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Meher Baba in Hawaii

 

Meher Baba visited the Hawaiian Islands on four occasions: 1932, 1935, 1956 and 1958. Each time, Hawaii was a stopover on the four around-the-world trips he took in his lifetime. The 1932 trip was the most extensive, when Meher Baba in his typical fast-paced manner spent two and a half very busy days on Oahu. After that first trip, Meher Baba happily told his women disciples in India how "picturesque" Hawaii was and "how lovely" the palm trees were. In the midst of Meher Baba's work for creation, he had a moment to relax and enjoy the beauty of Oahu.

Here we have provided details on each of Meher Baba's Hawaiian visits. We also have provided some helpful information for Meherdham visitors who may wish to see "the Baba places" on Honolulu.

Besides his four stops in Hawaii, Meher Baba proposed an additional trip for 1941, and although he did not come, in retrospect his focus on Hawaii at this time seems to have historical significance.

The first visit, June 9 to June 11, 1932

To those of us who live, or have lived in the Islands, it has always been very happy news to know that Meher Baba has graced these shores. We knew that he had stayed at the Moana Hotel in Waikiki and thought that he had visited the aquarium and perhaps the zoo, but had few other details. Since the Moana Hotel is still in business, Baba lover, Stan Alapa, had even gone to great extents to learn what room Baba had stayed in. But no records have ever been found.

It wasn't until Volume 5 of Lord Meher was published that we Baba lovers in Hawaii gained a solid list of details. In this issue, on pages 1668 and 1669, glorious facts about dates, times and itinerary are given.

We learned that Meher Baba arrived in Honolulu on Thursday, June 9th, 1932 at eight in the morning aboard the Monterey, four days out of Los Angeles on its maiden voyage. With Baba were Quentin Todd, Chanji, Kaka, brothers Adi Jr. and Beheram, and a boy named Carl Phillips

Carl Phillips had been selected as the prospective "suitable" boy to take on the trip to China and shared the ship cabin with Baba. He is described as "disobedient and self-indulgent", however, and as he "proved a veritable nuisance," it was decided to send him back at the first opportunity.

Baba had also called Rustom Irani from China to meet him in Honolulu, so Rustom was waiting at the dock. Baba met with him privately and sent him on to Australia that same day aboard the Monterey (thereby forging links with Australia for the future.)

During their stay in Honolulu, Baba and the group stayed at the Moana Hotel located on the most famous stretch of beach in Waikiki. Following their arrival, after resting for two hours, they walked to a "coconut grove in the gardens of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel which was next to the Moana and saw a splendid performance by native Hawaiian dancers and singers." Afterward, they drove across the middle of the island through the pineapple groves and stopped to drink "copious amounts of pineapple juice." That evening, following dinner, they attended a movie at the Empire cinema.

The next day, on Friday, Baba "went for another drive in the afternoon through Honolulu to the Nuimalu Hotel and later to view a large fish aquarium." That evening then went to see a play.

On Saturday, their last day, Baba, Chanji and Todd went to have breakfast at "Mrs. Walter Dillingham's villa, La Pietra, on a hill near the area called Diamond Head. They arrived at 7:45 am. and left at 9:00 am. to take Carl and Quentin Todd, who were returning to Los Angeles, to their ship.

Baba, Chanji, Kaka, Adi Jr., and Beheram left for China on Saturday, June 11th at noon, traveling on the Empress of Japan.

The Second Visit, January, 1935

On October 18, 1934, Meher Baba departed for the west for the eighth time in three years. He said that a primary purpose of his visit was to help disciples he had entrusted with producing a commercial feature film based on spiritual principles. After intensive working on this film project and conducting interviews in Hollywood, Meher Baba suddenly announced his work necessitated his returning to India. Although his western devotees in California were heartbroken at the news of an unexpected separation, on January 7, Baba departed by rail for Vancouver, Canada, stopping briefly in San Francisco and passing though Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. Accompanied by his disciples Chanji, Kaka, Adi Senior, bother Jal, and a cocker spaniel named "chummy", Baba embarked for Hawaii from Vancouver on January 12 at 10 a.m., aboard the Empress of Canada. On January 17, Baba mailed letters to his "Lovers left in America" from Honolulu before continuing on to Asia. *

The Proposed Visit, December, 1941

In the fall of 1941, prior to the U.S. entry into World War II, Meher Baba indicated that his work required him to cross the seas and visit America again. After sending communique to his American disciples regarding the proposed trip, he cabled to them:

MYSELF AND UPASNI (his master) MET AFTER 23 YEARS AND MOMENTOUS SPIRITUAL DECISIONS NECESSITATE CROSSING OCEAN MIDDLE OF DECEMBER LATEST, FUNDS INSUFFICIENT MUST CANCEL AMERICA. THEREFORE DEFINITELY PREFER HONOLULU , PHILIPPINES , OR ANY THE PACIFIC INCURRING LESS EXPENSIVE FARE.

Margaret Craske, an English disciple living with Baba in India and serving as secretary for these dictations, shortly thereafter realized the possible significance of the correspondence: "On December 7, 1941 , the eyes of a horrified world were drawn to Honolulu and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor ." **

The Third Visit, August 7, 1956:

In the summer of 1956, Meher Baba took a one-month world tour of the west. Flying from San Francisco to Australia on Pan Am Flight 841, he and four disciples arrived in Honolulu at 5:15 p.m. Since the layover was to last three-and-a-half hours, one of the disciples asked if they might walk along the path outside the airport and close to the beach. Baba, however, insisted that the disciples "stay put" and watch the crowds in the international airport. After some time, a well-dressed couple approached Baba and asked if he might come to their house for food and rest. Though pleased with their invitation, Baba replied that they lacked sufficient time before re-boarding the plane. Feeling that Baba had initially refused the notion of a walk because of anticipating this contact, the disciples again requested going outside. The wisdom of Baba's further insistence to remain in the terminal soon became apparent when the couple returned with large brown bags with food for Baba and his companions. After Baba responded with fond affection, the couple left with no further words. Then Baba gestured, "Now let's go for a walk."

Eruch Jessawala, one of Baba's close mandali, faithful companion and interpreter, who was present at the time, tells this colorful tale in his book, That's How It Was: Stories of Life with Meher Baba. In later years, whenever anyone from Hawaii would arrive at Baba's home in India, Eruch would tell this story and ask, "Have you ever heard anything about this couple?" Does anyone know who this couple was? But the couple was never heard from again, and nobody has ever learned who they were. ***

The Final Stopover, May 31, 1958

In May 1958, Meher Baba made his sixth and final visit to America in this advent. Since 1931, he had spent a total of 200 days there, more time than in any other country outside of India . On May 31, Meher Baba and his disciples left from San Francisco for Australia on QANTAS Flight 743. At 6:15 p.m., they arrived in Honolulu where they had a four-hour layover. When they departed the Honolulu airport late that evening it marked the last time that Avatar Meher Baba was on American soil. A little over a year later, on August, 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state in the United States.

See also Footsteps.

* See Lord Meher, Volume Six, page 1947 & 48.
** Craske
*** See Lord Meher, Volume 14, page 5088, and Eruch's tale, ?Honolulu Encounter?, in his book, That's How It Was.

 

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