“I have come not to teach but to awaken.
Understand therefore that I lay down no precepts.”
— Avatar Meher Baba
Growing up as Merwan
Sheriar Mundegar Irani (1853–1932) Sheriar was an Iranian-born mystic and the father of Meher Baba. His children called him the Dari endearment of “Bobo”.
Shireen Dorab Irani (1877–1943)
Meher Baba’s mother was affectionately called “Memo” by her children. Shireen was “as intelligent as she was fair” and understood four languages.
Merwan Sheriar Irani – 25 February 1894
Merwan was born in the David Sassoon Hospital, Pune. He was brought home from the hospital to No. 816 Butler Moholla. (The street name was changed to Meher Moholla by the Cantonment Board in 1940.)
Merwan proved unusually attractive. Many people felt drawn to visit him often – sometimes going to great lengths to do so. Extraordinary and seemingly miraculous incidents surround Merwan’s childhood, but mostly he is remembered as a kind-hearted, devout boy – a natural leader who excelled in sports and literature.
Merwan attended the all-boys, Roman Catholic St. Vincent’s High School, considered the best secondary school in Pune. He joined Deccan College in Pune for higher studies in Inter Arts. At sixteen, Merwan founded the Cosmopolitan Club in Pune. The club’s motto was “love all and maintain brotherhood and unity”. He was fluent in several languages and was especially fond of the poetry of Hafiz, Shakespeare, and Shelley.
Transition to God-Man
Meetings with the Five Perfect Masters
Unveiling by Babajan 1913–1914
Babajan was born a Muslim in Baluchistan about 1790. Kissing Merwan on the forehead, Babajan revealed his latent state of God-Realisation. Babajan indicated to Merwan’s mother that he was destined to shake the world into wakefulness.
Visit with Narayan Maharaj – 1915
When a dazed Merwan came to Narayan Maharaj, a large crowd was in the palace and Narayan, wearing a gold crown, was seated on his gaadi (lounge seat). Upon seeing Merwan, Narayan immediately stopped the darshan and had his devotees disperse. He came down from his seat and, taking Merwan by the hand, gently led him up a few steps and motioned for him to sit upon his gaadi. Narayan removed a flower garland from his own shoulders, placed it around Merwan’s neck, and called for mango juice, which was given to Merwan to drink.
Interaction with Tajuddin Baba – 1915
Upon seeing Merwan, Tajuddin Baba who had been speaking to devotees became silent, stood up and started walking toward Merwan. Their eyes met and their gaze locked. Tajuddin presented Merwan with flowers and rubbed his head affectionately, as a father would his son. No words were spoken.
Recognition from Sai Baba – 1915
Sai Baba was on his way to lendi (answering the call of nature) in a field. As Sai Baba was about to pass by where Merwan was standing, Merwan prostrated himself at Sai Baba’s feet in sashtang namaskar. Seeing Merwan lying before him on the ground, Sai Baba, in a deep voice, uttered the majestic word: “PARVARDIGAR!” Sai Baba repeated the proclamation “Parvardigar!” (“Preserver of the Universe”) two more times.
Inner Work with Upasni Maharaj 1915–1922
Sai Baba directed Merwan to go to Upasni Maharaj. As Merwan approached, Upasni threw a stone with great force, hitting Merwan in the forehead. This served to bring Merwan down further into gross consciousness. After being struck by the stone, Merwan — instead of running away — walked closer to Upasni Maharaj, who took him inside his temple, where they worked together for six months. “At the end of this period Maharaj made me know fully what I am, just as Babajan had made me feel in a flash what I am.”
Avatar Meher Baba’s Work
Early Years 1922-1931
Completing the work supervised by the five perfect masters, Merwan assembled his mandali (close circle of disciples). Though not younger than him, they began referring to Merwan as Meher Baba (“Compassionate Father”). Following a period of intensive training for his mandali, Meher Baba established an ashram outside of Ahmednagar where he opened a school for boys and founded a hospital and other charitable services. In 1925, he began his lifelong verbal silence.
World Travels 1931–1937
During his late-thirties and mid-forties, Meher Baba travelled globally embracing the Middle East, Europe, the USA, and the Far East. He visited the great shrines and sacred spaces of every major faith. He also took devotees who accompanied him on outings to beaches, theatres, cafes, and galleries. He told them, “All this activity of mine, you observe outwardly, but what I do inwardly, you can never know.”
Mast Work 1937–1949
Throughout the Indian sub-continent live advanced souls whom Meher Baba identified as “masts” (Persian for God-intoxicated). Despite their unconventional lifestyles and seemingly abnormal behaviours, masts are revered for their love for God. Baba’s work with masts intensified from 1937 to 1949, during which time, Baba contacted thousands of masts. Baba said: “I work for the masts, and knowingly or unknowingly, they work for me.”
Working with the Western disciples who had moved to India and his eastern mandali members, Meher Baba began a search in south India for a Universal Spiritual Centre. The search concluded when the Nizam of Mysore arranged for Meher Baba to obtain a large property in the village of Byramangala near Bangalore. In addition to founding the MBUSC, Baba’s work in these years included starting the Meher Baba Journal.
The New Life 1949–1952
In 1949 Meher Baba declared that it was now necessary for him to live a life of helplessness and hopelessness as an ordinary seeker of God. The “New Life” became a dramatic example of Baba’s assertion that the Avatar, as God, must become fully human in order for humanity to follow in his footsteps. During this phase, Baba disposed of the properties and belongings listed in his name.
Automobile Collisions 1952 & 1956
Two serious automobile accidents punctuated Meher Baba’s work in the early 1950’s, one in the East and one in the West. The first occurred in 1952 in Oklahoma at the very center of the United States. The second occurred four years later in Satara, India. He explained at the time that in every advent the Avatar or Christ must take physical and spiritual suffering upon Himself as part of His work for the redemption of humanity during that age.
Darshans & Gatherings 1952-1962
In 1953 Meher Baba publicly declared his Avatarhood. The rest of this decade was filled with meetings with devotees from the East and West and darshans with tens of thousands of people seeking his blessing. These outer contacts, even when very brief, were part of his mission to plant the seed of inner awakening in every heart.
Seclusion & Final Years 1959 – 31 January 1969
The last decade of Meher Baba’s life was focused on finishing what he termed his “Universal Work”. Conducted largely in seclusion, he sometimes asked his followers all over the world to participate by carrying out specific instructions, frequently involving maintaining silence or repeating God’s name for periods of time.
Meher Baba’s Manifestation
“I veil myself from man by his own curtain of ignorance, and manifest my glory to a few. My present Avataric form is the last incarnation of this cycle of time, hence my manifestation will be the greatest.”
In each advent, the Avataric presence manifests in stages. First, as a human being, like any human being. Then as a living exemplar of the highest moral and spiritual principles of his age. Finally, in the years, decades, and centuries after his passing as the manifestation of the Divine Presence on Earth.
At this phase of Meher Baba’s manifestation he is recognized by a growing worldwide following who resonate from the depth of their hearts with his all-encompassing message of Oneness.
Divine love, He said, recognizes no barrier of caste, creed, religion, race, sex, or nationality as it spreads directly from heart to heart.
Affirming the validity of all paths to God when sincerely followed, Meher Baba directed his own disciples and followers to lead simple, natural lives of love and honesty, attending faithfully to worldly responsibilities while remembering God or the Master inwardly and dedicating all action to Him.
Meher Baba gave no importance to rites, rituals, or religious ceremonies, but attached the highest significance to love for God.
“I have not come to establish any cult, society, or organization, nor to establish a new religion. The religion I shall give teaches the knowledge of the One behind the many.
I have come not to teach but to awaken. Understand therefore that I lay down no precepts.
I repeat, I lay down no precepts.
When I release the tide of Truth which I have come to give, men’s daily lives will be the living precept. The words I have not spoken will come to life in them.”
The Universal Message
I have come not to teach but to awaken. Understand therefore that I lay down no precepts.
Throughout eternity I have laid down principles and precepts, but mankind has ignored them. Man's inability to live God's words makes the Avatar's teaching a mockery. Instead of practising the compassion he taught, man has waged crusades in his name. Instead of living the humility, purity and truth of his words, man has given way to hatred, greed and violence.
Because man has been deaf to the principles and precepts laid down by God in the past, in this present avataric form I observe Silence. You have asked for and been given enough words — it is now time to live them. To get nearer and nearer to God you have to get further and further away from "I", "My", and "Mine". You have not to renounce anything but your own self. It is as simple as that, though found to be almost impossible. It is possible for you to renounce your limited self by my Grace. I have come to release that Grace.
I repeat, I lay down no precepts. When I release the tide of Truth which I have come to give, men's daily lives will be the living precept. The words I have not spoken will come to life in them.
I veil myself from man by his own curtain of ignorance, and manifest my Glory to a few. My present avataric Form is the last Incarnation of this cycle of time, hence my Manifestation will be the greatest. When I break my Silence, the impact of my Love will be universal and all life in creation will know, feel and receive of it. It will help every individual to break himself free from his own bondage in his own way. I am the Divine Beloved who loves you more than you can ever love yourself. The breaking of my Silence will help you to help yourself in knowing your real self.
All this world confusion and chaos was inevitable and no one is to blame. What had to happen has happened; and what has to happen will happen. There was and is no way out except through my coming in your midst. I had to come, and I have come. I am the Ancient One.
— Meher Baba
“Real happiness lies in making others happy”