by his father before him to carry out the mandates of Baha’u’llah’s Faith. His life was one of study, teaching and service. His accomplishments as a homeopathic doctor were a needed service wherever his life carried him and his devoted family.

    Dr. Munje’s teaching legacy stands out as a refined lecturer who moved seamlessly in the discussion of all Faiths of the Asian continent. His own unique background and triumphs through successful marriage open many doors for understanding between the Faiths of the Subcontinent that Dr. Munje knew so well. He was able as a prepared student of interfaith belief to see the wisdom and unifying force of religion tough time! This shows clearly that he completed one of the main goals of a true Baha’i and dedicated his life, whether through his profession or long list of teaching and deepening activities to bring together the peoples of the Asian subcontinent , or the raising of a family dedicated to furthering the Baha’i way of life!
    It must have been exciting to see him work with such dynamic persons as Dr. Muhajir or Ruhiyyih Khanum in building the steps to entry by troops.

    Congratulations to Dr. Munje, his dear wife, and his family, for a life well lived in making a significant difference in the spread of the Faith of Baha’u’llah!

    Steve Mclean
    Port Colborne
    Ontario
    Canada

  7. Dear Radha,

    Thank you Radha, and to Tim Rost for putting together such a detailed biography of dear Dr. Munje, which also mentions your mother.

    I was wondering and in awe of how one human being was capable to serve Baha’u’llah his whole life, and at the same time support his family. Dr. Munje was a true servant of His cause.

    He visited Bangalore city in Karnataka State of India with Mrs. Munje and assisted us in the deepening of Baha’is during the early phases of mass teaching in communities around Bangalore. During that time he explained to me Progress Revelation, and many aspects of Hinduism. He was very well versed in many scriptures of various religions.

    God bless him for his service to humanity.

    Mesu Yaganagi
    California
    USA
    January 1, 2024

  8. When he came to Malaysia in 1982 he visited the town of Kuantan . I was the secretary of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Kuantan. I arranged for a talk in my house where Dr. Munje gave a most enlightening talk quoting past scripture’s especially Hindu teachings. He was a great learned scholar. We were all spellbound and learned a lot from his talk. I cannot forget that episode.
    Great soul, and a great Bahai teacher.

    Professor Dr. Ananthan Krishnan
    Puchong
    Selangor
    Malaysia

  9. Dear Manisegaran Amasi,
    Thank you for sharing a wonderful journey of Dr. H. M. Munje written by his daughter Dr. Radha Rost. I have worked with Dr. Radha Rost and Tim Rost for 11 years

    Indeed he was an intellectual person. As the biography is long but very interesting I have just gone through all the subheadings and photographs. Really they touched my heart and I was deeply impressed. I will definitely read a complete biography.

    Didar H. Hemani
    Mumbai
    India

  10. Dear Dr. Radha
    What an amazing and inspiring story of your noble father Dr. H. M. Munje!! I vividly remember him when he stayed with us in Belgaum in our home. I was about 10 years old. He was so gentle and kind in his ways.

    Truly a very great teacher of the Cause. He is definitely rejoicing in the Abhá realm with all the stalwarts of the Faith. So was your dear mother. God bless their luminous and pure souls.

    Tuba Mahabat
    Pune
    Maharashtra
    India

  11. Allow me to thank Dr. Radha Rost for penning such an exciting story of Dr. Munje. The story of such details refreshes old memories of yet another spiritual giant of our time. The story has so many moving episodes and anecdotes as well. Reading the story nobody can deny that Dr. Munje had special role and function in the Bahai Faith, and therefore occupies a special place in our history. His whole life was clearly for the Faith and Faith alone!

    I recall some of my personal memories of this great veteran of the Cause of God with gratitude. It was at the International Conference held in New Delhi in 1967 that I had the opportunity of meeting Dr. Munje. With the encouragement by the Hand of the Cause Dr. Muhajir I went to New Delhi about six weeks prior to the Conference. There were quite a number of other believers that had come earlier from different countries to help in the pre- conference teaching and proclamation activities. The members of the National Spiritual Assembly were meeting every day for consulting with the Hand of the Cause Muhajir. Teams were formed and were given various assignments. Dr. Munje who was sitting beside Dr. Muhajir was assisting in making the plans for the teaching activities. As I listened to the comments of Dr. Munje, I felt as if standing in front of a rocky mountain and saw myself as a small pebble at its foot. Dr. Munje had a high level of respect for Dr. Muhajir. He was also a very practical person. That is why when Dr, Muhajir suggested my teaching task was to go to virgin areas in Himachal Pradesh, Dr. Munje thought differently said that how we can send a young man alone to the areas whose people had different culture, custom and spoke different dialect may be the cause problems. Dr. Muhajir replied “Firaydun has the experience of working in similar situations and he could find ways of reaching those people. Let him go.” Therefore, a few days later, I found myself stepping out of the bus in the town of Mandi and then in Kollu valley meeting schoolteachers, students, and officers in the various office and associations for teaching and proclamation. Among the people that were contacted were a group of Tibetan laborers where several Tibetan families in Himachal ranches that declared. Four of them came to the conference in New Delhi and represented their small community. When seeing me with the newly declared Tibetans at the Conference, Dr. Munje hugged me tightly and said, “Dr. Muhajir was right.”

    Dr. Firaydun Mithaq
    Chieng Mai
    Thailand

  12. Dr. H.M Munje was truly a great scholar and teacher of the Faith. I had good fortune of meeting him several times and also having him in our place. I was then in my mid twenties. He would always encouraged me to study the writings. I remember that once he asked me as to what God has prescribed in the first paragraph of the Kitab-i-Aqdas. It says that the first duty of every individual is recognition of the manifestation of God and obedience to His laws. I did not remember at that time. This is a vivid memory that I have from Dr. H.M. Munje.

    Mahnaz Merchant
    New Delhi
    India

  13. Dr. H. M. Munje would visit the city of Bangalore in India often to visit Colleges and other institutions. Since I was serving as the Secretary of the State Bahai Council of Karnataka, it was my assignment to take him around and translate his speeches wherever it needed into the Kannada language.

    Our bonding was so great. He was a scholar of the Faith with particular reference to the Hinduism. His research work narrated in the book “1844: Pinpoint Target of All Faiths” was an example of his mastery in prophecies of the past religions. As I too was interested in connecting Hinduism to the Bahái Faith my learning of various religions with particular reference to Hindu Philosophy started from there.

    Since he was a doctor in homeopathy he wanted me to work in his clinic, but the circumstances I was in then, could not permit me to accept his kind offer.

    I heavily remain indebted to him for deepening my knowledge in Hindu Faith, which ultimately helps me to help others to grasp the essence of the Faith in its true perspective.

    Shankar Bhat.
    Bengaluru
    Karnataka State
    India

  14. Remember attending a meeting with Dr Munje in Kuala Lumpur. His talk was on Hinduism I think. Nearly 40 years. A result of meeting him was to learn some basics of the Sanskrit language which enabled me to read and understand the Baghavad Ghita in the original script and in the light of Baha’i teachings and not some author’s personal interpretations.

    God bless his soul.
    P.Ramasamy
    Kajang
    Malaysia

  15. Dr.H. M. Munje was a great scholar who was an authority in interpreting Hindu scriptures. His Book “1844: Pinpoint Target of All Faiths” is a great one. I had opportunity to meet him many times in Kerala, when he came to attend our Winter School and other gatherings. I had also shared the Dias with him in 1980s in a public meeting at Cochin, Kerala, India.

    Premarajan
    Kerala
    India

  16. Dear Radha,

    Thank you for this very detailed story about the legacy of your late father Dr. H.M. Munje. I was remembering our dear Dr. Munje early this morning in our prayers upon reading this beautiful article about him. And my thoughts went out to him and my interesting meetings with him.

    He was such great soul and humble and most down to earth. Actually, my mother Shirin Boman learnt from Dr. Munje so much on Hinduism and the connection between Hinduism and the Baha’i Faith. Dr. Munje was her teacher. God Bless his soul. He truly was down to earth.

    I remember once giving Dr. Munje a very difficult song from a Hindi movie called Phool Aur Pathar. It was a song that the playback singer Asha Bhosle sang for actress Shashikala. The song goes like this “Shishe se pi yaa paimaane se pi Yaa meri aankho ke maikhaane se pi Par pi divaane khushi se ji divaane…”
    I thought he would never be able to create a Baha’i song out of that film song. And just great he made it in no time. He turned the lyrics into Baha’i wordings.

    “Prem say lay , ya Bhakti say lay , ya Budhi aur Gyan key shutting say lay , pur lay Oh Manav Dharma ko lay “.

    Dr. Munje’s version of the song came out so very beautiful that I forgot the original film song. Til today I remember his this song that he came out with. He was such a genius.

    God bless his soul.

    Sitara Vasudevan
    Pune
    Maharashtra
    India

  17. Dr. H.M. Munje had a tremendous impact on me. I first met him during his visit to Malaysia in 1982. It was his vast and wide knowledge on a variety of subjects that became the main factor with which he won the admiration of the listeners.

    In his visit to Malaysia in 1982, I attended two of his meetings. One was in the Petaling Jaya community where he spoke on one verse of the Hidden Words of Baháʼu’lláh – “O SON OF SPIRIT! My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting.” He made a sketch of the heart on a white paper and explained the functions of the heart in order to prepare the audience to go into this verse. And it took about 45 minutes for him to explain the function of the heart. The attendees were simply dumbfounded to the altogether different angle in which he approached this verse of the Hidden Words.

    At the question answer session, he was talking about the Tablet of Purity and explained refraining from smoking tobacco. He quoted the Master talking about the physical strength of the Sikh community in India that did not smoke. He then turned to a believer from the Sikh community present, and remarked, “The Master was mentioning about the Sikh community of those days and not these days!” That Sikh believer had shaved his beard and appeared very modern. There was thunderous laughter. Apparently Dr. Munje and the believer from the Sikh community were old friends who had known each other. The whole question answer session was full of wittiness coming from Dr. Munje.
    When the question answer session was over, I approached him to get clarification on Hinduism. The moment I mentioned the name Arjuna, he remarked Arjuna was left-handed. I was astonished. I asked him how he knew. He asked me to look into the ancient paintings found in ancient books. We discussed about the two epics of Mahabharatha and Ramayana. He mentioned that Mahababharatha was a true happening while Ramayana was a simple mythology. To substantiate that he said that there is the calendar that was born from Mahabharatha called Krishna Samvat which relates to Lord Krishna. Dr. Munje further motioned that the calendar is still in use in some Hindus.

    He spoke briefly on the subject of Baháʼí Faith- the pin-point target of all past religions. On the subject of fulfilment of prophecies, he mentioned that we should get the facts correct and accurate, and never make wild guess. He gave an example. He said he was traveling in Malaysia and read a road sign in the Malay language. It read BAHAYA. The meaning of that word is DANGER. He then went on to say that BAHAYA may sound like BAHÁʼÍ . And mere names should not be bulldozed as fulfillment of prophecies. He said we have to go into what the past scriptures have mentioned and connect them with what the Baháʼí scriptures match with accuracy.

    There was another session organized in the prestigious Hilton Hotel in Kuala Lumpur. This time he spoke on Buddhism and the Baháʼí Faith. That was probably the first time a session on Buddhism was ever organized in Malaysia.

    During the days he was visiting a few communities in Malaysia, there were a lot of praises by those who met him. They all had one thing to say- each felt like a tug boat by the side of an Ocean liner. Such was his knowledge on many religions. He had a very high command of the English language which he spoke with so much fluency coupled with clarity of thought. Mere listening to him speaking was like attending a literary class.

    What amazed me most was that Dr. Munje was able to speak to any audience of any size without any notes in his hands. He could simply quote from several religious scriptures in their original languages. He did carry in his wallet a few passages from his communication with the Guardian especially on Hinduism. He also had one passage from the master’s in support of homeopathy. He shared those with me when I had a personal conversation with him. And there was a believer who had some ailments which could not be cured by the local physicians, for not knowing the root cause. Dr. Munje met the believer and at once detected that as cancer. On Dr.Munje’s request, the believer went to Kanpur where Dr. Munje cured him of what was said to incurable back in Malaysia. The believer was so touched on the miracle that homeopathy performed on him, that he took up homeopathy while in India and is today a very successful homeopathy physician, and he himself is said to have cured several patients who were previously said to be beyond redemption.

    The next I met him was at the Baháʼí Centre in Bangalore (Bengaluru) in the state of Karnataka in December 1984. That was a conference of the Counselors and National Spiritual Assembly of India with representatives of the State Baháʼí councils of the southern States. I was travel-teaching in Tamilnadu and was invited as well. I went along with the late Mr. Raymond Peter of Malaysia who was travel-teaching in Tamilnadu at that time. The two day session was full of dynamism with speeches by Counselors Afshin, Professor Dipchand Kiandra, Zena Sorabjee and S. Nagaratnam. Members of the National Spiritual Assembly also spoke on various aspects of service. Zena Sorabjee spoke on the Baháʼí funds and related many stories. She quoted the Guardian’s statement that the Baháʼí Fund. She further quoted what the Guardian had mentioned about contribution, “We must be like the fountain or spring that is continually emptying itself of all that it has and is continually being refilled from an invisible source. To be continually giving out for the good of our fellows undeterred by fear of poverty and reliant on the unfailing bounty of the Source of all wealth and all good—this is the secret of right living.”

    When she had finished speaking, Dr Munje stood up to say a few words in support of what the Guardian had said that when we empty our pockets it gets filled from some invisible source. He said, “Allow me to explain the statement of the Guardian scientifically. When you want fresh air to enter your house, you have to open the back door. Only then fresh air will come into your house through the front door. Contribution is also like that. You have to empty your pockets for fresh income to enter into your pockets”.

    He continued, “ When you tie up two fingers together for two years, and you untie them after those two years, you will realize that the fingers will not function at all. In the same way when you have money that you do not use for the Faith, after some time you will find that the money will be of no use to you and others. It becomes useless unbeknown to you.”

    They were simple examples but did hit the point. I observed that the audience had special respect for him at that gathering.

    This was what I heard or observed in 1982 and 1984. If I could recollect so vividly even today, one could imagine the impact Dr. Munje had on me. I am very sure he has had similar impact on all those who had met him.

    A. Manisegaran
    Indiana
    USA

  18. Thank you Dr Radha for bringing out the tale of a dynamic and valiant teacher of the Faith, who had laboured his whole life relentlessly for the Cause of God. Dr.Munje is no doubt a great scholar and master in multifarious subjects, on comparative religions and as a linguist. We have seen that he had a tremendous way of accumulating his knowledge with all patience. He could listen calmly to the waiting souls and enquirers for hours.

    The Guardian says to the effect that conversion must be followed by confirmation. Thus, getting to know the intention of the seeker or enquirer is incumbent and therefore much attention has to be paid. Dr Munje was practicing this principle of the Guardian. Dr. Munje had been an ardent reader of the Guardian’s writings.

    l landed as a pioneer in Odisha, India in 1977. The year before in 1976 he had come to Puri for the Hindu Religious Gathering as a speaker on the invitation by Mr. Ranganath Mishra who later became the Chief Justice of India A booklet was printed in English on his talk and distributed to audience. I had always kept that safely as a guide to teach the Hindu people in the villages. I even memorised some relevant Sanskrit verses.

    The first time I met Dr. Munje in person was at the end of 1981. As Secretary of State Teaching Committee of Odisha, I received a cable from National Assembly of India on the arrival of Dr.Munje. I waited to receive him at the Bhubaneswar Station. But then again we have to board another train to go to Berhampur. So, we had to go up the stairs over the bridge to the other side of the train platform. I was astonished that he was able to walk up the stairs and continue walking a long distance, when I myself was finding it difficult. In Berhampur, hundreds hath gathered to hear him talk in that public event The Director General of Police was the Chief Guest.

    One of his unprecedented and outstanding achievement here was his ability to convince the Education Minister Mr. Gangadhar Mahapatra, allowing moral classes to be conducted in all the 14 Public High schools in Bhubaneswar. There was a written document and that was one historical victory of Odisha. The letters were dispatched to the Schools from the Education Department and I had to go and make appointments with the respective Head Master and Headmistresses. This program lasted for a month and then Dr. Munje had to go back to his home in Kanpur.

    After a month he came back again with two teachers – Miss Dorathy and Miss Alka .He trained them on the delivering methods. On the whole this was very much in line with what the Universal House of Justice says today about social action and greater involvement with the wider society. At that time we did not have the resources such as the trained teachers of capacity to pursue on this vital task.

    Dr. Munje was very much far-sighted and had the ability to understand the Vision of Bahaullah. Dr. Munje occasionally went for movies that contain meaningful message to the audience. He said he had seen the Hindi movie “Ek Duuje Ke Liye” and he liked it as there was a message of unity between North and South India. He also used to watch movies like “The Ten Commandments.” I had the opportunity to watch 2 movies with him during his stays in Bhubaneswar. That was indeed my joyful and unerasable moment. I used to accompany him on Cycle Rickshaw for the moral classes. After a short distance of travel the tyre got punctured with a loud noise and we got down. I argued that I will not pay the full amount of the fare. The Rickshaw man grumbled. And Dr.Munje with a strong voice told me to pay him full and hire another Rickshaw.

    His love and affection for the state of Odisha never diminished at that age. He knew that the receptivity was there in Odisha. In 1983, he came with Miss Eliza Rasiwala and her mother to Bhubaneswar. There was a press conference held with journalists. In this trip he also met with the Governor, Ministers, editors of the press and civil servants. He also made it a point to meet up with his old friends like Mr. Ranganath Mishra and his wife and brother whenever he comes to Odisha.

    My memorable days spent with Dr. Munje and the Bahais of Odisha never to be forgotten.

    Thank you Dr. Radha Rost for bringing out so much of important and meaningful memories of your illustrious father to light.

    Pitamboro KN
    Puncak Alam
    Selangor
    Malaysia

  19. Dear Dr. Radha,
    Though I knew that your late father Dr. H.M.Munje was a great scholar and a great servant of Baha’u’llah I never had the opportunity of meeting him in person. To meet such great souls also blessing is necessary. It was a wonderful narrative. Thank you for putting together so much information on this great believer of whose great services we all could be proud.

    N. Kalidoss
    Chennai
    Tamilnadu
    India

  20. I always associate Dr. Munje with his homeopathic medical practice and with his knowledge of the Hindu sacred Scriptures.
    My father, Shapoor Rowhani of Bombay, would often recount teaching trips that he undertook with other Baháʼí youth to villages in Maharashtra. Dr. Munje sometimes accompanied them. After the talk and discussion on the Baha’i Faith, the audience would be invited to consult Dr. Munje if they had any ailments. By the light of a lantern, people would queue up to see him. Dr. Munje would hear them, and then instruct the accompanying Baha’i youth to select and dispense homoeopathic medicines that he had brought with him. This could go on for hours till late into the night, and no one was turned away.

    Although my personal interaction with Dr. Munje was mostly limited to meeting him at Baháʼí conferences and programs, there was one extended occasion when I spent several hours with him. This was during my visit to West Bengal for the National Youth Committee’s “Project Sonar Bangla”. We were at a home of a Baha’i family where a group of volunteers were put up. I remember one of the youth called Kaliappan or “Kay” as he was called was from Malaysia. We began chatting with Dr. Munje on various topics and it was on this evening that I learned in detail about the four Vedas of the Hindu Faith. He gave us fascinating insights into what each of the Vedas dealt with.

    Then we moved to prophecies in Hindu Scriptures, and he stunned us by explaining how these scriptures have predicted not only the Revelation received by Baháʼu’lláh in the Siyah-Chal, but also its exact date, which falls accurately within the days when He was known to have been incarcerated there.

    My last meeting with him was at the Baháʼí Centre in Pune, Maharashtra. He had come to treat a friend suffering from cancer. I asked what hope there might be for him, and he commented that patients always tend to turn to homeopathy after they have exhausted everything – their strength, their hope and their money! Then he gave me this advice – that an excellent cure for cancer exists in something that people just throw away, viz., apple seeds. He advised me that whenever I cut an apple, I should make it a point to eat its seeds as well.

    Dr. Munje’s face and memories now invariably surface in my mind when I hear of the Vedas, and – of course! – when I eat apples along with their seeds!

    May Baháʼu’lláh continue to shower His love and affection on him in the Abhá realm.

    Marziah R. Dalal
    Mumbai
    Maharashtra
    India

  21. Dear Dr. Radha,

    The story was beautifully written and is highly informative about one of the greatest heroes of the former generation.

    I met Dr. Munje when I was studying in Bangalore city in Karnataka state, when I was a youth that time.

    He came to treat my uncle Attapur who was not well.

    After that I heard many stories about him from my father and mother. My mother especially liked his “Buty eye -drops” which was a homeopathy medicine for eyes and throat. “It worked like magic,” my mother used to say.

    I read the story and I like the part where it was mentioned that Mrs. Munje held the fort while Dr. Munje was out teaching. It is true both of them worked as one soul in different bodies. Surely they must have been made for each other.

    Dr. Munje was truly a genius, as he knew so many languages! For me, even to know one language is so difficult.

    I also had heard the Dr. Munje used to have a medicine called ” brain tonic” or something like that. I was not so attentive to that medicine as I was still studying and heard about it but I don’t think I got to try it.

    Best wishes.

    Geeti Yaganegi
    BHUTAN

  22. Dear Radha Aunty,

    Thank you for giving us a glimpse of one of the most learned and dedicated teachers of our country who gave the message of Baha’u’llah to thousands of people. I am personally indebted to him; for if on that cold night in 1961 he had not visited my father in a very remote and small village and given the message of The Coming of Baha’u’llah we would not have had this blessing. As my father the late Shri Harvansh Singh of Malhausi would always say “Dr Munje is my spiritual father” and he always looked upon him like a son thirsting for more about the faith.

    Whenever there were public meetings or deepening sessions organized in the six blocks (mass teaching area) as it was called, he was always there with his charming smile keeping everyone glued. He could talk on any subject for hours and never get tired. His simplicity attracted people to walk up to him and ask him not only questions related to religion, but also if they were suffering from any ailment they would consult.

    It must be in 1982 when a Baha’i friend from Malaysia who was suffering from cancer had come to Dr Munje for treatment. Doctors had told him that he can not be cured and under Dr Munje’s treatment he became absolutely healthy and returned back to Malaysia. I think it was last year when I asked you about his famous Buti drops which one could use if you had any problem in the eyes or ear. It was very effective.

    Our family has been very privileged to have known all the members of the Munje family closely and still maintaining our spiritual relationship. Everyone was always welcomed to his clinic cum home in Birhana Road Kanpur and you never went hungry because mummy (his wife as she was called by everyone young or old) always had a cooker full of channa rice pullao to offer. Even now my mouth is watering remembering how tasty it used to be. She was his pillar of strength.

    Thank you aunty for bringing out this beautiful compilation of his for all to get to know him.

    Sheema Singh
    Malhausi
    District Auraiya
    Uttar Pradesh
    India

  23. After reading about the short biography on Dr. Munje, Dr. Radha has asked me to pay a tribute to him by writing my thoughts, however inadequate it may be to someone like Dr. Munje possessed of such mastery skills like being a linguist, an orator, his wide knowledge of many of the religions of which he had memorized passages and would speak by heart including knowing some of the page numbers and books from which they were from, is truly a remarkable lifetime achievement in his selfless services rendered to the Cause of Baha’u’llah.

    Also the spiritual legacy which he has left behind, from Abdul-Baha has written for a father who has passed away a prayer:- ” Give him to drink from the chalice of Thy nearness, and let him abide under the shade of the Blessed Tree. Confer upon him the honour of attaining Thy presence, and bestow upon him everlasting bliss. Graciously assist the surviving kindred of this noble soul to follow in the footsteps of their dear father, to show forth his character and conduct amongst all people, to follow Thy path, seek Thy good pleasure, and utter Thy praise. Thou art the Ever- Loving God, the Lord of bounty.”

    Without a doubt Dr. Radha is already fulfilling Abdul- Baha’s prayer by following in the footsteps of her dear father.

    With loving Baha’i Greetings,
    Mahnaz A. Furudi
    Bombay
    India

  24. The story on Dr. Munje is so moving. He was truly blessed with God-given knowledge.

    I remember some friends from the towns of Bahau and Kuala Pilah went to Malacca town to
    attended a gathering in honour of Dr. Munje. That was in 1982. It was there that I first met this unforgettable Dr.Munje.
    Before that I had heard about the extraordinary knowledge of Dr.Munje from some Malaysian friends who went travel teaching to Odisha, India. I was led to understand that Dr. Munje could speak on any subject with great details and that he was knowledgeable on several religious scriptures with his mastery of 14 different languages.

    When I met him in Malacca town he was giving a detailed explanation on Lord Ganesh, the God of wisdom for the Hindus. That was an explanation that sounded meaningful and logic. He also spoke highly of the Universal House of Justice, the supreme body that is vested with the divine and effulgent power and authority to rule the whole universe. Hearing all that I was amazed and felt spellbound.

    However, in 1984 I visited Odisha for travel teaching with my sister and heard more about the scintillating and unique personality of Dr.Munje.

    God Bless of his soul in the realms of the unseen.

    Thank you Dr.Radha for unfolding a great and inspiring story.

    Nilamboro
    Bahau
    Malaysia

  25. Reading about the life of Dr. H.M. Munje, a dynamic scholar and teacher of the Faith who dedicated his entire life to the Service of the Cause brings such warmth to the heart.

    His life was a continuous struggle to improve his services to t his Beloved.

    I had the privilege to meet and stay at his residence couple of times going up for Sonar Bangla Project in 1976 and on the way to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands through Calcutta. Dr. Munje was always busy discussing the Faith. He was constantly finding ways of refining the teaching methods used by the local travel teachers.

    Dr. Munje constantly spoke about Hindu prophecies and how they fulfilled the coming of the Kalki Avatar (Baha’u’llah) and was busy completing his booklets of prophecies. Dr. Munje was always bubbling over with emotions and excitement for the love of his dear Faith.

    His life of dedicated service is a testimony for those who wish to Serve in the path of Blessed Beauty.

    Humbly In His Service

    Alex Jacob
    Seychelles

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