92-ANITA DE CARO
Anita de Caro-Anita was the daughter of Jacqueline and married to Merwan, son of Sarosh and Viloo Irani.
Anita was a talented art student in whom Norina had taken an interest and was helping financially. On 11th November 1931, Norina brought Anita, a young girl to Meher Baba.
Anita recalled her first encounter with Meher Baba
I had been brought up Catholic. (Knowing I was about to see him,) all of a sudden I was frightened. I thought: "If this is such a great religious man, how am I to behave? I can't shake hands with Him. The only thing to do is kneel. I'll make the sign of the cross and say, “Bless me, Father, and kiss His hand." My heart was pounding with fear. The door opened. Baba was seated Persian fashion (with his legs crossed under him). I looked at Him and went into peals of laughter. I laughed and threw myself on Him. "My heavens! It's you," I cried. "You made me go through all this masquerading and fear when it's you! It's incredible!" And I laughed and laughed.
Baba opened up His arms. I was absolutely enraptured and felt a tremendous sense of joy. My whole being felt as if I was in a furnace. Words cannot describe the encounter. It was like meeting someone I always knew, as though I had come to my real home. I experienced a great beauty and great joy.
There were many more events of Anita with Meher Baba. Some are described as under:
At their first meeting, Baba asked Anita, "Do you know who I am?"
She replied, "You are the source of all goodness." Anita continued, "I wanted to ask you so many things, I had thought of, but when I am near you, I just can't; and there seems no necessity, too."
Baba replied, "Yes, I could explain for hours, but words and explanations are not necessary for one who feels things deeply as you do."
Baba inquired about her interests and when she said she was an artist, He gestured humorously, "Could you paint Me?"
She answered, "You are too beautiful and would be too difficult to paint." Nonetheless, two days later, Anita returned to Harmon with Norina (and again on the 18th November 1931 and, at Baba's request, attempted to paint his face. Despite several sittings, Anita found that Baba's expression kept changing and she left the canvas unfinished.
Anita later recollected about that incident:
I hadn't really studied portrait painting, but Baba guided Me to do it. Painting Him was a great experience, because I learned one cannot put down that which is ever-changing. It would take pages to describe the event of being in Baba's presence while I painted. I cannot tell you how long it took, because there was no sense of time in His presence. Baba looked at Me and I lost all sense of time. Everything about Him was ever-changing- Baba’s eyes, the color of His skin, His expressions. It remains a great mystery to me
I told Baba, "One cannot paint you because your expression changes every moment.
You are never the same!"
Baba laughed and commented, "Yes, you are right. I am ever-changing."
I realized after a long time what he meant by "ever-changing" for it is life itself — the Divine Play!
On another occasion, Baba remarked to the group at Harmon, "I am eternally happy”
Anita interjected, "Oh, you needn't tell us that! You must be with this face of yours. What bliss! Look at his eyes. They speak more than words — so radiant, so penetrating, how understanding and compassionate. Without a doubt, you look eternally happy." Anita was a welcome addition to the group because her lively nature kept Baba entertained.
Anita's mother was quite ill and had been afraid of death, but she later told her daughter, "Since I met Baba, I realize what the spirit is," and Anita wrote to Baba, "The spiritual change in (my mother) is amazing. Your name is always on her lips and your photograph is always on her pillow."
One afternoon Baba went to Anita de Caro's apartment to see her ailing mother, Jacqueline who had cancer, but who had no fear of dying. Anita recollected, "It was a meeting of tremendous silence and understanding." Baba told Mrs. de Caro that Anita was in His hands and assured her that there was no need to worry about her illness, because she would soon be free. He held her in His arms and she wept. Baba comforted her, "Birds that are free do not realize their freedom. Only birds who are caged can appreciate it. You will soon be free." Anita was now solely dedicated to Baba, and He instructed her to stay with her mother until He called for her.
While in Manhattan, Baba would usually go to the theater or a movie at night. The previous evening, He had been to the theater with Norina and Anita (although which movie or play they saw is not recorded). On the 25th night He went to two movies with Norina, Eileen, Anita, and three others. The first (Over the Hill) was playing at the magnificent, cathedral-like, Roxy Theatre. Afterwards, they walked to the nearby Lowe's State Theatre where they saw the Marx Brothers' movie Monkey Business.
In 1932, Anita, with few others were at the pier to receive Baba. Kenneth Patterson drove Baba to Greenwich Village to the home of Graham and Lettice Stokes, and the others followed in taxis. Staying with the Master at the Stokeses' were Adi Jr., Quentin, Meredith and Margaret. The other mandali (Kaka, Ghani, Chanji and Beheram) stayed at the Albert Hotel.
One afternoon Baba went to Anita de Caro's apartment (617 W. 143 St.) to see her ailing mother, Jacqueline who had cancer, but who had no fear of dying. Anita recollected, "It was a meeting of tremendous silence and understanding." Baba told Mrs. de Caro that Anita was in his hands and assured her that there was no need to worry about her illness, because she would soon be free. He held her in his arms and she wept. Baba comforted her, "Birds that are free do not realize their freedom. Only birds who are caged can appreciate it. You will soon be free."
Anita was now solely dedicated to Baba, and he instructed her to stay with her mother until he called for her. Norina was thinking of opening a school of modern art, and Anita wondered if she should enroll in college, Norina's new school or another art school. Baba informed her that he would tell her what to do after some time.
About 20 people came to see Baba at Harmon, including Anita and others. Beheram would perform on the sitar and Josephine would dance each evening and compose heartrending poems for Baba.
In the morning, on 24th May 1932, Elizabeth, Norina and Anita arrived in Harmon to spend the day. After lunch, Baba led His lovers outside to the stone terrace. Some from the group went forward to pick a few wildflowers, in bloom in the yard,
Baba then stepped forward and motioned Elizabeth to follow. He bent down and picked a small pink flower, which He handed to her. Kaka was near Baba, ready with the board, and Baba motioned for it. Spelling the words out, He had Chanji tell Elizabeth, "Always keep this flower, and write down today's date. Someday you will know the meaning of it."
In Venice, Baba gave each of His lovers an Eastern name to Anita-Ch-chulee; for years afterward, Baba would address or refer to His close ones by these names; they, in turn, would sign their letters likewise.
In 1933, a week later on 23 rd June, Baba reached Genoa and was met by Kitty and Minta. After staying for two days in the Hotel Astoria Belgrano, they were joined by Norina, Elizabeth and Anita de Caro, who arrived to drive them to Santa Margherita. Elizabeth had rented the Villa Altachiara overlooking the Mediterranean from atop a cliff off Portofino's main piazza. Baba, the mandali and Westerners moved in on 28th June; however, the villa was not large enough to accommodate all of them and another house in Santa Margherita was also leased.
Anita had lively, jovial personality and would regale Baba with amusing stories to make him laugh. One beautiful, sunny afternoon as the lovers were seated with Baba on the steps of Altachiara, suddenly Baba looked at Anita and spelled out, "You know I am both God and man."
It was rather a shock to her, as she thought: "I have no idea what God is." She looked at Baba and replied, "But Baba dear, I do not understand you as a man. How can I understand you as God?" She added, "Oh, look, it does not matter. We all make mistakes. You can call yourself God — call yourself whatever you like. It really doesn't matter. I love you just the same." Baba rocked with silent laughter and called Chanji. As he shook his head, Baba gestured, "Tsk, tsk. Anita is really amazing! You know that she just said to me that it does not really matter, it is not important to her that I may have made a mistake in saying I am God and man. She is absolutely and totally indifferent about it.
In the evening of 9 July 1933, Quentin, Margaret, Mabel and Delia had created a skit in which all of them were old people now and such a boy had finally been found, but a cable from Baba was received, saying everything was postponed ("owing to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius")! This caused them to faint and, as they did so, pledge: "We still have faith!" After the skit, Margaret and Quentin danced with an umbrella (in a take-off of Meredith and Margaret Starr), and Mabel, Anita and Delia did an imitation of an African chieftain and his tribe. Baba was highly amused.
After tea, Baba took about fifteen of them for a walk along the cliffs, informing them, "We will get good exercise today, climbing up and down the cliffs, which I always like to do whenever near them. So remember, be with me wherever I go. Stay near me and don't get separated. Keep together."
After looking at the beautiful Italian sky, Baba took them down a steep cliff to the sea. They were all together up to a certain point, but then some began to lag behind due to their usual chatter. At the last descent to the sea, some stayed back because the incline was too steep and dangerous. Only Baba, Herbert and Vivienne reached the bottom. When Baba did not see the others, he loudly clapped for them to join Him. Anita came fast and the others tried to follow slowly, but they could not make it down. Quentin suggested they turn back, so the others retraced their steps, rejoined Quentin and Mabel at the top and returned to the villa.
Instead of returning the way they had come, Baba said they would take a shortcut and He began climbing back along another ridge. Nimble and light-footed, Baba scaled the smooth, rocky surface, and Herbert, Vivienne and Anita had no choice but to follow. Baba was gentle with the young ladies, helping them over the difficult spots by stretching out a hand to pull them up. Herbert thought that this venture was symbolic of following the Master under all circumstances, even in the face of danger, and he boldly climbed upward, confident of Baba's protection.
Halfway up, however, they realized they were stuck along the cliff. There was no clear and easy path to the top. Baba and Herbert tried several maneuvers, leaving the ladies to wait, but there was nothing but sheer rock-face above them and both sides had an almost straight drop to the sea!
Herbert attempted one climb for nearly 20 minutes, hanging on to roots and branches as he did so. His heart beat wildly, but his efforts were futile. There was one small path, but a big rock overhang stuck out fifteen feet, blocking the way. Baba attempted it and scampered up, scattering earth behind him. He clapped His hands for Herbert to follow and then disappeared out of sight.
Baba's last signal had been for them to come up, so Herbert told Vivienne to come. She tried valiantly, but her strength was slowly ebbing.
They were too scared to look down and shouted to Baba for help. Herbert was gradually slipping from his precarious perch where loose dirt and slippery moss covered the rock. Any movement would have pushed down earth and rocks into the face of Vivienne, who was clinging desperately to a depression in the rock and pressing her body to the smooth surface, unable to move. Anita was below her, trying to hold steady.
The others had returned to the villa and were surprised that Baba's group had not returned after two hours. Meanwhile Baba had climbed up a higher cliff and was clapping His hands loudly to attract attention. Since he was at least a mile from the house, no one there heard him. But an Italian priest walking past saw him and knew where Baba was staying. He ran to the house and told the Italian boy Tino.
Tino ran to Baba and understood His hand signs to bring ropes. He rushed back to the kitchen and told Kaka, Adi Jr. and Pendu, who were cooking the evening meal. Leaving the pots on the stove, they immediately left with a rope.
By this time, Vivienne was terrified and shouting at the top of her lungs, "BABA! BABA!" She could not let go, as she would fall 15 to 20 feet onto Anita and then roll down another 300 feet to the sea. Also growing anxious, Herbert tried to reassure her that help was coming and to hold on. Anita was more perplexed than afraid and wondered how on earth this could have happened on a walk with Baba. The line, "A coward dies a thousand deaths, a hero only once," kept going through her mind.
Pendu then appeared at the top of the cliffs with a rope. He tied the rope to a tree. Baba began climbing down it and Pendu followed him, dropping pebbles on Baba as they descended. The rope wasn't long enough to reach those stranded, so Pendu went further down and extended his arm to pull Herbert and Vivienne up. Pendu then slid further down the side of the cliff and told Anita to grab his leg, which she did, and she too was rescued. Anita recounted:
What was amazing was Baba's tremendous beauty. It was as if I saw for the first time what beauty was. As I was being pulled up, Baba looked at me, and there — against the sea, against the cliffs, against the sky — was Baba, like a tremendous Byzantine figure and with the most beautiful smile. And at that moment, I thought, "Never again will I see beauty like this."
Baba scolded the group, "Again you broke My order. I told you all to be with Me, why did you leave?" (Lord Meher-p-1528/9-1933)
Back at the villa, Baba's mood changed and he seemed to enjoy the excitement of this spice of danger and was as happy as a schoolboy. As Anita described it, he appeared positively radiant. He called all into the library and narrated the adventure. With his own hands, he served a glass of wine to Herbert, Anita and Vivienne, and commented, "I wanted to give this experience to all of you, but some did not stick with me, as I had repeatedly warned. To be with me and to die according to my wish is real living. I have done great work through this adventure. The energies expended, the feelings aroused and the courage displayed were utilized by me in my spiritual work." ((Lord Meher-p-1530-1933)
On one occasion, Baba harshly scolded Adi Jr. for giving away a Parsi cap which Anita had requested. This was quite contrary to Baba's order to not give anything to anyone. Anita pleaded guilty for her participation and Baba forgave her, but Adi was on the verge of tears from the embarrassing verbal thrashing in the presence of others. (Lord Meher-p-1558-1933)
From Anita wrote from Zurich on 13th December 1933:
Your letters give me the greatest joy. How I love you, my heart. Everything is nothing where you are not, and my heart weeps for you continuously. I don't understand you at all, but myself is drowned in you and I mean that you are all for me. Keep me close. Your child misses her daddy so. (Lord Meher-p-1585-1933)
In 1934, Anita de Caro, who was living in Zurich, was there. Rano, Nonny and Ruano had been instructed to come from Paris; they stayed at the nearby Hotel Raben, since there was no room for them in the Mertenses' home. (Lord Meher-p-1622-1934)
In 1937, Anita de Caro with other close lovers from Europe were also to come and join the group at Meher Retreat in Nasik, and it was for them that Baba had proposed additional quarters to be built. (Lord Meher-p-1826-1937)
One day a Swiss man, whom Anita had told of Baba, came to meet Him. He had gone on a fast to prepare himself for the meeting, and he told Baba that he had not eaten for three days. Baba looked at him innocently, gesturing, "You must be hungry." The man was taken aback. Then Baba commented, "Spirituality is as normal and natural as that chair you are sitting on. You need not fast. Only love is important. Love Me."
Anita was an artist of some talent; she did a drawing in Cannes and showed it to Baba, who commented that it, was remarkably good. Baba then asked Rano's opinion and she said she honestly did not care for it. Baba reproached her, "How can you say you don't like it? It is so beautiful! You will never be able to draw as well as her!" Baba continued to praise Anita's talents just to annoy Rano.
For some months, Rano had been working in secret under Baba's direction on a large painting. It was later called the Ten Circles. Baba had instructed Rano to bring all her painting materials to Cannes to continue with the work on the painting which had been taken off its stretcher, rolled and packed, and brought from India. One day, when she was painting a section of it, Baba came and made some criticism of her work. Rano said in a huff, "If you like Anita's drawing so much, why don't you ask her to do this work?"
Baba did not like her remark, reprimanding her, "You are useless!
You have no sense! Your duty is to fulfill My orders!" Baba was teaching Rano to dance to His every tune — with a buttoned lip. At times, Baba would tease her, saying, "Why aren't you as good as your mother? Nonny is so sweet, why can't you be more like her?" - All as part of His work to crush her ego. (Lord Meher-p-1867/8-1937)
Baba, the mandali, Anita and others went for a drive to the town of Grasseon 5th September 1937, in Elizabeth's Ford. They saw a French film there but left halfway through it as the theater was too hot. (Lord Meher-p-1867-1937)
|Anita, Norina, Minta, Herbert and Quentin were accompanying Baba and the mandali, along with Tom Sharpley, who went as far as Dover to see them off at the ferry. Although Kitty had made all the arrangements, she remained in London to look after her father and continue her work of teaching piano(Lord Meher-p-1566-1938)
The arrangements were quite pleasant, but for some reason Baba was dissatisfied with Shelly House, his and the Eastern women's villa, Anita de Caro and others met Baba in Zurich in 1934 at Otto Haas-Heye's design school and was a friend of Anita's. (Lord Meher-p-1856-1937)
The next day, a Parisian named Roger Vieillard, 30, came to see Baba, and took Baba out for a drive along the seacoast. Vieillard was an artist and an international tennis champion, and about one of his upcoming matches, Baba remarked to him on 22 August, "Whether you win or lose, it is immaterial, because you are winning My love!" He wished to marry Anita de Caro (also an artist) and Baba approved of their engagement. Roger became devoted to the Master, and he and Anita were married a year and a half later. (Lord Meher-p-1858-1937)
In 1962, referring to a qawaali sung the day before, Baba commented, "The lover complained about separation from His Beloved. The Beloved seems very callous. The lover has to stitch up his lips. This is what happens when you get the gift of love from God! Thus, suffering is God's gift to man.
"The seventh-plane Biblical saint Zacharias sealed his lips, although he was sawed from head to toe! I am thinking of sewing you up, Anita, from head to foot to seal your lips (Lord Meher-p-4875-1962)
Margaret Craske and other came, followed by several women from Australia. After embracing all, Baba commented, "Tomorrow there will be discourses. Anita has to be serious! It is something new — about the 'Four Journeys.' (Lord Meher-p-4832-1962)
Once Baba asked Anita, "Do you want to be one with God?"
Anita replied, "I just want to see you!"
Smilingly, Baba chided her, "How can you have two things — see Me here, and see Me as I really am?" He continued:
How very complicated a simple thing has been made! I am giving you a hint. The easiest way to achieve the Goal of life is to leave all and follow Me through love. I don't mean that you should leave your house and family and come here! Don't do that! (People laughed). I mean that you be in your house and with your family, but love me as I want you to love me — love Me above all. That is the simplest way.
Another hint. A still more simple way to attain God is to obey me. Obey me implicitly. Is it possible? That is simpler than the simplest thing! Try. If you try, I will help you.
It is because of love that I have drawn you all to Me. If I did not love you, you would not come to Me or care for me. It is not your love that has brought you to Me; it is My love that has drawn you to Me. Good old Margaret (Craske) she helped two other lovers to come to Me. (Lord Meher-p-4840-1962)
Anita, can you tear yourself out of yourself?
I remember an incident when I was a boy. There were four spiritually-minded Iranis who had read in books that one must renounce one's self. They decided the best way to lose themselves was to get intoxicated on wine. They started to drink and, for them, their experiences were wonderful. Near the tavern was a bullock cart. Trying to get rid of themselves, all four pulled hard and continually at the bullock cart in an attempt to tear themselves out of their selves and thus renounce themselves. By morning they were exhausted. They had lost body-consciousness. This is how they tried to renounce their physical selves. They only had books; they had no living guide.
"How will you renounce yourself, Anita?" Baba asked.
Anita said, "Through obedience to the Perfect Master."
Once you have determined to obey, you are no longer your own. But the slightest hypocrisy spoils your determination and makes the whole thing a farce. You must be honest and sincere in your obedience to the Perfect Master. It is not that easy. Only one rare one can do that. (Lord Meher-p-4841-1962)
Baba explained, "There is nothing like space consciousness. Here is an ant on the floor. You are all sitting on the same floor. The ant crawls up your body. But its consciousness is different from yours. What is the difference?"
Anita replied, "The ant is only conscious of its crawling, I am a little conscious of this room, but you are conscious of the whole universe."
Baba continued, "There is a world of difference between My infinite consciousness and your ant-like consciousness. You are all ants before Me in My consciousness. You are all crawling on My body! Although I am sitting here in the same room with you, we are really nowhere in space, just within God — neither up nor down, neither here nor there! You are ants, big ants, and you sting Me all the time!" (Lord Meher-p-4848-1962)
Sarosh and Viloo's son, Merwan, returned from England and was to be married to Anita, his Swiss fiancée. One day, he and Sarosh came to Guruprasad, and Merwan said, "Baba, I want your blessings on my wedding day."
Baba gestured, "Granted," and instructed that after the wedding in Ahmednagar, the bride and groom, and Sarosh and Viloo should come to Guruprasad to see Him.
The wedding was held on Thursday, 27 June 1963. That day, Baba asked Eruch to phone Sarosh and find out how the preparations were going.
Irritated, Sarosh shouted over the telephone, "Tell Baba it is raining cats and dogs here! We've had to change the wedding arrangements to inside." When Eruch related this, Baba just listened and did not comment.
The next morning, the wedding party came to Guruprasad. Among those seated before Baba were Adi and Rhoda Dubash. After the usual greetings, Baba asked Viloo and Sarosh about the wedding. Viloo complained, "Baba, it rained so much!"
Baba replied, "Well, your son asked for My blessing and I gave it to him." Turning to Rhoda Dubash, He gestured towards her and said, "Ask her what happened on her wedding day."
A similar incident had happened to Rhoda at the time of her wedding in 1945 in Pakistan. She did not believe in Baba then and had issued a challenge to Him, saying in her heart: "If you are what they say you are, you will send me heaven's blessings on my wedding day!" And likewise, it had poured down rain that day. But Rhoda had never mentioned this incident or her challenge to Baba! That day in Guruprasad, when Baba addressed her, she was so taken by surprise, she could only gape. In her heart she had known it was Baba who had sent His blessings on her wedding day, but now God Himself was confirming it.
Eruch said, "Well Rhoda, what happened on your wedding day? We are waiting."
Rhoda began to narrate the story and while she was speaking, Baba interrupted to remind her, "You did not tell them that, after throwing this challenge at Me, you completely forgot about it until after the wedding," which was indeed true. (Lord Meher-p-5037/8-1963)