The Story of Meher Baba's Charter
for Sufism Reoriented
This three-part essay, originally published in Glow International in 2009, summarizes a forthcoming book that presents a full account of Meher Baba's creation of Sufism Reoriented in 1952, drawing from all available archival documents, letters, journals, and records.
In every generation and across every culture, there are individuals who are exemplars of perfect attunement with God and selfless service to humanity.
Whether widely known or not, these individuals demonstrate the nobility of a life supremely lived, of a love unmixed with desire, of a power unused except for others, of a peace untroubled by ambition, of a knowledge undimmed by illusion. They know God intimately and are recognized as embodiments of divine love.
Every culture has been shaped and inspired by such spiritual figures: Jesus of Nazareth and his great devotee, Francis of Assisi, in the West; Zoroaster and Mohammed in the Middle East; Rama, Krishna, and the Buddha in the East. All demonstrated the possibility of a divine life on earth.
For members of Sufism Reoriented, Meher Baba embodies these same qualities of pure love, joy, and spiritual knowledge as others who are recognized as World Teachers. We count ourselves privileged to know of Meher Baba's life and teachings, and we celebrate the Unity that found expression in his all-embracing love.
Meher Baba's Life
Meher Baba was born Merwan Sheriar Irani on February 25, 1894, in Pune, India. He attended St. Vincent's High School and Deccan College. Then, in 1913, while still in college, Merwan met Hazrat Babajan, one of the outstanding spiritual figures of her time, who made him aware of his high spiritual destiny. His spiritual mission began in 1921 when he drew together his first close disciples. It was these early disciples who gave him the name Meher Baba, which means "Compassionate Father."
After years of training his disciples, Meher Baba established a center near Ahmednagar, India, that came to be called Meherabad. Here his work embraced a free school where spiritual training was stressed, a free hospital and dispensary, and shelters for the poor. He made no distinction between those of high caste and untouchables; all mingled in common fellowship through his inspiration and example. To his close ones at Meherabad, who were of different castes and creeds, he gave training in moral discipline, love for God, spiritual understanding, and selfless service.
Meher Baba maintained silence from 1925 until the end of his life on January 31, 1969. Despite his silence, he led an extraordinarily active life, communicating with those around him by means of an alphabet board and through distinctive hand gestures. His many spiritual messages and discourses were dictated and published in English, and include Discourses, God Speaks, Life At Its Best, and Beams on the Spiritual Panorama.
Meher Baba encouraged people of all faith streams to follow their chosen paths with all their hearts. He visited and paid homage at Holy Sites throughout the world, including those of Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. He often told his followers that all faiths are simply different rivers that lead to the same Ocean of Love and Divinity.
Meher Baba traveled to America six times, first in 1931 and again in 1932, 1934, 1952, 1956, and 1958. During his 1952 visit, he worked extensively on devising a charter for an American school of spirituality that he named Sufism Reoriented. He confirmed Ivy O. Duce as the first Murshida, or spiritual director, of this uniquely chartered spiritual organization.
1. [Meher Baba, "The Avatar," in Discourses, Vol. 3 (San Francisco: Sufism Reoriented, 1967), 11-16] ↩