by Bal Natu
AVATAR MEHER BABA
AGE after age, when the wick of Righteousness burns low, the Avatar comes yet once again to rekindle the torch of Love and Truth. Age after age, amidst the clamour of disruptions, wars, fear and chaos, rings the Avatar’s call:
COME ALL UNTO ME ….
The time is come. I repeat the Call, and bid all come unto me.
-Avatar Meher Baba
In this age, the Avatar (God in human form) came on February 25, 1894. That was when Merwan Sheriar Irani (Meher Baba) was born to Zoroastrian parents in Poona, India. He led a happy childhood, excelling in games, especially cricket. He was a leader of the team and loved by all his friends.
One day, in 1913, while on his way to Deccan College in Poona, Merwan was beckoned by a very old woman sitting under a neem tree. This was Hazrat Babajan, one of the five Perfect Masters (Sadgurus) of the time. She embraced Merwan, and after that he lost all interest in his studies. He took to sitting with her regularly for hours, especially at night.
Sometime in January 1914, she bestowed upon him Divine Grace and Merwan lost conscious-ness of everyone and everything except the infinite bliss of his own Eternal Existence. Another Perfect Master, Upasni Maharaj, helped Merwan regain complete consciousness of Creation while retaining His God consciousness and, in 1921, established Merwan in his role and status as the Avatar of the Age.
Although Babajan and Upasni Maharaj played the major roles in the Divine Lila of unveiling the Avatar, Merwan visited all five Perfect Masters of the time. In fact, before visiting Upasni Maharaj, Merwan first went to see Sai Baba of Shirdi, the Head of the spiritual hierarchy (Qutub-e-Irshad), who hailed him as Parvardigar (the Preserver and Protector of all). Earlier, Merwan had also contacted Tajuddin Baba and Narayan Maharaj.
Returning to Poona from Sakori in December 1921, the power of Merwan’s personality, his overwhelming presence and the almost palpable aura of perfection which surrounded Him attracted followers who began to call Him Meher Baba. Baba now began a life of intense activity, establishing for various periods of time schools, hospitals, dharmashalas and ashrams.
As part of His Avataric work, on July 10, 1925, Meher Baba began observing silence. A few days earlier one of His disciples asked Him, “But if you keep silent, how will you teach us?” to which Baba answered , “I have come not to teach but to awaken.”
There were many who were puzzled by Baba’s silence and repeatedly pressed Him to break it and speak. Once Baba commented, “If my silence cannot speak, of what avail words!” On another occasion Baba dictated, “You have asked for and been given enough words, it is now time to live them.” To those who still felt bereft of guidance because of Baba’s silence, He assured, “I am never silent, I speak eternally. The voice that is heard deep within the soul is My voice . . . the voice of inspiration, of intuition, of guidance, through those who are receptive to this voice I speak.” At a different time Baba remarked, “Things that are real are given and received in silence.”
In spite of His silence, Meher Baba continued to serve the needs of humanity on material as well as spiritual levels. However, some were bewildered by Baba’s method of disbanding the institutions He established (schools, hospitals, etc.) when they were flourishing. Baba once explained that, worthy as such endeavors might be, they were only scaffoldings for His inner spiritual work which is the Avatar’s perennial mission of awakening people’s hearts to the reality of God’s love.
To this end, Meher Baba traveled extensively throughout India (and what is now Pakistan) and gave His personal touch to the hundreds of thousands who flocked to Him during public darshan programs. Baba also went to considerable lengths to contact His “beloved children,” the masts (those whose minds have become over-powered by their love for God), to comfort them, to answer the yearning cries of their hearts and to give them a spiritual push in their journey to God. This seems to have been a phase of work that was unique to this Avataric Advent.
Meher Baba also made thirteen visits to the West. In fact He twice completely circled the globe in His travels. In the ’50s He met with two serious automobile accidents: one in May 1952 in America near Prague, Oklahoma, and the other near Satara in India in December 1956. He suffered excruciating physical pain and it was difficult for Him to walk after the second accident. His intense suffering and helplessness were to help us in our pain and suffering.
Meher Baba established two Centers in the West. In 1952 He visited Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, U.S.A. where He stayed at the Meher Spiritual Center, which He called His “home” in the West. During His visit to Australia in 1958, He stayed at a place on Kiel Mountain in Queens-land which He named “Avatar’s Abode.” These two centers continue to welcome pilgrims from around the world who come to remember Him and are awakened more and more in His love.
Although Meher Baba observed silence, through the medium of an alphabet board (which He discarded in October 1954) and through lively hand gestures, He dictated several books and many messages concerning one’s journey to God, God’s Advent as Man and His eternal relationship with humanity. The main books authored by Baba are God Speaks and the Discourses. The latter includes enlightening statements on meditation, reincarnation, occultism, maya, the formation and removal of the ego and sanskaras, etc. Baba, however, always put more emphasis on loving God than understanding metaphysics. As He explained once to a university professor, philosophy is only “a simple thing made difficult.”
Meher Baba never asked His followers to leave their respective religions. “All religions are revelations of God,” He explained, but He asked them to follow the innermost core of the religion.
As for Himself, Baba stated, “I belong to no religion. Every religion belongs to Me. My personal religion is my being the Ancient, Infinite one, and the religion I impart to all is love for God, which is the Truth of all religions.”
Avatar Meher Baba’s biography, in one sense, may be divided into three main phases. The “Old Life” of perfect Divinity that placed Him on the altar of absolute Godhood and divine Perfection. It seemingly concluded on 15th October 1949. The next day ushered in Meher Baba’s “New Life” of perfect humility, when the Avatar became an “ordinary man” amongst men, traveling all over India with only a few companions, living the life of total reliance on God. This phase ended in February 1952 and gave way to the “Life” phase.
This “Life” represented the perfect blending of Godhood and manhood into each other. In Baba’s words, “This union of the old and new life states has given birth to LIFE: life that is eternally old and new.” But in every phase, the central message of Baba’s life can be summed up in the words He greeted some Westerners with when they came to see Him,
“Inscribe these words upon your heart: Nothing is real but God. Nothing matters but love for God.”
On February 10, 1954, during His visit to the district of Hamirpur in Uttar Pradesh, Meher Baba in a momentous moment spelt on His alphabet board, “Avatar Meher Baba Ki” and raised His right hand as the crowd around Him enthusiastically joined in the “Jai!” From that time, Baba began to unequivocally assert at all times, publicly and privately, that He is God in human form – the Avatar of the Age.
During Meher Baba’s second glorious tour of Andhra, the last place He visited was Kakinada. During one of the house visits, the host requested Baba to give a message. Baba spontaneously dictated from His board:
“It is possible through love, for man to become God. And when God becomes man, it is due to His love for His beings.
If people were to ask Me, ‘Have you seen God?’ I would reply, ‘What else is there to see?’ If they were to ask Me, ‘Are you God’ I would reply, ‘What else could I be?’. If they were to ask Me, ‘Are you the Avatar?’ I would say, ‘Why else have I taken this human form?’
So, the only message I could give, and have ever been giving is – Love Me . . . and you will find that your own Self is nothing but God.“
Once Avatar Meher Baba was asked, “What is the most difficult thing in spiritual life?” With a disarming smile, He responded, “To be perfectly human.”Characteristically, this simple and spontaneous reply is also very profound. Perhaps it holds the key to understanding the life of the Avatar Himself. For the Avatar, the God-Man, the Christ, while completely God, is also perfectly human. His perfectly human side, which included a great sense of humor, however, often puzzles those who have preconceived ideas of spirituality and the spiritual life.
Another time, referring to the Avatar’s life, Baba described it as a “Life of God in essence and that of a man in actions.”The “essence” of Meher Baba’s life was His inner work of awakening humanity, in silence, to God’s love and giving everything in Creation a spiritual push towards God. His “actions” included not only His service to the poor, the sick and the afflicted, but also His love of music and games of all types, His enjoyment of jokes, skits, outings and humorous movies.
Meher Baba, as the Avatar, descends to the level of each individual and has a unique relationship with every one. To seekers He is the Goal; to some He is the Divine Mother; to some the Father, while to others He is the Friend, the Companion; and to His lovers He is the Eternal Beloved. But invariably, He uses the language of the individual’s heart to call each one to Him.
As the One who is eternally sought, Avatar Meher Baba has assured all, “Don’t lose heart for I am in your heart. Don’t worry, call on Me and I will help you.” Those who accept this invitation soon find themselves drenched in His unconditional love. For, as Baba declares:
I am the Divine Beloved who loves you more than you can ever love yourself.
I am the Ocean of Love. I have only love to give and all I want is Love.
Meher Baba’s silence remained unbroken except in the hearts of those responsive to His inner call when He laid aside His physical body at Meherazad on January 31, 1969. The place where Meher Baba’s body is entombed on Meherabad Hill, near Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, India has become a focal point for those who want to love and follow Him. It is especially possible here to meet the Avatar on a personal level and establish or reconfirm an intimate relationship with Him which will help clarify the guidance He eternally gives as the Ancient One. It is also possible to do this in your own heart, wherever you may be in the world, for as Avatar Meher Baba has explained:
The Avatar awakens contemporary humanity to a realization of its true spiritual nature . . . . For posterity is left the stimulating power of His divinely human example – of the nobility of a life supremely lived, of a love unmixed with desire, of a power unused except for others, of a peace untroubled by ambition, of a knowledge undimmed by illusion . . . ..
I bring the greatest treasure it is possible for man to receive – a treasure that includes all other treasures, that will endure forever, that increases when shared with others. Be ready to receive it.
The Avataric period is the “springtide” of Creation. The Avatar has come and has given His clarion call. Let us harken to it. This will awaken love within us to help us lead a life with clarity of thought, honesty in action and purity of heart.
Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai!