BIOGRAPHIES

VASANT DESHMUKH

(Brother of Chhagan)

Baba introduced Vasant Deshmukh and stated, "Here is Sakori's high priest. But even his priesthood will not save Me from violent death."

The procession halted in front of Upasni Maharaj's old temple. Chhagan's brother Vasant Deshmukh, the chief priest of Sakori, garlanded Baba and offered a coconut to him. Another coconut, which Baba touched, was broken and its water strewn on the road, sanctifying the area. Kirtans were lovingly and vigorously being chanted. Baba took a pair of finger-cymbals from one of the kirtan singers and played it for a short time, while sitting in the car.

In 1954, Baba entered Upasni Maharaj's hut, where a number of men and women had already gathered and were singing devotional songs. Baba sat down on a cushion on the stone flooring. One of Maharaj's devotees said a few words in Marathi welcoming Baba's visit, and Vasant then entertained Baba with his combined singing and humorous gesturing, which made Baba laugh very much.

In 1956, Baba reached Sakori, the residents of the ashram and His lovers received Him a few hundred yards away. Wagh, the manager of the ashram, garlanded him even before he could get out of the car. Baba was taken in a procession with music and singing. In the vanguard was a beautifully decorated white horse (symbolic of Kalki, the Avataric incarnation in the Kali Yuga). When Baba came to the temple, the high priest, Vasant Deshmukh (Chhagan's brother), performed puja. Baba's car slowly advanced toward Yeshwant Rao's newly-constructed residence. Baba stepped out of the car, and Godavri garlanded him and laid her head on his feet. The rest of the kanyas (nuns) followed suit.

 

SONI BACHOOBHAI  JAIRAM

In 1932, Baba visited the port of Navsari. Later that day, Baba had a meeting with everyone in the Desai family. Like so many others in Navsari, Ader Ardeshir came to Sohrabji's house with a young singer named Bachoobhai Jairam Soni, who sang a few bhajans. Bachoobhai was destined to become a lifelong lover of Meher Baba.  Keki.

The public darshan held  in Ashiyana  Bombay on 14 th  August 1955.  Almost 800 people attended. Soni of Navsari each entertained Baba with a song

 

SOHRAB BAMJI

Army Major

1n 1956, Baba travelled to Navsari. Coming to know of his visit to Navsari, some of Baba's "adversaries" from Bombay, (organized by an army major named Sohrab Bamji) had already come to town, held a meeting and decided to organize a boycott of Meher Baba's visit. Hoshang Bharucha's mother was also sympathetic to them and forbade Hoshang from inviting Baba to their home. Such activities led the organizers of the darshan to surmise that Baba's visit would be totally boycotted by the local populace. Lovers such as Hoshang, Cowas Vesuna, Nagindas V. Lapsiwala, Thakorlal G. Gandhi, Bachoobhai Soni, Ader Desai, and the rest of the Desai family were afraid that Baba's reception by the town would be less than cordial.

 NUSSERWAN BHARUCHA

Nusserwan Bharucha of Sakori was sitting with his feet drawn up, and Baba looked at him and said, "Don't feel reserved. Stretch out your legs if you aren't comfortable. You should be at ease and sit comfortably. I am everywhere, and you should not feel shy!" While speaking this, Eruch inadvertently) used the word old in reference to Bharucha (saying, "Old people should be at ease ...") and thereupon, Baba remarked, "He is not old; he is young!" He asked Bharucha, "Are you old?" and Bharucha replied, "No, Baba!" The gathering burst out laughing, as Bharucha was quite advanced in age. Baba twisted Eruch's ear for the mistake amidst further laughter.

Nusserwanji Bharucha was again brought before Baba on the 12th and 13th of June, as his peculiar behavior had continued. Baba told him, "Although your outbursts have nothing to do with spirituality, since you are sincere, have suffered, and long for the Truth, I will see to your spiritual advancement. Meanwhile, contain yourself. Otherwise, you make others unhappy, while to 'make others happy' is the chief point of the teachings of all great Masters, including Zoroaster himself."

Nusserwan Bharucha of Sakori was sitting with his feet drawn up, and Baba looked at him and said, "Don't feel reserved. Stretch out your legs if you aren't comfortable. You should be at ease and sit comfortably. I am everywhere, and you should not feel shy!" While speaking this, Eruch inadvertently used the word old in reference to Bharucha (saying, "Old people should be at ease ...") and thereupon, Baba remarked, "He is not old; he is young!" He asked Bharucha, "Are you old?" and Bharucha replied, "No, Baba!" The gathering burst out laughing, as Bharucha was quite advanced in age. Baba twisted Eruch's ear for the mistake amidst further laughter.

From there Baba proceeded to Nusserwan Bharucha's quarters. Bharucha was suffering from rheumatism and had been eagerly awaiting Baba's arrival. As soon as Baba entered his room, Bharucha embraced him and burst into tears. He took Baba to his prayer room, where he showed Baba a copy of God Speaks. He told Baba, "Although I read the book, I forget what I have read." Touching the book, Baba advised, "Read it again and again. You will be able to read it through now that I have touched it."

Sitting on his bed, Baba remarked to him, "It is rare that I sit on anyone's bed. How lucky you are that I have sat on yours. You should not worry about anything."

Bharucha replied, "Baba, I have surrendered my body to Upasni Maharaj, and so for me there is nothing to worry about."

 

MINOO BHARUCHA & AIMAI

A Parsi named Minoo Bharucha had come into contact with Baba during his stay in Nasik in the thirties. After this, Minoo had gone to Sakori, where he had Upasni Maharaj's darshan. He became very devoted to Maharaj, who would sometimes visit his home when he came to Nasik. Ramjoo and Minoo had gone together to Sakori for the funeral. After a few days Minoo and his wife Aimai (who once was a kanya at Sakori) were called to meet Baba at Meherabad.

Sitting outside the gate at Upper Meherabad, Baba assured Minoo, "There is not the slightest difference between Maharaj and myself."

Feeling comforted by this, Minoo asked, "Who will take Maharaj's place [as one of the five Perfect Masters]?"

"A man living near Tibet," Baba answered.

 

MARZBAN BHARUCHA

(Brother of Hoshang Bharucha)

As suggested by Adi, Baba agreed for darshan program at Khushru Quarters before He left for Guruprasad. The darshan was scheduled to take place on 6 March 1960 and a shamiana was erected in the compound. The Navsari group came for this, and Baba called them to Meherazad the day before. Many newcomers were in the group. Hoshang Bharucha's brother Marzban was among them and Baba asked him, "What do you think I am?"

Marzban, who was not a Baba lover, replied bluntly, "A crook!"

Baba smiled and replied, "I am God, a crook and everything [in between]. I am glad you have given me your frank opinion.

"Do you love Me?" Baba then asked.

"I do not know what love is," Marzban replied. But soon after this, he began to weep and did not want to leave Baba's side. Baba called him and embraced him several times. Marzban was a changed man from that day on and became an ardent lover.

 

JERBAI DASUR

W/o Kaikobad Feram Dastur (Close disciple)

Kaikobad and his family arrived in Meherabad on the night of the 31st and remained for the rest of their lives. Kaikobad's wife, Jerbai, 46, and their three daughters, Meheru, 23, Gulu, 21, and Jalu, 18, were kept with the other women on Meherabad Hill, and Kaikobad stayed in lower Meherabad, in a small cottage that was built for him (on the spot of the old Bathroom Building). His son, Ratan, stayed in Ahmednagar and was given a job at the Sarosh Cinema operating the film projector.

Jerbai’s eldest daughter, Meheru, died on Meherabad Hill after suffering very severe burns in a cooking fire accident. She was 44. While dying, Baba's name was continuously on her lips. Baba remarked, "Meheru has come to me and is freed forever from the rounds of births and deaths."

Kaikobad was in Meherazad and did not go to Meherabad. So Baba sent Eruch to console his family. Kaikobad's wife, Jerbai, was elated that Kaikobad had not come. Jerbai said, "I was afraid he would leave Baba's work to come. I am glad that he didn't. Why should we worry when Meheru has gone to Baba?" This is an example of how Baba's Love and Truth lived in his close lovers. Neither parent was saddened by the passing of their daughter.

Meheru was buried on Meherabad Hill on 28 February, and afterwards, on 1st March, Baba called Jerbai, her two other daughters, Gulu and Jalu, and their brother Ratan, to Meherazad. Mansari accompanied them. Baba assured Jerbai, "Your faith and courage have made me very happy." The mandali too were impressed by Jerbai's surrenderance to Baba's will.

The family told Baba, "Meheru actually saw your physical presence by her bedside before her death, and you called out to us, telling us that you had been with her and that she would now go to you!

KANDAWALA

On 23rd November at 12:30 P.M., the ship passed Dwarka and, at 4:30 P.M., it docked at Porbandar. A Parsi named Kandawala, who was an acquaintance of Baily's, was also on board and casually began questioning the mandali about themselves, to which they replied as best they could. But a month later, they found out Kandawala had published distorted and misleading accounts in various Parsi newspapers, to the effect that when he was engaged in talking with his disciples, Meher Baba was taking down notes. Actually, the Master was engaged in writing instructions for the mandali to follow later on and was dictating a few points for correspondence

 

DESAI MUNCHERJI  SOHRABJI

(Soma Desai)

While staying at Manzil-e-Meem, Baily completed the first part of his Gujarati account of Upasni Maharaj's life, and was almost halfway through the second part, when Baba said the first part should be published soon.

Baba opined that the manuscript should be edited first, and he suggested Soma Desai of Navsari. Soma Desai was the nom de plume of Sohrab Muncherji Desai, a well-known Gujarati author and scholar. Years before, during 1917, Merwan had sent a ghazal to Desai. Sohrabji was so inspired by this particular ghazal that he would read it often, and he ardently wished to meet its author. But he did not have the slightest idea who had written it; he had never heard of any writer named Huma.

Baily doubted that Desai would consent to such an undertaking, but Baba ordered him to leave for Navsari that evening.

There are two versions of what transpired in Navsari. One version (often repeated by Sohrabji's relatives) is that Baily duly informed Sohrabji that he had been sent by Meher Baba with the order that he should do the final editing of the manuscript. Sohrabji was irritated at this and demanded, "Who is this Meher Baba to order me to edit his work? I am no one's servant. Besides, I have no time for such work. Tell Meher Baba I cannot help him."

Baily tried his utmost to induce him to assist, but Sohrabji was obstinate and returned the manuscript. Baily returned to Bombay and informed Baba.

After a few days, Baily was sent again with this message: "Sohrabji, only you can do this work; it is Meher Baba's wish." When Baily delivered these words to him at Navsari, Sohrabji was all the more annoyed. He said, "Who does Meher Baba think he is? Tell him not to be so arrogant!" Baily did his best to elucidate about Baba, but Sohrabji refused to listen.

On his return, Baily narrated what had happened, and again Baba sent Baily and perhaps Rustom with the manuscript and this third message: "These manuscripts of Upasni Maharaj's biography are presented to you by Huma, which is Meher Baba's pen name. This work must be done by you." Baba had told them to leave the manuscript there and not to say anything else.

When Sohrabji saw Baily and Rustom again at his doorstep, he shouted, "Why have you come back to pester me?" But without giving him any further chance to protest, they delivered Baba's message, left the manuscript there and departed for Bombay. (They had no idea that for the past five years, Sohrabji had longed to meet the poet Huma.) Hearing the name Huma had a profound effect upon Sohrabji and he immediately calmed. He read the ghazal by Huma again. Tears came to his eyes and he touched his forehead to the manuscript papers in reverence.

Shortly thereafter, he wrote to Baba:

Sir, please excuse me. I bow down to your order. You had stolen my heart long ago, but only today is the secret of your identity revealed! Your leela is unique. I am yours!

— Sohrabji —

Years later, however, Baily wrote a different version of his first meeting with Soma Desai, in which he related that he was given a cordial welcome by Sohrabji. "There was something so pure about Soma's personality," Baily wrote, "that anybody would be attracted at first sight itself. Full of simplicity and humility, ready to serve others as if serving God, treating everyone as equal irrespective of caste, color or creed — a real man of God."

According to Baily, Sohrabji expressed his inability to take on such work as he had two pending books of his own to finish. Apologizing sincerely, he returned the manuscript to Baily without even opening it. He said, "Other than this seva (service), if I can do anything, I am willing to do so. My respects to Babashree from myself and my entire family.

I am desirous of his darshan and in future if there is any chance, I beg him to give me his darshan."

Baily returned to Bombay and gave a detailed account of his meeting to Baba. Baba told him to rest — and then return to Navsari and make the request to Desai again.

According to Baily, before he departed, Baba gave Baily a photograph of himself and said, "Give this to Desaiji as my gift and ask him to remember me continuously. He should not be in the least anxious or worried about anything, leaving everything to me and be resigned to me."

Along with the photo, Baba gave Baily instructions of what to say to Sohrabji regarding the work, saying with emphasis that corrections, editing and so forth were essential, and that the task was to be accomplished by Sohrabji alone. Under any and all conditions and circumstances, Baba emphasized, he wanted the work completed. Not only that, but Baba wanted Desai to arrange the proofreading, binding, printing and publishing of both volumes of the book!

When Baily presented Baba's photograph to Sohrabji, a profound change came over him. "For a few moments, he kept staring at Baba's photo. Then, slowly lifting it in both hands, he pressed it to his spectacles and forehead and finally flooded it with kisses. In a voice charged with emotion, he said, 'I wonder why I so strongly and intuitively feel deep within me that I have known Babashree for a very long time, that I have already been introduced to him and that we have an old contact or connection.' "

He agreed to do as "Babashree" requested.

Sohrabji began editing the work, during the course of which he had various spiritual experiences. He would write to Baba about some clarification in the manuscript, and no sooner had his letter been posted than Baba's letter containing the answer to his questions would arrive that very day! Rustom was sent to Navsari many times over the course of the next year in this connection.

In fact, Baba even wrote Sohrabji Desai to find someone who could render some of the biographical material into English, as Baba had plans "to circulate the book in Europe and America, especially the latter country, which is so very eager to know something more about spiritualism."

Baba also wished Upasni Maharaj's biography to be published in Urdu as well as in Marathi.

On 20 April 1924, Gulmai and Rustom arrived at four in the afternoon with special food for Baba. They brought a copy of the Iranian Association's journal Ahkbar, in which a critical review of Upasni Maharaj's Gujarati biography appeared. Sohrabji Desai had written an article in the same newspaper stating that he had met Meher Baba and fully believed that he was "the coming of the Jagat Guru [Master of the universe; the Avatar]!"

Sohrabji Desai had spoken to the Master about his friend Kaikobad Feram Dastur, and Baba assured him that Kaikobad would eventually come to him. Kaikobad was then 38 years old and a practicing Parsi priest. At Sohrabji's urging, on 14 May, Kaikobad came from Navsari for Baba's darshan. Adi Sr. met him at the station and drove him to Meherabad. After the bitter opposition Baba faced from the Zoroastrian community and in the Gujarati press, the mandali were eager to welcome such a pious and genuine Parsi spiritual seeker into their fold.

During the personal interview, Baba explained to Kaikobad about the four states of God and four types of faith. "If you follow my instructions to the letter," Baba promised him, "you will not only understand what I am saying theoretically, but actually see certain things." Kaikobad was deeply impressed. Noticing that Kaikobad's leg was injured, Baba examined it. He advised him to apply ash from the dhuni to the wound, and gave him some for this purpose. After staying overnight in Masaji's quarters at the Post Office, Kaikobad returned to Navsari the next evening. From that time on, he visited Baba at Meherabad frequently.

A small group of the Desai family met them at the train station and Baba embraced each one. He was taken to the Desai residence, where the rest of the family stood in line to meet him. Baba asked about Sohrabji, the famous elderly writer Soma Desai, who was critically ill. Baba was taken to his room before doing anything else. Baba comforted the old man and embraced him. Standing before Sohrabji, it was as if Baba had dropped a veil over the closing act of that life.

During his stay in Nagpur, Baba frequently sent Kaka to the railway station to bring any telegrams that might have been received for him, presumably expecting one from Navsari regarding Sohrabji. Baba was thus remembering the dear old man in his dying moments, and thereby enabling him to drink Wine. Minoo and Bapai's wedding was performed in Navsari on the 27th. The couple then went to Sohrabji for his blessings, which he gave. Twenty minutes later, he had a vision and saw Baba in a glorious form standing before him; then he merged with his vision! Baba had kept Sohrabji alive for this wedding, and as soon as it was over, he drowned him in his ocean of love and infinitude!

Baba received news of Sohrabji's passing the next day. As the telegram was being read out, Baba happily remarked, "Isn't that good? Well done!" as if congratulating himself. He had this message sent to the family: "Sohrabji has come to me and is happy."

As mentioned, Soma Desai was an eminent figure in Gujarati literature. He was the author of 100 books and a noteworthy contributor of articles and essays on spirituality to journals, newspapers and periodicals.