How Baba Began His Silence
On July 8th , Meher Baba convened a meeting of the men mandali at Meherabad and for an hour instructed every person about their duties during the coming year of silence. A few close ones, like Chanji, Naval and Barsoap, had come from Bombay to consult with him regarding certain work.
On July 9th, final decisions were made in all matters. Besides verbal directions, general instructions were written down and posted at the Hazrat Babajan School. Behramji was appointed the head superintendent and Rustom K. Irani was named vice-superintendent; together they were to control the management of Meherabad property. Arjun Supekar was made the school superintendent and was also given the duty
of improving the students’ conduct in class. Gustadji was placed in charge of the storerooms that supplied food for the Meherabad populace and met the various needs of individuals. Padri’s duty was to supervise the work in the hospital and dispensary.
Only these five men were allowed to speak to Meher Baba at a specified time each day in regard to their assigned duties; all others were prohibited from talking to him. The Master had said that the other mandali could speak to him only when he expressed a desire, through gestures or in writing, to communicate with them. He was to work the flour-mill two hours daily, and those who were doing this work with him were also not allowed to speak with him.
Later, in the afternoon, the Master met with the parents of the children at the Hazrat Babajan School and explained about his upcoming year of silence. Meher Baba impressed upon them the spiritual significance of allowing their children to remain in the school during this period. They, in turn, promised not to remove their children from the school during the next year under any circumstances.
Meher Baba then gathered the men mandali and spoke to them at length about the future; they listened attentively, since these would be his last utterances for one year. They knew that this would be the last opportunity to hear his voice again for a long time. Baba’s last verbal discussion with his mandali covered three topics. Baba’s general advice to all: “You have to live for others and use your bodies for the benefit of others.” This implied the labor or service the mandali had to continue doing.
Then he explained that one reason for him no longer speaking concerned Hazrat Babajan: “I must keep silence for some excessive spiritual work that will result when Babajan drops her body in the near future.”
He explained that his self-imposed silence related to the future of the world: “There will be religious hostilities, riots, wars and natural disasters. These events will cause the shedding of blood of millions of people throughout the world in general, and throughout India in particular. But, thereafter, peace and
brotherhood will come back into the world.”
Meher Baba turned to Gulmai K. Irani, one of the few women present, and added, “There will be another world war; it will be much more destructive and extensive than the one before. Rivers of blood will flow! I will dip my kerchief in that river of blood and tie it around my head! Not until the world cries out for God will I give up my silence!”
The teacher Pandoba then pleaded with Baba that if he became silent, people would no longer have the opportunity of hearing what he had to declare, and the world will be deprived of his teachings. Meher Baba replied, “I have come not to teach, but to awaken!”
These were to be his last words to anyone outside of his circle, and this message was the meaning of his divine mission to the world.
“I have come not to teach, but to awaken!”
During the evening of July 9th, Meher Baba walked to the women’s quarters at the Post Office building to convey his final instructions: “Now listen to my last words, because from tomorrow I will keep silence for one year. Attend to your duties with love and fulfill them with all your heart. Cook for the children at the school as if they were your own.
“I have much work to do for the world. When my work is done, I shall speak.”
Meher Baba left them at eight o’clock in the evening and, accompanied by Masaji, went to visit the men mandali’s quarters. He told them, “I am going to be silent from tomorrow for one and a half years. All of you take care of everything at Meherabad as usual. And take care of your health.
“Whenever you go out during the night, always carry a lantern with you. Always beware of snakes! I will save you from every calamity under the sun, but I won’t help you if you are bitten by a snake. So be careful!
“Keep on doing your work. I have given you all of your duties. Continue doing them — every one of you. There will be no hitch in the work; although I will be silent, everything at Meherabad will run smoothly. You don’t have to worry. I have my own reasons for keeping silence. I must do it.
Stick to your jobs and do as I instruct you. Don’t deviate from the work and don’t worry about it. If you obey me, nothing will be difficult.”
It was eight-thirty when he concluded: “I am going to the Jhopdi now. All of you go to bed.” There were about twenty men around him. A few men made some comments, and within a few minutes the group dispersed.
The men began unrolling their bedding, and Padri went to urinate. He had only gone a few steps when he spotted a three-foot long cobra. Lifting his lantern, he shouted, “Snake! Snake!”
The other men came running with the bamboo staffs, which were kept for this purpose. There was shouting and the whacking of staffs as the snake was being killed.
Meher Baba heard the commotion and came out of his hut. “What is all the noise about?” he asked.
“Baba, we have killed a snake!”
“Who saw it?”
“I did,” said Padri.
“Were you carrying a lantern?” Padri nodded yes, and Baba was pleased that he had done so. Padri then handed him a staff, and Baba smashed the head of the cobra with one blow.
He ordered Padri to wash his hands several times after burying the snake. Then he repeated: “I am warning you all again. Be careful of snakes! Always carry a lantern and take care. Now I want everyone to go to sleep.”
Meher Baba then walked over to the women’s quarters and spoke with them briefly: “How fortunate you are that you have heard my voice so many times today! This incident with the snake took place to allow you to hear me speak for the final time.” He then departed and retired for the night, while Masaji kept watch.
Meher Baba came out of his Jhopdi as usual at five o’clock in the morning of July 10th, 1925. After a bath he went to the men mandali’s quarters. Everyone thought that Baba would not make his usual inquiries, but to their surprise, the Master questioned the mandali, the teachers and children about their health, sleep and the food for the day — all in writing. Thus from that day onward, in spite of his silence, Meher Baba was found to be quite alert to and mindful of all matters, especially regarding the duties of the two superintendents of the property.
From that day on for several months, Baba had a new companion; constantly with him was a young boy named Bal to whom he had taken a liking. Bal, an Arangaon village boy, would accompany the Master around Meherabad with a pencil and paper, or chalk and slate so that Baba could convey whatever he wished.
Since Meher Baba’s nature was so outgoing and voluble that he often spontaneously broke out into song or poetry, many of the mandali doubted that he would be able to keep silence for one full year. But as the days passed, they were greatly impressed to observe that the Master never once spoke and remained silent in all circumstances, showing that he was in perfect control of himself. Although he would still participate in the bhajan programs, Baba’s beautiful voice no longer was heard. Yet his hands would be heard playing a drum, accompanying the singers in harmony.
If Baba were to get angry at any of the mandali for their negligence, he would take his slate and whack it on their biceps or thigh, and they dared not say a word of protest or question why. There were three slates and once, in a moment of irritation, Baba flung all three at someone! Pesu, who was Baba’s orderly at the time, took the major share of the sudden raps.
Meher Baba had observed silence three times before, but the silence of July 10th, 1925, was to last until the end. He never uttered another word the rest of his life.
—Source: Bhau Kalchuri, Lord Meher 3: 734-38.