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C. B. Purdom
Author: C. B. Purdom
First published: 1937 by Williams & Norgate Ltd.
Format: Hardback 8¾" by 5¾"
with 330 pages
According to Purdom's autobiography, he first met Meher Baba by chance while he (Purdom) was on holiday in a retreat in Coombe Martin, Devon, in 1931. Baba was on his first visit to England. Baba made three further visits to England. On each of Baba's visits Purdom met him several times. Purdom was clearly very impressed by the man and formed a friendship with him. The respect must have been mutual, for on his second visit, in 1932, according to Purdom's autobiography, Baba asked Purdom to write his life. By the time he met Baba, Purdom had already written two substantial books on the garden city movement, and was currently editor of the literary journal Everyman. He wrote Baba's biography between 1934 and 1936, and the book was published in 1937.
My own notes on The Perfect Master below are in black print. Where I have quoted Purdom's own words directly, I have used green italic. Where I have quoted Meher Baba's words (as quoted by Purdom) I have used red italic. I have given Purdom's definitions of some Indian words on their first occurrence. These, and other comments of my own, are enclosed in square brackets.
I found the book The Perfect Master very easy to read. Purdom has a very good style without pomposity or complex sentence structure. There are eleven black-and-white photographs in the book, nine of which are of Meher Baba. I have inserted these below at the correct chronological point in the account rather than in the rather haphazard positioning they appear in the book which may have resulted from binding considerations, the photographs being printed on glossy paper.
The book is in three parts:
There are two Appendices which contain some of Baba's own words. I have included in blue italic at the bottom, a few pages from Purdom's 1951 autobiography Life Over Again, in which he tells of how he first met Meher Baba, and in which he gives a short summary of Baba's life.
Dust-jacket inner front flap
I have written this life of Shri Meher Baba at the request of his Indian followers, and mainly from material supplied by them. The first Part is based on the unpublished life compiled by K. J. Dastur, and the diaries of Behli J. Irani, with the addition of other material. For the second and third Parts, I have had the benefit of various documents, diaries, and papers lent to me by Indian and Western followers.
The book might have been extended, but I have kept it within modest limits. It does not pretend to be a study made on the spot nor to be anything but a preliminary and tentative account of Baba for Western readers. I claim nothing for it except that I have done my best to make it objective.
I suggest that readers may find it useful for the understanding of what follows to read Part III before they start on the first and second Parts of the book, reading the third Part again in its sequence; for in that Part, I have done my best to explain the significance of Baba and his methods of working.
It remains for me to say that I owe thanks to many people in India and in England for help in the preparation of the book and for the loan of diaries, etc., and that my special thanks are due to F. H. Dadachanji.
C. B. PURDOM
PART I - THE PREPARATION
This will be found a strange book, all the more strange because the story that it tells has not reached its end. It is the story of a man whose life will appear incomprehensible, a life in which the contradictions of normal values and actions are prominent. Yet this man says, "I am God," and his mission is to change the world, though he neither speaks nor writes nor even seeks to get followers. It will arouse controversy, and I have no doubt that it will be misunderstood. I have written the story, however, as soberly and plainly as if it were the record of ordinary, everyday events.
The title "Perfect Master" is that by which Shri Meher Baba, the subject of this book, is known. It means one who has himself reached the goal to which he leads or directs others. It means a teacher who has practised his own teachings and attained its fruits. It means one who, pointing to God, has himself realized God.
In India the idea of holy or divine men is common. The practice of spirituality is the sole life task of many thousands of men and many women, and the claim to have become what one aspires to be spiritually is frequently made. That the people of India are disposed to expect holiness and to acknowledge divinity is not to be regarded as ignorant superstition. It should rather be respected as the tradition of a people taught to recognize worth. To us in the West the atmosphere that makes possible the recognition of such qualities hardly exists. Our age is poor in personalities. Science, which is a democratic and levelling influence, has reduced whatever we once had of aristocratic culture into little more than mere credulity. Therefore it is difficult for us to accept a man who claims more than ordinary human qualities, and who by virtue of that which transcends mere "I am"-ness requires to be acknowledged. Yet that is Shri Meher Baba.
Purdom tells us that Shri Meher Baba means "Holy Merciful Father". His real name was Merwan Sheheriarji Irani. His parents were Zoroastrians from Persia. His father, Sheheriarji, left home at thirteen and wandered Persia as a dervish or monk, unable to read or write. At about the age of twenty-one he travelled to Bombay, and for ten years wandered in India as a monk, before settling in Bombay to live in his sister's house. His sister wanted Sheheriarji to marry, and reluctantly he agreed to marry Shirinbanoo, six-year-old daughter of another Persian family, when she became old enough. He took work, eventually opening a tea-shop, and taught himself to read and write in Persian, Arabic, Gujarati and Marathi. He became a singer and poet, writing hymns for the Zoroastrian community. He married Shirinbanoo in 1879 when she was fourteen and he was thirty-nine. Their son Merwan was born in Poona on 25th February 1894, the second of six children - boys Jamshedji, Merwan, Jal, Behram, Ardeshir, and the only daughter, Mani. [Poona is about 50 miles inland from Bombay.]
CHILDHOOD AND EDUCATION
Purdom writes that: Merwan became known as Meher, for short, and had a happy childhood. The family lived in a very small house in Poona of two rooms plus kitchen, bathroom and garret.
Meher received the ordinary education of a boy of his class. When he was five years old he was taken to the Dastur Girls' School, where he learned to read and write the Gujarati language and the rudiments of arithmetic. At the age of nine he was sent to the Camp Government English School, where he remained five years. Then he went to St. Vincent's High School, considered the best school in Poona. From that school he matriculated in 1911 at the age of seventeen.
In 1911, Meher entered Deccan College, half way between Poona and Kirkee. His main interest was literature and he read English, Indian and Persian poets. His favourite was the great Persian lyric poet Hafiz. Meher wrote poems himself in Gujarati, Urdu, Hindustani and Persian. Some were published in a Bombay newspaper under the nom de plume "Homa".
FIRST SPIRITUAL MASTER (1915)
Purdom writes that: After two years at college Meher's studies were interrupted and the course of his life was changed.
One morning in the month of May 1913, when Meher was riding on a bicycle along the Malcom Tank Road, in Poona, he looked up and saw an old woman sitting under a neem tree. His eyes met hers, and she beckoned to him. He knew who the woman was, but had had no thought of meeting her. He left his bicycle and went over to her; she arose and embraced him. From that moment Meher felt the call to the spiritual life. Not a word was said. He remained sitting with her for a quarter of an hour, and then left her. That was the first meeting between Meher and Hazrat Babajan.
Babajan was a Mahommedan who, after years in search of God, had found a Master who had made her perfect. [The term Hazrat is the Mahommedan form of Sadguru, or Perfect Master, according to the index. There is more on the term Sadguru in the chapter below headed HE BECOMES A MASTER.] She remained under the neem* tree until her death in 1931. She had many devotees, who in her later years built for her a shelter which included the tree.
After the first meeting, Meher visited Babajan every night. The meetings were silent and spiritual.
One night in January 1914, when he made his usual visit, she was in a mood to talk. He kissed her hands and stood humbly before her. She pointed her little finger at him, and declared that "This child of mine will after some years create a great sensation in the world and do immense good to humanity." Meher stood there for a few moments, and then went home. It was nearly eleven o'clock. He went at once to bed. Before ten minutes bad passed he began to experience extraordinary thrills. He felt as if he were receiving electric shocks and as if his nerves were mere vibrations. He felt great joy mingled with pain, and presently he became alarmed. But his alarm was short-lived, for he became unconscious.
Meher was found by his mother. He could sit up but was unable to speak. His eyes were open but he saw nothing. After three days in this state, he became partly conscious of his body and was able to move about. He remained in this state for nine months. He would remain still for hours totally unconscious of the world. If he walked, he walked for hours. He ate little and did not sleep. Medical help was sought but to no avail. He stayed with his brother Jamshedji in Bombay for two months.
In November 1914, he showed some signs of improvement, his eyes ceasing to be vacant. A month later, a poor young Persian named Behramji Ferdoonji Irani was brought to him. Meher began to teach Behramji Persian, but in an automatic way, not as a conscious teacher.
SECOND SPIRITUAL MASTER (1915)
Purdom writes that: In April 1915, Meher began an itinerant life. He wandered first in Poona but then further afield. One day he told Behramji that he was going away to lead the life of a monk under a Sadguru, but that he would call for him when settled. In fact, Meher returned after only a day having met briefly with Sadguru Narayan Maharaj near Kedgaon.
A fortnight later, Meher went to Bombay taking Behramji with him. There he met Tipoo Baba. From Bombay he went to Aurangabad where he met Benemyan Baba who was a Mujzub. (A Mujzub is a God-realized man who remains unconscious of the gross world.) He was a disciple of Sai Baba of Sherdi. The two young men then went to Nagpur where they visited Tajuddin Baba, a Hazrat who had spent seventeen years in a lunatic asylum to get away from his devotees before becoming the guest of the titular Chief of Kampti who knew Tajuddin was a Sadguru.
After some weeks back in Poona, in December 1915, Meher and Behramji went to visit Hazrat Sai Baba of Sherdi who had thousands of devotees. Having seen Sai Baba, they went to his most famous disciple Sadguru Upasni Maharaj.
The next seven pages of the book are somewhat of a digression, being the history of Upasni. He was born Kashinath Govindrao Upasni at Satana, Nasik district, in 1870. He hated school but was very religious. His parents had him married very young but his wife soon died. He lived in a cave for a time when he was about twenty and came out a skeleton. He was married a second time, and then a third time when his second wife died. He began to practice as an Atha Veda doctor. To cut a long story short, he eventually ended up visiting Hazrat Sai Baba. At the age of forty-two, Kashinath was made God-realized by Sai Baba, and became known as Upasni Maharaj. He only had a little earthly consciousness and sometimes acted as a madman. Finally, after four years, Sai Baba brought him to the consciousness of the earthly world and at forty-seven, Upasni Maharaj became a Sadguru, or Master. He lives in Sakori in Ahmednagar district in a small house eating simple food and wearing only a loin cloth.
The accusation is made against Upasni Maharaj that he sometimes not only vituperates, but also severely beats some of his followers. The accusation is not groundless. The charge can also be levelled against other Sadgurus. That a God- realized person should abuse and beat others may seem odd; but the explanation is that when he beats or abuses anyone he is doing such a one much good. More will be said of this later.
When Upasni Maharaj saw Meher for the first time he flung a stone at him. This was to help to bring Meher down still further into gross consciousness, to awaken him to the things of this world. The stone hit Meher's head, but he was not surprised and understood the reason of what was done. Meher stayed with Upasni for two days, and then returned to Poona. From that day onwards Meher recommenced to visit Babajan, sitting with her every night for about an hour. He also at that time took food twice daily.
RETURN TO NORMALITY (1916-1920)
In this short chapter, despite its heading Purdom describes a disturbed period for Meher. The period covered is 1916 to 1920 but there is very little information. He recounts how Meher went into the jungle and knocked his head on the stones, afterwards wrapping his head in a handkerchief so his family would not see the injuries. Meher explains that knocking his head relieved the spiritual agony he was going through.
His mother wished him, at age 22, to gain employment but he felt compelled to play the rôle of a spiritual eccentric. When he took charge of his father's teashop at Ashurkhana, he was cheated by the customers. When he and Behramji became partners in a toddy shop in Poona this also failed. [Toddy is a weak alcoholic drink fermented from palm sap.]
At this time, Meher hired a room to entertain his friends, decorating it with pictures of saints and prophets including Babajan and Upasni Maharaj.
Purdom recounts an occasion in 1920 when Meher shut himself in an attic and covered himself with dirt swept from the road. Behramji cleaned him.
HE BECOMES A MASTER (1921-1922)
Purdom describes Meher as being three-quarters normal by the beginning of 1921. He spoke normally and understood what was said to him. In July he went to Sakori and stayed for six months with Upasni Maharaj. They spent many hours together, mostly in silence. Sometimes Meher would sing.
At the end of December 1921 Meher was restored to full normal consciousness. Upasni Maharaj said to his disciples: "I have given my charge* to Merwan. He is the holder of my key." Some time after, in the presence of a number of people, the Sadguru said, "This boy will move the world. Humanity at large will be benefited at his hands." A few days later Upasni Maharaj sent for Gustadji Hansotia, one of his leading disciples, and said, "I have made Merwan perfect. He is the latest Sadguru of this age. Now you have to leave me and stick to him." To Behramji he said, "Your friend is God realized; carry out every command and every desire of his." So Meher became a Sadguru at the age of twenty-seven, and came to be recognized as Meher Baba, meaning the Master.
What is a Sadguru? According to Hindu philosophy he is one who, while living on the earth, has come into the full consciousness of God. He has passed through all the planes of consciousness and lives on earth and in heaven at once. Eastern teaching says that the planes of human consciousness are seven:
It is necessary to pass through one plane before entering upon the next higher plane. The great mass of people do no more than barely emerge from the stage of animal consciousness or instinct into that of the consciousness of intellect or reason, and how little they possess the consciousness of reason we well know. But even that consciousness brings bliss. After mastery of reason comes intuition, which is the plane on which the poets write, and after that comes inspiration, where are created the leaders of men. Those in the plane of insight can read the minds of other men and see distant things as near: they are also in the realm of miracles, which is a dangerous stage of the soul, where selfishness may easily become uppermost. The next plane is that of knowledge of God and the laws of God, and he who passes into it has no desire to do miracles or to serve himself. On the sixth plane God is seen as well as known, and on the seventh plane union with God is achieved. It is said that it is possible to pass through the first three planes without a master, but for the last four the help of a master is needed.*
After becoming a Sadguru, Meher had a small hut, ten feet by six, built on the Ferguson College Road in Poona. Each day, after an early breakfast he would receive visits by Hindu worshippers who chant religious songs and play instruments. He then went to his mother's house for a meal. After lunch, he returned to the hut to read newspapers. In the evening he would play Indian games with visiting friends who entertained him with music. A disciple would bring him supper after which he remained in the hut alone until dawn, with his devotee Behli J. Irani keeping watch outside.
Meher's growing number of disciples included all castes and creeds. One disciple was Gulmai, wife of a wealthy merchant of Ahmednagar district. Her sons, Rustam and Adi, became close disciples of Meher Baba.
THE FIRST ASHRAM (1922)
[Ashram = religious retreat.]
Purdom writes that: In May 1922, Meher travelled to Bombay with forty-five followers: twenty-two Hindu, twelve Mahommedans and eleven Zoroastrians. Once there he leased for one year a large fifteen-room bungalow on Main Road, Dadar, which he named Manzil-e-Meem (House of the Master). No furniture was permitted in the house. The following rules were established:
The order was very strict. Meher threatened that he would fast if his orders were disobeyed. Further rules forbade followers from sending letters to anyone without showing him first. Followers were forbidden to talk to anyone not of the party. There were other rules governing cleaning, eating and behaviour. Disciples were to retire at 9 p.m., rise at 4 a.m. and have a cold bath before 5 a.m.
Disciples were ordered to find and bring beggars to the house for feeding. Disciples were required to meditate for an hour each morning, but also attend their respective religious places of worship. From time to time disciples were required to fast, as did Baba. Baba was frequently unwell.
SOME DISCOURSES (1922)
Purdom writes that: Baba never gave public discourses, but gave many addresses to his disciples at the Manzil in 1922. In this chapter, some of these are reproduced by Purdom from notes made by two of the disciples at the time. These are reproduced below as they appear in the book.
Baba wrote the following on the notice board:
Baba then said:
A God-realized being (Jivan-Mukta) rarely puts his mind to worldly things, and those rare occasions are invariably those on which he has to do some exceptional good to others, which he cannot do otherwise. The residents of the East End of Bombay are the subjects of His Majesty King George. But does His Majesty know anything about them or where they live ? Certainly not. However, if the King wishes to put his mind to it, i.e., to know about these people, he will be promptly furnished with the necessary information. In the same way, a Jivan-Mukta can go to the very source of anything, if he so wishes, by putting his mind to it, and that too, unlike the King, without giving any trouble to others. But, as regards worldly things, generally he doesn't do so. The interest he appears to you to take in things that belong to this world, by word or deed, is simply casual.
Baba gave a talk on "Sanskaras" the substance of which is:
A yogi (one who is in the fourth plane) does not attain liberation from the rounds of births and deaths, because he is not still free from sanskaras or impressions left on the mind while doing any action. Good actions create good sanskaras and bad actions bad sanskaras. Not only deeds but also thoughts create sanskaras, Aye, even talking, hearing, seeing, eating, drinking, sleeping, and all subtle movements give rise to sanskaras. These sanskaras have to be worked out with mechanical precision unless wiped out by a Perfect Master. Your present existence, your pains and pleasures, your virtues and vices are due to your past sanskaras or A'mal as termed by the Mahommedan Sufis. In other words, your present life is the result in gross form of your past subtle impressions. Whether good or bad, unless and until all the sanskaras are wiped out, liberation from the chain of births and deaths cannot be attained. Good actions bind a man with a golden chain, bad actions with an iron one, but of whatever metal the chain may be, there can be no freedom until it is removed.
Ordinary yoga practices bring about good sanskaras but not mukti (liberation); therefore, if one aspires after mukti, one must have the impressions of neither virtue nor vice on one's credit or debit side, but a "clean slate." And one can never have a clean slate unless one has succeeded in getting the grace of a Perfect Master. A Sadguru can wipe out the sanskaras of anybody. The countless sanskaras of the average person may be likened to a heap of rubbish which it is impossible for him to remove, but which a Sadguru can destroy in a second.
The next talk Baba gave in response to a taunt made on a disciple by a friend who, quoting the Persian poet Jalalu'ddin Rumi had said to reach heaven by following a neighbour was to go to hell.
Your friend's interpretation of the Maulana's couplet is quite correct and I heartily concur in the poet's opinion. One should earn heaven by one's own exertions, i.e., by deserving it. It should not be gained by the help or favour of anybody. To go into Paradise without deserving it, merely through the favour or grace of somebody, is no doubt not only equal to but worse than burning in the fires of hell. Consequently, if your friend restrained himself within the limits of this interpretation he was quite right. But if his intention was to ridicule you for, or taunt you with, following me, then he made a fool of himself. You should have told him that the question of heaven or hell does not concern you at all, for as you have dedicated yourself to me, you have risen above it. You should have quoted the poet's couplet which says that those who are beggars at the door of a Perfect Master are not in need of either heaven or hell. Have I not held out to you the expectation of something far higher than the dream of Paradise ? By following me, you will come to understand Truth or God and fathom the secret of the universe. It is impossible for anyone to obtain this knowledge without the help of a Murshid or Perfect Master. Attempts in this direction are sure to end in disappointment, without the guidance of a God-realized person.
Baba quotes verses of Hazrat Hafiz:
Baba quotes Jalalu'ddin Rumi:
Baba quotes Hafiz:
Your friend does not know his own mind. To say that the Prophet of Arabia will lead all Moslems to paradise is beggarliness that beggars description. He says that one must deserve heaven, but at the same time believes that his Prophet will lead him to heaven, even though he is not fit for it. His case is hopeless. To preach what one does not practise is hypocrisy in its worst form.
On another occasion, regarding his words having a deeper meaning, Baba said:
There are two kinds of knowledge, the worldly knowledge or the knowledge relating to the material world, and divine knowledge or the knowledge which is acquired after becoming one with God. Any person, after becoming spiritually perfect, when he deals with matters pertaining to this material world, reflects in his words and actions his secular attainments as much as the divinity that is in him, although he may not directly utilize either kind of knowledge. The deeds and utterances of such a person are invested with a sort of secrecy and grandeur, but this is often lost sight of by worldly people. A ruby in the hands of a rustic will not be appreciated by him, but in the hands of a jeweller it will speak its value. The person who has become one with God is able to make the best use of his worldly knowledge without directly drawing upon it.
On remarking that the disposition of a person remains the same after his union with God Baba said:
Before he realized God, his anger, his curses, and his violent language did harm to himself since there was egoism in him. Remember that where egoism is there is no God; and where God is there is no egoism. The perfect saint's words and deeds in the divine state are free from egoism, but his disposition has not changed, despite the experience of Truth. However, you must bear in mind that when he gives vent to his wrath, the person with whom he is angry is much benefited.
Baba then quoted Hafiz:
The couplet clearly states that it is in the poet's nature to see various objects, but on seeing Him (the Beloved) he no longer wishes to see anything or anybody else, though the desire of seeing is still there. Formerly, he wished to see a number of objects, but now he wishes to see God only. The desire of the poet has undergone a change, because he has got rid of egoism. Any egoistic trait has been transformed into a divine trait. Likewise the trait of losing one's temper to which a person is addicted may not leave him, even after he becomes spiritually perfect, but its consequence is different, inasmuch as there is divinity behind it. And because there is divinity behind it, the person who has to bear with it becomes the recipient of some benefit.
On another occasion Baba said:
There are two states, viz., internal and external. They are separated from each other by a mental curtain. Now to cleanse the internal condition is so difficult that an ordinary person cannot do so. Without the help of a Sadguru, it is impossible for most persons to have an absolutely pure heart. But one must do one's best to keep the external, i.e., the body, quite clean. The shariat (external practice or form) of every religion enjoins its followers to practise cleanliness. By following all the rules of shariat closely and devoutly, one will come across a Sadguru or a Salik. Until one has the luck to be the disciple of a Sadguru, one must follow the tenets of one creed. The observance of external cleanliness brightens up to a little extent the internal life, and one is certainly benefited by offering prayers and performing ceremonies.
Proceeding, Baba emphatically stated that one must either follow one's creed or a Perfect Master, and that the course between the two is fraught with danger. By the middle course Baba meant the practising of yoga exercises. He ended his discourse by asserting:
When once the internal condition is cleansed through the favour of a Sadguru, the external condition need not be cared for. You may know that many saints do not care for the cleanliness of their bodies and are found in dirty places.
Baba distributed chocolates and asked how they were liked. He then said:
When a good thing is given to one, the mind is pleased, but soon after settles down into its previous state; if some bitter medicine is forced upon it, it revolts but almost immediately reverts to its normal state. This shows that both the pleasures and pains of this world are transient. A few minutes ago you ate chocolates with relish, but that enjoyment has now become a thing of the past and has resulted in nothing. So with all pleasures and pains. One of the greatest enjoyments of the carnally-minded is sexual intercourse. But its pleasure lasts only so long as the intercourse lasts. No sooner does the intercourse come to an end than the pleasure ends. Compare the transiency of earthly pleasures with the permanency of spiritual bliss, and you will find the difference between the two.
On noticing that two members of the party were morose, Baba said:
Every effect must have its cause. As the griefs and sorrows of this world are imaginary and self-created, there cannot be any substantial cause for them. The cause being imaginary, there is no necessity to take griefs and sorrows to heart. It is also childish to be enamoured of the pleasures of the world. Be passive spectators of all the events that occur in the world, whether they concern you or not. Keep your minds free and happy.
Baba quoted Hafiz:
On another occasion Baba said of teaching:
A teacher who is a Master of Arts but who wishes to teach alphabet to children, must of necessity bring himself down to their level. Then only he will be able to teach them and step by step bring them to his level. If he does not come down from the heights of his attainments to their level, then all his labour for them will end in nothing. Similarly a Perfect Master has to bring himself down to the level of his disciples so that he may be able to impart his knowledge to them. He has also to take into consideration the circumstances in which he finds himself before doing anything. Take the case of the Arabian Prophet. When he was harassed by his enemies and threatened with premature death, he actually fled from Mecca and took refuge in Medina, and by so doing he acted just as an ordinary man when confronted with such an emergency. Mujzubs cannot act like Saliks and Sadgurus, for they are so much drowned in the Sea of Divinity that they have not the slightest consciousness of their body. The cannot impart knowledge to others and show what Truth is.
In a discourse on spiritual light Baba said:
There is, besides our two external eyes, one internal eye. This internal eye, which may be called the spiritual eye, really sees through the two external eyes, and is located between the two eyebrows. Saints see God with the internal eye and the world with the external eyes.
On an occasion in 1923, seeing his disciples were dejected, Baba said:
One generally passes through three stages in the spiritual life. The first stage is of burning enthusiasm, when the aspirant is imbued with the keen desire of seeing and experiencing the unknown. The second stage is of disgust and disappointment, the third is of divine bliss. The second stage, in which you are at present, is very long. Since you cannot escape from it or remedy it, you must put up with it cheerfully. Don't leave me in any case.
On another occasion Baba said:
Realization is the same for all. The differences among Prophets and Sadgurus lie not in the power, but in the authority to use it. That which is given by a Sadguru to his chargeman is not power, but the authority to use it. A Sadguru, strictly speaking, gives nothing to anybody. He merely shows the treasure that is within him . . . .
No Sadguru has authority to use his power after dropping his corporeal frame. Mind you ! he has the power, but not the authority to use it. Wherever you see the tomb of a Sadguru, rest assured that there his power is. But if a devotee is benefited by worshipping it, never for a moment believe that the Sadguru was the cause of his benefit. The devotee may merely be said to have utilized the power and thereby brought a blessing upon himself. A Sadguru can do good to others only so long as he lives in this gross world; after leaving mortality he cannot make anyone cross a single plane, and cannot wipe out anybody's sanskaras; though to those of his followers who call upon his infinite existence, his infinite state renders help according to the devotion behind the call.
When asked why one Sadguru Gous Ali Shah Kalandar of Paniput acknowledged nineteen saints (eleven Moslem, eight Hindu), Baba said:
One gets God-realization at the hands of one Master, but for knowledge or understanding, which the Moslem Sufis call Irfan and the Hindu sages Dhyana, it may be necessary for him to approach more Masters than one. As a rule, the Murshid, who makes his disciple one with God, also gives him understanding, i.e., restores his gross consciousness. The case of Kalandar was exceptional, but not more so than my case. Babajan made me realize God, but for understanding I was driven to go to Shri Upasni Maharaj, who took eight years to perform his duty to me. During this period, I called upon other Masters too, but they passed me on to Upasni Maharaj. If they would have restored even a little of my lost consciousness they would also have been recognized as my Masters.
Baba made the following assertion in Urdu:
It is better to die than to live, better to fear than to die, and better to do than to fill.
He explained thus:
By living, I mean leading a worldly life; by dying becoming one with God; by fearing returning to gross consciousness after the unification with the Almighty; by filling, I mean filling the hearts of others by divine love; and by doing making others spiritually perfect. The meaning of my saying therefore is, Better to be one with God than to lead a worldly life; better to return to gross unconsciousness after union with God than to remain unconscious and selfishly enjoy divine bliss; better to fill the hearts of others with divine love than to remain indifferent to humanity, and better to make others one with God than merely to fill their hearts with divine love.
APPARENTLY DENOUNCED BY HIS MASTER (1922-1923)
Purdom writes that: After two months at the Manzil, Baba and one disciple visited Upasni Maharaj in Sakori. On returning he sent the other disciples for a two day visit. Later Baba said:
Time will come when my master, Shri Upasni Maharaj, will begin to speak against me, will run me down, and will not only not acknowledge me as his equal, but will insinuate that I am a hypocrite.
Baba continued to send his disciples to visit Upasni but did not go again himself.
My reluctance to go to the Maharaj is due to the aversion to the lightening of the burden of my spiritual agony by him. The burden that he would take from me he would have to bear, and I cannot allow myself to be the cause of his sufferings.
Later Baba said:
My sufferings are twofold, since I am the chargeman of two Masters Their charges are at present almost unbearable, knowing this, Shri Upasni wants me to go to him so that he may be able to lighten my burden. But as I know he will have to suffer terribly by mitigating my spiritual agony, I do not like to call upon him. On the other hand I am unable to bear cheerfully the intense spiritual pain . . .
The world is against spirituality, and so against me, as I have so often told you. Don't be hasty in forming opinions regarding my words and deeds. My words will prove to be true, but I alone know how, when, and where. You will not understand them, because to understand mystical statements supernatural intelligence is required.
In October 1922, Baba visited Sakori again where he was welcomed with joy. After this Baba sent his disciples to Upasni who told them to obey Baba saying:
Carry out all his orders and wishes. In doing so you may have to suffer, but you must bear every sort of suffering cheerfully. If your suffering seems beyond endurance, draw the attention of the Master to it, and he will help you. Put up with any discomfort, but do not let yourselves leave hold of him. Even though the whole world and myself included were on the other side you should stay on his side.
In February 1923, Shirinbanoo came to the Manzil and told Baba that Upasni Maharaj had begun to rail against him.
Baba warned his disciples not to be misled by these attacks and not to form a bad opinion of Upasni, and declared with force that he acknowledged Upasni as one of his masters. Baba sent one of his most intimate disciples to Upasni, who had then confined himself to a small wooden cabin; he reviled and denounced Baba to the disciple, saying, "Your Master is not a saint, and I am no longer responsible for him."
Before he left Sakori, Baba's disciple asked Upasni why he had shut himself up in the cabin. "If it is for our sake," he went on, "that you have imposed this suffering upon yourself, we don't want you to do it. On the contrary we should like to see you happy." Upasni then asked the disciple to break the wooden cabin, which the disciple, a young and sturdy man, at once proceeded to do. Thereupon Upasni reproached him angrily for what he had done. "You told me to do so," the young man replied. "Will you do whatever I ask you to do ?" asked Upasni. "Yes," he was answered. "Then bring that big stone and throw it at my head with all your strength." This the disciple refused to do, and Upasni continued to abuse him and Baba until the young man went away. This reviling of one another by Sadgurus is not uncommon: more will be said about it later.
THE FIRST ASHRAM ENDS (1923)
Purdom writes that: While at the Manzil, Baba arranged for two biographies of Upasni Maharaj to be written. Garibonka Asra (Protector of the Poor) was written by two of Baba's disciples. The second biography was in Marathi.
While at the Manzil Baba made a number of visits with disciples to holy places. One was to Ajmer to pay respects to the tomb of Kwaja Molnuddin Chisti, and on to Pushkar where was a temple dedicated to Brahma. Another was to the tomb of Haji Malangshah, a Mahommedan Sadguru, on a hill at Kalyan.
In March 1923, two months before the lease was up, Baba decided to close the ashram. He said:
I now intend to bring the Manzil stay to an end. I propose to go with only a few of you to Ahmednagar. I shall have to send most of you to your homes. Do not worry at all. I shall allow those of you who will have to leave me to join me again. The separation will only be temporary. But remember that henceforth discipline will be more strict and the mode of living more simple. Whatever I may ask you to do you will have to do. Do not think of joining me at all if you are going to be ashamed to do menial work. You may have to do the work of masons, of coolies; in short, any kind of manual work. Therefore think well before you resolve to join me again.
JOURNEYINGS AND FASTS (1923)
Purdom writes that: Baba and the remaining disciples visited Ahmednagar staying in a house of a devotee. [Ahmednagar is about 100 miles inland from Bombay, 50 miles further than Poona.] Ahmednagar, founded 1494, was once a capital of the Nizam Shahi kings and contain Mahommedan architecture. From there a visit of three days was paid to nearby Happy Valley where Rama was said to have lived with Sita and Lakshmi. The birthday of Upasni Maharaj was celebrated with the arti ceremony (burning camphor and flowers with a chant).
Baba returned to Ahmednagar and from there went about five miles to the village of Arangaon where there were dilapidated military camp buildings including a post office and an officers' mess. Baba said he wanted to stay there and ordered the disciples to clear the refuse and undergrowth from the old post office building to make it habitable. In Arangaon, Baba gave a discourse:
To be rid of "sanskaric" (material - family) bonds, and freed from the illusions of "Maya" (here meaning "attachment"), are the first essentials of true spiritual awakening. "Renunciation" was the watchword of all the greatest teachers of the world - Mahommed and Zoroaster, Christ and Krishna alike - though in different words. But people take their teaching literally; the real spirit of the word is not understood. It is the mind, the innermost man, that they must renounce; that is the root from whence all desires spring; the mind must become a "Fakir" (renouncer) - a "Sadhu" (ascetic), and then renunciation of the highest order is attained. When the mind is spiritually enlightened, and is at the same time fortunate enough to retain ordinary consciousness, the performing of the "sanskaric" (family - worldly) duties is renunciation too; as in that state, whatever actions are taken, they are not for self - but for the benefit and advancement of others.
After four days in Arangaon the party returned to Ahmednagar. In May 1923, Baba told his disciples:
After taking full counsel with yourselves, I want all of you to make a choice from the following three proposals which I make to you. The first is that you stay with me, but if you do so, you will have to carry out all my commands. Life with me will not be a bed of roses. On the contrary, for spiritual reasons, I may have to subject you to many a hardship. No servants are going to attend upon you. You will have to do whatever manual work I ask you to do. If you cannot see your way to live in my company under these conditions, then by all means you may separate from me. After separating from me you may either break off all connection with me or not. But if you wish to continue, you will have to carry out a few orders of mine, particularly orders regarding your residence and occupations. Think well and clearly before coming to a decision.
None liked to break off the connection with Baba entirely. Thirteen decided to live in his company, and the rest to separate from him for some time but to act according to his orders. The thirteen who decided to live in his company were Behramji F. Irani, Gustadji Hansotia, Jal (Baba's brother), Adi K. Irani, Aga Baidul, Uncle Rustam, Babu Ubale, Ramzu, Pendu, Padri, Slamson, a Zoroastrian who was nicknamed Nervous, and a Mahommedan nicknamed Bar-soap.
Baba decided to abstain from solid food which he did for two months. Baba and his followers returned to Arangaon. The officers' mess building was repaired and the party moved to that from the post office, Baba himself occupying a room while the disciples occupied the big hall. The stay was for only eleven days for Baba decided they would make a tour of India and adjoining countries.
They left on 25th May 1923 , visited the Taj Mahal at Agra on the 27th, then on to Muttra where they bathed in the sacred River Jumna. From there they went to Karachi (via Delhi) arriving on the 31st and staying for a week. From Karachi they went to Quetta in Baluchistan.
In the following months the party visited many places with frequent changes of plan by Baba. The initial target of Persia was changed to Kashmir with the intention of walking from there to Bombay in kafnis (ascetics' robes). The starting point of the walk was changed from Kashmir to Calcutta, and then to Ahmedabad. On 29th June Baba arrived in Ahmedabad from where the walk began on 1st July 1923. They passed through Bagreja, Bharoch, Ankleshwar, Surat and Navsari where they arrived on 7th July. Because many of the party were exhausted much of the "walk" had been done by train. From Navsari, Baba decided to go to Nasik for three months, but on arriving there Baba decided to return to Arangaon. Eventually the party went to Bombay where they stayed for six weeks. On 19th October 1923 they left for Sakori and visited Shri Upasni Maharaj who for ten months had been living in small wooden cage within his hut. The party then went to Ahmednagar.
Arrangements were discussed for a visit to Persia. A disciple was sent to Bombay to obtain visas from the Persian Consul, while Baba and others went to Karachi again for a week before returning from there by sea to Bombay which was reached on 24th November 1923.
FIRST VISIT TO PERSIA (1924)
Purdom writes that: The next weeks Baba spent wandering and fasting. Baba and eight disciples departed for Persia, but having reached Bushire (on the Persian Gulf coast of Persia) many of the party were ill with fever, and Baba decided to return to India leaving two disciples to proceed into the interior of Persia. The party returned to Karachi aboard the steamer Barjora. Of the journey disciple Adi said:
The steamer was found to have limited accommodation for passengers, as it was full of fowl, cows, goats, donkeys, and horses, besides a large number of uncivilized Arabs. The behaviour of the latter was primitive in the extreme. Except for killing goats and fowls in dozens for their meals, and eating them lustily, they did not seem to find any other object in existence. Some of them would even sit for necessities just where they cooked their food. As for manners, one of them kicked away Nervous's bedding while the deck was being washed, though the kicker was at the time on good terms with the party.
From Karachi, the party attempted to visit Nepal but were refused admission. Instead they visited Kabir's tomb at Maghar. By the end of March 1924 the party were back in Arangaon.
THE SECOND ASHRAM: MEHERABAD (1924-1925)
Purdom writes that: Baba and his disciples assembled at Arangaon in March 1924 and began living under a severe discipline. One afternoon, a man with a rickety figure appeared who Baba declared to be a "Musta". He only nodded in answer to questions.
When two disciples quarrelled over a prayer mat, Baba said to them:
No matter however harsh the opposing
party treats you, you should be calm. Always, however much you are found
fault with or are blamed or have high words said to you, bear all with
patience. This is real bravery and courage. Man can make a whole army
yield to him, but he cannot overcome his own wrath.
There are three things that keep one away from God. They are Kam, Krodh, and Kanchan, i.e. Lust, Anger, and Greed. Lust and greed may be overcome, but the control of the temper is the hardest of all. If you overcome these three enemies, you are a "Vali" (saint), a person who controls Kam, Krodh, and Kanchan.
On a true lover of God, Baba said:
Just as a thirsty man in the desert under the hot sun values water more than pearls and diamonds, so also a true Lover of God wants him alone and considers every other object as trifling before him. The real lover desires no name, fame, or money but his beloved. He who does not possess such an attribute has self-interest instead.
Baba and four disciples visited Happy Valley, where in beautiful and historic surroundings, Baba was in serene mood. Adi describes what happened:
At this time (after taking tea there), Baba appeared as if deeply absorbed in high thoughts. He breaks into an ecstasy, saying, "If you realize but a minute particle of that Knowledge, you will derive inexpressible bliss. Every external object will impart to you happiness, every substance will tell you its story in Knowledge. This whole universe which now appears as misery will shine forth as heaven. The spiritual master moulds only one chargeman like himself. To him he entrusts everything. He makes him his sole heir. The chargeman distributes this inherited treasure among his Circle, a few chosen ones whose number is twelve. According to their respective abilities, the treasure, i.e., Realization (which is the same to all) and power (which depends upon the position in the Circle and upon personal endurance before Realization) are distributed at the appointed time - then the Master of the charge- man expires. It may be that the Master keeps up his external body while internally he expires; in some instances, the Master's external body fails before his internal expiration takes place. Distribution means the entrusting of the chargeman's Internal Duty to the Circle members, so the chargeman gets free."
Baba remained alone in his room for days at a time his health being pulled down not through fasting but because of the spiritual work. In May 1924, Baba travelled to Quetta and the camp became deserted. When at Quetta a disciple became ill, and died of typhoid fever just after Baba had left for Karachi. There is no record for the rest of the year.
By January 1925, Baba was at the camp at Arangaon again. The number of Mandali members increased to forty as some were recalled from remote places. (The Mandali were those disciples who lived with Baba under his direction.)
The camp began to be referred to as "Meherabad" ("abad" means prosperous). The camp became a small town. Hundreds of people came for darshan (sight of the holy man). Untouchable boys came for singing and prayers. On 21st March 1925 the Meher Charitable Hospital and Dispensary was opened. Run by members of the Mandali, thousands were treated in the two years it was open. The Hazrat Babajan School was opened to give primary education to boys and girls - mostly untouchables. Baba himself washed the untouchable boys who were filthy. He played football and cricket with them. There was also an Ashram for lepers and the destitute. On 10th May 1925 there were festivities to celebrate Shri Upasni Maharaj. These included fireworks and a cinematograph show of the life of Sakubai, a woman saint. Large crowds came every Thursday for darshan.
Purdom writes that: Meherabad was different from the Manzil in that visitors were not discouraged. Hundreds came each day. Tea, flower and knick-knack shops were opened and the place became a small model village. On Sundays and Thursdays it became a place of festival an pilgrimage.
THE SILENCE BEGINS (1925-1926)
Purdom writes that: In June 1925, Baba announced that he was to begin a period of silence for one year. The reasons given for the silence were his heavy spiritual work, the approaching death of Babajan, and disturbances in the world. The silence began on Friday, 10th July 1925. From then Baba communicated by signs or writing on a slate. He has maintained his silence until this day.
A new building was erected to accommodate the increasing numbers of Mandali. Each had an allotted place for belongings and sleeping. The post office veranda became a general stores. A dharamsala (rest-house) was built to accommodate poor visitors. A hall called the "Sai Durbar", 90 by 40 feet, was built for visitors and ceremonial occasions.
Baba lived in a zhopdi (hut) built for him, but later moved to a position on the main road under a neem tree where a small cabin was built. In November a dhooni (fireplace) was lighted near his seat.
The number of visitors reached a peak on Baba's thirty-second birthday when it is said twenty thousand people came, with the Mandali protecting him from the crush with a cordon. After that visitors were discouraged and declined to a few score each day. In this period Baba was writing in a secret book what was believed to be a message to the world.
SOME DISCIPLES (1925-1926)
In this chapter, Purdom talks about three individuals who joined the Mandali. The first was Lewis Charles Nelhams, a Christian from Europe, who was only present for a few weeks before he died of an infected leg injury. About him, Baba said:
By dying Nelhams has done away with his gross body, but his mind is still living, and very soon this mind will take another suitable gross medium and again come into contact with me. Those souls who are liberated have their egoistic minds annihilated, while those who take birth again retain their minds, and those souls who after liberation return to normal consciousness have universal minds.
The second man was a nineteen-year-old Hindu who could not talk and had little understanding. He became know as Mustan (the over-powered). When asked to do something - clasp his hand or play with a ball - he would do so for hours until asked to stop. About him, Baba said:
He is not mad, but a spiritually advanced person dazed on the path; he is in the third plane.
The third person mentioned was a Marathi boy of twenty-three who became known as Bholaram. Baba personally taught him reading.
SEEKERS AFTER THE TRUTH (1926)
In this chapter Purdom gives anecdotes of people who came to Baba for darshan. Most were unable to follow Baba's requirements for prayer repetition, fasting or silence, and soon left.
FASTING AND WORK (1925-1926)
Baba's irregular eating and fasting practices in the period 1925 to 1926 are described. Purdom explains that:
The word fasting is not to be taken in its literal sense, since Baba has been heard to say that he never keeps fasts. That is, he does not stop food though able to eat it. During periods when he does not take food he is unable to eat it. His physical system at such times is not in a position to accept food. for various spiritual reasons, though the suffering and weakness caused by abstention is felt as acutely by him as it would be by an ordinary man.
Purdom also mentions Baba's practice of himself bathing the schoolboys daily, including the untouchables, and washing their clothes. He also helped the Mandali with other manual tasks, and played games and sports with the boys or the Mandali.
UPLIFTMENT OF DEPRESSED CLASSES (1926)
Purdom writes that: Accounts are given of Baba resolving disputes between villagers. Also given are several examples of Baba's attempts to discourage villagers from eating eggs, fish and meat, particularly the meat of animals found dead.
BABA'S ELDER BROTHER DIES (1926)
Purdom writes that: In February 1926, Baba received a telegram informing him that Jamshedji had died. Baba read the contents of the telegram to the Mandali who were upset because Jamshedji was well-liked, but Baba showed no grief.
First of all, Baba remarked that in spite of his repeated advice to the contrary, Jamshedji persisted in going away from Meherabad, and now, he said, he is really gone ! Then the Mandali were asked if they felt any grief, and, all replying in the affirmative, Baba said their grief was false, hypocrisy, and selfishness. At this someone said: "But from a worldly point of view, everyone must feel it." "But why ?" replied Baba. "That is where the mistake is made. It is all false." "Was he not your brother ? Is he not dead ?" persisted another, to whom Baba replied, "He was indeed my brother, but he is not dead. On the contrary, he is resting within myself." "But how," asked a third member of the Mandali, "are we to know and appreciate that ?" "From believing those who know the secrets of life and death," concluded Baba.
Baba then gave a talk on "Death and the Cry Over It," the gist being:
Death is common to all. It is a necessary step forward towards life. The soul merely changes into a new abode, and thus death means nothing more than changing your coat. Or it may be compared with sleep. The difference between death and sleep is that, after the first, one wakes up again in a new body, while in the latter one becomes conscious of the same body. Worldly people do not go into hysterics after one who goes to sleep at night, simply because they expect to see him awake again. Then why not exercise the same indifference when he sleeps the sleep of death, since he is bound to wake up again sooner or later in a new body ? Thus the selfishness of not being able to satisfy their minds in the absence of the sight of their dear ones makes them weep and wail, and not so much the death itself.
After the death of a person, a hue and cry is raised from all sides. "My beloved father is dead." "The source of my life is gone," "The light of my eye is dimmed," "Where is my sweetheart ?" "My supporter has disappeared," and such exclamations are heard in the house of death. But in spite of a great display of grief and pain, the "my and mine" remain uppermost rather than consideration of the welfare of the one who has actually passed away.
The sword of death has been freely swinging right and left since the beginning of man's history. Every day I see hundreds and thousands of my brothers dying without feeling anything for it, and Jamshedji's death is no exception to that. All admit that death is the unavoidable end, and though the fact is universally acknowledged and experienced, yet at the time of its happening people start crying. It is either madness or weakness of mind ! But Jamshedji is not dead. If he is really dead all should rejoice over it, since it means Real Life ! Although you find me moving about amongst you, playing with you and in fact doing all that a supposed living man does, I am really dead !
I am living because I am dead ! Die all of you in the real sense so that you may live ever after !
FOOD AND FASTS (1925-1926)
Purdom describes briefly how Baba kept strict control of what the Mandali were to eat, changing the rule when he wanted to and requiring fasts.
THE DISCIPLES' DUTIES (1925-1926)
Purdom writes that: The Mandali were required to work to their utmost. They had to serve the poor and destitute and had to live and eat as they did. Baba exhorted the Mandali to adhere to their duties thus:
Without making the Circle* settled, I am not going to leave Meherabad. But do not compel me to do so earlier through in attention to my instructions. I ask you all not to leave me till I speak. Even if I seem to scold you or show displeasure and disgust, don't leave your duties under any circumstances. Beware of lustful thoughts and actions and impulses of temper and anger. Follow my words; it is for your own good. The contact of a Saint, the service of humanity, and the repetition of God's name, these three combined are the highest possible yogas and religious practices ! If this much is done, all the religions are observed completely. While serving the sufferers and disabled people in the dharamsala and hospital, consider every one of them to be myself ! Serve them heartily and you will be serving me thereby . . . .
[ * For the meaning of Circle see Part III.]
By the end of the first year a regular committee was formed in connection with the management of the domestic affairs of the steadily growing colony, and Baba granted privileges and powers to the office-bearers. The name Circle Committee was given to this new local self-government of Meherabad. A chairman, vice-chairman, secretary, sixteen members, and two peons were duly elected from amongst the Mandali by themselves. After that to the end of the stay the Circle Committee regularly met and conducted useful work.
NOTABLE EVENTS (1925-1926)
Purdom writes that: An incident is described which point to Baba having second sight. He behaves oddly and suddenly states that Rustamji has fallen. When Rustamji returns he tells of an accident and narrow escape he had had at the same time. Other miscellaneous events are described.
CASTE RESTRICTIONS (1926)
An account of a dispute between Hindu and non-Hindu Mandali regarding cooking arrangements is described by Purdom.
A SUDDEN DECISION (1926)
Purdom writes that: In October 1926, Baba told the Mandali that the Meherabad colony was to close. The hospital and other inmates were informed as were the boys' parents. Baba intended to visit Persia with some Mandali. Baba explained that the school and hospital were but temporary scaffolding for his real work. He told them about his book for which he had written many pages of notes which would become volumes. All but the original post office and officers' mess buildings and Baba's zhopdi were dismantled. Baba and his party departed for Lonavla on 25th November 1926. They were ten days there and then went to Santa Cruz in Bombay for three weeks. Baba said (using the alphabet board):
There is no importance in worldly affairs; for a Realized One the world is less important than a dream. A poetic genius such as Shakespeare had not even the shadow of true existence and bliss. The real state of God is that of sound sleep, to attain to God Realization means to enjoy that sleep while remaining fully conscious at the same time. This state cannot be described and can hardly be told of. Hafiz says: "This world is nothing plus nothing."
THE RETURN TO MEHERABAD (1926)
Purdom writes that: Many visited Baba when he was at Santa Cruz. On hearing that Arjun (recently head of the school at Meherabad) has died, Baba said:
It was good that he died. Two or three days prior to his end he was seeing me in my true form, and now he is with me.
Baba surprised everyone by announcing the next day that they would return to Meherabad which they did on 25th December 1926. On arriving they heard that Dr Karkal (recently head of the hospital at Meherabad) had died of pneumonia earlier that day.
NO MORE WRITING (1926-1927)
Purdom writes that: By 31st December 1926 a school for forty boys had been started in a nearby bungalow.
From 2nd January 1927 ceased to write and from then on relied on the alphabet board for communication. He said (on the board) regarding daily meditation about God:
Think of one thing only - God - and remain in a fixed position throughout the meditation, without change. Let the name of the Lord alone be on your lips. If your mind begins to wander, don't stop trying to concentrate upon Him. Strive to reach the aim, and you will see me in my true form and experience many spiritual blessings.
The Mandali debated the building of a new school for borders. Baba wanted unpaid teachers serving from a spiritual point of view; the Mandali thought good teachers would not be obtained if unpaid. Baba later said the school would not be proceeded with.
A few days before his birthday, Baba gathered diseased and disabled persons and bathed, clothed and fed them for the day. On 18th February 1927 Baba's thirty-third birthday was celebrated. The description of the celebrations is interesting:
The camp was gaily decorated, and Baba himself served the Mandali with a special breakfast at six o'clock of rava (a sweet dish) and tea with milk. Visitors began to appear at seven. Baba's ceremonial bath was at nine o'clock, and an hour later there was a spiritual discourse by one of the devotees.
At the end of the discourse the cradle ceremony took place: a small decorated cradle containing the portraits of Baba, Babajan, and Upasni Maharaj was swung in turn by all present, while a special prayer was sung and flowers were thrown on the cradle. Baba then took his seat under a tree by the roadside and distributed rava and sweetmeats to the boys and girls of the school. After the meal at midday there was singing and other music, and late in the afternoon a special singer from Bombay entertained the company. At five-thirty there was a palanquin procession; but Baba refused to sit in the palanquin and walked beside it, his photograph being put inside. The procession went out of the camp and proceeded up a hill; there, on a specially prepared seat, Baba sat down, and the ladies recited a special prayer. The ladies then returned to their own quarters, and the rest of the company with Baba indulged in games and bhajan*. On the return Baba was asked to take his seat in the palanquin, and the procession went on with cheers, another prayer being recited on arrival at the camp. Then followed supper, and at nine-thirty all retired for the night.
[ * Bhajan = Hindu devotional song. ]
MORE DISCOURSES (1927)
Purdom writes that: In March 1927, Baba gave a discourse on the value of repeating God's name verbally:
Concentrate your mind on the repetition alone, and breathe regularly while doing so. Inhale and exhale the breath slowly and repeat the name of God as you breathe. Let other thoughts come - they will come - but always strive to drive them away, but keep the mind cool and steady. Once you have gained a liking for this exercise, you will never drop it but find a secret pleasure in the duty.
Baba spoke on life after death:
What the astral body of an ordinary man sees and experiences after death, the yogis see and experience during physical life - while having their gross bodies. Four days after death the astral body rises up to gain pleasure or pain according to its good or bad actions in physical life. When the store of virtue (Poonya) and vice (Paap) is exhausted, the soul, in accordance with the faint impress of the sanskaras, takes another gross body, that is, is reborn in the physical world, which process goes on until the soul is freed from the chains of birth and death.
Rarely, yogis of the fourth plane misuse their spiritual powers and are reborn in the mineral state and have to go through the whole process of gross evolution before again getting the human form: otherwise no human being experiences a fall in the evolution of forms. The human form is the best of all physical forms; it is the only form in which God can be realized, and until God is realized the soul must continue with births and deaths.
The "Sanskaras" originated from the moment the individual "drop" came out of the "Creator Point" of the Infinite Ocean of Truth, to be conscious and to gain knowledge of Self. All subsequent forms and births are necessary for consciousness and self knowledge. Sanskaras are created continually, until they become so thick that they remain about a man whether he is alive or dead: they must be separated from him before he can realize God, for until they are gone the "drop" forgets its original mission and is conscious only of the motion given to it by the sanskaras. A man does not realize God until all sanskaras are wiped away, but to wipe them away is very difficult.
Baba gave hints as to his spiritual working:
The troubles of the world are due to thinking. Soon I shall take this thinking upon myself, when my health will, most probably, be seriously affected. This is essential for my future working which will affect the whole world.
It is the duty of Saliks - Perfect Masters - those who are God-realized and who are also conscious of the world - to give an onward push to the subtle universe; but the Head has also to prepare the Circle and to make the members realize God as well as give an onward push to the gross universe. When they - the Perfect Masters - give such a push, they have to work for it; they have to come down from the state of Eternal Bliss (Nirvi Kalpa), which is located in the human body, at the top of the head, and take their position in the "Brahmand," the second position. This point is also called the junction between the Upper Bliss state and the Lower human form, from which we can see the whole of the lower parts of the body - equivalent to seeing the entire chain of past lives and forms, which one has to pass through before God- realization.
A duty is placed upon some few of the God-realized ones to come down to the junction and bring up those in the world who are worthy to be taken up, that is, worthy to be God-realized, because of their preparedness and spiritual connection. But such preparedness does not come easily. It requires ages upon ages of suffering and sacrifice and deep connection with a God-realized one. It is after ages of suffering that one is deemed worthy of being admitted into a Circle for God-realization. God-realization means the destruction of all sanskaras, the "stopped" state of the mind, the end of all thinking. This is very difficult; for if the mind tries to stop thinking it tends towards the sound sleep state, that is, the unconscious. Even great yogis are unable to attain to this "stopped" state of mind for good; they can at the most stop thinking during meditations, concentrations, or samadhi, and even this creates new sanskaras; no sooner have they come down from the samadhi state than their minds start to work and the store of past undestroyed sanskaras gets added to. Hafiz has likened the body to a pot, the smoke of the fire to the soul, and sanskaras to a large stone on the top of the pot. "For all its attempts," he says, "the smoke never succeeds in throwing off the stone." For that, a sage must come and lift it away. Similarly, a bird may try to open its cage from the inside, but the door will never be opened till help comes from outside. In short, those who desire to gain spiritual benefit must be brave and patient to withstand severe blows.
Some details of Babajan's life are described.
On 8th April 1927 Baba it was decided to open a boarding school for boys of all classes and creeds at Meherabad to be know as the Meher Ashram, to provide ideal secular and spiritual education.
He said that the education imparted to the boys would prove a step towards the political salvation of India. Thus, besides the spiritual advancement of the boys, there would be material advancement too. The result of the teaching would be that the boys would have no longer any prejudice against any particular religion, which is the cause of much strife among people. Baba went on to say that some Indian leaders who advocate nationalism make fine speeches but lack toleration. The seeds of hatred and fanaticism would be destroyed in the boys who attended the school, and the toleration of all religions would lead to a Universal Religion for all.
A devotee from Poona paid a visit; his wife questioned Baba's order:
Afterwards Baba pointed out to the Mandali that it was better not to ask for advice than to ask for it and not to act upon it. If the advice of a Saint is given, it must be acted upon. To neglect the words of one who is recognized as God-realized makes one liable to great suffering, though one may not know how the suffering comes about. The consequences of such neglect are serious. "That is why I warn you," said Baba.
Baba constantly found fault with the running of the school. More suitable Mandali than Dhake and Chanji, who were principal and vice-principal, were sought but none came forward. On criticism Baba said:
Neither praise nor blame should distract you from the path of your duty. Leave aside all other considerations; if your conscience tells you that you have discharged the duty properly, that is enough. Your conscience is the best judge. It is human to err, and there must be mistakes, you can only do your best. Always be in time, look after your work, personally, do not leave anything to others, and then if mistakes happen they will be overlooked and pardoned. Even if I speak to you harshly about such mistakes do not take what I say to heart.
Baba rebuked a disciple for late rising:
Spiritual aspirants should get up very early. If you get up late, there is not much difference between you and the worldly-minded. The early hours of the morning - from three to six - are best for meditation. Five or six hours' sleep are quite sufficient for you. Those whom I have asked to meditate regularly must go to bed at nine and get up at three o'clock.
Baba gave a discourse on egoism:
Egoism does not mean merely selfishness and being self-opinionated. To be conscious of your individual existence, of your body and mind, is also egoism. Did you not sleep last night ? To think about it to-day is egoism. Did anyone call you bad names ? To feel offence for that is egoism. Egoism is hydra-headed, but its main branches are four: (1) anger, (2) the joy arising from the gratification of passion, (3) avarice, (4) slander. There are two ways in which it can be diminished: by divine love, and by complete surrender of one's self to a Master.
THE MEHER ASHRAM (1927-1929)
Purdom writes that: The Ashram had been opened on 1st May 1927 in a bungalow near Arangaon. On 30th June it was moved to Meherabad.
Ten boys were the first admitted to the Ashram: four Brahmins, three Mahars (untouchables), and three Marathas. They were provided with plain round black caps, khaki shirts and drawers, sandals, and a tweed coat: also each had a steel trunk, towel, handkerchiefs, blanket, rugs, bedspread, and pillow. The meals provided were: breakfast, tea and wheatbread; dinner, dal rice and a vegetable dish; supper, two vegetable dishes and wheatbread. Baba spent two hours at the school every day, inspecting the work that was done.
A Persian section of the school was opened for fourteen boys - two Mahommedans and twelve Zoroastrians.
In November, Baba was teaching the boys himself for two hours a day. From December to February 1928, Baba remained in seclusion in a hut six feet by four feet with two rooms one on top of the other near the school. Baba ordered that the boys were not to be touched by hand by anyone while he was in seclusion.
The boys began showing displays of emotion with periods of weeping. Some parents were disturbed by this and withdrew their boys, including a favourite pupil Syed Ali. Baba said that unless Ali returned the school would close. Ali's father was persuaded to return the boy to the school.
In March the school was divided in two, with chosen boys in one section "Prem (Divine Love) Ashram" primarily meditating.
In June the Mandali and school were transferred to the village of Toka between Ahmednagar and Aurangabad.
During this period, the boys spent much time in meditation and Baba allowed them to come to him at any time.
He spent many hours with them, taking part in their games and letting himself be photographed in many fantastic dresses, as desired by the boys.
In November, when the weather was colder, the school was removed back to Meherabad where new huts were built for it. At this time there were 102 boys - 49 Hindus, 20 Mussulmans, 32 Zoroastrians, and 1 Christian. An English course was substituted for matriculation, and the school renamed Hazrat Babajan English School.
In summer 1928, Baba sent a disciple to England to try to get Western boys to enter the school. As a result of this three English people [not named] came to stay with Baba.
In October a Russian, Sadhu Christian Leik, who had spent time in England and America came. An account of Leik's spiritual path is given. He was a disciple of Ramakrishna, to whom he was introduced by the works of Swami Vivekananda. Leik had come under the influence of Christian mystic and teacher, Sadhu Sundar Singh, who had visited Europe and America in 1920. Leik adopted the name Sadhu out of respect. Leik had come to Baba from the Himalayas. Leik said:
Seven years earlier the Master (Ramakrishna) had given me in London the direction I had to take from the Himalayas to reach my Master in the body. In a day vision I was shown a stream of light shining from the Almora district across the plains of India towards Bombay. I was reminded of this vision last September. About the same time as the vision was given me in London, my second Master had told his disciples in Bombay that I would join him in the near future. Noren (Vivekananda) had prepared me for Shri Ramakrishna, my unseen Master, and the latter had put me through all kinds of sufferings to make me fit for the Master in the flesh, Shri Meher Baba, by whose grace I shall reach the ultimate goal by being one with God.
Baba had agreed to the disciples' proposal for the publication of a monthly magazine.
The first number of the Meher Message appeared on the first of the month of January 1929. It contained forty pages, with articles by the editor, Kai Khushru Jamshedji Dastur, the motto on the cover being "Majesty in Servitude." There were extracts from Baba's writings, extracts from the editor's diary, and other contributions. Baba was referred to by the editor as "His Holiness," and he described himself as "The Disciple of His Divine Majesty," which was objected to by the Mandali; but the editor would not listen to them, and Baba, as usual, was indifferent to such matters.
The three English visitors left on 2nd January 1929 to establish a centre for Baba in England. On 16th January the school was closed, the boys sent home, and Baba went on a walking tour with twenty disciples. They returned after ten days. The school was reopened on 22nd February. On Mahommedan boy lost consciousness for an hour, and Baba said he had had a taste of spiritual ecstasy and would continue to regard the gross world as a mirage.
Baba discussed the statement that there is nothing but God:
Just as matter does not exist in your dreams, so it does not exist for me when I am awake. What you experience in your sound sleep with regard to matter, a God-realized man experiences in the waking state. My waking state is real, yours is false. When you realize God you will see this for yourself provided you regain consciousness of the gross world.
THE CAVE IN TIGER VALLEY (1929)
Purdom writes that: In April 1929 Baba and some Mandali visited the Hindu High School in the hill resort of Panchgani [about 40 miles south of Poona] the head of which was a devotee of Baba. Liking the place, Baba gave orders for a cave to be dug at the top of the nearby Tiger Valley for Baba to retire in seclusion. He began a fast in isolation living on liquids. Only Chhagan was allowed to approach the cave to bring him water and tea when he clapped his hands. Other Mandali were required to sit in nearby places and in Meherabad during the fast. There were tigers and leopards prowling the area. Many came to try to visit him but were persuaded to go away by the Mandali. He remained for a fortnight, when the party walked several miles to Wai to catch a train. Back in Meherabad Baba continued to fast.
SECLUSION IN KASHMIR (1929)
Purdom writes that: In 1929 Baba made a tour to Nasik, Hardwar, Hrishikesh, Delhi, Quetta and Bombay. In July he made another tour to places including Srinagar in Kashmir. He sought a place to retire to in seclusion and a hut was built high up on the side of a hill near Srinagar. Gustadji and Behramji brought him fruit and milk while he was there. Chanji was on night duty. There were tigers, bears, wolves, snakes and scorpions to contend with.
SECOND VISIT TO PERSIA (1929)
Purdom writes that: On his return, Baba immediately planned a trip to Persia, He departed on 20th September 1929 aboard the Versowa from Bombay. Baba travelled third class. His identity was not disclosed on board.
The party visited Mohamerah, Dezful, Khurramabad, Malayar, Ispahan, Yezd, Kerwan, Bam and Duzdab. Although the tour was kept private many devotees visited him wherever he went. At Yezd thousands attended a reception for him. Accounts are given in the book of other visitors.
The normal route back to India would be from one of the three ports Bushire, Bunder Abbas and Mohamerah. However, Baba insisted they took the overland route which involved the dangerous desert crossing from Bam to Duzdab [now called Zahedan]. During the journey, the bus developed a cracked radiator, but it was still completed in record time of three days.
They had great difficulty in getting visas to re-enter India mainly because the members of the party appeared like tramps and because of Baba's refusal to sign his name and disclose his true identity. The British were very concerned not to let political agitators in. Eventually, through the help of a Persian man who had obtained a letter of permission from the Governor of Duzdab. Of the Persian man, Baba said:
Here is a typical example of what love can do. Look at this man. He is a poor merchant in this place, with no great influence in Government circles, and yet he managed to approach the highest Government official here, the Governor himself, and persuaded him to write a letter to the British Consul to allow us to pass unhindered. This is no small work and service! And all this he did unasked and of his own accord and without even telling us a word about it. Such service, so selflessly and spontaneously done, with no hopes of a reward except my blessing, must succeed, and he did succeed. Why ? - because of the love which inspired him to do it, and for the sake of the love he put into it to make it a success. I am glad. He deserves my blessing. He is blessed. And now look at these two who have lived with me for years, they hesitated and thought a thousand thoughts and plans as to how to do it best ! All right now, you two, give up your worrying, and go with this man to the British Consul and give him the letter.
MANY TOURS (1929-1930)
Purdom writes that: On his return to India, Baba stayed in Nasik [about 100 mile north-east of Bombay] for a time. In December 1929, Baba visited Bombay, Ahmednagar, Arangaon and Jahwar. In February 1930 he visited Poona, Kolhapur, Belgaum, Dharwar and Hubli. He went to Madras to open on 2nd March the Meher Ashram at Saidapet. He made other tours during 1930. He was back in Nasik in December.
On 22nd November 1930 an English journalist visited Baba at Arangaon for two days (see note at the beginning of Part II.)
In the December issue of Meher Message was this editorial statement:
There had been tension between the disciples and the editor in connection
with the latter's activities in Indian politics.
PART II - THE PERIOD OF WORLD
Purdom writes that: Baba had not, so far, gone out of India apart from two visits to Persia. He now began travels round the world. Baba gave on the alphabet board outlines of "messages" which were written up by his disciples. Specimens of these are included in Part II. Purdom also quotes verbatim from diaries of those who were with him.
The English journalist mentioned at the end of the last section returned to Nasik and stayed until 8th February 1931. A footnote says:
He was H. Raphael Hurst. An account of his visit to Baba is given in A Search in Secret India, by "Paul Brunton" (Rider & Co., n.d. The book was published in 1933.) Mr Hurst was in search of signs and wonders. He found none in Baba, but "many high and sublime sayings," and was disappointed.
A VISIT TO PERSIA (1931)
Purdom writes that: In March 1931, Baba went to the Himalayas, and in May to Persia to pay homage to Imam, one of the twelve apostles of the Prophet.
FIRST VISIT TO THE WEST, 1931
On September 1st, Baba sailed from Karachi on the Rajputana with three of his disciples for England. On the Rajputana there was also travelling Mahatma Gandhi on his way to the Indian Round Table Conference. Baba and Ghandi encountered each other on one or two occasions, but there was no particular talk upon politics, though such subjects as the Vedanta, spirituality, etc., were discussed. Baba kept almost entirely to his own cabin during the voyage. He was met at Marseilles on September 11th by two English friends and went by train to Paris, arriving in London the following day, staying the night at a house in Kensington. He then went to stay in Devonshire.
[ It was in Devon that Shri Meher Baba and C. B. Purdom first met, although Purdom does not mention it at this point in the book. He does talk about it at the beginning of Part III, and also at more length in his 1951 autobiography Life Over Again. I have copied that account in full at the bottom of this webpage in blue italic.]
There he remained for ten days, afterwards returning to London, where a number of people were brought to see him. One of them wrote at the time as follows:
I met Shri Meher Baba for the first time on a Saturday night at a performance of White Horse Inn at the Coliseum, about September 26, 1931: in the box were Baba, three of his Indian disciples, and four English people.
I sat next to Baba, but he took very little notice of me. I was shy and nervous, and felt as if someone had taken a hammer and knocked me on the head. I hardly looked at him, I heard people talking but felt dazed and far away; at the end I put out my hand and took his and looked mutely at him; he nodded his head and I was told that I was to come the next day to Kensington. During that week I went about like one in a dream; I was stunned with the wonder of Baba, nothing else existed for me. I saw him every day, and from then I had absolute and implicit trust and faith in him; I asked no questions, I wanted nothing from him. I gave my life into his keeping and knew my search was at an end. I took my mother, my brother, and my younger sister to see him; they were impressed, and my sister felt specially drawn to him and also became one of his followers.
Journalists met Baba and a number of reports of interviews, mostly sensational, were printed. Baba went to a Promenade Concert, the Zoo, museums and the Unknown Warrior's grave at Westminster Abbey.
On 2nd October 1931, Baba left England. He went to Constantinople, Milan, and then America, sailing for New York from Genoa aboard the Roma. He was at Harmon on the Hudson River for three weeks, and then one week in New York, with a day at Boston. He boarded the Bremen on 6th December for Europe, reaching Paris on the 11th. He departed from Marseilles for India on the 18th aboard the Narkunda. On 2nd January 1932 he was met by many devotees in Bombay.
Interviews with Baba usually lasted only a few minutes. He touched the hand or caressed the arm and usually said "I like you and will help you" using the alphabet board, the message being verbalised by a disciple who was present.
THE "MEHER MESSAGE" (1931)
The July - August - September number of the Meher Message, issued when Baba was in Europe, appeared with the announcement that from January 1932 the name of the magazine would be the Mystic Review. In "My Heart-to-Heart Talk" the editor said that he had been "face to face with great difficulties," and confessed that if he had made mistakes, he had done so honestly; in his editorial notes he said, "Beware of pseudo-sadgurus !" No reference was made to Baba in the magazine, though an article on "Spirit Life" was published as "By Meher Baba," without the usual prefix, adopted by the editor, of "His Holiness" or "Shri." In the October number the editor declared in another "My Heart-to-Heart Talk" that with great pain he now considered Meher Baba "to be a charlatan." He said that he had begun to be suspicious in April of the previous year, and in April of this year "I came to the conclusion that Meher Baba was not real, and all his talk of manifesting himself as an Avatar was bunkum." He went on to say, "I still love Meher Baba," but apologized to the critics of Baba for having denounced them. He continued:
In a later issue, the editor says:
[* Highest state of consciousness - Eternal Bliss.]
Purdom explains this strange event as simply the defection of a disciple - something that all who have disciples know. Baba remained unconcerned by it. Baba had allowed the editor to do as he pleased. This was his method of training.
FIRST WORLD TOUR, 1932
A second visit was arranged to the West at the invitation of some of his English followers, and Baba left India on March 2 by the Conte Rosso, accompanied by six Indian disciples, including his two brothers Behram and Adi, arriving at Venice on April 4 where he was met, reaching Dover two days later, whence he was taken by car to a private house at Kensington. There, every day from nine o'clock onwards, people came to see him, and he allowed a film company to take him "speaking" from his alphabet board.
[ The filmed interview could be the one with Purdom himself made on 8th April 1932, in London, by Paramount News. To view a short video clip of that interview click here. ]
Baba went to the country house
of one of his English friends, and visited Kew Gardens, the British Museum,
and a number of theatres and cinemas. A children's party was arranged
at the house, and occasionally in the evenings there was music. Many Press
representatives came for interviews. The following is a journalist's account
of a talk with Baba:
Baba's interview with James Douglas,
I had prepared a questionnaire with the help of Sir
Denison Ross, the Oriental scholar. It was designed to trap the teacher,
but he smilingly threaded his way through it without stumbling. His mastery
of dialectic is consummate. It was quite Socratic in its ease. He frequently
put questions to me which startled me by their penetration. But he never
evaded a direct question. His simplicity is very subtle. He is above races
and religions. He is universal. He is one with God, and God is everywhere
Do you know Gandhi ?
Are you a Mahatma ?
Are you divine ?
Have you solved the problem of evil ?
The world is perplexed with disaster. Is there any way out of the
world crisis ?
How long will it last ?
What is your secret ?
Then I put my questionnaire.
Have you a Scripture, a Bible, a Koran, an inspired book ?
Do you believe in Buddha and the Eight-Fold Path ?
What God do you believe in ?
What religion is nearest to yours ?
Is there a future life ?
Does the self survive ?
Who has sent you to save mankind ?
Do you sleep much ?
Are you married ?
Is God a Person or a Power ?
Are you a Pantheist ?
Why am I not happy ?
He had said he would give me a minute, but the minute
lasted an hour. "You are lucky," said a disciple. "He likes
you." He is serenely certain that he can redeem mankind. I wonder.
Extracts from Baba's interview with a Special
What was his message for the English people? I wanted to know. And very swiftly the finger moved again. He was spelling in English, but with short cuts and abbreviations that only the swift and practised eyes of his disciples could follow.
The Western world, Baba thought, tended to concentrate too much upon materialism. Materialism was not an altogether bad feature of Western life. It was, indeed, valuable in the development of our lives.
But he wishes to lead the West towards spiritual truths, without churches or creeds, to a realization of the possibilities of the spirit that might become a part of our everyday life.
Asked when he would be able to give his message publicly to the world, Baba told me that he would be going within a month to America, where it was possible that within two or three months' time he might break his silence.
What do you teach your inquirers ?
According to their individual needs. But when I speak to the whole world, then my teachings will be universal.
He said that he had no interest in the political affairs of India, and asked me to correct the statement that he was the spiritual adviser of Gandhi.
Gandhi met me on the liner Rajputana and we talked of spiritual experiences. Gandhi was interested, and said that he would like to meet me in America. I said that he could come to me after he had finished with his political work.
You mean that you do not think politics and the spiritual life have much to do with each other ?
Not directly. But eventually, of course, the spiritual experience becomes universal and includes the political affairs of the world.
He wanted all the nations to be brought together, he did not wish
to work for India alone.
[I am not sure if the following also appeared in the Daily Mirror - I assume so:]
Message of Shri Meher Baba
I am not come to establish any cult, society, or organization - nor even to establish a new religion. The Religion I shall give teaches the knowledge of the one behind the many.
The Book which I shall make people read is the book of the heart, which holds the key to the mystery of life. As for ritual, I shall teach humanity to discriminate, express, and live rather than utter it. I shall bring about a happy blending of the head and the heart.
Societies and organizations have never succeeded in bringing truth nearer. Realization of Truth is solely the concern of the individual.
Every being is a point from which a start could be made towards the limitless ocean of Love, Bliss, Knowledge, and Goodness already within him. No spiritual Master brings religion to the world in the form which it eventually assumes. His very presence is a blessing and radiates spirituality. He imparts it to others by personal contact. The so-called religions are an effort to commemorate the association with a great spiritual Master, and to preserve his atmosphere and influence. It is like an archaeologist trying to preserve things which only resuscitate the past. The living spirit being absent, religions or organizations gradually lose their glamour. The result is a mental revolt against the established order. Something more substantial and practical is required, which expresses the life of the spirit. There exists at the moment a universal dissatisfaction and an indescribable longing for something that will end the chaos and misery that is holding the world in its grip. I will satisfy this craving and lead the world to real happiness and peace by making people look more deeply into things than hitherto.
As a rule Masters help individually according to the temperament and fitness of the aspirant, but this being an Avataric period, which means the end of the previous cycle and the beginning of a new one, my spiritual help to humanity will be both individual and collective.
The period of junction of the old and new cycle usually connotes the advent of a Master who rejuvenates religious thought, infusing new life and meaning into the old order of things.
Besides imparting the highest state of spirituality to a select few he gives a general spiritual push to the whole world.
The West looks at things only from the standpoint of reason or logic and is sceptical about things which baffle the intellect.
Intellect is the lowest form of understanding and is developed by reading, hearing, reasoning, and logic. These processes create an illusion of real knowledge.
The highest state of understanding is permanent illumination through which one experiences and sees things as they are. In this state one feels in harmony with everyone and everything, and realizes divinity in every phase of life, and is able to impart happiness to others. Here one attends to all duties and material affairs, and yet feels mentally detached from the world. This is true renunciation - the last and highest state of understanding is the merging of the soul into the limitless ocean of infinite Bliss, Knowledge, and Power. One who has himself attained this freedom can make thousands perfect like himself. I intend bringing about a great spiritual revival in the near future, utilizing the tremendous amount of energy possessed by America for the purpose. Such a spiritual outpouring as I visualize usually takes place at the beginning or end of a cycle, and only a perfect one who has reached the Christ state of Consciousness can make such a universal appeal. My work will embrace everything - it will permeate every phase of life. Perfection would fall far short of the ideal if it were to accept one thing and eschew another. The general spiritual push that I shall give to the whole world will automatically adjust problems such as politics, economics, and sex, though these are not directly connected with the original theme. New values and significance will be attached to things which appear to baffle solution at the moment.
The benefits that shall accrue to different nations and countries when I bring about the spiritual upheaval will be largely determined by the amount of energy each one possesses. The greater the energy - however misapplied - the greater the response.
The Master merely diverts the current into the right channel. It will be one of my greatest miracles to bring together and blend the realistic West with the idealistic East, and the West at the zenith of its material and intellectual attainment and the East at the height of its spiritual manifestation in the shape of a Perfect Master will meet without shaming or looking down upon each other. I repeat - materialism and spirituality must go hand in hand. The balance of head and heart must be maintained. The Head for discrimination - the Heart for feeling, whereby it is possible to realize infinite consciousness in Art, Science, Nature, and in every phase of life.
I have become one with the infinite source of everything. This is the state of Christ consciousness. If people call me Messiah, Saviour, or Redeemer it does not affect me. Terms and names do not matter in the state of Christ consciousness that I eternally enjoy and towards which I shall lead all who come to me. When I speak my original message will be delivered to the world and it will have to be accepted.
The ability to perform miracles does not necessarily connote high spirituality. Anyone who has reached the Christ conscious ness can perform them.
People must not come to me merely for help in their physical infirmities or for material purposes. I shall perform miracles when the time and situation demand and not to satisfy mere idle curiosity. Spiritual healing is by far the greatest healing, and this is what I intend to give. The highest is latent in everyone, but has to be manifest.
On 17th April 1932 Baba went by car from London to Devon. He returned on the 24th and travelled to Lugano, Switzerland. Baba's father died when he was in Lugano. When in Lugano, Baba said that one of his ways of working was to invite or create "opposition". News came that defamatory articles had appeared in the London press and that his supporters had written replies repudiating these. Baba ordered these replies to stop saying that opposition was desired. On 7th May he travelled to Paris and then London where he stayed for four days. He sailed from Southampton on 19th May for New York aboard the Bremen.
Baba was four days in New York. When there he gave the following message:
I am so very pleased to see you again. Among you are many of the first Americans I met last time I was here, so I regard you as old friends.
No doubt some of you have seen various newspaper reports about myself and my work . . . . Many of these are misleading. But it is not to be wondered at if journalists do not understand my work or if they pander to the desire for sensation.
I do not intend to found any religion, cult, creed, or society. There are already far too many of these organizations. I have come to help people realize their ideals in daily life. The widespread dissatisfaction in modern life is due to the gulf between theory and practice, between the ideal and its realization on earth. The spiritual and material aspects of life are widely separated instead of being closely united. There is no fundamental opposition between spirit and matter, or, if you like, between life and form. The apparent opposition is due to wrong thinking, to ignorance. Hence the remedy lies in the continuous practice of right thinking, in permanent illumination resulting from the balance between head and heart. This is the illumination which I intend to give.
The greatest mystics have realized through personal experience that God alone is real and that everything is God. This means that, though you may not be aware of it, the Highest is latent in each one of you. But in order for it to be lived and experienced in consciousness, it must be manifested.
Intellectual conviction of this truth is not enough. True knowledge consists in illumination which finally culminates in Union with the ultimate Reality. This last is the state of Christ Consciousness, which is my permanent condition.
The obstacles to illumination are certain mental tendencies and desires connected with egoism which in the East are called sanskaras. The sum-total of these desires and tendencies creates the illusion of a separate self at war with or isolated from other selves. Evolution or the fall into matter made the creation of such a separate self necessary - otherwise spiritual consciousness could never be attained in the flesh.
In the beginning, before evolution began, we were united with the source of all, but unconsciously, as the fish lives in the sea without being aware of the sea, because it has never left it. Evolution involved a separation from the Source of All and a consequent conscious longing to return to it, through a succession of lives and forms.
The conscious return to the Source during physical incarnation only became possible when consciousness became equilibrated in gross matter.
America represents the vanguard and synthesis of the white races, and hence forms the best foundation for the spiritual upheaval I will bring about in the near future.
America has tremendous energy, but most of this energy is misdirected. I intend to divert it into spiritual and creative channels.
I am now going to California for a few days. From there I must go to the Far East for one day for spiritual reasons, but I will be back in California by the end of June and I will speak on June 29th. But if I should be delayed, I will return on July 12th and I will speak on July 13th.
When I speak there will be many proofs of my spiritual power and of my ability to bestow illumination. People will then realize that Truth, which is the Source of all love and existence, rules supreme in all departments of life.
My work and aims are intensely practical. It is not practical to over-emphasize the material at the cost of the spiritual. It is not practical to have spiritual ideals without putting them into practice. But to realize the ideal in daily life, to give beautiful and adequate form to the living spirit, to make Brotherhood a fact, not merely a theory, as at present - this is being practical in the truest sense of the world.
My work will arouse great enthusiasm and a certain amount of opposition. - That is inevitable. But spiritual work is strengthened by opposition, and so it will be with mine. It is like shooting an arrow from a bow - the more you pull the bow-string towards you, the swifter the arrow speeds to its goal.
After an extremely busy time, when he saw people all day long and was present at a large reception in his honour, Baba went to Harmon, then in four days to Chicago, and so to Hollywood, where he remained for six days, seeing many people, including a number of film stars, the visit being a "meteoric advent that crashed the front-page headlines of every paper in the land." At the Paramount studios Baba was received by some of the directors and shown the place at work. On one of the sets Tallulah Bankhead, Gary Cooper, and Charles Laughton were playing, and one of Baba's disciples who had known Miss Bankhead and Mr. Laughton in London introduced them to him. They then visited the Metro-Goldwyn and Fox studios. That evening Miss Bankhead visited Baba, and the next day Baba attended a reception given in his honour by Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. Mary had a "talk" with Baba for about forty minutes, while others of the gathering listened with interest. The next day he visited the Paramount studios again and met Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette Macdonald, who were working on Love Me To-night, and von Stomberg and Marlene Dietrich, then playing in The Blonde Venus. Marlene Dietrich was off-hand, but von Stomberg got on well with Baba. That afternoon he had tea with Ernst Lubitsch, and in the evening there was a reception of about a thousand people.
The following messages to America were issued
on Baba's behalf while in Hollywood:
Shri Meher Baba's Message to California
So much has been said and written about the "Highest Consciousness" and God Realization, that people are bewildered as to the right process and immediate possibility of attainment. The philosophical mind wading laboriously through much literature only ends by learning a few intellectual gymnastics. The highest state of consciousness is latent in all. The son of God is in every man, but requires to be manifested. The method of attaining this consciousness must be practical, and must be adapted to the existing mental and material conditions of the world.
Rituals and ceremonies instituted by the priest-ridden churches have made the process of attainment too dry, and that accounts for the lack of interest felt all over the world for religious things in general. India, in spite of the high state of Spirituality at the present moment, is very caste-ridden because of the enforcement by the various cults of a plethora of rituals and ceremonies, which maintain the form, but still kill the spirit. Forms and ceremonies instead of diminishing the ego strengthen it. The stronger the Ego, the more aggressive it becomes. In the anxiety to become conscious of a separate self, through thinking thoughts of "I am in the right," "I am the favoured one," "I have the right to live," one becomes destructive. The furious race for armaments by the Christian world, evincing an utter disregard for the commandment of Jesus, that if one cheek is smitten to turn the other, shows clearly what I mean by the Ego. In the evolutionary ascent from the mineral, vegetable, and animal life, the latent mind gradually expands and develops till full consciousness is reached in the human form.
To create this very consciousness, the universe emanated from the Infinite ocean of knowledge and bliss, i.e. God the Absolute. In the human form, however, a difficulty is confronted to remove which Prophets and Spiritual Masters have periodically visited this earthly plane. Besides full consciousness in the human form, as a result of previous conditions of life, the Ego, the I, is evolved.
The Ego is composed of fulfilled and unfulfilled desires, and creates the illusion of feeling finite, weak, and unhappy. Henceforth the Soul can see only progress through the gradual suppression of this finite Ego and the transformation into the Divine Ego, the One Infinite Self, but retains in full the consciousness of the human form. When man realizes this state of Divine Consciousness he finds himself in everyone and sees all phenomena as forms of his own real Self. The best and also the easiest way of overcoming the Ego and attaining the divine Consciousness is to develop Love and render selfless service to all humanity in whatever circumstances we may be placed. All ethics and religious practices lead to this. The more we live for others, and the less we live for ourselves, the more our lower desires are eliminated, and this in turn reacts upon the Ego, suppressing it and transforming it proportionately. The Ego persists to the end. Not till all six out of the seven principal stages on the path culminating in the Christ Consciousness are traversed is the Ego completely eliminated, to reappear again on the path as the Divine "I." This state of divine consciousness to which Jesus, when he said "I and my father are ONE" corresponds to the state of living in Infinite and the finite at the same time.
The above is the normal procedure for one who works on his own initiative without having come across a living Master. With the help of a Perfect Master the whole affair is greatly simplified.
Complete surrender to the Divine Will of the Perfect One, and an unflinching readiness to carry out the orders rapidly, achieve a result not possible even by rigidly practising all the ethics of the world for a thousand years. The extraordinary results achieved by a Perfect Master are due to the fact that, being one with the Universal Mind, he is present in the mind of every human being and can therefore give just the particular help needed to awaken the highest Consciousness latent in every individual. Perfection, however, in order to achieve the greatest result on the material plane must have the human touch, and a keen sense of humour.
I eternally enjoy the Christ state
of Consciousness, and when I speak, which I intend doing in the near future,
I shall manifest my true self; besides giving general Spiritual push to
the whole world, I shall lead all those who come to me towards the Light
and the Truth. This, in short, is my mission in this world.
Shri Meher Baba's Message to Hollywood
Since arriving in America, I have been asked many times what solution have I brought for the social problems now confronting you - what did I have to offer that would solve the problems of unemployment, prohibition, crime - that would eliminate the strife between individuals and nations, and pour a healing balm of peace upon a troubled world.
The answer has been so simple that it has been difficult to grasp. I will elaborate it now, in order that it may be easily understood.
The root of all our difficulties, individual and social, is self-interest. It is this, for example, which causes corruptible politicians to accept bribes and betray the interests of those whom they have been elected to serve: which causes bootleggers to break, for their own profit, a law, designed, whether wisely or not, to help the nation as a whole: which causes people to connive, for their own pleasure, in the breaking of that law, thus causing disrespect for law in general, and increasing crime tremendously: which causes the exploitation of the great masses of humanity by individuals or groups of individuals seeking personal gain: which impedes the progress of civilization by shelving inventions which would contribute to the welfare of humanity at large, simply because their use would mean the scrapping of present inferior equipment, which, when people are starving, causes the wanton destruction of large quantities of food, simply in order to maintain market prices: which causes the hoarding of large sums of gold, when the welfare of the world demands its circulation.
These are only a few examples of the way self-interest operates to the detriment of human welfare. Eliminate self-interest, and you will solve all your problems, individual and social.
But the elimination of self-interest, even granting a sincere desire on the part of the individual to accomplish it, is not so easy, and is never completely achieved except by the aid of a Perfect Master, who has the power to convey Truth at will. For self-interest springs from a false idea of the true nature of the Self; and this idea must be eradicated, and the Truth experienced, before the elimination of self-interest is possible.
I intend, when I speak, to reveal the One Supreme Self which is in all. This accomplished, the idea of the Self as a limited, separate entity will disappear, and with it will vanish self-interest. Co-operation will replace competition; certainty will replace fear; generosity will replace greed. Exploitation will disappear.
It has been asked why I have remained silent for seven years, communicating only by means of an alphabet-board, and why I intend to break my silence shortly, and it might be asked, in view of what has just been stated, what relation my speaking will have to the transformation of human consciousness, which has been predicated.
Humanity, as at present constituted, uses three vehicles for the expression of thought, and experiences three states of consciousness. These three vehicles are:
The three states of consciousness corresponding to the three vehicles mentioned above are:
The process by which thought passes from the mental through the subtle, into physical expression, may be called the expression of human will.
In order that thought may be expressed effectively, all three of the vehicles used in its expression must be perfectly clear, and the interaction between them must be harmonious. The head and the heart must be united; intellect and feeling must be balanced; material expression must be understood to be the fruit of spiritual realization.
The God-man neither thinks nor desires. Through him the Divine will flows inevitably into perfect manifestation, passing directly from the spiritual body, which in the ordinary human being is undeveloped, into physical expression. For him the Super-conscious is the normal state of consciousness. From him there flows continuously infinite love and wisdom, infinite joy and peace and power.
When he speaks, Truth is more powerfully manifested than when he uses either sight or touch to convey it. For that reason Avatars usually observe a period of silence lasting for several years, breaking it to speak only when they wish to manifest the Truth to the entire universe. So, when I speak, I shall manifest the Divine Will, and world-wide transformation of consciousness will take place.
The remainder of this chapter is an account. mostly in the words of people who accompanied him, of Baba's visit to China and then Italy before his return to Bombay in September 1932. He did not return to America to "speak" as he had said he would.
Baba sailed for Honolulu aboard the Monterey on 4th June 1932. He was there for two days and announced his decision not to return to California. He sailed for Shanghai aboard the Empress of Japan arriving on 22nd June accompanied by his two brothers and two other Indians. Other disciples had already been in China preparing for his visit. At Shanghai, Baba was met by an English disciple who was a professor at Nanking University. The party stayed at Nanking. The account is not very clear, but I think that, at the end of the visit, Baba went via Manchuria and Russia to Europe, arriving in Marseilles on 28th July 1932.
For the full text of the account of the visit to China (June/July 1932) from the diary of a member of the party click here.
From Marseilles the party travelled to Santa Margherita (near Genoa) where they were met by others from England and spent three weeks on holiday. During the holiday, Baba visited Assisi by car.
For the full text of the account of the holiday in Italy (July/August 1932) from diaries of two members of the party click here.
On 18th August 1932 they went to Venice, then Baba travelled aboard the Ausonia to Egypt for five days stay where he saw the pyramids and visited the Coptic church at Cairo which Baba said contained a cave where Joseph and Mary stayed on their flight from Herod.
He was back in Bombay by the beginning of September and went straight to Nasik.
FOURTH VISIT TO EUROPE, 1932-3
Purdom writes that: In 1932 Baba sent disciples to Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary, China and America. On 21st November he sailed for Europe aboard the Conte Verde. He sent the following message to India when on this voyage:
India is a spiritual country. It possesses the most fortunate and unique position in the world of being the land of saints and spiritual masters, since ages. Therefore the spiritual atmosphere of India must be kept up even at the cost of being in bondage and materially unhappy.
It does not matter how much India suffers, as long as its spiritual power and value are retained. Moreover, the result of its present suffering will be freedom and happiness.
It is only after experiencing bondage and misery that the true value of freedom and happiness is really appreciated.
But to bring this suffering to an earlier end, there must be love for friend and foe, goodwill, patience, and forbearance. Also, India should try to remedy its own defects, instead of clamouring at the faults of others. And the hatred between the leading communities, and their petty yet disastrous quarrels and fights, must cease - and the freedom and happiness of India are ensured.
The world will soon realize that neither cults, creeds, dogmas, religious ceremonies, lectures, and sermons, on the one hand, nor, on the other hand, ardent seeking for material welfare or physical pleasures, can ever bring about real happiness - but that only selfless love and universal brotherhood can do it.
Arriving at Venice and visiting Milan and Paris on the way, Baba arrived in London on 6th December 1932, staying at a Knightsbridge hotel, seeing many people, before leaving for Switzerland. He sailed from Genoa on the Esperia for Egypt, where he visited the pyramids. On 3rd January 1933, he sailed for Colombo aboard the Baloeran, arriving in Colombo on the 12th where he remained until the 30th.
A VISIT TO BABA, 1933
Purdom writes that: A party of disciples, women and girls accompanied by one man, visited Baba in India with the intention of going on to China and California (not fulfilled). They arrived in Bombay on 8th April 1933 having sailed from Genoa aboard the Victoria.
A long account of their visit is given through the words from diaries of two of the party. The visit included a visit to the Taj Mahal, and staying on a houseboat in Kashmir.
For the full text of the account of the English girls' visit to Baba in India (April 1933) from diaries of two members of the party click here.
FIFTH VISIT TO THE WEST (1933)
Purdom writes that: On 12th June 1933, Baba sailed from Bombay for Europe aboard the Victoria accompanied by Chanji, Kaka, Adi and Pendu. Arriving at Genoa on the 24th, Baba was met by English friends including those who had visited him earlier that year. A villa was taken at Portofino (near Genoa).
There is an account of the visit from notes by one of the party. They visited Rome and saw St Peters. There is the story of an incident which occurred when the party walk along the cliffs at Portofino and some of the party got stuck trying to climb back up a different way, unable to go either up or down. Baba had managed to get to the top. Only when people came with ropes were they able to get to the top.
For the full text of the account of the holiday of Baba and his English friends in Italy (June/July 1933) from diaries of two members of the party click here.
Baba sailed for Bombay on 24th July 1933 aboard the Conte Verde.
SIXTH VISIT TO THE WEST, 1933
Purdom writes that: In autumn 1933 Baba intended a visit to Europe and America. He sailed aboard the Conte Verde on 25th September 1933 reaching London on 9th October. He stayed in London for thirteen days, visiting a number of theatres and cinemas and also visiting a cottage of a disciple in Kent.
On 22nd October 1933, Baba left for Spain, where he spent one night in Avila (the birthplace of St Theresa), a week in Madrid (where he went to a bull-fight), and then Barcelona.
For the full text of an account of his visit to Spain (October/November 1933) from the diary of one of the party click here.
On 2nd November 1933, Baba sailed for India aboard the Viceroy of India. He went to Nasik, but later in the same month moved his headquarters back to Meherabad, where he lived in seclusion seeing visitors for only three hours on Thursday mornings.
SEVENTH VISIT TO THE WEST, 1934
Purdom writes that: On 9th June 1934 Baba sailed for Marseilles aboard the Mongolia arriving on the 22nd. He was met by several English and American disciples. For three days he was in Paris where he discussed a film he wished to have made. He arrived in London on 26th June staying at a house in Hampstead for six days. He then went to Zürich for ten days.
He sailed from Marseilles aboard the Strathanaver arriving in Bombay on 2nd August. He was visited by large numbers in Paris, London and Zürich.
SECOND WORLD TOUR, 1934-5
Purdom writes that: Baba sailed on 15th November 1934 aboard the Tuscania, arriving in London on the 30th which was the night of the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Kent. This was his eighth visit to Europe. Baba drove through the crowded streets past Buckingham Palace, through Hyde Park and the West End. He was visited by many in London. He sailed aboard the Majestic for New York on the December 5th arriving on the 12th. After two days he went to Hollywood arriving there on the 18th. It was two and a half years since he had been there. The visit was kept as quiet as possible, Baba devoting most of his time to interviews in connection with the projected film.
But the making of the film was abandoned next year, for a film of this kind could not be made under the prevailing conditions of film production.
He left Hollywood on 18th January 1935 for Vancouver, from where he sailed aboard the Empress of Canada which arrive at Hong Kong on 2nd February, a day late. He had four hours only to board the Fushimi Maru for Colombo arriving there on the 13th. He arrived back at Meherabad on the 16th February.
Purdom writes that: Baba intended to go into seclusion for one year. He had become very frail. His travels has tired him and he had entered a fast when aboard the Fushimi Maru living only on milk.
He left Bombay on 7th June 1935 for Mount Abu, the chosen place, with two Mandali. One of these had not spoken himself for seven years. One further person accompanied them. Mount Abu is about 115 miles north of Ahmedabad which is itself is about 300 miles north of Bombay. The scenery is beautiful. They stayed in a cave near a small whitewashed temple on the hill Ambika, Baba continuing to live on milk. Baba's identity was not disclosed, he being disguised as one of his disciples, and he saw nobody.
Six weeks later, declaring that his work there was finished, Baba returned to Meherabad where he went into seclusion, seeing very few people.
THE MASTER'S DEVOTION (1936)
Purdom writes that: Baba was in Madras on his birthday in February 1936. For the second year running he ordered there was to be no celebration. It is said (writes Purdom) that on the actual day, Upasni Maharaj went to Ahmednagar and said " Meher is my loving child. Tell him that I have been here on his birthday and waved his arti myself."
THE MAD ASHRAM (1936)
Purdom writes that: Baba went into seclusion at Rahuri, about twenty miles north of Ahmednagar. He arranged for a trust to take care of the various ashrams around India and the people who were dependent on him. He purchased a property at Nasik to provide an ashram for Western disciples.
At Rahuri, he gathered a number of "mast" (spiritually intoxicated) people, who were accommodated in huts and cared for by Baba himself. He wishes to restore these spiritually mad people to normal consciousness so that they may be his vehicles for creating higher consciousness in others.
Baba remains in strict seclusion, no interviews or darshan being allowed.
A NEW PHASE (1936)
Purdom writes that: Baba made a short visit to the West in October/November 1936 visiting London. Zürich and Paris. He flew from Karachi to Baghdad. The journey to London by train was arduous and he was extremely weak but recovered when in London where he stayed for three days. The purpose of the visit to was to arrange for disciples in England and America to join the new ashram at Nasik.
At present, therefore, there
are three main centres of Baba's activities: the Meherabad colony, the
Western ashram at Nasik, and the "mad" ashram at Rahuri.
PART III - THE PERFECT MASTER
To let this account of the life of Baba speak for itself should be sufficient; but to do that would be to neglect some part of what the reader will expect of me. I propose to offer an explanation of what this man of whom I am writing seems to mean. A large part of the story I have told in the foregoing pages may appear incomprehensible to some readers, much of it even nonsensical, and many questions are bound to be raised. I cannot pretend to answer every question that the curious reader may wish to ask about Baba, but I want to suggest what attitude can be adopted towards him. On rational and commonsense grounds I do not know that any attitude but that of scepticism can be taken. Those who are prepared to apply only the tests of scientific investigation, and to regard him from the point of view of the material world, will get very little from him that will please them. I do not oppose their attitude, but it is not my own. It appears to me that he has to be looked at with an eye that is ready to see more than ordinary sight can make visible, that is to say, with the eye of insight, and to be approached as perhaps witnessing to more than earthly truth. If that be done, possibilities are opened up which cannot be measured. Baba's concern, if he be what he says he is, is not with the world of the senses, so that he cannot be judged merely by them. That, at any rate, is the attitude I wish to suggest to the reader as being the most useful for any serious consideration of this unusual and perplexing personality.
I met Baba on his first visit to England in 1931, on the day of his arrival at the house in Devonshire to which he came. Until a few days earlier I had not heard of his existence. He was awaited with intense excitement. I found him unaffected and natural, and he impressed me as being exceptionally self-poised and with marked ease of manner. He took everything as a matter of course, and yet seemed to bestow meaning on the most casual things. I observed some who were present to be overcome with emotion, but though I liked him at once and was drawn to him, I felt no strong emotional effect. Emotional disturbance is common in those who are brought into contact with him, a matter to which I shall refer again.
Baba is a small man, five feet six inches in height, slight in build, with a rather large head or a head that appears to be large, an aquiline nose, and an olive complexion. He is extremely animated, has a mobile face, constantly smiles, and has expressive hands and gestures. He creates the opposite of a sense of remoteness or strangeness, making an immediately friendly appeal to those who meet him. He is indeed disarming in his obvious simplicity, and the atmosphere that surrounds him might be described as that of innocence. He is childlike and mischievous as well as innocent. I discovered, and others have told me, that he is a superb actor with quickly changing moods.
At times he appears serious and worried, and I have seen him look tired and ill. At such moments he has an air of intense preoccupation. At other times, and normally, he seems to have no cares whatever and invites confidence. His physical changes are rapid: one day he will be ill and worn; the next, well, youthful-looking, and lively.
His hair is long, and he lets it grow rather wild. In the West he keeps it covered as best he can under a hat when he goes outdoors; but it must be confessed that any hat looks odd upon that abundant hair; and he dresses in ordinary European clothes, but indoors usually wears a white Indian garment.
He is a strict vegetarian, takes no alcohol, and does not smoke. Though his tastes in food are simple, he is often difficult to please. Sometimes in Italy the housekeepers would plan a delicious meal of rice, vegetables cooked with hot spices, lentils, grapes, peaches, green figs, and orange juice. To make happy those who had prepared the meal he would say it was delicious; but afterwards it would be noticed that he had barely nibbled at a few dishes. The only evidence of eating would be a slice of bread with a hole in the centre. He eats, but seems to have no desire for eating.
He rises early in the morning, and, unless he is in seclusion, almost invariably has one or more disciples sleeping in the same room with him. Unless he is in seclusion he takes a great deal of exercise, walking rapidly several miles every day, and even in seclusion he walks continually up and down the cell or room in which he confines himself. He loves mountain-climbing.
He reads and speaks English and four other languages fluently. His use of English is that of a cultivated man. He has read much English literature, especially Shakespeare and the poets, Shelley, Wordsworth, and Tennyson. He knows, of course, the Persian and Indian poets, his favourite being Hafiz. He has himself written many poems and songs, though not of high literary order. He has considerable taste for music, preferring, of course, Indian music, but liking Western music too. At times he has Indian drums and other musical instruments with him on his travels on which his disciples play, and also a gramophone. Before his silence he often sang. Indian music differs greatly from Western music. It is improvised or composed by the player himself; and is played usually only to a few, the audience being directly in the player's mind. Music is recognized as a part of life, and is practised not only as a religious act but to recover and establish the rhythm upon which life, to be in harmony, must move.
He is fond of games, particularly of a spiritual game based on the evolution of the soul, called "atya-patya." He plays many indoor games, including table-tennis, and is particularly fond of ball games outdoors. When he plays he is, say his disciples, "No master, but one of us." He delights in the presence of children and romps with them as one of themselves.
He is a strict disciplinarian over those who are nearest to him, not the slightest departure from the rules he lays down being overlooked. He is methodical about business and attends to every detail himself. He makes a practice of requiring apparently impossible things to be done, even what may seem to be trifling and unnecessary. Sometimes, for instance, in the most awkward places he will ask for food; in a train, perhaps, just as it is about to start, he will ask for hot milk, and his disciple must fetch it even though it may mean almost certain missing of the train. His disciples have said to me, however, that he never orders what is really beyond their power to do.
He takes almost incredible quantities of luggage with him on his travels, most of it perhaps never being opened. He changes his arrangements constantly, so that none of those with him knows exactly what is to happen from day to day. As an instance of his relation to his followers and what he expects of them, the following incident is related by one who was in the party at Santa Margherita in the summer of 1932:
One day Baba wished to walk to a distant beach for bathing. The party got strung out along the road. Baba did not like this, and called us back. He suddenly stopped and indicated that he wished to get down on to the seashore. Y. looked over the embankment wall and saw that it was a private beach, the owner had left cushions and a flask of wine in his beach tent, and would obviously return in a moment. He protested that Baba could not risk the indignity of trespassing with our motley crew on someone's private terrain. K. insisted that Baba's slightest whim must be obeyed, and so they descended the steps. Y. was furiously indignant with K. and the stupidity of it all, and went to sit down much further along the beach. He refused all entreaties and even Baba's commands to return. His feelings were churned up, and he felt desperate. After some time he gave in, and came back very sheepishly to the tent. Baba severely reprimanded him in the presence of the others. During his absence he had failed to meet an old Italian who had stood, gazing respectfully at Baba, taking off his hat three times. This man was the twin in appearance of an agent in Warsaw that Y. had to identify in a month's time.
Before descending to the beach, Y., who was for a moment walking side by side with Baba, had passed but had not looked at the white-haired old man. We never saw him again, a fact that led to considerable difficulty later in Warsaw.
Y. admitted his error in disobeying, but he said, "Surely we should use our common sense and warn you when you are likely to put yourself in a false position." Baba agreed. "It was your duty to warn me, but should I still insist, you must give way." When the homily was completed and harmony restored, we were still seated around, but not actually inside the tent. At that moment the rather indignant owner came down the steps with two large dogs, and reminded us that it was a private beach.
As will have been observed from the preceding chapters, Baba fasts frequently for long or short periods. During these times of fasting be sometimes sees no one except the two or three disciples appointed to attend upon him; neither, as a rule, does he attend to any outside affairs, though he does not neglect any detail concerning the Mandali around him. The fast consists of entire absence from solid food, and he takes as a rule only a little weak tea, and sometimes, though not often, a little milk.
What is the object of fasting ? In such periods he is engaged, he declares, in spiritual activities. Fasting means to become detached from the world and to cease physical activities of every description as much as possible. The object is not to mortify or punish the flesh, but to increase the strength and intensity of spiritual energy. It is to withdraw from the plane of this world so that power may be concentrated on the inner, or non-material, planes. In all religions fasting plays a part in religious practice and discipline. It is not for himself that Baba fasts but for the sake of others. As a result of fasting Baba naturally becomes weak, and, as I have pointed out earlier, suffers in a normal physical way, though not always, for at times he does more physical work than usual during fasts.
His most striking personal characteristic is his silence, which started on July 10, 1925. Since then, instead of speaking, he has used an alphabet-board, and points to the letters to convey what he has to say. He uses abbreviations, and a variety of signs and gestures with his hands to indicate certain words, so that to anyone familiar with his ways he expresses himself almost as quickly as by speech. When he receives visitors, there is usually an interpreter present to explain what he says, but he frequently allows visitors to follow him closely on the alphabet-board and to read for themselves.
To keep silence is common among Indian holy men, though few except yogis practise it for lengthy periods, or for any other purpose than that for which they impose other vows of abstinence or physical disability upon themselves. Baba did not undertake silence in accordance with a vow. He makes no vows. In Sanscrit the word "Muni," which means "philosopher," means also "the silent one," for no words can express what he who knows has seen. Said the Sufi teacher Junayd, "He who knows God is dumb." Baba is silent, he says, as he fasts, for the sake of others. As I understand him, he maintains complete silence for the purpose of concentrating the libido. Silence increases power because libido is not expended in speech, which is a most potent conveyer of the life-power of individuals. Through speech there is expression, the soul unfolds itself, but also through speech the vital psychic powers are discharged. In silence, which is not due to mere inertia or to the lack of something to say, there is more complete control over expression and a much more highly-concentrated direction of psychic energies than is to be found by other means.
I do not understand that Baba intends always to remain silent. He has repeatedly declared that he will speak when the time comes. He made a definite promise to speak in Hollywood in July 1932, after completing seven years' silence, but he did not keep the promise. He intends to speak, he says, at the moment of grave crisis for the world. That moment is rapidly approaching; for we have reached a decisive period in human history.
His silence is certainly partly symbolic, and confirms his denial of the function of teacher. A silent man obviously is no teacher. And when he also ceases to write, as Baba did in 1927, there can be no doubt that he does not seek to teach. By his silence Baba draws attention to the spiritual significance of his presence and is more dynamic than he could otherwise be; thus he both attracts and stirs up people. In other words, he awakens. It should be remembered that in the East the avoidance of words and explanations is a recognized technique in spiritual training. The guru or teacher often gives no answers to his disciples' questions, for what is to be known cannot be revealed in words.
This brings me to Baba's methods. What is his work ? To transform human consciousness from the illusion of the world and the self to the reality of the spirit and God; or, to put it another way, to enable men to know by experience the truth of the Infinite Self which is in all. In particular, it is to train and perfect a few disciples, which is its personal aspect, and to establish contacts with individuals, which is its world aspect. I said to him on one occasion, "What do you ask of those who come into contact with you ?" He replied, "To realize the self through love." I said, "What do you ask of your disciples ?" His answer was, "To follow strictly my instructions to the same end." He added, "I ask this of close disciples only."
Baba's work, therefore, is to awaken people to the realization of their true selves. That means, to put it shortly, to be as he is. Is not the trouble with all of us not that we do not want awakening, but that we do not know how it should be done ? Yet this confession of ignorance is merely a defence against the demand for action. We are full of dissatisfaction with ourselves and with ethers, yet are not ready to accept the simple truth: we want an unnecessary something before we can act. The fact is that nothing is necessary but action in the right spirit, that is with the right desire. To be ignorant means that one does not desire sufficiently, otherwise all obstacles would be overcome.
When people come to Baba, they are asked to sit near him. He looks at them; the "look" is, of course, important. As I have already explained, he usually touches the visitor's hand or caresses his arm. Perhaps he will do no more than smile at him. Perhaps he will say, "I like you," which he varies by saying, "I am pleased," or "I am very pleased." There is much significance in the physical contact. Baba's touch is not a mere sign of affection; it is intended to raise the vibrations of consciousness. He will say, "Do not worry. I am with you." He never asks questions except to say, "Have you anything to ask me ?" Frequently people come to see him with their minds full of questions, but when they sit before him they have nothing to say. This is easily to be understood, for we know the answer to our questions before we ask them. If people tell Baba their troubles, he will advise them what to do. He always repeats, "Do not worry."
One visitor, well-known on the stage, who saw Baba on his first visit to London in 1931, made a note of the interview at the time, and as it is characteristic it is worth recording. He says:
We went upstairs to the top floor of the house and I was aware of a great many people passing to and fro. I had to wait outside the door for a little while and then I was taken into the room. Baba was seated, cross-legged, on a bed near the window, there were several people in the room and one woman was sitting opposite, crying. I only vaguely noticed them and wished they were elsewhere. I was, however, engrossed in looking at this man, and they faded away.
What most impressed me was his rather wild air as of something untamed and his truly remarkable eyes.
He smiled and motioned me to sit down beside him on his right. He took me by the left hand and then from time to time patted my shoulder and stroked my arm. We sat in silence and I was aware of a feeling of love and peace emanating from him, also a curious sense of recognition as of having found a long lost friend.
Then Baba took my left hand and some sort of current of strength passed from him to me. It was as if a current of Pure Love was turned on; it filled me with ecstasy. I began to breathe deeply as if taking an anaesthetic . . . . It was as if I had been baptized by him . . . . There were many things I should have liked to ask him, but all questions seemed unnecessary and later I felt that many of them were answered without words . . . .
My subsequent visits were never so vivid or impressive as the first, but the flame which was kindled burnt with a steady glow . . . .
Another who met him on his first visit to New York, a woman, also connected with the stage, says:
When I met Baba for the first time, the first sentence he said was "Do not worry." I was amazed. Anybody else can say "Do not worry," but when Baba says it, it works. One realizes it. From that hour onward it was a power within. It created a wonderful stability.
With one exception, to which I am about to refer, there are, as may be supposed, no records of any interviews, except those made by the persons concerned, of which I have seen a great many; the exception is a series of notes made in 1934, when one of his disciples with a wide knowledge of European languages acted as translator during interviews at Zürich. The following accounts of forty-three interviews are extracted from these notes:
For the full text of these forty-three interviews click here.
It will be noticed from these records that Baba's constant endeavour in each interview is to arouse confidence in the heart of the questioner. He will not permit depression to continue, he drives away fears, he says there is nothing to worry about. His promise is "I will help you," the significance of which is that the inquirer is made to feel that his difficulties can be overcome and that what he aims at can be reached. Baba uses few words; he is often content that nothing is said either by him or by the inquirer, and it is noticeable that the inquirer is satisfied too Many of the questions are asked by those who Want to "understand," usually something about themselves. Baba's answer invariably is not to think more, but to act, to do the simplest thing, for understanding comes from action. The confidence Baba seeks to arouse is in the heart, it is not intellectual conviction - about that he is indifferent. He wants people to feel. He may give a merely intellectual answer, but his intention is that the inquirer should feel and ever feel more deeply, so that the heart is stirred. Sometimes it will be seen that he does not answer a question, but will reply to the heart. I find these questions and answers of great interest. Here is a description of an interview in Rome which I cannot refrain from giving:
The visitor entered Baba's room with the manners of a man of the world; his mental attitude was that of an erudite person. The conversation was of a scholarly character and lasted a few minutes; Baba with patience answered the questions and tried to revive in the man's mind the idea of the real goal of life and the essentials to achieve fulfilment - when it seemed as if the man finding himself again in the bewildering confusion of intellectual terminology, requested in a desperate manner that Baba should let him experience spiritual consciousness, and asked Baba to keep silent and not to repeat the wisdom he knew so well. Baba smilingly put aside the board, and took the man's hand with loving desire to meet his need. The effect of those few moments was extraordinary - the man and all present felt Baba's radiance. The inner upheaval changed the rhythm of the visitor's breath, which became deep, slow, and quiet. The profound commotion within showed in his face, his heart and mind were in harmony.
Often people ask Baba about their health or about the health of others, and he will recommend what they should do. Sometimes he will say that he will cure the person concerned. He will occasionally give people small tasks of meditation or some other religious practice. Rarely, he will make drastic suggestions, such as that people should completely change their work.
One rather interesting "case" may be mentioned. I know the boy concerned and was told of the events at the time they occurred. This adolescent boy was a great trouble to those responsible for him; bright and intelligent with artistic abilities, he was irresponsible and wilful. He had been told of Baba but had not met him, and said that he felt Baba's influence and saw him in dreams. This did not, however, prevent him from being troublesome. He had made a practice of travelling on the Underground Railway without a ticket and was caught on several occasions and warned; but he took the warnings lightly and became all the more insolent. At last the London Passenger Transport Board decided to prosecute, and he was charged at a Police Court. The case against him was complete. He had to plead guilty and his relations and the counsel and solicitor engaged for his defence thought he would certainly be severely punished. The boy, however, was undisturbed, saying, "It's quite all right. Baba says I am not to worry; it will be quite all right." To everybody's surprise, and in spite of the Transport Board's insistence, the Magistrate let the boy off with a fine. Shortly afterwards the boy was caught again, having forged signatures on a season ticket application form. This time a friend went direct to the Board's offices, and, speaking to a clerk in the entrance hall, was advised to approach a certain official and tell him the facts unofficially to get his personal interest. This was done, and the result was that the further lapse was overlooked. This was the end of the boy's failings in this direction.
Shortly afterwards Baba came to London, and the boy met him for the first time. The boy told him all his troubles. "Think of me," said Baba. "But suppose I forget ?" "Never mind, try to think of me." The boy made no answer. Then Baba put his hand on the boy's head and said, "Promise to try to think of me." Against this the boy made no resistance and was overcome.
There is no formality about any of these interviews. The conditions under which they are given make them as informal and simple as possible. Baba always remembers those who come to see him and what they have said. "If I did not remember, how could I help ?" he says when people have expressed surprise that he should remember some detail about them.
People are often moved to tears in Baba's presence. I remember the first time I met him that several of those present found tears streaming from their eyes as they looked at him. At the Prem-Ashram, it will be remembered, the boys were frequently and for long periods in tears. These tears are not ordinary crying. They are not tears of sorrow, but tears of joy - they are, indeed, a spiritual gift for the purification of the soul, and happy are they who experience them. We remember that the saints spent much time weeping. Such tears are emotional experiences, for they warm the heart, and the warm and tender heart is the vehicle of spiritual experience and the condition of the creative act.
Another feature of Baba's working is his abuse of disciples, sometimes in their presence, at other times in their absence. I have referred to the abuse of Masters by each other: they will even throw stones at each other. This is done so that the Master who abuses may attract to himself what are called the "sanskaras" of the race, for the Master has no sanskaras of his own. When we abuse another we create "sanskaras" for ourselves, that is to say, psychic impressions - the abuse falls upon our own heads. When Upasni Maharaj abused Baba, he was attracting to himself - for the purpose of dissolving them - Baba's own sanskaras, until Baba had himself reached perfection; thereafter, in such abuse, he was blessing mankind. When, therefore, Baba rebukes a disciple it is for the sake of protecting him, if he is in danger, or of attracting to himself the sanskaras, or impressions, that are affecting the disciple and so freeing him from them. To be abused by a Master is a blessing.
Reference has been made to the Sanscrit word "sanskaras" in earlier pages and in the extracts from Baba's discourses that have been given. This word means that every action creates on the mind of its performer an impression (sanskara); thoughts and desires also create impressions. Good actions or thoughts result in good sanskaras, and bad actions or thoughts in evil sanskaras. Sanskaras do not die with the death of the body, so that everyone, according to this teaching, is necessarily born with many sanskaras to which new ones are added in the course of his present life. Not only evil but also good sanskaras are a hindrance to spiritual progress. Unless they are wiped out, no one can make such progress. One of the easiest ways of wiping them out is, we are told, to keep company with a Sadguru, or Perfect Master, for one of the greatest of the self-imposed duties of every Sadguru is to destroy the sanskaras of his disciples and followers.
A Perfect Master is without sanskaras, for their absence is a sign of his realization of infinity. But all others are held in the illusion of the world by their sanskaras, for sanskaras tie the soul to the world, and the disharmony of their lives is due to their identification of themselves with the world. The Perfect Master destroys sanskaras, which are also illusions, by various means. Just as there are different degrees of evil and good actions, so there are different kinds of sanskaras. There are, according to this doctrine, seven kinds of sanskaras, every kind having a different colour. Sanskaras of a red colour are the worst, and are generally contracted by doing violence to others. Non-red sanskaras are wiped out by Perfect Masters through the radiation of spirituality; but red sanskaras they wipe out by beating or abusing the, person. There is, the argument goes, no other way to wipe them out. We can believe that desperate diseases require desperate remedies.
In recent years Baba has travelled a great deal with the object of getting into contact with large numbers of people in all parts of the world. He is, he says, "laying cables in the unseen." For the same reason, he visits on his travels cinemas and other places of entertainment and spends much time among crowds. The idea is that when he is among a crowd of people, composed of those whose minds are directed to one end or absorbed by one thought, as, for instance, at a cinema or a theatre, he can influence them readily. He can work simultaneously on behalf of all those present. It is economy of effort. Those who have been with him on such occasions say that sometimes he will buy seats for a performance, sit there for a quarter of an hour, and then tell them all to go. If one watches him instead of looking at the screen or stage, it may be observed that his attention is not on the screen or stage but elsewhere, he is working in some way that is not apparent.
Is this a form of collective hypnotism ? I see no reason to suppose that it is; for hypnotic influence of this sort would be supposed to be directed either towards the person exercising the power or towards some material interest. Baba remains unobserved in such surroundings and obviously gains no advantage from what he may be doing. His own explanation, as given to me, is that in the effort made by him the spiritual advancement of individuals is aimed at. There are people, in particular yogis in the East and spiritual or psychological teachers in the West, who use hypnotic powers upon people who come into contact with them to get what they desire, money, or influence, or power of some kind. Even if such powers are employed for the good of the person hypnotized, the influence is temporary and does not lead to spiritual enlightenment, for what is done in hypnosis, either good or ill, has no permanent effect Baba's spiritual working, supposing that to be what he is engaged upon when among crowds, must, if it be real, affect the whole man.
I have not observed in Baba any exercise of hypnotic powers upon individuals, nor have I observed at any time the results of hypnosis. That personal contact with him has considerable influence upon individuals is undoubted. I have known people who have said that he left them indifferent; but that is rare. The majority of people feel something in his personality as soon as they see him, which they do not find easy to describe, and often people are moved emotionally, frequently to tears. The description usually given to the feeling he arouses is that of a sense of love. That is not hypnosis.
On his travels he comes into contact with those whom he calls his "spiritual agents," people who may have never heard of him but who, nevertheless, know him in the spirit and do, as he says, his work. Some of them are unconscious of what they are engaged upon. Merely to see such people, and for them to look at him, for their eyes to meet, not even to speak to them or to have any other obvious communication, he will take long journeys. He will also send his disciples to distant places to do the same, as when he sent an English devotee to Warsaw to find an unnamed beggar who usually stood outside the Cathedral. I relate this as I am told it. There are several references to such meetings in the preceding pages; there was one in Rome, another near Mount Generosa in Italy, another in New York, and another in Ceylon. Some years ago there came to Baba in India (as I have described) a man who seemed to have no consciousness of the world. He was drawn to Baba by some inward urge, we must suppose; but why he came and why he is looked after by Baba only Baba knows. He probably is working on an inner plane.
I do not propose to put forward any occult explanation of the incidents of the kind I have mentioned, though the possibility of such explanations will be known to some readers.
Baba is restless at most times, even during sleep. He is quiet only at specific moments of silence and when he is receiving visitors. When awake he is rarely still and seldom allows those about him to remain still; activity and disturbance constitute the atmosphere around him. In sleep he moves his hands almost without ceasing and seems to be continually working internally. His Indian disciples are often startled at his behaviour in sleep when they are with him at night. I have told already how once at Nasik, Baba deputed three disciples to relieve each other in pressing his feet during the night, each to spend two hours doing so and not to sleep. One who was so engaged said that he heard noises and went out to see what was causing them, but found nothing; when he felt sleepy Baba would shake his foot.
The account of his life that I have given in the first part of this book has one characteristic that no one will fail to note, the manner in which he changes his plans, abandons projects, alters arrangements, and creates difficulties for all who are associated with him. From a practical Western point of view he cannot be depended upon in ordinary affairs. For instance, the school upon which he had apparently set his heart was given up without warning. When he is travelling, no one knows what he will do from day to day, or what his requirements will be, or how long he will stay at any place he may visit. He will make long and arduous journeys in India, and when he arrives at his destination, where his disciples anticipate rest, he will suddenly decide to return or to go elsewhere. No explanations are ever given of these changes; they have to be accepted without hesitation. It is impossible not to suppose that this is a definite part of his method of working. To allow nothing to be settled, to create movement, even apparent chaos, are the conditions in which what he expects from people must be done.
Yet it need not be supposed that Baba's plans or projects have no value in themselves though they are given up, or though like the journey in Persia they seem unnecessary efforts. They have value while they exist and while he uses them. They are scaffoldings, as he has said, or they are moulds into which energy is poured. They are, therefore, not meaningless; but while they exist all meaning is in them, and they must be accepted and followed and carried out as though they were to be completed or to remain for ever. And they must be given up with the utmost readiness.
Although Baba pays attention to the details of his affairs and makes his own arrangements, and although he is a strict disciplinarian, as I have said, and expects his orders to be strictly carried out, he also lets people do and say what they please, and if any great desire is expressed, either concerning himself or the one who speaks, he usually allows the person to act as he wishes. He will therefore permit people to make statements about him which they may strongly desire to make, without checking them, and with an indifference to the results that is remarkable. I have already drawn attention to this. Of the statements made on his behalf in London and America, examples of which I have given, it must be remembered that as he neither speaks nor writes, the documents were written by others, and that they contain phrases and expressions of general ideas or interpretations or glosses by those who have written or edited the statements before publication. Although Baba usually requires to know what those statements are, and will correct them when he thinks fit, he will also allow people to have their own way if they are determined upon it.
Thus, statements made on behalf of Baba need to be received with caution so far as their literal accuracy is concerned.
Baba's attitude to the Press should be noted. He does not court publicity, and frequently takes great precautions both in India and when travelling elsewhere to ensure that he is not recognized. When publicity is thrust upon him, however, either by the assiduous efforts of his friends or by the importunity of the Press itself, he usually does not resist it. In England and in America he has given numerous interviews to journalists, and, though he has shown what appears to be an almost childish amusement at the noise and heat of the Press hunt after him, he has also shown complete indifference to the accuracy or otherwise of what has been said. He has, so far as I am aware, never defended himself against any misrepresentation of himself or his activities, or protested against any attack. As I have related, when a London weekly paper, which devotes itself to the exposure of scandals and frauds, and has one of the largest circulations of any paper in the country, printed a violent attack upon him, he said, "It also is doing my work."
It seems that he is content that people should be brought into contact with him even by enemies, and desires that they should know of him no matter by what means. To attack him is as good as to praise him. Indeed, I think he prefers attacks to praise because they arouse more feeling. To arouse people, to awaken them, is what he aims to do.
Baba is not a politician, and takes care never to make any comment upon political affairs. That is not because he has no interest in politics or considers them unimportant, but firstly because of the unsettled political state of India, he having been born and being domiciled in that country, and secondly, because he addresses himself not to institutions or nations but to individuals. The awakened individual who realizes the meaning of the world, is the creator of new political conditions and is alone able to bring them into existence. A new spiritual impulse must precede a new political order.
The question of miracles is constantly asked in connection with Baba. As soon as his name is mentioned as a holy man from the East, it is expected that he will perform miracles to convince the world of supernatural powers. In the East, miracle is not the unusual and inexplicable phenomenon that it is in the West, for the East is trained to credulity as the West is trained to doubt. Miracle is certainly a matter of time and place; but it is surely more than the product of superstition. It is a phenomenon of religious experience to be found everywhere. The lives of saints, not only in the East but in the West too, abound with incidents of a miraculous kind. Even to-day in the East, practices that appear miraculous, such as walking on live coals with naked feet without receiving hurt (which was demonstrated in England by an Indian before a number of spectators in 1934), are familiar, if not exactly common events. Shri Purohit Swami, in the account of his life. An Indian Monk (Macmillan, 1932), tells the story of a holy man who would not let a train go without him:
One day a Sadhu, or holy man, went to the railway station and requested the ticket collector to admit him to the train, saying he was a Sadhu and had no money for a ticket. The Anglo-Indian* not only did not listen to his request, but pushed him aside rudely. He took the insult very calmly and muttered to himself: "I will see now whether this train will start." The driver whistled, and tried to start the train, but to no purpose. The engine refused to obey. Others came to help, all failed. The train service was very frequent, and as the first train could not start, many others were held up. Wires were sent to the head office. Experts arrived; they tried their best, all to no avail. For one full hour the service was at a standstill. Ultimately the Indian stationmaster, who knew that the Sadhu had intervened, approached the officials and said to them: "Unless that Sadhu who is standing outside the gate is given a seat in the train, it is not likely to start." He was ridiculed, but after a short time common sense prevailed, and the Sadhu was accommodated comfortably in a first-class compartment, and the train steamed off. It was a practical demonstration, and the officials, however wise, had to climb down. Thenceforth the Sadhu was allowed to travel first class.
* "Anglo-Indian" is now the legal substitute for the old term "Eurasian."
The Swami also relates how Shri Ramdas Swami when called by some simple people to see a Sadhu walking across the River Krishna, said, "This is a wonderful feat indeed, and when one comes to think of it worth exactly one halfpenny, for which sum the ferryman would have taken the Sadhu across."
The last incident is an example of the contempt for miracles that is felt not only by scientifically trained men, but also by the spiritually developed.
That a master in the spiritual life, who lives on the plane of creativeness, has control over the mechanism of matter, and therefore if he thinks fit can perform what are called miracles is to be accepted as true, though science takes no account of it. But that a miracle is proof of the most highly developed spirituality is to be doubted. On the contrary, the performance of miracle, while it may be evidence of powers beyond those of ordinary men, may often be regarded as a sign of defective spirituality. It depends on why the miracle is done. If done for the sake of the performer, or to establish his claims, or to create astonishment, or as exhibitionism, or for any like reason, the miracle is unquestionably a demonstration of inferior spirituality. Those who are masters do not need miracles.
The miracles of the New Testament are acts of love and mercy. They are mostly connected with healing, and all are symbols of truth, performed for their symbolic value rather than for the sake of those whom they benefited. It is a law of the spiritual life that if miracle is possible it must not be done except for spiritual reasons and even then in secret and seldom. The Sufi master, al-Hujwiri, said: "The novice desires to gain miracles, but the adept desires to gain the Giver of miracles." Life itself is the supreme miracle, and to be born again in the spirit is the miracle of miracles.
The question, Can Baba perform miracles ? is therefore the same question as, Is Baba a spiritual master ? to which miracles would provide no answer; and to ask, as is continually done, Does Baba perform miracles ? is to forget that his plane of activity is that of spirit, not that of matter. The stories of remarkable events in Baba's life, some of which I have related, though I have ignored many more, are no more than stories. They have no "evidential" value: their significance is of another kind altogether. They belong, as do all miracles, to the realm of fairy-tale, of phantasy, of the childlike and innocent. Do not let us be so foolish as to deny the existence of that realm, for to do that is to deny the significance of our own childhood. That realm exists, and it is true. This is hard for the rational man to believe, but the lover of divinity, of the infinite possibilities of man, does not find it hard. Do not I who write this look for miracle ? Yes, let me admit it, a miracle within my own heart, my own personal miracle, which I must perform myself.
There are stories told of Baba where the "miracle" is psychological, of which a characteristic example is that of an incident which occurred in New York in 1931:
A large reception was being given for Baba at a private house. He was seated on a balcony above a large room and the visitors were led before him one by one. Among them was a Russian lady whom Baba asked to be brought near to him. The woman felt rather uneasy and did nothing but smile and blush. Baba said on his board, "I will help you spiritually." The woman, however, was not greatly impressed by what she heard, but it had the following result. She had never been able to feel love for her daughter, who was twenty. They lived in constant conflict, and hated the sight of each other, for there were constant disputes, and hard words. One morning after meeting Baba she woke up in great excitement, a feeling of well-being and ecstasy pervaded her, she did not know herself. She had an intense desire to see her daughter, went to her and begged her forgiveness. The daughter was deeply affected, and since then the mother and daughter have been happy and united.
A matter closely related to miracle and partaking some what of its nature is that of the healing of physical ailments. There are many cases of healing done by Baba, but here again it must be remembered that the healing is not done for the sake of miracle. These cases prove no more than that Baba has healing powers, which he exercises from time to time. Baba does not hold himself out as a healer. His concern is not with the body but with the soul. He turns the attention from material things to inner realities, how then could he devote himself to the cure of bodies ? That is the task of the physician.
In an interview given in 1932, Baba said in answer to a question about miracles:
The only real miracle for a perfect one is to make others perfect too, to make them realize the infinite state, which he himself enjoys. That is a real miracle . . . . otherwise miracles have nothing to do with truth at all.
IS BABA A MESSIAH ?
There are two main types of leaders of mankind: those whose authority comes from God and those whose authority comes from men. The latter express the human desire to press onwards, they represent the natural urge to get out of con fusion. Their task belongs to this world, to the earthly kingdom, to politics, and the social order. Their aim is to make life tolerable, to enable men to bear earthly existence, and to reap the fruits of their achievements. Nearly all the known leaders belong to this type. They are self-appointed and grasp power. They can deliver men from one earthly condition into another. Many great men belong to this type and also all charlatans.
The other type of leader is rare. He does not seek election. He owes nothing to man. He has subjected himself to the truth of his own being, and the word that speaks in his heart is not his own but God's. He does not represent men; he is not of his time; he belongs to the future. Such men are saviours, but they do not save from this life except for the sake of heavenly being.
Messianism means salvation. It is not peculiar to any age or religion. The popular Messiah is one who saves from earthly sufferings. When people ask about Messiahs they always mean someone who will do something for them on the material plane which they cannot do for themselves. Baba has been hailed as such a Messiah, but he does not fit the role, and those who expect such leadership from him are necessarily disappointed.
Though Baba is concerned with men and women, I repeat that he is not concerned at all with this world. Thus there is an apparent contradiction. Men and women have to live in this world and perform the tasks of earthly life. The spiritual master is master not of any merely earthly technique; his mastery is in that glorious realm of spirit to which men in the earth also belong though they do not know it, or knowing it forget it. Can the contradiction between this necessary existence under earthly conditions, and the no less necessary life in the heavenly kingdom, be reconciled ? That is man's practical problem. The reconciliation is simply to be found in this - to be awakened to the existence of the supra-mundane world. The spiritual world includes the earthly. It is not outside it but contains it, so that once the eye is open to the sharp realities and infinite depths of spiritual existence, earthly life gets its meaning. That meaning is not to be found in terms of earth but in terms of heaven. It is by looking away from the earth that the significance of the earth can be found, and earthly life is seen in its full meaning.
There is no solution to the problem of individual men and of the social order in any new conception of the State or in any change of economic or political structure. The solution is only in a changed individual recognizing himself as belonging to the spiritual order, who associates with others for mutual joy.
To ask if Baba is a Messiah is to find oneself tangled in snares, whatever the answer to the question, until one realizes that all Messiahs of this world lead those who trust in them to new captivities. The Saviour we need must set us free, which means that he must awaken us, which is all we require. That is what Baba claims to do.
There was a woman who came to him in London, a rich woman, imperious in manner, who said as soon as she entered the room, "Are you Christ ?" Baba looked at her softly and answered, "Yes." She got up in a rage and walked out. He said nothing. Presently she asked to see him again, and he refused. She waited about until he came out of the room and then came up to him meekly and said, "Forgive a silly old woman."
To speak of Baba as an incarnation of Christ, meaning that he is the re-birth of the being known as Jesus Christ, is to misunderstand Christ and the New Testament no less than to misunderstand Baba. Christ does not need to be born again except in the heart. Everyone who loves and forgives, and lives according to the heavenly kingdom, is a new birth of Christ. Said Père de Causade, the eighteenth-century Jesuit, "The life of every saint is the life of Jesus Christ, it is a new gospel." What the being known as Jesus Christ did at a moment in history was done once for all and does not require to be repeated. The profound doctrine of "Christ in you," which is the realization of Christ Consciousness, is not to be confused with belief in the physic reappearance of an historic personality; and the doctrine of reincarnation does not imply that he who once walked in Galilee is to be looked for to-day, or any day, in India or on London streets.
Baba's reply to the woman is the reply he gives to all who ask such questions out of folly or innocence. We should be neither foolish nor innocent. The answers of Baba are meant to arouse us, they are not idle words but disturbing.
FOLLOWERS WHO LEAVE HIM
It is the experience of masters and leaders to be deserted by those who once followed them. Those successful leaders who so well organize themselves that their followers do not leave them are not the greatest leaders, for they succeed through their concern for the mundane and practical, and the rewards they offer are tangible. Spiritual leaders are disappointing in practical achievement because they have no ends in the material world, and the rewards they offer are nothing, being all. The test of the leader is that all forsake him.
So we must expect to find that many of those who come to Baba as his disciples fall away. Baba has said, "There will be very few that remain." They are the most enthusiastic, who sound his praises loudest and find no one like him, whose enthusiasm dies, who see the glamour depart, who believing so greatly can believe no longer. It is a sad experience for the disciple, and not without pain for the master, though the pain is touched with joy, for those who go away also do his work.
The master of spiritual things must so test the souls of his followers that they can resist every temptation to leave him. The master needs disciples, but he also needs to lose them if he can. He must shake them off if they can be made to go, for he must also demonstrate the vanity of the world to the world. All masters are elusive, distracting, and contradictory; they get up to all sorts of tricks to drive away those whom they love. There is nothing that a master will not do to put a disciple to the severest test, to disturb his relations with him to the uttermost, so that if possible he may be detached. The master is least gentle with those he loves best.
The relation of disciple to master has to be so close that nothing can shake it; and until master and disciple are one their relations remain subject to destruction. Only the perfection of love that the master has for his disciple will enable the disciple to stay. For what is it that the master expects of his disciple as he draws him ever nearer to himself but such abandon as allows nothing to be held back, no interests, no opinions, nothing of the limited self ?
This is not to submerge the disciple in the master; it is not the surrender of individuality. It is the end of separateness and the joyful overturning of individuality. The soul of the disciple is given up that he may receive it again. To give it up is the test - not even to be ready to do so; but to do it. And having given it up he becomes as his master. For the end of discipleship is to be a disciple no more, but a master. Those who desert a master lose their discipleship in the wrong way. They cut themselves off when they should jump more deeply in. They refuse equality.
The most constant complaint made against Baba, as I have already mentioned, is that he is continually changing his plans. He acts, it seems, by whim, and puts those about him into confusion. It is said that he makes promises and does not keep them; that he gives instructions and contradicts them; and that what he proposes is not carried out. The facts are not disputed; many of them are recorded earlier in this book. Why does he act thus ? We can offer a variety of explanations, the most simple of which is that he acts according to vision or intuition. In terms of ordinary life it is impossible to explain anything that he does, for what is material is a means, not an end. His is not an ordinary life of routine and order. He observes no rule. From the standpoint of the spiritual order, which is an altogether different "order" from that of material existence, nothing else is possible. The spirit moveth where it listeth, we cannot tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth. To attempt to judge the spiritual life by the laws of the senses and according to the requirements of civilization is to fall into confusion, for it cannot be done. The spirit does not act according to plan, for the characteristic of the spiritual life is impulse and spontaneity.
Also, in these changes of plans Baba is testing his disciples, making severe demands upon their faithfulness. These actions, so difficult to understand, are an element in his technique, of training. To create uncertainty, to jog people out of routine and habit, and to prepare them for anything, are certainly important in relation to the task of remaking the world in the terms of a new understanding of life.
This brings us to the consideration of Baba's mission. He is not a teacher; he is not the founder of a religion: to him all religions are one. He does not establish any organization or any society. Certainly there are people forming a group around him, and there are others attached to him in many countries of the world; but they are not organized, nor is there any intention that they should be organized. Among the disciples the Circle, to which reference has been made earlier in some of Baba's discourses, is the central element. To establish the Circle may be said to be the Master's main task. The Circle consists of twelve, who have given up all, and are brought by Baba into the realization of perfection: he speaks of ". . . . a Circle for God-realization." Their training is necessarily a secret matter. Its importance was suggested by a remark made by Baba in 1923, of which I have a note; he said:
For the Circle I shall have to get ill no less than twenty-eight times, and in each of my illnesses I shall have to shed tears.
Baba once propounded what he called "A Spiritual Riddle." He said:
The human body is composed of five elements of Nature, viz., air, fire, earth, water, and ether. Now each of us possesses mind, but so long as the mind controls the body the Perfection state (i.e. the state of the God-realized person) cannot be attained. If the mind crosses the first plane and goes into the second, the first is realized; when it goes to the third, the second is realized and so on. When it reaches the seventh plane, it becomes Perfect.
Now, every Sadguru is divided into twelve parts, which are his Circle. The Circle consists invariably of twelve persons only. So the human body, which is composed of five elements of Nature passes through the seven planes (5 + 7) and becomes a Sadguru =12.
As the head of the Circle is the Chargeman, to whom are entrusted the innermost truths, the one to whom the Master gives authority to use his powers. " am the Chargeman of two masters," said Baba. Shri Upasni Maharaj said of Baba, "I have given my charge to Meher Baba. He is the holder of my key."
In an interview given in Bombay in February 1932, Baba in answer to a question said:
My work is to lead others to reach the goal: to live in the world and not to be of it, and to be in harmony with everything and everyone.
Baba has come, he says, to awaken. What does he seek to awaken ? The sleeping soul of man. How does he do that ? By attracting men and women through love. When people are brought into contact with him he uses their circumstances, their troubles, or even their material advantages, to arouse them to the realization of their true selves, to liberate them from illusions. He gives them tasks, he suggests that they should do this or that, and for great results he proposes small things; but the great reward is no single thing, it is the realization of the Infinite Self. He tells the story of a devotee who wished to succeed as a speaker and came to his master for advice, who gave him a ring, saying that while he wore that ring he would always be able to move great audiences. One day after a speech he found that he was not wearing the ring, having forgotten to put it on his finger. Then he realized that the power to do what he wanted was in himself, not in the ring, and he threw the ring away. He had no longer any use for it.
Religious practices are useful to those who find them useful. Baba does not discourage them; in fact he insists that those who profess a particular religion should carry out the duties it imposes upon its adherents.* He himself, though formally acknowledging all religious rites, practises none. They can be means to an end, but they are not the end, and to one who has found such means dispensable he lays down no law. To rise above all means to the end itself is the goal. In the Heavenly City there is no temple - "I saw no temple therein," reported the author of the Apocalypse.
All things are connected with the infinite, and men have the opportunity of living in that knowledge. That is why Baba values the warm heart in whoever it is found, and why all actions and all duties of daily life can lead to perfection. The warm heart is the heart of love, the creative heart, the infinite in man. Whatever is done by such a heart is acceptable. "I am not concerned with people's sins," he said to me on one occasion. I remembered William Blake's saying, "Satan thinks that Sin is displeasing to God: he ought to know that Nothing is displeasing to God but Unbelief and Eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil." God's concern with sin is to forgive it, for it leads men to know themselves, that is to know God. Baba is not concerned with sin, because he is not concerned to judge people, or even to cure them of their sins. He desires to lift them, or to show how they can lift themselves, out of the sinful state, so that sin no longer remains pleasant. To feel that we must blame ourselves, that we are guilty, is the sinful state.
Baba, let me repeat, places emphasis upon love. Not talking, nor teaching, nor writing, but love. He acts by love. The impression he makes upon people is that of one who loves, and that nothing but love matters. To love with intensity, to love so that the loved is hurt, to love as a consuming fire, is to love as God loves. This is the deep desire of all who have experienced love, even human love, which seems so often little more than a deception. Human love, the love of men for each other and of men and women for one another, is the symbol of divine love, the close pattern, the image of love, the most cherished human experience. Love is happiness found in others, doing what one likes in association with others, shared abundance. The division between divine love and human love is that between love for others and love for ourself, between love that is overflowing and has no conditions and love that is stingy and demanding.
There are four aspects of love: natural love, carnal love, human love, and divine love. All love is earthly except divine love; and divine love includes all other loves. There is no deception in natural love nor in carnal love, for they are instinctive; deception is in human love, which is conscious and the next step to divine love.
The expression of divine love in the language of a man for his bride or a woman for her lover is common in the East. There the relation between erotic love and heavenly love is not so obscured as it is in the West, though we have the "Song of Songs" in our Scriptures to confound us. We shrink from the sensuous images of love that the East finds it possible to use, and hesitate to see in earthly passion likeness to the divine passion for man. Yet ardent love for God as the Best Beloved is what should possess our hearts, and must possess them if the love that is God's working for us and giving to us is to be our love too, so intently felt, so absorbing that, as Spinoza said, we do not ask him to love us in return.
The songs of Mira, the fifteenth-century princess and saint of India, express the intensity of divine love in ecstatic words. In one song she says:
And the same sense of love in which body and soul are united is shown in the poems of Kabir:
To love and to remain as one was before this strange experience befell one is a contradiction. The nature of love is to transform the lover and his world. Love has to be tasted, eaten, and absorbed, as if it were bread, so that vital energy is released. Who can stand against such energy ! Certainly not the lover himself. To say one loves, and for one's moral character to stay unaltered, is to confess to being in danger, for the energies of love, the overmastering power that it makes assailable, can be turned within for destructive purposes, and without a change from man's natural state they will inevitably be so used. To love and not to act - is that possible ?
Therefore we can understand Baba's aim to he change in the name of love, to leave nothing alone, and to let nothing remain as it is. To love man in Baba's sense is to raise him to the divine, not to make life in the world easy for him, but to enable him to realize the unreality of the world and to give him the knowledge that it passes away. The dignity and pride of man is not to let the world pass away in the course of nature, but to transform it by his actions.
The sin is lethargy, to do nothing, to drift, to perish in self-love. Other sins are all forgiven, but that sin is not forgiven, for it is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, the denial of relation between the Father and the Son, between man and God. We are lazy because we think nothing can be done, and we think nothing can be done because we refuse to believe that God has given us everything. We entertain ideas and discuss them, but ideas that remain in the realm of discussion are useless and worse than useless because they deceive us by their pseudo-reality. Ideas have to be brought to birth, which is the meaning of creative action. Through the mind they must be eaten in the stomach - that is, embraced by the will - and burned up in the heart - that is, translated into action. Otherwise thinking is mere folly, a form of miserable self-indulgence, no better than other so-called lower forms of false pleasure.
The world is made and is to be remade not by thought, unless it becomes action, nor by philosophy, unless it becomes alive in religion. Religion is the one true revolutionary force, the one irresistible energy that can upset the world, because it makes men know that they are gods - it takes them back to the beginning. That is why religions that acknowledge divinity in a remote and far-away sense, that encourage belief in another world, in God who is not man, in separation and in the affirmation of human misery, are the great enslavers of men, the anti-Christ, the teachers of the Great Lie. Revolutions that are inspired by material aims and by the belief in man as mere citizen of the world are bound ultimately to fail, for they too are the same Great Lie, because they lead only to new crystallizations in the material order. The revolution that mankind needs is that of awakened souls, who re-create human society on the basis of the spiritual nature of humanity.
To make truth living is the only aim worthy of man. The purpose of the universe is to create self-knowledge or God-realization in every soul. The mission of the God-realized one is to free others from the illusion of the world. Those who live according to the values of the world do so by identifying themselves with their bodies, that is to say, with the world and its illusion. To free them is the task of those who awaken as Baba awakens. The help that can be given he has himself described as follows:
The Perfect Master knows himself to be one with all the other souls in bondage; and although he knows himself to be identical with God and is thus eternally free, he also knows himself to be one with the other souls in bondage and is thus vicariously bound. And though he constantly experiences the eternal Bliss of God-realization, he also vicariously experiences suffering owing to the bondage of other souls, whom he knows to be his own forms This is the meaning of Christ's Crucifixion Although in the Perfect Master the purpose of existence is completely realized, he retains his bodies and continues to use them for the emancipation of other souls from ignorance and for helping them to attain God-consciousness.
The soul in bondage is caught up in the universe, and the universe is nothing but imagination But since there is no end to imagination, he is likely to wander indefinitely in the mazes of false consciousness The Perfect Master can help him to cut short the different stages of false consciousness by revealing the Truth In the absence of the perception of the Truth, the mind is likely to imagine all kinds of things. For example, the soul can imagine that he is a beggar or a king, a man or a woman, etc. The soul thus goes on gathering the experiences of the opposites. Whereever there is duality, there is a tendency to restore balance through the opposite. For example, if a person has the experience of being a murderer, this has to be counterbalanced by the experience of being murdered; and if the soul has the experience of being a king, this has to be counterbalanced by the experience of being a beggar.
Thus the soul may wander ad infinitum from one opposite to the other without being able to put an end to his false consciousness. The Perfect Master can help him to arrive at the Truth by giving him perception of the Truth and cutting short the working of his imagination which would otherwise be endless. The Perfect Master helps the soul in bondage by sowing in him the seed of God-realization, but it always takes some time for the latter to attain God-realization. Every process of growth in the universe takes time.
Thus Baba's mission is by contact with others throughout the world, not in one country but in all, to enable those he contacts to transcend nature and the world. It is awakening, it is freedom, it is to enable men to realize that boundaries are down, that there is nothing impossible, that dreams can be realized, and that what the heart most desires can be enjoyed.
Thus we can see how Baba's change of plans, his destructiveness and breaking up in the material order belong to the technique of the spiritual life. What seems most meaningless and paradoxical in what he does has the most profound meaning, though it cannot be said that the meaning is always apparent. To dare to live by the spirit is to dare to cast off from all moorings, to have no more security, to abandon oneself to the goodness of God.
What is that state of consciousness to which Baba is said to have attained, which is his veritable secret ? It is a secret known to other men and women both in the East and the West. The formal description of it Baba has himself given, and. I will start this final section of my book by repeating it:
There are six states of consciousness :
Brief commentary on this statement is necessary. The first state is that of infinite possibilities. The second state is that of Nature. The third state is ordinary human consciousness, in which consciousness of what we normally call the self exists, for man says, "I am I." In the fourth state the soul arises above the conscious self, without however knowing the unconscious self; which might be called the Not-Self or the True-Self, for it is divinity. The state of superconsciousness is that in which the self is known because God is known. Glimpses of it are enjoyed by mystics and saints, by artists when they see beauty, by poets in the realms of imagination, and by philosophers and men of science when they see truth. The records of history contain ample evidences of it. The sixth state is that in which heavenly consciousness exists at the same moment as earthly consciousness, and is unchanging. That is Cosmic Consciousness, or Christ-Consciousness, or God Realization, or Gnosis. It cannot be judged or tested from the standpoint of the earth; and it does not come in flashes, but remains.
This Cosmic Consciousness or realization of infinity is the goal of human life; for that men exist. To attain it they have to pass through the different states of consciousness in the phenomenal world. When it is attained the soul is still conscious of creation, without losing God-consciousness, which is what is found in the Perfect Master, from whom we learn that what is spiritually disastrous is not the consciousness of creation but the fact that consciousness is caught up or held in creation. It is not the consciousness of the body or of the affairs of the world that is evil, but the identification with the body or the world.
The falseness of the phenomenal world consists in its not being understood as an illusory expression of the Infinite Spirit. The ignorance of the worldly man consists in taking the form as complete in itself without reference to the Infinite Spirit. He who has cosmic consciousness realizes the truth, he is conscious of the true nature of God and of the true nature of creation: at the same time he is not conscious of duality, for he sees creation as but the changing shadow of God, the Eternal, Real Existence.
To attain this Cosmic Consciousness is the desire of atheists no less than of the pious, for every man has tasted it in the past from which he sprung, as Wordsworth in his Intimations of Immortality pointed out, and none altogether forgets. The shadows of it are in religious ecstasies, in art, and in love; and in every attempt to overcome the transitory world and its troubles, as in drink and drugs, there is implicit the search after the Unknown, the Eternal Happiness, and the return to God. These are blundering attempts, because those who engage in them are always brought back to the actualities of the world. Only that experience yields satisfaction in which the actualities of everyday life are caught up and dissolved - though the world remains the world -in the light of Eternal Truth. Baba said on one occasion:
If you realize only a small portion
of what I call the Highest Knowledge, you will experience great bliss.
It will bring down heaven into your heart.
One of the most difficult lessons is to understand that we in the world have to know the spirit through the transformation of the flesh so that we may in the flesh rise above its limitations. There is a way to bliss by forsaking the flesh and the world, and by denying the arts of life, which is the way of asceticism, and there are some who can find themselves only by that way; but nature and the world have a meaning for the soul, they have no purposes of their own, and to behave as though they did not exist or concern us is to reject the gifts of God and to refuse to acknowledge the totality of existence. Therefore what nature provides and what the world is are to be received though not treasured. To rejoice in youth and to be charmed by beauty, to be ravished by the glories of the spring and the fragrance and form of blossom, to delight in birds and animals, and to enjoy the company of friends; for the scientist to feel the exquisite happiness of achievement in research, or for the mathematician to be thrilled by the solution of a problem in mathematics, or for the craftsman to have pleasure in that which is made with his hands, are elements in the divine joy that fills infinity. Nothing is to be despised; everything is to be accepted; but we must have the wisdom not to be deceived. The secret is to be aware of values and not to have our hearts locked up in means and mechanisms, in mere sweetness and sensuous pleasures, but to know everything for what it is. Equally, we must recognize in pain and suffering, in calamities and catastrophes, and in what seems to be the rule of chance, the same divine working, the same liberation of spirit, the same opportunity of transcendence.
All other ecstasies are but shadows of the bliss of knowing the Knower. Even what the Indian philosophers call Samadhi in its inferior sense is not the same as this permanent union with God, in which God and the world are contained one in the other.
How Baba came to his consciousness we do not know, though the story is told as I have told it; but the story makes us sure that the secret is not disclosed. Never is that secret made open, as all who have received illumination take pains to say. There are no words in which to tell it, and all the records that we have are but vague, even if they are poetic, statements of untellable truth. In April 1924 Baba made the following remark about his experience. He said:
Just after God-realization, a man beholds countless numbers of suns, moons, stars, and planets issuing forth out of himself. He is driven to consider himself to be the source of everything.
The tremendous event, which overwhelms those who pass through it, is more than words can express.
There are certain points to be noted in such experiences. They are all arrived at during waking consciousness, not in sleep or dream. Illumination takes place in what the Catholic theologians call "the pure understanding," and is the direct action of God. To lose ourselves by dulling the senses, and to exalt ourselves by inducing physical insensibility through stimulus of emotion, are false ways to the truth. In such states what is seen is forgotten, though the taste will remain. Only in conscious perception, in full awareness, is truth found.
It is characteristic of those who experience illumination, but do not attain to full Cosmic Consciousness, to find the experience to last only for a brief period, as St. Teresa said, though it may be repeated. Yet if it occurs only once for no more than a second of time, the memory remains clearly defined, and can never afterwards be doubted. Also it is possible to recognize that the experience of illumination is the same experience with all who have it, no matter how strangely its circumstances may vary. Finally, the experience is almost always alarming and invariably sudden, though it sometimes comes without being looked for and at other times only after long searching.
To read the accounts of the Jewish patriarchs and prophets, of Arjuna, of Buddha, of Socrates, of St. Paul, of Plotinus, of the Christian mystics and saints, of Mohammed and the mystics of Islam, of Dante, of Swedenborg, of William Blake and Walt Whitman, is to realize that they had experience of consciousness beyond that of normal human consciousness. We know nothing of the life of Shakespeare, but certainly he must have shared that experience too.
When Abraham heard the voice of the angel of the Lord as he was about to sacrifice Isaac, when Jacob saw the ladder reaching from earth to heaven, when Moses saw the fire in the bush and "hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God" - what are these but illuminations ?
The Jews in their intense religious ardour had many such experiences. Gideon, the son of Joash the Abiezrite, saw fire burst out of the rock, and said, "Alas, O Lord God ! forasmuch as I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face. And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not; thou shalt not die." There was that terrible prophet Elijah the Tishbite, who was fed by ravens and found God in a still small voice; but though we learn much of the deeds we are told little of his visions. Isaiah as a young man saw God in the year that King Uzziah died. He said:
I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. And above him stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto the other, and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the foundations of the thresholds were moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me ! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then flew up one of the seraphim unto me having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar; and he touched my mouth with it and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us ? Then I said, Here am I; send me.
The prophet Ezekiel saw the heavens opened while a captive in Babylon and had visions of God which he describes in detail. He saw, he says, four living creatures, each with four faces:
. . . . And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man upon it. And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness round about him. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard the voice of one that spake. And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak with thee. And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet . . . .
The story that Plato makes Alcibiades tell of Socrates in the Symposium, instancing his long fits of abstraction, records without doubt the moment of the reception of a demoniac intimation:
One morning he was thinking about something which he could not resolve; lie would not give it up, but continued thinking from early dawn till noon - there he stood, fixed in thought; and at noon attention was drawn to him, and the rumour ran through the wondering crowd that Socrates had been standing and thinking about something ever since the break of day. At last, in the evening, after supper, some Ionians out of curiosity (I should explain that this was not in winter but in summer), brought out their mats and slept in the open air that they might watch him and see whether he would stand all night. There he stood until the following morning; and with the return of light he offered up a prayer to the sun and went his way.
Gautama Buddha, after long years of wandering, sitting under the Bodhi tree, was rewarded with a "pure and heavenly vision surpassing that of men," and found the Golden Path. Then the story is told of Arjuna, great prince and warrior, who in the heat of battle was smitten with deep compassion, and casting away bow and arrows sank down in the midst of the battlefield, his mind overcome by sorrow. To him Krishna declares the true principles of action, that for a soldier there is no better thing than to wage righteous war:
Look upon pain and pleasure, gain and loss, conquest and defeat as the same and prepare to fight; thus shalt thou incur no evil . . . . Thy task is not concerned with the fruits of thine act . . . . He who liveth devoid of longing, abandoning all desire, saying not to himself, this is "I" and that is "mine," he attaineth tranquillity.
This state, Arjuna, is verily to have being in the Supreme God. None having attained to this suffereth delusion, and to be established therein at the end of life is to reach everlasting and absolute bliss . . . .
. . . . Arjuna replied to Krishna, saying: Destroyed now is my delusion, O Krishna, and through thy grace have I regained the memory of mine own perfection; I am firm, my doubts are gone, I will obey thy word.*
* The Song of God: A translation of the Bhagavad-Gita. By Dhan Gopal Mukerji.
And after that he got up and fought. From this dialogue on the battlefield we get the Bhagavad-Gita which is the classic document of illumination for all ages to come.
Long years afterwards we find St. Paul, the zealous persecutor of Christians, who on his journey to Damascus had a vision which struck him to the ground and made him blind for three days. "I know such a man," he said afterwards, "caught up even to the third heaven . . . . he was caught up into paradise and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter."
Moslem history is full of records of ecstasy and illumination among its poets and saints. The author of The Dabistan, or School of Manners says of Shidosh, a disciple of the great seventeenth-century Sufi Kaivan, the following:
. . . . he directed his eyes opened wide between the eyebrows, which in Hindi they call teratuk, until the blessed form of Kaivan was clearly manifested: he next contemplated that form, until it actually was never more separated from him; he at last reached the region of intellect, and having passed through the six worlds, arrived in the seventh, and in this state of entrancement obtained admittance to the Almighty presence; so that during this abstraction from self, the annihilation (of everything human) and the eternity (of the spiritual) was joined to his existence . . . . One morning at the dawn of day he said thus to the author of The Dabistan: "Yesterday in the gloom of night, directed by the light of spirit, I departed from this external body and arrived at the mysterious illumination ever replete with effulgence: the chamber lain of truth removed before me the curtains, so that on quitting this mortal nature and leaving the invisible world I traversed the angelic sphere. The supreme independently existing light of lights became revealed in all the impressive, operative, attributive, and essential radiance of glory; this state of imaginary being disappeared, actual existence was clearly witnessed."*
* The Dabistan. Translated by David Shea and Anthony Troyer (1843), vol. i, pp. 126—7.
To return to Christian records, in the thirteenth century the Blessed Angela of Foligno, member of the third order of St. Francis, said:
My eyes are opened, I saw a fullness of God in which the whole world was comprehended . . . . And my soul marvellously clamoured, this world is pregnant with God.
Dante's vision of the "blessed one," his beloved Beatrice in his La Divina Commedia, is the heavenly vision.
Is there any story more moving than that of Saint Ignatius of Loyola ? He, gentleman and soldier, lover and man of the world, recovering from a leg shattered in battle, had a vision of St. Peter, and afterwards with his mind still on worldly affairs "saw clearly the image of Our Lady with the Holy Child, at whose sight for a notable time he felt a surpassing sweetness, which eventually left him with such a loathing for his past sins, and especially for those of the flesh, that every unclean imagination seemed blotted out from his soul . . . ." And at that moment there was a great shock felt throughout the castle, the windows of his room were broken, and a large hole appeared in the wall. From that time the supernatural life was revealed in ecstasy to this strange soldier.
There is no need for me to quote from the mystics, St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa, Tauler, Boehme, or Eckhart, or even Swedenborg; nor to the poets, of whom one "saw Eternity the other night," and another, William Blake, saw angels in a tree and when the sun arose saw a multitude of the heavenly host. I refer the reader to them; yet I must draw attention to a few less familiar and comparatively recent instances.
Henry David Thoreau, friend of Emerson, poet, and devoted supporter of the liberation of slaves, said in his best-known book, Walden, written when he was a young man:
I have never felt lonesome, or in the least oppressed by a sense of solitude, but once, and that was a few weeks after I came to the woods, when, for an hour, I doubted if the near neighbourhood of man was not essential to a serene and healthy life. To be alone was something unpleasant. But I was at the same time conscious of a slight insanity in my mood and seemed to foresee my recovery. In the midst of a gentle rain, while these thoughts prevailed, I was suddenly sensible of such sweet and beneficent society in Nature, in the very pattering of the drops, and in every sound and sight around my house, an infinite and unaccountable friendliness all at once, like an atmosphere sustaining me, as made the fancied advantage of human neighbourhood insignificant, and I have never thought of them since. Every little pine needle expanded and swelled with sympathy and befriended me. I was so distinctly made aware of the presence of something kindred to me, even in the scenes which we are accustomed to call wild and dreary, and also that the nearest of blood to me and humanest was not a person nor a villager, that I thought no place could ever be strange to me again.
Another and greater American in his achievement, Walt Whitman, who sang the song of the universal, of the new America and of "myself," had a spiritual vision one morning in June, when he lay in the fields and saw suddenly the meaning of his life and the world. He was reticent about what happened, but he knew that he had found himself. He said:
There was a follower of Whitman's, an Englishman, Edward Carpenter, once a clergyman, then a university extension lecturer, a poet and traveller, who as a result of illumination changed entirely his way of life, took to working on the land and with his hands, and lived with working men. He wrote Towards Democracy in a mood of illuminant splendour, of which he said:
If I should be asked - as I have sometimes been asked - what is the exact nature of this mood . . . . I should have to reply that I can give no answer. The whole of Towards Democracy is an endeavour to give it utterance . . . . All I can say is that there seems to be a vision possible to man, as from some more universal stand-point, free from obscurity and localism which specially connect themselves with the passing clouds of desire, fear, and all ordinary thought and emotion; in that sense another and separate faculty; and a vision always means a sense of light, so here is a sense of inward light, unconnected of course with the mortal eye, but bringing to the eye of the mind the impression that it sees, and by means of the medium which washes, as it were, the interior surfaces of all objects and things and persons - how can I express it ? And yet this is most defective, for the sense is a sense that one is those objects and things and persons that one perceives (and the whole universe) - a sense in which sight and touch and hearing are all fused in identity. Nor can the matter be understood without realizing that the whole faculty is deeply and intimately rooted in the ultra-moral and emotional nature, and beyond the thought-region of the brain.
The experience of that most ruthless of anti-Christians, Friedrich Nietzsche, on a day in August 1881, out of which he wrote the great prophecy of the modern world Thus Spake Zarathustra indicates the same class of illumination as that which the saints have had. In Ecce Homo he wrote:
If one had the smallest vestige of superstition left in one, it would hardly be possible completely to set aside the idea that one is the mere incarnation, mouthpiece, or medium of an almighty power. The idea of revelation, in the sense that something which profoundly convulses and upsets one becomes suddenly visible and audible with indescribable certainty and accuracy - describes the simple fact. One hears - one does not seek; one takes - one does not ask who gives: a thought suddenly flashes up like lightning, it comes with necessity, without faltering - I have never had any choice in the matter. There is an ecstasy so great that the immense strain of it is sometimes relaxed by a flood of tears, during which one's steps now involuntarily rush and anon involuntarily lag. There is the feeling that one is utterly out of hand, at the very distinct consciousness of an endless number of fine thrills and titillations descending to one's very toes; there is a depth of happiness in which the most painful and gloomy parts do not act as antitheses to the rest, but are produced and required as necessary shades of colour in such an overflow of light . . . . Everything happens quite involuntarily, as if in a tempestuous outburst of freedom, of absoluteness, of power, and divinity . . . .
The story of a pilgrimage and initiation in Tibet fifty years ago is told in The Holy Mountain by Bhagwan Shri Hamsa,* a remarkable account of initiation on the frozen lake Gaurikund, 20,000 feet above the sea, where Bhagwan sat for three days and nights without food, frozen and covered with snow, determined to see his Lord or die. There he was "initiated into the realization of the Self." He says:
* Translated by Shri Purohit Swami. With an Introduction by W. B. Yeats, 1934.
The book is a strange and beautiful piece of writing, and I leave this brief record of higher consciousness with this almost contemporary account.
We observe that an experience is repeated in different men at different times and places, and always it is the lifting of veils, the opening of sight, the intensification of light, the revelation of unity, and the sense of eternal existence. And yet we have to understand that it is possible to distinguish between these experiences, as I have already shown. The poets' experience is that of divine inspiration. The vision of saints is a higher experience than that of the poets. Still higher is the illumination of seers, while the culmination of experience is that of Self-realization. In illumination man sees God. In Self-realization God sees Himself. It is this experience that is properly to be called Cosmic Consciousness or Christ Consciousness, wherein the soul becomes identified with the Infinite. It is this experience, which is not fluctuating, not momentary, not a flash of light in the darkness, which is not of time but of eternity.
It is not possible to discuss here any further what ,that experience is. It is not mere intellectual certainty; neither is it mere vision - the truth seen; it is realized certainty - the truth made one with us. To reach that experience, to live in it, must be the heart's desire. Neither is it my object at this time to discuss how it should be attained. Meditation is necessary, and contemplation, and the readiness to surrender the values of this world; also the recognition of others, forgiveness and love without conditions.
The way is different for each man. Each has to work out his own salvation. Each makes his own path. The longing that is everywhere to end the terrible chaos and misery of the world is the longing for this infinite knowledge, and the more intense the suffering of mankind the more intense is that longing for divinity. It is not suffering and longing that are to be avoided, or that should cause us to despair, but indifference and callousness. In the present pain of the world there is hope; for it is the sign of man striving to become more than man; it is evidence of new life; it is the dark moment before the light breaks through. When we awake, we are told, we shall know as we are known. That is the illumination in which the problems of politics, economics, and sex will be solved, and in which new energy is available for new creation. To awaken . . . . so that the way is there and everything can be risked upon it . . . . "I have come to awaken," says Baba.
To acknowledge the existence of Cosmic Consciousness is to realize the brink of abysses upon which man lives. The experiences of the prophets, saints, and poets with their intimations of immortality cannot lightly be dismissed, yet to entertain them is in itself a daring act. They suggest unmistakably that in the spiritual life there is no safety to be reached, no security to be gained, no pact that can guarantee us. Nothing but commitment will do. Yet on this brink of danger is the greatest joy, the way becomes clear, doubts disappear, and bliss is ours.
There is an invitation and also a warning. One who read the signature of heaven in all creation said that no one should meddle with such matters unless he was ready to seek to become "a new man born in God."*
* Jacob Boehme: The Signature of All Things, Everyman Edition, p. 161.
There was another seer who said long before:
Therefore do not claim gnosis, lest thou perish in thy pretension, but cleave to the reality thereof, that thou mayest be saved. When anyone is harrowed by the revelation of the Divine majesty, his existence becomes a plague to him and all his attributes a source of corruption. He who belongs to God and to whom God belongs is not connected with anything in the universe. The real gist of gnosis is to recognize that to God is the kingdom.*
* The Kashf Al-Mahjub. Translated by R. A. Nicholson. London, 1911.
What is the practical significance of this experience to which I have referred but that if we accept the truth that man is a spiritual being we must revise all human aims, individual and social, and all existing values, political and personal, in the light of it ? Is it too much to say that only when that is done will there be clarity in human motives, and that only then will the stored-up energies of the spirit of man be released for creative delight ? I finish with the words of John Donne, who said, "We have the image of God at home . . . The masterpiece is our own, in our own bosom."
Apart from the reference to Messiahship, I have said nothing in this book as to the relation of Baba as Perfect Master to Jesus Christ, and, as I have said, it does not form part of my design to discuss the subject; but I feel that I cannot ignore it, though misunderstanding about words is difficult to avoid in a brief consideration of such a matter, and I realize that I invite some risk of misunderstanding in venturing to say anything at all. Yet to be silent would be absurd.
The reader will observe that no mention is made of the recorded experiences of Jesus Christ in the short account of illuminations that I have given. The reason is that little as we know of such experiences when they befall other men, we know less of Jesus Christ's. The Baptism in the Jordan, and the Temptation in the Wilderness that followed, are integral elements in an event that starts with the announcement of Jesus's birth to the Virgin Mary, and includes the illumination of St. John the Baptist.
That Jesus had what we call Cosmic Consciousness is certain, for that is what is meant by his being both true God and true Man; but to say that is not the end of what has to be said about him. His part in the world history of mankind is unique; but even to say that is not sufficient, for the part of every individual man is unique, uniqueness being the very nature of individuality. How then can I put into words what I feel about the historic significance of Jesus Christ ? I can say no more, in a few words, but that he was not one in a supposed long line of Masters or Christs or illuminated ones, who appear from time to time in the world. Christ's life and death were a turning-point in human destiny; he left nothing as it was before, for he made the old world new in the darkness that fell upon the earth as he died upon the cross. We have not seen the new world, for Christianity has not revealed it, but those who reach Cosmic Consciousness, or what is better called Christ Consciousness, have seen and know it. That is the only knowledge worth having, the Gnosis that includes all knowledge. Therefore the relation of Baba to Jesus Christ is certain, though it remains no less a mystery: in it nothing is claimed, everything is witnessed, "not I but Christ," not the separate self but the Universal Self; "one in Christ" in the deepest mystery.
People ask about Jesus Christ: Was he genuine ? Was he self-deluded ? To what extent did he deceive those who followed him ? To the Jew to this day Jesus was false, a deceiver, a lamentable misleader of men. But to every Jew, as to all, Jesus Christ is none the less a challenge. He is a challenge as one who bids us break away from the world and make a fresh beginning. Mahommed said, "I am only a man like unto you"*; but Jesus said, "I and the Father are one." Likewise, Baba says, "I am God." These are astounding words, meant not to elevate the speaker but to cut into the solid self-satisfaction of those who see in life no sign of divinity, or to spur those who stand timidly uncertain. When Baba utters these strange and, to many ears, dreadful words it is intended that those who hear them should ask themselves, "What does it mean to be God ?" What does it mean to be a man ? Baba puts that piercing question to the soul of man sunk deep in the illusions of the world. Ala, let us sleep no longer, the time for ease has ended, the new day is here. Who are you, appalled by the tasks of life, whose world is overhung by threatening fate, whose powers seem so small, who are so lonely ? The answer is, Son of man, stand upon thy feet . . . . All things are possible. The answer is, Be ye perfect . . . I am with you.
* Qur-an, xviii, 110.
I have come to the end of what I had to say about Baba, the silent one. He unfolds no new system of thought, no new religion, no new philosophy, no new social order. What does he signify ? The wisdom of ages is stored in the libraries of the world and in the memory of mankind. What remains is action: to turn over, to change, to make a leap forward, not to wait any longer, not even for instruction, certainly not for permission, but to do it.
APPENDIX I - MEDITATION
"Meditation," says Shri Meher Baba, "is one of the ways which lead the aspirant to the Divine Path. For those who are in contact with a God-realized Master, meditation is unnecessary. It is enough for them to be under his guidance and to have love for him. Also for the few who are in an advanced spiritual state, this preliminary process is unnecessary; while those rare Beings, who are self-realized, themselves become the object of meditation."
MEDITATION AND CONCENTRATION
Meditation, according to Baba, should be carefully distinguished from concentration He says that meditation is the first stage of a process which gradually develops into concentration It consists of "thorough thinking about a particular subject to the exclusion of every other irrelevant subject," while concentration is a natural process of fixing the mind upon one particular thing, in which there is the peaceful intermingling of love and longing for the object of concentration (and not a mere mechanical process, in which there is a regular, drill-like, rigid monotony) Further, the subject-matter of meditation, like the object of concentration, cannot consist of a single form, or a pithy and terse formula, but must consist of a reasoned exposition.
Thus, those who are not gifted with the capacity of intense concentration have to begin with meditation, whereas for those who are gifted with the capacity of concentration, meditation is unnecessary. "It is sufficient," says Baba, "if they concentrate their minds on the mere form of a God-man,* or some simple formula such as ‘I am neither Sharira (gross body), nor Prana (the subtle body, which is the seat of desires and vital forces), nor Manas (mental body, which is the seat of the mind); I am Atman (soul).' "
* Or Perfect Master.
CONDITIONS OF INTELLIGENT MEDITATION
Meditation has often been misunderstood as a mechanical process of forcing the mind upon some idea or object. It is, therefore, natural that most people should find great difficulty in their attempts to coerce the mind in a particular direction, or pin it down to one particular thing. Any purely mechanical treatment of the mind is not only irksome but is ultimately bound to be unsuccessful.
The first principle which those who aspire to meditation should remember is that the mind can be controlled and directed in meditation only according to the laws inherent in the make-up of the mind itself, and not by the application of any mechanical or semi-mechanical force.
Many persons who do not technically "meditate" are oftentimes found to be deeply and intensely engrossed in systematic and clear thinking about some practical problem or theoretical subject, and their mental process is, in a sense, very much like meditation, inasmuch as the mind is engrossed in intense thinking about a particular subject-matter to the exclusion of all other irrelevant matters. The reason why meditation is often easy and spontaneous in such mental process is that the mind is dwelling upon a subject in which it is interested, which it increasingly understands. But the spiritual, tragedy about ordinary trains of thoughts is that they are not directed towards that which really matters. On the other hand, the object of meditation has always to be carefully selected, and must be spiritually important. It has to be some divine person or object, or some spiritually significant theme or Truth. But to attain success in meditation, we must not only get the mind interested in the divine subjects or truths, we must also begin by trying to understand and appreciate them. Such intelligent meditation is a natural process of the mind; it avoids the monotonous rigidity and regularity of mechanical meditation. It becomes, therefore, not only spontaneous and inspiring, but easy and successful.
THE NEW FORM OF MEDITATION
Since intelligent meditation consists in thorough thinking about a particular subject, it follows that the best help for meditation would be a brief and clear exposition of the object of meditation. Shri Meher Baba, has, therefore, dictated a concise exposition of the Divine Theme, which follows: it comprises the story of creation, as well as a complete account of the Path and the Goal of Self-realization.
The process of meditation which Baba recommends has three stages:-
ADVANTAGES OF THE NEW METHOD
The difficulties which aspirants experience in connection with meditation are either (a) due to the unwieldiness or vagueness, of the subject-matter of meditation, or (b) due to some flaw in the method which makes it mechanical and uninspiring, or (c) due to the fact that the method of meditation is not adapted to the subject-matter of meditation. The form of meditation which Baba recommends avoids all these causes which vitiate meditation and make it unsuccessful.
The following new form of meditation is one in which the process of meditation as well as its subject-matter are specially adapted to the requirements of intelligent meditation; it is extremely easy and useful, owing to the fact that reading of the subject-matter and thinking about it have to be done simultaneously. Further, in making the exposition of the subject-matter clear and concise, Baba has eliminated the probability of any disturbance owing to irrelevant thoughts, which are almost unavoidable when the exposition is unnecessarily long-drawn. It is extremely difficult to avoid the disturbance of irrelevant thoughts while meditating upon the subject-matter of some long-drawn-out article or book, even if it is committed to memory; and spontaneous meditation about it, therefore, becomes impracticable.
Further, the appearance of irrelevant thoughts in the mind be comes very probable not only in a long-drawn-out meditation of abstract thoughts, but also in a meditation of some concrete object of experience. On the contrary, irrelevant thoughts are extremely improbable if the subject-matter of meditation consists of a brief exposition of the Super-sensible Truth.
It is therefore expected that, if aspirants sincerely meditate upon the subject-matter of the following exposition (in the manner which has been indicated above), meditation will become spontaneous and easy. They will thus be taking a very important step towards the realization of the goal of life.
THE DIVINE THEME FOR MEDITATION
THE JOURNEY OF THE SOUL TO THE OVER-SOUL
By SHRI MEHER BABA
THE SOUL AND ITS ILLUSION
Atman or the soul is in reality identical with Paramatman or the Over-soul,* which is One, Infinite and Eternal. The soul is, in fact, beyond the gross, subtle, and mental worlds;** but it experiences itself as being limited owing to its identification with the Sharira or the gross body, Prana or the subtle body (which is the vehicle of desires and vital forces), or Manas or the mental body*** (which is the seat of the mind). The soul, in its transcendental state, is One, Formless, Eternal, and Infinite, and yet it comes to identify itself with the phenomenal world of forms which are many and finite and destructible. This is Maya or the Cosmic illusion.
* See Note A. ** See Note C. *** See Note B.
STATES OF THE PHENOMENAL WORLD
The phenomenal world of finite objects is utterly illusory and false. It has three states: (1) the gross, (2) the subtle, and (3) the mental. Although all these three states of the world are false, they represent different degrees of falseness. Thus, the gross world is farthest from Truth (God); the subtle world is nearer Truth; and the mental world is nearest Truth. But all the three states of the world owe their existence to the cosmic illusion, which the soul has to transcend before it realizes the Truth.
THE PURPOSE OF CREATION
We have here to discover the purpose of creation. The sole purpose of creation is that the soul should be able to enjoy the Infinite state of the Over-soul consciously. Although the soul eternally exists in and with the Over-soul in an inviolable unity, it cannot be conscious of this unity independently of the creation which is within the limitations of time. It must, therefore, evolve consciousness before it can realize its true status and nature as being identical with the Infinite Over-soul, which is One without a second. The evolution of consciousness required the duality of the subject and the object - the centre of consciousness and the environment (i.e. the world of forms).
THE GENESIS OF THE COSMIC ILLUSION
We are here faced with the problem of accounting for the cosmic illusion which is caused by the world of forms. How does the soul get caught up in the illusion ? How did the Formless, Infinite, and Eternal Soul come to experience itself as having form, and as being finite and destructible ? How did the Purusha or the Supreme Spirit come to think of itself as Prakrati or the world of nature ? In other words, what is the cause of the cosmic illusion in which the soul finds itself ?
To realize the Over-soul which is One, Indivisible, Real, and Infinite, the soul has first to become conscious. The soul's first consciousness, however, is not of God but of the Universe; not of the Over-soul but of its shadows; not of the one but of many; not of the infinite but of the finite; not of the Eternal but of the transitory. Thus, the soul, instead of realizing the Over-soul, gets itself involved in the cosmic illusion, and hence, though really Infinite, it comes to experience itself as finite. In other words, when the soul develops consciousness, it does not become conscious of its own true nature but of the phenomenal world which is its own shadow.
ORGANIC EVOLUTION AND DEGREES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
In order to become conscious of the phenomenal world, the soul must assume some form (as its medium) for experiencing the world; and the degree and the kind of consciousness are determined by the nature of the form which is used as a medium. The soul first becomes conscious of the gross world by assuming a gross body. The consciousness of the gross world which it has in the beginning is of the most partial and rudimentary type; and correspondingly the soul assumes the most undeveloped form (e.g. that of stone), with which evolution begins. The driving force of evolution is constituted by the momentum which consciousness receives owing to the conservations of the impressions (sanskaras) left by diverse desires or conations. Thus the sanskaras cultivated in a particular form have to be worked out and fulfilled through the medium of a higher form and a correspondingly more developed consciousness of the gross world; and the soul, therefore, has to assume higher and higher forms (like metal, vegetable, worm, fish, bird, and animal) until at last it assumes a human form, in which it develops full consciousness (i.e. all the aspects of knowing, feeling, and willing) of the gross world.
THE DRIVING FORCE OF EVOLUTION
The manner in which sanskaras result in the evolution of consciousness and the corresponding form has a useful analogy in ordinary experience. If a man has the desire to act the part of a king on the stage, he can only experience it by actually putting on the garb of a king and going to the stage. The same is the case with other aspirations and desires, which can only be worked out and fulfilled by bringing about an actual change in the entire situation and the medium through which the situation can be adequately experienced. The function of the sanskaras in bringing about the evolution of consciousness and its corresponding form is not conscious as in the above analogy; but the parallel will be very suggestive in understanding the driving force of evolution, which is not mechanical but teleological.
IDENTIFICATION WITH THE FORM
The sanskaras are not only responsible for the evolution of the form (body) and the kind of consciousness connected with it, but they are also responsible for the riveting of consciousness to the phenomenal world. They make emancipation of consciousness (i.e. the withdrawal of consciousness from the phenomenal world to the soul itself) impossible at the sub-human stage and difficult at the human level. Since consciousness clings to the previous sanskaras, and since experience of the phenomenal world is conditioned by the use of an adequate form (body) as a medium, the soul, at every stage of evolution, comes to identify itself with the form (for example, stone, metal, vegetable, animal, etc.). Thus the soul, which is, in reality, Infinite and Formless, comes to experience itself as finite, that is, thinks of itself as being a stone, or a metal or a vegetable, a worm or a fish, a bird or an animal, according to the degree of the development of consciousness; and finally, while experiencing the gross world through the human form, the soul thinks that it is a human being.
REINCARNATION AND THE LAW OF KARMA
The soul develops full consciousness in the human form, and therefore there is no need for any further evolution of the gross form (body). The evolution of forms, therefore, comes to an end with the attainment of the human form; and to experience the sanskaras cultivated in the human form, the soul has to reincarnate again and again in the human forms. The innumerable human forms, through which the soul has to pass, are determined by the Law of Karma, or the nature of its previous sanskaras (i.e. according as the sanskaras are of virtue or vice, happiness or misery, etc.); and thus, while experiencing the gross world, the soul identifies itself with the gross body, which is destructible, although, in reality, it (soul) is itself Eternal.
THE SUBTLE AND THE MENTAL BODIES
While developing full consciousness of the gross world in the human form, the soul simultaneously develops the subtle and the mental bodies; but as long as its consciousness is confined to the gross world alone, it cannot use these bodies consciously in wakefulness. It becomes conscious of these bodies and the corresponding worlds only when its "full consciousness" turns inwards, i.e. towards itself. When the soul is conscious of the subtle world through the subtle body, it identifies itself with the subtle body, and when it is conscious of the mental world through the mental body, it identifies itself with the mental body, just as when it is conscious of the gross world through the gross body, it identifies itself with the gross body.
The homeward journey of the soul consists in freeing itself from the illusion of being identical with its bodies (gross, subtle, and mental). When the attention of the soul turns towards self-knowledge and self-realization, there is a gradual loosening and disappearance of the sanskaras which keep the consciousness turned towards and riveted to the phenomenal world. The disappearance of the sanskaras proceeds side by side with the piercing through the veil of the cosmic illusion, and the soul not only begins to transcend the different states of the phenomenal world, but begins to know itself to be different from its bodies. The Path begins when the soul tries to find itself and turns its "full consciousness" towards Truth (God).
At the first stage, the soul becomes totally unconscious of its gross body and of the gross world, and experiences the subtle world through the medium of its subtle body, with which it identifies itself. In the second stage, the soul is totally unconscious of its gross and subtle bodies and also of the gross and subtle worlds, and experiences the mental world through the medium of its mental body, with which it now identifies itself. At this stage the soul may be said to be face to face with God or the Over-soul, which it realizes as being Infinite. But even while it recognizes the Infinity of the Over-soul, which it objectifies, it looks upon itself as being finite because of its identification with the mind or mental body.
Thus, we have the paradox that the soul, which, in reality, is Infinite, sees its Infinite state, hut still continues to regard itself as finite, because, while seeing it, it looks upon itself as the mind. It imagines itself to be the mind, and looks upon the object of the mind as the Over-soul; and further, it not only entertains the longing to be one with the objectified Over-soul, but also tries hard to fulfil that longing.
In the third stage, the "full consciousness" of the soul is drawn even still further inwards (i.e. towards itself), and it ceases to identify itself even with the mental body. Thus, in the third and the last stage (which is the goal), the soul ceases to identify itself with any of the three bodies (mental, subtle, and gross), which it had to develop for evolving full consciousness; and now it not only knows itself to be formless and beyond all the bodies and worlds, but also realizes, with full consciousness, its own unity with the Over-soul, which is One, Indivisible, Real, and Infinite. And in this realization of the Truth, it enjoys "Infinite Bliss, Peace, Power, and Knowledge," which is the real state of the Over-soul.
In the beginning, the soul was unconscious of its identity with the Over-soul, and hence, though a part and parcel of the Over-soul, it could not realize its own identity with it, or experience Infinite Peace, Bliss, Power, and Knowledge, because it had not evolved consciousness. Even after the evolution of consciousness, it cannot realize the state of the Over-soul (although it is all the time in and with the Over-soul), because its consciousness is confined to the phenomenal world owing to the sanskaras connected with the evolution of consciousness. And even on the Path, the soul is not conscious of itself, but it is conscious only of the gross, subtle, and mental worlds, which are its own "illusory shadows." But at the end of the Path, the soul frees itself from all sanskaras and desires connected with the gross, subtle, and mental worlds; and it becomes possible for it to free itself from the illusion of being finite, which comes into existence owing to its identification with the gross, subtle, and mental bodies. At this stage, the soul completely transcends the phenomenal world and becomes self-conscious and self-realized. For attaining this goal, the soul must retain its "full consciousness," and at the same time know itself to be different from the Sharira (gross body), Prana (subtle body, which is the vehicle of desires and vital forces), and Manas (mental body, which is the seat of the mind); and also as being beyond the gross, subtle, and mental worlds.
It follows, therefore, that the soul has gradually to emancipate itself from the illusion of being finite by (1) liberating itself from the bondage of the sanskaras, and (2) knowing itself to be different from its bodies (gross, subtle, and mental). It thus annihilates the false ego (i.e. the illusion that "I am the gross body; I am the subtle body, or I am the mental body.") While the soul thus frees itself from its illusion, it still retains "full consciousness," which now results in self-knowledge and realization of the Truth. To escape through the cosmic illusion and to realize, with full consciousness, its identity with the Infinite Over-soul is the goal of the long journey of the soul.
[ N.B. It is not clear if these notes are by Purdom or Baba. I have assumed they are by Purdom and put them in green, but I could be wrong.]
(A) "Over-soul" is the English equivalent of the Sanskrit term "Paramatman," which means "God, whose cosmic and universal life embraces all things."
(B) The Mental body is often called Karana Sharira or the causal body, because it stores within itself the seeds or the causes of all the desires. The mind retains all impressions and dispositions (i.e. sanskaras) in a latent form. The limited "I" or the ego is composed of sanskaras. However, the actual manifestation of sanskaras in consciousness (i.e. the different mental processes) takes place in the subtle body.
(C) Nature is much more than what a man can perceive through the ordinary senses of his physical body. The hidden aspects of Nature consist of finer matter and forces. There is no unbridgable gulf separating the finer aspects of Nature from its gross aspect. They all interpenetrate one another and exist together. The finer aspects of Nature are not perceptible to man, but they are, nevertheless, continuous with the gross aspect, which is perceptible to him. They are not remote; and yet they are inaccessible to his consciousness. This is due to the fact that his consciousness is functioning through the physical senses, which are not adapted for perceiving those aspects of Nature which are finer than the gross aspect. He is unconscious of those "inner planes" just as a deaf man is unconscious of sounds; and naturally he cannot also deal with them consciously. For all practical purposes, therefore, they are for him other worlds.
The finer and hidden part of Nature has two important divisions, viz., the subtle and the mental, corresponding to the subtle and mental bodies of man. The whole of Nature might, therefore, be conveniently divided into three parts - (i) the gross world, (ii) the subtle world, and (iii) the mental world. The plane on which one can possess physical consciousness is the gross world. The plane on which one can possess the consciousness of desires is the subtle world. And the plane on which the soul can have mental consciousness is the mental world. The source of desire is to be found in the mind which is on this (mental) plane. Here, the seed of desire is attached to the mind (i.e. the desire exists here in an involved form just in the same way as the tree is latent in the seed). The ordinary man is only conscious of the gross world; but as he advances on the path, he develops certain capacities which are latent in him, and by means of which he can consciously experience the subtle and the mental worlds also.
APPENDIX II - THE PROCESS
By SHRI MEHER BABA
The Infinite Ocean of Knowledge, Power, and Bliss, i.e. Paramatman, contains innumerable drops, individual souls, or Atmans. Although the Atmans, as drops, are in reality one with the limitless Ocean of Knowledge, Power, and Bliss, they are not, however, conscious of their Real Self. To achieve this self-consciousness, the whole creation is precipitated and the individual Atman takes form. To trace the journey of the Atman understandingly, through the evolutionary labyrinth, to its culmination in self-realization, the diagram on the following page will help. For clarity of description, the individual Atmans (in the diagram) are numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, etc., and the corresponding forms of the Atman are denoted as A, B, C, D, E, etc.
Now, the first gross form that Atman (1) took was that of stone (A). In course of time, through the evolutionary process, stone (A) evolved into metal (B). Herein the Atman may be styled Atman (2), and this never-ceasing process of gross evolution is carried through vegetation, worms, fishes, birds, and animals, ending with the human form (H), corresponding with Atman (8).
It should be borne in mind that Atman (1), in the gross form (A), as stated above, although in reality one with the limitless Ocean, i.e. the Paramatman, has lost consciousness of its Real Self, having identified itself with its gross form (A), and is thus finitely conscious of the gross world only. Similar with Atmans 2, 3, 4, etc., which are lost to their Real Self having identified themselves with their respective gross forms B, C, D, etc., and are increasingly gross-conscious only, experiencing nothing but the gross world.
In the human form (H), the evolution of form and consciousness is complete, and the Atman (8), which, up to now may be said to have evolved mediums of consciousness involuntarily, hence forth enters the stage of conscious effort in the direction of self-realization. This marks the return journey of the Atman leading to the knowledge of its Real Self; i.e. the Paramatman. Unlike the progress up to the human form, wherein the Atman was identifying itself with its gross forms, and through them as mediums was experiencing the gross worlds only, the return journey has special features, which should be carefully followed.
On the first stage of the journey, the Atman which we designate (9), still unconscious of its Real Self; identifies itself with the subtle body, utilizing it to experience the subtle world only, oblivious to its Real Self; the gross world, and the mental world.
The second stage denotes Atman (10) identifying itself with the mental body and through it experiencing the mental world. Here, the Atman is completely forgetful of its Real Self; as also the gross and subtle worlds. On this plane, the wayfarer is termed Vali in Sufi language, and, because of the immediate proximity of this stage to the Infinite Ocean of Divinity, the wayfarer may be said to have seen Paramatman or God, while he experiences the relative existence of the gross, subtle, and mental worlds as emanating from God or as having their being in God. With all that, the Vali or the individual Atman (10) is unaware of his original Self; the Paramatman.
The last stage on the journey is that of Atman (11), which has fully realized its Real Self; is drowned in the Infinite Ocean of Knowledge, Power, and Bliss, and, being identified with the Infinite Paramatman, is totally unconscious of the gross, subtle, and mental worlds. Thus, persons in this stage are unaware of their physical existence, hence their frequently observed nude condition and utter disregard of bodily requirements.
The most exalted state of the Atman is that of Atman (12), the Sadguru state, which not only ends with the realization of Self; but results in the experience of Paramatman, manifesting itself as many. Here, in the Sadguru or Perfect Master state, the Atman, besides realizing its Real Self, is able to experience the gross, subtle, and mental bodies.
In this state the individual Atman (12), with the Infinite knowledge at its command, is able to know and judge the needs and requirements of the innumerable Atmans struggling through the different stages of evolution, and with the help of the Infinite power, pulls them towards higher spheres or categories for which they seem fitted in the light of their previous experience or existence. For instance, Atman in (A) is pushed forward to (B), and Atman in (B) is pushed forward to (C), and so on. Up to the human form (H), side by side with organic and inorganic evolution, there is a gradual awakening or unfoldment of consciousness, which gets perfected in human form. Hereafter, the Sadguru, or Perfect Master, merely changes the direction or outlook of the consciousness of human beings from gross to subtle, from subtle to mental, and from mental to Divine.
The method of working described above obtains when the Sadguru or Perfect Master is working universally in Maya, and a general spiritual push to mankind is required; but, in some exceptional instances, the Sadguru is capable of enabling Atman to slip over intermediate stages. Particularly with members of his Circle the Sadguru or Perfect Master pulls them up from the human state, and transforms them into the likeness of Himself. Here the Sadguru, or Perfect Master, utilizes his Infinite Knowledge and Power for the progress and uplift of struggling Atmans, simultaneously enjoying the state of Infinite Bliss.
In short, Atman when conscious
of the gross body through (A) to (H) experiences the gross world only;
when conscious of its subtle body through (I), experiences the subtle
world only; when conscious of its mental body through (J), experiences
the mental world only; when conscious of Self through its Self, experiences
Paramatman only; and when conscious of its Self and its three vehicles,
experiences the Paramatman; and through Paramatman and His Infinite Power
and with the medium of the three vehicles, helps to redeem the innumerable
souls caught up in the maze of gross, subtle, and mental consciousness.
Chapter 8 - Friendship (Sections 11-16)
In the summer of 1931 I was feeling the need of a holiday, though I had no intention of taking one, for I was editing Everyman, which I considered did not permit me such a luxury, and on a Sunday morning, when I was wondering if I could get away for a few days, a friend whom I had not seen for many months called to urge me to go to a house at East Challacombe in North Devonshire, from which he had returned the day before. This seemed providential, for I doubt if I should have gone away had it not been for this suggestion. So I sent a wire to make an inquiry, and in a day or two went off on my visit. I intended to stay a week or ten days. The house was a couple of miles from the village, approached by a walk of a mile by footpaths; it was a small farmstead, entirely isolated, in which a man and his wife had established themselves to practise an austere life of meditation, in which they invited friends to join them. The house work and cooking were done by the hosts and their guests, and apart from the visits of tradesmen or shopping calls in the village there was no contact with the world. Here the time was spent in reading and walking, and four hours each day in meditation, an hour at a time, when the entire house was still. There was no particular religious basis, but the importance of the inner life was recognized, and the meditation was upon some word or idea of a lofty nature, which one chose for oneself, and the meditation was conducted in solitude, It was the simplest and least pretentious life I had encountered, and after a week I felt restored, a new man.
On the day I proposed to return I learned that a visitor was expected from India named Meher Baba, a spiritual master, and I was asked to stay to meet him. This I did, and found one who became a remarkable friend. He was a shortish, dark-haired, bright-eyed Persian, born in India. He was without self- assertion, but had a princely bearing, and aroused amazing fervour of devotion among all the other persons present. I disliked this fervour and wished he had checked it, but he did not. I felt nothing of the kind, though I recognized an exceptional person. He did not speak or write, but communicated by means of an alphabet board, on which he pointed to the letters, abbreviating the words; soon one could read them as quickly as speech. He had long talks with me, asked about my work, and showed a comprehensive understanding. It was impossible not to feel a sense of devotion. I wrote an article about him, which he approved without alteration, and published it in Everyman; he asked for nothing of the sort, but was pleased when I suggested it. I found him delightful, and the Indian followers were simple and unaffected; but as I say I did not care for the extreme emotionalism of those who were meeting him for the first time, though the Indians took it for granted.
After a few days I left, for I could be away no longer. The return was a shock; for the noise, haste, and tremendous movement of normal life required much effort of adjustment. I looked upon the world with new eyes. In it meditation seemed to be impossible, and the life of solitude could not easily be reconciled with it. Yet I felt reconciliation was necessary, and sought to find the way. I found the way to be the seemingly impossible one of regular meditation, and did my utmost to follow it. I had met the extreme of worldly life, and the contraries had to be reconciled. On the publication of my article mysterious calls arrived by telephone from unknown people bidding me beware, and Raphael Hurst, known as Paul Brunton, called to ask me to have nothing to do with Baba, as he had met him in India and knew him to be a fraud, or at least deluded. Baba came to London for a few days, where he saw a number of newspaper representatives brought by an enthusiastic admirer, and many other people too; he then went to Constantinople, thence to Italy, and from there to America, returning to India at the beginning of January.
Merwan Sherheriarji Irani, to give him his full name, was born at Poona on 25th February 1894, of poor parents. He was educated at various schools, matriculated at the age of seventeen, and while a student at Deccan College, where he showed no particular aptitudes, was suddenly in May 7973 embraced by an ancient woman who lived under a tree in Poona, which changed the course of his life. What happened to him thereafter I have told elsewhere, and do not propose to repeat it. For a long period he lived an abnormal life, only partly enjoying normal consciousness, until at the end of 1927, when he was twenty seven, he became fully conscious again, was recognized as a Sadguru, and was called Meher Baba. The next year he established his first ashram at Bombay. On 10th July 1925 he ceased to speak, and has since maintained complete silence, and on 1st January 1927 he ceased writing, except for signing his name. Until 1931 he did not leave the East, but since then has paid six visits to Europe, including four visits to England and three visits to the United States of America. He has been twice round the world. These journeys were made privately with the object of making contact with places and people; they were not advertised, though some of his admirers made his presence known, and in America crowds came to see him. There were articles in the papers in this country, including some attacks, but although he was interested to read what was written he would allow no reply to the attacks to be made, saying that his work was being done.
On his second visit to London in 1932 1 asked if I could do anything for him, and he replied by inviting me to write his life. This I carried out, basing the book upon diaries and papers from India and from his English followers; and although I did not receive all the information I required, The Perfect Master was published in 1937. Baba read the manuscript and approved it without alteration. The book was entirely ignored by the press, with the exception of an account in a London evening newspaper, which treated it as news; not a single review appeared.
A letter I received about this book in January 1945, from the wife of a well-known man of letters, deserves to be printed here:
In giving me permission to print the letter the writer said that after writing it she had written to Baba and had received several letters dictated by him; she had retained the sense of contact with him, and could repeat after five years what she had said in the letter with even greater conviction.
Baba's silence remains unexplained. He declared that at a moment of crisis he would speak, and persistent demands from American devotees caused him to fix a date in 1932 when he would do so in Hollywood; but he neither spoke nor appeared, nor gave any explanation. To be importunate with him usually meant that he gave the answer desired, just as any devotee who greatly wished to take any action was, after warning, allowed to do it. Although not all that it signified, the silence was a demonstration that Baba was not a teacher, and that his work was inward, and the same applied to his not writing. A number of volumes of Discourses appeared in India; these were taken from Baba's dictation, and represent a disciple's version of what Baba said. At Baba's request I edited these discourses, putting them into reasonable English, pruning away the extravagances of the Indian text, but the Indian devotees could not reconcile themselves to the publication of my version.
When Baba received people it was usually in company with one or more Indian disciples. The name of the visitor would be repeated to him as he sat with the alphabet board on his knee, and he would motion the visitor to sit near him. He smiled, but asked no questions, waiting for the visitor to speak. If nothing was said, for most people had nothing to say in his presence, he would say, I like you and will help you, smiling gently, and perhaps touching the hand of the visitor. That would be all. The effect upon some visitors was transforming, and they felt in contact with him thereafter; others seemed to be pleased, but otherwise unaffected. Some visitors would tell him their troubles; he would listen intently and say, I understand; do not worry; I will help you. The idea that he ever exercised hypnotic influence is quite wrong. He had the most defenceless, quiet, and pleasant manner, inviting friendship and intimacy.
So far as it can be defined Baba's doctrine is not different from the ancient Vedic scriptures, the doctrine of the Real Self. But except for instructing his immediate circle he does not teach. His object, he says, is to awaken, which he does by contact, which is either physical or through the imagination. Many of his most devoted followers have never seen him, and few have had more than fleeting glimpses. Yet the sense of love that he arouses, and the feeling of love from himself that his followers have, cannot be denied.
Baba constantly referred to the saints of India, and also to those of the West, St Francis in particular being held up to those who were near him. He spent much time visiting holy places in India, and when in Europe did the same.
In London and other cities in England and abroad he specially liked to be where there were many people, in crowded streets, cinemas, theatres, and the like. The character of the film or play was of no interest to him, and usually he did not attend to what was taking place.
In India he lived mostly in seclusion, often fasting and seeing no one for long periods. He had around him a number of devoted men and women who gave up everything to serve him. The sexes lived in separate buildings, and both were subject to strict discipline. They represented in his immediate presence the world at large. Among them were several English and American people.
As Baba has now entered upon a new life, more perplexing than anything that went before, difficult as that has been to understand, I must say something about this new phase, which provides a sense of deliberately sought catastrophe, but may not be so perplexing as it seems, if it is possible to understand Baba at all.
It started in 1937, after his last visit to the West, when Baba began to devote himself to contacting and serving indigent and helpless people in various parts of India known as masts, or God-intoxicated. There are, it seems, few such people as those he sought outside India, and none in Europe or America, but in India there are many eccentric men and women who pass their lives in filth and squalor, often naked, though sometimes wearing an excess of clothes, often with dirty habits, incapable of work, who may talk nonsense, are to be expected to behave in perverted ways, and are usually to outward seeming altogether bad. They are, however, according to Baba, spiritually advanced lovers of God, with pure minds. A full account of these people with a description of Baba's work among them is contained in The Wayfarers, by William Donkin (Ahmednagar, India, 1948), to which astonishing volume the reader is referred. The author of this work is a young English physician, who has lived with Baba since 1938, and is with him still.
During 1948 a special period of spiritual work was initiated and Baba was mostly in retirement. He gave instructions to all disciples and devotees throughout the world to observe from 21st June to 20th July one of five orders, from which they could choose according to their convenience:
On 1st January 1949 Baba sent to each disciple and devotee throughout the world the following notice:
Paragraphs (6) and (7) dealt with his personal arrangements; the document then went on:
Before leaving for Mount Abu, the Hill of Wisdom, on 15th February, Baba made clear to all at the ashrams at Ahmednagar that an end was approaching. From Mount Abu he undertook a number of trips to masts, but from 22nd June to 21st July was in complete seclusion. On 15th August he returned, and a meeting was held at 7 a.m. that day, when Baba, on the alphabet board, made a serious declaration: (1) That he was to become helpless in the true and literal sense of the word on account of some personal disaster; (2) that only such persons were to be allowed to remain with him as would carry out the conditions he would lay down; and (3) that the ashrams would be abandoned. Thereafter arrangements were made for those dependent on Baba and for all property to be disposed of. Nothing is to remain my property, he said, except the place on Meherabad Hill on which the tomb for my bodily remains has been built. For himself and those who were to be with him after 15th October, which was the day on which everything was to be abandoned, there was to be nothing. He said:
I am becoming ghutt (hardened), naffat (callous), and naked (penniless). Remember the proverb, Naga-se-Khuda bhi darta hai (Even God is afraid of the callous).
These were strong words. Baba, of course, did not mean callousness in the worldly sense of hardening the heart and indifference, but in the sense of taking upon himself the suffering and loss of others. The callousness of God is revealed in the cry of the crucified Jesus, My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me ? In that cry of the Son to the Father, the Godhead spoke and the Godhead suffered. We should understand that God through love allows those He loves to suffer because He suffers with them. Only in the depths of love for God can this be understood, however. Why does God allow those He loves to suffer? It is in God's love that they are allowed to suffer. Baba's callousness is intended to be understood as his sharing of the suffering of others while they suffer.
At this time the offer was made to the men either to accompany him, or to earn their own living and to support others, or to go their own ways, and to the women the same offer was made, except that the final decision as to accompanying him Baba would make himself.
On 18th August a meeting was held at 6.30 a.m., when passages from the Bible, the Quran, the Avastha, and the Gita were read, and each scripture was placed on Baba's knee and his fingers were laid upon it; afterwards he offered a prayer, the first he had ever been heard to utter:
May God help Baba to make this step to give up every thing and to go away irrevocable so that from 16th October when he enters the new life there will be no turning back.
It was made clear that those who went with Baba were to look upon themselves as dead in the sense that they had no more material connection with anything or any one.
A final meeting was held on 31st August, and after the reading of the scriptures Baba's oath was read, while he stood facing the wall with his back to the company:
Before God the Absolute, whom those who have realized know as their own Self and whom believers believe to be All-pervading, All-knowing, All-powerful, All-loving, and All-merciful - before this Infinite Existence, Baba, on behalf of himself and his followers, asks forgiveness for all mental physical and moral weaknesses called sins, and for all lies and false dealings, and for all impure and selfish actions.
Before this Infinite God who ever was, ever is, and ever will be, Baba decides to-day on the new life that he and those who accompany him will enter from 16th October 1949, and lead on till the end. This new life will be based absolutely on all that has been dictated by Baba in the circular of conditions; and Baba invokes God to make him stand by it as firmly and steadfastly as his companions in his new life are required to do.
Each of the disciples had then to say in writing what he wished to do, but before any one made his decision the following statement was made:
I forgive each and every disciple, devotee, and follower, all his weaknesses up to date, and any disobedience on his part up till now. And, on behalf of myself I forgive myself for any pain, injustice, or wrong that I may have done any of them.
I want you all who receive this circular to understand once and for all that I am completely serious about this new life. Although you have stood by me faithfully and lovingly all these past years, with perfect faith and sincerity in spite of receiving nothing from me, and although you all might be prepared to lay down your lives for me, yet there is the possibility that your and my habits of understanding and misunderstanding each other during the last so many years, might mislead you into not taking this most seriously. Therefore I want you all to go through this circular word by word most carefully before you decide. It would be best if you accompany me and abide by all orders and conditions completely. But although your faith, love and service for me have been greater than mine would have been for my own Master, yet these conditions might prove your undoing. So unless you are ready to live the life of complete satyanashi and absolute obedience, it would be better to stay behind and obey instructions that will be given to you. But all this is by way of statement of facts and confessions. The decision is entirely to be made by you and you alone. May God give you the required strength.
I want you to understand that I will not deliberately do anything that will force those that go with me to leave me. I shall also, to some extent, be helpful to you in the beginning in certain ways - which must not make you relax your resolution to abide your Oath 100 per cent. Eventually all the conditions will be applied 100 per cent to all who come with me, and I shall abide fully by my oath.
Between now (this day of decision) and 15th October, I will overcome the momentum of my past activities by concentrating and intensifying my work of masts, poor, seclusion and fast, for which no record should be kept, except the boys' activities, which will end on 7th September.
During this period you can ask me anything you like, so long as it does not affect the circular and your decision.
From to-day until the 15th of October I will live the usual life that I have been living.
Within three hours the decisions were in Baba's hands, and those who had decided to accompany him and had been accepted were required to be ready between 1st and 5th October, having settled all their affairs and turned their backs upon their past lives. They were given detailed instructions as to what they were to do and the clothes they were to take with them. All wills made by Baba's disciples and supporters in his favour were destroyed. Thereafter until 15th October Baba lived with the disciples taking part in games, saying, Thank God, we can still laugh. The period between 16th October and 21st December was for preliminary training, during which time Baba directed those who were to go with him, after which date he declared he would be helpless.
Baba took with him on 16th October twenty men and four women. They set out on foot to the north, but there was a four-bullock truck carrying luggage and equipment, for everything was taken with them. The only money taken was for fodder for the bullocks, food for the first two and a half months should begging not provide sufficient, and a sum for purchasing the site at Hardwar The first period of training was spent at Begun in Rajputana, till 20th November, from 25th November until 10th December they were at Benares, begging, and from then until 31st December they were on the way to Hardwar in Satraranput, an ancient place of pilgrimage where the new life of hopelessness started. No one was then permitted to communicate with Baba or his companions for any reason whatever.
What the outcome will be of this life in which the world is forsaken and all ties broken cannot be foretold. It is a demonstration, first of the hopeless state of the world, secondly of the necessity for all men to rely upon themselves. Baba's most often repeated words had been, Do not worry, and, I will help you. By this dramatic act he forced those who looked to him for help to help themselves, and the injunction not to worry could be satisfied only by what they sought and found themselves. It goes much further, however, for in this rejection of his followers, this betrayal in a worldly sense of those who depend upon him, is the final lesson that Baba gives in facing oneself. Every one has experience of betrayal; and to trust others is to know that one will be let down, almost inevitably. The fear of betrayal, which causes us to trust few people, so that we shut our selves up in isolation, is, however, nothing but the fear of self-betrayal, the rejection of oneself by oneself. That is the final disaster. To hide this from ourselves we set up a shadow-self, an unreal self in which we make our pretences. Baba's rejection of this shadow-self is the expression of love, the hint that those who love him must accept themselves, because in accepting themselves they accept him and all men.
As astonished as any one that Baba should abandon everything and every one as he has done, I understand it; for his doctrine is that the true self is the divine, that each has all there is, that the world and its problems, even one's personal problems, though they must be embraced, are illusions, not to be feared, and the perfection he claims for himself is to be claimed by all who have the humility, single and selflessness to rely upon God.
My friendship with this strange
man has been a strange one. I met him on each of his four visits to England,
on each occasion several times, and had many talks with him. He gave me
the conviction of one who lived without effort or display or anything
but serene confidence, and yet who bore a heavy burden lightly.