Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Spiriual* (for Spiritual*)

On July 10, 1925, an Indian mystic and spiritual master called Meher Baba (born Merwan Sheriar Irani in 1894) took a public vow of silence, cheerfully maintaining it until his death in 1969. (The slogan "Don't Worry—Be Happy" is attributed to him.) He communicated using an alphabet board, later in the 1950s switching to a set of "unique hand gestures." Born to Zoroastrian parents and nicknamed "Electricity" by his school chums, he founded the "Cosmopolitan Club" in order to raise money for charity (sometimes by betting on horse races) and to stay informed of current events. He excelled at singing and cricket. He played several instruments and spoke several languages; he also wrote poetry, and enjoyed the writings of Hafiz, Shelley, and Shakespeare. Baba later dealt directly with lepers, the poor, and the mentally ill, founding a "Love Ashram" in 1924 that was free to anyone regardless of caste or faith. Baba's spiritual awakening occurred at age 19 when he was kissed on the forehead by "a very old Muslim woman" named Hazrat Babajan, a noble from Afghanistan who had once fled an arranged marriage on her wedding day. (Ultimately considered a saint by some, "a mad woman, witch, or sorceress" by others, Babajan's age is estimated to have been somewhere between 95 and 141!) I was unable, by availing myself of the powers of Google, to dig up any major dirt on the dashing holder of darshan. Despite a few eccentric moves, dubious claims, and unpopular stands (he strongly opposed LSD and other drug use in the 1960s), he seems relatively above-board for a guru to the stars. (Baba shone among the glitterati of Golden Age Hollywood.) And what's not to love in a charismatic leader who urges us to "face all hardships with one hundred percent cheerfulness, and give no importance to caste, creed, and religious ceremonies"? Today is known as Silence Day by Meher Baba's followers, who in honor of the "Compassionate Father" will remain speechless for the duration. Baba stated that "because man has been deaf to the principles and precepts laid down by God in the past, in this present Avataric form, I observe silence." The year before he died he proclaimed: "I want all my lovers to observe complete silence for twenty-four hours, from midnight of July 9th to midnight of July 10th, 1968." Shhhh. We found three cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 32 in WorldCat.

(Meher Baba in 1925, from Wikimedia Commons.)


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