*FORTUNATE SOULS-VOLUME-3 (GR-12 TO GR 15)

128-WALU BHAU PAWAR

D/o Soonamasi

Walu Pawar joined the mandali in twenties and devoted herself totally to Baba’s service.

In this seclusion, Baba would occasionally send for the women to see them. When He did, following the incident with Walu, Gulmai beseeched Him to take pity on Walu and forgive her mistake. Baba answered Gulmai’s plea and Walu’s sight was restored. This experience taught Walu to be extremely careful in the future in following Baba’s exacting orders. Since 1925, Walu had washed Baba’s clothes and kept his room clean. She was wholly dedicated to the Master, remaining so until her end. This incident became a sign of the power of the Master’s seclusion work.

Her important incidents with Meher Baba are described as under:

In 1925, a Maratha woman in her late twenties, named Walu Bhau Pawar, was intensely drawn to the Master. Soon after meeting Meher Baba, she surrendered to his spiritual guidance, dedicating all her possessions and property to Him. Walu resided in Arangaon, but she was allowed to come daily and be with the women mandali at the Post Office quarters. She was assigned the duty of baking bhakri and would also assist Mehera in attending to Baba's personal needs.

On 1st June 1927, Baba went to Arangaon with the mandali in the morning to attend the wedding of Walu Pawar's daughter. Baba was escorted to the village in a procession and was well-attended to. Soon after the food was served, He returned to Meherabad. Before leaving Arangaon, He commented, "I was compelled to attend this marriage today because of Walu's love and devotion for Me." Walu was the only woman from Arangaon to be included in Baba's close circle of women mandali.

During stay in Toka, women mandali, consisting of Walu 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. Chhagan's wife Shanta prepared chapatis with the women mandali.

On 9th May 1929, Baba left Ahmednagar by car for Nasik, where he met Walu and other ladies as well as Rustom and Padri. Rustom was ordered to continue looking after the arrangements for the women mandali in Nasik while Baba was on tour in the north of India — to the Himalayas.

On 12th June 1929, in the morning, while Baba was taking tea at Walu Pawar's house in the village, Nusserwan and Kaka Chinchorkar arrived. Baba was pleased to see them and praised them for helping Him financially, remarking, and “It is in times of such crises that great spiritual work is done. It is also a time of test."

In 1929, the women mandali staying in Nasik were Walu and other ladies. Daulatmai was staying with her daughter Freiny, as her bungalow was near the women mandali's house — called Kabootar Khanna — the Pigeon House. Mostly secluded in their house, Baba had ordered the women to meditate for two hours every day. Besides this, they were ordered to prepare meals for those Arangaon boys who were working in Rustom's garage in Nasik.

Bomanji was still living in Meherabad with his family. Soon after Baba returned, a quarrel broke out between Bomanji's wife Tehmina (Baily's sister) and their servant Bhagu (Jamadar's wife). Bomanji stopped Bhagu from coming to work and instead gave the job to Walu. The next day, neither of the servants turned up, as both were friends from Arangaon.

Baba went to Arangaon on Saturday, 23 December 1933. Walu was staying at her house in the village and going up the hill each day to be with the other women mandali

In 1933, Baba once remarked to Valu, "I come down from the hill twice daily to go to the mandali's quarters and have to walk up twice more. How much better it would be if there were shade trees lining the path."

Walu was a very caring, devoted person, and that very day, she began planting saplings on both sides of the narrow dirt road. A scarcity of water made it difficult to nourish them, but Walu would carry water from a far distance on her shoulders for this purpose. It is because of Walu's initial labor of love that, today; we find some of those same shade trees still lining both sides of the path leading up Meherabad Hill. Although Walu had other chores, she found time for this extra work and it has resulted in a boon to all pilgrims coming to Meherabad.

On 30th January 1936, Baba left in the morning bus for Poona with Walu and other lady members. Vishnu and some of the mandali had left before them, in a separate bus with the luggage. As always, the men mandali were not allowed near the women. So in Poona, Baba Himself carried the women's luggage to their reserved compartment at the end of the train.

Mani's mastoid became infected and other ware also not too well.  On 23rd March 1936, Mani was admitted to the Holdsworth Memorial "Mission Hospital" at Mandi Mohalla, where she was operated on three days later by an English surgeon named Dr. Robinson. Naja, who was doing the cooking in Mysore, was appointed to be by Mani's side in the hospital, so Khorshed took over the cooking duty. But she too came down with fever. Walu also fell ill, and it seemed that one difficulty after another began plaguing them. Mehera remained healthy and was occupied with Baba's personal needs, and Indu helped in the kitchen.

Leaving Rahuri, Baba group drove on to Meherabad. 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 Walu and others.

Baba gradually had the Eastern and Western women get to know one another. Westerners started teaching English to Tani and Bhagu maid servants. Another Easterner learning English was Walu. She was the daughter of an upper-class village family with landed property, yet she had profound humility and did all types of lowly jobs wholeheartedly and was a wonderful example of selfless service. When Mehera first met her, Walu was wearing elaborate gold ornaments around her neck and wrists. But when Walu went to live with the women mandali she gave up all worldly riches to be near Baba and dedicate her life to serving Him.

In 1937, Consuelo and Alfredo de Sides had invited Baba to Paris, along with the women mandali. On Sunday morning 19th September 1937, Baba left by car with ladies mandali. Baba left 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.

On 14th March 1938, after assigning duties to each of the mandali, Baba left for Panchgani few with few lady mandali. Tikaram drove Walu with few other lady members to Panchgani.

At last, 8th December 1938, was fixed as the date of departure for Blue Bus. On 8th December 1938 in the early morning Baba left Meherabad Hill in the Blue Bus with the women Walu aged 36, was one among them.

On 9th November 1938, while burning some dried grass, Walu's sari caught fire and her legs were severely burned. The burns turned septic, and Padri, who was dressing her wounds and Dr. Kalavker, said to Baba that it was not good to take Walu on the trip in her condition. But Baba replied emphatically, "No, all of us must start together. Maya must not be allowed to put obstructions in My way!"

Baba and His group with Walu started for Hyderabad on 9th December 1938. On the way, Baba said he was hungry. Baba distributed puffed rice, peanuts or sweets among the group. For lunch while traveling they would stop under the shade of trees by the side of the road, and Rano would attend to Walu's dressing. Walu had to be carried in and out of the bus, since she was still unable to walk by herself.

At Meherabad, Walu brought Baba food and tea prepared by Mehera at fixed times. It was strictly forbidden to look inside the cabin when Baba was doing his seclusion work. One day Walu brought Baba's tray of food at the appointed time. However, she found the door of the cabin closed. Believing the wind had blown the door shut, Walu pushed it open. Baba was seated inside engrossed in his inner work. He appeared startled, and he looked up and stared at her. His powerful gaze overwhelmed Walu and her eyes immediately became full of pain. Afterward her eyes became bloodshot, then worsened and she suffered a blinded state for three days.

At the Links bungalow itself, there were 24 women living with Baba: Among the Eastern women Walu was one.

While in Bangalore, Baba directed the women to stage plays for five days consecutively. For one skit, Walu dressed as a Mohammedan, but Naja didn't adjust Walu's costume properly, and made Walu upset just as she was about to go on stage. When Walu appeared, she was so angry that instead of speaking in Urdu, as she had been coached, she began speaking in Marathi. This, too, was a source of delight for Baba.

Baba left Meherabad for Ranchi on Wednesday, 3 July 1940, by train, at 3:30 P.M., with the men and women mandali, and three masts, Chatti Baba, Shariat Khan and Mohammed. Walu was one among the women who accompanied Baba and several women servants.

On the 20 th April 1943, Baba left for Bhilar. The women's bungalow in Bhilar was surrounded by tall grass on all sides. Walu would cut it and burn it to prevent snakes from coming near. One day, when Walu was doing this, a violent whirlwind began blowing and the grass caught fire,   she was trapped and shouted Baba's name. The women came running and extinguished the fire. Despite being in the midst of the blaze, Walu was unharmed, due to Baba's nazar.

In 1943, Pappa Jessawala, Eruch and Sadashiv Patil arranged a small darshan function in Poona in honor of Mehera's birthday. Sarosh drove Baba there on the 30th of December. Walu accompanied with other ladies.

After finishing his work in Aurangabad, Baba, returned to Pimpalgaon with lady members. Walu also joined them there.

During this period in 1944, there were approximately 26 men, 33 women and ten children staying with Meher Baba under His orders at Meherabad and Pimpalgaon. Among them were Walu aged 41, was one.2403-1944

On the 28th November 1944, Baba left Aurangabad with the men and women mandali for Pimpalgaon, arriving the same day. Walu was with Baba in Aurangabad  and Baba sent her  back to Meherabad as soon as the group arrived.

On Monday, 25th December 1944, the atmosphere at Meherabad turned lively, as Mehera's birthday was celebrated with great pomp. Walu was present in celebration and  returned to Pimpalgaon on 27th December, with Baba and others.

On 31 st January 1945, Baba left Pimpalgaon and moved with the women to Rusi Pop's house in Ahmednagar, not far from Khushru Quarters. This move was necessitated because of some minor construction and renovation work which was to take place at Pimpalgaon under Kalemama's supervision. Walu was with him at Pop's house.

Baba sent Pendu, Baidul and Krishna to Hyderabad in advance, and Baba left on 9th March 1945, with the other men, the women mandali They arrived the next day. Since the Jubilee Hills bungalow was still not ready for occupancy, Pendu and Don had rented another house for the women in nearby Secunderabad for three weeks. The women who accompanied Baba included Walu and other ladies.

When Baba returned from Wai, he kept Kaikobad, his family and Mansari in the hospital quarters on the hill, Walu with other ladies were kept in lower Meherabad.

After arranging matters in Meherabad, Baba moved to Pimpalgaon on 10th September 1947, sleeping at night at Ratanshah Gyara's cottage nearby. Walu with other mandali ladies went with Him to Meherabad.

On 16th September 1948, Baba came to live at Meherazad with Walu and other ladies. Baba's bedroom was upstairs. The men who began staying at Meherazad were Don, Ghani and Kaka. The rest of the men and women mandali stayed in Meherabad.

One afternoon at three o'clock, Baba, Walu and other women climbed another nearby hill, Gorakhnath's Hill, which is visible from Meherazad. Baba ascended the hill with speed and unfaltering agility, and on the summit sat in the temple of Gorakhnath alone for 20 minutes. When He came out, He told the women to enter the temple and pay their respects. But the temple priest prevented them from entering, and Baba intervened, saying "Do as he says and do not enter."

With his usual graceful steps, Baba came down the hill, the women trailing after him. Walking more slowly, Elizabeth and Walu were left far behind, and Baba and the others waited for them at the base. Baba jested, "When the two stragglers appear, welcome them by clapping." When they came down, all clapped — including Baba. "You are being applauded for your safe arrival," Baba told them.

From Benares, Baba left for Gaya, where, on 26th April 1949. He worked with more advanced souls. After this work, Baba returned to Mount Abu on the evening of the 28th. The women mandali had stayed in Mount Abu.  Walu had been sent for and she too was staying with the women.

After contact with two great masts, Baba returned to Mount Abu in the evening on 20th May 1949, where He met the women, Walu and others. 2708-1949

Before leaving for New life Baba instructed, Walu was instructed to stay at Bindra House in Poona with Dowla.

On the 28th, Baba went to Bindra House in Poona; He informed Pappa and Gaimai, "Keep Soltoon and Dowla with you as members of your own family. Keep Walu also in this same manner. I am giving you this responsibility and you will be serving me by carrying it out."

In 1942, s 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. Walu with Naja, Khorshed and Walu were kept in one group.

In 1944, reaching Aurangabad, Baba called the other women there from Meherabad — Walu and others. Baba described to them His Kashmir visit and, after a few days, sent them back to Meherabad. 2437-1944

In July 1953, some work still remained to be completed on the cabin, so Baba did not actually begin His seclusion until the evening of July 15th. No one was allowed near the new cabin unless called by Baba.

They performed Baba's arti. Afterward Baba proceeded to Jangle's quarters there and also to Jamadar's — the Meherabad night watchman for many years — whose families also performed his arti. Baba also saw Walu, who was living nearby in the same compound.3615-1954

On 28th October 1941, reached Karwar in afternoon. 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.

Baba asked Margaret to teach the women swimming, which she began doing. Under Margaret's and Rano's watchful eyes, Mehera, too, was learning to swim. After several days of lessons, Baba ordered each of the women to do 15 strokes while He watched from the shore. Walu, could not swim, and would only wade into the water. Baba would accompany the women to the beach early in the morning and sit watching them for an hour. 2238-1941

After visiting the houses of his Arangaon lovers, Baba came to the Family Quarters where Walu, Sidhu's wife Radha, Bhagu, Jangle, Mukta and their children performed his arti. Because of the sahavas congregation in Meherabad, the masts Mohammed and Ali Shah were being kept there. When Baba met with the two masts, Mohammed caught Baba by the hand and said, "Dada, take me to Satara."3843-1955

On 13 th July 1958, Baba was driven back to Meherabad and returned to Meherazad, During this period of seclusion of 1958, Walu Pawar stayed in Arangaon with Jangle Master his family, and other lady members.

After Baba dropped his body, once, an old lady, completely bent at right angles at her waist came in.  She would put her hand on her forehead to avoid the glare on her eyes so that she could see Baba in the crypt.  When asked whether she could see Baba, she just shook her head in the negative.  She seemed to have got hyper mature cataracts in both eyes!  She was led to the landing of the crypt and only after she had sat down there and a torch light focussed on Baba's face, could she see Him.

It was then that Eruch told us that she was Walu, an old and faithful devotee of Baba from the early twenties.  She was very dear to Baba and though she could not see Baba, Once again, Baba saw her and acknowledged her long, sincere, unselfish and loving services for the Avatar of the Age.  Tears came into her eyes as she remembered the years she had spent with Baba.  They were tears of love.

(Meher Baba’s Last Sahavas; p 42, Copyright 1969 Dr. H. P. Bharucha)

It was then that Eruch told us that she was Valu, an old and faithful devotee of Baba from the early twenties.  She was very dear to Baba and though she could not see Baba, Once again, Baba saw her and acknowledged her long, sincere, unselfish and loving services for the Avatar of the Age.  Tears came into her eyes as she remembered the years she had spent with Baba.  They were tears of love.After Baba dropped his body, once, an old lady, completely bent at right angles at her waist came in.  She would put her hand on her forehead to avoid the glare on her eyes so that she could see Baba in the crypt.  When asked whether she could see Baba, she just shook her head in the negative.  She seemed to have got hyper mature cataracts in both eyes!  She was led to the landing of the crypt and only after she had sat down there and a torch light focussed on Baba's face, could she see Him.

(Meher Baba’s Last Sahavas; p 42, Copyright 1969 Dr. H. P. Bharucha)

 

127-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.

 

125-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. 2754-1949

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.)

 

76-PILOO N. SATHA

Piloo N. Satha was the brother of Naoroji Nusserwan Satha.

Sometimes Baba would go to the Satha home to eat lunch and relax, sitting under a shady tree in the compound, discussing matters with his mandali and Nusserwan. Nusserwan had one step-brother Ardeshir, four brothers — Meherjee, Jemi, Homi, and Piloo;  and four sisters — Banumasi Kerawala, Gaimai Jessawala, Gula Satha, and Shirin Damania. Gradually, by his frequent visits, all the members of this Parsi family were deeply drawn to him and accepted Meher Baba as their Spiritual Master. In the years that followed, his spiritual connection with the Satha and Jessawala families became very significant.

Piloo Satha and Kaka Chinchorkar came to see Baba. Adi Sr. drove Baba in his Pontiac to a spot in Ahmednagar where an air show was being held. Baba didn't stay long, however. He became upset about something and told Adi to drive him back to Meherabad.

Piloo Satha, whose brother Nusserwan was associated with Mahatma Gandhi and had likewise been incarcerated for civil disobedience, came from Ahmednagar to see Baba on the morning of 16th May 1934, with his niece Khorshed. Baba commented to him, "Nusserwan was released from prison (on 8th May), but he has not yet come to see Me. He has forgotten us poor people."

Piloo replied, "But you are rich, Baba!"

"Yes, Emperor and fakir both," Baba agreed. "But you do not know anything about it."

Baba inquired about Piloo's sister, Shirin Damania. "She works very hard," Piloo said. "Since our mother died years ago, and we were all so young, Shirin has looked after all of us brothers and sisters, brought us up and managed everything in the house."

On 17th September 1961, eighteen lovers of Ahmednagar came to Meherazad in the morning and for one hour Rustom Kaka, his wife Silla Kaku, a 24-year-old woman named Usha Kulkarni and Kokila Tiwari sang bhajans.  Others from Ahmednagar were also present, among them Nusserwan Satha and his brother Piloo Mama and others.

The 7th of September 1962, was Eruch's uncle Piloo Mama Satha's birthday, and Baba agreed to visit Akbar Press that morning for ten minutes with Eruch, Bhau and Francis. He stopped first at Khushru Quarters, where he met the Khilnanis and others. At Akbar Press, Baba gave a birthday embrace to Piloo Mama and met all from the Satha and Damania families. No outsiders were called.

Baba asked Rangole, Rustom Kaka and Piloo Mama Satha about the managing of the Ahmednagar Center, and afterwards instructed that each in the group should salute Him from a distance and depart. They did accordingly and returned to Ahmednagar happy in Baba's love.

Those who could come rushed to Meherabad as soon as they heard the news. Many came without official leave from their jobs, many without a change of clothes and little or no money. Special buses were arranged to carry the lovers to Meherabad. On the morning of  1st February 1969, Dr. Ginde and Francis were adamant that Baba's body be interred, but Sarosh, Nusserwan Satha and Piloo Mama Satha (Eruch's maternal uncles) were equally insistent that it not be, demanding the lovers must have darshan! Their argument had the desired effect.

 

126-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 jeweler 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 unequaled 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.

A

 

121-PILAMAI HORMOUZD IRANI

(Sister of Sirinmai)

On January 14th 1921, the Hindu holiday Makarsankrant was celebrated in Sakori. A Zoroastrian woman named Pilamai Hormuzd Irani of Karachi had come to Sakori for the first time for the celebration. Pilamai and Gulmai were distant relatives through marriage. A year or so previously in Bombay, Pilamai had met Gulmai, who was there visiting her brother. The two women became closer during this visit. Pilamai confided her problem with depression to Gulmai, who suggested she meet Upasni Maharaj (who had helped Gulmai overcome her own malady).  At her suggestion, Pilamai brought her children and stayed in Sakori for a month. Pilamai Irani lived in Karachi and was one of close ones and lived with mandali from time to time.

One day Pilamai and Gulmai were sitting near Meher Baba, and He asked Gulmai to sit closer, saying, "Sit here, Mother. I have something I want you to understand. Every Sadguru has a spiritual mother; Durgabai is Maharaj's. Narayan Maharaj and Tajuddin Baba have one also. Similarly, all Perfect Masters have spiritual sisters, too. Likewise, you are my spiritual mother and Pilamai is my spiritual sister; I have a past link with both of you through many lifetimes. I am telling you the fact that I am your son; and Pilamai, I am your brother. You are most fortunate."

Taken aback, Gulmai replied, "I know nothing about spiritual facts. I am not equal to even the dust under your feet. I am not worthy of anything spiritual. I am a simple woman — quite tired of life — with the one desire to stay near Maharaj always, to serve him and die at his feet."234-1921

One of Rustom's aunts, Pilamai Irani, had come from Karachi for the wedding. After meeting Baba at Sakori two years before, she was consumed in the fire of his divine love and became his devotee. During this occasion, Pilamai told Baba that she was ready to surrender her life to Him and wanted to stay with Him, but He persuaded her to return to Karachi. She reluctantly agreed on the condition that He visits her there, which He promised. The result of this, and the natural way in which the Master accomplished His work, was to gradually unfold. On the surface, it looked as if Pilamai invited Baba to grace her house; but the Master alone knows the secret way in which He reveals His intentions. Those who were continuously with Meher Baba had some understanding of how He manipulated events, making them seem quite natural. And occasionally the mandali would fathom the hidden meaning behind the outward expressions of His work and statements.

On Friday, 25 May 1923, Meher Baba ordered everything from Meherabad to be transferred to Khushru Quarters. Only beddings and a few necessities were taken on the journey. That morning Baba walked alongside the path of the railway tracks from Meherabad, reaching the Ahmednagar railway station at 10:30 A.M. A few of his followers were at the station, and they reverently bid him farewell.

Baba and His fourteen mandali occupied a third class compartment. They were accompanied by Pilamai, her small son Vithal, Gulmai, Sarosh, Soonamasi and Khorshed. The train left 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.

Pilamai had brought a small chair for Baba to sit on in the train. However, He did not use it and asked her why she did not sit on it. Humbly, Pilamai replied, "How could I sit on it when you are sitting on a bench? I have nothing but respect for you!"

"When you don't respect My words, how can you respect Me?" Baba pointed out. "Only if you sit in the chair according to My wish will I believe you truly revere Me!"

"But this chair is meant for you," Pilamai countered. "It is not proper for me to occupy your seat."

Baba said, "You are My spiritual sister and therefore you, more than anyone else, should follow my orders and see that My wish is fulfilled."

Pilamai said, "I would sacrifice my life for you, Baba, but I cannot occupy this chair. I would feel ashamed to do so in your presence when you are sitting on an uncomfortable, wooden bench."

Baba said sternly, "You revere your feelings of shame more than me! And since you cannot carry out even my smallest wish, how could you ever hope to sacrifice your life for me?"

Baba continued, "Do not think it is so easy to give up your life for my cause. Give up your life while living by dying to your own desires!"

Pilamai pleaded, "Baba, I don't understand anything about spirituality, but this is an expensive and comfortable chair. I only want you to sit on it. I bought it for you alone."

Getting up, Baba angrily flung the chair out the window of the moving train! Only then did Pilamai realize that the Master valued nothing in this life except obedience to his wishes.

Baba did not say another word to Pilamai. After some time, her son Vithal began crying. It disturbed Baba who told her to stop his crying. Pilamai realized that she must do as He instructed so she tried her best to quiet the child. She gave him milk but he threw it aside and continued crying. Desperate, Pilamai took him to the toilet and stayed locked inside. Vithal finally stopped his tears, but as soon as Pilamai would bring him out of the lavatory, he would begin all over again, forcing his mother to hastily retreat back inside. For almost two days, Pilamai's confinement in the foul-smelling toilet continued until the train reached Agra in northern India, where all disembarked on 27th May 1923.

Baba was in a good mood when group arrived in Karachi on 31st May 1923. Pilamai's husband Hormuzd, Baily, and other devotees were waiting at the station to welcome them. Baily's sister Khorshed had moved to Karachi, and Baba had sent him ahead to assist with travel arrangements. Baba rode to Pilamai's house in a Victoria and relaxed there.

During this time, Baba's golden brown hair had grown quite long and curly. While staying at Pilamai's, He asked Gulmai to comb His hair. It was the first time that the Master permitted one of the women mandali to comb His hair. Gulmai did so with a new comb and brush and, from that day on, she carefully preserved all the loose hair.

Pilamai made everyone comfortable in her home. Later, she guided Baba and the mandali on a sightseeing excursion to places of interest in Karachi. One day Baba went to visit His maternal aunt and uncle, Banu Masi and Khodadad Masa, who had moved there from Bombay.427-1923

On 7th June 1923, after spending a pleasant week in Karachi, Baba departed with the mandali for Quetta. Pilamai had spared nothing in seeing to Baba's comfort, and He appeared pleased with His visit and her consideration.

While they were making themselves comfortable, Baba said, "Arangaon is not such a nice place. It is not good to remain here now. Think of some other place which is free of snakes and scorpions." Several places were mentioned, but none was approved by Baba. Pendu then suggested traveling to Quetta, where he had been living prior to Manzil-e-Meem. Baba liked this prospect since He had promised Pilamai to visit Karachi. Baba later concluded, "Not only should we leave Arangaon, but we should also leave Ahmednagar District, Bombay Province and India altogether, and go to Persia [Iran] via Quetta and Karachi."

In 1923, Meher Baba stayed in Pilamai’s house in Karachi for one week. Baba called her his “Spiritual Sister. During His stay in Karachi, the Master had kept Himself aloof and had even forbidden Pilamai to come and see Him. She was naturally feeling despondent and anxious, knowing that Baba was so nearby. Pilamai suffered a profound longing to see Him. On the last day, before departing, Baba went to her home and put her mind and heart at ease with His benevolent, smiling presence. Such times of separation were meant to create more longing in those already brokenhearted.

Baba was returning to Persia the land of His ancestors. Memo, Gulmai and other ladies, along with the mandali from Kasba Peth, also came to see them off. They boarded the ship. When the boat docked at Karachi for a brief period, Pilamai and other devotees were present with flowers and food, and Baba was received with great reverence.

On 15th May 1927, Pilamai and Khorshedbanu Pastakia, along with a few boys from Karachi, arrived at Meherabad to stay in the ashram for some days. Among these children were two of Baba's cousins, Merwan and Homi (the sons of his maternal aunt, Banu Masi). The boys had been living in Karachi and were brought to Meherabad to study in the school.

One day an urgent message was received from Karachi that Pilamai had started fasting, taking only water. Her reason was that, despite His promise, Baba had still not visited Karachi. Baba sent her a telegram instructing her to stop the fast at once and begin eating, but Pilamai refused. Baba then sent the following cable to her:

You are My spiritual sister. I am beyond promises and he or she who tries to bind Me to My promises is neither My brother nor My sister! I am pleased only when My slightest wish is carried out without question. I order you to take food and will see if you dare not do it!

Receiving this message, Pilamai immediately broke her fast and wrote for Baba's forgiveness.

On 1 January 1928 was the 52nd day of the Master's fast and the twelfth day of his seclusion. Baba was sitting in the upper portion of the underground crypt-cabin. In honor of Mehera's birthday that day (according to the Zoroastrian calendar), Baba permitted Rustom to bring her and the other women up the hill for darshan. In second group of women brought later, included Pilamai

During stay at Toka, the women mandali consisting of 11 ladies including Pilamai, were given the duty of preparing 1,000 chapattis a day for the ashram residents. The mandali helped to clean the wheat, Shanta prepared chapatis with the women mandali, Kaikhushru Masa, his wife Soonamasi, and Pilamai slept in a small tatta hut adjacent to the kitchen.

On 3rd September 1928, Pilamai left Toka for Bombay, from where Pilamai traveled on to Karachi.

Pilamai joined Baba and the group in Bombay. Baba left Bombay for Meherabad by train, arriving there on 27th May 1927. He had traveled approximately 3,700 miles in eighteen days. Baba had also been fasting since arriving in Quetta eleven days earlier.

On the night of 21st September 1929, the ship arrived in Karachi. Baba and the mandali were met by Pilamai, Baba's maternal aunt Banu Masi, and Merwan and Homi, her two sons who had been at the Meher Ashram School. The most distinguished among the others waiting to receive them was the mayor of Karachi, Jamshed N. R. Mehta. Pilamai invited Baba to her house and Baba went her house accompanied by Buasaheb and Vishnu.

Baba directed the mandali to erect a canopy in the compound of Gyas Manzil for His birthday celebrations on the 17th, and to arrange for food for the visitors. Baily arrived the same night with a few other lovers from Karachi, including Pilamai and her husband Hormuzd. (Baily and Hormuzd were accommodated at Gyas Manzil and the women of their group at the Talatis.)

Reaching Lahore on the 28th April 1931, and leaving Buasaheb, Gustadji and Raosaheb there, Baba departed for Karachi. They arrived in Karachi the next day and stayed at Pilamai's house. To please Ali, Baba often remarked, "In these hard times — with the hopeless situation all around — Ali is the only source of solace and comfort to Me."

After Baba returned to Nasik in 1930, Pilamai's son Vithal was also eager to remain near Baba and he was allowed.

On 25th June 1931, after being issued visas at the British Consulate to re-enter India, group left Duzdab by train for Quetta. After ten days in Quetta, they left by train again and arrived in Karachi on 5th July 1931. Again they stayed at Pilamai and Hormuzd's house.

In Karachi, Pilamai had a long talk with Baba, expressing her desire to join the ashram. Baba assigned Jamshed Mehta the work of obtaining visas for himself, Chanji, and Agha Ali. Rustom was also to accompany Baba to England, but he had still not been informed about it.

While Baba was in Bombay, Pilamai came there on 25 February with her daughter Silla. Pilamai was intending to stay in Nasik with the women mandali; she had been with Baba in Meherabad and Toka, and Baba had stayed at her home in Karachi several times. Eventually, Pilamai stayed with Baba for several years and fervently stuck to Him until the last.

Once Baba returned to Nasik, he resumed his usual activities. Both the men and women. Pilamai and her daughter Silla were the of the mandali member since her husband Hormuzd had died in a car accident in May 1933, they would sometimes go to Karachi to attend to family matters.

The Zoroastrian New Year was celebrated on 21 st March 1934. Gulmai visited that day. Chanji brought Pilamai and others for the occasion.

At Meherabad, Baba held a meeting on the 4th about the running of Meherabad while He was away. He had considered shifting the women to Nasik (he even went to look at suitable bungalows there) and disbanding the mandali, but in the end he decided to have everyone remain at Meherabad until He returned. Padri and Pendu were given charge of looking after the men and Pilamai the women, with Gulmai acting as an intermediary.

On the 25th Pilamai left Nasik for Bombay, and from there she and her children continued on to their home in Karachi on the 30th.

On 19th October 1936, Baba boarded the Kathiawar Mail train for Karachi. (There were Hindu-Muslim communal riots in Bombay, prior to Baba's departure.) Reaching Karachi two days later, Baba met Pilamai and her family, and his maternal aunt Banu Masi and her family.

While in Delhi at night Baba took the women to see the lights of old and New Delhi. Arriving from Karachi, Pilamai joined the group on the morning of 5th February 1939.

Baba returned to Meherabad on 15th August 1934 and began settling matters with the mandali living there. Pilamai was managing the kitchen, where Masaji was the cook. Not a day passed that there was not a quarrel between them, mainly because Pilamai would grudge Masaji the proper ingredients needed for cooking the meals. Masaji complained that Pilamai was too strict a manager, whereupon Pilamai threatened to leave for Karachi, claiming that Masaji was always "crossing" her. On the 19th, Baba prevailed upon them to work together harmoniously by pointing out, "You have both been with Me for many years, yet you have not yet learned renunciation. You know that the body will drop one day, so why this continual expression of hatred, jealousy and anger between you? To renounce these traits is real renunciation!"

From 19th February 1938, three-day celebration begun at Meherabad. Almost 500 lovers from Bombay, Poona, Ahmednagar, Nasik, Navsari, Nagpur and other towns and cities, gathered to quench their thirst. More than 200 came from Bombay, Meherabad and Ahmednagar, including Pilamai and her daughter Silla came.

Pilamai left for Karachi the on 11th March 1939.

On the 4th March 1940, Pilamai and her daughter, Silla, arrived from Karachi to join the ashram in Bangalore.

Leaving Loralai on the morning of 11th March 1941 (without any guards), they reached Quetta at five o'clock in the evening. Three days after they arrived. Soon after Baba's arrival in Quetta, Pilamai arrived from Karachi and was permitted to stay for a week.

Daulat Singh was denied darshan was his disappointment was too great to conceal. On the tenth day, Baba sent Adi Sr. with instructions for Dr. Singh to return to Kashmir, travel on to Lahore, and contact Pilamai in Karachi. Daulat Singh did as he was told, and left Meherabad with heavy heart. He contacted Pilamai, and asked her to promise to inform him as soon as Meher Baba was in the area.

Pilamai came from Karachi and brought Baba two parrots, a male and a female. The male did not live long, but the female, named Mittu, lived and traveled with Baba and the women for the next few years.

Baba and the mandali returned to Lahore on Saturday, 13th November 1943. After staying in Lahore for more than five months, on 20th November, the majority of the men and women mandali were sent back to Ahmednagar. They traveled to Manmad by train and then took buses to Meherabad. Pilamai was appointed to oversee the women's group, and during the journey, if any man tried to enter their compartment, Pilamai would shout in Urdu, "Janana! Janana!"-meaning this was a "women-only" compartment and no man should enter. Margaret would tease her by echoing, "Banana! Banana!"

During this period in 1944, there were 26 men, 33 women and ten children staying with Meher Baba under his orders at Meherabad and Pimpalgaon. Among Pilamai was one among women.

Baba Himself left Mahabaleshwar on the morning of 29th January 1951 accompanied by   Eruch, Pendu and Gustadji. On the way, between Mahabaleshwar and Poona Baba halted in Poona where He had called Pilamai of Karachi and her daughter, Silla, had deep love for Baba. Up until 1947, she and Silla had been staying in Meherabad. After that, both had returned to Karachi, and later settled in Lahore. Before entering the New Life, Baba had kept Rs.2, 000 aside for Pilamai's maintenance, but she would not accept it. Since Pilamai refused the money for the sake of love, Baba decided to distribute this sum in the name of love to seven deserving individuals of his Old Life, remarking, "Charity begins at home."

5th June 1960, was the largest public darshan that summer. An estimated 10,000 persons poured into Guruprasad seeking the God-Man's touch. Pilamai Irani and her family and many dignitaries, lovers from Delhi, Bombay Ahmednagar, Sakori and Australia came to see Baba on this occasion.  4699-1960Baba left Meherazad for Satara with the men and women mandali on 5th October 1954. Baba went to Viloo Villa before starting for Satara, where He met Gulmai, Piroja and Pilamai.

 

128-VALU PAWAR

D/o Soonamasi

Valu Pawar joined the mandali in twenties and devoted herself totally to Baba’s service.

In July 1953, some work still remained to be completed on the cabin, so Baba did not actually begin his seclusion until the evening of July 15th. No one was allowed near the new cabin unless called by Baba.

At fixed time, Valu Pawar brought Baba food and tea prepared by Mehera. It was strictly forbidden to look inside the cabin when Baba was doing his seclusion work. One day, Valu brought Baba’s tray of food to the cabin at the appointed time. However, she found the door of the cabin closed. Believing the wind had blown the door shut, Valu pushed it open. Baba was seated inside engrossed in his inner work. He appeared startled and he looked up and stared at her. His powerful gaze overwhelmed Valu and her eyes immediately became full of pain. Afterward her eyes became bloodshot, then worsened and she suffered a blinded state for three days.

In 1933, Baba once remarked to Valu, "I come down from the hill twice daily to go to the mandali's quarters and have to walk up twice more. How much better it would be if there were shade trees lining the path."

Valu was a very caring, devoted person, and that very day, she began planting saplings on both sides of the narrow dirt road. A scarcity of water made it difficult to nourish them, but Valu would carry water from a far distance on her shoulders for this purpose. It is because of Valu's initial labor of love that, today; we find some of those same shade trees still lining both sides of the path leading up Meherabad Hill. Although Valu had other chores, she still found time for this extra work and it has resulted in a boon to all pilgrims coming to Meherabad.

In this seclusion, Baba would occasionally send for the women to see them. When he did, following the incident with Valu, Gulmai beseeched him to take pity on Valu and forgive her mistake. Baba answered Gulmai’s plea and Valu’s sight was restored. This experience taught Valu to be extremely careful in the future in following Baba’s exacting orders. Since 1925, Valu had washed Baba’s clothes and kept his room clean. She was wholly dedicated to the Master, remaining so until her end. This incident became a sign of the power of the Master’s seclusion work.

After Baba dropped his body, once, an old lady, completely bent at right angles at her waist came in.  She would put her hand on her forehead to avoid the glare on her eyes so that she could see Baba in the crypt.  When asked whether she could see Baba, she just shook her head in the negative.  She seemed to have got hyper mature cataracts in both eyes!  She was led to the landing of the crypt and only after she had sat down there and a torch light focussed on Baba's face, could she see Him.

It was then that Eruch told us that she was Valu, an old and faithful devotee of Baba from the early twenties.  She was very dear to Baba and though she could not see Baba, Once again, Baba saw her and acknowledged her long, sincere, unselfish and loving services for the Avatar of the Age.  Tears came into her eyes as she remembered the years she had spent with Baba.  They were tears of love.

(Meher Baba’s Last Sahavas; p 42, Copyright 1969 Dr. H. P. Bharucha)

127-SUSHILA

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

On 10th November 1963, Sushila met Baba with Dhake. Baba gave them instructions about their forthcoming trip to Nauranga. Sushila was given a talk in Hindi, written by Bhau, which she was to deliver to the gathering. Baba had her read it to him.

 Sushila and her sister Indu also helped in cooking for and Mandali. At Amboli and Balgaum, 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.

 

126-SOONAMASI

Mother of Khorshed

Soonamasi, Khorshed mother 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 Masa came to Ahmednagar from Bombay to visit their relatives. Kaikhushru Masa was an ardent lover of God and about eight years before 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.

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.