Avatar Meher Baba


 

The story of Meherdham begins with the life and work of Avatar Meher Baba (1894-1969). Meher Baba, whose name means "Compassionate Father", affirmed that he is the Avatar, God in human form. At critical periods of human history, the "World Teacher", or the Christ or Prophet of his time, brings a "springtide of creation" to our impoverished Earth, adapting his work and message to the specific needs of our times. Through his infinite love and dedicated service, he helps all individuals move closer to God, who dwells within each heart. His incarnation, perfectly blending full consciousness of God and man, revitalizes the principles of divine life on earth. In his latest incarnation as Avatar, Meher Baba sought to awaken humanity to Divine Love, which encompasses and lifts all other loves and strivings.

From the Encyclopedia Britannica:

Avatar Meher Baba was born February 25, 1894, in Poona, India. He was also called "The Awakener". His original name was Merwan Sheriar Irani. He was a spiritual master in western India with a sizable following both in that country and abroad. Beginning on July 10, 1925, he observed silence for the last 44 years of his life, communicating with his disciples at first through an alphabet board but increasingly with gestures.

He observed that he had come "not to teach but to awaken", adding that "things that are real are given and received in silence". He was born into a a Zoroastrian family of Persian descent. He was educated in Poona and attended Deccan College there, where at the age of 19, he met a aged Muslim woman, Hazrat Babajan, the first of five "perfect masters" (spiritually enlightened, or "God-realized", persons) who over the next seven years helped him find his own spiritual identity. That identity, Meher Baba said, was as the avatar of this age, interpreting that Vedantic term to mean the periodic incarnation of God in human form. He placed himself among such universal religious figures as Zoroaster, Rama, Krishna, Gautama Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. "I am the same Ancient One come again to your midst", he told his disciples, declaring that all major religions are revelations of "the One Reality which is God". Meher Baba's cosmology may be summarized as follows: The goal of all life is to realize the absolute oneness of God, from whom the universe emanated as a result of the whim of unconscious divinity to know itself as conscious divinity. In pursuit of consciousness, evolution of forms occurs in seven stages: Stone or metal, vegetable, worm fish, bird, animal, and human. Every individualized soul must experience all of theses forms in order to gain full consciousness. Once consciousness is attained, the burden of impressions accumulated in these forms prevents the soul from realizing its identity with God.

To gain this realization, the individual must traverse an inward spiritual path, eliminating all false impressions of individuality and eventuating in the knowledge of the "real self" as God. Meher Baba saw his work as awakening the world through love to a new consciousness of the oneness of all life. To that end, he lived a life of love and service which included extensive work with the poor, the physically and mentally ill, and many others, performing such tasks as feeding the poor, cleaning the latrines of untouchables, and bathing lepers. These outward activities Meher Baba saw as indications of the inner transformation of consciousness that he came to give the world. He established and later dismantled many institutions of service, which he compared to scaffolding temporarily erected to construct a building that really was within the human heart.

He said that a "new humanity" would emerge from his life's work, and that he would bring about an unprecedented release of diving love in the world. Between 1931 and 1958 he mad many visits to the United States and Europe, on one such trip in 1952 establishing the Meher Spiritual Center in Myrtle Beach, SC. A similar centre, Avatar's Abode, was created at Woomby, Queensland, Australia, in 1958. From the mid-1960s Meher Baba was in seclusion, and during that period several U. S. drug experimenters were drawn to him in a quest for spiritual truth. Through them, his admonitions the non-medical use of psychedelic and other drugs came to the attention of the news media in the U. S. and West. He warned young people explicitly that "drugs are harmful mentally, physically, and spiritually",---trying to draw them away from drugs and toward a spiritual life.

Meher Baba never sought to form a sect of proclaim a dogma; he attracted and welcomed followers of many faiths and every social class with a message emphasizing love and compassion, the elimination of the selfish ego, and the potential of realizing God within themselves. Although his equation of the several manifestations of God was syncretic, he won many followers from sects and denominations that repudiated the syncretism, and encouraged those follower s to be strong in their original faiths. After his death, his followers heeded his wish that they not form an organization, but continued to gather informally and often to discuss and read his works and express through music, poetry, dance, or drama their reflections on his life.

His tomb at Meherabad, near Ahmednagar, has become a place of pilgrimage for his followers throughout the world. His books include Discourses (5 vol. 1938-43; the earliest dictated on and alphabet board, the others by gesture). God Speaks: The Theme of Creation and Its Purposes (1955), and The Everything and the Nothing (1963).

Copyright 1994-2004 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.

More information about Meher Baba, his work and messages, books and centers is available through these links.

 

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