01 June 2007

Highlights of a Talk by Mehera’s Nephew Jangu


Jehangir R. Irani (known as Jangu) and his wife, Amy, on their very first visit to Myrtle Beach, were special guest speakers at Meher Center on a Wednesday evening, 7 July 2004. Jangu began by saying with a smile that he hoped we were a compassionate audience, as this was the first speech he had ever made.

Jangu is Meheru’s youngest brother, and Mehera to him was “Mehera Masi,” his maternal aunt (Masi literally means “like mother”). He was born in Nasik, north of Bombay, “in a taxi on the way to the hospital.” His mother was Mehera’s elder sister, Freiny R. Irani. His father was Rustom K. Irani, elder brother of Adi K. Irani, Meher Baba’s close mandali and secretary.

As an infant in 1939, Jangu was brought to Meher Baba’s Nasik ashram because his mother's health prevented her from looking after him. It was thus that Jangu came to spend his childhood under Baba’s care. “I was very lucky,” he told us, despite the separation from his mother and the loss of his father when still so young. Rustom mysteriously vanished in August 1941 while on a Himalayan pilgrimage; after some years Baba told Adi, “Rustom is no more,” and his fate remains unknown. This family tragedy was not a topic that Jangu wanted to discuss, but I mention it for background information.

Although Jangu used to feel deprived of his parents, especially compared with other children who had intact families, Baba assured him: “I am your father and mother, so don’t worry about anything.” Jangu spent a happy childhood in Baba’s embrace. He had the distinction of being taken along on the famous Blue Bus tours, in which Baba traveled with some of his Eastern and Western disciples to contact masts at different places in India. Jangu was too young at the time to have any specific memories of it. Mani told him later that whenever he cried — and apparently Jangu had “very good lungs”! – Baba would hold him and feed him.

Khorshed looked after Jangu till he was six or seven, and he regarded her as his mother (he did not meet his real mother till he was sixteen or seventeen years old). Later he lived at Eruch’s family home, Bindra House, in Pune. Baba visited Bindra House often, and Jangu has a memory of once being alone there with Baba, who looked into his eyes in an indescribable and unforgettable manner.

Jangu subsequently lived in Ahmednagar and then moved to Bombay for his college education, and it was at that time that he began to break contact with Baba, even though he was called to many meetings and programs. In the 1960s he lost almost all contact, although Baba knew of his marriage (a love match) to Amy, which took place during that time. Jangu’s uncle Adi K. Irani was present at the wedding as the representative of both Baba and Jangu’s father, and he told the couple that “Baba knows whom Jangu is marrying." Jangu and Amy settled in Nasik, in the same compound where Jangu had grown up in Baba’s ashram.

Amy came from a traditional Zoroastrian family and initially did not believe in Meher Baba, although a few years after their marriage she dreamed of Baba saying, “I am God, believe in Me.” In later years, when Freiny had a fall, Amy beheld a clear vision of Baba’s face on the wall, an experience that made a deep impression. Amy did not tell anyone about it, even her husband, for years. She never told her own family about Baba, apparently because of their conservative attitudes. Amy spoke very warmly of her mother-in-law, Freiny (“a wonderful lady”), who lived close to the couple, occupying her own independent section of the bungalow.

Nasik is a holy city with an illustrious history. As told in the Hindu epic Ramayana, it is the place where Lord Rama and his wife, Sita, lived in exile, and it was from Nasik that Sita was abducted by Ravana, the demon king of Lanka. Nasik is also one of the sites of the great pilgrimage fair known as the Kumbha Mela. Someone in the audience asked Jangu whether he could sense this sacred atmosphere in his hometown. He replied, “I don’t know, but I do know that my house is blessed.” He and Amy live in what was the main building of Baba’s ashram, where Baba and the women mandali stayed. Many things have happened in their home, they said, making them feel Baba’s presence. Amy, for example, had unusual experiences such as feeling a pat on the head and a kiss from a mysterious invisible source. And during an earthquake, her delicate glass collectibles were amazingly undamaged.

Jangu conveyed to us how strongly he had come to regret losing contact with Baba and breaking His orders. Baba had told him “Don’t gamble, don’t drink, and don’t go around with women.” He broke all three orders and felt guilty about it. Yet he always continued to remember Baba, especially in times of trouble. Several examples were given in which his remembrance of Baba helped to avert injury or other problems. For example, in a bad scooter accident he had in Nasik in 2002, he struck his head on a stone and sustained brain damage that caused him to lose memory of his past, even to fail to recognize his two daughters. But he had Baba’s photo and complete faith, so even though the doctors thought he was finished, in six months the scan miraculously showed healing and he recovered.

Another time, when it was very hot, one of his daughters was sleeping with a fan above her; the fan fell, and in the morning they found that its blades, going at full speed, were half a centimeter from her body, yet she was not hurt.

Referring to himself as a “stupid college kid” at the time, Jangu described how he and friends had mischievously mixed up people’s chappals (sandals) left outside during a Darshan program in Meherabad. Baba scolded him about the prank, pointing out that many Baba-lovers returning home had had to travel long distances with no shoes.

Jangu last saw Baba in 1962 at the East-West Gathering. On the last day of the Darshan he went out for a “joy ride” instead of staying with Baba, a source of deep regret later.

Jangu told a dream he’d had of Baba saying, “You have killed me”; then Jangu dug a grave and buried Baba’s head in it. “It was a terrible dream — but what can I do about it?” Jangu added with pained resignation. Another dream that Jangu recounted came after a fall in the bathroom that caused Jangu to faint for a moment. He feared he had broken something, and he took Baba’s name. He then dreamed that Baba laid him on a bed and then walked away very fast and had a fall. The dream seemed to express that Baba had taken on Jangu’s pain.

Although Jangu said that he had abandoned Baba, “Now [since 1969] I know that He is the Avatar, and He never abandoned me.” And to this day, whatever happens, the first thing Jangu thinks of is Baba.

The well-known photograph of Meher Baba at Arthur’s Seat in Mahabaleshwar in 1954 (p. 117 in Love Personified) was taken by Jangu at Baba’s request — it is the shot of Baba leaning back with arms outstretched on the railing against a mountainous backdrop. But on another occasion when Jangu tried to take a photo of Baba, Baba told him not to. Nevertheless, Jangu clicked the camera. Baba, who was seated in a chair, turned his head and shot him a glance that scared Jangu. Later, when the film was developed, Baba’s figure was not to be seen; only the chair appeared, along with a spot of light, even though the camera had no flash.

(Jangu’s gift as a photographer is evident from several snaps he took on the Center that were later shared via e-mail with my husband, Jonathan Burroughs, who had given Jangu and Amy a tour of the Center. One of them is a stunning portrait of Jonathan entering a doorway with a vase of flowers, beaming his characteristic smile. “It even cheers me up!” Jonathan said of the photograph.)

The Iranis’ talk left me with a warm sense of Baba’s presence, touched with poignancy, for Jangu’s feelings of regret — for his lost chances to be with Baba and the failure to obey His orders — were palpable. But even more tangible was his profound connection with Baba. Both he and Amy radiated a silent, gentle love for Meher Baba. Their visit to Meher Center was a gift to us — and, I am sure, to them.

2 comments:

Ravi said...

Kendra
Your narration of Jangu's visit to Center and his talk touched my heart. I felt Baba's presence while reading it. I can very much relate some of his relationship with Baba with my past examples. We may forget but Baba never ignores us. He loves us very much, much more than we can ever love ourselves.
Good posting
Jai Baba
Ravi Errabolu Peoria IL

Ferooza Eswaran said...

HI Kendra,
Thanks for blogging about this. I am Jangu and Amy's daughter, and was touched by your account of their visit to Myrtle Beach.They enjoyed every moment of their trip and had spoken to us about it, but it was great to hear of it from your prespective. My dad is not much of a talker leave alone a speaker...I guess it was his love for Baba that made him do this....

Warm regards,
Enjoed reading the posting,
Ferooza Eswaran, Englewood, CO.

All quotes of Meher Baba © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust unless otherwise indicated. Writings by Kendra are © Kendra Crossen Burroughs unless otherwise noted.