Merwan Sheriar Irani (1894-1969) was named Meher Baba (meaning Compassionate Father) by his early followers. He was born in Pune, India, into a Parsi Zoroastrian family. From an early age, he established friendships across castes and creeds and was renowned for his piety, charitable work and achievements in sport and poetry. From the age of 17 he ran errands for Hazrat Babajan (1815?-1931), a revered spiritual master. When Merwan was 19, Babajan called him over and kissed him on the forehead. Soon after, Merwan fell into a coma-like state for several months. He later explained that Babajan had unveiled his divinity through this kiss.

Meher Baba explained that in every epoch, five Sadgurus (Perfect Masters) bring the Avatar ‘down’ into human consciousness, to fulfil his role as the spiritual authority of the age. The five figures associated with Meher Baba were Sai Baba of Shirdi (1838?-1918), Narayan Maharaj (1885-1945), Tajuddin Baba (1861-1925), Upasni Maharaj (1870-1941) and Hazrat Babajan. Some of these masters publicly proclaimed Meher Baba’s divinity and placed some of their own disciples into his care. By 1921, these disciples, and others drawn directly to him, became his earliest group of followers.

PHOTOS ABOVE: Meher Baba's Spiritual Masters

Meher Baba 1925During this early period, Meher Baba developed programs to assist the poor and disadvantaged including a free school, a dispensary and a hospital. The main centre of these activities, named Meherabad, was located near the city of Ahmednagar in one of the poorest areas of rural India.

Meher Baba began his lifelong silence in 1925, stating that “things that are real are given and received in silence”. For many years his messages were dictated by means of an alphabet board. In 1954 he gave up the board and relied solely on hand gestures. Nevertheless, Meher Baba oversaw the production of many books and messages including, Discourses (1939) God Speaks (1955), Life At Its Best (1957), and Beams (1958).

Meher Baba journeyed for many years all over the Indian subcontinent visiting his followers and assisting spiritual seekers and people in need. This included a period of renunciation, living and travelling in complete obscurity, which he called the New Life. During this phase, Meher Baba personally assisted and bowed down to tens of thousands of people individually, without revealing his identity.

From the 1930s onwards, Meher Baba became known to some spiritual seekers in Western countries and there arose small groups of devotees in England, America and Australia. During the 1930s and again in the 1950s, he made extensive visits to Europe, the USA, Australia, and some parts of Asia to meet and give guidance to his followers and other spiritual seekers.

In 1965, Meher Baba met with some young Americans who had journeyed to India to see him. He issued strong statements against the abuse of drugs to these seekers, emphasising that narcotic substances were not a means of spiritual advancement. Meher Baba was one of the earliest spiritual teachers to identify the damage that is caused by the misuse of hallucinogenic and recreational drugs.

Meher Baba’s physical death occurred on 31st January,1969. His body was interred, according to his instructions, in the tomb built for this purpose at Meherabad. Today, Meher Baba’s tomb shrine is a place of world pilgrimage visited by many thousands of people each year who pay homage to him as God in human form and the ever-present Avatar.

Meher Baba’s teachings

To love God as He ought to be loved, we must live for God and die for God, knowing that the goal of life is to Love God, and find Him as our own Self.” – Meher Baba

Meher Baba states that the universal message in every Avataric advent is love for God. He reaffirms this timeless message, teaching that all religions and all beings are one in essence. Meher Baba provides practical guidance for living a spiritual life in his Discourses and other works. He said that “real happiness lies in making others happy” and guides his followers to live in a loving and selfless manner.

Meher Baba’s cosmology is eloquently explained in his book God Speaks. He taught that all souls are actually One, and that any apparent differences are due to differing levels of consciousness and experience. The universe emerged from what Baba called God’s “original whim” to know himself. Baba said that each soul is unconsciously God, gradually gaining more consciousness through taking different physical forms culminating in human beings. This process creates binding sanskaras (impressions) that must be ‘unwound’ through reincarnation. Eventually the soul realises its divinity through stages of spiritual unfoldment, culminating in the soul becoming one with God and living eternally as God.

Meher Baba in Australia

Although I am ever with my lovers individually, I am always happy when they gather in My love.” – Meher Baba (telegram to Avatar’s Abode in 1967)

The earliest Australian followers of Meher Baba were people who in the 1930s travelled overseas as part of creative work in dance, film and theatre. An ‘Australian Baba group’ emerged in Sydney and Melbourne during the 1940s, largely from men and women studying the teachings of the Indian Sufi musician, Inayat Khan. This Sufi group was led by Baron Frederich von Frankenberg (1889-1950) and later by his nominated successor, the Australian poet Francis Brabazon (1907-1984).

The Baron, deeply impressed by Meher Baba’s Discourses, encouraged Francis to meet him in the United States. Francis was profoundly affected by this experience, and immediately recognised Meher Baba’s spiritual status. Consequently, the focus of many of this Sufi group shifted to Meher Baba.

Members of the early group nurtured a hope that one day Meher Baba would visit Australia. Francis Brabazon decided to build a suitable house to accommodate this potential visit at Beacon Hill in Sydney. Meher Baba followers would meet and stay with Francis to study spirituality and assist with the building work. In August 1956, the group’s hopes were realised. Meher Baba came and stayed at the house and named it Meher House. It has ever since been the focus of the Sydney Baba group and is open to visitors from around Australia and the world.

In 1958 there was news that Meher Baba might again visit. This time, on Francis’ suggestion, Baba decided on Queensland. Francis located a pineapple farm for sale, near the summit of Kiel Mountain on the Sunshine Coast, and immediately recognised the place as suitable. He cabled a description to Meher Baba, who endorsed the purchase of the property.

Within a few months, despite heavy rain and lack of electricity and running water, Francis and helpers from the Sydney and Melbourne groups erected a couple of buildings and organised facilities. In June 1958, Meher Baba and a few of his close disciples came to stay and met with his Australian followers. Meher Baba named the property Avatar’s Abode, and stated that it would become one of the great places of pilgrimage in the world.

During the 1960s-70s, there was widespread interest in Eastern spirituality in Western countries. Meher Baba and his books were amongst the first to attract attention. In Australia, as elsewhere, this generated a considerable growth in followers of Meher Baba. During the 1970s-80s, ‘Baba groups’ formed in Australian cities and rural areas. A community also developed around and near Avatar’s Abode.

In the present, volunteers and visitors gather at Avatar’s Abode throughout the year for events, meetings and to participate in service projects. A yearly focal point for many Australian followers is the Avatar’s Abode Anniversary, a long week-end celebration held each June to commemorate Meher Baba’s visit to Avatar’s Abode in 1958.

Avatar’s Abode Trust, PO Box 184, Woombye QLD 4559, Australia.
Telephone and Email details are on our CONTACT page.

Avatar Meher Baba

His Life, His Message and His Followers

By Ray Kerkhove

Avatar Meher Baba
His Life, His Message and His Followers

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