2-MANIJA SHERIAR IRANI (Mani)

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2-MANIJA SHERIAR IRANI (Mani)

(Meher Baba’s sister)

Manija Sheriar Irani (December 15, 1918 – August 19, 1996) was the younger sister of Indian spiritual master Meher Baba, and one of His mandali. She was chairman of the Avatar Meher Baba Trust and the author of 82 Family Letters.

Besides Meher Baba’s chief woman disciple Mehera Irani, Mani Irani was said by Meher Baba to be His second closest woman disciple and His spiritual sister. Mani was one of only four women out of twenty companions to accompany Meher Baba in His New Life phase, beginning in October 1949. By Meher Baba’s directive given during His lifetime her remains are buried adjacent to Baba’s samadhi in Meherabad, India.

Mani was born in Pune, India, the sixth and last child of Sheriar Mundegar Irani and Shireen Sheriar Irani. Sheriar and Shireen had one earlier daughter Freiny who died of plague at the age of six in 1902. Thus Mani was Meher Baba’s only surviving sister and the youngest in her family. Meher Baba was 24 years old when Mani was born, a period when he was still under the care of Sadguru Upasni Maharaj in Sakori outside Ahmednagar. By the time Mani was old enough to know about her famous brother, He was already attracting disciples of His own in Meherabad. Mani attended Catholic school and longed to accompany her brother and live in His ashram as His disciple even as a young girl. She wrote persistently to him, pleading to be allowed to come. Finally Baba made it possible through difficult family negotiations with their mother Shireen who was worried about Mani’s safety and health in the austere and harsh desert life of Baba’s ashram outside Ahmednagar. As a result of such efforts Mani joined her brother as a full resident disciple in September 1932 at the age of only 13.

Her life time events with Meher Baba and His comments are elaborated as under:

In 1936, at Mysore, Baba also became indisposed. Before all the illness struck, 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.

Baba went to see Mani at the hospital two or three times a day, carrying soup or some other liquid for her. He would send Chanji constantly to the doctor to make certain Mani was treated well. The nurses at the all-women facility were greatly drawn to Baba, even though his identity was not disclosed.

Baba continued to visit Mani at the hospital and receive daily reports about her condition. On the 10th, he remarked that Mani's recovery had created a "deadlock" in his activities, as he wished to leave Mysore but could not, until Mani recovered.

On 14 April 1936, Baba discussed matters with the mandali and stated, "I am Paramatma (God) and within a fraction of a second I can do away with all these hardships. Mani is My sister; could I not make her well? But though she is My sister, I do not apply [the power of] my mind to her and similarly for all others close to me. Therefore, I have to resort to worldly remedies and have to praise others to get my work done!"

Mani had recovered from her ear operation by then and returned to Upper Meherabad to join the other women. At dusk one day in July, Mani took photographs of Baba on the donkey and of him with Mehera and the other women. Naja, in turn, photographed Mani with Baba and the women.

In 1939, while in Bangalore, Baba directed the women to stage plays for five days consecutively. In a play, Meherwan Jessawala was made a butler, and Mani his Muslim boss. But, instead of bringing the tea tray and saluting Mani, little Meherwan took the tray to Baba and saluted him, which made Baba laugh so hard, he was pink in the face. Meherwan then proceeded to upturn the tea tray he was supposed to serve and fumbled his lines, which he recited off cue, despite what Mani had taught him.

In 1942, Mani, Mehera and Gaimai all had the experience of being bothered by a ghost at Prospect Lodge in Lonavla. When Mehera was sleeping, her arm was pulled; Mani's entire body was shaken. Baba assured them, "Don't worry about it; I will take care of it."

Thereafter, the ghost did not disturb anyone. Baba had freed the spirit so it could take another birth. They later found out that some years before, a laundryman had committed suicide in the well of the compound. Because of this, his spirit was hovering over the place. Baba's mercy put an end to his miserable state, and he was freed.

Baba explained to the women: "Don't be afraid of ghosts. They don't do any [real] harm. The atmosphere is full of impressions. Sometimes, when you think you feel the presence of a spirit, it is not the actual spirit but the impressions in the place that you feel. That is why I told you all not to go near the well where the dhobi committed suicide. All those impressions of his are lingering there, but I have now freed his spirit, so it is all right now."

In 1949, Baba was in Sarnath, there were many Buddhist temples and giant stupas in Sarnath. In the main temple near the stupas, a Japanese artist had painted frescoes depicting scenes from Buddha's life. There are also separate underground stone rooms originally used for meditation, with steps leading down to them. At that time, these underground caverns were mostly in ruins.

When Baba took the women to show them this place, he directed Mani to write down on a slip of paper the name of the known Avatars in this cycle, and give it to him. Mani handed Baba the piece of paper with the names of Zoroaster, Ram, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad, Baba put it in his pocket as He walked down the steps leading underground.

In Benaras group travelling with Baba left Shivpur in the morning of 13th December 1949. From there, the she-donkeys were put under the women's charge. While walking, the women would pick up small branches and sticks that they needed for the cooking fire and load them on the donkeys. From Shivpur, Baba permitted Ghani to take a seat next to Pendu at the front of the caravan, on condition that he goes out begging wherever they halted.

One day, as Mehera, Mani, Meheru and Goher were preoccupied with picking up sticks and twigs as they walked, a bullock cart came alongside them. Awestruck at the scene before him, the cartman asked where they were going. They replied that they were proceeding to Hardwar. Respectfully, the driver invited them to sit in his cart, but Meheru solemnly answered, "We are on a pilgrimage to Hardwar, so we must go on foot. I'm sorry, but we cannot ride on the cart."

Humbly, the cartman said, "But please, sit for a while, sister. The sacred purpose of your journey will not be affected by your occupying seats in my cart." Mani replied, "A pilgrimage should be undertaken on foot. What sort of pilgrimage would it be if it were made in comfort?"

On 26 th November 1951, Baba conveyed to Mehera and Mani, "My 40-days' work has been completely successful, but the remaining 80 days of work is of utmost significance."3019-1951

In new life Mani with other ladies accompanied Baba. One day, as Mehera, Mani, Meheru and Goher were preoccupied with picking up sticks and twigs as they walked, a bullock cart came alongside them. Awestruck at the scene before him, the cartman asked where they were going. They replied that they were proceeding to Hardwar. Respectfully, the driver invited them to sit in his cart, but Meheru solemnly answered, "We are on a pilgrimage to Hardwar, so we must go on foot. I'm sorry, but we cannot ride on the cart."

Humbly, the cartman said, "But please, sit for a while, sister. The sacred purpose of your journey will not be affected by your occupying seats in my cart." Mani replied, "A pilgrimage should be undertaken on foot. What sort of pilgrimage would it be if it were made in comfort?"

In 1952, Mani needed surgery, and she was operated upon in Hyderabad, with Goher in constant attendance. Mani’s condition became serious, so Baba would make Rano phone the hospital often, inquiring about her. In 1952 Mani also suffered injuries along with Baba and Mehera. Ivy wrote about it.

“Mani was the least hurt, her feet and knees badly scratched, and limped with a cane. She did not eat for days and was overcome with grief and tormented that God had not given her as much to bear as the others (although she had recently had a severe operation)”

In 1955, Mani was occupied with her correspondence with the West; Mehera and Meheru were doing Baba's personal work. Goher always had various medical and household duties. (Although a doctor, she had other multifarious chores, such as preparing the bazaar lists and looking after the servants.) Mani was looking after her pet cocker spaniel, Peter. The dog loved to play with the tame squirrels near their residence in Satara. Mehera lovingly cared for the mare Sheba. Baba himself would feed Sheba carrots daily, and Sheba would stretch out her neck to kiss him. Baba loved her much and would kiss her often.

On 1st September 1956, at Satara Baba's went into seclusion for one-year. All correspondence had been completely stopped and all out-of-town lovers strictly forbidden to come to Satara. Throughout that entire day, Baba remained without water. But things did not go smoothly, as Mani described (in a letter to Bill Le Page): "On the 1st, maya was working pretty hard, too, and everything that could possibly go wrong seemed to do so. At the end of the day, Baba explained it was because of his special work He had begun on that day, and opposing maya was at her best (or do I mean worst)."

While in Poona, Eruch received this telegram from Mani: "See Sant Vaswani. Tell him all about Baba and say he is one of Baba's beloved, precious children." Accordingly, Eruch met Sadhu Vaswani on the evening of the 4th September and told him about Meher Baba. Sadhu Vaswani was extremely happy to hear that Baba had remembered him and that He had sent His love. He asked Eruch to convey his heartfelt invitation to Baba to visit his school in Poona, and Eruch assured him that he would convey the message to Baba.

On 1st December 1957, following message was sent to the Westerners through Mani's Family Letter

“I am happy with your love and know your unquestioning and willing acceptance of my wishes. I know what is best and my decision is for the best. I love you as God alone can love, and will definitely give you my sahavas in May 1958. This sahavas will give you what I want you to have 100 percent to my satisfaction. You will then understand fully what I mean by this. Hold on to my daaman, love me more and more and you will receive fully what I shall give. My love to each.”

On 1 st January 1961, Mani wrote following about Baba’s seclusion in her her Family Letter

“Guessing the import of Baba's work in all periods of seclusion, and knowing the gravity of this one, this phase of all activity appearing outwardly to be at a standstill would seem to signify the tremendous rate of accomplishment of his inner work — just as anything revolving at great speed appears to the onlooker to be stationary.”

During stay at Poona, Eruch used to spend the day at Guruprasad and return to Bindra House in the evenings. Once Eruch brought mangoes from Bindra House. They were delicious, but the next day Baba complained to him, "The mangoes are sour."

Eruch replied, "They are sweet, Baba. I bought them myself after tasting them."

Sending for Mani, Baba asked her whether they were sweet or sour.

Mani answered they were somewhat sour, and Eruch could only remark, "Well, perhaps they are.”

In 1962, final preparations had begun for the East-West Gathering. Mani and Eruch were busy with correspondence and other matters, as were all the mandali. The darshan was a topic of constant discussion in Meherazad, and Baba gave instructions for it. The names of those from the West who had informed Meherjee of their coming were read to Baba. To those who wanted to come but could not, he sent this message: "Do not worry. I am always with you, and will be more so during the darshan time." Baba also dictated a few discourses to be read at the East-West Gathering. On 4 August, he gave an explanation of "The Four Journeys

Baba said, “After Mehera is Mani, My sister. She has no thought of herself and does all for Me."

In 1969, after Baba dropped His body, Eruch recalled that Baba had instructed the mandali several times: "Wherever I may drop My body, bring it to Meherabad and place it in the samadhi." Eruch also remembered that Baba had told him to play the record of the Cole Porter song Begin the Beguine when he dropped His body.

Dr. Ginde suggested that Baba's body should be moved to Meherabad within six hours. Mehera and the other women wanted to keep Baba's body at Meherazad. Mani argued with Ginde, "Baba had once told me that if He goes into a coma some day and becomes unconscious, He would revive after seven days."

Dr. Ginde explained, "But this is not a coma. The heart of a person in a coma continues to beat, and his respiration and pulse do not stop. Baba is not in a coma." Mani did not agree and continued to argue. It was suggested that Baba's body should be kept in mandali hall at lower Meherabad for three days. Ginde explained that it would be difficult to move a decomposed body to the crypt after three days.

Eruch then said, "As ordered by Baba, his body should be taken to his samadhi at Meherabad. The ambulance stopped opposite Baba's Tin Cabin, and the stretcher was lifted from it and placed inside the cabin just opposite the door. Mani brought the record player and played Begin the Beguine inside the cabin.

She wrote

  1. 82 Family Letters: Letters from Mani Irani (Meher Baba’s sister) to various families. A compilation of letters to various Meher Baba groups around the world concerning Meher Baba’s activities from 1958 to 1969. Sheriar Foundation, 1979
  2. God-Brother: Stories from My Childhood with Meher Baba, Sheriar Foundation, 1993 Dreaming of The Beloved, Sheriar Foundation, 1998

3.Tales from the New Life with Meher Baba, (Contributing author) Narrated by Eruch, Mehera, Mani and Meheru, Published by Meher Baba Information, 1976 (out of print)

  1. Baba loved Us Too.
  2. Mehera Meher

Demise on 19-8-1996