Meher Baba (25 February 1894 – 31 January 1969) was a spiritual teacher who lived in India. Baba's real birth name was Merwan Irani and his parents' names were Sheriar and Shireen Irani. His family lived in India, but they were of Persian descent. Today Persia is called Iran. They were not Hindus or Muslims like most Indians at that time, but were of the Zoroastrian religion.
Baba had a normal childhood and liked poetry and sports, especially cricket. When Baba was thirteen years old he started a boy's club with his best school friends called The Cosmopolitan Club. The boys in the club kept up on the news, practiced public speaking at their clubhouse, and raised money to give to the poor. As Baba got older he worked for his father in his father's tavern where he served a cheap kind of wine called toddy made from the sap of palm trees.
Baba lived in Pune, India where he graduated from St. Vincent's High School and attended Deccan College. In 1913, when Baba was nineteen, he was coming home from college riding a bicycle. A very old Muslim woman named Hazrat Babajan, who was sitting under a Neem tree, called for him to come over to her and she kissed him on the forehead. He then went home. Baba later said that he became so dazed after this kiss that he could barely find his way home, and that when Babajan kissed him, he realized God within himself. He was so dazed that he had to stay in bed for several weeks. A year later, Baba met a Hindu holy man named Upasni Maharaj. Baba went to live with Upasni in the village of Sakori. He learned from Upasni and obeyed Upasni's orders.
Baba stayed with Upasni for seven years, until he was twenty seven years old. Then Upasni told some of his followers that from then on Baba would be their spiritual guide. Baba eventually took these new followers to Ahmednagar, to a place now called Meherabad. There he gave lessons in spirituality, worked with the poor, and started a free boarding school. Gradually other people started to follow Meher Baba.
For most of his life Baba did not speak. He started his silence in 1925. He communicated by pointing to letters painted on an "alphabet board" at first, and later used his own form of sign language. He kept silent until his death in 1969. Some people called him "The Silent Master" and there is a book by that title.
Meher Baba traveled around the world many times. He visited many countries. He spent several months in England, Australia and the United States. Many thousands of people came to see him. Some of them became his followers.
In 1954, when Baba was sixty years old, he said to others that he was the Avatar. In the ancient language of Sanskrit, the word "Avatar" means one who has come down from God. Baba said that the Avatar is born on Earth every 700–1400 years, and comes to help others find God. Meher Baba said that in the past the Avatar had been on Earth as Zoroaster, Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad.
Meher Baba's most famous quote is "Don't Worry, Be Happy," partly because it appeared in a popular song by Bobby McFerrin. Others know of him because of the song "Baba O'Reilly" written by Pete Townshend who is a follower of his and named the song partly after Baba.
He wrote two important books. In Discourses, Meher Baba wrote about how to live a good life, how to meditate, and how to love God. In God Speaks, Meher Baba wrote about how the soul seeks God over many lifetimes. He said, "Real happiness lies in making others happy." He showed his followers that the best path is to love God at all times by loving your fellow man.
He also said he had not come to start a new religion—that it was better to truly follow one's own religion. Because of this, he has followers who are Zoroastrians, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Sufis, Buddhists, and Sikhs. There are also atheists and agnostics who do not necessarily believe in God, but who are attracted purely to his simple philosophy of leading an honest and loving life.
- Bhau Kalchuri: "Meher Prabhu: Lord Meher, The Biography of the Avatar of the Age, Meher Baba", Manifestation, Inc. 1986.
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