Merwan Sheriar Irani, known as Meher Baba, was born in Poona, India on February 25, 1894 of Zoroastrian parents. His father, Sheriar Irani, was a true seeker of God. Merwan went to a Christian High School in Poona and later attended Deccan College. In 1913, while still in college, a momentous event occurred in his life . . . the meeting with Hazrat Babajan, an ancient Mohammedan woman and one of the five Perfect Masters of the Age. Babajan gave him God-Realization and made him aware of his high spiritual destiny.
Eventually he was drawn to seek out another Perfect Master, Upasani Maharaj, a Hindu who lived in Sakori. During the next seven years Maharaj gave Merwan "Gnosis" or Divine Knowledge. Thus Merwan attained spiritual Perfection. His spiritual mission began in 1921 when he drew together his first close disciples. It was these early disciples who gave him the name Meher Baba, which means "Compassionate Father".
After years of intensive training of his disciples, Meher Baba established a colony near Ahmednagar that is called Meherabad. Here the Master's work embraced a free school where spiritual training was stressed, a free hospital and dispensary, and shelters for the poor. No distinction was made between the high castes and the Untouchables; all mingled in common fellowship through the inspiration of the Master. To his disciples, who were of different castes and creeds, he gave a training of moral discipline, love for God, spiritual understanding and selfless service.
Meher Baba told his disciples that from July 10, 1925 he would observe silence. He maintained this Silence until the end of his life, January 31, 1969. His self-imposed silence was not, as he later explained, done as a spiritual discipline but was an important aspect of his universal work for humanity. His many spiritual discourses and messages were dictated by means of an alphabet board. Much later, Meher Baba discontinued the use of the board and reduced all communication through hand gestures.
Meher Baba traveled to America six times, first in 1931, when he contacted his earlier Western disciples. His last visit to America was in 1958 when he and his disciples stayed at Meher Spiritual Center, which was established for his work at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The Center continues to serve as an active spiritual retreat.
In India as many as one hundred thousand people have come in one day to seek his darshan, or blessing; from all over the world there are those who journeyed to spend a few days, even a single day, in his presence. During a period of extensive travels around the world, he contacted thousands of spiritual seekers through public gatherings and personal visits.
An important part of Meher Baba's work through the years was to contact and personally serve hundreds of those known in India as "masts". These are advanced pilgrims on the spiritual path who have become spiritually intoxicated from direct awareness of God. For this work he traveled many thousands of miles to remote places throughout India and Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. Other vital work was the washing of the lepers, the washing of the feet of thousands of poor and the distribution of grain and cloth to the destitute.
Meher Baba spent many long periods fasting and working in seclusion to accomplish his spiritual work for humanity, both in his home in India and at many spiritual sites.
In late 1968, he stated that his Universal Work for humanity had been completed to his "100 percent satisfaction", and that the spiritual charge of his Avataric Advent would be most available to seekers for 100 to 200 years after his passing. After a sudden illness which could not be diagnosed, he dropped his body at his home in Meherazad, India on January 31, 1969.
Meher Baba declared in 1952, that he is the same Ancient One, who returns again and again, throughout the ages, to redeem man from his bondage of ignorance and to guide him to realize his true Self. Meher Baba is acknowledged by his many followers all over the world as the Avatar of the Age.
Meher Baba's divine presence as Love Personified remains fresh and alive. His message of love and truth continues to draw new seekers of God.