Meher Baba, who was also known as the ‘Awakener’, was an Indian spiritual guru who was active in the 20th century.
He was widely known and revered for proclaiming himself as God in human form, and his devotees christened him as the long-awaited one for this age in the lineage of messiahs, including Christ, Prophet Muhammad, and Buddha.
Similar to other prominent spiritual masters of the 20th century, such as Sri Yukteswar, Anandamayi Ma, and Yogananda, Meher Baba taught an interfaith approach to the yogic goal of realizing God.
In this article, we’ll delve into the below on Meher Baba:
- His Early Life
- His Spiritual Awakening
- As A Spiritual Master
- HIs Teachings
Meher Baba, born on February 25, 1894, in Poona, India, was given the name Merwan Sheriar Irani by his Persian parents. His father, Sheriar Irani, was a devout seeker of God who followed the Zoroastrian faith.
As a schoolboy, Meher Baba was known for being generous, compassionate and kind, but unlike other spiritual gurus, apparently showed no spiritual inclination.
A hagiographic account of his childhood however reports in contrast that his father had a vision of Meher Baba’s impending God-realization.
Meher Baba was well educated, studying at a Christian school in his hometown of Poona, before pursuing further studies in Pune, India.
Upon studying in college in Pune in the year 1913, Meher Baba had experienced a pivotal moment in his spiritual journey.
Supposedly hearing a voice beckoning him, he was drawn to a mosque where he saw an old woman perched by the entrance. The old lady was Hazrat Babajan, a revered Sufi saint, known for her spiritual powers.
Meher Baba would later label Hazrat Babajan one of five Perfect Masters.
The Five Perfect Masters
A Perfect Master according to Meher Baba is a soul that has “become conscious of itself as God and uses His divine attributes for the spiritual advancement of others”.
He goes on to explain that at any time on Earth there are 56 incarnate God-realized souls, with only 5 of these souls deemed as Perfect Masters. The differentiating factor between the rest of the cohort and the 5 Perfect Masters is that the latter have disciples.
Meher Baba further denotes that contemporary to his own God-realization, that the Five Perfect Masters were:
Back to the story of his spiritual awakening – it was this chance meeting with Hazrat Babajan which induced his spiritual enlightenment, and recognition of his true identity.
Hazrat Babajan kissed him on the forehead, which caused him to enter a trance for months during which he left his body and entered a divine state of consciousness.
Meher Baba later described this experience as what gave him the knowledge that he was an Avatar: a human template of God. The sudden realization and spiritual awakening he went under actually prompted those around him to believe he had gone clinically insane.
Over the next seven years, he sought out the other four Perfect Masters and learned from their instructions how to exist in both infinite divine consciousness and the state of ordinary earthly consciousness.
Meeting With Upasani Maharaj
His engagement with the four Perfect Masters helped center his God-realization progressively, culminating in work with Upasani Maharaj. Meher Baba worked directly with Upasani Maharaj to integrate his God-consciousness with everyday human existence.
Upasani Maharaj was a Hindu saint, and this integration through transference of divine knowledge helped Meher Baba move from a raw God-realized soul into spiritual perfection.
This integration allowed him to function as a teacher among lay people in this world.
By 1921, Upasani declared Meher Baba to be one of the next Perfect Masters and an avatar.
As A Spiritual Master
In the early 1920’s, he was by now attracting a small following, who gave him his title “Meher Baba”, which translates to “Compassionate Father”. Some devotees proclaimed that he was in fact the next Messiah.
His popularity and spiritual support grew, and soon people from all over India came to be in his presence and hear his teaching.
In this time, Meher Baba proclaimed to his followers: “I am infinite power, knowledge and bliss. I am the Ancient One, come to redeem the modern world.”
Meher Baba decided to set up a permanent fixture of his teaching in the form of an ashram called Meherabad.
He established a space in Bombay (modern-day Mumbai), where he put through a close-knit group of disciples through extreme spiritual training. After a few years, the ashram was built in a community near Ahmednagar – some 100 kilometers away from Pune.
At Meherabad, Meher Baba established a range of local social services including a free education that emphasized spiritual development, a free hospital and pharmacy services, and shelters for those in need.
He fostered here a culture of inclusivity where individuals of all castes and religions mingled freely under his leadership.
It was from here that Meher Baba provided his training for his disciples and the wider community, teaching a code for moral discipline, devotion for God, and selfless service.
From 1925, Meher Baba undertook silence, communicating generally through writing. This silence lasted 44 years, to his last breath.
From 1927, he stopped writing to communicate and started using an alphabet board and hand gestures.
Trips To The West And Within India
In 1931, he made his inaugural trip to the West and shared a voyage with Mahatma Gandhi as his spiritual advisor, who was en route to the Round Table Conference in London.
After arriving in England and America, he hand-picked a group of Western disciples, some of whom later traveled with him to India.
He visited his disciples in the West several times before the outbreak of the Second World War, further solidifying his spiritual legacy in both the East and the West. His last visit to the U.S. was in 1958 to one of his established centers in Myrtle Beach: Meher Spiritual Center.
Throughout the 1940s, he journeyed extensively across India to assist the impoverished, those with leprosy, and the mentally ill. Meher Baba called lepers “beautiful souls in ugly cages”, and regularly bathed them and treated them with loving kindness.
In this period, he sought to help people he termed as ‘masts’: those who were ‘intoxicated with God’, and therefore disabled in ordinary reality by their engagement with divine reality.
He established ‘mast’ ashrams throughout the country, attending to their basic needs like food, shelter, and bathing.
In his final years, during the swinging sixties – he became prolific in the West by overtly opposing the use of LSD and other drugs as gateway methods to spirituality.
Towards the end of the 60s, Meher Baba withdrew into seclusion, telling his devotees in 1968 that his work was 100% complete to his satisfaction.
Meher Baba passed away after eliciting a final message: “Do not forget that I am God.”
His main mission was to heal humanity of our spiritual suffering in our ignorance of our divine nature. His main principle was love:
I have come to sow the seed of love in your hearts so that in spite of all superficial diversity which your life in illusion must experience and endure, the feeling of oneness through love is brought about amongst all the nations, creeds, sects and castes of the world.
Oneness Of Humanity And Love Of God
He stressed the unity of mankind and asserted that all distinctions among people are transitory and not innate to our essence. Meher Baba also didn’t emphasize rites, rituals, or religious ceremonies, instead, he placed great importance on love for God.
According to him, divine love transcends all boundaries of caste, creed, religion, race, gender, and nationality, and is directly transmitted from one heart to another.
He believes that individuals undergo diverse life experiences in various incarnations, which are just “different garments that we wear and discard”.
Meher Baba also acknowledged the effectiveness of all paths to God as long as they are followed with sincerity.
Therefore, he advised his disciples and followers to live simple and honest lives full of love, while fulfilling their worldly duties with dedication and simultaneously being devoted to God and love.
Teachings In Literature: God Speaks
Meher Baba also authored “God Speaks: The Theme Of Creation And Its Purpose”, which was his principal work on not just the conduct of living, but an analysis of the metaphysics of reality and spirituality.
Through God Speaks, Meher Baba offers us vivid descriptions on the journey of our souls from unconscious to conscious divinity:
- Each soul unknowingly pursues conscious divinity by evolution through seven categories: material, vegetation, worm, fish, bird, animal, and then finally human.
- Each soul identifies in the self of each aforementioned form, therefore tied to the illusion of self and mundane existence.
- Throughout this evolution, the power of intellect rises, further aiding the breakthrough of being conscious of the souls’ divinity.
- In human form, the opportunity for recognition of conscious divinity is there, however the mental impressions (sanskaras) amassed act as barriers to enlightenment.
- In human form, reincarnation happens continually until the barriers are overcome.
- In human form (the final form), the soul enters a final stage of involution: an introspective journey wherein God-realization can manifest.
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