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Avatar Meher Baba Pune Centre Celebrating 50 years!
Beloved Baba's Birth Day Celebration at Pune Centre.
Pune (or Poona as it was formally known), is the birth place of Avatar Meher Baba – the Avatar of the age. For all His followers, Pune holds a special significance as it was here that Meher Baba was born, grew up and in His later years held Darshan programs. Pune was also the summer abode for Meher Baba when He would come and stay along with some of His resident Mandali members at Guruprasad – the palace owned by Maharani Shantadevi of Baroada who most loving used to offer it to Baba for His exclusive use. The Avatar Meher Baba Poona Center was inaugurated by Him on May 1, 1964, the only Centre in India to have gained this distinction and fortune. The Centre continues to function actively, carrying out various programs and meetings to welcome new seekers into His fold and to continue to fan the flame of love in the hearts of His former followers.
Meher Baba was born as Merwan Sheriar Irani on February 25, 1894, in Poona, India. His parents were Zoroastrians, Sheriar and Shireen Irani. Sheriar was a Dervish or true seeker of God. Merwan led a normal childhood attending St. Vincent’s School and later Deccan College at Poona. As a boy Merwan formed "The Cosmopolitan Club" dedicated to remaining informed of world affairs and giving money to charity. He was a multi-instrumentalist, poet and fluent in several languages. He enjoyed the poetry of Hafiz,Shakespeare and Shelley.
At the age of 19, during His second year at Deccan College in Pune, Merwan encountered Hazrat Babajan, a centenarian Muslim saint who was one of the five Sadgurus or Perfect Masters of that age. With a kiss on the forehead, Babajan initiated Merwan into the state of God-Realization or unveiling of his true status. The event affected Him profoundly and He experienced visions and mystical feelings so powerful that He could not lead His normal activities.He was then inwardly prompted to contact the other four Perfect Masters of that age — Sai Baba of Shirdi, Upasni Maharaj of Sakori, Narayan Maharaj of Kedgaon, and Tajuddin Baba of Nagpur, each of whom played a significant role in the process of His unveiling.
Upasni Maharaj helped Merwan to integrate His divine experiences with normal consciousness, thus enabling Him to function in the world without diminishing His experience of God-realization.In late 1921, at the age of 27, after living for seven years with Upasni Maharaj, 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 their camp at the "Manzil-e-Meem" (House of the Master) in Bombay (now Mumbai). There Baba began His practice of demanding strict discipline and obedience from His disciples. A year later Baba and His Mandali moved to an area a few miles outside Ahmadnagar in a discarded army camp that was later named "Meherabad" (Meher flourishing).This ashram would later become the center for His work. In 1924, Meher Baba created a unique residential school at Meherabad that He named the "Prem Ashram". The school was open to all castes and faiths, was free of cost and drew students from around India and Iran. This school aimed to create spiritual values and outlook in its students. A free dispensary and hospital with shelter and food for the poor was also started.
“Mastery in Servitude” had become the prominent theme of Meher Baba’s early life at Meherabad. Tirelessly He and His disciples served the poor,the sick, the outcasts and the mentally disturbed. Then and throughout His life the master personally cared for those in need.He washed the feet of lepers and bowed down to them saying, “I bow down to the God in each one of you.” He cleaned the latrines of the untouchables.He was not an educationist or reformist in a worldly sense but whatever He did as the Avatar, naturally had lasting impact on the world and humanity.
On 10 July 1925, Meher Baba began observing silence, which He maintained for a period of nearly forty-four years. His silence was not undertaken as a spiritual exercise, since He was Perfection itself. Rather, it was a limitation that He assumed for the benefit of all creation. In 1926, He stopped writing and never used a pen other than for signing any legal documents. For many years, He "spoke" to others by pointing to letters on an alphabet board which a disciple would read out.In 1954, however, He gave up the alphabet board, communicating thereafter through His own system of hand gestures unique and beautiful in its expressiveness.
The six-year span from 1931 to 1937 was a period of world travel, during which Meher Baba visited Europe ten times, America thrice, and China and the Far East. On His first trip to England in 1931, He traveled on the SS Rajputana, the same ship that was carrying Mahatma Gandhi, who was sailing to the second Round Table Conferencein London. Baba and Gandhi had three meetings onboard, including one that lasted for three hours. While some of His visits to the West drew press coverage and fanfare, His purpose in coming to the West, as He explained at the time, was "not with the object of establishing new creeds or spiritual societies and organizations" but rather "to make people understand religion in the true sense."
In the 1930s and 1940s, Meher Baba did extensive work with a category of people He termed "masts", who are persons "intoxicated with God.” Masts are advanced souls on the inner planes of the spiritual path who have become spiritually intoxicated from direct awareness of God. Their love for God is so intense that they often appear insane to most observers. In fact, Baba has explained, they are not insane; they simply refuse to adjust to the world, lost as they are in their longing for God. Meeting with them, Baba helped them to move forward spiritually while enlisting their aid in His spiritual work. Baba undertook long and arduous journeys to contact masts and others with whom He had special work. On His extensive mast tours in India, Baba personally worked with more than 20,000 masts and with the poor in journeys totaling over 75,000 miles. One of the best known of these masts, known as Mohammed Mast, lived at Meherabad until his death in 2003.
On 16th October 1949, Meher Baba dissociated Himself from the places, possessions,and connections that He had maintained until that time and embarked on one of the most enigmatic phases of His Avataric Mission what He called a "New Life". 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", sixteen of these were male and four were female members. They then traveled about India incognito, 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. During these three years, Baba appeared to have voluntarily ‘suspended’ His state of the Perfect One in order to embrace the role of Perfect Seeker. This phase culminated in early 1952 with what He called "Manonash" or "annihilation of the mind."
Meher Baba once again began a round of public appearances throughout India and the West and gave His personal touch to the hundreds of thousands who flocked around Him during the mass public gatherings of this period. In February 1954, for the first time Meher Baba publicly declared Himself to be the Avatar or Christ of the age. The Avatar is the direct descent of God in human form; previous Avatars of the known history include Zoroaster, Ram, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammed. Meher Baba also gave significant messages that included the "Universal Message,"
In the 1950s Baba also actively encouraged establishing two centers: theMeher Spiritual CenterinMyrtle Beach, South Carolinain the United States and Avatar's Abode near Brisbane, Australia. Meher Baba was involved in two serious automobile accidents, one in Oklahoma, USA in 1952 and the other in Satara, India in 1956. As He explained at the time, the Avatar in all His advents had to undertake physical and spiritual suffering upon Himself as a part of the crucifixion which He had to undergo for the redemption of humanity. The injuries which Meher Baba sustained particularly from his second automobile accident contributed to the gradual decline in His health over the next decade.
God Speaks, Meher Baba's monumental and unparalleled elucidation on the theme of God and creation, began in August 1953 and was published in 1955. In September 1954, Meher Baba gave a men-onlysahavasat Meherabad known as the "Three Incredible Weeks".During this time Baba issued a declaration- "Meher Baba's Call" In September 1954 Meher Baba gave His "Final Declaration" message, in which he made various enigmatic predictions
After 1958 Meher Baba for the most part discontinued His travels and public darshans, withdrawing into an increasingly strict seclusion for the purpose of what He called His "Universal Work." This seclusion work continued throughout the 1960s, broken only at rare intervals by such darshan programs as the East-West Gathering of 1962 and the Poona darshan of 1965.
Meher Baba spent His last years in seclusion, finishing His universal work. The strain of His work in seclusion took a tremendous toll on His health. Nevertheless Baba was pleased with the results, saying: “My work is done. It is completed one hundred percent to My satisfaction.” Shortly thereafter, on January 31, 1969, Meher Baba laid aside His physical body to live forever in the hearts of those who come to experience His love. In keeping with His prior instructions, His body was interred in the crypt on Meherabad Hill which had been prepared for this purpose thirty years earlier. Today, Meher Baba's Tomb at Meherabad is a site of pilgrimage, and thousands of visitors travel every year from all over the world to pay homage to one whom they regard as the Avatar of the age.
Meher Baba's teachings can roughly be divided into two main categories: His metaphysics on the nature of the soul and the Universe, found in His principal book God Speaks. The second, practical advice for the spiritual aspirant is found in the book Discourses. The Avatar Meher Baba Charitable Trust was established by Meher Baba in 1959, maintains His tomb and pilgrimage facilities, as well as a free school and dispensary and conducts other welfare activities. Meher Baba gave no importance to rites, rituals, or ceremonies, but attached the highest significance to love for God.Baba 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".
Divine love, Baba says, recognizes no barrier of caste, creed, religion, race, sex, or nationality but spreads directly from heart to heart. Affirming the validity of all paths to God if sincerely followed, Meher Baba directed His own disciples and followers to lead simple, natural lives, attending faithfully to worldly responsibilities while remembering God or the Master inwardly and dedicating all action to Him. Meher Baba's worldwide following today continues to love and honor Him not merely as a great spiritual teacher but as the actual divine Beloved or Manifestation of God in human form.
As He had said and which has been inscribed on His tomb:
I have come not to teach but to awaken.