WHO ARE MANDALI / CIRCLE MEMBERS
Meher Baba called His close companions “Mandali” a Sanskrit word meaning the group or company of people with similar interest. Unlike the “Mandali” of wandering minstrels or the “mandali” of drama troupes travelling as itinerant entertainers, the “Mandali” of Avatar Meher Baba had a special spiritual significance.
In 1922, Baba had made contact with number of young men, who became His disciples, and pledged devotion to Him. With the group of forty five (early mandali members), Baba set off on foot from Poona to Bombay. On reaching Bombay Meher Baba rented a large bungalow where He established His first ashram. At Bombay ashram, Meher Baba trained His mandali by putting them through a strict code of discipline. Baba developed in His mandali qualities of determination and initiative by imposing rigorous discipline and training.
Some of American and English also associated as mandali member after Meher Baba made 13 visits to Europe and America between years 1931 to 1958.
Mandali a small group of men and women lived with Meher Baba in partial seclusion, and yet were living embodiment of selfless service, honest devotion, implicit obedience and unbounded love.
Who were these mandali Men and women?
According to spiritual secrets revealed by Meher Baba in His discourses (God-speaks). Mandali members were the circle members of Avatar circle consisting of 120 numbers. On the subject of circle members revelation made by Meher Baba in brief is as under
With every advent of the Avatar on earth, the 12 men of the Inner Circle and its appendage of two women, gather round the personality of the Avatar, as the self-same 14 types of individualities. These fourteen different individualities, in the shape of different personalities, always occupy their respective offices, whenever the Avatar manifests on earth; and during and after the life-span of the Avatar, they — individually and collectively — function in the same way as their predecessors, who had held, and functioned in, the same offices of the Inner Circle during the
The connection of the Inner Circle in relation to the Avatar may be compared to that of a man who directly associates himself with the fourteen parts of his own body; two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, one mouth, two hands, two legs and the trunk of the body itself; plus the external genitals and anus that act as the appendage to the body as a whole. As soon as man is born, he directly makes use of these fourteen parts of his body, and these parts in turn respond to his dictates individually or collectively.
Similarly, with the advent of the Avatar on earth, His Inner Circle of the same twelve individualities and the appendage of the same two individualities directly begin to function, individually and collectively, according to the dictates of the Avatar himself.
Once God-realization is attained, reincarnation is impossible. The only exception to this rule is the Avatar himself, who comes again and again to redeem humanity.
It is not the same individualized personalities of the Inner Circle that reincarnate; it is the individualities of their particular offices that come with every advent of the Avatar. It is because in all the Avatar's advents each of the twelve men and two women of the Inner Circle hold exactly the same office and function in exactly the same manner, that it is said the Avatar always brings with him the same circle.
All fourteen members of the Avatar's Inner Circle realize God by the grace of the Avatar, during the same Avataric period, which is of one hundred years' duration after the Manifestation of the Avatar on earth.
Regarding the Outer Circles of the Avatar, none of the 108 persons in the nine circles holds any office similar to that held by those of the Inner Circle; and all of these 108 persons attain
God-realization by the grace of the Avatar, but not necessarily during the Avataric period.
When questioned by Bhau Kalchuri for clear definition of mandali, Baba said, "One who gives his life to Me, who listens to Me, who does not ask for any kind of reward, who does not care about the result, whether he is ruined or prospers, who takes Baba's khushi (happiness) as his khushi, but at the same time whose intimacy I also feel, is in the mandali."
To another question of Bhau, "Can one call himself Baba's mandali if he feels he is a mandali, regardless of the number of years of connection with you, be it thirty years or only one year?" Baba answered, "If you find Me intimate with you. For example, take Elcha (Eruch D. Mistry) at Dehra Dun. I feel absolutely free with him, but if he is not prepared to sacrifice all, then he is not in the mandali."
Bhau asked again, "Can a person declare that he is a member of the mandali?" "Those who I feel to be in the mandali, are My mandali," said Baba, "and no one can assert that he is in the mandali."
On 13-11-1968, (About 80 days before He dropped His body (Beloved Baba clarified the meaning and status of Mandali) and stated.
“Only those few Male and Female lovers who have been with Me all these years through thick and thin are My Mandali.”
“All others outside are Meherabad and Meherazad are My Lovers,”
“I rank My Mandali second only to Mehera; then are the lovers and the world.”
“Daily without fail, I am invoking Myself for Mehera, the Mandali, the Lovers & the world in that order.”
In this path, ordinarily one has to pass through three stages. The first stage consists of a keen interest and intense longing to know about and experience God, resulting in bright hopes and pleasant expectations. Then the second stage of disgust, disappointment, apathy and consequent suffering ensues. The third, but last stage is that of the Realization of God. At present, all in my circle are in the second stage, which lasts quite a long time. Since it is inevitable, try to put up with it and pass through it cheerfully. Don’t leave me for any reason.
The one who gives his life to me, who listens to me and is ready to obey me, who does not ask for any kind of reward, nor care for the result, whether he is ruined or he prospers, who takes my pleasure as his pleasure, but at the same time whose intimacy I also feel, such a one is a mandali member.
On one occasion, in year 1945, Meher Baba spoke on Mandali and counted few names but did not complete it (Refer LM-2478-82 Vol-20). But it can be logically accepted that mandali men and women were the most privileged and fortunate souls to be associated with Meher Baba in this Avataric age
Baba had foretold, “There will be 14 mandali with Me at the end” coincidently there were 6 women and 8 men Mandali at the Meherazad on 31-1-1969 when Meher Baba dropped His Body.”
Following names and their brief introduction and their interaction with Meher Baba are drawn from “Lord Meher” as mandali/circle members/close disciples/close families, “Meher Baba and His Mandali” by Nausserwan Anzar and web page. (Refer Page Nos 1012, 2464, 2478, 3808, 3809, 4566, 6679, 6680 and 6681)