“When the word of my love breaks out of its silence and speaks in your hearts, telling you who I really am, you will know that this is the Real Word you have been always longing to hear.” ~ Meher Baba
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.
During 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.
His Spiritual Work
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.
BANNER IMAGE: Meher Baba at the Khushroo Darshan, Ahmednagar, 26 Sep 1954. Photo supplied by Bill and Diana Le Page. Avatar’s Abode Collection.