7th Annual Programme on Discovering the Avataric Treasure
Friday and Saturday 10th and 11th February 2017
The Avatar Meher Baba Trust, through its Library Committee,
proposes to hold a two-day programme on “Discovering the Avataric Treasure” on
Friday and Saturday 10th and 11th of February 2017 at Meherabad.
The programme will consist of presentations related to Beloved Baba's life
and work covering the period from 1931 to the end of 1938. This period was
spent by Him in touring the Western countries while taking up various
phases of His work and beginning of the Blue Bus Tours. Some of the major
aspects of this period are listed below to be considered for PowerPoint
presentations and short films during the 7th annual legacy programme.
Presentations based on any of the historical events of this period will be
welcome for this programme.
Topics could be:
1. Baba's third trip to Persia
2. Baba's meeting with Mahatma Gandhi
3. Baba's visit to England
4. Baba's first trip to America
5. Baba's several trips to Europe and America and round the world
6. Baba's Hollywood message
7. Baba's film script "How It All Happened"
8. Baba's Nasik ashram
9. Baba’s stay in Portofino
10. Baba’s Rahuri ashram
11. Baba's 1937 birthday
12. Preparation for the Blue Bus Tours
13. Indication of the beginning of Second World War
14. Baba's visit to St. Francis of Assisi's cave
15. Baba's visit to Fallenfluh, Switzerland
16. Any other aspect of your choice from this period (1931-38)
Please note that the majority of Baba’s mast work will be taken up in the 8
th annual programme in 2018.
Programme stipulations: each presentation will be given half an hour’s
time only. If more presentations are received, then the presentations
received at the last minute will be given only ten to fifteen minutes’ time
depending upon the relevance of the presentations to this year’s theme.
In the 6th annual programme in February 2016, Baba’s
post-silence phase up to 1930 was considered. Naturally, the 7th
annual programme will be covering the period from January 1931 to December
Interested Baba lovers may communicate their willingness to participate in
this programme by submitting the presentation summaries by 30th September
2016 to Gokaran Shrivastava, Librarian, Meherabad Hill Library,
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, 0241-2458473.
A few keynote addresses of about one hour each may be welcomed. The maximum
limit is three such presentations. The interested presenters should
indicate their inclination for giving a keynote address. For this kindly
maintain the stipulated date for submitting the abstract.
For any further clarification please contact:
Jal P. Dastoor, Coordinator,
Library Committee at Meherabad, firstname.lastname@example.org or 0241-2548777.
Chairman, Avatar Meher Baba Trust
25th March 2016, Meherabad
Sahavas with Dara and Amrit Irani - by Havovi Mahaluxmiwala
9th July 2016 at the London Meher Baba Centre
"If God exists and we are unaware of it, then we are living without knowing the most fundamental truth in the Universe". (Awake Magazine, March 2015, Page 4)
Those present on Saturday at our Centre, and on the ensuing two - three days were blessed to recognise ‘the one fundamental truth in the Universe’ that they were in God's presence, albeit by proxy through Dara and Amrit with their endearing stories and experiences of life with Baba!
lt felt as if the day was ﬁlled with Beloved Baba’s presence, with music, poetry, singing, dancing all ﬂowing and enveloping Baba’s Centre at 228 Hammersmith Grove, and who can deny the peace and quietude that enveloped us when we retreated or took refuge in the quiet calmness of Baba’s ‘Pink Coat Room’ on the ground ﬂoor! The stories that Dara and Amrit shared with the many gathered in the basement seemed at times stories they were sharing of their close friend, and Baba indeed was a Friend to His lovers and to those who sought Him. Both Dara and Amrit took turns in narrating episodes from their life together, with one taking over from the other, helping each other, coaxing a thought out from their collective memories of their life with Baba.
The story of how Dara and Amrit’s marriage came about is a rather interesting one. When Dara returned to India from London in December 1964 for the ﬁrst time, after he had gone to the UK ten years previously, Baba told Dara that He had selected a wife for him; that was it, nothing further was said on the matter. Dara returned to London in March 1965 to work in an engineering ﬁrm in Richmond, hearing nothing further from Baba, until out of the blue a cable arrived in September-October 1967 asking him if he was ready to get married. Dara cabled back that he would do whatever Baba wished at any time Baba wanted him to. Large studio scale photos of Dara were taken in London and were delivered to Baba personally by Dara's father Adi lrani Jnr, who went to India to discuss what Baba had in mind about the marriage plans for Dara.
In the meantime, one ﬁne day in early 1968, a large thick envelope addressed to Amrit, landed at Amrit's family home in Dehra Dun, at the foothills of the Himalayas, where her family had a farm. In this envelope were the photographs and a question posed by Baba: would Amrit consider marrying this man called Dara lrani? She was asked by Baba to consult with her family and then cable her reply to Him. Amrit looked at the photographs of this handsome man and not knowing what made her do it, she cabled back to Baba her acceptance of the marriage, without ﬁrst consulting her family as Baba had asked her to do!
Amrit knew of Meher Baba through her father Shatrugan Kumar’s allegiance to Him, but other than being a religious Hindu family, they were unaware of who Meher Baba really was — God Himself, the Avatar of the age. Baba then asked Shatrugan to bring Amrit to Ahmednagar to discuss the wedding plans, and they embarked on the very long train journey from Dehra Dun to Ahmednagar. As the train neared its destination, Amrit began to feel incredibly nervous with the thought that she would be meeting ‘God’ Himself for the very ﬁrst time.
Amrit recollected being ushered into Baba’s bedroom at Meherazad, standing at a distance looking at this old man sitting on His bed, bent over looking tired; but when Baba looked up at her, she began to weep, looking at His radiant face with those wonderful eyes raised to greet her. Baba held open His arms, and she rushed up and fell into His embrace weeping! Oh, how wonderful and happy Amrit must have felt to be embraced by God Himself! Lucky Amrit! She was then put in the care of the women Mandali who tried their best to make her feel at home and relaxed in their company, knowing she had never before ventured away from her own home.
During conversations about the wedding, Baba asked Amrit what colour sari she would like for her wedding and looked doubtful when she said red, as that was the traditional colour Hindu brides wore at their wedding. However, Baba indicated with His hands that white is worn by Parsi & Iranian brides and in the Western world they always wear white. He wanted to blend them, and asked her to get a pink sari to bring them together. Arnavaz Dadachanji was asked to take Amrit shopping in Bombay for her wedding, where they bought a lovely pink sari.
The next visit to Ahmednagar from Dehra Dun for Amrit's entire family and relatives was for the engagement and wedding which took place in December 1968. Dara and Amrit brieﬂy met each other for the ﬁrst time on their engagement day at Meherazad in Baba’s presence. Later when they were asked by Arnavaz to sit together to get acquainted, they were both at a loss as to how to communicate with each other! Dara with limited knowledge of Hindi and Amrit with a limited grasp of the English language could not converse easily, till Arnavaz intervened and took on the role of being the go-between for the couple! The wedding took place on 22nd December 1968, the day of Mehera’s birthday, with a lot of jollity and happiness with Beloved Baba overseeing their marriage vows and spreading His benevolence on the entire gathering.
Another interesting story was then narrated by Amrit. The men Mandali were sitting with Baba to discuss the wedding preparations and the conversation turned to the refreshments to be served at the wedding. Baba saw in the distance Sarosh and Villoo having an animated conversation, in fact it looked like a heated argument was taking place between the two! Baba enquired what they were arguing about, and Villoo said that serving orange squash would be a cheaper alternative than serving any other cold drink, especially Coca Cola. Sarosh piped up saying that a wedding celebration could not serve orange squash to the guests, as this was not a school picnic for children! He insisted that Coca Cola would have to be served as that was suitable for the occasion. Baba looked on amused by their to-ing and fro—ing and ﬁnally suggested a simple solution. Why not serve both orange squash and Coca Cola, that way both the warring parties could be happy? Both Sarosh and Villoo had to reluctantly accept the perfect logic of Baba’s solution, although their mutterings continued as to what if the guests preferred the Cola to the squash, and no one touched the squash! Baba responded by saying that of course the Cola would be drunk ﬁrst, but then the guests would have to ﬁnish the squash!
There were other stories and episodes from their life together, some comical, some endearing but all told to regale us, and regale us they did! I personally felt I was living my life vicariously with Baba through the stories that Dara and Amrit narrated.
Meherwan Jessawala (1930-2016) - by Sara McNeill
In his eloquent foreword to the major work, 'Inﬁnite Intelligence', published in 2005, Meherwan writes,
" To those fortunate few privileged to spend their lives in close association with Him, Meher Baba simultaneously personiﬁed unlimited Knowledge — the hallmark of divinity — and profound ignorance, which characterizes the state of the ordinary human steeped in illusion. The role of the Avatar is to unfold divine knowledge through the limitation and frailty of human ignorance in a most natural way. This very simplicity and naturalness that He exhibits in His life makes the Avatar universally approachable and acceptable to humankind itself, beset with frailties and weaknesses."
As one of those ‘fortunate few privileged to spend their lives in close association with Him’ Meherwan's departure to return to The Beloved must leave an emptiness at Meherazad felt by all who knew him. His quiet presence around that place made sacred by Baba and his close ones, camouﬂaged the weight of the role he shouldered after Eruch left the scene.
Meherwan's close association with Meher Baba began when he was six, shortly before the family left everything they owned to spend the rest of their lives with the Avatar. So Meherwan himself had early experience of Meher Baba’s approachability and he recounts a touchingly simple childhood memory of that time which brings his devotion, even then, into sharp focus:
"I had ﬁrst met Baba in 1937 at a public darshan in Nagpur held at our house, where Baba frequently visited. My ﬁrst recollection of Baba was of my going into the garden and making Him a tiny garland; then, being shy and embarrassed when I entered the full hall, pocketing it. But Baba, who was seated at one end of the room, ordered me to be brought to Him and asked me what I had in my pocket. The garland just ﬁt over His head, then He embraced me. I could feel the love in His embrace. Nothing could be more loving than that. I felt I was drowning in that embrace." (Epilogue, Donkin's Diaries.)
The family’s departure from Nagpur took them to Lower Meherabad, Panchgani, Bangalore and then Ahmednagar. Merwan remembered the Blue Bus travels and also schools he attended in Bangalore and Dehra Dun. It was not until 1942 that Baba arranged for the family to have a settled home, Bindra House in Poona. It was there Meherwan grew up, perfectly placed to act as messenger, ﬁxer, go-between, scout or whatever Baba needed, whenever it was needed. But in the late 1950s, after Baba’s second automobile accident, there was a time when Meher Baba was brought to Poona from Satara to be nearer the specialist facilities needed for His care and Meherwan found himself playing a very different role.
”One day Donkin came to Bindra House to ﬁnd me, saying he was going to construct a special bed for Baba and I was to help him. He went to the ﬂea market in Poona, where he found what looked like a piece of junk — an old hospital bed, lying dismantled amongst the scrap metal. Don brought the bed to Bindra House and told me to assist him in re-constructing it. Of course he knew how to do it because he'd worked in an orthopaedic hospital. It was a wonderful bed, with removable parts which slotted together, really beautiful. My job was to scrape off the old paint before we repainted it and made the whole thing good.
Then Donkin designed a special mattress for Baba. He would make me lie down on the bed and while I was lying there in the full sun, Don would go into a reverie about the design. It was a perfect mattress, in four separate pieces so Baba never had to get up: one piece from the head to the top of Baba’s hip, another from the hip to the feet, and in the middle two sliding pillows. I got some good cotton and my aunt stitched the four-piece mattress at home, all by Don's instructions. So we got the whole bed ready and it looked very beautiful when it was all painted and ﬁnished ...and Baba at last felt comfortable as he rested on it." (Epilogue, Donkin's Diaries.)
When Guruprasad became an annual centre for Baba’s work, the activities Meherwan was involved in increased enormously. He was often so busy there was no time to be present at Baba’s large darshan events. He was one of the ‘back room boys.’ When I eventually made the journey to India myself in the late 1980s Baba had dropped his body and the time of transition was well underway. In 1993, on my second visit, in fact on the day before I was due to leave, I received a message to be at Meherazad at 08:00 AM the following morning. A rickshaw got me there on time and Davana met me, bearing three large ﬂoppy sun hats. She took me straight to Eruch who smilingly told me to choose a hat saying, "My brother is taking you up Seclusion Hill.” I didn't even know Eruch had a brother! Meherwan appeared and, suitably hatted I was led away across the ﬁeld towards the hill. I had complained the previous day about not wanting to leave because I hadn't been up Seclusion Hill! Every little thing they attended to, these loving Mandali, and Meherwan was a most patient and courteous guide. Halfway up the steep ascent, at a I— bend in the narrow pathway, he paused and said, ”This is where Meher Baba used to stop and indicate the view, and he would say, ‘The only reason to look back is to see how far you've come."
In recent years at Meherazad, while working on a history of his family's decades of close association with Avatar Meher Baba, Meherwan must have been looking back at a vast panorama of incredible events. The much- anticipated publication of his book The Jessawala Chronicles will be a wonderful opportunity for us all to share that view.