Symbols of the world's religions


Eric Solibakke

Merwan Sheriar Irani was born February 25, 1894, in Poona, India, into a Zoroastrian family. His father, a genuine seeker for God, was informed by the Spiritual Hierarchy that God Realization would come to him through his son. He came out of his desert retreat, married and established a family. Merwan, his second son, was an exceptionally fair and loving boy in all respects, and everyone recognized his high destiny. He attended the Christian High School and Deccan College.

Meher Baba, as he came to be called by his disciples, took up his avataric duties early in 1922 after seven years of intense work with the five Perfect Masters of the time. Hazrat Babajan, the aged woman master of Poona, initiated his spiritual awakening in January, 1914, by kissing him on the forehead. Almost immediately he entered into a transcendental state of mind out of touch with normal gross consciousness. He scarcely ate or slept for nine months.

Dazed and apparently insane, he made his way during the next year to Shirdi Sai Baba, the chief of the five Perfect Masters, who acknowledged him publically as the Sustainer of the Universe, and sent him to Upasni Maharaj. As soon as that master saw the young man approaching, he picked up a stone and threw it with great force. It struck him on the forehead exactly where the old woman had kissed him. Thus began a painful five-year process of regaining normal consciousness while retaining his divine state.

During the 1920's he gathered and rigorously trained his inner circles of disciples while founding an active spiritual community in Ahmednagar, India, with schools, hospitals and other public service projects. In the middle of the decade he became silent and never again uttered a word. For 44 years he communicated by spelling words on an alphabet board and through hand gestures, including two important books, God Speaks and Discourses.

In 1931 he came to the West for the first time, traveling on the same ship that took Mahatma Gandhi to the Round Table Conference in London. During that voyage, he became Gandhi's spiritual adviser. In England and America he gathered a select group of western disciples, some of whom joined him in India later on. He visited his disciples in the West a half dozen times before the Second World War.

During the 1940's he traveled all over India in his work with the poor, with lepers, with the insane and with masts, a category of mentally disturbed people seldom found in the West whose afflictions come from unwise use of powerful spiritual practices, overwhelming and unbalanced love for God, or enthrallment by a sudden vision of Divinity. He set up temporary mad and mast ashrams in every part of the country where he contacted and served them in his own silent way.

He established two places of pilgrimage outside of India during the 1950's, Meher Spiritual Center, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, U.S.A., and Avatar's Abode, near Brisbane, Australia. It was necessary to spill his blood in America, he said, and while there to dedicate his center, major bones were broken and his face severely smashed in an car accident. A few years later he suffered a similar fate in India.

He became well known in the West during the 1960's by opposing the use of LSD and other drugs in the quest for spiritual experiences. In the last years he largely withdrew from public life and intensified his work in seclusion, announcing in the fall of 1968 that his work was completed 100% to his satisfaction. On January 31, 1969, one month before his 76th birthday, he left his body, which now lies in the tomb near Ahmednagar, a place of pilgrimage for those who love him.

He said that his tomb, called his samadhi, takes the place of his physical body. For a period of 100 years, entering his samadhi is equal to coming into his physical presence. Many pilgrims take advantage of this opportunity to keep his company. After 70 years, he said, his samadhi will be the most frequented place of pilgrimage in the world.

Read more about  Meher Baba's life

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