HEROINES OF THE PATH
Baba's Work with Women in the West
PRINCESS NORINA MATCHABELLI
In 1941 He sent His trio, Elizabeth, Nadine and Norina back to America to do His work. In India Norina had already given talks, so it was natural she was the one to give them now in America, usually in the Carnegie Music Hall on 57th Street. Smaller meetings were held at the home on 67th Street, and gradually a core of interested followers developed, of which I was one. Norina's inspirational style of speaking was unique. She herself called it "thought-transmission." She rejected any suggestion it was mediumistic. When speaking, the personal "I" switched to "I, Meher Baba." This caused some controversy among her peers, one of whom queried Baba in India about it. Baba sent a cable in reply, which said in essence:
When the Master came in 1952, one of her friends, Louise N. also questioned Baba about this "voice" phenomena. Baba indicated it was true. Norina herself wrote about it in an article, "The Voice" (Meher Baba Journal, 1937) as follows:
This is the style of her stage talks and dictations, the volume Fragments from a Spiritual Diary and 40 Messages. If one called her a modern poet, her style wouldn't seem so controversial. She always projected a strong sense of love for Baba. Whatever one feels about it as a phenomenon it certainly had drawing power. So many souls were drawn to Baba that when He gave public darshan at Meher Center in May 17, 1952, over 700 people came.
Together with Elizabeth, whose gift to Baba this beautiful Center was, Norina helped to prepare it for His coming. It was her sure artistic touch that kept the natural look, the air of a true spiritual retreat. And so it has remained to this day. She was at His house to welcome Him as He entered it for the first time, in April, 1952. He said next to Meherazad He felt most truly at home here.
She was still struggling with the ill health that had plagued most of her life. In 1947, when Baba had recalled her and Elizabeth to India just before the New Life, her own doctor warned her not to go. She had a heart four times natural size, high blood pressure and other complications. Her "thought-transmission" had ended and this had depressed her emotionally. Nevertheless she bravely went to Baba in India and He very tenderly ordered her a complete rest, even six weeks of silence. He visited her almost every day.
She returned well enough to give some talks in New York before Baba came again in 1952 to America.
But in '52 her health required hospitalization and she was not there to introduce all those dear souls her work had drawn to Him. An interesting point about "health" and the Master: once when very ill a friend had had Norina's horoscope cast and the astrologer predicted her death at that time. But Baba told her that once a devotee surrenders their life to Him the horoscope does not apply. He said He had saved her life four times. (She had also been extremely ill when a child and at that time had had an inner vision of Jesus).
She had a unique place in His Circle as "the changing one". The best explanation of this phrase I could get is that if someone, so to speak, moves out of position in the Circle, Norina could take their place. But as with so many of Baba's cryptic statements, the mystery remains. Norina passed away in 1957, one year after Baba's second visit to the Center in Myrtle Beach. To the end she was fiercely loyal to Baba, through all her sufferings, physical and mental. Even in the darkest "night of the soul" her faith and obedience never wavered, and as such she remains a great example to us all.
P.S. Baba said if any one of His Circle died before He did, they would immediately have to take another physical body near Him. "Norina" now, as pointed out by Baba Himself, is a young boy in India, born to a Baba family. Thus, I have met this dear soul "twice" in one life, an amazing "postscript" to a remarkable vita.
P.P.S. Baba once told her, "When I break My Silence, even your eyes will 'Pop'!"
1983 © Universal Spiritual League in America, Inc.