Avatar Meher Baba (1894 - 1969) arrived in West: 1931
Merwan Sheriar Irani was born February 25, 1894, in Poona, India, into an Iranian Zoroastrian family. His personal history is only available as written by his followers and is a fascinating and strange legend that can be seen at the Avatar Meher Baba Trust page. He achieved some fame in the 1930s due to paul Brunton's book "A Search In Sacred India" and newspaper reports of his travels to Europe and predictions.
'Meher Baba' became "realised" at 20 years old after an unusal process which included being kissed on the forehead by an old Poona lady, becoming dazed and apparently insane but finding Shirdi Sai Baba, the famous guru (see Satya Sai Baba page) who sent him to Upasni Maharaj who hit him on the forehead with a well thrown stone exactly where the old woman had kissed him and it was five years before he recovered.
During the 1920's he gathered disciples and founded a community at Ahmednagar, India, In 1925 he became silent and never again spoke but communicated by spelling words on an alphabet board and through hand gestures.
In 1931 he went to Europe & USA and gathered a small group of western disciples. He travelled between India and the West 6 times in the 1930's. In the 1940's he traveled all over India collecting insane people he claimed to recognise as 'masts', people who appeared mad because of their "spiritual" experiences.
He "dictated" many books which contained a very complex picture of the "spiritual" universe, mainly Hindu but with presumably Zoroastrian additions.
He established two centres outside of India during the 1950's, Meher Spiritual Center, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, U.S.A., and Avatar's Abode, near Brisbane, Australia. This was facilitated because a small group of US 'Sufis' originally led by Hazrat Inayat Khan became Baba's followers when their leader, Murshida Ivy Duce (an unusual spiritual leader who had been appointed by the prior leader but realised her own lack of spiritual power) accepted Baba as their Master and renamed their group Sufism Reoriented. He had a major car crash in the USA where he received broken bones and a severely smashed face.
He opposed the use of LSD and other drugs in the quest for spiritual experiences and in his 70's he became secluded and died on January 31, 1969. He predicted that by 2039 his tomb will be the most frequented place of pilgrimage in the world, though by 1999 there is no evidence that this has begun to happen.
Meher Baba had a small but active group of followers in Australia in the 1950's and later, which I came into contact with in the 1960's, some of them have written books which recall a society already gone. In Australia, his followers were led by Francis Brabazon, a poet and sometime stonemason who wrote volumes of verse in praise of his Master and considered his prolific output proof of his genuine spiritual experience.
A suburban block of land had been bought by Baba's Australian followers and here Brabazon built a house with stone quarried from the site. He insisted the house be stone because the Perfect Master would leave vibrations once he slept there and so the house should be built of imperishable materials. Once it was finished Baba told the followers to get a farm property in Queensland, 1,000 miles away where these photos were taken when Baba visited in 1958.
Life amongst the followers was intense as was Baba's, he was nearly always engaged in universal spiritual conflict with unnamed forces seeking to prevent his plan coming to fruition and many times his followers were told they had to help, usually by not speaking for a 24 hour period (this could be a problem if you were a particularly earnest air traffic controller) or not eating. Explaining these social solecisms could be embarassing in the Australia of the 1950's. Contact with India by telegram or long distance phone calls was difficult and international travel was by steamer, passing messages on from Baba was done by typing up carbon copies of his letters and Baba nearly always changed plans at the last minute with no apparent care for the difficulty Australian followers would have.
He was constantly demanding oaths of undying obediance and devotion, claiming followers would have to put him and his work before even caring for their own children, that they would have to kill their children if he demanded it. In practice his orders were never too onerous though he once ordered Brabazon to eat only a cup of milk coffee with sugar for forty days but as he lived to be nearly 80 this did not appear to have any lasting effect.
As of circa 2000 small group of Meher Baba's ageing followers still live at Avatar's Abode, a lovely block of Australian countryside, where they maintain the places Baba stayed in 1958 as places of holy pilgrimage and await the predicted growth of belief in him as the avatar of the age.
Practical Spirituality with Meher Baba
The Water Carrier