(JIJABAI MOTHER OF SHIVAJI & GULMAI MOTHER OF ADI K. IRANI)
Meher Baba said, “Adi K. Irani’s mother Gulmai was Shivaji’s mother-Jijabai. It is noteworthy that most of persons closely connected with Shivaji have now taken birth, at the time of beloved Baba’s advent and came in close contact with Him. Biography in brief for Jijabai and Gulmai are written as under:
Jijabai-mother of Shivaji
Jijabai, born on January 12, 1598 was a daughter of Lakhojirao Jadhavar in present-day Sindkhed Raja Buldhana district of Maharashtra State. As per the customs of that age, she was wed at an early age to Shahaji Raje Bhonsle, a nobleman and military commander under the Adil Shahi sultans of Bijapur Sultanate in present-day Karnataka. She was his first wife. Jijabai gave birth to eight children, six daughters and two sons. All the daughters died in infancy and only the sons Sambhaji and Shivaji grew to adulthood.
She wholeheartedly supported her husband's cause. Shahaji had tried to establish a state on the ruins of the erstwhile Nizamshahi sultanate. However he was defeated by the combined forces of the Mughals and Adilshahi. Shahaji became a sardar in Adilshah's army. He settled in Karnataka and got married again. As per the treaty he was forced to move south. In order to continue the struggle, he deputed her as queen regent.
The elder son Sambhaji remained with his father. Shivaji left Bangalore along with his mother, a council of ministers and chosen military commanders. When they arrived in Pune it was full of jungles and wild beasts. She encouraged cultivators to settle. She renovated the Kasaba Ganapati temple. A red sandstone palace of moderate size known as Lal Mahal was also built. She gave a number of decisions in legal and administrative matter known as majhars.
Jijabai was a very pious and intelligent woman with great vision for independent kingdom. She inspired Shivaji by telling stories from Ramayana, Mahabharata and Balaraja. Inspired by her, Shivaji took the Oath of Independence (Swarajya) in the fort temple of lord Raireshwar in 1645 when he was 17. In Shivaji's impeccable, spotless character and courage, Jijabai's contribution is enormous.
Jijabai's elder son Sambhaji was killed while on a military expedition in Karnataka by Afzal Khan. When Shahaji died, Jijabai wanted to commit sati - burning oneself in the husband's pyre, but Shivaji stopped her from doing so by his request. Jijabai is widely credited with raising Shivaji in a manner that led to his future greatness. She died soon after coronation of Shivaji on June 17, 1674. Shivaji was heartbroken by her death.
Gulmai K. Irani (mother of Adi K. Irani)
Adi and Rustom’s mother was Meher Baba’s Spiritual mother. Before she accepted Baba and devoted herself in his service, she followed Upasani Maharaj, who directed her to Baba.
Gulmai presented Baba with a pair of sandals specially stitched by a cobbler in Ahmednagar named Kanhoba Rao Gadekar. Baba accepted them with deep appreciation, immediately putting them on. From that day on, he wore no other sandals for years. If any repairs were needed he would call Kanhoba to do them. These chappals along with Yeshwant Rao's kamli coat were the two chief articles of Baba's attire. He would not stop using them despite the mandali's efforts to persuade him to accept new ones. He would care for them as if they were the most precious items in his possession.
Meher Baba wore white Sadra presented by Gulmai for the first time and this became his regular dress from that day.
Since 1919, Gulmai had been a regular visitor to Upasni Maharaj's headquarters at Sakori, where she had met and talked with Meher Baba many times. Gulmai and her husband Kaikhushru, 42, had two sons named Rustom, 20, and Adi, 16, and two daughters Piroja, 14, and Dolly, 7. Adi had seen Baba at Sakori one time on 27 December 1919, when he had visited his mother there. Adi was studying at a Parsi boarding school at Panchgani. He had come to Sakori only at his mother's insistence as her escort, but when he saw Maharaj, he spontaneously fell at his feet.
Maharaj told them, "I have poured my entire spirituality into Merwan. You must stick with him through thick and thin. I am now an empty vessel."
Gulmai's contact with Meher Baba increased during 1920, as she came to Sakori more frequently. In December 1920, Baba asked her if she would like to accompany him to Nasik. She agreed and returned to Ahmednagar to prepare for the trip. After a few days, Baba showed up at her home in Ahmednagar and was welcomed to stay the night. That evening a singer was called to entertain him.
In 1920, Baba commented to Gulmai's husband Kaikhushru that he would one day become Khansaheb (an honorary title conferred by the British). Kaikhushru took it as a joke. Baba repeated his prediction in all seriousness, and a year later the distinguished title was conferred upon Kaikhushru.
To Gulmai, Baba remarked, "You will be like Babajan." Gulmai doubted that she would ever be on the same level as Hazrat Babajan and said so. Turning to Babu Cyclewalla, who was seated beside him, Baba pointed to Gulmai, and repeated emphatically, "It is a fact. You are like Babajan!"
Baba and Gustadji traveled from Nasik to Ahmednagar. They stayed at Gulmai's home, and on the next day Baba asked her to accompany him to Sakori for a week until the Hindu festival of Sankrant. She agreed. At Sakori, Baba showed Gulmai the room that Upasni Maharaj had designated for him, saying she could keep her luggage there. The room had not been swept, and Gulmai cleaned it with his permission. Afterward she went to visit Durgabai.
Gulmai and her family were living in the Parsi dharamshala in Shani Gulli, Ahmednagar, and during 1921, her husband Khansaheb had built a new house next door, which he named Sarosh Manzil. Gulmai desired that Upasni Maharaj should come and inaugurate the house before they moved in, but her orthodox relatives were averse to the idea of a Hindu opening the house. Hence, the ceremony was performed according to the Zoroastrian religion. A local Mohammedan saint named Gilori Shah was called to perform the inauguration and the poor were fed. All of their furniture was shifted there, but Gulmai was adamant that she would not stay in the new house until Upasni Maharaj himself came and performed the housewarming ceremony.
Several months passed. But when Gulmai went to Sakori and invited Upasni Maharaj, he instructed, "Make a seat for Me and place My photograph on it. This will be tantamount to My coming in person." Gulmai was not satisfied and requested that Maharaj come himself.
On this occasion, Gulmai wished to offer Maharaj a small amount of money she had saved from her household budget. She placed the packet at Maharaj's feet. He did not touch it, but instead beckoned for Baba and told Gulmai, "This is My boy, Merwan. He is very good. He looks after My needs. You may give the money to Him and He will do what is needed with it." So Gulmai gave Baba the packet.
Afterward Baba met in private with Gulmai and Khansaheb and told them, "Whatever Maharaj does is for the ultimate good. He has been perfected; he has the consciousness of God. Maharaj's mind is universal. You must try to help his work. You have come in his contact due to your past connections with him. "You have been to Sakori; there is no lodging in the village. Those who go there find it difficult to stay. There is a need for a few rooms to be constructed for people to take rest, if the money can somehow be raised."
Gulmai asked how much money, and Baba replied, "Two, maybe four thousand rupees." Gulmai discussed the matter with her husband, and Khansaheb agreed to help.
Another day, Baba called Gulmai and her husband to Upasni Maharaj's room, where he suggested that, in honor of the Master, a day be set aside to celebrate. The idea was discussed and Baba suggested that it be on Maharaj's birthday in May at Sakori. "I will let you know how much money to collect," Baba said, "and everything will be done by you."
Before leaving on the eighth day, Upasni Maharaj went around the old and new house, in each and every room, and instructed Gulmai to sprinkle water from the pot placed in his room in both houses. He then said, "Place the pictures of all gods in this (Maharaj's) room. Do not place anything else there. Keep it as a prayer room."
During March 1922, Gulmai returned from Ahmednagar for Baba's darshan. Outside the hut, Baba presented her with a photograph of himself and declared in the presence of all, "Gulmai's connection with Me is very old. She is My spiritual mother." Tears of joy welled up in Gulmai's eyes. Then he asked her, "I want a promise from you today. Will you give it?"
Gulmai replied, "I would offer my very life to you."
Pleased, Baba then said, "Give me your son, Adi, and your daughter, Dolly. I want them free for My own purposes. Fulfil your parental responsibility by arranging (your other son) Rustom's marriage soon. Later arrange (your daughter) Piroja's marriage."
In 1923, one day Pilamai and Gulmai were sitting near Meher Baba, and He requested Gulmai to sit closer, saying, “I have something, I want you to understand. Every Sadguru has a spiritual mother; Durgabai is Maharaj’s. Narayan Maharaj and Tajuddin Baba have also one. 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 since may life times. I am telling you the fact that I am your
son; and I am your brother, Pilamai. You are most fortunate women.
Gulmai accepted his wish and, without consulting her husband, Kaikhushru, she gave her promise that Adi and Dolly belonged to him. She could not deny his request. The spiritual mother is she who does not care what others do or say, and never hesitates in fulfilling the Beloved's slightest wish. Because of her love for Baba, Gulmai's relatives were to harass her terribly, but she always remained staunch in her faith in Baba.
In August 1962, Gulmai's ill condition, due to kidney disease, worsened. While at Meherabad on 6 August, Baba informed Padri to be prepared for Gulmai's burial on the hill, as she would be dying shortly. On the evening of the 8th, Gulmai's condition became serious, and Adi sent Sarosh to Meherazad to inform Baba. Baba instructed Sarosh that when Gulmai passed away, he should be informed and her body removed to Meherabad Hill, where her coffin would be lowered into the grave in his presence.
On the morning of 9 August, Baba unexpectedly asked to be driven to Khushru Quarters to see Gulmai. Although she had ceased to recognize anyone and was almost in an unconscious state, she opened her eyes and her face brightened when she saw Baba. She caressed his face and managed to utter, "Ba ... ba." After kissing her on the forehead and embracing her, Baba returned to Meherazad. Eruch sent Adi this note: "Baba wants you to be happy and feel happy, for Gulmai is and will ever be HAPPY."
The next day, taking a critical turn for the worse, Gulmai was unable to speak and suffered spells of unconsciousness. Even so, with great difficulty she was moving her lips and repeating Baba's name. At midnight, she startled from a coma-like sleep and loudly called out Baba's name. With all her strength, she continued this for a few minutes without pause. While uttering Baba's name, Gulmai merged in him forever at the age of 78.
Gulmai's body was taken to Meherabad in the early hours of Saturday, 11 August 1962. Baba came at ten o'clock, and Adi and Padri met him at lower Meherabad. Baba went up the hill and sat under the Tin Shed near Gulmai's body. He then instructed that the coffin be lowered into the grave, without the top portion of it. After this was done, Baba came near and performed the last rites by placing flowers on Gulmai's forehead and body while Kaikobad offered prayers. The coffin lid was then secured into place. Thus Baba's spiritual mother Gulmai came to rest in Meherabad, the place she herself had been so instrumental in laying at his feet.
Baba remarked to Adi, "She is very fortunate that I was present at her burial." Gulmai was, in fact, the first person to be buried on Meherabad Hill.
She and her husband, Kaikhushru (Khansaheb), were the ones who gifted Baba the land in Arangaon which became Meherabad.