Meher Baba

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Meher Baba (Devanagari: मेहेर बाबा, Urdu: مہر بابا), (February 25, 1894 – January 31, 1969), born Merwan Sheriar Irani, was an Indian mystic and spiritual master who declared publicly in 1954 that he was the Avatar of the age.

He led a normal childhood and showed no particular inclination toward spiritual matters. At the age of 19, however, a brief contact with the Muslim holy woman Hazrat Babajan triggered a seven-year process of spiritual transformation.[1][2] Over the next months he contacted four additional spiritual figures whom, along with Babajan, he called "the five Perfect Masters". He spent seven years in spiritual training with one of the masters, Upasni Maharaj, before beginning his public work.[3] The name Meher Baba means "Compassionate Father" and was given to him by his first followers.[4]

From July 10, 1925 to the end of his life, Meher Baba maintained silence, and communicated by means of an alphabet board or by unique hand gestures.[5][6][7][8] With his mandali ('circle' of disciples), he spent long periods in seclusion in which he often fasted. He would intersperse these periods with wide-ranging travels, public gatherings, and works of charity, including working with lepers, the poor, and the mentally ill.

In 1931, he made the first of many visits to the West, gathering many followers.[9] Throughout most of the 1940s Meher Baba worked with a category of spiritual aspirant, called masts,[10] whom he said are entranced or spellbound by internal spiritual experiences. Starting in 1949, along with selected mandali, he traveled incognito about India in what he called "The New Life". On February 10, 1954, Meher Baba declared that he was the Avatar (an incarnation of God),[11] and on July 10, 1958 he released his Universal Message.

After being injured as a passenger in two automobile accidents, one in the United States in 1952 and one in India in 1956, his capacity to walk became seriously limited.[12][13] In 1962, he invited his Western followers to India for a mass darshan called The East-West Gathering.[14] Concerned by an increasing use of LSD and other psychedelic drugs,[15] in 1966 Meher Baba addressed their use and stated that they did not convey real benefits.[16] Despite deteriorating health, he continued what he called his "Universal Work," which included fasting, seclusion, and meditation, until his death on January 31, 1969. His samadhi (tomb-shrine) in Meherabad, India has become a place of international pilgrimage.[17]

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