Symbols of the world's religions



C. B. Purdom

"The fire of love is very terrible indeed and masts present a challenge to God, the Beloved."

I now come to an important aspect of Baba's work, which has no parallel so far as I know in the life of any other man.

The first stages of the work at Rahuri lasted for eight months, until the end of April 1937.... During this period, Baba rose at 4 a.m. and retired at midnight. He served the mad, cleaned out their latrines (work done only by the untouchables), and each day sat with some of them in seclusion. All the men when they arrived were restless, some wanted to leave at once, only after Baba had given them a bath with his own hands did they become composed and lose the wish to go. They had liberty to do what they pleased, except that they were not permitted to leave the ashram gardens. Whatever they asked for they were given, and they were well fed.

It is necessary to say something in more detail about these men, ordinarily described as mad, as some, indeed, were. In the West they are mostly treated in mental hospitals, or, at any rate, classed among the mentally unfit and regarded with little respect. There are, as I have said, those who are simply mentally deficient, and at first Rahuri contained mostly such men. But Baba began to concentrate upon certain selected men who, though mentally unbalanced or disordered, were not simply insane, though often behaving as the worst examples of feeble-mindedness; they were regarded by him as being in a particular spiritual condition.

'Such persons', says Baba, 'are not mad in the ordinary sense; they are desperately in love with God, and are known as "masts."'

To describe these masts in any satisfactory way is impossible if only because anything that is said about madness, or what appears to be madness presents difficulty. Who are the mad, and what is it to be mad? 'There is no real pathology of mental disorders', says an eminent authority. The men Baba calls masts are not defective in the physiological sense though psychically unbalanced. They suffer from nothing that can be called a disease. They are in a state of mental and physical disorder because their minds are overcome by strong spiritual energies that are far too much for them, forcing them to renounce the world, normal human habits and customs, and civilized society, and to live in a condition of chaos.

They are psychological cases beyond the reach of psychoanalysis, because their condition is too advanced and obscure for any known procedures.... Only a spiritual Master, says Baba, who is aware of the divine spirit that possesses them, which causes them to be unfit for normal society, can be of any help to them, and even his help reaches them with difficulty as they are virtually shut off from human contact.

They are in the world, but not of it. In Baba's terms they are 'God-intoxicated souls'. They are not to be described as seekers after God who have lost their way, but as those who have become blinded on their way: not lost souls, but those who have become held up by the mystery of love, so that they have become fools and outcasts for God. They are overcome 'by agonizing love for God', says Baba, and are 'drowned in their ecstasy': only love can reach them.

The God-merged and God-mad are the important masts, being the most advanced; they are of three main types.

1) Those whose minds become unbalanced through unceasing dwelling upon thoughts about God so that they neglect all normal human requirements.

2) Those whose minds become unbalanced by sudden contact with a highly advanced spiritual being.

3) Those who seek spiritual experience and meet a crisis from which they do not recover.

What characterizes all is concentration upon the love of God.


THE GOD-MAN, pp. 136-138
1971 © Meher Spiritual Center Inc.


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