*BIOGRAPHIES OF 37 WOMEN DISCIPLES

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107-SUSHILA

(Vishnu's cousin)

Sushila (Vishnu’s cousin) had been in Baba's contact since her childhood and all the mandali knew her well. Sushila studied medicine at the Ayurvedic  College in Satara.


Her association with Meher Baba is described as under:

In 1940, Vishnu's cousins, Indu and Sushila, arrived in Karwar to help with the cooking. Indu's husband Vishwanath Haldankar helped Chanji arrange accommodation for Baba and the mandali at Amboli and Belgaum. Every evening Baba would listen to Indu and Sushila sing and he praised them highly. This was their first opportunity to have the Master's close contact.

On 28th October 1941, Baba left for Karwar, where He arrived at quarter past one in the afternoon. In Karwar, Vishnu's cousins, Sushila and Indu, were again called to manage the kitchen. Indu's husband Vishwanath Haldankar was also there with the men mandali, helping with arrangements. According to Vishnu, Baba found Karwar "rather unsuitable" at first; the weather was sultry and the house in which they were staying was too small. But the women assured him it was all right, so Baba agreed to stay

It was Khordad Sal (Zoroaster's birthday), and Meherjee, Nariman, Ghani, his son-in-law, Vishnu and his cousin Sushila all met Baba at Bindra House. Baidul had taken Ali Shah back to Meherabad and joined them in Poona that day.

Baba was driven by Adi to Poona in the afternoon on 1st March 1948, accompanied by Eruch, and met Sushila and others Bindra House, and Baba then went to contact an advanced mast known as Shastri Kher. After this contact with Shastri Kher, Baba returned to Ahmednagar that same night.2627-1948

In 1948, at lower Meherabad, Pendu and Ramjoo fought that day and Baba warned them that he would disband the Meherabad mandali and ashram if they could not get along with each other. Eruch arrived from Poona with Naggu, Najoo Kotwal and Sushila.

1st August 1949, was a red-letter day in Meherazad. All the Meherabad mandali, as well as Meherabad residents, including Sushila and many others from Ahmednagar were to be present at Meherazad in the morning. No one was to eat breakfast or take tea before arriving. All the men and women had been observing silence for one month, and they were to break it in Baba's presence when He stepped out of seclusion.

In 1949, Sushila Deorukhkar Vishnu’s cousin had also been a frequent visitor. She was studying at a school in Bombay. Baba advised her, "If you wish to marry, you may." But she never did.

In 1955, Sushila was studying medicine at the Ayurvedic College in Satara. Sushila had been in Baba's contact since her childhood. Nilu was fond of bhujias (a fried chickpea preparation) and asked Sushila to make some one evening.

On 12th March 1955, Eruch, Pendu, Vishnu and Nilu were about to proceed to Sushila’s house to enjoy after Bhau returned from the post office after dispatching the mail. They had already eaten dinner and told Bhau, "We are going out for a walk, come along." Bhau accompanied them. Until a few days before, the mandali had been forbidden to leave Rosewood. Only Vishnu went to town for purchases in the market, and Savak Kotwal to the post office. But Baba then said they could go out for walks, and they began doing so in the evenings.

They reached Sushila's place, where they ate some bhujias. Bhau had not eaten dinner, so at Vishnu's insistence he ate his dinner there — which subsequently created a ruckus.

The next day, Bhau and Aloba went to Grafton to escort Baba to Rosewood. On the way, Baba casually asked Bhau, "What did you have for dinner last night?"

For a few moments, Bhau could not remember what he had eaten, and then he told Baba. Baba was highly displeased, "Why did you eat at Sushila's? You have disobeyed Me."

"There was no order about eating out," Bhau protested.

Aloba intervened, saying, "Yes, there was! I never take food at anyone's place."

Baba castigated Bhau bitterly as they walked to Jal Villa.

Because of his duties, Bhau had not been able to have his tea in Satara before leaving, so Baba asked him to have it at Gadekar's. Gadekar's wife, Gunatai, served tea to all, after which Baba had a few words with Gadekar in a separate room. Gunatai had also prepared food which she offered to Bhau. Remembering Baba's orders, Bhau declined, but Aloba willingly accepted and ate it. When he was doing so, Baba appeared and reacted angrily. He rebuked Aloba severely. "Do you never get the food that you are eating here? In Satara you claimed that you never took food at anyone's place. You complained against Bhau for eating bhajiyas at Sushila's. Now I know the real reason why you said it.

On the morning of 13th May 1962, Vishnu was sitting on the doorstep of the hall in Guruprasad. Baba saw him and remarked to Nariman, "Vishnu has one foot in this room and one foot in the grave." At the time, none of the men understood what Baba meant. Vishnu was in a very pleasant mood that day; his cousin Sushila had come, and he was quite animated while talking with her. .

On demise of her brother Vishnu Sushila was greatly distraught and Adi took over an hour to console her and Baba sat next to Vishnu until then. He remarked, "The qawaali made Me so happy today, that in My happiness I merged Vishnu within Me!" He added, "Never before have I sat near the body of any of my mandali as I am doing today by Vishnu. He is indeed most fortunate!"

On 15th May 1962, another musical program was held in Guruprasad, featuring Ram Sindhi Qawaal. It lasted for two hours, and local Poona lovers were allowed to attend. Adi and Dhake came from Ahmednagar and they discussed with Baba what was to be done with the Belgaum land and Vishnu's other property. The discussions continued the following day. Sushila came and met Baba briefly.

 

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106-SOONAMASI

(Mother of Khorshed)

Soonamasi, mother of Khorshed joined the women Mandali during early years and was part of the ashram till the New Life.

During August 1919, Gulmai's sister Soonamasi and her husband Kaikhushru Beheram Irani came to Ahmednagar from Bombay to visit their relatives. Kaikhushru Masa, as he was known, was a successful jeweler and an ardent lover of God. About eight years before, he had been to Shirdi for Sai Baba's darshan. It was at Shirdi that he had learned of Upasni Maharaj and had gone for his darshan at the Khandoba Temple. Later, he became a regular visitor to Sakori, where he met Merwan Seth and immediately recognized the divinity manifest in him. Kaikhushru Masa tried to persuade his sister-in-law Gulmai to accompany them to Sakori, but she refused because she felt her husband would not like it.

Her life time interaction with Meher Baba is briefly described as under:

In year 1919, Soonamasi longed to take her sister Gulmai to Sakori before she and her husband left for Bombay. For two weeks she pleaded with her sister to visit the Sadguru, but Gulmai refused. Finally, Gulmai agreed and was accompanied by Kaikhushru Masa, and Mr. and Mrs. Bekhoda Faredoon Irani, acquaintances from Poona.

Chief among these was a Zoroastrian jeweler from Bombay- Kaikhushru Masa, his wife Soonamasi, and their twelve-year old daughter Khorshed. Kaikhushru Masa was a frequent visitor to Sakori, and it was he who had first told his wife and her sister Gulmai about Upasni Maharaj. He was instrumental in bringing Gulmai and her whole family into Maharaj's contact and, subsequently into Meher Baba's. Kaikhushru Masa had seen Baba at Sakori, and his wife Soonamasi most likely met Baba a year prior at the opening of Sarosh Manzil in Ahmednagar. But for their daughter Khorshed, this meeting on the train was her first encounter with Baba, to whom she soon dedicated her life.

In year 1922, before leaving for Bombay, Soonamasi and her daughter Khorshed met with Baba in private. He inquired how Soonamasi liked it at Sakori, and she replied that she liked it very much. "Will you come and stay with Me?" He asked.

"When?" asked Soonamasi.

"Not now, but later after I have arranged a place. I only wanted to know if you would."

"Surely!"

"Promise Me," He said, and Soonamasi held out her hand in promise.

Khorshed was keenly interested in their conversation and thought: "Why is Meher Baba only asking Mother? He must ask me to come and stay with Him, too!"

However, He only remarked to Khorshed, "Be good. Think of Me and we will meet again." Baba was deliberately ignoring her so that Khorshed would become more eager to join Him.

During this period, Baba visited the house of the jeweller Kaikhushru Masa in Parel with Adi and Gustadji. Kaikhushru Masa was absent, but his wife Soonamasi and daughter Khorshed, along with an aunt Motibai, were having lunch. Mounting the stairs, without knocking, Baba entered their house and went straight into their kitchen, leaving Adi and Gustadji behind. The Master was dressed in His usual attire — a long white shirt, white cotton pants and an Irani kerchief around His head. Seeing this stranger burst in upon them, the aunt exclaimed, "Who is this madcap?"

Soonamasi and Khorshed immediately recognized Baba, whom they had met in Sakori in May. Both received Him with great reverence, while Motibai felt quite ashamed. Baba informed them that He was now residing in the city and said, "Tell Masa to come and see Me at the Manzil early every morning, before going to his shop, and in the evening also. Khorshed, too, should visit Me daily after school. Soonamasi, you may come at any time during the day." Baba then departed, leaving them excited at the prospect of seeing Him every day.

Gulmai's sister Soonamasi Irani, her husband Kaikhushru Masa, and their daughter Khorshed had come from Bombay to attend Rustom's wedding. On one occasion, Baba advised Soonamasi and Khorshed to stay in Ahmednagar so they could regularly come for His darshan at Arangaon

Baba left Meherabad for Agra with His fourteen mandali occupied a third class compartment. They were accompanied by Soonamasi and others. The train left at 12:30 in the afternoon and reached Manmad in the early evening. Food for all had been prepared by Gulmai and Pilamai, and at Manmad they cooked fresh food for Baba. As their connecting train was not to arrive until 8:00 P.M., they went for a stroll in the city.

The next day, 21 th June, Baba with the mandali, Sohrab, and Rusi and his family, went to see the water works in the mountain pass at Urak — a fourteen-mile drive from Quetta. They stayed in the dak bungalow there, and games of seven tiles and thumps and bumps were played as Gulmai, Soonamasi, Khorshed and Rusi's wife cooked lunch.

Baba had sent Soonamasi and her daughter Khorshed from Ahmedabad to Ahmednagar with orders that they should remain there unless otherwise instructed. While Baba and the mandali were touring Gujarat, Soonamasi's husband Kaikhushru Masa became seriously ill in Bombay. Although Soonamasi received a telegram urging her to immediately come to Bombay, she did not go. In a few days another telegram was received about his condition, but Soonamasi obeyed the Master's orders and did not leave.

In year 1923, after Baba returned to Meherabad, He called Soonamasi and Khorshed to Him. When He was informed about Kaikhushru Masa's illness, he asked, "Why didn't you go?"

"How could I break your order?" Soonamasi replied,

"What if Masa had died?" Baba asked. "Then what?"

"So what?" Soonamasi answered. "Everyone has to die sometime."

"What will your relatives say about your behavior?"

"I don't care about what anyone thinks. What do I have to do with the world when I am at your feet?"

Baba then smilingly told her, "Had you broken My order, Masa would have died; but now he won't. You have saved him by obeying My instructions." Baba at once sent her and Khorshed to Bombay, and Kaikhushru Masa's health improved as soon as they arrived

Baba and group stayed n Abdulla Jaffer's house in the Camp area of Poona. 23rd of August 1923, was the ninth day of Moharrum and Baba watched the Tazia procession from Dr. Mody's dispensary, where Abdulla had arranged seats for them.  Baba had especially invited Daulatmai, her daughter Mehera, Soonamasi and Khorshed to join him in Poona to see the parade.

In October 1923, before Baba left for Sakori, He told Kaikhushru Masa, Soonamasi and Khorshed to move from their home in Parel to the portion of the Irani Mansion house in Dadar which he had been using for the mandali and Circle & Company. Baba also told them that, after going to Sakori, He had definitely decided to visit Persia with some of the mandali.

Before departing Bombay And later Quetta, Baba then informed Soonamasi and Khorshed, "I will not be back for twelve years. You should stay here and remember Me. This time I won't be taking you with Me to Quetta."

After arriving in Bombay on 3rd June 1934, they resided at No. 6 Irani Mansion — the home of Kaikhushru Masa. Soonamasi and Khorshed attended to Baba's wishes there and preparations for the journey to Quetta were speedily executed.

Arriving back in Bombay on Friday, 25th July 1924, they stayed at Kaikhushru Masa's apartment at Irani Mansion. Soonamasi and especially Khorshed were happy that Baba had returned. Baba had been gone for a month and a half — not twelve years, as he had told them he would be. By the end of July, those mandali with families had departed for their respective homes, and only six men remained with the Master.

Soonamasi, Dina Talati, and Small Khorshed would often come to the Bharucha Building, and occasionally, Baba would let them accompany the other women on walks that he led throughout the city. At one point, He took them to Victoria Gardens every day for a week. He would move about rapidly, doing His inner work, telling the ladies to have a casual look around the gardens.

One day, Baba showed them the bench where, as Merwan, He used to sit during the period in 1916 of His coming down to normal human consciousness. It was the place where a Parsi had misconstrued His peculiar behavior and had slapped Him for staring at his daughter. Baba narrated the incident to the women, laughing about how humorous it seemed now.

Baba's 31st birthday was celebrated on 18th February 1925, at Meherabad. A huge pavilion was erected over the Post Office verandah and elaborately decorated. Hundreds assembled for his darshan. His parents, Bobo and Memo, had arrived a few days before with his brothers, Beheram and Adi, and sister Mani. All of the Master's close followers from Bombay, Poona, and Ahmednagar also arrived prior to the celebration. Khorshed, Soonamasi, and Small Khorshed were already staying in the Post Office building, which was now established as the permanent residential quarters for the women mandali.

A meeting with the mandali was held in the evening, which Memo, Gulmai and Soonamasi attended. Explaining why He was moving to Bombay, Baba stated, "I have been feeling tired for a long time now with the monotony of things, especially with staying in one place and observing silence. I will stay on the hill for three or four days and afterward will decide about going to Bombay. But one thing is certain; I won't leave Meherabad before November 20th." Baba told Soonamasi that He would be happy to stay at Dadar if accommodation could be provided; otherwise, He would stay at Santa Cruz. He advised His mother to come with him to Bombay and not think about Mani's schooling. She said she would let him know, after He decided where He would be staying.

All of the mandali expressed their desire to continue their stay with Baba. To celebrate their decision, a game of cricket was played, and Baba afterward served milk tea. Meanwhile, Kaikhushru Masa, his wife Soonamasi, and their daughter Khorshed arrived from Bombay and began living at Meherabad.

Kaikhushru Masa and Soonamasi returned to Bombay temporarily on 4th July. (Their daughter Khorshed remained with the women mandali.)

In spite of spending the major portion of His time with the schoolchildren, Baba would also be attentive to the duty of each mandali member and would supervise everything minutely. Daulatmai and her daughter Mehera, Naja, Soonamasi and her daughter Small Khorshed, Dolly, and Baba's sister-in-law, Big Khorshed, were the women mandali staying at Meherabad at this time, and Gulmai would come every day from Ahmednagar to share in their work.

The next day, Kaikhushru Masa, his wife Soonamasi, and Pilamai left Toka for Bombay, from where Pilamai traveled on to Karachi.

In 1928, at Toka women mandali, including Soonamasi and others were given the duty of preparing 1,000 chapatis a day for the ashram residents. The mandali helped to clean the wheat, and Waman Subnis, who was strong and muscular, would knead the dough and also milk the cows. Kaikhushru Masa, his wife Soonamasi, and Pilamai slept in a small tatta hut adjacent to the kitchen, and Kaikhushru continued his watch duties by the women's side.

Different people would come and go under the Master's direction. Soonamasi and her daughter Khorshed returned to Toka from Bombay to join the women mandali on 17th November1928.

During the morning on 1st June 1929, Baba broke His fast with a little rice and dal. Kaikhushru Masa, Soonamasi, Khorshed, Freiny, and Dolly met Baba that day, and Baba discussed Kaikhushru Masa's personal affairs with him.

After separate arrangements were made for New Prem Ashram, Baba left on Sunday, 9 th June 1929 to visit the women mandali in Nasik. Chanji, Buasaheb, Kaikhushru Masa and Soonamasi accompanied him. Welcoming him back with happy smiles, Mehera, Naja, and Khorshed hung a garland of flowers they had woven around Baba's neck. In His absence, the women would pass their spare time preparing adornments for Baba and on his arrival they would dress him in them. At times they would make a crown, a gown or a robe, and elaborate garlands. All of these items were drenched with a Wine of a vintage none can record. The unequalled quality of their love and adoration cannot be described in words

As mentioned, Kaikhushru's relatives were antagonistic toward Baba and did not approve of Kaikhushru, Soonamasi, and Khorshed staying with Him and living under His guidance. They feared all of the family's wealth would be given to Meher Baba. So before Kaikhushru could do that, the relatives forced him to have his property legally transferred to them, after which he was set free.

The women mandali living in Nasik were Mehera, Daulatmai, Naja, Big Khorshed, Soonamasi and Small Khorshed. Gulmai's daughter, Dolly, had returned to Ahmednagar before Baba left for Kashmir. (She later rejoined the group.) Masaji was staying in Nasik to look after the women, do their shopping, and help in any way he could.

The women mandali stayed in Nasik were Mehera, Daulatmai, Naja, Khorshed, Soonamasi, and Walu.

Gulmai, Daulatmai, Soonamasi, and Dina Talati had met with Baba at noon on Saturday, 11th January 1930, and Memo and Mani arrived for a visit on the 13th. Mani and Rustom's children, Mehlu, Falu, and Meheru entertained Baba that evening with songs and a "fancy dress" show. Kalemama and his family visited the same night, with Manekar.

Baba left Bombay on the 17th by train in the night and reached Nasik next day in the morning. He went straight to where Masa was staying and spread His bedding on the verandah outside Masa's room, resting there for the night. Baba frequently rose during the night to look in on Masa, consoling the ailing man, "Masa, do not worry. I am here to be with you. Remember Me."

The next morning, Baba sent for Soonamasi and Khorshed, and asked Khorshed to sing a ghazal; thus, Baba kept Masa (who was in the next room) occupied with thoughts of God. At one o'clock on Sunday afternoon, 18th January 1931, Masa's soul merged in eternal peace forever. He was only 51 years old.

This was the first time the Master had stayed near a dying person from among the mandali during his last moments. The next day Kaikhushru Masa's funeral was performed in the town of Deolali, four miles from Nasik, at the Zoroastrian Tower of Silence. Four or five of the mandali attended.

She was very fond of dressing well, but Baba took away all her belongings and handed them to her daughter Khorshed. A few days later, however, Baba took them away from Khorshed also. In those days, the women mandali were kept aloof in their separate compound and would dress in plain cotton saris with long-sleeved blouses. They were ordered to dress modestly and to keep their heads covered at all times with a scarf so as not to show their hair. One day Baba decided to rummage through the women's trunks. Soonamasi's trunk contained beautiful, embroidered saris, which she had brought from Bombay.

The women expressed their wish to stay with Baba. How could Mehera, Naja, Khorshed, Soonamasi or Daulatmai ever leave their Beloved Lord? Mehera's heart would never accept such separation; there was no place in her heart for anyone except Baba. The same was true with the other gopis. Their decision made Baba extremely happy and the serious atmosphere turned into a scene of gaiety. Baba served food, and played with Dina's five-year old daughter Jeroo and three-year-old son Curshed, and Freiny's daughters Meheru, four, and one-year-old Naggu. After hearing songs sung by the women, Baba sent them back to Nasik.

Vishnu and Rustom in Bombay had been informed to come from Nasik to meet Baba. .  Gulmai, Freiny, Soonamasi, and Buasaheb were with Rustom. Chanji informed Rustom that he was to accompany Baba and a few others to England. Rustom was told to come and see Baba immediately.

Arriving in India, Baba, Chanji and Agha Ali reached Bombay on 1 st January 1932. At Ballard Pier, Baba was welcomed home with heartfelt joy by Shireenmai, Soonamasi and others followers. Baba had been away for five months.

In 1931, before leaving Bombay, Baba obtained a new Persian passport on 16th January 1932. He then returned to Nasik, where the men and women mandali received him heartily with joy. The women members of the ashram, Soonamasi and others. Gulmai, her daughter Dolly and Big Khorshed were finely dressed to greet the Beloved, and some of them even played musical instruments to welcome Him.

In Nasik, too, the Master's return was welcomed by all the mandali, especially the women. For the past six months, the women mandali — Mehera, Naja, Big Khorshed, Soonamasi, Small Khorshed and Daulatmai — had not been in Baba's presence except briefly in Bombay during July, and they had longed for His return. They were leading simple, austere lives in seclusion in Nasik and eating plain food. They came from good families and only the love for their Beloved enabled them to lead this type of life. "For the sake of love, “For the sake of the Beloved, one can sacrifice every type of worldly happiness; the greatest material pleasure has no value before love.”

Soonamasi was the manager of the women's ashram, but she kept committing errors in her accounts. She had so much trouble keeping track of the money while shopping in the bazaar that it afforded amusing incidents for the other women, which they related with humor to Baba.

In 1933, Baba introduced Mehera, and the Western women saw that she was just as Baba had described — pure and beautiful. They were then introduced to Mani, Freiny, Gulmai, Naja, Big Khorshed Soonamasi and Small Khorshed. Gulmai's daughter Dolly was not present; she was ill in bed. The ladies exchanged presents with their Indian sisters and the women mandali dressed the Western women in saris.

Once Baba returned to Nasik, He resumed His usual activities. Both the men and women mandali were very happy to have him back and accorded him a hearty reception. Soonamasi was one of the women mandali stayed with baba.

The women mandali now in Meherabad were Mehera, Mani, Naja, Soonamasi, Small Khorshed, Walu and Kakubai (Vishnu's mother). Pilamai and her daughter Silla would come and go. Soonamasi and Kakubai would keep watch by the gate, Naja would cook and Mehera would attend to Baba's food, clothing and other personal needs.

In 1934, the women were still residing on the hill and no man was allowed to go there. They were kept in strict seclusion, away from any man's contact. Only Soonamasi and Kakubai, who kept watch by the gate to ensure their privacy, were permitted to talk with the men mandali if there was any reason.

On 30 January 1936, Baba left in morning by bus for Poona with Mehera, Mani, Naja, Khorshed, Soonamasi, Walu and Indu Subnis (Waman's daughter).The rest of the mandali stayed at Meherabad.

Before all the illness struck to Mehera and admitted in Hospital, Soonamasi had been keeping watch outside the bungalow during the day; but since she was appointed to cook for Mani, there was no one to take her place. Since none of the men mandali was allowed to go to the women's side, Baba Himself began keeping watch, and when Soonamasi was done cooking she would relieve Him.

Leaving Rahuri, group drove on to Meherabad, arriving at eleven o'clock. Baba showed them the men's quarters at lower Meherabad, and then took the Western women up the hill to see Mehera and the other women mandali: Naja, Mani, Khorshed, Soonamasi, Gulmai, Walu and Kakubai. Memo was also there, and Baba took them to meet her at the Family Quarters where Daulatmai (Mehera's mother) and her sister Freiny Masi (Padri's mother) were living

Mani had recovered from her ear operation by then and returned to Upper Meherabad to join the other women — Mehera, Naja, Khorshed, Soonamasi and Walu. Vishnu's mother Kakubai was living in lower Meherabad.

Unlike in Nasik, Baba gave few spiritual explanations or discourses to the group in Cannes. Those women living at Villa Caldana — Mehera, Mani, Naja, Khorshed, Soonamasi, Walu, Norina, Elizabeth, Rano and Kitty — spent the day taking walks and playing games in the garden.

Consuelo and Alfredo de Sides (Baba lovers from Paris) had invited Baba to Paris, along with the women mandali. On Sunday morning, 19th September 1937, He left at five o'clock by car with Mehera, Mani, Khorshed, Naja, Kitty and Elizabeth with instructions to meet them in Paris, Rano and Anita accompanied Soonamasi and Walu by train. Baba and the women spent one night at the town of Lyons and then drove on to Paris, stopping for a picnic on the way.

After assigning duties to each of the mandali, Baba left for Panchgani on14th March 1938, in car. Baba traveled in Elizabeth's Ford. Tukaram drove most of the others including Soonamasi.

But Baba also liked to tease Ghani and other close ones. He would call Soonamasi a "barber!" (An insult in India, meaning someone barbaric.) One day she retorted, "It would have been nice had I really been a barber! Then at least I would have been able to hold your face in my hands once in a while!"

Baba left Baba left Meherabad Hill in the Blue Bus in the early in the morning on 8th December 1938, with the following women including Soonamasi 54.

When Dowla fell ill, the residents formed a language-chain, since Dowla was fluent only in the Persian dialect Dari. Dowla explained her indisposition to Soonamasi in Dari; Soonamasi retold it to Mansari in Gujarati; Mansari recounted it to Nilu in Marathi; and Nilu explained it to Don in English! Baba enjoyed this novel diagnostic method also.

During the tour, Baba continued to sit in seclusion for half an hour each day, and the women were again ordered to maintain absolute silence during this period. Invariably, however, there would always be some noise. Baba finally instructed that they were to sit on their mattresses without moving for 30 minutes. In Shimoga, Soonamasi's alarm clock stopped working, and Gulamasi was sitting on her bed trying to repair it during Baba's seclusion time. Suddenly, in the midst of that still, silent atmosphere, the alarm began ringing. Knowing this would displease Baba, the women became so frightened that their hearts were thumping. They quickly buried the ringing clock under a heap of pillows, but its loud ringing could still be heard. Baba immediately came out of His room and reprimanded Gulamasi, but not too harshly. In this instance, He seemed to be more amused than upset.

Baba left Meherabad for Ranchi on Wednesday, 3 July 1940, by train, with the men and women mandali, and three masts, Chatti Baba, Shariat Khan and Mohammed. Among the women who accompanied Baba Soonamasi was one.

Baba ordered the mandali to give a feast to the Arangaon villagers on Sunday, 13th October and Monday, 14 October 1940, in memory of Dowla Masi and Nonny Gayley respectively. At 5:00 P.M. on the 13th, women and children from the village came up the hill, and Soonamasi and Kakubai distributed sweets to them. It began to rain, and Baba remarked, "This will make the villagers even happier! They need rain more than sweets, so Dowla Masi gave them rain." Baba watched Soonamasi and Kakubai distributing the prasad.

As soon as Baba arrived in Meherabad, He divided the women into five different small groups. Each group was assigned a separate room on Meherabad Hill. The women of one group were forbidden to speak with the women of the other group, and if anyone had to convey something to a woman of a different group, she had to do so through Kitty, who would pass along the message. Soonamasi, Nergiz and Kakubai were kept in fifth group.

In Lahore, Baba divided the eighteen women into two different groups as follows: First group: Mehera, Mani, Margaret, Meheru, Rano, Kitty and Walu. Second group: Dowla, Soonamasi and others.

In year 1944, there were approximately 26 men, 33 women and ten children staying with Meher Baba under His orders at Meherabad and Pimpalgaon. Among them was Soonamasi, aged 53.

Reaching Aurangabad, Baba called the other women there from Meherabad — Soonamasi & others. Baba described to them His Kashmir visit and, after a few days, sent them back to Meherabad.

When Baba returned from Wai, He kept Soonamasi with others stayed elsewhere on the hill.

Baba sent Vishnu to Manmad in advance to book their train compartments. Subsequently, on Tuesday, 16 th April 1946, Baba left Pimpalgaon (driven by Adi Sr. in Sarosh's car) with others where he entrained for Dehra Dun.  In the second group comprised of and Soonamasi and others And they joined Baba's group at Manmad.

In 1947, at Satara Soonamasi was one among women mandali with Meher Baba.

At Meherabad group was subdivided: In one group will be Khorshed and Soonamasi; in another Kitty, Rano, Naja and Katie; in the third Soltoon and Dowla; and in the fourth Mansari, Jerbai and the Fatties (Jalu, Gulu and Meheru Dastur). Every group will have separate cooking arrangements.

There was a hidden reason behind Baba's dividing the women at this time — and probably behind his recent work with Chacha, also. The country was about to be partitioned into two parts — India and Pakistan — and violence and civil chaos was breaking out everywhere in India. When the government's plan for partition was announced, Baba snorted in disgust and remarked, "Two parts — it will be (divided into)!"

Baba asked Soonamasi and her daughter Khorshed for their decision, though a day before He had urged them, "Promise Me that you will do as I say."

Khorshed did not give her promise and, on Baba's inquiring, replied, "Now that you are separating Me, what is the use of My promise?"

Baba replied, "Those who are bound by My instructions can never be separate and away from Me. To keep you near Me, I am seeking your promise." Khorshed therefore promised, and Baba arranged for them to stay at Meherjee's also.

On the 15th, in Nariman and Meherjee's cars, Baba sent Rano, Kitty, Khorshed and Soonamasi, along with Minoo Kharas, to Poona, from where they departed for Bombay.

Meanwhile, some other Old Life disciples who were living apart — Rano, Kitty, Khorshed and Soonamasi — were staying at Meherjee's in Bombay. Because of their obedience to Baba, they too had to pass through various difficult New Life experiences. Rano and Kitty had taken teaching jobs at the Queen Mary High School for girls. They were daily anticipating Baba's call, as He had promised to send for them. At last, on Friday, 7th July 1950, Baba called them to Satara. They arrived in the morning that evening, and were permitted to stay for one month.

As no women were called to Mahabaleshwar, Soonamasi and others who were in Bombay, also could not meet him

Adi Sr. and Ramjoo were called to Bombay, and were permitted to witness Baba's mast and poor work in the city. Baba slept at Ashiana, in Nariman's bedroom, Baba did not meet anyone in Bombay except Nariman and Meherjee — not even Soonamasi, and others who were living there according to his orders.

In 1952, the darshan at Ashiana was a wonderful occasion, affording a chance for the Master's old and close lovers to have His intimate contact for the first time since the New Life began in 1949.  Soonamasi and Khorshed were now staying at Tafti Mansion, Baba directed these women to continue to live as they were doing.

In 1956, Baba arrived in Bombay, where he briefly visited D. M. Shinde's residence in the Sion locality. His arti was performed, and He proceeded to Ashiana. Khorshed and her mother Soonamasi were also in Bombay, living in Tafti Mansion. They were physically away from Baba according to His wish, yet He would call them on such occasions.

On Sunday, 28 April 1957, Baba moved from Ganeshkhind to Guruprasad, where he remained until the end of May. Soonamasi and Khorshed, who were living in Bombay, were allowed to come for five days.

Soonamasi and her daughter, Khorshed, attended the darshan. They had been staying in Bombay since the New Life began in 1949 and were only permitted to visit Baba occasionally. Soonamasi was miserable at living away from Baba, and Baba assured her, "Don't think I am keeping you away. By being far, I keep you close to Me."

At Ashiana, Baba would often send for members of the Dadachanji family, and others such as Dina Talati, her daughters Perviz and Jeroo, or Soonamasi and Khorshed, to give them His company.

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105-SOLTOON

W/o Baidul

Soltoon was Baidul’s wife and had two daughters. They met Baba early in 1929 and visited their house in Jafrabad (Iran) and later sent far from Iran at the ashram. She was close disciple and served Meher Baba

Some of her experiences with Meher Baba are described as under:

On the 25th and 26th October 1929, Baba was shown different places in Yezd as suitable spots for His seclusion, but He failed to find a place that met His requirements. He also visited Baidul's house in the suburb of Jafrabad where he met Baidul's wife Soltoon and other relatives. Baba requested Soltoon to prepare lunch, but He was in such a hurry to eat, He did not allow her to cook the rice properly. Rushing the meal, Baba took all the pots to the dining room where He served the mandali and others. Soltoon tried to stop Him, saying that the rice was not cooked properly. But when Baba asked each person if it was uncooked, they all replied that it was excellent — much to Soltoon's amazement.

Also in June 1939, Baidul and his wife Soltoon, with their two daughters Dowla and Sarwar and son Faredoon, came to live at Meherabad. They were housed in the Arangaon Family Quarters. The wife and children did not know any other language except Persian, but Dowla and Sarwar soon learned Gujarati from the women mandali.

In Bangalore, a large house a quarter of a mile away from the Links at No. 4 Palace Road was rented for the men; it was also owned by Ismail's brother. In the Links bungalow Baidul’s family (Soltoon, Sarwar, and Dowla) stayed along with eastern women disciples.

During this period, Savak Kotwal's daughters Najoo and Hilla were sent to Secunderabad to study in one of the finest girls' schools in the country — the school attended by the children of the Nizam. Baidul's daughter Sarwar was sent with Gaimai to Bangalore, where she attended school.  School fees for the three girls, and their living expenses, were paid by Baba. Meanwhile Soltoon, wife of Baidul and others stayed with the women mandali.

Baba left Meherabad for Ranchi on Wednesday, 3rd July 1940, by train in the morning  with the men and women mandali, and three masts, Chatti Baba, Shariat Khan and Mohammed. Among the women who accompanied Baba, Soltoon was among them and several women servants.

In 1942, along with Gaimai, Soltoon, Nergiz (Kotwal) and Silla prepared chapatis for the group, while Katie and Manu were doing the cooking. Mehera and Khorshed would prepare Baba's food; Kitty was supervising the household work; and Mani would do typing. Thus, Baba kept everyone engaged in one duty or another.

As soon as Baba arrived in Meherabad, He divided the women into five different small groups. Each group was assigned a separate room on Meherabad Hill. The women of one group were forbidden to speak with the women of the other group, and if anyone had to convey something to a woman of a different group, she had to do so through Kitty, who would pass along the message. Mehera, Mani and Meheru consisted of one group; Naja, Khorshed and Walu another; Kitty, Rano and Margaret the third; Mansari, Katie, Soltoon and Dowla the fourth; and Gaimai, Manu, Meheru (Jessawala), Soonamasi, Nergiz and Kakubai the fifth.

Reaching Aurangabad, Baba called the other women there from Meherabad including Soltoon,. In 1944, Baba described to them his Kashmir visit and, after a few days, sent them back to Meherabad.

When Baba returned from Wai, He kept Kaikobad, his family and Mansari in the hospital quarters on the hill, and Soltoon and Dowla in a separate room. Soonamasi, and other ladies elsewhere on the hill.

"The Meherabad group will be subdivided: In one group will be Khorshed and Soonamasi; in another Kitty, Rano, Naja and Katie; in the third Soltoon and Dowla; and in the fourth Mansari, Jerbai and the Fatties (Jalu, Gulu and Meheru Dastur). Every group will have separate cooking arrangements. Mehera, Mani, Meheru and Walu will stay at Pimpalgaon."

There was a hidden reason behind Baba's dividing the women at this time — and probably behind his recent work with Chacha, also. The country was about to be partitioned into two parts — India and Pakistan — and violence and civil chaos was breaking out everywhere in India. When the government's plan for partition was announced, Baba snorted in disgust and remarked, "Two parts — it will be (divided into)!”

On 28th, September 1949, Baba went to Bindra House in Poona, driven there in Adi's car with Eruch and Baidul. He informed Pappa and Gaimai, "Keep Soltoon and Dowla with you as members of your own family. I am giving you this responsibility and you will be serving me by carrying it out."

Meher Baba decides to take only four women disciples Mehera, Mani, Meheru and Goher. and arrange some to stay at Meherabad, few in Bombay. Baidul's wife Soltoon and their daughter, Dowla, were instructed to stay at Bindra House in Poona, along with Walu. Baidul's other daughter Sarwar was living in Bombay.

Baba arrived in the morning by Car in Guruprasad. Since He had walked and climbed more steps than usual that morning, His hip joint was giving Him pain at the end of the tiring drive, so the men carried Him up the steps of Guruprasad in a lift-chair. As always during Baba's stay in Poona, Kaka was left behind in charge of Meherazad, and Kaikobad was taken to Meherabad Hill to stay with his family.  Due to Baidul's stroke in 1963, Baba had sent Baidul to stay at his daughter Sarwar Taraporewala's home in Bombay. (Baba sent Baidul to his daughter's every year thereafter, in addition to permitting him to spend some weeks in Poona with his other daughter Dowla and his wife Soltoon.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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104-SHIRIN SHERIAR IRANI (Bobo)

(Baba's mother)

Shirin Sheriar Irani, Baba’s mother, lived from time to time in Poona and in Baba’s Ashram at Meherabad. She was totally devoted to Baba.

Shireenmai (as they came to be called out of respect) was destined to have nine children-seven sons and two daughters. Of these, three died in childhood: a son name Shirmand at seven months; another son named Jehangir at two years; and a daughter named Freni, who died of the plague in 1902 at the age of seven.

Few surprising and interesting incident of her life with Baba are briefly described as below.

One day Shireen became so exasperated that she picked up child Meherwan (Baba) up outside and, taking Him back into the house, tied his leg to the bedpost with an old sari. She put a plate of puffed rice and some water near Him and then returned to the kitchen. Merwan started crying, upset by His loss of freedom, but Shireen ignored Him and eventually little Merwan fell asleep.

When Shireen came to check on Merwan, she found Him sleeping; on His cheeks tears sparkled like pearls. Shireen was overcome with tenderness for her son, for He looked so helpless leashed to the bedpost, and she untied Him. Moments after awakening, however, finding Himself no longer bound, He ran outside to the lane. Shireen would often have to tie Merwan to the bed, and this continued until he grew to a more manageable age. Sometimes Sheriar would come home, find his son tied, and free Him out of pity. But after He had played with His father, He would escape outside until a passing neighbour would pick Him up and bring Him back to the house

Memo pressed Merwan again to find another job, and He was accepted as a schoolteacher at Nargol village in Gujarat. He was hired to teach two subjects, English and Persian. His salary was Rs.200 per month and he would send half of it home to his mother. But this teaching job lasted for only a few months, and Merwan either quit or was fired.

Upon Merwan's return to Poona, Memo again tried to find some steady employment for her son. She told Bobo that the sooner Merwan became involved with a steady job, the better he would feel and the sooner his "mental distress" would be alleviated. His mother would not leave Him alone or give Him a moment's relief about getting a job. This went on every day, and her pestering was a constant irritation to Merwan.

As the years went on, Memo never gave up hope that Merog would be cured of His "mental affliction," settle down with a family, and make something of His life. Behramji was a shrewd businessman and had several tea and toddy shops in Poona by this time. One day Memo took Him aside and offered to advance half the money necessary to start another toddy shop if Behramji would take Merog as a partner. Behramji was delighted and agreed to her offer. On 1st August 1918, Behramji procured a liquor license (this time he remembered to have it in his own name) and, in partnership with Merwanji, opened a new toddy shop at 723 Kasba Peth. Merwanji took the business seriously. Each morning from six until noon he worked in the toddy shop.

After Baba's long stay at Sakori, Memo went to Babajan and asked when her son would come home. Babajan said "He is My beloved son. He belongs to the whole world, not to you!" Helpless Memo returned home frustrated. Later she requested that her mother, Golandaam and her niece, Naja, try to persuade Babajan to call Merwan back to Poona.

Finally, Memo became so distressed that she went to Sakori to confront Upasni Maharaj. Memo had been to Sakori a few time whenever Merwan had gone there she would inevitably find out and arrive later, hoping to persuade him to let her take Him back. Maharaj would trick her all the time

Maharaj greeted "Welcome, Mother, welcome! “Memo was irritated by his comment and asked, "How could I be your mother when you are so old?" "You are the mother of the entire universe, dear woman!" replied Upasni Maharaj.

Upasni gently replied, "Your son seems mentally unbalanced. I don't know what to do about Him. I myself don't force Him to stay. I have even beaten Him with a stick to chase Him away, but he will not go! What am I to do with Him? Memo replied, "Yes, it will help. I shall arrange his marriage as soon as we get back to Poona!" "That is a good idea," replied Maharaj, but then he added, "Mother, do one thing first. When you find a nice girl for Merwan, find another girl for me. Then we can both come with you to be married." Memo was shocked by Upasni's request and replied, "Who will give his daughter to an old man like you?" "But when I am your son, how can I be unsuitable?"

After some time, Memo could not control her distress, and she also went to Kedgaon to plead with Narayan Maharaj about Merwan. On this occasion, Narayan received her with great respect and told her, "You are very, very fortunate. Your son is Jagat — the Lord of the universe — and you yourself will be worshiped in times to come as the mother of the entire universe. Have patience, everything will soon be all right. You will see. One day you will know who your son really is."

Memo was comforted by Narayan's gentle manner; however, she was not fully consoled nor did she understand the Sadguru's remarks. Memo could not bear to be separated from Merwan much longer.

It was also difficult for Memo to bear the ridicule of the local Zoroastrian community. Some Zoroastrians in Poona would mock her son's spiritual tendencies, telling her, "Merwan will run away to the Himalayas and become a naked sadhu. Memo continued to miss her son terribly. She could not tolerate being separated from Him any longer.

A week after the encounter with Upasni Maharaj, Memo went to Sakori again — more determined than ever. She confronted Maharaj and railed, "Why don't you give me back my son? You have taken my son away, now send Him back!"

Turning and glancing at Memo's son Adi, who had accompanied her, Upasni continued, "I'll tell you what I will do. Do this for me: I'll order Merwan to go back with you, but you will have to leave this son of yours here with me." Memo became incensed, "What? How dare you! You have swallowed up one son and now you want to swallow another one?

Upasni said, "Your son does not want to go home, He does not want to get married, and He does not want children. Forget about your ideas and go back home. He wants to stay here with me." Upasni embraced Memo and gently said, "I bow to your love for Merwan." Memo left quite unconsoled.

After this quarrel, Memo suffered a breakdown and her health deteriorated. She would lie in bed weeping and was, most of the time, insensible. She refused to cook, and the children and home were attended to by servants. Bobo called a doctor, who was concerned about her mental and physical condition. Memo's mother Golandaam and Bobo did their best to nurse and comfort her, but she was disconsolate.

Weeks passed, there was no sign of recovery, and Bobo thought Memo might die. Once, while she was sleeping, Bobo, who was keeping watch over at her bedside, saw the door open and two figures approach her bed. One spirit resembled Merwan and the other, wearing a white turban and kafni, resembled Sai Baba. The two figures stayed a few minutes near Memo, gazing at her; then they vanished. Soon afterward, Memo awoke and, for the first time in weeks, spoke clearly and asked for water. Bobo poured water for her and, amazingly, Memo's condition rapidly improved. She then became well and normal, much to the relief of everyone in the family.

Spiritually, Sheriarji knew what had become of his son and who He was, but Memo continued to take Him only as her favorite child whom she loved dearly. Naturally, His mother was pained by His staying away from home and in such an unbefitting hovel — a grass shack! She was still not reconciled to how Merog had changed, and shed tears over his absence. Once Baba told His mother, "If you want salvation, bow down to Me and pray to Me." Memo was indignant. "You are my son and you want me to bow down to you?! I pray only to Zoroaster."

Memo came to Meherabad a few days later. She was disturbed, for she had found it shocking when she heard that Baba had distributed sweets to all when Jamshed died, and asked in a critical tone, "Merog, did you have to distribute sweets when your brother died? Do you know how disrespectful it looks and what some people in Poona are saying about you? Your brother dies and you distribute laddoos!" Baba calmed her with this reply: "Mother, if you could see Jamshed as I see him, you would not only have distributed laddoos but pedahs (a more expensive sweet}!"

Memo tried to prevail on Baba on His marriage Baba replied. “"As your son, I would never disobey you. Of course, I respect your wishes. However, in order to get married, there must be two persons — a man and a woman. What am I to do? God has raised me to such a state of consciousness that I do not find anyone else in the world but Me! I experience myself to be in all. God has made Me realize that I alone exist, and that all else is illusion. "When a man goes to a cinema and watches a movie of a beautiful actress on the screen, can he marry her? No, because she is only a two-dimensional image on the screen. Likewise, I see you all on the screen of maya. How then can I get married?" Memo was sincere in her wish, and Baba's reply made her weep.

Memo was the main target of these antagonistic Zoroastrians, and she was troubled the most. While she was residing in Banu Mansion, all her neighbours, except for a bachelor, approached the landlord and threatened to vacate the building if he failed to evict Shireenmai. They even signed a petition to this effect.

Through Baba's watchful nazar, matters worked themselves out in a wonderful manner. The man who was harassing Memo the most was transferred and subsequently left Bombay. In another tenant's family there was a death, and this tenant, too, had to leave to stay with the dead relative's family. Another lost his job. All the other tenants, except for the bachelor who had not taken part in deliberately causing trouble for Memo, for one reason or another moved out of the building within a month, and the Avatar's mother was left in peace.

Memo was a courageous and bold woman. Because of her inner strength, she confronted the opposition straightforwardly. The same situation faced her in Poona, where she was constantly ridiculed wherever she went. But no harm came to her because of her intrepid nature. Her real strength was her belief in her son's divinity, and Baba's nazar was on her, which enabled her to face the bitter antagonism against Him.

In 1938, Once in Panchgani, Memo lost her temper, stormed out of the bungalow and hid behind some bushes. Baba himself went to search for her but could not find her. He sent a servant named Nana Koli to look for her.  When Nana found her, he requested that she return to the house. But Shireenmai's indignation had not yet cooled, and she flatly refused to comply. When Baba was informed, he went to her. Shireenmai was still fuming and would not listen. Baba seemingly got fed up with her and went back inside. After a while, he again sent Nana. When Nana explained to Shireenmai how upset Baba was, she went back and the incident was forgotten.

Once, on His mother's visit, Baba gave the duty of looking after her to Gaimai, advising her, "Try your best to keep Shireenmai pleased and always do as she requests." Gaimai was determined to serve her well.

Meanwhile Gaimai's Sister Banumasi Kerawala was in Bombay and was about to join Baba with her two sons, Dadi and Sam. Memo asked Gaimai one day, "Write to Banu to bring me fish from Bombay when she comes."

"But Mother," Gaimai replied, "eating fish is forbidden in the ashram; it is against Baba's order. Even the Westerners have to live on vegetarian food."

"This restraint is for you people," Memo said, "not for me! Send her a letter. What are you afraid of? Am I not your God's mother?"

Gaimai thought: "Baba wants me to do as Shireenmai says, so I'd better carry out her request." She wrote to her sister.

Pendu arrived from Meherabad on 6th April, with Savak Kotwal, Banumasi and Gaimai's other sister Gulamasi Satha. Banumasi had brought the packet of fish, wrapped in ice. Baba was with the masts at the time.

Memo took the parcel inside and told Gaimai to cook it for her lunch. Gaimai prepared it, but before Shireenmai could eat it, Baba walked in and said, "I smell fish. Where is it coming from?" Gaimai told him everything and Baba became very, very displeased.

Memo intervened, "I have called for the fish! Why are you getting so upset with her?"

Baba said, "Mother, you can have fish in Poona, not here! No one can eat meat or fish in My ashram!"

"Who are you to stop me?" "I am God!" "You may be God for all, but to me you are my Merog. The doctor has told me to eat fish for my diabetes and you can't stop me from eating it."

As this heated argument was going on between mother and son, two stray cats slipped into the kitchen and made off with the entire fish! When Memo saw this, she wailed, "Merog! Why do you harass me so? You didn't want me to eat it and so this had to happen!"

"Now do you believe that I am God?" Baba asked. "Maybe for others," she conceded, "but to me you will always be my naughty Merog!" Baba had a hearty laugh and those present enjoyed the humor of the whole incident.

On a previous occasion, Baba told mother Shirin, “Have you given Me birth, it was I who first gave birth to you and then you bore Me later. I was your mother in the beginning of creation.”

Another time in Bangalore, someone presented Baba with a beautiful, costly shawl. Memo admired it and was thinking Baba would give it to her. Instead, touching the feet of a poor man with his forehead, Baba gave the shawl to him. Memo was upset. "Merog, have you any sense or not?" she asked. "Are you insane? Is that man superior to you in any way that you bow to him and give him such a valuable shawl? He looks as though he has not eaten in a week! What will he do with such an expensive wrap? He'll sell it, buy illicit liquor and get drunk!"

"None is greater or lesser to Me," Baba replied, "It is only Me who is in him — and in you also. In you, I did not like the shawl, and in him, I liked it. That is why I gave it to him."

Memo shouted, "Don't talk to me like that! I did not at all like seeing you keep your head on that vagabond's feet."

Baba shrugged and asked, "What can I do? I derive pleasure from such acts, because I see Myself in all. Except for Me, no one else exists."

Once, when Memo attired herself in Gaimai's silk sari, Baba asked her, "Whose sari is this?"

Memo said, "What is it to you?"

"Look, I am wearing an old, patched coat. See how I live, though I am the Avatar. You, being the Avatar's mother, it does not behoove you to put on silk saris when the Avatar is going about in a tattered, patched coat!"

"Who told you to dress like that? You wear what you like.

In 1943, Memo sent for the tailor, and giving him cloth to make some blouses, she made this odd remark, "I don't know if I'll be alive to wear these clothes." The fact was that Memo had had a dream in which she saw a red horse enter her house, and had taken this as a sign that her end was imminent.

On Sunday, 21 February 1943, Memo fell and suffered a brain hemorrhage. She was rushed to the hospital, but the doctors said they could not save her and that she would not survive. Baba was in Mahabaleshwar and was informed immediately. Two days later, on the 23rd, Baba arrived at the mandali's quarters at eight o'clock in the morning, and instructed Chanji to leave for Poona to help His brothers (Jalbhai, Beheram and Adi Jr.) deal with the crisis. Baba also warned, "My mother might pass on, so inform all concerned in Bombay, Ahmednagar, and elsewhere, to be ready at any moment for the news." Chanji left on the afternoon bus and arrived in Poona at seven in the evening. Baba's three brothers were at the hospital, watching over their mother.

Memo was brought home on Thursday, 25th February 1943, but she was still unconscious. Yet she had a pleasant smile on her face, as if she were watching something magnificent. That night, at 9:40 P.M., Memo passed away at the age of 65, merging forever in the Ocean of bliss. Chanji recorded:

The end was remarkably calm and sudden. Just a quarter of an hour ago, we had seen her breathing hard, as usual. While Adi Jr., Beheram and Myself were lightly chitchatting in Beheram's house, there was a sudden call that Shireenmai was collapsing. We rushed to her bed to find the end was coming. But so smooth was the final stage (about fifteen minutes) that none could definitely say when it truly ended.

Baba received a telegram that night and came directly to Poona from Mahabaleshwar. It was late when He arrived, but He did not enter Baba House to see Memo's last remains, but instead stood outside at a distance in the lane. Shortly thereafter, He went to Bindra House with Eruch, who had accompanied Him.

At Bindra House, Baba remarked to Gaimai, "It is good Memo died before I came. Had she not died, I would not have allowed her to die, and she would have suffered greatly. She would have slowly recovered, but she would have been paralyzed for life."

Gaimai related to Baba that when Memo had breathed her last, she (Gaimai) had seen many tiny, shimmering, golden hands emerge from Shireenmai's nostrils and hover over her before floating away. Baba's final remark was: "She is now freed."

Shireenmai! Age will always remember you! "How blessed you were to have given birth to the Avatar!"

Memo dropped her physical body on 25-2-1943 (same date and month of Baba’s birthday).Meher Baba said, “Memo has come to Me and is now fully in bliss. Now Memo is quite happy free of all worldly ties.”

 

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103-ROSHAN KERAWALA

D/o Homi Satha

Roshan Kerawala was daughter of Homi Satha (Mama) was married to Sam Kerawala.

Her life time experiences and conversation with Meher Baba is briefly described as under:

Homi Mama Satha and his wife Pilla (who lived in Bombay) came to see Baba with their children Alu, Dhun, Naval and Roshan. As instructed, Chanji stopped them. Baba saw this from His room. He came out, and, taking Chanji to task, scolded, "Why do you prevent them from coming inside? Don't you know who they are? They are part of the Sathas of Ahmednagar. Let them come in." Baba visited with them in His room. Roshan was just a baby, and Baba held her on His lap. He assured Homi that He would look after the children and not to worry about them. Baba handed Roshan to Homi Mama's sister Banumasi Kerawala, who was also present. No one then could understand the significance lying behind this seemingly simple gesture of Baba's. But years later, when Roshan married Banumasi's son, Sam, they recalled this incident and understood its meaning.

Alu, Dhun and Naval had all been struck with muscular dystrophy, and Homi was afraid that Roshan too would be afflicted with it. But before he could mention this, Baba comforted him, indicating Roshan would be spared. Baba gave Dhun and Naval each a rose to eat and the family left happily.

Baba's 54th birthday was observed (according to the Parsi calendar) on 13th February 1948. Baba called the women from Meherabad to Pimpalgaon in the afternoon for a bhajan performance by an Arangaon group. Baba also allowed to attend the festivities from Ahmednagar where Khorshed Banu (Goher's mother) and her daughter Roshan and others participated.

Baba did not relieve disability of Dhun and Alu Satha, but He did help them keep happy, teaching them to bear their sorrow and pain cheerfully. Their younger sister, Roshan, who was unaffected by the disease, was also much loved by Baba. Once when the family visited Meherabad, Baba picked up Roshan and carried her all the way to Upper Meherabad on His shoulders.

After darshan program in Poona, Baba departed for Meherazad with Roshan and was dropped at Akbar Press, where Baba again saw His lovers. A great saint lived in Bombay, named Kammu Baba, who had been with Sai Baba. For several years, Baba had been indirectly contacting this highly advanced soul through Roshan, who was studying in Bombay. Baba would send her instructions to contact Kammu Baba and give him a certain message, and the saint would dictate a reply.

In 1955, Baba sent word to Roshan that she should contact Kammu Baba one last time and then not go to him again. Although Baba would often mention Kammu Baba as one of the seven saints in India who was very dear to Him, He never physically contacted him.

Banumasi Kerawala had two sons, Dadi and Sam. Their first cousin Roshan belonged to the Satha family of Ahmednagar. Roshan's brother, Naval, and sister, Dhun, were crippled with muscular dystrophy, but Baba had promised that Roshan would not suffer from the disease.

Once, when Roshan was a baby, Baba had put her in Banumasi's lap. No one had gauged the significance of this act then, but years later, on 21st March 1958, in Poona, with Baba's approval, Roshan and Sam Kerawala were married. That day, Baba, His mandali and several of the Poona lovers were served a lavish meal by the wedding party. The next day, the couple came to Ganeshkhind seeking Baba's blessing.

Roshan Kerawala gave birth to a daughter on 21st February 1959, whom Baba named Mehera. At the end of April, their cousin, Meheru Mehta gave birth to a son whom Baba named Merwan. Meheru Mehta also came to stay in Bindra House, and whenever Baba would visit there with the women mandali, He would cuddle the two infants. After being served sherbet, Baba and the mandali would return to Guruprasad.

When Mehera Kerawala was born, Roshan had to have two or three stitches, but when the doctor took them out, one was left uncut by mistake. Roshan started having severe discomfort and consulted the doctor, who examined her and said everything was all right. Her trouble persisted and increased. One day when Baba was visiting, finding her looking dejected, He asked the reason and she told him. Baba immediately sent for Goher from Guruprasad. Goher was told the trouble, but she said, "I haven't brought my surgical instruments with me."

Baba asked her crossly, "Then have you come here to stare at Me?"

So Goher went back and returned with the required medical supplies. On examination, she found that one stitch remained uncut and had become enveloped in a layer of skin.

Baba ordered, "Take it out."

"Baba, it should be done in the hospital," Goher protested, "not here."

"Oh for God's sake, quit arguing and take it out!" Baba insisted.

Despite Goher's reluctance and repeated requests to take Roshan to a hospital, Baba insisted she do the operation then and there. He assured Goher, "Don't be afraid; just keep looking at My photograph and that will steady your nerves." Cutting open the layer of skin, Goher took out the stitch, and surprisingly Roshan did not feel the least pain.

Sarosh saw Baba at Guruprasad on 17th May 1961. Dolly Dastoor of Bombay came for Baba's darshan that day. Baba asked, "Why hasn't Roshan, her sister come with you?" Baba then remembered and innocently asked, "Isn't she pregnant?" Dolly said yes. She returned to Bombay that day and learned that Roshan had given birth early the same morning, to a daughter who was named Mehernaz.

Ten days later, Roshan and the baby came for Baba's darshan. Baba inquired whether the baby was covered properly. "Otherwise, she will catch a cold," He warned.

Alu Satha's condition worsened and she stopped eating and drinking. On 8th November 1961 she asked her sister Roshan to write again to Baba. Baba was in seclusion and feeling quite ill Himself that day. Roshan explained to Alu that there was no chance that Baba would come just to visit her. Unexpectedly, when Baba received her message He went to see Alu. Baba asked for a glass of sherbet. He drank most of it and gave the remaining amount to Alu.

He consoled her. Baba had a fever and was perspiring. He took a handkerchief from His pocket, wiped the sweat from His forehead and gave it to Roshan to tie on Alu's right hand. Baba instructed Roshan to place His photograph on the small refrigerator opposite Alu's bed, so that she could see it and focus her attention on it.

One evening, Sam Kerawala came to Guruprasad. He was a merchant marine radio officer on a ship, and had come home on a six-month leave. Baba asked him, "Do you love Roshan (his wife) more than Me?"

"I cannot say," said Sam, "but I don't feel as restless to see you as I do to see Roshan."

"Do you think I am away from you?" Baba inquired.

"I never think so; I always feel that you are with me."

"That is why you are not restless for Me! If you become as anxious to see Me as you do to see Roshan, you will be inspired to have that restlessness. You only think that I am with you, but you never try to see Me with you. If you do that, you will have that restlessness for Me."

 

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100-NORINA MATCHABELLI

(Baba lover and wife of Prince Georges Matchabelli)

Princess Norina Matchabelli met Baba in 1931 and consequently left her position and status of a diplomat’s wife and lived in Baba’s ashram. She travelled all over India, Europe and later America to spread Baba’s message and in 1949 helped Elizabeth to establish Baba’s centre at Myrtle Beach.

Born in Italy on March 3rd 1880 in Florence, Italy, and her first husband was Karl Volmoeller a Baba lover film maker. Later she married to Prince George Matchabelli, a national hero who, after revolution in Russia fought for his country of Georgia, in the Caucasus, and thereafter settled in U.S.A.

In December 1923, the couple moved to America, where Norina performed on stage in New York. As a young woman, Norina (using the stage name Maria Carmi) was chosen by the Austrian stage director Max Reinhardt to play the role of the Madonna in his pantomime play The Miracle, written by Norina's first husband, the German author Karl Vollmoeller. The play was a phenomenal success performed over 1,000 times.  Norina, a Roman Catholic, even had an audience with the Pope, in Rome in 1914. She also starred in more than 25 silent Italian films. In America, she continued to perform in a production of The Miracle.

From this role, Norina developed a deep spiritual longing and became a seeker. In the midst of   a life of glamour and success, however, she developed into a deep spiritual seeker and prepared her way to the final experience which instantaneously transformed her life—when she met Meher Baba.

In 1924, they founded the world famous perfumery Matchabelli perfumes. Later the perfume corporation was sold, and she spontaneously gave her share to Baba.

Norina was an old friend of Jean's. The day before Jean had left for Harmon to prepare for Baba's arrival, she had gone to see Norina at her apartment in New York. Norina candidly asked her, "Who is this 'Master' at whose feet you would worship?" Jean tried to explain to her about Baba and about Thomas Watson's profound experience with him in England, but Norina remained unconvinced.

Norina asked Jean, "How can you worship at the feet of any man, even if He does call Himself a Master? Women like ourselves — who have had such deep inner experiences — don't need any man to show us the way to God.

How can you allow yourself to be drawn into such foolishness?" As Jean was leaving, Norina sarcastically remarked, "Well, darling, when your Master arrives, I must meet Him. I too would like to weep like dear old Watson!"

Jean's explanations had seemed odd to Norina and she was amused, but also puzzled. Three days after Baba's arrival, Norina phoned Jean at Harmon, saying, "The strangest thing has been happening to me. From the moment Meher Baba landed in New York, I have been weeping continuously. You must arrange for me to see Him."

When Norina encountered Baba in Harmon, tears of ecstasy rolled down her cheeks and she totally forgot her princess-ly self. Her life became Baba's and she dedicated herself completely at His feet. Later, describing that first meeting, she related:

I doubt whether that experience ([of meeting Meher Baba can be expressed in words. I had heard about Him, but I remained skeptical. I had followed teacher after teacher, and yet none of them could ever reassure me (about the Path. Eventually, I consented to go with a friend to Harmon.

I entered the room in which Baba was sitting surrounded by followers and disciples. That very moment, an experience began, full of wonder and beauty. Suddenly I had to run across the room and I found myself weeping on the floor at His feet. Weeping, weeping! Oh, how I was weeping! But I also began to laugh, and the streams running down my cheeks and the outbursts of laughter became one. I was resting my head on Baba's hand, and my whole body was shaking with terrific sobs of liberation.

Eventually, I quieted down. Baba then took my face between His hands and looked at me for a long time into one of my eyes, and then into the other, and then back into the first eye.

Then He spoke to me via the alphabet board. His first words were: "I am man and woman and child. I am sexless." He then paused for a while; brought His face nearer to mine and spelled out, "Have no fear."

An incredible joy surged through me. I went into the next room and lay down on a sofa, weeping still with joy. Suddenly the door opened and Baba came in. I knew now that my whole life had no meaning if it were not dedicated to the Perfect Master, and so I said to Him, "Baba, please take me with you."

He motioned, "It is yet too soon." I could have died with grief when I felt his words.

As a child, Norina had had an experience of God. On one occasion, she recollected:

Since my childhood, I knew of God. When I was twelve, He came as Jesus Christ and spoke to me. He explained to me in words of sublime wisdom that this love which had begun to surge within me was an imperative for the fulfillment of the highest form of spiritual love.

He spoke to me in the unforgettable words: "I am your first and last love."

The significance of these words was fully realized by Norina when she met Meher Baba for the first time and recognized him as Christ personified. Without her ever mentioning this incident, Baba spelled out, "I was the one who came to you in the form of Christ to lead you toward the Goal." From their very first meeting, the Master established in Norina unconditional faith in him — which was to last a lifetime.

Returning to Boston in the afternoon, Baba boarded the SS George Washington, taking an overnight boat ride back to New York. They arrived the next morning in morning and stayed at the Astor Hotel on Broadway where Norina had booked rooms. It was an expensive hotel, frequented by a wealthy and influential clientele — yet which other guest could be more distinguished? Nevertheless, to arrange His stay, Norina had to use her influence with the proprietors, who were reluctant to accommodate a "silent Indian Master."

After staying five days in Harmon, Baba departed at eight in the morning on 4th December 1931 for Manhattan with Norina and Malcolm. .They made one stop on their way into the city, at the home of Corinne Ingraham at 49 E. 83rd Street. Corinne was a friend of Norina's who had recently broken her leg in an accident.  She later told Norina that she had remained in ecstasy for three days after Baba's visit and her swollen leg had returned to normal the day following her interview with Baba.

Baba wished to go to a night movie on Broadway, which Norina arranged, and a group of eighteen persons went with Him. Baba became restless during the film and left in the middle of it. The group followed. Walking through the crowded New York streets, Baba went to another movie theater some blocks away. Along the way, one man stopped and stared straight into Baba's eyes, and then kept turning around to look at Him after they had passed on the sidewalk. Perhaps it was for Him that Baba had left the theater.

In an interview, Baba pointed to a woman standing far back in the crowd and instructed that she be brought to the front to meet Him. Baba's summons was delivered by Norina and received by the woman in an embarrassed manner, as neither of them knew the other. The woman apologetically explained that she had come merely to accompany a friend and did not feel inclined to meet Baba. Baba kept signaling that she should come to Him. At this, her attitude changed and she walked toward Him.

Baba's hand stretched out to her with obvious joy. He had found the needing soul that, for some obscure reason, was unconsciously due to meet Him. Standing before Baba, her embarrassment almost grew into a state of confusion which Baba took care of immediately in his benign way. At his words, "Do not worry. I know everything, and I will take care of you and help you," she involuntarily began sobbing. The reception continued as the rescued soul disappeared into the crowd.

About a week later, before Norina drove to California to meet Baba, she received a phone call from a woman she did not know. "I am the woman that you so graciously induced to meet the Master," the woman related. "May I come and see you? Something so wonderful has happened to me!" Norina learned the woman's name was Marian and she was a friend of a friend. She made a date to meet her. Marian came to Norina's apartment and narrated the sorrowful state of affairs in her family due to the hatred between her and her daughter had turned normal.

On another occasion, a friend of Norina's, who was an acute alcoholic, came to meet Baba in New York. For years, the woman had been in and out of one asylum after another. She hated her mother, with whom she lived, and would greet her each morning with such cruel words: "Why aren't you dead yet?"

Norina aroused her curiosity about Baba, and the friend finally agreed to see "that man." When the woman was brought to Baba, Norina tried to tell him about her background. Baba cut her short, motioning, "I know her very well." The woman sat at His feet, and after a few moments of friendly conversation, Baba mentioned alcoholic beverages and drinking with intense interest. They discussed different types of drinks, and Baba even remarked about a wine that He had heard was very good. The woman was overjoyed to talk about a subject so familiar to her. Her meeting was light-hearted, jovial and full of humor.

After a while, the woman turned to Norina and said, "You know your Baba is not as bad as I thought; he's a real human being!"

A week later, the woman invited Norina to tea. She opened the door to her apartment, and for once, Norina noticed that she had not been drinking. The woman immediately disclosed her determination to change her life. "I do not drink anymore, nor will I ever do so again. I was a fool!

I have wasted the better part of my life and energy. I cannot hate anymore, either. I am sorry to have given so much suffering to my mother. I now love her and will devote my life to her happiness." No mention was made of Baba, but Norina knew that his glance had penetrated this woman's dark mind and had lifted it out of the clouds to a new and better life.

After leaving Baba in Venice at the end of August, Norina and Quentin had been directed to go to Germany and various other places in Europe to try to interest people in Baba.

Norina had many acquaintances in London and she brought them to meet her Beloved. Among them were Countess Catherine ("Kitty") Pahlen of Russia, Baroness Rothschild, Lady Stella Vitelleschi, and Vivienne Giesen.

Baba explained to His lovers that He wished them to come to India the following year. And for the first time, He spoke to Kimco about Mehera and of her intense, pure love for him. He gestured, "Mehera is My Radha and her life consists of My happiness. When you see her, you will have an idea of her love for Me. Her love always keeps Me happy!"

On more than one occasion, there was a discussion about the idea of making a film of Baba's life. This project particularly interested Norina, who had pursued it with different filmmakers since Baba had mentioned it at the Harmon Retreat in 1931.

After leaving Baba in Venice at the end of August, Norina and Quentin had been directed to go to Germany and various other places in Europe to try to interest people in Baba.

Norina arrived in Genoa on 26th September 1932. From there she and Quentin, together or separately, visited Venice, Florence, Argenta, Verona, Munich, Basel, Zurich, Halle, Berlin and Budapest. By the end of December they returned to Venice, where they were to join Baba's group. Baba was to travel to all those places in Europe, but as so often happened with Him, plans were to change. Baba's silent message carried the seed of consciousness within it for the countries His disciples visited. Quentin, Norina and Rustom (who had been sent to Australia and New Zealand) were the outward media of Baba's inner work. Through them, He forged the link for His spiritual work with these different nations.

23rd April 1933 was their last day in Srinagar. Baba took all to the Shalimar and Nishat Gardens. While taking His seat in the bus, Baba remarked, "There is no place in the world as ideal as these surroundings in Kashmir." Back at the houseboats, Baba instructed Elizabeth and Norina to return to New York.

In 1933, Alice had met Norina at a tea in New York some years before and they had corresponded regularly; Norina told Baba about her and Baba had them invited.

Norina did translation work and correspondence All were enthusiastic about spreading Meher Baba's message. Norina and the Kimco group agreed that it was time for the world at large to be enlightened about Meher Baba, His teachings and work, especially in light of the fictitious, if not ridiculous, rumors being published about Him in the newspapers at the time. They also felt that they should let people know about Meher Baba before He broke His silence and manifested, which He repeatedly said He would do in the near future. Therefore, they were busy in Portofino collecting and assembling Baba's sayings and material about the Master in the form of questions and answers to be published in booklet form.

Baba had asked Norina to arrange for interviews that afternoon, since she had lived with her husband in Rome when he was the ambassador prior to the Russian revolution. Unfortunately, she had not been in Italy for the last several years and had lost touch with even the closest of friends. For her to call people on the telephone and persuade them to come and meet an Indian Spiritual Master was next to impossible on such short notice. Norina made a list of the names of 32 persons whom she thought worthy to meet Baba and submitted it to him before making the appointments.

Baba glanced at it and crossed off all but three. They were a Russian army officer, a simple, good-hearted Italian and a worldly young professor of philosophy. Norina had no trouble convincing the first two to come; their meetings with Baba proved to be cordial and beneficial to them, but the professor's attitude was defiantly negative.

Throughout March, April and May 1934, telegrams were being sent back and forth that concerned another possible visit to the West to check progress on the film Baba wished to be made. Norina had cabled Baba from Paris that her first husband, screenwriter Karl Vollmoeller, was willing to work on the script for Baba's film. She also later wrote about her contact with the 40-year-old Hungarian producer Gabriel Pascal (who had made films in Germany with Max Reinhardt) who wished to meet Baba. "After meeting you," Norina cabled, "Pascal will be capable of any sacrifice for realization!" Baba cabled back on 13 (and 19) March:

After spending the day in Marseilles, Baba and the mandali took the train to Paris, joined by Norina and two other western disciples.

Nearing America, Baba made it clear that He did not wish to meet any outsiders while in New York — no new persons, no interviews and no publicity. But Norina had already informed certain people about the Master's arrival and also intended to publicize his visit. She cabled this to Baba on the ship and Baba cabled back, instructing her to cancel everything and that He would not even grant interviews. When the ship docked in New York on Wednesday, 12th December 1934, a group of newspaper reporters and photographers tried to invade Baba's cabin, but He would not meet them and instructed Chanji to send them away. As usually happened with Baba's arrivals in foreign countries, there was some delay in their disembarkation. After a considerable wait, the press dispersed. One newspaper article described Baba as wearing a sweater, coat, hat and carrying a silver-knobbed cane. "Immigration officials tried to make Him talk. But he just smiled and let His secretary speak for Him." After leaving the customs area, Baba was greeted by Norina and western lovers.

Tullio Carminati, 40, another movie actor, came to see Baba that evening. He had performed on stage with Norina years before and, although she was now older, he remarked to Norina, "Why, you look so much better than you did before! It is really something quite different, something divine. I can clearly see it."

Pointing to Baba, Norina replied, "It is His divinity that you see in me. Just look at Him and see for yourself."

Before going to Europe, Baba had written to the close Western lovers chosen to come to India that he had bought property in Nasik for their stay. This was made possible by Norina's financial contribution (the money having come from the proceeds of selling her husband's perfume company). In July of 1936, Baba had informed them.

On one occasion, Norina telephoned an old friend; the screenwriter Mercedes de Acosta, to tell her there was someone in town she should meet. Mercedes had been severely depressed of late and did not wish to meet anyone, but Norina urged her that she would not regret meeting this person.

"Who is it?" Mercedes inquired.

Norina would not say. "I want it to be a surprise," she explained.

Finally, Norina persuaded her friend to come. Norina was waiting at the door when Mercedes arrived on Monday, 31st December 1934. As a young girl, Mercedes had written impassioned letters to Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Joan of Arc and other Christian saints. Upon seeing Baba, Mercedes felt overwhelming warmth radiating from him. She rushed into his embrace and asked, "Who are you?"

Baba gestured, "I am you." Then suddenly He spelled on the board, "Go and bring Me your revolver." Mercedes was amazed for she had told no one about the gun in her car. She went to the car and returned with the revolver, handing it to Baba. He took the bullets out one by one and Baba then consoled her, "Suicide is not the solution. It only entails rebirth with the same problems all over again. The only solution is God-realization — to see God in everything. Everything is easy then. Promise Me that you will put this revolver away and never again think of suicide."

Feeling His compassion, Mercedes promised. She then told Baba about her friend, the movie actress Greta Garbo, whom she loved dearly.

Baba commented, "You both were husband and wife in a past life in Italy. That is why there is such love between you."

Norina and accompanied by others drove to Rahuri in the Ford Elizabeth he had brought. A meeting of the Mandali Maintenance Trust was to be held at Rahuri that day, and they were to attend. When they arrived, Baba gave Elizabeth and Norina a tour of the ashram. He showed them the Rahuri Cabin and explained about His work with the masts and mad. About some of the mad who were lepers, Baba commented, "However infected these men are, it does not affect Me or My men helping Me to bathe them. When I wash the mad at Rahuri, I am 'washing' them universally."

Baba pointed out which inmates were mad (suffering a mental disorder) and which were spiritually advanced masts (God-intoxicated), remarking, "Through some blows a breeze — a breeze of longing for God." On occasion, Baba would permit Elizabeth to take photographs, and she and Norina were deeply impressed at how lovingly Baba treated the mad and God-mad alike. Baba had lunch with them at a long table under the trees.

Norina was to take charge of the conduct and accounts beginning 15th January 1935. Above all, Baba wished this small diverse group of strong individualists and divergent personalities and nationalities to live together in harmony. He stressed this during His visit on 31st December:

Baba said I have left things in Norina's charge regarding food and general management. To have complete harmony among you all, four points should be kept in mind:

First: There should be complete cooperation between you all and Norina.

Second: In some matters, Norina should give way; in some, you should give way. You all have come here to learn spiritual Truth — leaving all. So, you should put up with small discomforts and inconveniences. By this, I do not mean that you should overlook your real needs and necessities. We are going to give the world the message of love and brotherhood through Garrett's magazine, and if in our home we have conflicts and disharmony over trivial matters, our message would be farcical and hypocritical.

Third: The thorns to which I previously referred will be in many forms. If you take them too seriously or give them too much importance, they will naturally cause unnecessary suffering. But if you take these thorns lightly and do not attach undue importance to them, even these thorns will be like flowers.

Fourth: If any of you here have the impression that Norina tries to run things her own way just because she is in charge, it is a grave, unjust misconception and should immediately be removed from your minds. I know whatever Norina does is only out of her deep love and feeling for me, to economize and save us as much as possible for My work. On the other hand, Norina seems to have the notion that some do not like it that she is in charge, although I know it is quite the contrary. They all like Norina to manage things as she does. These misunderstandings create unnecessary situations and disharmony and upset things; so the sooner you all clear them up, the better.

You should never forget that your aim is spiritual; otherwise, the retreat would be like a rest house or a hotel.

If you have come for Me, you should also suffer for Me.

In the event any of you are feeling indisposed, you should report at once to Norina, and she should give it her immediate attention and either utilize Garrett's stock of medicines or send for a doctor if it is anything serious. Norina should give Me a detailed health report when I come every week.

In 1937, Norina returned to the retreat and brought a hot lunch of rice and spinach. Baba ate with the group off grass-leaf plates, serving the food Himself. After lunch, they rested and played more games. Norina had also packed drinks and Baba made Himself a refreshing concoction of barley water, soda water, orange and watermelon juice. He distributed slices of watermelon for dessert.

Baba presented copies of the book The Perfect Master book to Norina and few others. He also discussed the idea of having the Westerners to write of their experiences to be collected into a book. He gave all one month to complete the assignment.

Meals were often a source of conflict in Nasik. Jean had to have spinach every day, cooked in a special way; another wanted beets. One of the group said they should eat only whole-wheat bread. Another requested buttermilk at a certain time each morning. Baba had instructed that Rano and Delia were to have cream every day; others wanted it also. During this meeting, Norina brought up the question of meals, and Baba commented:

You have all promised to try your best to die, so let us begin with food. Let us have no more clashes about food. Let Norina go on giving the same as before.

You (pointing to Norina are much too blunt. And for the role of Mother, you ought to be more gentle. Be one without duality. Be gentle. Listen to all suggestions. If you can fall in with them, good; if not, kiss and say no gently. This is tact. It hurts if you are too frank sometimes, and this I do not want.

So, I repeat: all begin to try now or, seriously, I will tell you to go back home. And be honest in your trying. There must be harmony, love and peace — real harmony, love and peace, not forced.

Petty things take up all your energy, thoughts and time. No more of that. Love and forget. This is the only thing that matters. Love, always try to love.

You do not like Norina being so blunt. Love her all the more. She needs it. If she finds you weak in your wants, then she too must love you. You need it. If a mother found her child sick or weak, she would fondle it more, love it more. So, if anyone of you is weak, the rest of you should love that one more.

By weak I mean taken up with desires. Anger is weakness; pride is weakness, and so on. So all try. As Kaka says, "No discuss; just try!"

Norina sent a telegram to Baba that it would be better to cancel this trip since so many were ill. Baba cabled back in no uncertain terms: "Unless everyone comes, I will send all of you back to the West!" Baba wanted the Westerners to see what a simple life His Eastern women were leading. During one of their visits, He urged them, "I wish you to breathe in the atmosphere here and absorb as much as you can."

Meetings discussing the future of the ashram continued throughout the next week whenever Baba was with the Westerners in Nasik. One morning Jean Adriel went to Baba and asked that Norina be relieved of her duties as manager. Baba called Norina and made Jean repeat all her complaints before her. He explained that He wanted Norina to be the manager, but Jean kept insisting Ruano would be better.

Norina asked Baba to ask everyone's opinion after lunch. A meeting was called in Elizabeth and Norina's room. All were asked to give their honest opinion. Different opinions and other complaints were voiced, except by Will, Mary and Elizabeth who seemed always satisfied. Thus, everyone's feelings were expressed and the air was cleared, and in the end Baba gave in to Jean's request and rearranged the household affairs. Ruano became the manager and Norina handled the budget.

On Saturday, 26 June 1937, a Trust meeting was held at Meherabad. Norina and Elizabeth drove there from Nasik to Meherabad. Baba directed Nadine to go to Venice, Italy for some work and she sailed from Bombay on 8th July on the Conte Rosso. Baba went to Bombay to see her off. With Nadine's departure,

Baba and the group reached Marseilles at six o'clock on the morning of Friday, 13th August 1937. They then traveled by train to Cannes, reaching there about four in the afternoon. Prior to Baba's arrival, Kitty had gone to Cannes at the end of June and rented villas with the help of Delia and Norina's sister Margherita "Ghita" Gilli Blum, who was also devoted to Baba.

While in Cannes, one person whom Norina had been particularly anxious to bring to see Baba was the Russian ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky. Nijinsky had been the leading dancer of the Russian ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev. Although considered the greatest European male dancer of the 20th century, Nijinsky's career was tragically cut short at the height of his career. At 29, severely troubled by schizophrenia, Nijinsky retired, and spent the next 31 years in and out of mental institutions. Norina had spoken with Baba about Nijinsky during the voyage to France. Baba had indicated that He could cure Nijinsky of his insanity, if he was able to stay with Him for a few months. But when Norina asked if she could pursue the matter to expedite his release and bring him to Baba, Baba's reply had been, "Let Me do it." On the 21st of August 1937, Norina read in the newspaper that Nijinsky's wife was planning to take him out of the asylum. Nijinsky, however, never did meet Meher Baba.

Discussions continued in Panchgani about establishing a center for Baba. Norina, who had been to Mysore and Bangalore, wished an elaborate Universal Spiritual Center to be established. One day she was talking with Elizabeth about the possibility of relocating in either Mysore, Bangalore, Hyderabad or Panchgani. Norina's grand visions did not appeal to Elizabeth's more practical nature. Elizabeth tried to point out the difficulties involved and flaws in Norina's plans, but Norina was not to be dissuaded.

Once, when they were discussing the issue, Baba called them. He allowed them to continue their argument in his presence, and then said, "You are both in the right, but Norina has got to go a little slower, and Elizabeth has got to try to move a little faster." Looking at both with a smile, he added, "Now both embrace."

Baba left Cannes for Marseilles early on 2nd November 1937. In Marseilles, Baba sent Norina out to a pharmacy to buy him some mineral water.

The label on the bottle was in French and when Norina returned with it, Baba asked Rano, who spoke French, to translate it. Baba indicated that this was the wrong kind of mineral water and sent Norina back to exchange it. She returned with a different bottle and again, after listening to Rano translates the name and contents, Baba sent Norina back with it and asked her to bring something else. This happened five or six times.

The pharmacist became annoyed and asked Norina, "Why don't you ask your party for the correct name in French? Surely, Madame, if someone can read the label, he should be able to give you the correct name." Norina kept her poise. The man had no idea that this was a lesson for Norina in swallowing her pride and anger, and maintaining her self-control.

There was some engine trouble which caused the ship to lose speed one day, and Baba sent Norina to Captain W. Gemmell, of Glasgow, to inquire when they would reach Bombay. Norina first talked with him about general topics and then casually asked, "By the way, when will we be reaching Bombay?" The captain told her, and she returned to tell Baba. He sent her back to ask the same question again. Upon her return, Baba sent her to the captain once more. Finally, the captain's frustration erupted, "Madam, what is wrong with you? You keep coming to me with the same question! Can't you remember what I have told you?"

When Norina informed Baba about it, he sent her once again with the same inquiry. This time it was too much for the captain and Norina retreated in embarrassed silence. What could she say? Even if the captain had swore at her, she knew it was nothing compared to the importance of obeying the Master's order.

Again Baba directed Norina, "For My work, I must reach Bombay as soon as possible. Go ask the captain if there is any way the ship can reach Bombay earlier than scheduled."

To avoid this confrontation, Norina said, "Baba, the poor man is already so exasperated with me”

But Baba replied, "You have no idea! I have very important work waiting for Me in Meherabad, so do your part to help Me in this. Request the captain to speed up the ship's engines so that we will arrive in Bombay ahead of time."

Reluctantly, Norina strode to the captain's quarters. Seeing her, the captain became quite irritated. Norina stood absolutely quiet, her heart beating in trepidation and, after a while she asked what she had been sent to ask. The captain was furious! To arrive earlier? Out of the question! Norina returned in turmoil. Observing Norina's exchanges with Baba, Chanji was most sympathetic, as during previous voyages, he had been made to pass through similar ordeals. Now it was Norina's turn.

On 12th January 1938, Baba took the Eastern women, Norina, Rano and Kitty to Happy Valley for a picnic.

On another occasion, when there was a quarrel between two women, Baba intervened and stated:

Love and forget. This is the only thing that matters, and it pays. Almost all of you are weak. By weak, I mean taken up with desires. Anger is weakness; pride is weakness, and so on. If a mother found her child weak, she would love it all the more. So all love more.

Don't you remember what I told you in Nasik? Learn to say, "Janay-doe [Let it go]." Give up wanting the last word. Give up all wants and be happy. But you must try consciously.

Now be happy. I forgive you all, but continue trying.

The question of establishing an ashram was being further discussed during this period. After accepting Chowdhary's offer of land in Mandla, a plan had been drawn up. Some people in Mandla knew about Baba, but to make the general public more aware of who He was, a public meeting was arranged on the 12th, in which Deshmukh, Norina and Nadine delivered speeches. Norina was most interested in setting up the new ashram and would gather information and seek support by contacting influential citizens. Baba, however, did not participate actively in this as He was too occupied with His mast work, which He indicated was more important above all other matters.

In the Links bungalow itself, there were 13 eastern and 7 western including Norina living with Baba:

After seeing the Byramangala land, Norina and Chanji became completely involved in setting up plans for the ashram. Norina had also been charged with looking after Lucky the monkey, who could at times be mischievous. On the evening of 19th August, Sir Mirza came to the Links and sat on the floor before Baba. Baba sent for Norina to come at once. At the time, Norina was in the midst of sweeping her room of a mess Lucky had created. When she received Baba's message, she ran to him with a broom in one hand and a bucket in the other, wearing an old, tattered dress. She felt awkward and embarrassed when she saw the Dewan and Baba said, "Meet Princess Norina Matchabelli." She felt hurt that Baba had not warned her to clean up.

Sir Ismail, on the contrary, was impressed at the sight of someone of Norina's stature carrying a broom! He remarked to Baba, "Your love is wonderful! An educated Western woman from a wealthy background doing this sort of work? Marvelous! She could engage dozens of servants, but it is your love that makes her sweep her own quarters. It is her luck to wield a broom in your court!" Tears welled up in Norina's eyes on hearing this, and wiped out the hurt she had felt.

On 2nd November 1939, the center's publicity committee held an open meeting in Mysore to inform the public about Baba's work, and to invite them to the foundation-laying ceremony in December. Norina also spoke at the gathering.

A second gathering was held on the evening of the 6th in the Bangalore Town Hall. Deshmukh, Ghani and Norina, along with Nadine Tolstoy, gave lectures.

A third meeting was held at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore on 9th November. The Nobel Prize winning Indian physicist Dr. C. V. Raman chaired the gathering. Deshmukh gave a stirring speech on the question of science versus spirituality. Norina and Nadine then spoke about their experiences of being with Meher Baba. Deshmukh had been so logical and convincing, and Norina and Nadine so sincere, that Raman was impressed with the depth of their feelings, in spite of himself.

While in Bangalore, Baba directed the women to stage plays for five days consecutively. Around Christmas and New Year's Eve, each group put on a short skirt. Norina prepared a pageant of Jesus Christ's crucifixion. Soltoon and Dowla were enlisted to sit on the stage and toss flowers towards the procession as it passed across the stage. While sitting on the stage, they were so fascinated in seeing Norina dressed as Jesus carrying the cross, they forgot their parts! When the procession had passed, Dowla remembered, and both ran behind it shouting in Persian, clutching the flowers. Baba remarked that He liked this part the best!

Norina, Elizabeth and Don went to see the Portuguese governor on 13th April, about the island in Karwar. After a lengthy discussion with him, it was learned that the place was not available for establishing a center for Baba.

In Goa, Baba took the women to a Hindu temple, and to a movie called Gopal Krishna. During their stay, Baba permitted the group to eat fish, and he also joined in, indicating it was for "special reasons."

Baba left Meherabad for Ranchi on Wednesday, 3 July 1940, by train with the men and women mandali, and three masts, Chatti Baba, Shariat Khan and Mohammed. Among women, Norina accompanied Baba with others.

On 20th July 1940, Baba and His group arrived in Calcutta and the next day they purchased a bird at the pet bazaar and a tailless monkey, whom Baba named Jampu, who had caught hold of Baba's sleeve as he passed. Jumpu smelled foul, but he was so affectionate that he soon endeared himself to all. Norina was instructed to look after the monkey. She had to conceal him from the conductor when they traveled by train back to Meherabad. Norina was instructed to look after the monkey. She had to conceal him from the conductor when they traveled by train back to Meherabad.

Two female peahens, who were called Idi and Jingi, had been added to the menagerie. Norina had strained a ligament in her right foot and was temporarily bedridden upstairs. As mentioned, Lucky, the monkey, had been put in her charge. He was under the mosquito net. Baba would come to see him, hold and caress him, and the monkey would in turn kiss Baba's neck.

Lucky was anything but lucky for the women. He proved to be a great mischief-maker. He would break loose from his cage under Norina's net, throw things everywhere, causing noise when Baba wanted silence, and in general proved an incredible nuisance. Elizabeth and Norina were supposed to be looking after Lucky, and everyone complained to them about him.

On 8th November 1940, Baba asked Norina, "Which would you rather be my hat or my sandals?"

Norina said, "Your sandals."

"Why?"

"Because the sandals are your companions over good roads and bad. They pass through dirt, rain and mud and are always with you."

Baba nodded in agreement, spelling out, "This is the reason why people in India worship the chappals [sandals] of the Master and not His hat."

Norina said something about duality, and Baba asked:

You mean duality exists? What is it? Nothing exists but God, so this duality is also the same God.

And now we come to this: It is the same God playing different parts at one and the same time. He plays the part of the Universal God who is beyond everything that is conscious. He plays the part of being falsely conscious of being this body. He plays the part of the Creator. He plays the part of being Himself consciously in creation.

Kabir has said:

One God is the Avatar;

one God is the Soul of every being;

One God creates all;

and one God is everything.

Baba then drew the following diagram:

Four carloads of people came to see Baba on Thursday, 21st November 1940. But He sent Norina to talk to them, and did not meet them, since he wished to remain in seclusion. At 10:00 A.M., he went with the women in Elizabeth's car to the Botanical Gardens. The next day, Baba stayed with the men the whole day, fasting on water and honey. On the 23rd, he took the women on a tour of Kandy and to the lake. They also went to see some elephants bathing and performing tricks.

Discussions arose about going to Calicut, and on the 28th November 1940, Norina complained to Baba about the luggage, saying, "How will we accommodate all this baggage in the bus?"

Baba remarked, "Do you want comfort when people are suffering so much in the war? Learn not to complain when anything is bad, and don't be so pleased if it is good."

Baba then asked, "If someone asked you who is Meher Baba, what would you say?"

Nadine answered, "God!"

Norina said, "The God-Man!"

Baba concurred, "Not God, but God-Man. God-Man is more than God! God is absolute. One who manifests the absolute is the God-Man.

"The person who is one with God is Man-God; it is wrong to say just God. Jivatma = man; mahatma = pilgrim on the Path; Paramatma = God. When Jivatma becomes one with Paramatma, it is called Shivatma. Paramatma cannot be called Shivatma."

Upcoming 47th birthday in 1941 Baba had already announced: This year, being the most important one in spiritual history, my birthday, falling on February 15th, will not be celebrated publicly or privately.

One of the men who had helped in the poor program, Agrawal, was a well-known lawyer in Jaipur. He asked Baba to permit public darshan, but Baba refused. Baba did, however, allow Norina to deliver two lectures about him in Jaipur— one to a group of lawyers on 18th January, and another for the general public on 13th February 1947.

Dr. Deshmukh then invited Norina to give a lecture at Nagpur University, where he taught philosophy. With Baba's consent, she went there on 18th February 1941. Her lecture was so effective, three students, Ram P. Pankhraj, Abdul Majid Khan and Nana (Narayan) Gopal Kher, came into Baba's close contact after hearing her speak.

Abdul Khan's mother had recently expired, and the shock was so severe he had wept for days. But after Norina's lecture, he was so impressed by her speech, he requested an interview, and went to Deshmukh's house the day after the lecture to meet her. Abdul poured out his heart, telling Norina how depressed he had been since his mother's death. Norina spoke to him tenderly about Baba. He was so comforted he took Norina to be "God's angel," and all his sorrows and grief went away.

As instructed, Norina left Ajmer on 27th May 1941 to do the Master's work of finding property for establishing a center in America.

Baba cabled Norina on 13th July 1944:

Am happy to find in all your letters about Myrtle Beach, everything that I personally and spiritually approve of and sanction. All My lovers should cooperate to make Myrtle Beach the Spiritual Abode for one and all.

Norina had been to Myrtle Beach again in September 1944, and on 2nd October 1944, the site was finalized. Elizabeth wrote to Baba charting developments:

Ada "Rabia" Martin, 70, had been initiated into Sufism by Inayat Khan in 1911 and was later made head or Murshida of Sufism in America. She met Norina and Elizabeth in San Francisco in 1942, when they had gone to California to investigate sites for Baba's proposed American center. After listening to their descriptions of their Master at one of Norina's public talks, Rabia became convinced that Meher Baba was an extraordinary spiritual figure. She was profoundly affected by her internal experience of the Master and offered her Sufi retreat center in Fairfax near San Francisco for Baba's use.

Over the next three years, Rabia Martin studied Baba's writings intensely and began a correspondence with him. She also grew closer to Norina and Elizabeth through repeated visits to New York City where their descriptions of life with Baba and His philosophy rapidly formed within her a central pillar of conviction of the importance of Baba as the key spiritual figure of our age. In April 1945, Norina and Elizabeth invited her to come and live with them. She joined them in New York and then Myrtle Beach until July. Rabia's inner experiences during those months confirmed her intuitive understanding that Baba was the living embodiment of Sufism and the divine incarnation of God — the Rasool or Avatar.

Norina and Elizabeth landed in Bombay from America on 12th July 1947 on a TWA flight. Elizabeth had brought the dog Foundy back to India. She had also purchased and shipped two American DeSotos for Baba's use. Adi and Pendu drove the two women to Satara on 13th July 1947, arriving that afternoon. They were allowed to meet Baba for only two minutes. Baba kept them in a separate bungalow named Jal Villa. As prior to coming, Norina had been seriously ill with a heart condition; in fact, her doctor had advised her not to travel to India.

Norina felt sad about this, as she had been separated from Baba for the past six years. Both women had been close to Him in the ashrams, but now Baba was keeping them at a distance. In addition, Norina's "thought-transmissions" from Baba (given during her public lectures) had ended some time ago, leaving her depressed. Norina was uneasy, thinking: "Though we are near Baba, we are kept far away. Perhaps with all our worries and troubles brought with us from the West, Baba is keeping us in spiritual quarantine!"

"Norina did not know that by keeping her at a distance, Baba was drawing her nearer to Him. There is no Union without separation, and this time Baba let Norina experience the pangs of separation while remaining near Him.

The following was the Norina’s comments about Baba "In you — who can do what no man can, as you have proven to me — I believe. With renewed enthusiasm, I here re-sign. For you I am ready to live and die."

Originally named "Meher Center on the Lakes," the forested property had two freshwater lakes. The place was ideal from natural and spiritual standpoints as a retreat. After making all the required arrangements, Elizabeth and Norina invited Baba; after several postponements, it was fixed that He would leave India in April 1952. At one point, Baba had instructed Don to cable whether April 10 suited them for His departure, as opposed to March 31. They cabled back: "Baba asks whether the 10th of April suits us — anything! Everything suits us as long as He comes."

On the morning of 21st April 1952, Baba and the group left Florence by car for Myrtle Beach. Norina was waiting for Baba at His house at the Center. Because of recent heart trouble, she had been unable to travel to New York. Norina and Elizabeth had put their heart and soul into preparing everything on the Center according to Baba's instructions. Baba acknowledged their deep devotion and service. Embracing Norina lovingly, He stated to the group, "I am quite pleased with everything you have done for Me — with this house, the splendid view of the lake and ocean, the surroundings. It is all as I wanted it to be.

"I am so happy to be here, and most of all I am deeply touched with the love and devotion shown by both Elizabeth and Norina throughout the past years in preparing such a unique spot for My work and comfort.

Norina's love, service and renunciation cannot be described. She was wholly Baba's and merged in him. Age offered its profoundest salutations to her — and the Lord of the Age sent this telegram to Elizabeth and Kitty on the 17th: "Be happy my very dear Norina has come to live with me forever." Her body was cremated and, as was Baba's wish, the ashes were sent to India and interred on Meherabad Hill. Her tombstone read: "Princess Norina who is and will ever remain Baba's."

Before dying, Norina had told Elizabeth, "Don't grieve for me; let me go." So the evening after she died, Elizabeth and Kitty went to see a play at the local theater. At the door, they were met by the theater's owner and manager, Jane Barry Haynes, who welcomed them warmly. More about this new "bird" later.

At noon on 15 June 1957, Norina Matchabelli passed away at the age of 77, in Youpon Dunes, Myrtle Beach, after prolonged heart trouble.

Norina was the only person in America who received Baba’s intuition orders to convey His messages in the 1940’s and later it was stopped in mid 1940’s Baba said, “Norina was His mother twice and father once in previous life times.

Elizabeth Patterson and Norina Matchabelli was the co-founder of Meher spiritual centre at Myrtle Beach. Kitty Davy joined them later in 1952. When Norina passed away in 1957, Baba wanted James Haynes to take her place.

 

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99-NONNY (HENRY BELL) GAYLEY

(Kemali)

Nonny Gayley, nicknamed “Kemali” was a sensitive poetess and a devoted disciple. She lived in Baba’s Nasik ashram with her daughter in 1937 and died in Bangalore in 1939.

Her life time contact and conversation with Meher Baba are written in brief as below.  

In year 1932, in Venice, Baba gave an Eastern name to Nonny — Kemali; For years afterward, Baba would address or refer to His close ones by these names; they, in turn, would sign their letters likewise.

In Year 1933, Henry Bell Gayley, called Nonny, and her daughter Madeleine, called Rano met Quentin Tod at dinner and he told all three women about Baba.

As Rano listened politely to Quentin's fantastic narrative, she thought: "Tod is saying all this in exuberance. There cannot be much truth in it."

Then Quentin gave them a photograph of Baba. When Nonny saw it, she was thrilled. She cried out, "That's the man!" Rano asked what she meant. Nonny replied that, one day in May of 1932, she had been glancing through the New York Times when she noticed a picture of a man with long hair. She felt compelled to meet Him. This was the same man. It was Meher Baba.

Rano's heart, too, was gradually smitten by Baba's countenance; it was the photograph of her Lord, which her heart recognized even as her mind rebelled.

Quentin promised to contact Ruano when Baba arrived in Europe. Quentin explained to Nonny and Rano that Baba planned to travel to the United States and they could meet Him in New York. Shortly thereafter, Nonny and Rano returned to America, anticipating meeting Baba there.

Estelle C. Gayley, known as Nonny, was the widow of a prominent New York attorney. She was then 58 years old. Her daughter Madeleine, called Rano, was 31 and an artist who had worked for some years designing fabrics in New York. They had learned about Meher Baba in Paris the previous summer through their friend Ruano and her contact Quentin, and had expected to meet Baba in America when they returned there. Ruano was in London with Baba and had written Nonny and Rano as soon as she found out about Baba's change in plans, and they had immediately left for London.

Upon reaching London, it was difficult for them to find out where Baba was staying. Ruano had cabled the address, but Rano had not received it. Nonny was in tears, repeating, "Where is Baba? Where is Baba?" Rano comforted her and they both checked into a hotel.

Rano phoned the English Speaking Union, as her correspondence with Ruano had been through its address, and she was given Ruano's telephone number. When Rano called, Ruano informed her where Baba was staying. Rano asked when they could meet Baba, and was told that it would be at four that afternoon.

Both Nonny and Rano were eager to meet the Master; however, doubts befell Rano and made her wonder: "What kind of Master is he? Is he aware of our faith? We are longing for His sight, yet He doesn't seem to care."

In the evening Nonny and Rano promptly entered Hygeia House to meet the Eternal Beloved. They were greeted by Ruano, who told them with sympathy that Baba was very tired and would not be able to see them then. They were dumbstruck. Crestfallen, they were taken to meet Norina, Elizabeth and the Kimco group. While they were talking about Baba, He sent a message: "Since you have come from such a long distance, I will see you. But you must not ask anything or talk to Me. You should leave after seeing Me."

Baba sent first for Nonny. While Rano nervously waited outside, her mind began working fast. The door slowly opened and Nonny stepped out — her eyes filled with tears. Rano was taken aback, for up to then she considered any person who gave way to their emotions as "silly and sentimental," and could not understand what had happened to her mother.

Baba very loved to Nonny, but for His own reason He kept Rano at a distance. Although Baba was outwardly keeping her away, she was inwardly being drawn to him. On various occasions, Baba would go to a movie with all except Rano, or he would have her travel separately if she did accompany them, allowing her only to see him from a distance. Between the lover and the Beloved, the pleasure of the play is only experienced through joy and sorrow — this coming from the Beloved's playful nature. Nonny and Rano Gayley became permanent blossoms in the Beloved's garden.1563-1933

On 20th October 1933, Elizabeth departed for New York. Talk of Baba's departure began, and Baba made Nonny, Rano and Ruano promise to come to India for His birthday in February. The feelings of the approaching separation began — the onset of depression as they counted the remaining hours with the Beloved and experienced the longing to be near Him always.

Throughout December 1933, Baba had been in regular correspondence with His western lovers, through Chanji. Nonny wrote from Paris on 5th December 1933.

I am so blessed in just being able to think about you. I pray I may be able to do something to meet with your approval. My greatest happiness will be to serve you always.

Baba arrived in Paris on 23rd June 1934 and stayed at the Metropolitan Hotel. Rano's mother Nonny joined the group there; she had arrived earlier and had been awaiting Baba's arrival.

Rano and Nonny Gayley's home was in New York. Baba had instructed them to stay there, but to come to the hotel each morning to say good morning to Him before spending the day with their family. When they first went to Baba's room, they found Nadine Tolstoy posted on guard duty outside. They had never met her before and she prevented them from entering. Rano retorted, "We were with Baba for eight days on the ship. Who are you to stop us from seeing Him? Go tell Him we are here." She did so, and then allowed them to pass.

Nonny had wanted to bring her four-year-old grandson Oliver to Baba, but the boy's mother was afraid and would not allow it. When Nonny told Baba, He reassured her, "Because of your connection with Me, your whole family is connected with Me. So, do not be unhappy about the boy."

Nonny had been told to come to India for Baba's birthday. But she received cable at this time not to come. Instead, Baba was planning to go to Madras for the occasion.

After ten days in Zurich, on 16th July 1934, Baba departed for Marseilles by train. Accompanying him were the three mandali, Nonny and other four western ladies. Baba dressed in European clothing, but during this trip He always wore His sadra underneath. He turned to Rano during the train ride to ask, "I feel very uncomfortable in this outfit. Would it be all right if I took off my coat and pants?

Baba stayed four-days in Marseilles. While out in the city one day, they passed the bird market. Baba indicated His wish to have some birds. A pair of brightly-colored parakeets was purchased and taken back to the hotel. Baba then said that He wanted four more: one each Nonny and 3 lady disciples. These were brought, but the next morning Baba said that He needed three more. Baba went with them to the shop and selected four Himself a total of thirteen birds. Nonny purchased a beautiful pagoda-shaped cage in which to keep them.

In Marseilles, Rano was given the opportunity to comb Baba's hair. She was smoking fifteen cigarettes per day then, but through Baba's influence she gradually tapered down to just two a day. By giving her and Nonny chances to serve Him in small ways, Baba made them feel like they belonged with Him and thus they grew closer to Him. Ruano and Nonny were sent to Paris on the 20th July 1934.

After three days in New York, on 14th December 1934, Baba took a train westward across America, headed for California. Besides the four of the mandali companying Him were Nonny and other six western ladies. During the three-and-a-half-day journey to Los Angeles, the train halted briefly at a few places along the way, such as Chicago (where they changed trains to the Santa Fe California Limited) and Kansas City. Baba was headed for Hollywood and occupied Himself with reviewing the film scripts and discussing the variations in plots and characters.

Baba used to refer to the three women as "the trio" and one day revealed that they had close past connections with Him at the time of Jesus and with one another from a previous life in Egypt. Ruano and Nonny had been brother and sister, and Rano had been Ruano's son. (Thereafter, Rano jokingly began calling Ruano, "Pappy."

On 2nd January 1935, Nonny, the wife of the famous director Cecil B. DeMille came for an interview and expressed her desire for her husband, who had met Baba at Pickfair, to meet Baba again. Although Cecil B. DeMille's second meeting with Baba never took place.

Baba reiterated this theme on 28th March 1936 to Nonny and Rano:

I have your letters and although I didn't reply by letter, you did have the reply through inner communion which always continues, wherever I am, whatever I may be doing. No call of Love ever remains unresponded, much less from those who love Me and think of Me constantly as you do.

Remember dearest, Baba watches every little act of Love, listens to every little note (voice) of Love, and responds to every little cry given for Love, no matter where these come from. The Fountain Source of Love is ever pouring forth directing its course into different channels wherever needed

And for those of My dearest who love Me as you do, its course is ever open to pour out any moment, anywhere.

On 8th December 1936, Nonny with others arrived in Bombay on the steamer Elysia. They brought two dogs with them — Elizabeth's Boston terrier Kippy and Anita's white Siberian husky Canute, which she had given to Baba in Switzerland. About 50 Bombay lovers gathered at the docks to receive the Americans.

On 8th January 1937, Baba began fasting on only two cups of milk and two cups of tea daily, and stated that He would continue to do so for 40 days, until His birthday on the 18th of February. Each of the Westerners was to participate in the fast turn by turn, one each day from the 8th. Nonny and others were to fast on the 23rd. From 24 January, the men and women mandali at Meherabad as a group would alternately fast along with Baba.

From the middle of January 1937, Baba outlined duties for each of the Westerners staying at Nasik. Everyone was to rise at 6:30 A.M., meditate for an hour and together take an hour lesson in learning Urdu from Ramjoo. No one, not even the older ones such as Nonny was allowed to rest in the afternoon. Nonny was assigned individual duty of general typing and translating of Kitty's shorthand notes of Baba's discourses and explanations; one hour writing as instructed by Baba; helping everyone as and when she likes and can manage.

On the morning of 25th March 1937, Baba took the Westerners for a picnic at Trimbak, the source of the Godavri River, sixteen miles from Nasik. The group left Nasik in three cars. At the base of the hill, they got out and began ascending 700 carved stone steps. Baba had Jean, Nonny and a few others, who were not well, carried up on seats swung between two poles.

Rano had a rash and fever too. The doctor advised her not to go, but she said, "If Baba is calling me, I am going." Only Nonny stayed behind as Baba had previously ordered her not to come because she was still on a 40-day fast.

The twelfth anniversary of Baba's silence was observed privately in Meherabad by the mandali and certain close ones on 10th July 1937. For the occasion, only Norina, Elizabeth and Nonny were called from Nasik. Baba permitted a large expenditure of Rs.50 for the mandali's food that day. After a meeting of the Trust's members in the Rahuri Cabin and a brief discussion with the Westerners, the Silence Day program began.

During Baba's trip to London in November 1936, Rano and her mother Nonny had purchased a three-piece pinstripe suit for Baba. They had found a clerk Baba's height and guessed the size. It fit perfectly. On this occasion in Bombay, Rano was told to buy a pair of shoes for Baba as a gift from Nonny. She went to a shop with Norina and Elizabeth. They had to guess Baba's foot size and take them on approval. The shoes fit and Baba wore them in France.

Baba left Meherabad with ladies on 29th July 1937 to begin their journey to France. They traveled first to Vilad railway station (16 km north of Ahmednagar) from where they boarded a train for Bombay. From Nasik, Nonny and others joined. Baba and His group drove to Bombay the same day.  When Baba and the women arrived in Bombay early the next morning, Baba did not wish any of His lovers to see Him at the train station, so none in Bombay were informed. After spending a day at the Regent Hotel, Baba and the group boarded the Strathnaver on Saturday, 31st July 1937 and sailed for Marseilles.

Baba held a meeting on 29th September 1937 with Nonny and four lady disciples, to discuss their stay in Cannes, the expenditure thus far incurred, and generally to review.the accounts. Baba commented, "My stay here depends on financial adjustments; otherwise, it is better for Me to return to India. I would like to stay longer, but it is not good if our finances do not permit it." Money that was expected from Garrett Fort had not been received, and Fort was unable to come to Cannes himself due to lack of funds

After Baba had announced that He would soon be returning to India, Rano began wondering if she would ever see Him again. She knew Norina and Kitty were going back with Him, but there was not a hint about anyone else. On one of the last days, Baba called her into His room and asked, "How would you like to come back to India with me?"

"Would I!" she cried out.

"But what will Nonny say?"

"This time Nonny has no say!" Rano declared.

"Will she pay your passage?"

"I know she won't refuse."

"Don't worry," Baba assured her, "If Nonny won't pay then I'll pay your fare."

When Baba had asked Rano in Nasik how she liked Meherabad, she had replied honestly, "Very nice, but not for me." Now, she was only too willing to return to India with her Beloved!

Nonny arrived two days later on the SS Reliance and was also met by Chanji. She too was brought to Meherabad in time for the birthday celebrations, and both began living on the hill with the other women mandali.

Baba presided at a meeting in His Rahuri Cabin at lower Meherabad in morning. On 11th July 1938, with Nonny and others. The purpose of the meeting was to reorganize the Meher Gazette and begin a new magazine. Baba appointed the editors: Elizabeth as managing editor, Norina as literary editor, Chanji as news editor, and Nonny as secretary.

On 25th July 1938, while working with the masts at Meherabad, Baba remarked, "I don't feel like leaving here. I feel so happy to work with them." Four days later, Baba brought Nonny to watch Him working at the Meherabad mast ashram. Baba bathed over 20 of the inmates in 40 minutes and looked supremely happy, which made a deep impression on the Westerners.

In the early morning of 8th December 1938, Baba left Meherabad Hill in the Blue Bus with the Nonny and 19 other lady disciples.

During this period, Nonny became seriously ill in Bangalore, and both doctors, Don and Nilu, were treating her according to Baba's direction. Baba would see to her comfort and visit her, which made her feel somewhat better. On one occasion Baba asked Rano, "If Nonny dies, would you be upset?"

Rano replied, "Whatever your will is will happen." However, after this, Rano started crying, and Baba asked her the reason. She explained that Nonny's death would make her brother in America sad. Baba assured her, "Don't worry about him.

I will take care of him."

On 13th October 1939, Nonny had a heart attack, and the next evening, at age 64, she closed her eyes forever with a sweet smile on her face.

Baba had been to Byramangala that day. On His way back to the Links, it began raining heavily and their car became stuck in the mud. All, including Baba, got out to push the car free. After they resumed their return, Baba began asking Chanji for the time repeatedly, every few minutes. At 6:40 P.M., He gestured, "Nonny has expired." When they arrived at the Links ten minutes later, however, Nonny was still alive.

Baba went directly inside to Nonny's room and looked at her intently. As Baba took Don, Nilu and Rano aside to ask how Nonny had been, Norina came running, saying Nonny was serious. They went to her bedside, and Baba placed two fingers on her closed eyelids. As He did this, Nonny gave a final sigh, and dropped her head to one side. The drop-soul merged into the Ocean of Love forever. It was as if Nonny had been waiting to have the Beloved's darshan a final time before everlastingly entering His palace, where there is neither happiness nor suffering, but only infinite bliss!

Before breathing her last, Nonny uttered, "What beauty! What beauty!"

Hearing this, Don was deeply moved. He had never seen such a happy death — as if the departing soul were being led somewhere beautiful! Nonny's smile filled Don's heart and he realized once more how great Baba’s love was.

Baba took Rano in His embrace and spelled out: "Nonny was one of My greatest lovers. She always gave spontaneously (financially for My work). It is because of her great share of timely contributions, among others, that the center plan could be presently started. Funds will come, and come in plenty, but to the dear, departed soul goes the credit of starting My work that is to serve mankind's greatest need. I am happy her dear name will be connected and perpetuated with this unique institution."

Later, Baba stated that it was the first time He had been present at the death of one of His disciples. To Rano, He revealed that He had given Nonny mukti (liberation).

Nonny's physical remains were cremated in Bangalore the next morning, and 30 of the men and women mandali attended, including Memo. On the 16 October 1939, Baba sent her ashes to Meherabad with Adi Sr.

In December of 1939, a stone monument for Nonny was built adjoining Baba's Tomb on Meherabad Hill. Sarosh had ordered the headstone from Poona. Baba had instructed that the words Nonny, Baba's Lover be carved on it. Baba further ordered that food be distributed to the poor on the anniversary of Nonny's death every year in commemoration of her deep devotion to Him.

The day after Nonny's death, 15th October 1939, Baba remarked, "Before the war ends, two more of the circle will pass off (on). It may be two male members or one male and one female. But they will be the luckiest to have left their bodies at such an important and critical period of My great work of creating an upheaval all over the world."

Baba ordered the mandali to give a feast to the Arangaon villagers on 13th October 1940, and Monday, 14th October, in memory of Dowla Masi and Nonny Gayley respectively. On the 13th, women and children from the village came up the hill, and Soonamasi and Kakubai distributed sweets to them. It began to rain, and Baba remarked, "This will make the villagers even happier! They need rain more than sweets, so Dowla Masi gave them rain."