Meher Baba
Overview
 
Meher Baba also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

: मेहेर बाबा, Urdu
Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

: مہر بابا), (February 25, 1894 – January 31, 1969), born Merwan Sheriar Irani, was an India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n mystic and spiritual master who declared publicly in 1954 that he was the Avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

 of the age.

Merwan Sheriar Irani was born in 1894 and led a normal childhood, showing no particularly strong inclination toward spiritual matters.
Quotations

It is better to deny God, than to defy God.

The Silent Master, by Irwin Luck, p. 15

Encyclopedia
Meher Baba also called Nagari , is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal...

: मेहेर बाबा, Urdu
Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

: مہر بابا), (February 25, 1894 – January 31, 1969), born Merwan Sheriar Irani, was an India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n mystic and spiritual master who declared publicly in 1954 that he was the Avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

 of the age.

Merwan Sheriar Irani was born in 1894 and led a normal childhood, showing no particularly strong inclination toward spiritual matters. At the age of 19, a brief contact with the Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 holy woman Hazrat Babajan
Hazrat Babajan
Hazrat Babajan was a Baloch Muslim saint considered by her followers to be a sadguru or qutub. Born in Balochistan, Afghanistan, she lived the final 25 years of her life in Pune, India.-Early life & realization:...

 began his seven-year process of spiritual transformation. Over the next months, he contacted four additional spiritual figures whom, along with Babajan, he called "the five Perfect Masters." He spent seven years with Upasni Maharaj
Upasni Maharaj
Upasni Maharaj, born Kashinath Govindrao Upasni, was considered by his disciples to be a satguru. He lived in Sakori, India and is said to have received God-realization from Sai Baba of Shirdi...

, one of the masters, before beginning his public work. The name Meher Baba means "Compassionate Father" in Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 and was given to him by his first followers.

From July 10, 1925 to the end of his life, Meher Baba maintained silence, communicating by means of an alphabet board or by unique hand gestures. With his mandali
Mandali
Mandali from the Sanskrit mandala meaning circle, connection, community, is a term that Meher Baba used for his closest disciples.-Inner circle:...

(circle of disciples), he spent long periods in seclusion, during which time he often fasted
Fasting
Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, usually a single day , or several days. Other fasts may be only partially restrictive,...

. He also traveled widely, held public gatherings, and engaged in works of charity with lepers
Leprosy
Leprosy or Hansen's disease is a chronic disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. Named after physician Gerhard Armauer Hansen, leprosy is primarily a granulomatous disease of the peripheral nerves and mucosa of the upper respiratory tract; skin lesions...

, the poor
Poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

, and the mentally ill.

In 1931, Meher Baba made the first of many visits to the West, where he attracted many followers. Throughout most of the 1940s, Meher Baba worked with a category of spiritual aspirant called masts, whom he said are entranced or spellbound by internal spiritual experiences. Starting in 1949, along with selected mandali, he traveled incognito about India in what he called "The New Life
New Life (Meher Baba)
The New Life was a period of renunciation, pilgrimage, and spiritual adventures undertaken by the Indian spiritual teacher Meher Baba on October 16, 1949. Baba selected twenty companions to join him in this self-described life of complete reliance on God, telling his companions, "Life during that...

." On February 10, 1954, Meher Baba declared that he was the Avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

 (an incarnation
Incarnation
Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial....

 of God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

), and on July 10, 1958 he released his Universal Message.

After being injured as a passenger in two automobile accidents, one in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in 1952 and one in India in 1956, his ability to walk became severely limited. In 1962, he invited his Western followers to India for a mass darshan called "The East-West Gathering." Concerned by an increasing use of LSD and other psychedelic drug
Psychedelic drug
A psychedelic substance is a psychoactive drug whose primary action is to alter cognition and perception. Psychedelics are part of a wider class of psychoactive drugs known as hallucinogens, a class that also includes related substances such as dissociatives and deliriants...

s, in 1966 Baba stated that they did not convey real benefits. Despite deteriorating health, he continued what he called his "Universal Work," which included fasting
Fasting
Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, usually a single day , or several days. Other fasts may be only partially restrictive,...

 and seclusion
Seclusion
The act of secluding, i.e. shutting out or keeping apart from society, or the state of being secluded, or a place that facilitates it . A person, a couple, or a larger group may go to a secluded place for privacy, or because the place is quiet...

, until his death on January 31, 1969. His samadhi (tomb-shrine) in Meherabad
Meherabad
Meherabad was originally an ashram established by Meher Baba near Arangaon Village, India in 1923 about south of Ahmednagar. It is now the site of Meher Baba's samadhi as well as facilities and accommodations for pilgrims...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 has become a place of international pilgrimage
Pilgrimage
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith...

.

Early life

Meher Baba was an Irani born in Pune
Pune
Pune , is the eighth largest metropolis in India, the second largest in the state of Maharashtra after Mumbai, and the largest city in the Western Ghats. Once the centre of power of the Maratha Empire, it is situated 560 metres above sea level on the Deccan plateau at the confluence of the Mula ...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 to a Zoroastrian
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

 family. His given name was Merwan Sheriar Irani. He was the second son of Sheriar Mundegar Irani
Sheriar Mundegar Irani
Sheriar Mundegar Irani was a mystic and the father of Meher Baba.- Biography :...

, a Persian Zoroastrian who had spent years wandering in search of spiritual experience before settling in Poona (now Pune
Pune
Pune , is the eighth largest metropolis in India, the second largest in the state of Maharashtra after Mumbai, and the largest city in the Western Ghats. Once the centre of power of the Maratha Empire, it is situated 560 metres above sea level on the Deccan plateau at the confluence of the Mula ...

), and Sheriar's young wife, Shireen
Shireen Sheriar Irani
Shireen Sheriar Irani , was the mother of Indian spiritual master Meher Baba.-Early life:...

.

His schoolmates nicknamed him "Electricity." As a boy he formed "The Cosmopolitan Club," which was dedicated to remaining informed in world affairs and giving money to charity. Money was raised by donations and sometimes by gambling, e.g. betting at the horse races. He had an excellent singing voice and was a multi-instrumentalist and poet. Fluent in several languages, he was especially fond of the poetry of Hafiz, Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

, and Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of the major English Romantic poets and is critically regarded as among the finest lyric poets in the English language. Shelley was famous for his association with John Keats and Lord Byron...

.

In his youth, he had no mystical inclinations or experiences, and was "[u]ntroubled as yet by a sense of his own destiny..." He was more interested in sports, especially cricket
Cricket
Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players on an oval-shaped field, at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard long pitch. One team bats, trying to score as many runs as possible while the other team bowls and fields, trying to dismiss the batsmen and thus limit the...

, and was co-captain of his high school cricket team. Baba later explained that a veil is always placed over the Avatar until the time is right for him to begin his work. At the age of 19, during his second year at Deccan College
Deccan College (Pune)
Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute is a post-graduate institute of Archeology and Linguistics in Pune, India.Established October 6, 1821, Deccan College is one of the oldest institutions of modern learning in India...

 in Poona (now Pune
Pune
Pune , is the eighth largest metropolis in India, the second largest in the state of Maharashtra after Mumbai, and the largest city in the Western Ghats. Once the centre of power of the Maratha Empire, it is situated 560 metres above sea level on the Deccan plateau at the confluence of the Mula ...

), he met a very old Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 woman, a spiritual master named Hazrat Babajan
Hazrat Babajan
Hazrat Babajan was a Baloch Muslim saint considered by her followers to be a sadguru or qutub. Born in Balochistan, Afghanistan, she lived the final 25 years of her life in Pune, India.-Early life & realization:...

, who kissed him on the forehead. The event affected him profoundly; he experienced visions and mystical feelings so powerful that he gave up his normal activities. He began to beat his head against a stone to maintain, as he later put it, contact with the physical world. He also contacted other spiritual figures, who (along with Babajan) he later said were the five "Perfect Master
Perfect Master (Meher Baba)
Perfect Master is the English translation that the Indian spiritual master Meher Baba began to use in his writing as early as 1925 to the denote the Eastern sense of a sadguru or a qutub...

s" of the age: Hazrat Tajuddin Baba
Hazrat Tajuddin Baba
Mohammad Tajuddin Baba was an Indian Muslim Sufi master considered by his followers to be a qutub. He lived in Nagpur, India.-Early life:...

 of Nagpur
Nagpur
Nāgpur is a city and winter capital of the state of Maharashtra, the largest city in central India and third largest city in Maharashtra after Mumbai and Pune...

, Narayan Maharaj
Narayan Maharaj
Narayan Maharaj was a Hindu Indian spiritual master considered by his followers to be a sadguru. He lived in Kedgaon, India.-Early life:...

 of Kedgaon
Kedgaon
Kedgaon is a part of Ahmednagar Municipal Corporation. divided by Nagar-Pune highway in Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra state of India. Kedgaon is around 3 km from Ahmednagar Railway Station and 5 km from Ahmednagar ST old bus-stand. The village has a famous Durga/Renuka goddess temple...

, Sai Baba of Shirdi
Sai Baba of Shirdi
Sai Baba of Shirdi , also known as Shirdi Sai Baba , was an Indian guru, yogi, and fakir who is regarded by his Hindu and Muslim devotees as a saint....

, and Upasni Maharaj
Upasni Maharaj
Upasni Maharaj, born Kashinath Govindrao Upasni, was considered by his disciples to be a satguru. He lived in Sakori, India and is said to have received God-realization from Sai Baba of Shirdi...

 of Sakori
Sakori
Sakori or Sakuri is a small village in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra State, India, about south of Shirdi. Sakori is best known as the home of Hindu guru Upasni Maharaj and of his ashram, Kanya Kumari Sthan. It is located at ....

.

Upasni helped him, he later said, to integrate his mystical experiences with normal consciousness, thus enabling him to function in the world without diminishing his experience of God-realization
God-realization (Meher Baba)
God-realization, according to Indian guru Meher Baba, is the highest state of consciousness and the goal and ultimate destiny of all souls in creation. Ultimately the ego weakens through endless expression of itself in many lifetimes of experience, finally disappearing completely in full Self or...

. In 1921, at the age of 27, after living for seven years with Upasni, Merwan started to attract a following of his own. His early followers gave him the name "Meher Baba," meaning Compassionate Father.

In 1922, Meher Baba and his followers established "Manzil-e-Meem" (House of the Master) in Bombay (now Mumbai
Mumbai
Mumbai , formerly known as Bombay in English, is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India, and the fourth most populous city in the world, with a total metropolitan area population of approximately 20.5 million...

). There Baba began his practice of demanding strict discipline and obedience from his disciples. A year later, Baba and his mandali
Mandali
Mandali from the Sanskrit mandala meaning circle, connection, community, is a term that Meher Baba used for his closest disciples.-Inner circle:...

moved to an area a few miles outside Ahmednagar that he named "Meherabad
Meherabad
Meherabad was originally an ashram established by Meher Baba near Arangaon Village, India in 1923 about south of Ahmednagar. It is now the site of Meher Baba's samadhi as well as facilities and accommodations for pilgrims...

" (Meher flourishing). This ashram
Ashram
Traditionally, an ashram is a spiritual hermitage. Additionally, today the term ashram often denotes a locus of Indian cultural activity such as yoga, music study or religious instruction, the moral equivalent of a studio or dojo....

 would become the center for his work. In 1924, Meher Baba created a resident school at Meherabad that he named the "Prem Ashram" (in several languages "prem
Prem
Prem is a Sanskrit word meaning love. This word is also used in other languages including Assamese, Marathi, Bengali, Kannada, and Telugu, and is commonly used as a male first name...

" means "love"). The school was free and open to all caste
Caste
Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

s and faiths. The school drew multi-denominational students from around India and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

.

Silence

From July 10, 1925 until his death in 1969, Meher Baba was silent. He communicated first by using an alphabet board and later by unique hand gestures which were interpreted and spoken out by one of his mandali, usually by his disciple Eruch Jessawala
Eruch Jessawala
Eruch Byramshaw Jessawala , born in Bombay, India, was a close disciple of the silent Indian master Meher Baba, and one of his mandali. Jessawala was also the primary interpreter of Meher Baba's , and later his unique sign language.- Early life :Jessawala was born in Bombay to Zoroastrian parents,...

. Meher Baba said that his silence was not undertaken as a spiritual exercise but solely in connection with his universal work.
Man’s inability to live God’s words makes the Avatar’s teaching a mockery. Instead of practicing the compassion he taught, man has waged wars in his name. Instead of living the humility, purity, and truth of his words, man has given way to hatred, greed, and violence. Because man has been deaf to the principles and precepts laid down by God in the past, in this present Avataric form, I observe silence.


Meher Baba often spoke of the moment "that he would 'break' his silence by speaking the 'Word' in every heart, thereby giving a spiritual push forward to all living things."
When I break My Silence, the impact of My Love will be universal and all life in creation will know, feel and receive of it. It will help every individual to break himself free from his own bondage in his own way. I am the Divine Beloved who loves you more than you can ever love yourself. The breaking of My Silence will help you to help yourself in knowing your real Self.

Meher Baba said that the breaking of his silence would be a defining event in the spiritual evolution of the world.
When I speak that Word, I shall lay the foundation for that which is to take place during the next seven hundred years.

On many occasions Meher Baba promised to break his silence with an audible word before he died, often stating a specific time and place when this would occur. His failure to fulfill these promises disappointed some of his followers, while others regarded these broken promises as a test of their faith. Some followers speculate that "the Word" will yet be "spoken," or that Meher Baba did break his silence but in a spiritual rather than a physical way.

According to all contemporary accounts, Meher Baba remained silent until his death, but more than thirty years later one close disciple recalled that Meher Baba had spoken to him a few hours before he died, although this recollection contradicted his own earlier accounts.

Each July 10, many of Baba's followers celebrate Silence Day
Silence Day
Silence Day is the name, the followers of Meher Baba give to their practice of commemorating July 10 of each year by maintaining verbal silence for twenty-four hours.From July 10, 1925 until his death in 1969, Meher Baba was silent...

 to honor him.

First contacts with the West

In the 1930s, Meher Baba began a period of extensive world travel, with several trips to Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. It was during this period that he established contact with his first close group of Western disciples. He traveled on a Persian passport because he had given up writing as well as speaking and would not sign the forms required by the British government of India.

On his first trip to England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 in 1931 he traveled on the Rajputana
SS Rajputana
The SS Rajputana was a British passenger and cargo carrying ocean liner. She was built for the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company at the Harland and Wolff docks on the River Clyde near Glasgow, Scotland in 1925. She was one of the P&O 'R' class liners from 1925 that had much of their...

, the same ship that was carrying Mahatma Gandhi, who was sailing to the second Round Table Conference
Round Table Conferences (India)
This article is about the Anglo-Indian Round Table Conferences. For the Dutch-Indonesian Round Table Conference, see Dutch-Indonesian Round Table Conference. For other uses of Round Table, see Round Table ....

 in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. Baba and Gandhi had three meetings onboard, including one that lasted for three hours. The British press highlighted these meetings, but an aide to Gandhi said, "You may say emphatically that Gandhi never asked Meher Baba for help or for spiritual or other advice."
On the journey he was interviewed on behalf of the Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

, which quoted him describing his trip as a "new crusade . . . to break down all religious barriers and destroy America's materialism and amalgamate all creeds into a common element of love". His intention, according to the resulting article, was to convert thousands of Americans from sin. Describing Baba as "The Messiah," the article also claims he listed miracles he had performed, and said that a person who becomes one with the truth can accomplish anything, but that it is a weakness to perform miracles only to show spiritual power. However, another description of the interview states that when Baba was asked about the miracles attributed to him, he replied "The only miracle for the Perfect Man to perform is to make others perfect too. I want to make the Americans realize the infinite state which I myself enjoy."

Baba was invited to the "Meherashram" retreat in Harmon, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 by Malcolm and Jean Schloss. A Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

magazine article on the visit states that Schloss referred to him in uppercase as "He, Him, His, Himself" and that Baba was described by his followers variously as the "God Man," "Messiah" or "Perfect Master."

On May 20, 1932 Baba arrived in New York and provided the press with a 1,000-word written statement, which was described by devotee Quentin Tod
Quentin Tod
Quentin Tod , sometimes credited as Quentin Todd, was a British actor, dancer, choreographer, television pioneer, and a devotee of Meher Baba.- Biography :...

 as his Message to America. In the statement Baba proclaimed himself "one with the infinite source of everything," and declared his intention to break his silence: "When I speak, my original message will be delivered to the world and it will have to be accepted". When asked about the Indo-British political situation, he had no comment, but his followers explained that he had told Gandhi to abandon politics.

In the West, Meher Baba met with a number of celebrities and artists, including Hollywood notables Gary Cooper
Gary Cooper
Frank James Cooper, known professionally as Gary Cooper, was an American film actor. He was renowned for his quiet, understated acting style and his stoic, but at times intense screen persona, which was particularly well suited to the many Westerns he made...

, Charles Laughton
Charles Laughton
Charles Laughton was an English-American stage and film actor, screenwriter, producer and director.-Early life and career:...

, Tallulah Bankhead
Tallulah Bankhead
Tallulah Brockman Bankhead was an award-winning American actress of the stage and screen, talk-show host, and bonne vivante...

, Boris Karloff
Boris Karloff
William Henry Pratt , better known by his stage name Boris Karloff, was an English actor.Karloff is best remembered for his roles in horror films and his portrayal of Frankenstein's monster in Frankenstein , Bride of Frankenstein , and Son of Frankenstein...

, Tom Mix
Tom Mix
Thomas Edwin "Tom" Mix was an American film actor and the star of many early Western movies. He made a reported 336 films between 1910 and 1935, all but nine of which were silent features...

, Maurice Chevalier
Maurice Chevalier
Maurice Auguste Chevalier was a French actor, singer, entertainer and a noted Sprechgesang performer. He is perhaps best known for his signature songs, including Louise, Mimi, Valentine, and Thank Heaven for Little Girls and for his films including The Love Parade and The Big Pond...

, Ernst Lubitsch
Ernst Lubitsch
Ernst Lubitsch was a German-born film director. His urbane comedies of manners gave him the reputation of being Hollywood's most elegant and sophisticated director; as his prestige grew, his films were promoted as having "the Lubitsch touch."In 1947 he received an Honorary Academy Award for his...

 and others. On June 1, 1932 Mary Pickford
Mary Pickford
Mary Pickford was a Canadian-born motion picture actress, co-founder of the film studio United Artists and one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences...

 and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
Douglas Elton Fairbanks, Jr. KBE was an American actor and a highly decorated naval officer of World War II.-Early life:...

 held a reception for Baba at Pickfair
Pickfair
Pickfair was a 56 acre estate in the city of Beverly Hills, California designed by architect Wallace Neff for silent film actors Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. Coined "Pickfair" by the press, it was once one of the most celebrated homes in the world...

 where he delivered a message to Hollywood. As a result, Meher Baba emerged as “one of the enthusiasms of the ‘30s.”

In 1934, after announcing that he would break his self-imposed silence in the Hollywood Bowl
Hollywood Bowl
The Hollywood Bowl is a modern amphitheater in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles, California, United States that is used primarily for music performances...

, Baba suddenly changed his plans and boarded the Empress of Canada
RMS Empress of Canada (1922)
RMS Empress of Canada was an ocean liner built in 1920 for the Canadian Pacific Steamships by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Company at Govan on the Clyde in Scotland. This ship -- the first of two CP vessels to be named Empress of Canada -- regularly traversed the trans-Pacific route...

and sailed to Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

 without explanation. The Associated Press reported that "Baba had decided to postpone the word-fast breaking until next February because 'conditions are not yet ripe'." He returned to England in 1936 but did not return to the United States again until the early 1950s.

In the late 1930s, Meher Baba invited a group of Western women to join him in India, where he arranged a series of trips throughout India and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) that became known as the Blue Bus Tours. When they returned home, many newspapers treated their journey as an occasion for scandal. Time Magazine's 1936 review of God is my Adventure describes the US's fascination with the "long-haired, silky-mustached Parsee named Shri Sadgaru [sic] Meher Baba" four years earlier.

Discourses

During the course of early gatherings of his close circle and followers, Meher Baba gave discourses on various spiritual subjects. Between 1938 and 1943, at the request of Princess Norina Matchabelli, one of his earliest Western devotees, Meher Baba dictated a series of discourses on his alphabet board for the Meher Baba Journal. These discourses, transcribed or worked up by close disciples from points given by Baba, address many aspects of the spiritual life and provide practical and simple direction for the spiritual aspirant. During those years, at least one discourse appeared each month in the journal. Chakradhar Dharnidhar Deshmukh, a close disciple of Meher Baba, compiled and edited the discourses.

Between 1939 and 1954 in India, a five-volume compilation titled Discourses of Meher Baba was printed several times. In 1967 Baba personally supervised the editing and publication of a new three-volume version of the Discourses, which became known as the sixth edition. A widely-available seventh edition of the Discourses, first published in 1987 (after Baba's death), contains numerous editorial changes not specifically authorized by Baba.

Work with 'masts'


In the 1930s and 1940s, Meher Baba did extensive work with a category of people he termed masts, who are persons "intoxicated with God." According to Baba these individuals are essentially disabled by their enchanting experience of the higher spiritual planes
Plane (esotericism)
In esoteric cosmology, a plane, other than the physical plane is conceived as a subtle state of consciousness that transcends the known physical universe....

. Although outwardly masts may appear irrational or even insane, Baba indicated that their spiritual status was actually quite elevated, and that by meeting with them he helped them to move forward spiritually while enlisting their aid in his spiritual work. One of the best known of these masts, known as Mohammed Mast, lived at Meher Baba's encampment at Meherabad until his death in 2003.

The New Life

In 1949 Baba began an enigmatic period that he called "The New Life
New Life (Meher Baba)
The New Life was a period of renunciation, pilgrimage, and spiritual adventures undertaken by the Indian spiritual teacher Meher Baba on October 16, 1949. Baba selected twenty companions to join him in this self-described life of complete reliance on God, telling his companions, "Life during that...

". Following a series of questions on their readiness to obey even the most difficult of his requests, Baba selected twenty companions to join him in a life of complete "hopelessness, helplessness and aimlessness."

He made provisions for those dependent on him, after which he and his companions otherwise gave up almost all property and financial responsibilities. They then traveled about India incognito while begging for food and carrying out Baba's instructions in accordance with a strict set of "conditions of the New Life." These included absolute acceptance of any circumstance and consistent good cheer in the face of any difficulty. Companions who failed to comply were sent away.

About the New Life Meher Baba wrote:
This New Life is endless, and even after my physical death it will be kept alive by those who live the life of complete renunciation of falsehood, lies, hatred, anger, greed and lust; and who, to accomplish all this, do no lustful actions, do no harm to anyone, do no backbiting, do not seek material possessions or power, who accept no homage, neither covet honor nor shun disgrace, and fear no one and nothing; by those who rely wholly and solely on God, and who love God purely for the sake of loving; who believe in the lovers of God and in the reality of Manifestation, and yet do not expect any spiritual or material reward; who do not let go the hand of Truth, and who, without being upset by calamities, bravely and wholeheartedly face all hardships with one hundred percent cheerfulness, and give no importance to caste, creed and religious ceremonies. This New Life will live by itself eternally, even if there is no one to live it.


After a period of seclusion and fasting Meher Baba ended the New Life in February 1952 and once again began a round of public appearances throughout India and the West.

1950s

Automobile accident in the U.S.A.

In the 1950s Baba established two centers outside of India: the Meher Spiritual Center
Meher Spiritual Center
The Meher Spiritual Center is a spiritual retreat nestled in a pine forest along the Atlantic Ocean between Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and adjacent to Briarcliffe Acres...

 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach is a coastal city on the east coast of the United States in Horry County, South Carolina. It is situated on the center of a large and continuous stretch of beach known as the Grand Strand in northeastern South Carolina. It is considered to be a major tourist destination in the...

 in the United States and Avatar's Abode
Avatar's Abode
Avatar's Abode is a spiritual retreat about north of Brisbane, Australia dedicated to Meher Baba. It was established by Australian poet and disciple of Meher Baba Francis Brabazon in 1958 on the summit of Kiel Mountain near Woombye on Queensland's Sunshine Coast...

 near Brisbane
Brisbane
Brisbane is the capital and most populous city in the Australian state of Queensland and the third most populous city in Australia. Brisbane's metropolitan area has a population of over 2 million, and the South East Queensland urban conurbation, centred around Brisbane, encompasses a population of...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

. He inaugurated the Meher Spiritual Center in April, 1952. On May 24, 1952, en route from the Meher Spiritual Center to Meher Mount
Meher Mount
Meher Mount is a spiritual center in Ojai, California that is dedicated to Meher Baba.It consists of of dense woodland and open fields on Sulphur Mountain in Ojai, California, about north of Los Angeles...

 in Ojai, California
Ojai, California
Ojai is a city in Ventura County, California, USA. It is situated in the Ojai Valley , surrounded by hills and mountains. The population was 7,461 at the 2010 census, down from 7,862 at the 2000 census.-History:Chumash Indians were the early inhabitants of the valley...

, the car in which he was a passenger was struck head-on near Prague, Oklahoma
Prague, Oklahoma
Prague is a city in Lincoln County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 2,138 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Prague is located at .According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , all of it land....

. He and his companions were thrown from the vehicle and suffered many injuries. Baba's leg was severely broken and he sustained facial injuries, including a broken nose. The injured were treated in Duke Hospital
Duke University Health System
The Duke University Health System, combines the Duke University School of Medicine, the Duke University School of Nursing, the Duke Clinic, and the member hospitals into a system of research, clinical care, and education.-Duke University Hospital:...

 in Durham, North Carolina
Durham, North Carolina
Durham is a city in the U.S. state of North Carolina. It is the county seat of Durham County and also extends into Wake County. It is the fifth-largest city in the state, and the 85th-largest in the United States by population, with 228,330 residents as of the 2010 United States census...

, after which time they returned to Myrtle Beach to recuperate.

Declaration of Avatarhood

Meher Baba began dictating his major book about the purpose of creation, God Speaks
God Speaks
God Speaks, The Theme of Creation and Its Purpose is the principal book by Meher Baba, and the most significant religious text used by his followers. It covers Meher Baba's view of the process of Creation and its purpose and has been in print continuously since 1955.-Overview:God Speaks is Meher...

, in Dehradun
Dehradun
- Geography :The Dehradun district has various types of physical geography from Himalayan mountains to Plains. Raiwala is the lowest point at 315 meters above sea level, and the highest points are within the Tiuni hills, rising to 3700 m above sea level...

, August 1953. In it he explained the difference between the Avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

 and the Sadgurus
Satguru
Satguru does not merely mean true guru. The term is distinguished from other forms of gurus, such as musical instructors, scriptural teachers, parents, and so on...

. In September 1953, at Dehradun, Meher Baba declared that he was "The Highest of the High." On February 10, 1954 in Meherastana U.P., India, Meher Baba publicly and explicitly declared his Avatarhood for the first time, spelling out on his alphabet board "Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai."

In September of that year, Meher Baba gave a "men-only" sahavas
Sahavas
Sahavas literally means dwelling together, close companionship, or in the company of. It may also refer to a spiritual retreat or a gathering held by a guru or master so that his devotees may enjoy his company, i.e., his physical presence, or a gathering in his honor where his followers meet to...

 at Meherabad that later became known as the "Three Incredible Weeks." During this time Baba issued a declaration, "Meher Baba's Call," wherein he affirmed his Avatarhood "irrespective of the doubts and convictions" of others. At the end of this sahavas Meher Baba gave the completed manuscript of his book God Speaks to two attending American Sufis
Sufism Reoriented
Sufism Reoriented is an American school of spiritual training headquartered in Walnut Creek, California, established by Meher Baba in 1952. In November of that year he signed The Chartered Guidance from Meher Baba for the Reorientation of Sufism. He appointed Ivy O...

, Lud Dimpfl and Don E. Stevens, for editing and publication in America. The book was published by Dodd, Mead and Company
Dodd, Mead and Company
Dodd, Mead and Company was one of the pioneer publishing houses of the United States, based in New York City. Under several names, the firm operated from 1839 until 1990. Its history properly began in 1870, with the retirement of its founder, Moses Woodruff Dodd. Control passed to his son Frank...

 the following year. On September 30, 1954 Meher Baba gave his "Final Declaration" message, in which he made various enigmatic predictions.

In October 1954, Meher Baba discarded his alphabet board and began using a unique set of hand gestures to communicate.

Automobile accident in India

On December 2, 1956, outside Satara
Satara
Satara is a city located in the Satara District of Maharashtra state of India. The town is 2320 ft. above sea-level, near the confluence of the Krishna and its tributary river Venna. The city was the capital of the Maratha empire in the 17th century, hence one of the the historical cities of...

, India, the car in which Baba was being driven went out of control and a second serious automobile accident occurred. Baba suffered a fractured pelvis and other severe injuries. Dr. Nilu, one of Baba's mandali
Mandali
Mandali from the Sanskrit mandala meaning circle, connection, community, is a term that Meher Baba used for his closest disciples.-Inner circle:...

, was killed. This collision seriously incapacitated Baba. Despite his physicians' predictions to the contrary, after great effort Baba managed to walk again, but from that point on he was in constant pain and was severely limited in his ability to move. In fact, during his trip to the West in 1958 he often needed to be carried from venue to venue. Baba indicated that his automobile accidents and the suffering that attended them were, like his silence, purposeful and brought about by his will.

Final visits to the West

In 1956, during his fifth visit to the US, Baba stayed at New York's Hotel Delmonico
Trump Park Avenue
Trump Park Avenue is a Luxury residential tower block owned by Real estate developer Donald Trump. It is located on the southern border of Lenox Hill at 502 Park Avenue Manhattan, New York City. It contains 120 luxury condominium apartments and 8 penthouses. The building is 32 storeys high. It...

 before traveling to the Meher Center at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach is a coastal city on the east coast of the United States in Horry County, South Carolina. It is situated on the center of a large and continuous stretch of beach known as the Grand Strand in northeastern South Carolina. It is considered to be a major tourist destination in the...

. In July he traveled to Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 and received friends and disciples at the home of Mrs. James Terry (Ivy) Duce, wife of the vice-president of the Arabian American Oil Co.
Saudi Aramco
Saudi Aramco , officially the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, is the national oil company of Saudi Arabia.Saudi Aramco is the world's largest and most valuable privately-held company, with estimates of its value in 2011 to be $7 trillion USD.Saudi Aramco has both the largest proven crude oil reserves,...

 He then traveled to Meher Mount
Meher Mount
Meher Mount is a spiritual center in Ojai, California that is dedicated to Meher Baba.It consists of of dense woodland and open fields on Sulphur Mountain in Ojai, California, about north of Los Angeles...

 at Ojai, California
Ojai, California
Ojai is a city in Ventura County, California, USA. It is situated in the Ojai Valley , surrounded by hills and mountains. The population was 7,461 at the 2010 census, down from 7,862 at the 2000 census.-History:Chumash Indians were the early inhabitants of the valley...

 before continuing on to Australia. His final visits to the United States and Australia were made in 1958.

Seclusion and East-West Gathering

Baba returned to India and began more periods of fasting, meditation, and seclusion. He conveyed that although the work was draining and exhausting, it was done on behalf of the spiritual welfare of all humanity.

In 1962, Baba gave one of his last public functions, a series of meetings he called The East-West Gathering. At these meetings, in which his western followers were invited to meet his Indian disciples, Baba gave darshan to many thousands of people despite the physical strain this caused.

Addressing the drug culture

In the mid 1960s Baba became concerned with the increasingly prevalent drug culture in the West and began a correspondence with several Western academics, including Timothy Leary
Timothy Leary
Timothy Francis Leary was an American psychologist and writer, known for his advocacy of psychedelic drugs. During a time when drugs like LSD and psilocybin were legal, Leary conducted experiments at Harvard University under the Harvard Psilocybin Project, resulting in the Concord Prison...

 and Richard Alpert
Ram Dass
Ram Dass is an American contemporary spiritual teacher and the author of the seminal 1971 book Be Here Now. He is known for his personal and professional associations with Timothy Leary at Harvard University in the early 1960s, for his travels to India and his relationship with the Hindu guru Neem...

, in which he strongly discouraged the use of all hallucinogenic drugs for spiritual purposes. In 1966 Baba's responses to questions on drugs were published in a pamphlet titled God in a Pill?
God in a Pill?
God in a Pill? was a 1966 pamphlet by Meher Baba in which he spoke out strongly against taking illicit drugs like marijuana and LSD, saying they were harmful "physically, mentally, and spiritually."...

Meher Baba stated that drug use was spiritually damaging and that if enlightenment were possible through drugs then "God is not worthy of being God." Meher Baba instructed some of his young Western disciples to spread this message; in doing so, they increased awareness of Meher Baba's teachings among the young during this period. In an interview with Frederick Chapman, a Harvard
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 graduate and Fulbright
Fulbright Program
The Fulbright Program, including the Fulbright-Hays Program, is a program of competitive, merit-based grants for international educational exchange for students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists, founded by United States Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946. Under the...

 scholar who met Baba during a year of study in India, Baba stated that LSD is "harmful physically, mentally and spiritually", and warned that "the continued use of LSD leads to madness or death."

On this basis, an anti-drug campaign was initiated by Baba lovers in the United States, Europe and Australia. Although the campaign was largely unsuccessful, it created a wave of new followers, and some of Baba’s views found their way into academic debate on the merits and dangers of hallucinogens.

Final seclusion and death

From the East-West Gathering onward, Baba's health steadily deteriorated. Despite the physical toll it took on his body, he continued to undergo long periods of seclusion, fasting and meditating.
In late July 1968, Baba completed a particularly taxing period of seclusion and stated that his work was "completed 100% to my satisfaction." By this point he was using a wheelchair. Within a few months his condition worsened and he was bed ridden. His body was wracked by intense muscular spasms that had no clear origin. Despite the care of several doctors, the spasms grew progressively worse.

On January 31, 1969, Meher Baba died, conveying by his last gestures, "Do not forget that I am God." In time his devotees called this day Amartithi
Amartithi
Amartithi is the day which commemorates Meher Baba's death on January 31, 1969.The word "Amartithi" appears to have been coined by Meher Baba and means "deathless day"...

(deathless day). Meher Baba's body was laid out for public viewing at his samadhi (tomb-shrine) at Meherabad
Meherabad
Meherabad was originally an ashram established by Meher Baba near Arangaon Village, India in 1923 about south of Ahmednagar. It is now the site of Meher Baba's samadhi as well as facilities and accommodations for pilgrims...

. Covered with roses, and cooled by ice, his body was kept available to the public for one week before its final burial.
Before his death, Meher Baba had made extensive preparations for a public darshan program to be held in Poona (now Pune
Pune
Pune , is the eighth largest metropolis in India, the second largest in the state of Maharashtra after Mumbai, and the largest city in the Western Ghats. Once the centre of power of the Maratha Empire, it is situated 560 metres above sea level on the Deccan plateau at the confluence of the Mula ...

), India. His mandali decided to proceed with the arrangements despite the physical absence of the host. Several thousand attended this "Last Darshan
1969 Darshan
The 1969 Darshan was a darshan where many followers of Meher Baba from around the world, many of whom had not met Meher Baba, came from East and West to Pune and Meherabad, India to pay homage to him after his death on January 31, 1969...

," including many hundreds of people from the United States, Europe, and Australia.

Metaphysics

Source: Baba, Meher, Dodd Mead, God Speaks, The Theme of Creation and Its Purpose

Meher Baba's metaphysical views are most notably described in God Speaks
God Speaks
God Speaks, The Theme of Creation and Its Purpose is the principal book by Meher Baba, and the most significant religious text used by his followers. It covers Meher Baba's view of the process of Creation and its purpose and has been in print continuously since 1955.-Overview:God Speaks is Meher...

.
His cosmology incorporates concepts and terms from Vedanta
Vedanta
Vedānta was originally a word used in Hindu philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal...

, Sufism
Sufism
Sufism or ' is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a '...

, and Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. Baba upheld the concept of nonduality
Nondualism
Nondualism is a term used to denote affinity, or unity, rather than duality or separateness or multiplicity. In reference to the universe it may be used to denote the idea that things appear distinct while not being separate. The term "nondual" can refer to a belief, condition, theory, practice,...

, the view that diverse creation, or duality, is an illusion and that the goal of life is conscious realization of the absolute Oneness of God inherent in all animate and inanimate beings and things. Meher Baba compares God's original state to an infinite, shoreless ocean that has only unconscious divinity — unaware of itself because this original unconscious state has no means for any self-knowledge. From this state, God had the "whim" to know Himself, and asked "Who am I?" In response to this question, creation came into existence. In this analogy, what was previously a still, shoreless Ocean now stirred, forming innumerable "drops" of itself or souls. Baba often remarked "You will find all the answers to your questions in God Speaks. Study the book thoroughly and absorb it.".

Evolution and Involution

According to Baba, each soul pursues conscious divinity by evolving: that is, experiencing form in seven "kingdoms" — stone/metal, vegetable, worm, fish, bird, animal, and human. The soul gathers sanskara
Sanskara
In Hinduism sanskaras are the imprints left on the subconscious mind by experience in this or previous lives, which then color all of life, one's nature, responses, states of mind, etc.-Overview:Sanskaras are impressions derived from past experiences that form desires that influence future...

s
(impressions) in each form; these impressions lead to further evolution expressed by taking new, more complex forms. With each new form, increasing consciousness is gained until the soul experiences and discards forms from all the evolutionary kingdoms. The final form of the soul's evolution is the human form. Only in the human form can the soul experience its own divinity by entering into involution
Involution (Meher Baba)
For Indian spiritual master Meher Baba, involution is the inner path of the human soul to the Self. Charles Haynes, in describing Meher Baba's sense of involution writes, "The old and new impressions, both of which create a veil over consciousness, gradually wear away, revealing an increasingly ...

,
through which it gradually eliminates all impressions that cause the appearance of separateness from God.

Reincarnation and God-realization

Baba asserts that in the human form, the soul becomes subject to reincarnation
Reincarnation
Reincarnation best describes the concept where the soul or spirit, after the death of the body, is believed to return to live in a new human body, or, in some traditions, either as a human being, animal or plant...

, the "involuntary process of association and disassociation of consciousness". The purpose of reincarnation is to provide the opportunity for liberation from illusion. The soul reincarnates innumerable times in all conditions of life encompassing the whole range of human experience (e.g. man/woman, rich/poor, powerful/weak, etc.). Through the experience of opposites, sanskaras gradually grow fainter and scarcer. Meher Baba describes the process of God-realization this way:
From out of the depth of unbroken Infinity arose the Question, "Who am I?" And to that Question there is the answer, "I am God!"

Meher Baba described heaven and hell as transitory and illusory states between incarnations:
The states of heaven and hell are nothing but states of intensive experiences of the consciousness of the soul, experiencing either of the predominant counterparts of the opposite impressions while the soul is dissociated from the gross human body or form.

Perfect Masters and the Avatar

Baba explained that at all times on Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 there are fifty-six incarnate God-realized souls and that of these souls there are always five who constitute the five Perfect Masters of their era. When one of the five Perfect Masters dies, Baba asserted that another God-realized soul among the fifty-six immediately replaces him or her by taking up that office.

The Avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

,
according to Baba, is a special Perfect Master, the first soul to achieve God-realization. This soul, the original Perfect Master, or the "Ancient One," never ceases to incarnate. Baba indicated that this particular soul personifies the state of God which in Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 is named Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

and in Sufism is named Parvardigar
Parvardigar
Parvardigar or Parwardigar is a Sufi name of God. Its literal meaning is sustainer, a name metaphorically and attributively used for Allah or God....

,
i.e. the sustainer or preserver state of God. According to Meher Baba the Avatar appears on Earth every 700–1400 years and is 'brought down' into human form by the five Perfect Masters of the time to aid in the process of moving creation in its never-ending journey toward Godhood. Baba asserted that in other ages this role was fulfilled by Zoroaster
Zoroaster
Zoroaster , also known as Zarathustra , was a prophet and the founder of Zoroastrianism who was either born in North Western or Eastern Iran. He is credited with the authorship of the Yasna Haptanghaiti as well as the Gathas, hymns which are at the liturgical core of Zoroastrianism...

, Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

, Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

, Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

, Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

, and Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

.

Baba described the Avatar as "a gauge against which man can measure what he is and what he may become. He trues the standard of human values by interpreting them in terms of divinely human life."

Most of Meher Baba's followers accept his claim of avatarhood and he is said to be "revered by millions around the world as the Avatar of the age and a God realized being."

Legacy

Baba's travels and teachings left a legacy of followers and devotees worldwide. Although Baba participated in large public gatherings, he discouraged evangelizing, stating, "I need no propaganda or publicity." Rather, he encouraged his followers to "let your life itself be my message of love and truth to others" and to "spread my message of Love and Truth as far and wide as possible."

The Avatar Meher Baba Trust
Avatar Meher Baba Trust
The Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust is a Charitable trust created by Meher Baba in 1959 to fulfill after his death various directives given by him. Bhau Kalchuri is currently its chairman.- History and charter :...

, established by Meher Baba, maintains his tomb and pilgrimage facilities, provides support for aging mandali, and engages in other activities. The Trust, however, does not act as a central spiritual authority.

Followers of Meher Baba have no obligatory rites, rituals or duties, as in most religions. Many followers do undertake certain rituals and prayers, but the choice is personal. The primary focus for followers is living a life Meher Baba would approve of, for example, refraining from the use of psychedelic drug
Psychedelic drug
A psychedelic substance is a psychoactive drug whose primary action is to alter cognition and perception. Psychedelics are part of a wider class of psychoactive drugs known as hallucinogens, a class that also includes related substances such as dissociatives and deliriants...

s, including marijuana
Cannabis (drug)
Cannabis, also known as marijuana among many other names, refers to any number of preparations of the Cannabis plant intended for use as a psychoactive drug or for medicinal purposes. The English term marijuana comes from the Mexican Spanish word marihuana...

, and trying to remember God with love.

Gatherings of Baba followers are highly informal and social in nature. Special effort is often made to gather together on Amartithi
Amartithi
Amartithi is the day which commemorates Meher Baba's death on January 31, 1969.The word "Amartithi" appears to have been coined by Meher Baba and means "deathless day"...

, the anniversary of Baba's death, and on his birthday. Most Baba followers keep silent on July 10 (Silence Day
Silence Day
Silence Day is the name, the followers of Meher Baba give to their practice of commemorating July 10 of each year by maintaining verbal silence for twenty-four hours.From July 10, 1925 until his death in 1969, Meher Baba was silent...

), observing the request Baba frequently made of his followers during his lifetime.

Three prayers written by Meher Baba, "O Parvardigar
O Parvardigar
O Parvardigar is the common name of a prayer composed by Meher Baba, sometimes called the Master's Prayer or the Universal Prayer. It is also a song on an album by Pete Townshend....

", the "Prayer of Repentance
Prayer of Repentance
The Prayer of Repentance is a prayer created by Meher Baba. Meher Baba dictated the prayer in Gujarati in Khuldabad, India in November, 1951.The prayer has become a part of a canon of prayers regularly repeated by Meher Baba's followers, along with the O Parvardigar and the Beloved God Prayer...

" and the "Beloved God Prayer
Beloved God Prayer
Beloved God is the common name of a prayer created by Meher Baba on August 25, 1959. Meher Baba was fond of the prayer, and encouraged his followers to repeat it....

," are recited morning and evening at his samadhi in India and are often recited at gatherings. Many followers personally repeat these prayers daily. At Meherabad
Meherabad
Meherabad was originally an ashram established by Meher Baba near Arangaon Village, India in 1923 about south of Ahmednagar. It is now the site of Meher Baba's samadhi as well as facilities and accommodations for pilgrims...

, his followers maintain Baba's practice of lighting a dhuni
Dhuni (Meher Baba)
The Dhuni is a fire ritual that Meher Baba coopted from other religious traditions and made his own. Thus his use of the word and modification of its performance is not precisely analogous to its traditional form as found in Hinduism.- Overview :Meher Baba's Dhuni was first lit on November 10,...

 fire on the 12th of each month. After dhuni prayers, participants throw sandalwood
Sandalwood
Sandalwood is the name of a class of fragrant woods from trees in the genus Santalum. The woods are heavy, yellow, and fine-grained, and unlike many other aromatic woods they retain their fragrance for decades. As well as using the harvested and cut wood in-situ, essential oils are also extracted...

 twigs dipped in ghee
Ghee
Ghee is a class of clarified butter that originated in South Asia and is commonly used in South Asian cuisine....

 into the flame as physical representations of limitations and desires they wish to relinquish.

Although Baba had initially begun gaining public attention in the West as early as 1932 as the result of contacts with some celebrities of the time (such as Charles Laughton
Charles Laughton
Charles Laughton was an English-American stage and film actor, screenwriter, producer and director.-Early life and career:...

, Tallulah Bankhead
Tallulah Bankhead
Tallulah Brockman Bankhead was an award-winning American actress of the stage and screen, talk-show host, and bonne vivante...

, Boris Karloff
Boris Karloff
William Henry Pratt , better known by his stage name Boris Karloff, was an English actor.Karloff is best remembered for his roles in horror films and his portrayal of Frankenstein's monster in Frankenstein , Bride of Frankenstein , and Son of Frankenstein...

 and others) and from the rather disillusioned account of Paul Brunton
Paul Brunton
Paul Brunton was probably born as Hermann Hirsch of German Jewish origin. Later he changed his name to Raphael Hurst, and then Brunton Paul and finally Paul Brunton. He was a British philosopher, mystic, traveler, and guru...

 (A Search in Secret India, 1934), he achieved additional attention over three decades later through the work of Pete Townshend of The Who
The Who
The Who are an English rock band formed in 1964 by Roger Daltrey , Pete Townshend , John Entwistle and Keith Moon . They became known for energetic live performances which often included instrument destruction...

. Parts of the rock-opera Tommy (May 1969) were inspired by Townshend's study of Baba, to whom the album was dedicated. The Who's 1971 song "Baba O'Riley
Baba O'Riley
"Baba O'Riley" is a song written by Pete Townshend for the English rock band The Who. Roger Daltrey sings most of the song, with Pete Townshend singing the middle eight: "Don't cry/don't raise your eye/it's only teenaged wasteland"...

" was named in part after Meher Baba, and on his first solo album, Who Came First
Who Came First
Who Came First is the first major-label solo album by Pete Townshend, released in 1972 on Track Records in the UK and Track/Decca in the US. It includes demos from the aborted concept album Lifehouse, part of which became Who's Next...

, Townshend recorded the Jim Reeves
Jim Reeves
James Travis Reeves , better known as Jim Reeves, was an American country and popular music singer-songwriter. With records charting from the 1950s to the 1980s, he became well-known for being a practitioner of the Nashville sound...

 song "There's A Heartache Following Me," saying that it was Meher Baba's favorite song.

Concepts of Meher Baba's philosophy, often including characters resembling Baba, have frequently appeared in works of comic book writer J. M. DeMatteis
J. M. DeMatteis
John Marc DeMatteis is an American writer of comic books.-Early career:Born in Brooklyn, DeMatteis graduated from Midwood High School and Empire State College. He worked as a music critic before getting his start in comic books at DC Comics in the late 1970s...

, including Dr. Fate
Doctor Fate
Doctor Fate is the name of a succession of fictional sorcerers who appear in books published by DC Comics. The original version was created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Howard Sherman, and first appeared in More Fun Comics #55...

, Seekers Into The Mystery, The Last One
The Last One
"The Last One" is the series finale of the television sitcom Friends. The episode serves as the seventeenth and eighteenth episode of season ten; the episode's two parts were classified as two separate episodes. It was written by series creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman, and directed by...

and Batman
Batman
Batman is a fictional character created by the artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger. A comic book superhero, Batman first appeared in Detective Comics #27 , and since then has appeared primarily in publications by DC Comics...

: Absolution.


Bobby McFerrin
Bobby McFerrin
Robert "Bobby" McFerrin, Jr. is an American vocalist and conductor. He is best known for his 1988 hit song "Don't Worry, Be Happy". He is a ten-time Grammy Award winner.-Life:...

's 1988 Grammy Award
Grammy Award
A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

-winning song "Don't Worry, Be Happy
Don't Worry, Be Happy
"Don't Worry, Be Happy" is a song by musician Bobby McFerrin. Released in September 1988, it became the first a cappella song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, a position it held for two weeks. On the UK Singles Chart, the song reached number 2 during its fifth week on the chart...

" was inspired by a popular quote of Baba seen in numerous Baba posters and inspirational cards.

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