Symbols of the world's religions




Meher Baba

[In his reminiscing Baba also spoke often of the ashrams for the mad and the masts which he conducted in his next period of external public activities (1936- 1947). Most of the inmates of the Mad Ashram (August, 1936-September, 1940) were gathered from among the ordinarily insane men who had no one to love or care for them. They were brought from near and far, regardless of caste or creed. No medical efforts were expended on treating their mental infirmities, but they were physically well attended and they were indulged in any innocent idiosyncrasies.

Baba planned and supervised the Mad Ashram, and he also served and nursed its inmates with patience, tolerance and love.

Aside from its humanitarian and spiritual aspects, the Mad Ashram also prepared the mandali for the subsequent running of the Mast Ashrams. The seven principal ones of these were maintained at different remote places such as Ajmer, Jabalpur, Bangalore, Meherabad, Ranchi, Mahabaleshwar and Satara (1939- 1947). The nature of the external routine was common to both mad and mast ashrams, just as there was considerable similarity between the externally alike but internally dissimilar inmates.

Baba clarified the dissimilarity as follows: - ed.]

Ordinarily it is very difficult, and cursorily it is impossible, to distinguish between a madman and a mast. One is actually mad the other appears to be mad. Internally the two are poles apart. The mad has lost the power of correct reasoning. The mast has transcended the limitations of intellect. A madman is mentally infirm, a mast is spiritually enlightened. The mad have distorted ideas about their bodies and surroundings. The masts have an utter disregard for theirs because their hearts directly experience inner truths beyond the gross sphere, and they are more or less imbued with God- love.

Even in the Mad Ashram there were a few masts, but most were more or less ordinary madmen. One of the latter, Fakir Bua, assumed the airs of a sage. He would nod his head and utter monosyllables mechanically without any meaning, but his movements and utterances gave the appearance of his agreeing or disagreeing with what he heard. He also made frequent gestures with his fingers. However this was only habit, as there was no sense or significance to the gestures, although the contrary is true in the case of a mast.

When the Mad Ashram was closed (September, 1944), Fakir Bua, along with the rest of the insane, was sent back to the place from which he had come (Poona). Through a misunderstanding, a rumor spread through the grain market in Poona that Fakir Bua had returned from my ashram as a saint.

This error was discovered some months later when one of the mandali, who was searching for masts and saints for my work, heard that there was one in the Poona area whom hundreds of people worshiped. When the mandali had managed to jostle through the crowds he found none other than poor old Fakir Bua sitting on cushions placed on a coarsely decorated platform, happily nodding his head to the crowds around him.

There are undoubtedly many in India who are genuinely engaged in the search for truth, but the masses are more eager to win cheap material benefits through rare spiritual blessings. Equipped with long hair and an ochre colored robe (the garb of the wandering holy man), an unscrupulous man can easily dupe hundreds among the masses here. If one person worships some individual, hundreds will quickly follow suit, hoping thereby to rid themselves of their immediate problems for the asking.

Years ago among the growing number of new mandali there was one individual who followed carefully my directions to observe silence, keep fasts and do japs (repeating the name of God). After leaving the mandali however he began to pose as a saint and induced people to worship him. I sent him a word of warning against his pretentiousness, but he did not heed it.

After some time he became involved in an affair with a woman and ultimately returned to me suffering with leprosy. I pardoned him, embraced him and advised him to go humbly about the country giving my message of love and truth to the people. He is now no longer a leper and remains steadfast in his love and service for me.

Although most of the mandali know of only three or four cases of such fraudulence, there have been seven pretenders who have claimed falsely that they had been spiritually enlightened by me and were my spiritual successors.

Masts are those who become permanently unconscious in part or whole of their physical bodies, actions and surroundings, due to their absorption in their intense love and longing for God. My love for the masts is similar in many ways to that shown by a mother who continues to look lovingly after her children regardless of their behavior. To make her child clean a mother does not even mind soiling her hands with the child's excrement.

I am the mother of the masts. If God were not there, there would be no masts. They also are like parts of my body. Some are like my right and some are like my left limbs and fingers. Some are nose, ears and eyes for me. I am helpful to them and they are helpful to me. The masts alone know how they love me and I alone know how I love them. I work for the masts, and knowingly or unknowingly they work for me.

[Discovering and collecting the mad had been child's play compared to the task the mandali were now assigned: to trace, contact and induce the masts to come into the Mast Ashrams.

Although Baba had started contacting the God-mad in 1915, his regular mast trips did not start until 1938. They remain to this day (1957) one of the most active external manifestations of his internal work. A splendid account of seventy-five thousand miles of Baba's mast trips in which he contacted twenty thousand masts, as well as a description of Baba's Mad and Mast Ashram activities, has been given by one of the resident mandali, Dr. William Donkin, in his unique work, The Wayfarers (1948, Meher Publications).

Baba once pointed out seven mango trees to a group of sahvasis visiting Meherazad. - ed.]

These are the offshoot of one of my cherished mast contacts. This mast had presented me with seven mangoes. As I promised the mast, I ate them all completely and the seven seeds I planted here where you now see them grown into trees.

As the mandali well know, I soon give away whatever I have chosen to receive, except what I receive from the masts. Even if they give me pieces of rags or wastepaper I treasure them.

[And later,] I and those who accompany me on a mast trip keep moving night and day for weeks at a time without regular or adequate meals, and only rarely do we rest for a night.

On one such exceptional occasion we were sleeping on a railway platform for the night. At daybreak someone was found sharing my blanket with me. The stranger admitted on questioning that he was a petty thief known to the police. However he insisted that he had not been trying to rob us, but to seek shelter for the night. The mandali were inclined to hand him over to the police but I let him get away.

LISTEN, HUMANITY, Appendix II, pp. 258-261, ed. D. E. Stevens
1982 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust


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