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Friday, February 16, 2007

Who is Meher Baba?

Who is Meher Baba?

By CyruSoumya Khambata - Mumbai

Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, 31 January, (Asiantribune.com): When mankind becomes completely deaf to the thunder of His silence, God incarnates as Man and is recognized as the Prophet, the Messiah, the Rasool, the Saviour, the Son of God, the Messenger of God or the Avatar of the Age. Such a One can never be counted amongst the sadhus, saints, yogis, mahatmas, pirs, walis, awlias etc. His status is quite unique as was of Zoroaster, Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. And now in our Age and time this is the exalted state of Avatar Meher Baba – The Being of all beings.

Merwan Sheriar Irani was born in Pune, India, on 25th.Feb. 1894 at 5.00 a.m. to Zoroastrian parents of Persian descent. His father Sheriar was an ardent seeker of God, who, at age twelve, left his family and began wandering through Iran in search of the Truth. For eight years he underwent severest of austerities and penitent type of asceticism without any results. Frustrated and disappointed in Iran, he sailed for the port of Bombay. In India too he wandered around several places with a staff and a bowl in his hand. His path crossed many sadhus and fakirs and he took refuge at various places of pilgrimage. He only longed for the sight of his Beloved God – Yezdan. And to achieve that he went to the extent of undertaking 'chilla-nashini' a severe penance of forty day and nights within a secluded circle without food, water or sleep. After thirty days he could not endure the torture a moment longer and so defeated, disheartened and near-dead, he dragged himself away, collapsed near a river and fell into a deep slumber.Meher Baba: "My outward silence is no spiritual exercise. It has been undertaken and maintained solely for the good of others."Meher Baba: "My outward silence is no spiritual exercise. It has been undertaken and maintained solely for the good of others."

A divine voice then spoke: "He whom you seek, He whom you wish to see, His attainment is not destined for you. Your son, it is your son who will attain it, and through your son – you."

Failing to achieve the enlightenment he sought, his step eventually led him to Pune, to his sister Piroja, who urged him to marry and settle down. Following her advice, Sheriar married a girl in her early teens, Shireen Dorab Irani, who eventually bore him seven children.

Merwan was their second son and Sheriar knew that he was the One through whom his hearts longing would be fulfilled. Merwan had an active and happy childhood. He matriculated in 1911 from St. Vincent's High School, one of the finest in town and later attended the Deccan College. However, his academic career came to an abrupt end in 1913 that changed the entire course of his life.

Merwan bicycled daily from his home to college and back. The road passed through where Hazrat Babajan, a Muslim Perfect Master, around 120 years of age used to sit under a neem tree. One day in May 1913, as Merwan passed by the tree on his way, she suddenly looked at him and beckoned him. He got off his bicycle and walked over to her. He was drawn to her like steel to a magnet. Their eyes met. Babajan stood up and engulfed him in her embrace with the fervor of a mother finding her lost son.

Tears streamed down her wrinkled cheeks as she kept repeating, "Mera Pyara Beta…My Beloved Son." Merwan was dazed. What he then experienced is indescribable – his individual consciousness was merged in the Ocean of Bliss. He walked home leaving his bicycle behind.

The only thing Merwan regularly did for the next seven months was to visit Babajan everyday and sit by her side for long hours, sometimes late into the night. Then one fateful night in January 1914, as Merwan was about to leave, he kissed Babajan's hand and she in turn held his face in her hands. The time had come. Babajan looked deeply into his eyes with all her love and kissed him on the forehead.

In Baba's own words given out later, "At the time Babajan gave Me the nirvikalp experience of My own reality, the illusory physical, subtle and mental bodies – mind, world and all created things – ceased to exist for Me even as illusion. Then I began to see that only I and nothing else existed."

Later, he visited Narayan Maharaj the Perfect Master in Khedgaon. Darshan was on at his palace and Maharaj, wearing a gold crown, was seated on the silver throne of Dattatrey. Upon seeing Merwan, Maharaj stopped the darshan and had all the people disperse. He came down from his throne and, taking Merwan by the hand, gently led him to his throne where he made him sit. Maharaj then removed a garland from his own neck and placed it around Merwan's and offered him a mango juice to drink. They talked for a while and then Merwan left the place. After this meeting Merwan began to feel the glory of his Godhood.

Next Merwan met another Perfect Master, Tajuddin Baba of Nagpur. Although Tajuddin was in a very bad mood that day showering abuses on all and not allowing anyone to come close to him, he became silent the moment he saw Merwan and walked towards him with roses in his hands. Their eyes met and their gaze locked. Not a word was spoken. Tajuddin waved roses on Merwan's cheeks and forehead and when Merwan turned to leave, he waved roses in a farewell gesture and muttered, "My rose, my heavenly rose!" Merwan had received his 'Taj' – Crown.

Then he goes to Shirdi to meet Sai Baba, the 'Qutub-e-Irshad' – the head of the five Perfect Masters. As Sai Baba was returning from his 'lendi' procession, Merwan stretched himself full length on the ground in front of his feet. Paying obeisance to the young lad in return and in a deep resounding voice, Sai Baba uttered one majestic word, "Parvardigar" meaning God the Almighty – the Sustainer.

In that instant Sai Baba conferred Infinite Power upon Merwan. Sai Baba then beckoned Merwan to walk down the road. There was an old Khandoba temple some three hundred yards away where Upasani Maharaj was living. When Merwan approached Maharaj with folded hands, Maharaj stood up and greeted Merwan, so to speak, with a stone which he threw with such great force that it drew blood. It hit Merwan at the exact spot where Babajan had so lovingly kissed him.

That was the stroke of 'Dnyan', Marefat of Haquiqat or Divine Knowledge. With the force of this impact, Merwan's consciousness began returning to gross world. But it took seven more years for Maharaj, now at Sakori, and a great deal of suffering for Merwan to completely regain gross human consciousness.

The day finally arrived. The Avatar's divine mission was to begin. In January, 1922, a few minutes before Merwan's departure from Sakori, Upasani Maharaj called him into his hut and with folded hands proclaimed, "Merwan, you are Adi Shakti – the Primal Force! You are the Avatar and I salute You !"

As Merwan left in a waiting tonga, Maharaj gazed with silent tears caressing his cheeks. And so at age twenty seven, Merwan – young, strong and handsome began His work for mankind.

Drawn by His divinity and magnetic personality, a small group of men started collecting around Him which formed the nucleus of His mandali. One from among them started addressing Him as Meher Baba meaning the compassionate father. Baba was most loving, but He was also a very strict disciplinarian. He emphasized love for God and selfless service as the twin divine qualities to annihilate the false separative ego. His motto is "Mastery in Servitude."

His lovers are from all walks of life and from every community. He allowed each one to follow their own religion, but emphasized the need to understand and live by the crux of it rather that cling to its crust embodied in rites, rituals, ceremonies and dogmas. As for Himself, He said, "I belong to no religion, all religions belong to Me. My personal religion is My being the Ancient Infinite One and the religion I impart to all is love for God, which is the truth of all religions."

Meher Baba established a community near Ahmednagar, which is called Meherabad. It is this place that He chose His final resting place up on the hill. He Himself supervised the construction of the tomb and spent many days and weeks, at intermittent periods, sitting inside its crypt doing His inner spiritual work. His Samadhi or Tomb-Shrine as it is now called has become a place of pilgrimage for His lovers and seekers of God throughout the world.

In Meherabad, His work embraced free school where spiritual training was stressed, free dispensary and hospital, ashrams for the mad and the mast. A unique characteristic feature of Baba's activities in Meherabad as well as at other places was the manner in which He would suddenly and without any warning or any cogent cause stop a project midway regardless of time, money, energy spent on it and regardless of its success. Baba considered all such external activities and projects as merely a scaffolding for His inner spiritual work. Just as scaffolding is brought down once the building is constructed, Baba disbanded His external activities once His inner work was accomplished.

From 10th July, 1925, Meher Baba began observing silence. This was not undertaken as a sort of penance. Baba says, "My outward silence is no spiritual exercise. It has been undertaken and maintained solely for the good of others." On another occasion, He said, "I am never silent. I speak eternally. The voice that is heard deep within the soul is My voice… the voice of inspiration, of intuition, of guidance. To those who are receptive to this voice, I speak. And at yet another time Baba said, "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 that is the word you have always been wanting to hear." He communicated initially by pointing at the letters and figures on the English alphabet board, which too He discontinued since 7th October 1954.

Later on, He communicated by means of His unique hand gestures and facial expressions which His mandali members were quite adept at interpreting. Through His silence He dictated several books and messages, chief among them is "God Speaks" and 'Discourses". He had given up writing from 1st January 1926 and also stopped touching money except when distributing to the poor.

On 16th October 1949, Baba, together with selected companions of sixteen men and four women, embarked upon what He termed as the "New Life" - a life of absolute purity, utter hopelessness, helplessness and desirelessness, of complete reliance on God and remaining cheerful under all circumstances.

During this phase Baba bulldozed individual barriers of temper, habit patterns, attachments, hope, desire, longing and security. Master–disciple relationship was relinquished and Baba, as the elder brother to all His companions, exemplified a life of a true seeker.

The last years of His life were spent in strict seclusion. It was a time for complete absorption into inner universal spiritual work. Baba said, "None can have the least idea of the immensity of the work I am doing in this seclusion. The only hint I can give is that, compared with the work I do in seclusion, all the important work of the world put together is completely insignificant…" On the evening of 30th July 1968, Baba declared, "My work is done. It is complete hundred percent to My satisfaction…" Later on, Baba said, "I have been saying: the Time is near, it is fast approaching, it is close at hand. Today I say: The Time has come. Remember this!"

On Friday, 31st. January 1969, Meher Baba dropped His physical form at His residence at Meherazad at 12.15 p.m. His Tomb-Shrine – Samadhi at Meherabad is open for darshan every day and many of His lovers and seekers of Truth visit it. Thousands congregate there on 'Amartithi', 31st January every year to perpetuate the memory of their Eternal Beloved – Avatar Meher Baba. His Tomb-Stone reads, "I have come not to teach but to awaken."

Meher Baba's approach to spiritual development transcends differences between the various factions of religious philosophy.

He never sought to form a sect or proclaim a dogma. He attracted and welcomed people of all faiths and every social class. And so His lovers without establishing any cult, or religion, continue to gather to discuss and read His works and express their reflections on His life and message through music, poetry, dance, drama, painting and other forms of art. And they fondly recall this Baba saying: "When I drop My body, I will remain in all who love Me. I can never die. Love Me, Obey Me and you will find Me."

- Asian Tribune -

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This blog is an offshoot of a website that I had conceived as a result of the spiritual grace and resultant inspiration during Shivaratri Y2K (http://www.jyotirlinga.com) on the joy of Shiva Bhakti and my quest for spiritual progress. Not finding the time (yep, bad excuse!), this blog suits me fine in quickly adding content... my spiritual forays and thoughts - helps log them too. My spiritual journey started with Hinduism and it's simple stories/ teachings as far back as when I was a 2nd grader, with Lord Shiva and has now found convergence with Advaitism / Duality. The Advaitism gurus like Bhagwan Ramana Maharishi, Nisargadatta Maharaj; they have provided that spiritual boost of energy in many lagging moments and have tremendously influenced me ... little baby steps at a time... that will hopefully all lead upto a final crescendo. The merits of satsangh are many!

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