«How many are you expecting», I asked one of the volunteers on duty. (Amartithi, a three day celebration, is managed by volunteers from India and abroad).
She replied: Some 25 to 30 thousand.
«Is this not a small number considering that Meher Baba has declared that He is the Avatar?»
Professor J. S. Rathore doesn’t think so. He poses a counter question as he sits outside the “Baba Cabin Room” adjacent to the Samadhi. «How many had flocked to Jesus or Rama during their time», he asks and goes on to explain that it is all a part of divine working.
«The Avatar speaks from hearts. And only a few are fortunate to hear the voice and they come to see Him», said, Rathore, who has just launched the “virtual” Meher Spiritual University (MSU).
MSU utilizes the Internet to make available to seekers Meher Baba’s treasure trove of spiritual knowledge at their “own convenience, pace and at any time of day or night”, according to the Professor, who has settled down in Meherabad after nurturing several leading universities in Central India over many decades.
As if to prove Rathore right, a lady from Iran in her late fifties, travelled all the way guided by her “inner voice”. She never saw Meher Baba and being an orthodox Muslim, she had no reason to believe what she was hearing and seeing in her dreams night — after-night till He revealed Himself to her deep inside her heart one day.
He appeared first as the light from the vick of a candle; then emerged out of the light Baba wearing a red garland. «I did not see Him in His full body. It was only the bust», she told me when I met her to hear her interesting account.
«My father threatened to kill me if I changed my religion», she recalled. «But I told him that I was not changing my religion and went ahead with my believes and convictions.»
Shiraz is a must visit to every one passing through Iran. Here lived a great Sufi (Muslim mystic), Hafiz, long years ago and his Samadhi attracts people from all walks of life. Baba used to refer to Hafiz’s sayings during His discourses.
Three Hafiz couplets displayed in the Baba Cabin Room read: «Befitting a fortunate slave carry out every command of the Master without any questions of why and what. About what you hear from the Master, never say it is wrong, because My dear, the fault lies in your own incapacity to understand Him. I am a slave of the Master who has released me from ignorance. Whatever my Master does is of the highest benefit to all concerned.»
Shiraz connection to Meherabad? Yes, there is. Khosrow Namiranian, Baba Khosrow to his close circle, lived in Shiraz and made his home the “tavern of Divine Love” to all visitors. As an eight-year-old, he, along with a twin brother, attended a school Baba had run at Meherabad. «He has hit the fire of Divine Love in our tender hearts», Khosrow used to tell his visitors.
Baba Khosrow always kissed the dust off the feet of whoever had entered his house. Why? When this question was put to him shortly before his death in December 2007, his reply was: «It is Beloved Meher Baba’s will that you are here. So you are very precious to me.»
Whether in the distant past or in the present, it is not easy to live in Iran with faith rooted firmly in the “New Avatar”.
«Only when all Mullahs become Baba lovers, it will be easy to live there», remarked an Iranian Baba follower from the United States, presently on a visit to Meherabad. He left home for the land of El’ Dorado as a youngster.
Iran finds a special place in Meher Baba chronicles for yet another reason. Meher Baba father was from Iran. Sheriarji Irani was a Parsi by birth. By the time, he landed in Pune after wandering through Afghanistan and present day Pakistan, in search of God, the city had a sizeable Parsi population. (Parsis are followers of Zoroaster; many of them left Iran some time in the fourteenth century to avoid persecution at home and have spread all over the world).
May be because of this connection or may be because of the spiritual significance of Iran, Meher Baba visited Iran. And declared that he had laid his seeds of love at Machad, which would grow into a big tree with His full manifestation. This place is in Northern Iran and is close to the border with Afghanistan.
Every evening, Iranians, on a visit to Meherabad, chant «Baba, Baba, Allah, Hu» (God in Arabic).
All others present join in chorus as the Iranians sing in praise of Meher Baba and hail Him as the one and only Ancient One, who had come as Ram, Krishna, Jesus, Buddha, Zartusht ( Zoroaster), Khuda and Morshed.
About an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening, such chants are heard at Meherabad, as His lovers gather in the forecourt of the Samadhi, offer prayers and sing bhajans. Rest of the day silence reins supreme, befitting the Master, who has declared: «To follow Me is to obey Me and to do as I want.»
Next week, the focus will be on Shiridi Sai Baba’s connection to Meher Baba about which there is no mention anywhere in the Sai Charita itself.