Meherwan Sheriar Irani (Meher Baba) was born in Pune, India in
February 1894. His parents were of Persian origin.
He was first educated in Dastur Girls’ School
and later in St. Vincent High School, from where he was matriculated.
In 1913, while in his first year at Deccan College he came in
contact with Hazrat Babajan, one of the five Perfect Masters of
the Age, who by a kiss on his forehead awakened him to the experience
of what one may call God-realization. During the course of subsequent
seven years Upasani Maharaj, another Perfect Master of the age
gave him knowledge of his infinite state and integrated his God-consciousness
with the consciousness of the gross world, preparing him thus
for his role. He was reported to have met the other three perfect
Masters of the time before he came in contact with Upasani Maharaj,
but no record of what happened in such meeting is available, except
that Sai Baba of Shirdi uttered “Parvardigar” on seeing him.
In 1921, he began his divine work with the early
disciples he had collected around him while living in a hut built
for him by Shri Sadashiv Govind Shelke at Shivajinagar, Pune near
the popular shrine of goddess Chatusringi. After a few years of
intensive training of these disciples and travel with them in
India and Iran, Meher Baba finally established, what is now called
‘Meher Retreat’ at Meherabad, on the outskirts of Arangaon village
in Ahmednagar. Here he instituted various activities of ego service
and self-giving love for the disciples. Judged from the standard
of worldly activities, these may appear to an objective observer
as charitable, social, cultural or educational activities, which
though valuable in that period of Indian history, were insignificant.
But viewed from an angle of spiritual emancipation of mankind
for which alone Perfect Master is ordained in the divine plan
of God’s functioning these activities were motivations or spiritual
stimulation for the transformation of all spheres of existence,
planes of consciousness and departments of life.
Meher Baba began his unique silence on 10th July
1925, and stopped writing in 1927. At first he communicated by
writing on slates, then by pointing to letters on an alphabet
board, which he gave up on 7th October 1954. Thereafter he conversed
through his own unique shorthand system of representative gestures.
Though silent and abstaining from writing, Meher
Baba had released a large volume of works revealing the spiritual
theme of human life clearer than any master had ever done before
him, explaining creation, evolution of consciousness through infinite
variety of forms, re-incarnation and involution of consciousness
in a language intelligible to an average man’s understanding and
at the same time scientific and logical in convincing the rationalist.
The history of man’s search for his soul has
produced few works dealing with the technique for the soul’s discovery.
Meher Baba’s discourses are a major contribution to that small
body of literature. In this work, given to his close disciples
in the period 1938–43, he describes the means of incorporating
daily life into one’s spiritual ongoing. He also outlines the
structure of Creation, but only to clarify the relationship of
the aspirant to the Master. In his classic later work ‘God Speaks’
Meher Baba described in detail the vertical system of God, His
Will to know Himself consciously, and the purpose of creation
in the Will . The discourses on the other hand are the practical
guide for the aspirant as he slowly finds his way back to Oneness,
after having developed consciousness through the deeps of evolution.
While the discourse provide detailed descriptions of the Path
and its disciplines. Rather, they are a constant, firm reminder
of the need for a Master on this Path of apparent return to Oneness.
The Master is the knowing guide who had already traversed the
Path, who provides with infinite patience the secure and steady
pace that can lead to the goal. While Baba admits the possibility
of achieving progress without such a guide, he makes it clear
that it is fraught with almost insurmountable problems, and difficulties.
To one who debates allying himself with a teacher
of the inner processes, the discourses provide invaluable insight.
To one who senses that life is to be lived for its positive contribution
to the discovery of the inner being, Baba provides the unarguable
description of one who knows. His other books, ‘Listen, Humanity,’
‘ Life At Its Best’, ‘Beams on the Spiritual Panorama’, ‘The Everything
& The Nothing’ were given by him to educate the minds of earnest
aspirants after Truth, giving them enough intellectual insight
to understand the falsity of this material world and ego-centric
and separative existence, and to awaken love for Truth (God) and
longing for living in Truth (God).
Meher Baba had widely traveled all over India.
Iran and other Eastern countries contacting large numbers of people.
In the 1930s Baba’s travels began to reach Europe and then to
America. His name rapidly became known to those deeply and sincerely
interested in the spiritual discipline on both continents.
When not on travels, which were practically stopped
in 1958 after his last global tour, he lived mostly in Meherabad,
in Ahmednagar District, the field of his concentrated activities
and where almost all of his lovers’ gatherings were held till
1958. During summer months from April through June every year
he used to stay in Pune, where his activities began centralising
since 1956 and finally shifted to from 1958 onwards. Baba’s life
can be divided into Ekantavas (seclusion) Upavas (fast) and Sahavas
(living with others).
His life in seclusion and fasting was considered
to be a period of intensive work in invisible spheres of existence
and on planes of consciousness speeding up the evolution of Creation,
descending divinity into the gross plane raising the consciousness
of mankind. His external activities of contacting men individually
and collectively sowed the seeds of love in their hearts which
awaken them to a life of love and sacrifice and perpetuate his
name and the truth he revealed.
A persistent theme throughout the forty eight
years of Meher Baba’s work had been his seeking out of what he
called ‘mast’ (God-intoxicated) and his homage to those afflicted
by disease and want. ‘The Wayfarers’ by Dr. William Donkin is
a valuable record of these activities of Meher Baba which unfold
avenues of understanding the psychology of human life as never
before known to mankind.
Those stricken by leprosy have been a constant
concern of Meher Baba. With infinite care and love he washed their
feet, bowed his forehead to the often twisted stumps on which
they toddle, and sent them on their way with renewed hopes and
peace. They are like beautiful birds caught in an ugly cage,”
he once said on such an occasion. “Of all the tasks that I have
to perform, this touches me most deeply.”
His disciples, known as ‘mandali’, resident with
him were representative of what one may call miniature world family
not only unified diverse religions and regions of the world, but
represented all aspects of human nature through whom he worked
to free the consciousness of mankind from the illusion of separative
existence and tendencies. While Baba manifested divinity in its
pristine beauty and glory through his ever changing moods and
movements his mandali expressed humanity in all its nakedness
through their life of love and service.
His was a life of infinite suffering which he
termed as moment to moment’s crucifixion, sustained by what he
called His infinite bliss. The drama of his divine life on earth
ended at 12.15 p.m. on 31st January 1969 establishing his individuality
in the indivisibility of God’s infinite existence.