SIR MIRZA ISMAIL
Sir Mirza Ismail was Dewan of Mysore state. He arranged the sale of farmers land for present MSUBC and helped to get Byramangla centre established as per Baba’s wish.
Events unfolded with Mirza Ismail were as under:
When Meher Baba was in Mysore in 1936, He had come into contact with Sir Mirza Ismail, 55, the Dewan (Chief Minister) of Mysore state and Subrahmanya Iyer another influential individual. They were now asked by letter to find a suitable spot where Baba could establish a center or ashram. Their reply was received in Panchgani assuring Baba of their cooperation, and a few weeks later Chanji and Pendu were sent to Bangalore, where Chanji met Sir Mirza (on 17 April 1938).
Upon receiving the Dewan's letter that a site had been selected, Baba expressed a desire to visit the place, which surprised Norina and Elizabeth as they never expected Baba to establish a center so far from Meherabad. They hoped Baba would change His mind, as He so often did.
Mentioning this very trait of His, Baba observed, "It is one of the great wonders of the world that those who apparently make the most changes, are the most unchanged or unchangeable!
On 15th April 1938, Chanji and Pendu had been sent by Baba to Bangalore, Mysore and Madras to discuss with the Dewan, Sir Mirza Ismail, and the possibility of opening a center in Bangalore. After meeting with Sir Mirza, they returned to Panchgani on the 22nd. Hearing their report, Baba expressed His desire to personally confer with Ismail and inspect the possible sites. He left Panchgani the following afternoon in Elizabeth's car with Norina, Chanji and Pendu. They drove to the Poona railway station and boarded the evening train for Bangalore. They arrived on the evening of 24th April 1938, and just as they stepped off the train, Nature greeted Baba with a heavy shower of rain.1916-1939
The group left Sholapur 9th August 1939 in the morning and reached Bangalore four days later on 12 August in the evening via Satara, Kolhapur and Harihar The next day, Sir Mirza Ismail suggested that Baba establish His ashram in Bangalore. If Baba chose to do so, he said, Sir Mirza would donate a piece of land for the ashram. He immediately took Baba to a parcel of land at Byramangala, 22 miles from Bangalore, and Baba, after seeing the place, which he liked very much, accepted his offer. The Links bungalow, owned by Ismail's brother on Sankey Road, High ground, in Bangalore was rented and Baba and the women moved into it on the 14th.
After seeing the Byramangala land, Norina became completely involved in setting up plans for the ashram. On the evening of 19th August 1939, Sir Mirza came to the Links and sat on the floor before Baba. Baba sent for Norina to come at once. At the time, Norina was in the midst of sweeping her room. When she received Baba's message, she ran to Him with a broom in one hand and a bucket in the other, wearing an old, tattered dress. She felt awkward and embarrassed when she saw the Dewan and Baba said, "Meet Princess Norina Matchabelli." She felt hurt that Baba had not warned her to clean up.
Sir Ismail, on the contrary, was impressed at the sight of someone of Norina's stature carrying a broom! He remarked to Baba, "Your love is wonderful! An educated Western woman from a wealthy background doing this sort of work? Marvelous! She could engage dozens of servants, but it is your love that makes her sweep her own quarters. It is her luck to wield a broom in your court!" Tears welled up in Norina's eyes on hearing this, and wiped out the hurt she had felt.
After Baba's arrival in Bangalore, His attention focused on two things: his mast work and the establishment of a Universal Spiritual Center. As mentioned, the site for the center was selected at Byramangala, 22 miles from Bangalore and three miles from the Bidadi railway station. More than 560 acres of land were purchased, and plans for erecting nine separate structures were drawn up, containing 350 rooms. A committee consisting of Norina, Elizabeth, Pappa Jessawala, Adi Sr., Ramjoo, Chanji and Jal Kerawalla was formed to oversee the financial and other aspects of the center.
The foundation-laying ceremony was initially fixed for the 25th of October. But the local farmers requested that the ceremony be held after harvesting the crops on the Byramangala property, even though the property no longer belonged to them. October 25th was also the day of convocation at Mysore University, with which some of Baba's followers were involved. Therefore, the ceremony was postponed until the middle of December. The land had belonged to about 40 farmers and the government, and its purchase had been greatly facilitated and quickened through the influence of Dewan Mirza Ismail.