Meher Baba
(1894–1969)
   God-Realized master said to be avatar of the age
   Meher Baba considered himself to be an AVATA R, a being who ushers in a new cosmic age.
   Born Merwan Sheriar Irani to Persian parents on February 25, 1894, in Poona, India, Meher Baba (compassionate father) was exposed to a number of faiths early in life. His father, Sheriar Irani, was a devout Zoroastrian. Merwan went to a Christian high school in Poona and later attended Deccan College.
   According to Meher Baba, five perfect masters exist in the world at all times. These masters can summon an avatar when needed to assist the world. Although they appear to be five different individuals, they are actually Satgurus, who are in the unity of the one God. They “bring down” the avatar so that the world can escape MAYA, the cage of illusion, and experience reality. While in college, in 1913, Irani met the first perfect mas-ter, Hazrat Babajan, an Islamic woman saint who kissed him on the forehead and showed him inde-scribable bliss, which continued for about nine months. In 1914, Babajan gave him instant God-realization and made him aware of his spiritual calling and destiny.
   Another perfect master, Upasni Maharaj, a Hindu who resided in Sakori, gave Merwan gnosis or divine knowledge over the course of seven years. Through these experiences he gained spiritual perfection. In 1921 his spiritual mis-sion began when his first close disciples gathered around him. His disciples gave him the name Meher Baba.
   After years of teaching disciples, Meher Baba founded a colony near Ahmednagar, called Mehe-rabad. The colony included a school, hospital, dispensary, and shelter for the poor. From its inception, Meherabad did not recognize caste distinctions in training its students or serving the needy. Another important part of the work begun by Meher Baba is work with the masts, the advanced souls or “God-intoxicated” individuals who live perpetually in awareness of the highest realm of consciousness. He sought out masts and took care of their physical needs, which the masts themselves often ignored. He also washed the feet of and fed lepers and the destitute of India.
   From July 10, 1925, Meher Baba observed silence, communicating with others and giving discourses only through dictation on an alphabet board. Much later, he abandoned the alphabet board and communicated through hand gestures unique to him.
   He asserted that he was the Ancient One who had returned to redeem humankind from its bondage to ignorance and to show to all their true Meher Baba (1894–1969), God-realized master from western India, said to be the avatar of the current age who bridged Hinduism and Sufism (Courtesy Avatar Meher Baba Trust)
   Self, which is God. He was acknowledged by his followers to be the avatar of the age.
   In 1959, when he was 65 years old, Meher Baba established the Avatar Meher Baba Trust to provide for disciples who were dependent on him and to care for his tomb and property. The trust oversees charitable activities in India and the United States and has created a development plan for Meherabad, the site of Meher Baba’s tomb.
   Meher Baba traveled to the United States six times between 1931 and 1958. His center in the West is located at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He left his body on July 31, 1969.
   Further reading: Meher Baba, The Everything and the Nothing (Berkeley: Beguine Library, 1963); ———, God Speaks (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1973); ———, The Path of Love (Ahmed Nagar: Awakener Press, 1986); C. B. Purdom, The God-Man: The Life, Journeys and Work of Meher Baba with an Interpretation of His Silence and Spiritual Teaching (Crescent Beach, S.C.: Sheriar Press, 1964); Kevin Shepherd, Meher Baba, an Iranian Liberal (Cambridge: Anthropographia, 1986).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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