Charles Benjamin Purdom
Born : 15 October 1883 - England
Nationality : English
(literary scholar, biographer and editor)
SEE THE LITERARY PAGE FOR CHARLES PURDOM IN THE BOOKS
According to Purdom's autobiography, he first met Meher Baba by chance while he (Purdom) was on holiday in a retreat in Coombe Martin, Devon, in 1931. Baba was on his first visit to England. Baba made three further visits to England. On each of Baba's visits Purdom met him several times. Purdom was clearly very impressed by the man and formed a friendship with him. The respect must have been mutual, for on his second visit, in 1932, according to Purdom's autobiography, Baba asked Purdom to write his life. By the time he met Baba, Purdom had already written two substantial books on the garden city movement, and was currently editor of the literary journal Everyman. He wrote Baba's biography between 1934 and 1936, and the book was published in 1937. C. B. Purdom was one of the small group of people instrumental in the founding and early development of Welwyn Garden City from 1920 onwards.
Books written by C.B.Purdom
Purdom decided to write The Perfect Master, a story of Baba’s life up to then, published in 1937.
by C.B Purdom, Williams & Nogate Ltd., Great Russel Street,
God to Man and Man to God
The discourses of Meher Baba
Edited by C. B. Purdom
London, Victor Gollancz LTD, 1955
The discourses of Meher Baba are here edited and condensed at Meher Baba's request. A volume of immense inspiration and practicality for those interested in their Real Selves.
Completed by one of Meher Baba's early Western disciples in 1962, The God-Man, an expansion of Purdom's earlier The Perfect Master, was the first authoritative biography of Meher Baba to be published. With access to diaries by close disciples and to living witnesses to the daily life of the Avatar, Purdom has written an account which celebrates with heart and head the advent of Avatar Meher Baba.
After meeting Baba, Charles Purdom wrote articles in the Everyman magazine entitiled " The Sadguru " and " The Need of a Master. " Reading these unusual articles, more people subsequently came to know of Meher Baba.
One of Purdom's friends came to see Baba on September 26th and said " After reading the articles in Everyman, I felt I must see you. It was not a superficial thought ; I was inspired to see you. " Baba expressed his pleasure in meeting him.....
Lord Meher ; Bhau Kalchuri - Vol.4 Page 1431 -2
The Need of a Teacher
By CHARLES PURDOM
Ed. Note: This article was written for "Everyman," the English magazine of which Mr. Purdom was then Editor, after he had just met Meher Baba in London, 1931. Since then it has been quoted and re-quoted in regard to the Master; and, as it is now out of print, we are happy to reprint it with the permission of the author. For a review of "God To Man and Man To God, " his new edition of the Master 's Discourses, turn to page 43.
I intended to return this week to the discussion of literature in its relation to life, which is my proper work on this page. But there is one subject referred to in passing in the articles on a Plan of Life to which, judging from letters I have received, I must give further attention. This is the question of teachers or masters in the art of life. There is no doubt that people feel the need of teachers. Are they really necessary? If so, how can we recognize them, and what should be our relation to them?
The history of man is that of his adaption to his material environment. Man has had to discover how to live on the earth and how to create civilization. He has not fully solved the problems, as we know; but he is no doubt getting nearer it. Man learns by doing what has been done. He learns by trial and error, and by practice in the workshop. He learns best under the direction of one who knows—that is, a teacher. As Robert Bridges said in his Testament of Beauty:
|Hence cometh all the need and fame of Teachers, men|
|Of inborn nobility, call'd Prophets of God,|
Saviours of society, Seeds of the promised land...
|The loved and lovable whose names live evermore,|
|The sainted pioneers of salvation, unto whom|
|All wisdom won and all man's future hope is due ...|
A great deal of our living is instinctive; but much of the life of man—his life in all those regions which we call spiritual or psychic—is by its nature not instinctive. In those regions man moves away from instinct and approaches more and more towards consciousness, until in the highest man consciousness replaces instinct. It is in these regions of our life that we need a teacher most, and where the difficulty of finding one is greatest. People know where to find a master of carpentering or painting; but where is there a master of life?
At one time people found what they wanted in the churches, which showed them how to live. Today the majority of people have turned away from the churches; but they have found no substitute. In this age people want truth at first hand. They are doubtful of all reports or records of truth. They want personal experience, not talk or dogmas. As they cannot get it they prefer to be skeptical and live honestly, rather than try to accept truth at second-hand, though that means living on a lower level than their real desires.
There is in consequence widespread dissatisfaction. People are uneasy and unhappy, without any real confidence in life. There are few ideals that really possess their hearts. Everything is held lightly and cynically. There is a cleavage between thought and life. This is the most striking fact about intelligent men and women toda.
They are prepared to accept nothing. They desire the truth, but they challenge everything. The age is characterized by extreme frankness.
The greatest visible social power among us is still example. To behold in another the realization of our ideals, is what impresses us most. The teacher that the age wants is a living example of what all may become. It is the power of the tried or experienced truth that we look for, not the mere utterance of the truth. The poets give us flashes of truth, but there are few poets who can lift us into the regions out of which their poetry springs. The poets are in contact with "the Muses who know all things," but they cannot bring us into their company. Therefore the only teacher that we can accept is one who has experienced God, or whatever we like to call the ultimate Reality. He must be one who has consciously bridged the gulf between time and eternity and can show others how to do like-wise.
The teacher we desire must have achieved complete self-mastery, and have reconciled and transcended the opposites that divide the life of man. He will seek nothing for himself, and will be unaffected by sex, money or fame. He would be child-like, yet wise; joyous, but profound; humble yet authoritative. A man, but having the gentleness of a woman.
In psychological terms a teacher is one who throws light upon the unconscious—he is a mediator between the conscious and unconscious mind. He is able to show how repressed energies may be released for creative purposes. He does this not by argument, but by mere association with himself.
That, indeed, is how a teacher is recognized. He enables us to discover ourselves, to help ourselves to understand ourselves by his presence, simply by our awareness of him. We get through him a change of heart. He has the power to transmit grace, kindle love, and bestow illumination. Above all he has abounding life. In him the idea has not only become thought as in philosophers or inspiration as in poets, but flesh and blood. He is a living work of art. In such a teacher God in the heart becomes conscious. He can, therefore,
awaken God in others. A sleeper cannot awaken another sleeper; but one who is himself awake can awaken those that sleep.
There is an old saying that "when the pupil is ready the Master appears," which means that even if you met a teacher he cannot help you unless you are ready and want to be helped. There must be an open mind and humility, in other words, a disposition to learn. Those who recognize him are the humble, the single-hearted, the despairing and the aspiring. The self-satisfied or the proud will not recognize him. "Who walks in singleness of heart shall be my companion—I will reveal myself to him by ways the learned understand not."
It is not necessary that a teacher of life should satisfy the intellect by answering the questions that call to be satisfied. It is sufficient that his presence should cause a change of heart, resulting in a new life. To quote Edward Carpenter:
"He will not bring a new revelation; he will not at first make any reply to the eager questions about death and immortality; he will present no stainless perfection;
"But he will do better; he will present something absolute, primal —the living rock—something necessary and at first hand; and men will cling to him therefore;
"He will restore the true balance; he will not condemn, but he will be absolute in himself;
"He will be the terrible Judge to whom everyone will run; "He will be the lover and the judge in one."
The teacher is above low desires and vulgar motives. He is known by his serenity. Perception will slowly emanate from his presence. He will be recognized by the heart. His mere appearance will convince those who seek him of his spiritual integrity. It does not matter what people say or think about him. We must each judge him by his effect on us personally. The relation between pupil and teacher should be that of love. We should obey him intelligently from love, because we want to do so, not from fear. He will not expect us to act against our conscience. He will not compel, but inspire.
A bond is established which nothing can break. When we find a teacher we must expect opposition from others, because nothing creates greater resentment and antagonism in the world than the disinterested service of mankind when allied with spiritual power. Men of the world do not easily forgive those whose lives and utterances are a reproach to the pride of life. Our relations to a teacher must be characterized by complete frankness, by humility, and willingness to learn, and by readiness to put the knowledge gained into practice.
There are imperfect teachers who know a little; we meet them often, but the Perfect Teacher is met with rarely. It is the turning point in one's life when such a meeting takes place, and it does not happen to everyone. We can meet teachers in books, but it is better if we meet them in the flesh. The difficulty is that they do not often let themselves be seen.
Courtesy of The Awakener ; Fall 1955, Volume 3 Number 2
Others titles are mentioned on the following web site.
On 8th April 1932, in London, Shri Meher Baba was interviewed by C. B. Purdom for Paramount News in the garden of Kitty Davy's family home at 32 Russell Road Kensington. The Indian mystic, believed by many to be Avatar, had not communicated verbally for seven years. In this clip, lasting just over a minute, he communicates by means of an alphabet board. The commentary by C. B. Purdom (despite the poor sound quality) shows the most perfect diction of the English language by any person that I have ever heard. Click on the link below to view the video. Please first make sure your sound is turned on.
Recorded in London, England on April 8th, 1932
Meher Baba interviewed by British historian, Charles Purdom in London, England on April 8th, 1932. Produced by the Paramount Film company.
- taken from the 1994 documentary, 'Meher Baba, The Awakener.'
I met Baba on his first visit to England in 1931... Until a few days earlier I had not heard of his existence. He was awaited with intense
excitement. I found him unaffected and natural, and he impressed me as being exceptionally self-poised and with marked ease of manner. He took everything as a matter of course, and yet seemed to
bestow meaning on the most casual things...
Baba is a small man, five feet six inches in height, slight in build, with a rather large head, or a head that appears to be large, an aquiline nose, and an olive complexion. He is extremely animated, has a mobile face, constantly smiles, and has expressive hands and gestures. He creates the opposite of a sense of remoteness or strangeness, making an immediately friendly appeal to those who meet him. He is indeed disarming in his obvious simplicity, and the atmosphere that surrounds him might be described as that of innocence. He is childlike and mischievous as well as innocent. I discovered, and others told me, that he is a superb actor with quickly changing moods.
At times he appears serious and worried, and I have seen him look tired and ill. At such moments he has an air of intense preoccupation. At other times, and normally, he seems to have no cares whatever and invites confidence. His physical changes are rapid: one day he will be ill and worn; the next, well, youthful-looking and lively.
His hair is long, and he lets it grow rather wild. In the West he keeps it covered as best he can under a hat when he goes outdoors; but it must be confessed that any hat looks odd upon that abundant hair; and he dresses in ordinary European clothes, but indoors usually wears a white Indian garment.
He is a strict vegetarian, takes no alcohol, and does not smoke. Though his tastes in food are simple, he is often difficult to please. Sometimes in Italy the housekeepers would plan a delicious meal of rice, vegetables cooked with hot spices, lentils, grapes, peaches, green figs, and orange juice. To make happy those who had prepared the meal, he would say it was delicious; but afterwards it would be noticed that he had barely nibbled at a few dishes. The only evidence of eating would be a slice of bread with a hole in the centre. He eats, but seems to have no desire for eating.
He rises early in the morning, and unless he is in seclusion, almost invariably has one or more disciples sleeping in the same room with him. Unless he is in seclusion he takes a great deal of exercise, walking rapidly several miles every day, and even in seclusion he walks continually up and down the cell or room in which he confines himself. He loves mountain-climbing.
He reads and speaks English and four other languages fluently. His use of English is that of a cultivated man. He has read much English literature, especially Shakespeare and the poets Shelley, Wordsworth and Tennyson. He knows, of course, the Persian and Indian poets, his favorite being Hafez. He has himself written many poems and songs... He has considerable taste for music, preferring, of course, Indian music, but liking Western music too. At times he has Indian drums and other musical instruments with him on his travels on which his disciples play, and also a gramophone. Before his silence he often sang...
He is fond of games, particularly of a spiritual game based on the evolution of the soul called Atya Patya. He plays many indoor games, including table tennis, and is particularly fond of ball games outdoors. When he plays he is, say his disciples, Ôno Master, but one of us. He delights in the presence of children, and romps with them as one of themselves.
He is a strict disciplinarian over those who are nearest to him, not the slightest departure from the rules he lays down being overlooked. He is methodical about business and attends to every detail himself. He makes a practice of requiring apparently impossible things to be done, even what may seem to be trifling and unnecessary. Sometimes, for instance, in the most awkward places he will ask for food. In a train, perhaps, just as it is about to start, he will ask for hot milk, and his disciple must fetch it even though it may mean almost certain missing of the train. His disciples have said to me, however, that he never orders what is really beyond their power to do.
He takes almost incredible quantities of luggage with him on his travels, most of it perhaps never being opened. He changes his arrangements constantly, so that none of those with him knows exactly what is to happen from day to day...
Baba fasts frequently for long or short periods. During these times of fasting he sometimes sees no one except the two or three disciples appointed to attend upon him. Neither, as a rule, does he attend to any outside affairs, though he does not neglect any detail concerning the Mandali around him. The fast consists of entire absence from solid food, and he takes as a rule only a little weak tea, and sometimes, though not often, a little milk... In such periods he is engaged, he declares, in spiritual activities...
It is not for himself that Baba fasts, but for the sake of others. As a result of fasting, Baba naturally becomes weak, and, as I have pointed out earlier, suffers in a normal physical way, though not always, for at times he does more physical work than usual during fasts.
His most striking personal characteristic is his silence, which started on July 10, 1925. Since then, instead of speaking, he has used an alphabet board, and points to the letters to convey what he has to say. He uses abbreviations and a variety of signs and gestures with his hands to indicate certain words, so that to anyone familiar with his ways he expresses himself almost as quickly as by speech. When he receives visitors there is usually an interpreter present to explain what he says, but he frequently allows visitors to follow him closely on the alphabet board and to read for themselves...
Baba did not undertake silence in accordance with a vow... Baba is silent, he says, as he fasts, for the sake of others...
What is his work? To transform human consciousness from the illusion of the world and the self to the reality of the spirit and God; or, to put it another way, to enable men to know by experience the truth of the infinite self which is in all. In particular, it is to train and perfect a few disciples, which is its personal aspect, and to establish contacts with individuals, which is its world aspect.
I said to him on one occasion, 'What do you ask of those who come into contact with you?' He replied, 'To realise the self through love.' I said, 'What do you ask of your disciples?' His answer was, 'To follow strictly my instructions to the same end.' He added, 'I ask this of close disciples only.'
Babas work, therefore, is to awaken people to the realisation of their true selves. That means, to put it shortly, to be as he is.
1936, London, England
Meanwhile, some of the Westerners had already arrived in Bombay. On September 11th, Meherjee and Nariman brought them to Ahmednagar at 10:30 P.M. The group consisted of the following individuals, ranging in age from twenty-three to eighty:
Charles Purdom of London
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
15 October 1883(1883-10-15)
8 July 1965 (aged 81)
|Occupation||Author, Drama critic, Economist|
Charles Benjamin Purdom, usually credited as C. B. Purdom (15 Oct 1883 - 8 July 1965), was a British author, drama critic, economist and editor of an English periodical called Everyman.  Everyman covered books, drama, music and travel and featured articles by renowned authors such as Ivor Brown, Arthur Machen, G. K. Chesterton, A. E. Coppard, Bertrand Russell and many others. He was also the earliest biographer of Meher Baba. He died in London in 1965.
 First biographer of Meher Baba
Purdom was a devoted life-long follower of the Indian silent teacher Meher Baba after meeting him in Devon, England on Baba's first visit to the West in 1931.  Purdom was Meher Baba's original biographer, writing The Perfect Master: The Early Life of Meher Baba in 1937, which covers Meher Baba's life from 1911-1936, and The God Man: The Life, Journeys & Work of Meher Baba with an Interpretation of His Silence & Spiritual Teaching in 1964. He also wrote an early single-volume edition of Meher Baba's discourses titled God to Man and Man to God: The Discourses of Meher Baba (1955) and co-wrote with author Malcolm Schloss a detailed account of a group visit with Meher Baba in India titled Three Incredible Weeks with Meher Baba: September 11 - September 30, 1954.
 Selected publications
- The Garden City: A Study of the Development of a Modern Town, J.M. Dent & Sons, London, 1913
- The Building of Satellite Towns: A Contribution to the Study of Town Development and Regional Planning, J.M. Dent & Sons, London, 1925
- The Swan Shakespeare; a Player's Edition - 3 Volumes , J.M. Dent & Sons, London, 1930
- Producing Plays: a handbook for producers & players, J.M. Dent, London 1930
- Everyman at War. Sixty Personal Narratives of the War, Dutton, New York, 1930 and J.M. Dent, London, 1939
- The Perfect Master: The Life of Shri Meher Baba, (Meher Baba's life from 1911-1936), Williams & Norgate Ltd, London, 1937. Reprinted as Perfect Master, The Early Life of Meher Baba, by Sheriar Press USA in 1976
- The New Order, J.M. Dent and Sons Ltd, 1941
- How Shall We Rebuild London?, J.M. Dent, London, 1946
- Economic Wellbeing, Nicholson and Watson, 1947
- Producing Shakespeare, Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, London, 1950
- Life Over Again, J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., London, 1951
- Drama Festivals and Their Adjudication; a Handbook for Producers, Actors, Festival Organisers, and Adjudicators, J.M. Dent and Sons Ltd., London, 1951
- Three Incredible Weeks with Meher Baba: September 11 - September 30, 1954
- Harley Granville Barker: Man of the Theatre, Dramatist, and Scholar, Salisbury Square, 1955
- God to Man and Man to God: The Discourses of Meher Baba, Victor Gollancz Ltd., London, 1955
- Bernard Shaw's Letters to Granville Barker, Phoenix House, London, 1956
- A Guide to the Plays of Bernard Shaw, Methuen & Co. Ltd, London, 1963
- The Letchworth Achievement, J.M. Dent & Sons, 1963
- What Happens in Shakespeare: a New Interpretation, John Baker Publ., London, 1963
- The God-Man: The Life, Journeys & Work of Meher Baba with an Interpretation of His Silence & Spiritual Teaching, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1964
|The Garden City - A Study in the Development of a Modern Town||C. B. Purdom||1913|
Town Theory and Practice
[Essays by W. R. Lethaby, George L. Pepler, Sir Theodore G. Chambers,
Raymond Unwin, R. L. Reiss. Introductory chapter by C. B. Purdom.]
|C. B. Purdom (ed)||1921|
|The Building of Satellite Towns||C. B. Purdom||1925|
|Everyman (magazine) Vol. 1, No. 1, 31st January 1929||C. B. Purdom (editor)||1929|
|The Swan Shakespeare - A Player's Edition (Comedies)||C. B. Purdom (editor)||1930|
|Producing Plays - A Handbook for Producers and Players||C. B. Purdom||1930|
|The Perfect Master - Shri Meher Baba||C. B. Purdom||1937|
World Organization - Federal or Functional ?
[Transcript of round-table radio discussion.]
|C. B. Purdom and others||1945|
|The Building of Satellite Towns (2nd edition)||C. B. Purdom||1949|