Thursday, 12 April 2012

A Long Interval Between Blogs..

I was checking my blog again after a long absence.  I have had a lot on my plate recently, with my mum's health not getting any better and my caring duties with Manu Jessawala.  Also, on a happier note, my son Sheriar is visiting for a couple of weeks for the Easter break.  

I noted that there was a response from Mehernath Kalchuri via Robin Oppenheimer to the "Reality Checks" posting.  Everyone is welcome to leave a comment, but I would request that each person speak for him or herself. You are welcome to post your own views, whatever those views may be, I am happy for you to do so.  However, posting via a third party is not really necessary (if one has time to compose and write out a response to give to someone else to post, it's quicker to post it oneself) and gives an impression that the person using a proxy feels above commenting for him or herself.  

I read Mehernath's comment via Robin with some surprise and concern.  I note that he said "I have the utmost respect 100% for His Mandali. The jealousy I spoke of relates to our current situation. Some people are spreading rumors, making allegations and defamations, out of jealousy and ignorance." Whatever the current situation, whatever allegations and rumours/defamations are being spread, a talk about life with Meher Baba is not the venue to air these views.  It has caused confusion and distress.  There are other platforms better suited for such clarifications.  

Mehernath gives some views on Beloved Baba's discipline and life of action, especially with reference to His Mandali.  I believe that Baba's discipline was total - He expected inner and outer discipline and implicit obedience to His wishes at all times - and as my uncle Eruch often said, Baba emphasised outer discipline to habituate His Mandali to cultivating and practicing inner discipline.  I've often thought that discipline in the gross world leads to the mind getting disciplined and ultimately being brought to the point of surrender to Baba.  

Like Mehernath I too was brought up with Baba from the time I was born (1959) to the time He dropped the physical body in 1969.  After that time I have lived and worked closely with His Mandali who were like family to me.  I do know that Baba was very hard on His close ones, several of them were from my own family!   What does telling inaccurate stories have to do with Baba being very hard on His near ones and giving them affectionate names like "Fool #9"?  I'm confused.  I read Sheela's book and found it inaccurate in several instances.  That was what I commented on, and also her sharing of certain events that didn't serve any purpose - i.e. Mani's being called "white pig" by Sheela as per Baba's order - and the lack of confirmation we have about such instances.  Mani is no longer with us, and since there were no others present, this is not verifiable. There are clear implications that the other Mandali were jealous of Bhauji, which is also incorrect.   Had this book been published 15 years earlier and some of the Mandali whose stories are told were given a chance to read the manuscript, we'd have a more accurate, truthful and verified version of the events that are recounted.  

Kendra (Crossen-Borroughs) comments that it should have been made clear that the conversations with Baba are not verbatim.  They are Sheela's recollections.  Someone reading the book could be thinking these are Baba's actual words, which is simply not the case.  I totally agree with this.  There is nothing more dangerous than re-writing the advent of the Avatar and putting out literature that puts words into the mouth of the Silent One.  It is easily done.  I could do it, so could anyone else who was in my position or Sheela's.  As the Mandali and the close ones go, it is our generation that are the last ones left of those who had close contact with Meher Baba.  It is our responsibility and our sacred duty to Him to make sure that we give as accurate a version as is possible.  And if inaccuracies are noted, then it is the duty of those who were also there to ask that these be corrected.  We are very fortunate to have been in His physical presence and to have had a very close and loving connection with Meher Baba.  Bearing this in mind it is imperative that we don't exploit it in any way.  Jai Baba to all.


  1. Hi Mehera. Your points about Sheela and David's book are well made, but I would like to refute most of them. First, unless one is a consummate diarist throughout one's life, one writes a memoir from memory, and as memory is inherently fallible, quotes in a memoir are assumed to be one's best recollections and not necessarily verbatim. Thus, a note in a memoir to that effect is not needed. Sheela's book, in my opinion, is no different than all of the other books people have written about their time with Baba. The controversy here, I think, relates to the content of the book and not the use of this genre of writing. As for the content, some things in the book may be unpalatable, but I actually found the things that were revealed in this book, particularly those that are not found elsewhere, to be extraordinary. I found that the book gave a fuller picture of what it was like to be in Baba’s company than many other books. You sited Mani being called a white pig as an example of a superfluous (and so apparently unpleasant) element of the book, but this is, I feel, easily explained by Baba's wish that one "Bear with humiliation; whether humiliation or reward (praise), dedicate all to my feet" (Lord Meher, First Edition, p. 6402). Alterations of praise and humiliation can be seen as part of Baba's game to crush the ego. Regarding whether the Mandali were jealous of Bhau, it has been reported that Baba stated, “Bhau is my John,” meaning that he holds the same office as that of John in Jesus’s advent. So if Bhau does hold this special position and this was relected in Baba and Bhau’s relationship, it would be quite natural for some of the mandali to be jealous (as Sheela depicts Francis being when Baba hugs Bhau in front of Francis), since Baba said that the ego persists up to the end. I’m not saying that the mandali were jealous of Bhau, but if they were, it would be understandable. In terms of rewriting the history of Baba’s Avataric advent, one book by itself, however dubious its content, would be hard pressed to dim the light that shines forth from the pantheon of beautiful Baba books. To paraphrase the moral of one of Baba’s stories, a little bit of piddle cannot pollute the Ocean! :)

  2. Dear Babalover 2012. Thank you for your comment. I am sure that were the points you made are valid. However, my family and I were also present for most of the time she talks about and I speak from that perspective..

    Not only was there none of the jealousy portrayed, Baba did not really pay that much attention to Bhauji!! Bhau was for the most part treated just like Aloba or Pendu. And we too can tell of events that could show the Kalchuri family in a bad light, we simply choose not to, again because it serves no purpose. My point is that this material should have been shown to Mandali while they were alive so that there could be some verification. It would have been so much more believable.

    Mani was His, and if what is written in the book is correct, she would have accepted it as Baba's prasad. But who is left to verify this? No one. I could say that Baba asked me to call so and so something derogatory, but it has to be substantiated by other means. I gave two clear instances where Sheela portrayed events incorrectly, in a way that made her and Mehernath look better. Since I was present both times, I know this. And the many people who have written to me about how disturbed they were by the book and glad that I corrected the errors shows that others are also unhappy. Going through the book I can probably give many more.

    A small point, I am told that David Fenster compiled the book from over 30 years of video and audio recordings, talks that he had with his wife Sheela. There are possibly letters and notes that were used as material too, but the material has been around for at least that time so there was plenty of time to get any facts cross-checked with those of His close ones who were still around at the time.

    By the way, I have never heard that Baba said that Bhau was His John. But I am really glad to see you compare the book to a little bit of piddle. A loving Jai Baba to you. :)


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