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Avatar Meher Baba

1894 - 1969​

MEHER BABA means “The Compassionate One.” 

It is the name given by a group of early disciples to their Master when, in the early 1920s, signs of his spiritual status first became apparent.

To attempt to describe Meher Baba’s life in brief creates a remarkable, if enigmatic, thumbnail sketch. For one thing, countless thousands of people of every major religious tradition recognize him as “God in human form”—the Christ, the Prophet, the Savior, the Messiah of this Age. For another, for most of his life Meher Baba carried out all of his many and varied activities while keeping silence. For the forty-four years from 1925 until he dropped his physical form in 1969—whether training his disciples or working with lepers and the poor; providing free medical care to needy villagers, or giving spiritual instruction to the students of his unique “prem (love) ashram”; working intensely with the spiritually intoxicated “masts” (whom he described as the true lovers of God), or meeting the multitudes who flocked for his darshan (view) whenever he made himself publicly available; whether bringing fresh insight to every aspect of the spiritual quest through discourses and books, or providing individual guidance to followers around the world— throughout these forty-four years, Meher Baba uttered no words. He relied instead on other means to give out the messages he wished to convey, but most of all he communicated most compellingly through the language of his Love.

The Irani Family


Meher Baba came from a Zoroastrian family, His parents having previously emigrated from Persia to India. He was born in the city of Poona (now called Pune), located in central India about a hundred miles east of Bombay. At His birth—on the 25th of February, 1894—he was given the name Merwan Sheriar Irani, the surname indicating that His family was ‘from Iran.’

Sheriar Irani

Meher Baba's father

Merwan Irani

Meher Baba

Shireen Irani

Meher Baba's mother

Merwan’s younger years were not, in most respects, out of the ordinary, yet all noticed that something quite intangible marked him as unique. Interested in poetry and literature—from Shakespeare to the Persian Perfect Master Hafiz—and adept at sports, he shone out as a boy of unusual character and rare attractiveness. Having attended a Roman Catholic high school, young Merwan then entered Deccan College, the most respected in West India. It was in his second year at college, at the age of nineteen, that Merwan had the experience which revealed to him his identity as the Avatar of the Age and inaugurated his spiritual mission in the world.

The Unveiling of Godhood


The unveiling of Merwan’s Godhood came through a kiss on the forehead from an ancient woman. The white-haired Sadguru (Perfect Master) Hazrat Babajan, said to be over 120 years old at the time, was herself a living shrine. Originally from Baluchistan, Babajan had come to Poona over twenty years earlier, eventually settling beneath a particular neem tree on the roadside. There she lived day and night, whatever the weather, receiving the thousands upon thousands of pilgrims who came from every part of India to sit with her and take her blessing.



Upasani Maharaj


Sai Baba


Narayan Maharaj


Tajuddin Baba


One evening, as Merwan was cycling by on his way home from the college, Babajan beckoned to him. He got down from his bicycle and walked over and sat with her in silence. At the end of their meeting, the ancient Perfect Master kissed Merwan on the forehead, and he rose and went immediately home. On various occasions when Merwan visited Babajan in the months that followed, she would point to him and say, “This child of mine will one day shake the world.”

Over a period of nearly seven years following Babajan’s momentous kiss, Merwan was drawn to contact four other Masters in India who, like Babajan, had come to be recognized as spiritually perfect. Two of the best known of these Perfect Masters were the venerable old Sai Baba of Shirdi, revered as a Muslim saint, and Upasni Maharaj, a Hindu by birth. At different times in these early years, both of these Sadgurus of the Age publicly acknowledged Merwan to be the Avatar and sent disciples of their own to be with him.



During these seven years, a number of those who came into Merwan’s contact—Hindus, Muslims and Zoroastrians alike—began to feel drawn to him and take him as their Master. It was these early followers and disciples who first began to refer to Merwan as “Meher Baba.”

Outside Poona jhopdi near Fergusson College

At Manzil-e-Meem

With early disciples at Manzil-e-Meem

Crypt doorway - during 5½ month fast & seclusion

First year of silence

In 1922, with a large group of dedicated followers, Meher Baba left Poona for Bombay. There he established a unique ashram named “Manzil-e-Meem,” the “House of the Master,” where these early disciples were initiated into a period of strict discipline and rigorous training. Baba himself was engrossed day and night in his own intense spiritual activity, taking on terrific suffering and strenuous fasts. Within a year, Baba shifted his ashram to a desolate rural area near Ahmednagar, about 120 miles west of Bombay, in the heart of the Deccan plateau. Here, he created “Meherabad,” which would serve as the center for his work for the next quarter of a century.

Meher Baba set an ever more strenuous pace for himself and those who followed him. Together with his disciples, he labored intensively to build shelters and make the arid land habitable. In 192.., he established the Prem Ashram, a multi-denominational school that drew students from around India and Iran. Periodically, he set out on walking tours and train journeys, covering enormous distances throughout the surrounding Maharashtra State, across western India to Karachi and Quetta (which would later become part of Pakistan), and eventually to Persia. On these trips, Baba would often direct his men to gather the poor and lepers of a locality, whom he would bathe, feed and clothe with his own hands. In 1925, while staying at Meherabad, Meher Baba took a vow of silence that would last until the end of his physical life.

The World Travel


From the late 1920s on, Meher Baba turned from one unique phase of activity to another. Most of the 1930s consisted of a period of world travel. During these years Baba journeyed frequently to England, Europe and America, establishing contact with his first close group of Western disciples.

Los Angeles, USA


Devonshire, UK


St. Mark's Square, Italy


Cairo, Egypt


Cannes, France


Toward the end of the thirties and for virtually the next decade, Baba turned his attention almost exclusively to his work with the “masts,” spiritually advanced souls who are so intoxicated with their inner experiences of God as to appear to be mad. Despite their often unusual external appearances, Baba described such individuals as true lovers of God, and he worked arduously with certain of his disciples to contact hundreds of them, throughout India and surrounding regions.

The New Life


Next, on October 16th, 1949, began the most enigmatic of all the many aspects of Meher Baba’s work—the three years of his “New Life.”

Baba begging with Adi K. Irani

The New Life Caravan pulled by the bullocks

Baba asking for bhiksha during New Life

New Life caravan where the women slept

Mehera & Baba with Rajah (who pulled the New Life caravan)

In this radical departure not only from his “old life” but also from the normal routine of any established spiritual master, Baba and twenty hand-picked disciple-companions set out to live a life of complete “hopelessness, helplessness and aimlessness.” Having given up all property and all but the barest clothing and possessions, everyone including Baba traveled about India absolutely incognito, without money, begging for their food, carrying out Baba’s instructions and living in strict accordance with the “conditions of the New Life” in the face of tremendous exertion and fatigue. 

East & West Travel


No sooner had his final seclusion work of the New Life come to an end than Baba once again began a period of extensive travel, both around the world and within India. In April, 1952, came the first of three more trips to the West, and the following month, while traveling across the United States with a group of his disciples, Baba was severely injured in an automobile accident in Prague, Oklahoma.



Khushroo Quarters, Meherazad


Myrtle Beach Center


Guruprasad, Poona


New York airport


A second, equally serious auto accident took place in India about four-and-a-half years later, while Baba was riding from Poona to Satara. In the accident in America, besides numerous other injuries, Babe’s left leg had been broken; and in the subsequent accident in India, his right hip joint was shattered. Yet the crushing effects of these accidents, and the suffering which Baba bore in total silence because of them, seemed only to intensify the power of his love.

The Universal Work


The last several years of Meher Baba’s life represent still another phase in his work. Apart from a handful of mass gatherings with his followers and a very few individual meetings with newcomers, Baba spent these later years in relative seclusion. In contrast to earlier years, he traveled almost not at all. Instead, he spent hours each day completely undisturbed, absorbed intensely in what he called his “universal work.”

At Guruprasad


Mandali Hall, Meherazad


Madhusudan House visit


Poona Center


Guruprasad darshan


As his seclusion work progressed, Baba’s health grew worse and worse. Late in 1968 his close disciples became increasingly concerned, and they begged Baba to be less neglectful of his health by slowing down the work. But Baba continued to work without let-up, and only his close disciples witnessed the inconceivable suffering which accompanied his working. Finally, to his disciples’ great relief, Baba announced that his work had been completed one hundred percent to his satisfaction and that the results of that work would soon begin to manifest. By this time, however, the state of his health had grown extremely grave. Baba gave many veiled hints in the weeks that followed that he would soon drop his body. Just after noon on January 31st, 1969, after joking about the amount of medicine he was being given, Meher Baba passed away.