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Meher Baba, which means “Compassionate Father” to his followers, was born as Merwan Sheriar Irani on 25 February 1894 in Pune, India. He was a religious leader to many in India and throughout the world and claimed that he was the Avatar, which is a reincarnation of the Supreme Being, or God, here on earth.
Raised as a Zoroastrian, Meher Baba lived the first 19 years of his life as a typical Indian boy. He was however, a special boy, one who was very popular, intelligent, talented with languages and well versed in literature and religion. He loved music and cricket and it wasn’t until a happenstance meeting with an old Muslim spiritual “master” who, with a kiss to his forehead, awakened Meher Baba’s spiritual side.
Over the next few years Meher Baba would meet with other Indian spiritual leaders who would begin shaping his spiritual philosophy. He went on what was reported to be a nine month fast, and so consumed in his meditations, he had to beat his head with a stone to remain grounded in the physical world. Meher Baba steadily gained followers over the next few years and subsequently founded the House of the Master, or Manzil-e-Meem in Bombay in 1922. Here, Meher Baba and his followers meditated, fasted and practiced obedience to God’s words. Two years later, he established a free school he named Prem Ashram that was open to all, regardless of caste.
Meher Baba fell silent on 10 July 1925 and remained so until his death on 31 July 1969. He decided that because man would not heed God’s words, he would remain silent. His silence did not slow his growing base of followers, nor slow down his spreading of the “gospel.” Meher Baba traveled extensively throughout the United States and Europe in the 1930s, attracting celebrities and the like. His disciples produced a monthly publication called the Meher Baba Journal which included his discourses, carefully transcribed through painstaking communication with him. Discourses of Meher Baba,, was printed in five volumes, covering his discourses from 1939 to 1954. The last edition, called the sixth edition, is considered the most complete, and was edited by Meher Baba himself.
In 1949, Meher Baba embarked on what he referred to as “The New Life,” which was a life of destitution. He and a few followers traveled throughout India begging for food and shelter. This was his statement that people should shun material possession and anything that would hinder spiritual enlightenment. Meher Baba would vacillate between public appearances and travel with periods of deep seclusion throughout his life.
His core teachings cited that life’s purpose was to realize the absoluteness and singularity of God, which is inherent in everything. Souls, which are undergoing constant evolution, reach human form where only then they can reach full spiritual consciousness.
Meher Baba lived the last few decades of his life hobbled by two serious car accidents, and passed away in 1969. To this day, he remains a spiritual leader and cultural icon for many throughout the world. Although there is no organized religion that Meher Baba created or advocated, it influences the worship many undertake on a daily basis. Annually, followers observe the 10th of July as “Silence Day,” when they take the day to meditate on their spirituality and the teachings of Meher Baba.