09 July 2007

Who Is Meher Baba?

This excerpt by Kendra Crossen Burroughs is from Spiritual Innovators: Seventy-Five Extraordinary People Who Changed the World in the Past Century © 2002 SkyLight Paths Publishing (now available under the title Spiritual Leaders Who Changed the World). Permission granted by SkyLight Paths Publishing, P.O. Box 237, Woodstock, VT 05091. www.skylightpaths.com

Meher Baba (1894–1969) declared himself the Avatar of our age—God in human form, whose most recent advents were as Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Rama, and Zoroaster. The Avatar's message, he said, is always essentially the same — “Love God and serve God in others”—adapted to the needs of humanity during each advent. His aim was not to bring a new message but to breathe life into the old by revitalizing the major spiritual paths.

Born Merwan Sheriar Irani to a Persian Zoroastrian family in Pune, India, he was awakened to his divinity in 1913 when kissed on the forehead by Hazrat Babajan, an old Muslim woman revered as a perfect master. Four other masters — Shirdi Sai Baba, Upasni Maharaj, Tajuddin Baba, and Narayan Maharaj — also played a role in his “unveiling,” after which Merwan became known as Meher Baba ("Compassionate Father"). Saying he had come not to teach but to awaken, he observed silence for 44 years (1925 – 1969), communicating first with an alphabet board and later through gestures. His silence was undertaken not as a spiritual discipline, he said, but as a necessary condition for his work

His mission included work with the poor, lepers, untouchables, children, and the masts, people who are “God-intoxicated” or spiritually dazed. Periods of intense activity, including world travel, alternated with times of seclusion during which he said he was doing his "universal work" of giving a “spiritual push” to the entire Creation. The result, he stated, would be a "new humanity" based on love, with all religions brought together. The impact of his work would be felt through his manifestation as Avatar, a world-transforming process that he linked to the breaking of his silence by speaking the divine "word."

His book God Speaks describes creation as the quest of the infinite Reality for conscious experience of itself. Consciousness develops through the evolution of the soul as it assumes successive forms of stones, plants, and animals, culminating in the human form, Meher Baba said. It is then integrated through a phase of human reincarnations and perfected through a process of “involution” (the spiritual path), finally to unite consciously with the Infinite. Everyone is destined for this supreme goal of God-realization.

Meher Baba gave no importance to religious rituals, dogmas, or miracles, but emphasized internal renunciation of desires, remembrance of God with love in the midst of daily life, and selfless service. In the 1960s he actively warned against the dangers of drugs, especially LSD and marijuana. Today his tomb shrine in Meherabad, near Ahmednagar, India, is a place of worldwide pilgrimage for people of all faiths.

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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.