Meherwan Sheriar Irani (Meher Baba) was born in Pune, India in February 1894. His parents were of Persian origin. He was first educated in Dastur Girls’ School and later in St. Vincent High School, from where he was matriculated. In 1913, while in his first year at Deccan College he came in contact with Hazrat Babajan, one of the five Perfect Masters of the Age, who by a kiss on his forehead awakened him to the experience of what one may call God-realization.
During the course of subsequent seven years Upasani Maharaj, another Perfect Master of the age gave him knowledge of his infinite state and integrated his God-consciousness with the consciousness of the gross world, preparing him thus for his role.
He was reported to have met the other three perfect Masters of the time before he came in contact with Upasani Maharaj, but no record of what happened in such meeting is available, except that Sai Baba of Shirdi uttered “Parvardigar” on seeing him.
In 1921, he began his divine work with the early disciples he had collected around him while living in a hut built for him by Shri Sadashiv Govind Shelke at Shivajinagar, Pune near the popular shrine of goddess Chatusringi. After a few years of intensive training of these disciples and travel with them in India and Iran, Meher Baba finally established, what is now called ‘Meher Retreat’ at Meherabad, on the outskirts of Arangaon village in Ahmednagar. Here he instituted various activities of ego service and self-giving love for the disciples. Judged from the standard of worldly activities, these may appear to an objective observer as charitable, social, cultural or educational activities, which though valuable in that period of Indian history, were insignificant. But viewed from an angle of spiritual emancipation of mankind for which alone Perfect Master is ordained in the divine plan of God’s functioning these activities were motivations or spiritual stimulation for the transformation of all spheres of existence, planes of consciousness and departments of life.
Meher Baba began his unique silence on 10th July 1925, and stopped writing in 1927. At first he communicated by writing on slates, then by pointing to letters on an alphabet board, which he gave up on 7th October 1954. Thereafter he conversed through his own unique shorthand system of representative gestures.
Though silent and abstaining from writing, Meher Baba had released a large volume of works revealing the spiritual theme of human life clearer than any master had ever done before him, explaining creation, evolution of consciousness through infinite variety of forms, re-incarnation and involution of consciousness in a language intelligible to an average man’s understanding and at the same time scientific and logical in convincing the rationalist.
The history of man’s search for his soul has produced few works dealing with the technique for the soul’s discovery. Meher Baba’s discourses are a major contribution to that small body of literature. In this work, given to his close disciples in the period 1938–43, he describes the means of incorporating daily life into one’s spiritual ongoing. He also outlines the structure of Creation, but only to clarify the relationship of the aspirant to the Master. In his classic later work ‘God Speaks’ Meher Baba described in detail the vertical system of God, His Will to know Himself consciously, and the purpose of creation in the Will . The discourses on the other hand are the practical guide for the aspirant as he slowly finds his way back to Oneness, after having developed consciousness through the deeps of evolution. While the discourse provide detailed descriptions of the Path and its disciplines. Rather, they are a constant, firm reminder of the need for a Master on this Path of apparent return to Oneness. The Master is the knowing guide who had already traversed the Path, who provides with infinite patience the secure and steady pace that can lead to the goal. While Baba admits the possibility of achieving progress without such a guide, he makes it clear that it is fraught with almost insurmountable problems, and difficulties.
To one who debates allying himself with a teacher of the inner processes, the discourses provide invaluable insight. To one who senses that life is to be lived for its positive contribution to the discovery of the inner being, Baba provides the unarguable description of one who knows. His other books, ‘Listen, Humanity,’ ‘ Life At Its Best’, ‘Beams on the Spiritual Panorama’, ‘The Everything & The Nothing’ were given by him to educate the minds of earnest aspirants after Truth, giving them enough intellectual insight to understand the falsity of this material world and ego-centric and separative existence, and to awaken love for Truth (God) and longing for living in Truth (God).
Meher Baba had widely traveled all over India. Iran and other Eastern countries contacting large numbers of people. In the 1930s Baba’s travels began to reach Europe and then to America. His name rapidly became known to those deeply and sincerely interested in the spiritual discipline on both continents.
When not on travels, which were practically stopped in 1958 after his last global tour, he lived mostly in Meherabad, in Ahmednagar District, the field of his concentrated activities and where almost all of his lovers’ gatherings were held till 1958. During summer months from April through June every year he used to stay in Pune, where his activities began centralising since 1956 and finally shifted to from 1958 onwards. Baba’s life can be divided into Ekantavas (seclusion) Upavas (fast) and Sahavas (living with others).
His life in seclusion and fasting was considered to be a period of intensive work in invisible spheres of existence and on planes of consciousness speeding up the evolution of Creation, descending divinity into the gross plane raising the consciousness of mankind. His external activities of contacting men individually and collectively sowed the seeds of love in their hearts which awaken them to a life of love and sacrifice and perpetuate his name and the truth he revealed.
A persistent theme throughout the forty eight years of Meher Baba’s work had been his seeking out of what he called ‘mast’ (God-intoxicated) and his homage to those afflicted by disease and want. ‘The Wayfarers’ by Dr. William Donkin is a valuable record of these activities of Meher Baba which unfold avenues of understanding the psychology of human life as never before known to mankind.
Those stricken by leprosy have been a constant concern of Meher Baba. With infinite care and love he washed their feet, bowed his forehead to the often twisted stumps on which they toddle, and sent them on their way with renewed hopes and peace. They are like beautiful birds caught in an ugly cage,” he once said on such an occasion. “Of all the tasks that I have to perform, this touches me most deeply.”
His disciples, known as ‘mandali’, resident with him were representative of what one may call miniature world family not only unified diverse religions and regions of the world, but represented all aspects of human nature through whom he worked to free the consciousness of mankind from the illusion of separative existence and tendencies. While Baba manifested divinity in its pristine beauty and glory through his ever changing moods and movements his mandali expressed humanity in all its nakedness through their life of love and service. His was a life of infinite suffering which he termed as moment to moment’s crucifixion, sustained by what he called His infinite bliss. The drama of his divine life on earth ended at 12.15 p.m. on 31st January 1969 establishing his individuality in the indivisibility of God’s infinite existence.