Meher Baba was born Merwan Sheriar Irani on 25 February 1894. He was an Indian spiritual master who claimed to be this era's Avatar, or God in human form. His life was a living example of “Mastery in Servitude”, whereby Meher Baba’s entire focus was on serving those in need—both physically and spiritually. Meher Baba dropped his body on 31 January 1969.
After being unveiled to his consciousness as the Avatar, Meher Baba’s early life involved the gathering and training of his close Indian disciples. During this period he also established schools and hospitals. Never one to make distinctions between rich and poor, or across castes or religions, all of these services were especially available to those in need. Baba made multiple trips to the West in the 1930s during which he gathered his close western disciples.
Meher Baba sometimes referred to himself as a fakir—one who lived in the most simple means possible. His training of his followers was to help unburden them from their lower, or false, selves so as to prepare them to live a life of purity, love and service in remembrance of God as the everlasting reality.
In addition to the extensive work that Baba did for the poor and sick, much of Baba’s time was spent contacting people who he referred to as “masts.” These are individuals who are transiting the inner planes of consciousness. The masts are people of advanced states of consciousness that have become temporarily lost in states of enchantment. Baba’s work with them was to help dislodge them from these states so they could continue on their spiritual journey. Baba’s term for these inner planes is “involution.” He provides a detailed description of them in his book, “God Speaks”, which describes the purpose and structure of creation.
Baba placed the greatest emphasis on what he called his “universal work”. The purpose of this work was to bring about a widespread awakening of spiritual awareness throughout humanity. One of the hallmarks of this work was the observance of external silence from 1925 until his physical death. Baba referred to the breaking of his silence as a key event in heralding in this era of transformed consciousness—an era he called “The New Humanity”. While he gave no exact time-frame for when this would occur, Baba did indicate that it would only happen when humanity had reached its nadir, a point when all human-related solutions to the civilization's predicaments were found to be insufficient. Baba indicated he would break his silence when humanity was desperately calling out for God. Many people among Meher Baba’s followers believe that time is yet to come.
During a period he called “The New Life”, Baba and a small group of companions wandered throughout India for several years. Many people understand this period of Meher Baba’s life as having provided a template for posterity, that sincere seekers can emulate in their own efforts to reunite with their real Self.
While Meher Baba did much of his work in seclusion, he was also intensively and extensively engaged with others. Especially in the 1950s, Baba gave hundreds of thousands of people opportunities for “darshan”. Darshan, which literally means “sight,” provides a seeker with direct contact with the master, and is a widely sought blessing from those who understand the tremendous value of such contact. Also during the 1950s, Meher Baba established two major centers of world pilgrimage outside India—one in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, which he called his “home in the West,” and the other in Queensland, Australia.
Baba endured two major automobile accidents in the 1950s, one in India and one in the United States. He said these were essential to achieving the results of his universal work, and though he suffered greatly as a result, they not only did not impair his continued performance of that work, but they also seemed to accelerate it.
In 1968, Meher Baba indicated that his work was completed “100% to my satisfaction.” Shortly thereafter, on January 31, 1969, he left his physical form. His body is interred in a tomb-shrine on the property called Meherabad, near the town of Ahmednagar, India. Called his “Samadhi”, it is a place of world-wide pilgrimage, where many thousands of people journey from all over the globe. This is because Baba indicated that once he dropped his body, he would continue giving darshan to those who come there, continually and with no break. This opportunity still exists today.
A short biography does not begin to do justice to understanding the scope of Meher Baba’s activities. Nor does it begin to describe the profound and transformative impact he had on the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people who had the opportunity for contact with him. This equally applies to those who did not have the opportunity for physical contact, but have found the connection with Baba within their own hearts. For Baba consistently said, “I am not this body.” To connect with him, the only requirement was to look for him within one’s own heart.
For those who want to know more there are several outstanding biographies available. Three of the most popular biographies are:
"The God-Man," by C.B. Purdom. This is an outstanding review of Meher Baba’s life from his birth and boyhood up to 1969. Available at Sheriar Books
"The Silent Messenger," by Tom and Dorothy Hopkinson. This is a highly readable summary of major phases of Meher Baba’s life, and a condensation of several of Meher Baba’s teachings. Available at Sheriar Books
“Lord Meher” by Bhau Kalchuri. This is the most extensive history of Meher Baba’s life. It was originally a 20-volume series with photographs. It is now available at no cost at Avatar Meher Baba Trust