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The Big Picture

A Consideration of
Meher Baba’s Avataric Advent

Part 3: Becoming the Avatar

In earlier discussions, I suggested that it was important to consider Meher Baba’s six visits to America – three in the 1930s and three in the 1950s – in the larger context of the central goals of his advent, with the understanding that each visit occurred at a specific moment in the orderly unfolding of a divinely ordained plan. I mentioned, for example, that Baba might have had to complete certain blocks of important work in the East before he was free to travel here to the West. In turn, the outcome of subsequent phases of work on other continents, to unfold later, might well have depended on things he needed to accomplish beforehand while here in America. The separate outward activities characterizing the sweep of Baba’s life, including his visits to America, can best be understood as necessary and logical parts of the very pressing (and pressured) agenda of his advent, which in turn was determined by his staggering goal of no less than the universal transformation we have called “the Big Picture”.

 

The First Broad Phase of Work:

 The Sadguru and the “Old Life”

Even in the highly simplified outline I’ve presented, we can clearly identify two broad stages of Baba’s work. Baba himself provides a clue to their nature with his statement that the year 1949, the year his New Life began, marked an end and a beginning. The statement draws a line between what he called the “Old Life” and the work that followed it. Through most of the Old Life, from the end of 1921, when Baba first began to train his young disciples, to mid-1949 – a span of about twenty-eight years – Baba was most often referred to as a Perfect Master, a Sadguru, especially in his travels and interviews. He was generally introduced to Western audiences in the 1930s with the honorific “Shri Meher Baba”, rather than “Avatar Meher Baba”. The English author Charles Purdom’s first biography of Baba, published in the mid-1930s, was called The Perfect Master. Much later, when the book was expanded and reissued in the 1960s, reflecting a new understanding that Baba was “more than a Perfect Master”, it was retitled The God-Man.

It was not a “new” understanding for those close to him. Babajan and Upasni Maharaj had told their close ones and followers that Merwan was the Avatar, and Baba himself had revealed it to his mandali as early as the Manzil-e-Meem phase in 1922. But although he also mentions it in discourses and messages in the 1920s and ’30s, it is not with the emphasis he used in later years; consequently, in the early days many people glossed over it or were able to miss it entirely.

The Second Broad Phase:

 The Avatar and “Universal Work”

According to Lord Meher, Baba did not announce to the world at large that he was the Avatar until the 1950s, when he was widely hailed as such during his first mass darshan tour of Andhra.[1]  His messages from that period, such as “The Highest of the High” and “Meher Baba’s Call”, also clearly and forcefully declared his role as the Avatar of the Age, even carefully defining the term “Avatar” to refer specifically to the Christ.[2]

Baba’s three visits to America in the 1930s occurred during the period in his advent when he had assumed the role of a Perfect Master, or Sadguru. Thereafter, he increasingly assumed his role as the universal Avatar, as all-Divinity charged with “overhauling Creation”. Following the New Life, he worked quite differently than he had before.

The last two decades of Baba’s life, from that end-and-beginning demarcation line of 1949 I mentioned earlier up to his physical passing in 1969, might be characterized as the “universal” period of his work, including not only the New Life and Manonash phases, but in addition, his two automobile accidents (one in the West and one in the East), major messages such as the “Final Declaration”, the publication of God Speaks, the East-West Gathering – and Baba’s last three visits to America in the 1950s.

 

Why Play the Sadguru?

Why do you suppose Baba would present himself as a Perfect Master for more than half of his advent? After all, Upasni Maharaj had declared him to be the Avatar as early as 1921 when they finished their shared work in Sakori.[3]

There are several ways to understand this. First, we must recognize a fundamental principle of spiritual life: like all growth in Creation, inner unfolding occurs gradually in time, following its own unbendable laws, and in stages. This applies even to the Avatar. Except in very rare cases, higher consciousness does not burst upon one full-blown like a flash of lightning. Each layered and sequential stage of spiritual unfolding requires a period of integration in which the new level of realization must be fully understood, mastered, demonstrated outwardly, and then anchored in everyday life. Only when mastery of the current phase is full and complete may the next stage be approached. This is a universal principle followed by everyone, even the Avatar; though the process can sometimes be accelerated, there are no shortcuts. In the case of Baba’s own unfolding, although acknowledged as the Avatar by his master in the early 1920s, Baba’s work to integrate his divine consciousness with Creation continued long after the end of his apprenticeship with Upasni Maharaj at Sakori.

In addition, Baba had to learn, demonstrate, and master the role of the Avatar, which is not only a state of divine consciousness, but also a spiritual office, the office of the Christ.[4] You may recall that Murshida Ivy Duce spoke of “growing into her role” as a murshida, or guide, which is also a spiritual office.[5] In the very same way, the incarnate Christ must learn his office and earn his authority, step by step, through living, dynamic processes by which he assumes and demonstrates his mastery of the broad forces and conditions of Creation. From the moment of his unveiling, young Merwan was required to integrate the highest divine consciousness with all the levels of Creation. At the same time, he also had to learn the role of Avatar in order to occupy his office. He had to become “Avatar Meher Baba”. That was not easy, and it did not happen overnight, or in ten years or even in twenty years. Baba had to achieve mastery of the dimensions of his office as they unfolded. Many of the phases of his life can be seen as steps in which he experiments with his role, increasingly mastering and demonstrating it before the spiritual hierarchy, the forces and beings of the inner planes, and before the world.

 

Baba’s Book

To give just one concrete example, you’ll recall that right after Baba began his silence, in July 1925, he started writing a 300-page manuscript, which became known among the mandali as “the secret book”. He began writing in his small hut, the jhopdi, and then had a special structure built, known as the Table Cabin, where he worked on the book for several hours a day over fifteen months. This book is often regarded as enigmatic and mysterious, especially since the seemingly carefully guarded manuscript appears to have been lost, misplaced, or hidden and has never been found, and no one knows what happened to it.

While the gross and material dimension of the “missing book” has captured the popular imagination, it is best understood in a different way, that is, in its esoteric dimension. Baba told Chanji that the manuscript was “full of secrets which no previous saint or Prophet has ever divulged.”[6] In its essence, the book represented a complete formulation of Baba’s cumulated knowing able to be brought down and integrated on Earth at this stage of Creation. This internal book had to be integrated, formulated, and articulated before Baba could assume his station as the Avatar of coming times and preside over a new integration of the entire Universe. The book thus marks an important stage in Baba’s own internal growth toward Avatarhood; completing the book means that he had completed an important block of inner work, achieved full mastery of the divine principles to be brought down at this time, and had “closed the book” on it. Going forward, Baba could then build upon the foundation the book represents.

You will recall that right after the book was completed, in late October 1926, Baba gave the order to dismantle all the institutions he had built at Meherabad up to that time. He wanted it done quickly, before the first of November, saying, “all these are just the scaffolding for my work, and the scaffolding is unnecessary once the actual building is completed.”[7] The internal signal for this completion was apparently finishing the book, through which Baba demonstrated a new consolidation or organization of the divine gnosis applicable to these times. Going forward, the institutions he had started earlier at Meherabad had to be started afresh, as the completion of the book represented a natural “graduation” to a new level of mastery and a deeper and broader new phase of his work. This began with the stunning and unique period of the Prem Ashram.

 

“Coming Into His Avatarhood”

From this perspective, it could be said that Baba did not fully “come into his Avatarhood” until late in his advent. Indeed, it was not until his “Final Declaration” meeting in 1954 that he told his close lovers attending the gathering, “Last night . . . for the first time, I asked myself whether I was the Avatar. And the clear and definite answer was, ‘Yes, I am the Ancient One, the Highest of the High.’”[8] By that time, and only then, he had received and mastered the entire range of living forces necessary for the full functioning of the Avatar, the knowledge and power of Divinity were his to command, and his identity and mission were a matter of clear self-perception.

In the 1920s and 1930s, while Baba was still working to anchor his infinite consciousness in the everyday world, one could say he was beginning to “perfect his mastery”. To do that, he initially did the work of a Sadguru or Perfect Master: for example, he gathered a select circle of disciples, he trained them, he established an ashram, he gave out teachings and discourses, and he ministered to the poor and the sick. These are all activities that can be associated with gurus and Sadgurus, things that might have been done by Rumi or Ramakrishna or Upasni Maharaj. Gradually, differences emerged: the Prem Ashram was unique and unprecedented, as was Baba’s work in the West, his work with masts, and his silence. But you can see that when Baba called himself a Sadguru, a Perfect Master, he was, at that time, acting as one. In the early 1940s, Baba himself outlined the sequence to his young attendant Krishna one evening when Krishna was on night duty:

Baba called Krishna inside his room. He motioned, “Talk about something.” Taken aback, Krishna did not know what to say. Baba then asked him, “Who am I?”

“Meher Baba.”

“No, I mean previously.”

“I don’t know,” Krishna said.

Baba spelt on the board, “M-E-R-W-A-N. I was Merwan. After that I became Sadguru Meher Baba. After that, Avatar Meher Baba.”*

 

The Five Perfect Masters

There is another aspect to Baba’s “coming into his Avatarhood” that has to do with his own masters. Did you know that Baba could not be “fully vested” to carry out his work as the Avatar until all five of his masters had completed their own work, given their authority to him, and passed away? All of the five living Perfect Masters continue to govern the arcs of Creation they are charged with until they leave their physical forms.

A detailed discussion of the work of the five Perfect Masters is beyond the scope of these classes. However, as spiritual students, by now you will understand that what we call “the five Perfect Masters” are far more than exalted teachers or spiritual figures. Each one of them is God incarnate, the preserver and protector of all Creation. They are thus one in consciousness, and also one with the Avatar in consciousness. But outwardly each gives a different appearance, as each holds a distinct and different responsibility in relation to the illusion of Creation.[9] Baba explained the differences in their functioning to his early mandali with a charmingly simple analogy; he said:

The key to the world is only one, but it is in the hands of the five Perfect Masters. For example, a safe has only one key and no other key can unlock it. The five Perfect Masters control the safe – the world. One Master is the keeper of the key, without which the safe cannot be opened. The second guards the safe, which cannot be opened without his prior consent. The third is the one who alone has the authority to use the key to unlock the safe. The fourth is the one who has the right to distribute the riches in the safe. And the fifth Master is the one who has the power to authorize the distribution. Thus there is only one key to the world, equally shared among the five Masters. *

From an esoteric perspective, each Perfect Master can be described as the embodiment or personification of one of the five major arcs of divine force that, at all times and in all places, hold our current system of Creation in balance. These arcs of divine force are like the primary supports underlying the structure of a building, where the edifice in the analogy is Creation. The arcs consist of the separate streams of energy associated with the four cardinal directions plus the integrating hub at the center.[10] In Eastern sufi literature, the hub is called the Qutub-e-Irshad. This term can be translated as “the center, the center of guidance.” Baba’s sufi disciple, Dr. Ghani, defined it this way (he is quoting or paraphrasing the treatise of a nineteenth-century sufi master):

The word Qutub literally means a pin or peg ’round which the two discs of a grinding mill revolve. The revolutions of the two discs, upper and lower, are mainly dependent upon and are guided by the pin (Qutub). Similarly, if there were to be no Qutub in the world, the affairs of the universe will disintegrate and become out of joint.

Irshad means guidance, and therefore Qutub-e-Irshad is one who directs and guides the affairs of the world, and from him there accrue to God’s creation untold benefit, internal and external. [Dr. Ghani is here quoting the nineteenth-century sufi master Ghaus Ali Shah Qalandar.]*

But unlike the Qutub-e-Irshad, the Avatar, as the total manifestation of God in human form, is the embodiment of all five of these great arcs of divinity at once. Baba clarifies this point in his own words:

In every Avataric period, these five [i.e., the Perfect Masters] become one, thus demonstrating the cycle when the Avatar appears in form.  .  . These five are God-realized like the Avatar. All are one; but in the Avataric period, the Avatar is equal to five Sadgurus. Thus, five Sadgurus make one Avatar – that is the long and short of it!”*

Further underscoring the distinction between the Perfect Master’s role and his own, Baba once told the mandali, “Sai Baba [the Qutub-e-Irshad] was the King of Perfect Masters, but I am the Master of Masters!”[11]

It is difficult to express or appreciate the magnitude of what Baba is saying about the splendor of the Avatar, this mightiest of beings who embodies on Earth the role of all five of the God-Realized Perfect Masters, the personification of all their incomparable divine wisdom, all their inexhaustible divine power, all their ineffable divine beauty. No wonder Baba said, “Even the Sadgurus long to touch the Avatar physically.”[12]

During the Avatar’s lifetime, when the work of each of the incarnate Perfect Masters is completed, their arc of energy flows to him, just as large tributaries flow into a major river, greatly amplifying its breadth and force – only in this case, each of the tributaries is itself an Amazon! Thus when Upasni Maharaj passed away in 1941, Dr. Donkin noted in his diary, “Baba has always said that when Upasni dies He comes into His full power. Now there is one more Satpurusha[13] to die before Baba manifests.”[14] Dr. Donkin is referring to Narayan Maharaj, who did not pass away until 1945, nearly twenty-five years after Baba began the work of his advent.

In this context, it is instructive to note when each of Baba’s five masters passed away in relation to the phases of Baba’s work at the time. As Baba would have been given their charge some months before or just after their physical passing, we would expect that the succeeding phase of his Avataric work would reflect an increase in the scope of his power and authority as the Avatar.[15]  Let us explore this idea.

 

Sai Baba and the Circle

First came Sai Baba, the Qutub-e-Irshad, the central pole of the universe, who died in October of 1918, just a month before the end of the war he controlled, the First World War. At this time, Meher Baba was still called “Merwan” by his close ones; he was in the midst of his work with Upasni Maharaj at Sakori to integrate his infinite consciousness with the consciousness of Creation. Around this time, you’ll recall that he worked for a while in his father’s toddy shop in Poona (now Pune). Then, in partnership with his friend Behramji (covertly supported by his mother, Shireen), Merwan started working in a new toddy shop in the Kasba Pesh neighborhood of Poona. The toddy shop opened for business in August 1918. It marked a significant change in Merwan’s activities. And it was there that the first members of his Circle began to gather around him, not long after Sai Baba’s passing.

The work of forming his Circle is a tremendously important step in the Avatar’s advent. Baba compared the members of the Circle to the parts of his body – eyes and ears, hands and feet, and so forth, explaining that the Circle was “the most important particular feature in relation to which and through which the Avatar and the Masters adjust their spiritual duty toward humanity.”[16] Thus the formation of the Circle, which followed upon Sai Baba’s death, had great significance as the first outward step of his advent, initiating the Avataric agenda.

Tajuddin Baba and the Silence

The second Perfect Master to pass away was Tajuddin Baba, who died in August of 1925. Just about a month before this, Meher Baba took the momentous step of beginning the outward silence that lasted the rest of his life. When Tajuddin Baba died, Baba thus advanced still further along in his agenda by assuming the crucial role of the Silent Avatar associated with the end of an Avataric cycle.

 

Babajan and the West

On July 9, 1925, the evening before he began his silence, Baba told the mandali, “I must keep silence for some excessive spiritual work that will result when Babajan drops her body in the near future.”[17] Babajan passed away six years later, on September 21, 1931. Where was Baba then? He had arrived in England a little more than a week earlier, on September 12. This, too, was momentous and represented a major step forward, as never before in recorded history had the Avatar been known to work openly and publicly in the Western Hemisphere.[18] As we know, uniting the East and the West was a central theme of Baba’s work. Baba explained to the mandali, “I am the Universal Avatar, and not an Avatar for the East or West individually as in previous advents.”[19]

The energies released by Babajan’s passing also propelled Baba to abandon current plans and hastily make his first visit to America. Baba’s original itinerary had only called for a trip to England; then he was to return to India by way of Persia. But while he was in England, Baba suddenly changed his plans and accepted the impromptu invitation to the United States extended by the American inventor Thomas Watson, a guest at Meredith Starr’s retreat in Devonshire, where Baba had been staying. When the news of Babajan’s passing reached him in England just a few days later, Baba revealed that there was a hidden connection with his sudden change of plans. He said:

By Babajan having  dropped her body, numerous difficulties will crop up and circumstances will soon change. For this reason, yesterday I abruptly changed my plans about proceeding to Persia and then returning to India, and have decided instead to go to America.*

 

Upasni and the Manifestation

The fourth Perfect Master to pass away was Upasni Maharaj, on Christmas Eve of the crucial year 1941, which Baba had called “the most important year in spiritual history”.[20]  Recall that this is the year Baba declared, amid the darkest days of World War II, “It is now high time that universal suffering should hasten humanity to the turning point in its spiritual history”,[21] in effect announcing the conclusion of “the worst Kali Yuga the world had ever seen” and the approach of the vast new Cycle, characterized by peace, brotherhood, and lasting happiness for all, that was to come.

It also marked the beginning of Baba’s most broad, dramatic, and intense internal and outward Avataric work. In an earlier discussion, I noted that Baba had declared he would begin “speaking to himself” in August of 1941 (that is to say, he would begin the process of bringing high divine energy from the Realm of Silence into this material realm of life, first to be held by him internally rather than being released into the atmosphere of the Earth; thus he would be speaking “to himself”); and the outward manifestation of this work, according to Baba, would subsequently be expressed beginning in February of 1942.[22]

This special internal work as just described, associated in time with Upasni Maharaj’s death, was clearly reflected in the stunning external events that unfolded during this same period in the Second World War. The onset of the war brought the greatest expansion of the German empire and its allies in 1940 and 1941; these years saw the fall of France, the Battle of Britain, the domination of Europe and North Africa by the Axis powers, and the German invasion of Russia. Also at this time the Japanese dominated much of China and Southeast Asia.

Upasni had apparently given his charge over to Baba about two months before his passing, at their well-known last meeting on October 17, 1941, in a hut at Dahigaon, a tiny village between Ahmednagar and Aurangabad. After this meeting, Baba told the mandali, “I can bring down the stars . . . I now have full powers. . . . Maharaj has handed over his side of things to me.” The very next day, October 18, the conciliatory Japanese prime minster, Prince Konoe,[23] was replaced by General Tojo, minister of the army, who accelerated the plans for war.[24] Seven weeks later, on December 7, the Japanese launched their sweeping attacks across the Pacific, from Pearl Harbor all the way to Burma. Suddenly, America was in the war, and the entire world had become a battlefield: now war raged in both hemispheres, in the East and in the West.

Upasni’s passing two months after meeting Baba (on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1941) came just at the war’s turning point. Recall, Baba had said that the new energy drawn down from the Silence, his “speaking to himself”, would begin to be expressed in February of 1942. By June of that year, the Allies had begun to win, first in the Pacific when the Japanese were defeated at the Battle of Midway, later at Stalingrad and in North Africa, where the German advance was stopped. Also in mid-1942, America began what was known as the Manhattan Project, the quest to build the first atomic bomb, which ultimately brought about the final conclusion of the Second World War.

These events in 1940, ’41, and ’42 echoed an earlier statement of Baba’s noted by Dr. Donkin in his diary at the beginning of 1940. Baba had said, “1940 will be the worst year since creation, 1941 will be 50-50, and 1942 will be the best year since creation.”[25] And as far back as 1922, Baba had told his mandali:

War will break out again and it will be the worst holocaust the world has ever seen. Almost all the nations of the world will be drawn into it either militarily or economically. . . . My public manifestation will synchronize with the fag end of this war, which is coming. Both of my Masters [i.e., Babajan and Upasni, who played the main roles in his unfolding] will give up their bodies before my outer work begins.*

 

Narayan and the Divine Sword

The last Perfect Master to pass away was Narayan Maharaj, on September 3, 1945, the day after the Japanese signed the formal treaty ending the Second World War.[26] Just a month prior, humanity had achieved the release into the world of the elemental force of nuclear energy in the form of the atomic bomb. How might this be related to the passing of Narayan Maharaj? The divine arc personified by Narayan Maharaj is often associated with the fundamental patterning of energy that is the basis of all gross material form, most often represented in Narayan’s work by minerals. You may recall that this striking, diminutive figure sat on a silver throne and often dressed regally in gold-embroidered clothes studded with gemstones. Wealthy maharajahs were among his most devoted disciples, and they showered him with jewelry and precious gems. When I visited his samadhi in India, I was shown many of these treasures and was also taken to an underground chamber where Narayan did special internal work; it was understood that the elemental forces central to his work were too powerful to be worked with in the open, but needed to be contained or grounded inside the Earth. With this background, one can see why the passing of Narayan Maharaj might be associated with the mastery by human beings of nuclear energy, the binding force that holds all material substance in form.

With the completion of the work of all five of his masters, now Baba had a free hand and full universal power to pursue the agenda of his advent.[27] At the time of Narayan’s passing (September 1945), Baba was deeply involved in his mast work. A few months earlier, when the war in Europe had ended, he told a gathering of close disciples that his spiritual work would now not diminish, but rather intensify. He said that after the climax of the war, “the real game will start.”[28] Dr. Donkin wrote in his diary, “Baba says that after December [1945] he will unsheathe the Divine Sword; up to now he has only waved it in its sheath.”[29] As far as I know, although he referred on several occasions to his Divine Sword, Baba never elaborated on this statement. But it reminds one of images of the Kalki Avatar, who comes at the end of the Mahayuga cycle on a pure white horse, wielding the Sword of Truth. Now possessed of the power and authority of all five of the Perfect Masters, Meher Baba, the Divine Sword now unsheathed, was fully assuming his divine office as the Universal Avatar, Lord Shiva, the Long-Awaited One.

In the external world, global conflict did indeed intensify. The Second World War gave way to the Cold War, when a spiraling nuclear arms race threatened the very existence of humanity. In 1953, Baba said:

The nature of evolution is of opposites. Never before was the world divided into two blocks of opposites – America on one side with its allies, and Russia on the other with its satellites. This is what Masters have worked out. They know how to do it.*

Never before, Baba said, had the world been more divided than it was during the final phases of his work in the 1950s and 1960s, as if Illusion was expressing everywhere the fundamental nature of duality at its ultimate extreme. Against this background of accelerating universal crisis, Baba issued his well-known universal messages and labored in his deepest, most intense seclusions. Against this background, in this universal phase of his work, he also made his last three visits to America in 1952, 1956, and 1958 – visits that were crucial to America, and crucial to Baba’s universal work.

We’ll review the special work of this second great phase of Baba’s work more fully in the next talk. It is a help to keep the segments of Baba’s life we have briefly outlined fresh so we will be ready when we begin to “zoom in” on them in more detail.

 

* This conversation took place in October 1942. Lord Meher, 2299. (All Lord Meher page numbers refer to the online edition of 2018 at www.lordmeher.org.)

 

* Lord Meher, 673.

 

* Dr. Abdul Ghani Munsiff, “The Hierarchy of Saints: The Qutub”, Meher Baba Journal, vol. 2, no. 8 (June 1940): 487-93.

 

* Lord Meher, 1949.

 

* Lord Meher, 1270.

 

* Jean Adriel, Avatar (Santa Barbara, CA: J. F. Rowney, 1947), 133.

 

*Lord Meher, 3289-90.

 

[1] “Avatar Meher Baba ki jai!” was reverberating throughout Andhra Pradesh a month prior to Baba’s arrival [in January 1953], and Andhra can proudly lay claim to being the first place where Baba was openly proclaimed as the Avatar. Until now, the phrase “Sadguru Meher Baba ki jai,” or “Shri Meher Baba ki jai” was the typical chorus chanted by the crowds at each halting place. Bhau Kalchuri, Lord Meher, online edition, 3244. (All Lord Meher page numbers refer to the online edition of 2018; www.lordmeher.org)

[2] Murshida Duce writes, “On the seventh of September 1953 Baba sent a message from Dehra Dun in which he came out publicly and announced that he was indeed ‘the Highest of the High’. Of course all of his closer workers had suspected this for many years.”  Ivy O. Duce, How a Master Works (Walnut Creek, CA: Sufism Reoriented, 1975), 168. Throughout the Andhra tours in 1953 and 1954, his messages read, “I say (or declare) with divine authority”, a phrase he had not used in earlier years. For examples, see the messages included in Bal Natu’s Glimpses of the God-Man, Meher Baba, vol. 5 (Myrtle Beach, SC: Sheriar Press, 1987).

[3] As Baba recalled, “[A]fter becoming almost three-fourths normally conscious while retaining full superconsciousness, I went to Sakori and stayed for six months (July-December 1921) near Maharaj. At the end of this period Maharaj made me know fully what I am, just as Babajan had made me feel in a ‘dash’ what I am. During those six months Maharaj and I used to sit near each other in a hut behind closed doors almost every night. On one such occasion Maharaj folded his hands to me and said, ‘Merwan, you are the Avatar and I salute you.’” Meher Baba, Listen, Humanity, ed. D. E. Stevens (Denver: In Company with Meher Baba, 1985), 250.

Five months later, in May 1922, when Baba and the mandali came to Sakori to celebrate Upasni Maharaj’s birthday and honor him before they set out for the Manzil-e-Meem in Bombay, Upasni told the mandali, “All of you pay heed to what I tell you. Merwan is the Avatar. I have handed the key of whatever I possess to Merwan.”  Lord Meher, 289.

[4] The state is called “Christ consciousness” or “haqiqat-e-Muhammadi”; the office of the Christ is called “muqam-e-Muhammadi”. According to God Speaks: “It was only through this divine office that God, as God-Man, in the form of Zoroaster, Rama, Krishna, Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, and others, manifested Himself and proclaimed in every cycle, age after age, that He is the Savior, the Prophet, the Messiah, the Son-of-God, the Avatar, the Rasool, the Buddha, and so forth. And it is only through this divine office that the five Perfect Masters or the Qutubs or the Sadgurus function as the summum bonum of the whole cosmic Creation.

“The Sufis call this divine office “muqam-e-Muhammadi”, after the name of the Prophet Muhammad, the Rasool of God, in His haqiqat-e-Muhammadi. Similarly, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, is—like Muhammad, Zoroaster, Krishna, Rama, and Buddha—the God-Man, whilst ‘Christ’, like haqiqat-e-Muhammadi, is the divine state of Jesus.” Meher Baba, God Speaks, 2nd ed. (Walnut Creek, CA: Sufism Reoriented, 1997), 186-7.

[5] In a 1952 meeting with Murshida Duce in Scarsdale, N.Y, “Baba added that at that time there were only five Sufi Murshids in the entire world. One was in Meshed, Persia, one in Egypt, one in Algiers, and two in India. He felt that the Western world was now ready for Sufism and must have a real Murshid.” How a Master Works, 123.

[6] Lord Meher, 746

[7] Lord Meher, 730.

[8] Lord Meher, 3620.

[9] Thus Baba could say, “From eternity without beginning there is only one Perfect Master that has come to this world from time to time.” Ramjoo Abdulla, Ramjoo’s Diaries, ed. Ira Deitrick (Walnut Creek, CA: Sufism Reoriented, 1979), 147-8.

[10] Murshid James MacKie explained it this way: “There are five directions of major energy in Creation, and five arcs. Those arcs are represented in the human body, and the five arcs are like portals, and energy is pulled through those portals. Five arcs interpenetrate all planes, and so there are five directions of major force on all planes. Those are all represented in human consciousness, and they are directions of flow. . . . [They are represented by] the five Perfect Masters. They are also represented all over your body in the five fingers on each hand and the five fingers, [toes] on your feet . . . Those five major currents of energy, which are integrated in this world, are also five major arcs of energy¾arcs, huge electronic arcs; . . . arcs, as they appear in all of the diagrams in God Speaks.” Unpublished talk, March 19, 1980 (Sufism Reoriented archives).

[11] Lord Meher, 767.

[12] Lord Meher, 820.

[13] Sat = “divine power, Purusha = divine man; in Hinduism, this term is commonly used (as here) to refer to a God-realized master; however, in God Speaks (1955), Meher Baba defined it as properly referring to a sixth-plane saint.

[14] Diary entry, December 26,1941. William Donkin, Donkin’s Diaries, comp. Sarah McNeill (North Myrtle Beach, SC: Sheriar Foundation, 2011), 207-08.

[15] “It may be that the Master keeps up his external body while internally he expires; in some cases, the Master’s external body fails before his internal expiration takes place.” Baba, quoted in Ramjoo’s Diaries, 321.

[16] “The Circle”, Meher Baba, Discourses, 6th ed. (San Francisco: Sufism Reoriented, 1967), 3:52.

[17] Lord Meher, 599.

[18] Baba did say that as Jesus he had secretly been to the site where St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice now stands (Lord Meher, 1463). There are legends that Jesus visited the Indian tribes in America, but there is no historical record of such visits, as discussed in Classes 15 and 16. According to Lord Meher, Baba disclosed his Avatarhood to the English group one day at the Devonshire retreat: “Baba was in a splendid mood and mentioned for the first time about his mission for the world, and revealed that he was the Avatar. In the history of the world, this was the first time that the Avatar was consecrating the soil of the Western Hemisphere by his presence. For the first time, Baba candidly disclosed to his followers in England that he was the Avatar, the Messiah, the Christ for whom the world had long been waiting, whereas in India, all his devotees were still referring to him as a Sadguru—a Perfect Master.”  Lord Meher, 1264-65.

[19] Baba said this in February 1932, before his second trip to the West. Lord Meher, 1357.

[20] Lord Meher, 2196.

[21] From “The Travail of the New World Order”, originally published in the Meher Baba Journal, November 1941, later included in Baba’s Discourses, 6th ed., 2:20-23.

[22] Lord Meher, 2202.

[23] Fumimaro Konoe (1891-1945; pronounced: KOH-noh-eh) was from a princely family and served as prime minister of Japan three times. He encouraged Japan’s war with China in 1937 and helped form the Axis alliance with Germany and Italy in World War II, but tried to avert war with America.

[24] General Hideki Tojo (1884-1948) served as prime minister during most of the war, from 1941 to 44.

[25] Diary entry February 1, 1940; Donkin’s Diaries, 72.

[26] The Japanese had surrendered on August 15, 1945.

[27] “Baba told us that the reason why all close ones were undergoing special crises and troubles at the moment (health, finance worries, etc.) was because we were sharing an infinitesimal bit of Baba’s burden for the universe. He ended with, ‘Now that the five Perfect Masters who actively worked have left their bodies, I carry the entire burden Myself and all who share are most fortunate.’” Mani, quoted in Jim Mistry, ed., Letters from the Mandali of Avatar Meher Baba, Vol. 2 (Myrtle Beach, SC: Sheriar Press, 1983), 63.

[28] Lord Meher, 2482.

[29] In Lord Meher, the quote is recorded in a workers’ meeting on May 24, 1945: “After December [1945], I will need no medium for my work. When I unsheathe my divine sword, I will need no help from the mandali. I will need no meetings and no literature. All these will adjust themselves.” Lord Meher, 2474.

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