1956 : Satara Car Accident, India


Aerial view of Satara, India
Aerial view of Satara, India

Meher Baba often stayed in Satara, a city south of Poona ( Pune ) throughtout the early and mid-1950s. The distance between the 2 cities is 124 kms / 77 miles.

Two residencies were rented during these occasions, Baba and the women mandali ( close ones ) stayed in "Grafton" residence and the men stayed at "Rosewood" residence nearby.


Baba had a serious automobile accident in Prague, Oklahoma on May 24th, 1952 whilst he, Mehera and Mani were driven from Myrtle Beach, Sth.Carolina to California by Elizabeth Patterson. Another car with some men mandali ( close men followers ) followed a distance behind.

Two bones of Baba's lower left leg, his left arm at the shoulder and the septum of his nose were broken. His upper gums were injured and bleeding from the lower dentures he was wearing at the time of the accident. Mehera suffered head injuries, Mani was fine, but Elizabeth also suffered fractures.

These injuries were healed over the next few years.


During one of these stays in Satara on the 2nd December, 1956  at 5:15 P.M. in the afternoon, Eruch Jessawala was driving Meher Baba and 3 ( Dr. Nilu, "Pendu" Aspandir R. Irani and Vishnu N. Deorukhkar ) of Baba's men mandali towards Poona about 12 miles from Satara near the village of Udtare, when the car inexplicably veered off the road and Baba and the men in the car were injured. Dr. Nilu died from his injuries.


The serious injuries sustained by Baba in this accident affected his right side of his body, whilst the accident in the USA sustained injuries to his left side of his body.


Many of the injuries sustained by the survivors from this accident never quite healed.

Because a death occurred in this accident, the police were determined to charge the driver - Eruch. Court hearings were conducted over the next couple of years and a verdict of no fault by an individual was reached but the cause was determined by the judge as "An Act of God".



The following texts is from Bhau Kalchuri's epic biography set of books "Lord Meher". The photos of Baba and others is from Volume 15 - 16 ( 1956 - 1960 ).


There are other articles from other publications from the past which describe the same incident.

Images from other sources also appear.


1955 ; Meher Baba at Grafton residence at Satara, India. Image is courtesy of Lord Meher.
1955 ; Meher Baba at Grafton residence at Satara, India. Image is courtesy of Lord Meher.

1952 USA Car Accident

1956 India Car Accident

 The following web link is a promo to Robert Fredericks documentary on the Accident in Satara called "An Act of God". The full documentary is over 2 hours in length.




Satara, India
Satara, India

Maps & Images of Satara

November 30, 1956 Satara.  Courtesy of MN Publ.
November 30, 1956 Satara. Courtesy of MN Publ.

Baba returned to Satara 23 November 1956. This was Meher Baba's last mast journey. Never again did the Slave of his true lovers venture out for mast contacts; from that time on, wherever he was residing, masts were brought to him.

Returning to Satara, Baba resumed his daily routine with Kaikobad. Every evening, he would call the mandali to Grafton ( Baba's residency ) and play cards with them. Nilu ( Dr. V.N. Godse ) would write amusing poetry and read it to Baba.


Irene Conybeare was staying in Satara at this time, and Baba permitted her to visit Grafton every Sunday. On 26 November, she conveyed an invitation to Baba from Sadhu Vaswani, asking Baba to visit the Saint Mira High School in Poona. Baba agreed and fixed 20 February for the visit. ( This was later changed till March 1957 )


On 29 November, Baba remarked, "The month or so before the climax of my seclusion on 15 February will hold greater and more concentrated suffering for me in which a number of my close ones will also share." Little did the mandali know to what form of suffering Baba was referring.


Baba wished to fast on Sunday, 2 December 1956 and also instructed all the mandali except Bhau ( Kalchuri ) to fast that day without water. Bhau's health had recently suffered. He had been working long hours attending to correspondence, and he had fallen ill with pleurisy. Baba ordered him to take complete rest and not to move out of bed.


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Image is courtesy of Lord Meher
Image is courtesy of Lord Meher

1952 Chevolet Blue 4-Door Sedan


Meher Baba playing cricket near Satara




He ( Baba ) then asked the mandali, "How should we spend the 2nd? We cannot take even water that day, and something should be done to avoid thirst and hunger pains."

A lengthy discussion ensued, and Baba suggested, "Why not go to Poona that day where we can watch a Sunday cricket match and then return in the evening? We won't feel thirsty or hungry if we are absorbed in seeing the game." The men mandali agreed, and it was resolved to proceed to Poona in Nariman's car ( 1952 Chevolet sedan ), which had been kept in Satara for Baba's use.

Vishnu had departed for Poona on the 1st for some work, and Baba told him to join them on their return to Satara on the evening of the 2nd. Meherjee was called to Satara from Poona on the 1st and instructed to bring several crates of soda water. It was Baba's standing order for him to come to Satara by bus. But because he had been told to bring the soda, Meherjee drove to Satara in his new, imported Chevrolet. When he arrived, Baba was furious with him. "Why did you break my order and come in your car? Send it back to Poona immediately." So, Meherjee sent the car back with the driver and he stayed the night.

On the pretext of going to enjoy a cricket match, Baba left Satara in Nariman's 1952 blue Chevrolet for Poona on 2 December, accompanied by Eruch, Pendu, Meherjee and Nilu. On the way, Baba changed places with Nilu, moving from the front to the back seat.

It was a cold and cloudy, overcast day. Just as they arrived in Poona, their car was stopped near Swargate due to the official motorcade of the Prime Minister of China, Chou En-lai, who was in town with Prime Minister Nehru, on their way to Pimpri to visit the Central Water and Power Research Station and the National Penicillin Factory.  Nilu was anxious to get out of the car and watch them pass, but Baba made a face and shook his head. Nilu persisted, and finally Baba gave in. Nilu walked a ways to an intersection, stood on the road as the car sped by with Chou En-lai and Nehru, and then he returned to Baba's car.

In Poona, Jalbhai ( Jal Irani - Baba's youger brother )  joined the group, and they proceeded to the cricket grounds, parked the car under a tree and began watching the game.


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Central Water and Power Research Station


  • National Penicillin Factory

Chou En-lai  PM of China visit to India 1956


Image is courtesy of Lord Meher
Image is courtesy of Lord Meher


Baba sat in the car, while the mandali stood nearby. Frequently, Jalbhai was sent to find out who was batting and the score. Despite their fast, Baba gave each of the mandali a banana to eat.

During the match's 45-minute lunch-break, Baba suggested driving to the National Defense Academy at Khadakwasla, ten miles from Poona.  They drove to the academy, but because of the Prime Minister's visit the previous day, visitors were not being allowed entrance without a pass. Eruch convinced the guard to permit them to enter, promising that they would not enter any building, but only drive around the grounds and leave within half an hour.

While returning to the cricket grounds, a taxi with two of Baba's followers, Gadekar and K. K. Ramakrishnan, passed Baba's car. A circular had been issued, strictly advising Baba's lovers not to contact him during his seclusion. If they happened to see Baba while he was traveling somewhere, they were to ignore him and go on their way.

Gadekar had seen Baba, and Baba asked Pendu if their taxi was following them. Pendu saw that it was, so Baba told Eruch to drive fast and lose it. Baba was happy when Pendu reported that the taxi had disappeared, and they returned to the cricket grounds.

As the match proceeded, Pendu saw Gadekar's taxi stop under a tree some distance away. Baba seemed to be taking an interest in the game, so Pendu did not inform him, knowing that it would upset him. Jalbhai, however, had seen the taxi and said, "Baba, they are here; they followed us and are standing there."

Baba said, "Go and ask them, 'Have you received Baba's circular?' If they received it, why have they broken my order not to follow me, to turn their face and go away. I came here to relax; I am tired and they are spoiling my mood!"

Pendu went, and Gadekar, who was a very emotional old man, was on the point of tears, regretting his mistake, but explaining that he had simply been unable to control himself.

Baba instructed Eruch to turn the car around and leave for Satara. While passing Gadekar's taxi, Baba had the car stopped. He told Gadekar, "You have received the circular; you are the oldest member of the Poona Center; he [ Ramakrishnan ] is new, but you should have followed my orders." Gadekar admitted his mistake. "Then why do you break my order?

Why did you follow me?" Gadekar said he thought it would be all right from such a long distance.

Baba was annoyed at first, but then forgave him. "I forgive you this time," Baba said, "but next time, don't make such a foolish error."


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The Unexpected visitors

The National Defense Academy at Khadakwasla-Poona


It was about 3:45 P.M. Meherjee was dropped off at his home, and Vishnu took his place. Jalbhai was also dropped off at Baba House, where Baba met Beheram, Perin, and their sons, Sheroo, Sohrab and Rustom, and their daughter, Gulnar. Baba walked to the back of the house to Jalbhai's room and called the twins, Sohrab and Rustom. He directed them to bring their best marbles, as he wanted to play a game of marbles with them. Examining the marbles, Baba selected a fine "shooter" and insisted on being the first player. Baba's mood was very serious and he shot the marble with such force that several of the glass marbles were shattered into pieces. Observing this, the twins were utterly amazed and wanted to play their turn, but Baba gestured that that was the end of the game. Soon after, Baba and the mandali began their return drive to Satara.



Eruch and Baba rode in the front seat, and Vishnu, Pendu and Nilu at the back.


On the way, Baba instructed Eruch to drive slowly, since he wanted to reach Satara in the evening and there was plenty of time remaining. Pendu explained: "Every time Baba left for somewhere, he used to tell Mehera what time we would be back. In this way, the women were free to do their own work. Otherwise, they would be anxious, not knowing what time Baba would be returning. So that day Baba had told them, 'I am coming back this evening, but not before six.' We had no idea what time Baba had given to Mehera. Baba liked fast driving, to reach soon, so Eruch used to drive fast."



When there were only a few miles left to Satara, Baba asked Eruch the time. Baba said he must not reach before six. Eruch stopped the car under a tree and ( Baba ) said, "Let's rest here. We'll play some cards or a game to kill time, because it's too near now and we'll reach before six."


Baba said to continue, so Eruch began driving very slowly. Baba didn't like it. "What's the matter with you?" he asked. "Why aren't you going fast?"

Eruch replied, "You asked me not to reach before six and you don't want to wait here."


Baba said "No, drive as usual."



Baba had moved from the front to the back seat, changing places with Vishnu and Pendu. At 5:05 P.M., fifteen miles outside of Satara, Baba had the car stopped and switched places again; he again sat in front with Eruch, while Vishnu, Pendu and Nilu were at the back. Baba's fingers were working continuously, indicating his serious mood.


Eruch now was apparently driving too fast, because Baba warned him to slow down. They drove on and neared Udtara(e), twelve miles from Satara, where Baba had played cricket with the mandali and other lovers a year and a half before. Baba pointed ahead to the spot and recalled the day.


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Courtesy of Lord Meher
Courtesy of Lord Meher
Close up of Baba's finger playing marbles
Close up of Baba's finger playing marbles




2nd December, 1956

  "At 5:15 P.M., almost directly opposite where they had played cricket, as Eruch was reading Baba's gestures, the steering wheel suddenly and inexplicably went completely out of control. The car swerved, dashed against a stone culvert and landed eventually in a shallow ditch on the other side of it. All the men in the car, including Baba, were seriously injured. Baba was bathed in blood, his tongue was torn, his hip bone fractured, and he had abrasions on his forehead, nose, cheeks and legs.

Yet, at the time of the accident, when Vishnu saw Baba's facial expression, he felt uplifted! Catching a glance of Baba's bleeding face, Vishnu was overcome and saw Baba's glorious Universal Body and a dazzling light on his face.


Vishnu later described it:

"The whole thing happened in the flash of an eye. When I came to, I found I was the only one in the back of the car. I stepped out and went to the front to see how Baba was and saw him reclining in the front seat, with blood on his clothes and face. [ Even though Baba was bleeding ], never in my life have I seen such utter radiance and luster as was on Baba's face then! He was like a king, a victorious king who had won a great battle. Lord Krishna must have looked like that in his chariot on the victorious battlefield. The radiance was blinding! I could see nothing else, not the car, nor the surroundings, only Baba's face in glorious triumph!
After a few moments, Vishnu asked Baba if he was hurt much. Baba nodded, pointing to his mouth and leg, but gestured for Vishnu first to see how the others were."


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1955 : Meher Baba resting at Grafton Lodge, Satara, India. Image rendition by Anthony Zois.
1955 : Meher Baba resting at Grafton Lodge, Satara, India. Image rendition by Anthony Zois.
Image is courtesy of Lord Meher
Image is courtesy of Lord Meher


The sight had infused Vishnu with strength. Although one of his legs was injured near his knee, and he had facial cuts and a broken rib, Vishnu forgot the pain and began moving about trying to help the others. Eruch, Pendu and Nilu had been thrown out of the car. Nilu and Pendu were unconscious lying on the ground. Impact with stones from the culvert wall had caused severe internal injuries to Nilu; Pendu's leg was broken. Eruch was conscious, but five of his ribs were fractured. Nevertheless, he managed with superhuman effort to stand up and lean against the car and talk to Baba.


The road was deserted of traffic and pedestrians. Three minutes after the accident, a young man, driving in the opposite direction, from Belgaum to Poona, saw the wreck and stopped his car. Vishnu and the young man lifted Baba into the man's car. An open truck stopped, and Vishnu asked the Parsi driver to take Eruch, Pendu and Nilu to Rosewood ( men mandali residency ), and he obliged. Vishnu then accompanied Baba in the car to Grafton.

When Baba arrived at Grafton, Mani rushed on her bicycle to get ( Dr. ) Don from Rosewood. Don came running and, with ( Dr. ) Goher, began treating Baba's wounds. Mehera was beside herself with grief as she wiped the blood from Baba's face. The other women, too, did their best to ease Baba's suffering. But how could the Avatar's suffering ever be eased? His comfort lay in his suffering, which he endured every second continuously and took upon himself for his divine work.


Age was grief-stricken, as it recorded this tragedy for posterity. "Not again!" it wailed. "O Bharat [ India ], did you also require the Avatar's blood? America needed his blood and he shed it there in 1952. Now, he has shed it for India four years later!" Age repented for the world that the Merciful Beloved, who spilled his blood out of love and compassion, was yet to be recognized by mankind.


Bhau had followed Mani and Don to Grafton, despite Baba's orders that he should stay in bed and rest. When Baba saw him, his first words were: "Why did you break my order?" Nevertheless, in this critical situation, Bhau ran to summon the civil surgeon, Dr. Abadin.

When the civil surgeon came, Baba asked him, "How is it you've come, as today is Sunday, your off day?"

"It is my duty," the surgeon replied.


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Meher Baba in Satara in 1955-6. Image is courtesy of Lord Meher
Meher Baba in Satara in 1955-6. Image is courtesy of Lord Meher


Meanwhile at Rosewood, Nilu had been placed on Bhau's bed, but he was bleeding badly. When the doctor came there, upon examination, he pronounced Nilu dead. Nilu had not regained consciousness. The doctor advised that Eruch and Pendu be shifted to the Civil Hospital, and Bhau and Aloba took them there by an ambulance, where both were treated. (Before they were shifted, Baba's permission was taken to allow Eruch and Pendu to drink water, as they were on a complete fast that day.)


Baba was also taken by an ambulance to the small and primitive local hospital to have his tongue stitched. He was laid on the table in the operating room. Goher had accompanied him, and she and Bhau stood quietly near Baba, who gestured to Goher, "If they give me anesthesia, see that I do not utter any sound. Be by my side all the time."


( Dr. Goher had said in a later film documentary " An Act of God "  that NO anesthesia was given and Baba " said " to her that if He made a sound that she was to squeeze his hand. )


Despite his obvious pain and discomfort, Baba showed a happy expression, and Dr. Abadin was taken aback when Baba lovingly passed his hand over Bhau's face. Not a word came from Baba's mouth, despite the serious wounds and excruciating pain. Even in that injured condition, Baba wore a smile as he expressed his love toward others, amicably chatting with the doctor as if nothing serious had happened. It was a wonderful experience for the civil surgeon and other doctors present, and the heart of the former was awakened to his love.

After Baba's tongue and other cuts under his chin were stitched, Goher took Baba back to Grafton in an ambulance. It was an old vehicle with no shock absorbers, which rattled Baba's body.

After a bruising journey, it was 2:00 A.M. before Baba finally got to lie down.


Bhau had immediately sent telegrams to Adi, Meherjee and Nariman: "Serious accident, all injured removed to hospital Satara. Car lying near Udtara village ten miles from Satara. Bhau."


Meherjee arrived in Satara at 1:30 A.M. But because Adi was in Bombay, Feram, instead of phoning Sarosh immediately, kept the telegram on his table, and Sarosh did not receive the message until 8 A.M. the next morning. Sarosh phoned Adi and sent his car to Poona with Waman, telling Adi to go directly to Satara. From Ahmednagar, Sarosh and Kaka Baria left for Satara at once.

All of Baba's lovers soon came to know of the accident through the newspapers. But because of Baba's seclusion, they were restricted from either visiting, writing or in any way contacting him, and they had to respect his wishes.


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Meher Baba with Sheba in Satara in 1956. Image is courtesy of Lord Meher.
Meher Baba with Sheba in Satara in 1956. Image is courtesy of Lord Meher.
Article courtesy of "In His Service" newsletter - Jan. 2007
Article courtesy of "In His Service" newsletter - Jan. 2007
1956 car accident reported in a Poona newspaper
1956 car accident reported in a Poona newspaper


On the morning after the accident, 3 December 1956, although in tremendous pain, Baba said:

The Hungarians suffered much in their recent struggle [against the Russians]. Many were lying wounded and helpless on the roads, away from their loved ones and from care or relief from pain. At least I am lying on a bed, with the care of good doctors and the love of all my lovers present and absent.

A few days before, Baba had remarked:

Nobody suffers in vain, for true freedom is spiritual freedom, and suffering is a ladder towards it. Man unknowingly suffers for God, and God knowingly suffers for man.


Vishnu (who was very close to Nilu) and Sadashiv Patil took Nilu's body by car to Meherabad that day, where it was cremated. Nilu's ashes were later buried at lower Meherabad, near the dhuni. Baba observed, "Nilu was particularly fortunate to have breathed his last in my physical proximity, and it is as he would have wanted it."

Nilu used to joke that when it was his turn to die, he wanted it to be instantaneous and in Baba's physical presence, and Baba would tease him about it. His death, therefore, did turn out as he wanted it. Baba had been particularly loving toward Nilu the previous week, sometimes even calling for sweets for him. And now the other mandali knew why.

At midnight on the 3rd, Don ( who had gone to Poona with Meherjee ) brought an osteopath from Poona named Dr. V. Bansod, who put Baba in a splint and had sandbag weights placed at the end of his leg. Baba was then able to sleep for three hours. Jalbhai, Meherjee and Savak shared nightwatch. Adi Sr. and Sarosh had arrived in Adi's car, along with an ambulance, which Meherwan and Nusserwan had arranged for Eruch from Sassoon Hospital. Sarosh drove Dr. Bansod back to Poona in Meherjee's car.

On the 4th the ambulance was sent back as it was decided not to remove Eruch to Poona. Ramjoo and Nusserwan saw Baba, along with Mani and Adi Sr. and points were reviewed for a Life Circular about the accident. ( the final draft is in the next paragraph ) Afterwards, Adi, Waman, Kaka Baria and Nusserwan returned to Ahmednagar.

The splint had been removed on the 4th because, with his legs propped up on pillows, it seemed to increase the pain. On 6 December, Baba's pelvis and entire right leg were put in a plaster cast at the Civil Hospital, which helped, but he experienced recurrent muscle spasms and cramps which caused terrible pain.


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Meher Baba in Satara in 1955-6. Image courtesy of Lord Meher.
Meher Baba in Satara in 1955-6. Image courtesy of Lord Meher.


Spasm-relieving injections did not help.


Baba had, in fact, given out hints about this accident, but at the time, no one dreamed that such a thing would take place. In November 1955, he had foretold that two of his very close lovers would die within the year.

At the beginning of July 1956 in Meherazad, before going to England and America, he had issued a circular stating: "... a great so-called tragedy is facing me and my lovers," and "... my humiliation and tragedy, although necessary, are but passing phases which are bound to have a glorious end."

During August 1956, in San Francisco, he had remarked to the Americans: "No one knows what is going to happen before 15 February [1957]."

When someone asked Baba, "Why should these things happen? Why can't you avert them?" his reply was: "What the Divine Will has decreed must and will happen, and if I am the Divine Personification you believe me to be, then the last thing I would do is to avert it or avoid it."

Several days before the accident, Baba had even joked with the mandali: "We may all die in a few days."


Turning to Nilu, he remarked, "Don't worry about anything. Keep thinking of me constantly. I am the Only One that exists, the Only One that matters."


On 6 December, Baba gave this personal message to his lovers: "Don't worry, be happy. All will be well. Faithfully carry out the instructions given by me." He indicated that the accident would not affect the upcoming sahavas program, but on the contrary "it will help toward it." He added, "The congregation has to take place, it must take place."

Baba's mouth and tongue were swollen, so he was placed on a liquid diet for a few days until the swelling diminished. Pappa Jessawala and Sadashiv Patil were allowed to visit from Poona. After seeing Baba, and also Eruch and Pendu, they returned home.

Both of Pendu's legs were in plaster casts, and for several days he was unconscious. He had received a head injury as well and was in terrible pain. Eruch was courageously bearing his suffering, and day and night would remain reclined on a backrest, as he could not lie down because of his broken ribs. Yet, within a month, he was out of the hospital and was with Baba in Poona.

Of those who survived the accident, Baba had received the most serious injuries, and his suffering would have been unbearable for any other man.


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The car crash site shortly afterwards near Udtare.
The car crash site shortly afterwards near Udtare.
 Late 1970s : Kohiyar Satarwala is showing the actual spot on the right where Baba's car had an accident. Photo courtesy of Bobby Buggia.
Late 1970s : Kohiyar Satarwala is showing the actual spot on the right where Baba's car had an accident. Photo courtesy of Bobby Buggia.


But it seemed that Baba enjoyed it, and although completely disabled and in pain, he was mindful of the smallest matter.

The civil surgeon, Dr. Abadin, who was a Muslim, was genuinely drawn to Baba. He would visit Grafton every day to see Baba and came to know more about him through Ramjoo.

Bhau and Aloba attended Eruch and Pendu day and night in the hospital, and the staff was impressed by their heartfelt expression of brotherly devotion. The staff had never witnessed so much love between Parsi, Irani, Hindu and Muslim, and one of the doctors remarked to Bhau: "We would not have served our own father or brother as devotedly as you have been serving your brother disciples." The entire hospital staff had a glimpse of Baba's divine love, which is devoid of any restrictions regarding religion, caste, community or race.

Baba had stated that during the final part of his one-year seclusion, it was essential that he be in complete retirement. Now, confined to his bed in Grafton, lying on his back in one position all the time and virtually unable to move, his retirement could not have been more absolute or complete.

But it was only a week after the accident, when the pains became too severe, and other complications such as continuous muscle spasms had also set in, that Baba at last agreed to Goher and Don's pleas to be shifted to Poona, where better medical facilities were available.

On Monday morning, 10 December 1956, Baba was taken by ambulance to Poona and kept in Dr. Bansod's nursing home on Jangli Maharaj Road. Mehera, Mani and Meheru followed in Meherjee's car, and Rano and Naja arrived the next morning in Sam Kerawala's car. Baba was taken straight to Dr. Bansod's clinic. He had to be carried on a stretcher up the narrow steps to the second floor and was extremely uncomfortable. Meherwan Jessawala was waiting at the clinic and recalls, "The tremendous pain Baba was suffering in the hip made him groan very loudly. It was excruciating pain he was suffering." The plaster cast was removed because Baba's leg muscle had started to cramp. More X-rays were taken, and his leg was put in traction. A neurologist and heart specialist were also called in to examine him.

The pelvic fracture was healing satisfactorily, but the pain varied in intensity, becoming excruciating with the least movement on Baba's part.


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Courtesy of Lord Meher - Vol.15-16, Ist Ed.
Courtesy of Lord Meher - Vol.15-16, Ist Ed.


Yet, when the pain in the hip was relieved, some other form of pain arose — as if Baba were clearly telling the mandali that he had to suffer in this way at that time, and nothing they could do would mitigate it, nor could they share what he had taken on. Baba seemed to confirm this. One day he traced a circle on the spot of the fracture with his finger and gestured, "The suffering of the whole universe is concentrated on this little spot. This is a tangible expression of the universal suffering I bear."


But, in spite of his physical agony, he remarked, "I am happy. It is as I wanted it."


Baba did not like staying at Dr. Bansod's nursing home — it was too small and he was uncomfortable — and he said he would not stay there longer than necessary. So Meherwan Jessawala and Meherjee hurried to find a suitable house in Poona. They managed to rent a small, quiet house near Meherjee's own home, a bungalow named Silver Oaks, at 23 Salisbury Park Road. Baba was taken there on the 11th afternoon. A special bed was kept for him, and Dr. Bansod and a civil surgeon named Dr. Virkar put his leg in traction. But, that evening, Baba again had severe pains and spasms, and the doctor had to be called in the night.

The women mandali had been at Bindra House and then moved to Silver Oaks to stay with Baba, as did Don. Goher, as well as Meheru's sister Naggu (who was also a physician), were in constant attendance on him. Naja stayed at Bindra House to help with the cooking, as Baba and the women's food came from there. Meherjee and Jalbhai shared nightwatch duties, and Nariman would visit every weekend from Bombay and help with the nightwatch.


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Bindra House ( Jessawala's home ), Poona, India
Bindra House ( Jessawala's home ), Poona, India



The following was the circular sent to his followers.


December 5, 1956


Dear Family,
The first impact on the minds of Baba-lovers as they read the following news, or have already heard of it, must naturally be the recollection of Baba's recent words given in "The Circular Message from Baba in His Seclusion" circulated in July 1956 to all concerned in the U.S.A. referring to the personal tragedy that was to occur again. To those at Grafton, Baba said as recently as three days before the accident that the month or so before the termination of His Seclusion on the 15th February, 1957, would hold greater and concentrated suffering for Himself in which a number of His close ones would also share.

On Sunday, the 2nd of December, Baba went to Poona for a day, accompanied by Eruch, Pendu, Vishnu, and Dr. Nilkanth (better know as Nilu). At around 5:15 p.m., while returning to Satara, the accident occurred — about 14 miles from Satara at a place known as Udtara. The car was running normally and at moderate speed when it seemed to suddenly and inexplicably go completely out of control and dashed against a stone culvert, landing eventually in the ditch on the other side of it. Baba and the men were heavily injured, the most seriously being Nilu. The road was deserted of traffic and pedestrians, until three minutes later a man going to Poona sighted the wreckage and lifted Baba (and Vishnu who was the one least hurt of the occupants) into his car, retracing his journey to leave them at Grafton. A truck not long after picked up the remaining ones and brought them to Rosewood, the mandali's place. They were badly injured and immediately hospitalized, except Nilu who died without regaining consciousness. The condition of the others is not serious.

In the auto accident of 1952 in the U.S.A., Baba sustained injuries to His face and leg and arm. This time too, Baba received similar facial injuries, though not as severe as that previous time. As all concerned will be anxious to know the details of Baba's injuries, I cannot do better than to give the following extracts from a hurried report by Dr. Donkin, giving us a general idea of their extent and location: [ Detailed medical description of Baba's facial injuries follows, and report continues. ]

Surgical attention is now concentrated on the treatment of the hip injury. The top end of the thigh bone (the femoral head) fits into the cup-shaped depression in the pelvis, known as the acetabulum. The upper rim of the acetabulum has been fractured, the broken chip of bone being slightly displaced. Although this is very painful, there is most fortunately no fracture of the parts of the upper end of the thigh bone (e.g. the femoral neck) so often sustained in motor crashes.

A plaster cast or some type of immobilization is essential and the complete healing of the fracture will take the usual length of time. Every effort will continue to be made to give freedom from pain and to restore the hip to ultimate normality.

Baba is at Grafton under the loving care of the two ashram doctors, of Mehera and the other women and men mandali.

Baba wishes all concerned to be informed of the accident, and expressly wishes me to say that this does not in any way affect the Congregation of Easterners and Westerners to be held in India in November 1957; that it will not affect the coming Sahavas, but on the contrary will help towards it. Baba wishes all concerned in the West and East to renew their efforts with greater strength towards their coming next year, as this congregation has to take place and must take place. Baba's Love to all His lovers.

Please note: Those of you who have not yet written the direct letter to Baba and therefore no doubt soon will do so, must not in that letter refer to His accident or injuries.

When I informed Baba the news was typed and ready to be sent to the West, He gave this personal message for you all: "Do not worry; be happy. All will be well. Faithfully carry out the instructions given by Me."



LOVE ALONE PREVAILS, pp. 475-478, Kitty Davy

Meher Baba recouperating after the car accident
Meher Baba recouperating after the car accident
Grafton Bungalow, Satara - where Meher Baba stayed prior to the car accident.
Grafton Bungalow, Satara - where Meher Baba stayed prior to the car accident.


On a previous occasion on the 10th September 1956


Later that same day, at about 2:30 P.M., while driving to Gulbarga ( Kalaburagi ), Baba saved them from being involved in a serious auto accident. The mandali could only describe it as a miracle. There was no other explanation to show how the car, which had slipped from the incline of the road into a deep hole and gone over completely on its side to only a few inches from the ground, could right itself as it did without turning over in the ditch. “I still cannot grasp how it happened, Bhau later said to Mani. “One second, my face was almost touching the ground, and the next, we were on the road and on four wheels again. I saw Baba’s hand firmly holding Eruch’s arm.” The car had tipped over on Baba’s side, and Eruch was on top of him with no control over the steering wheel. Baba (from an almost impossible angle) pushed Eruch back into his seat, making it possible for him to yank the wheel and the car to safety.

When the mandali said it was a miracle, Baba looked innocent and gestured, “I know nothing about it.”

They drove on and arrived in a village where there was a middle-aged, long-haired mast who was drinking toddy. Baba bowed to him, touched his feet and gave him five rupees. They next drove to Sangli, where Baba contacted a very good mast. Baba had worked with him before and was pleased to see him again.

After travelling day and night for his contacts with masts, Baba returned to Satara on the evening of September 11th. (1956).


Lord Meher, 1st. ed., Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 15, pp. 5120 – 5121.

Gulbarga ( Kalaburagi )

Gulbarga / Kalaburagi marked in red on map
Gulbarga / Kalaburagi marked in red on map
Image is courtesy of Lord Meher
Image is courtesy of Lord Meher



 Meherjee Karkaria gives his account of the accident.


[Questioner asks about 1956 auto accident.]


One day, Baba said, ‘Let us go for a picnic,’ and members of the near mandali from Poona, Bombay and Ahmednagar were called to join. Baba was staying at that time in Satara, 68 miles from Poona. He said we would play cricket and then eat a picnic. We had to select a place at which to play the match. Baba selected a place about 12 miles from Satara at a dak bungalow which is a place for travelers to rest. It was a farm only and cricket was played with a rubber ball, not ordinary ball. [ Kids playing in the street in India use these rubber balls, much less problem of injury. ]   Baba had asked some dry eatables to be brought from Bombay. Nothing was cooked there. Baba insisted that we should play the match there. There were two teams, ten each, and Baba was the captain of both [to make up a full side of 11 -- Baba fielded, typically as wicket keeper, on both teams]. Baba arranged to give prizes for the batsman taking the most wickets and [for other plays of distinction]. We were all grown- up people, we were not young boys. Sarosh, Myself, Adi [K.] — we were all there. We played the match and two innings complete were played there. We started early morning and by noon it was all over. We were all tired. We enjoyed the food. I got seven rupees prize for bowling. We were so tired as we returned to our homes. To all of us, Baba directed Eruch to write a letter to ask if we were all right, whether we felt any discomfort or anything [in the aftermath of the match] and all of us were sick. Limbs were aching, some of us had little fever, I had some also. So He inquired, we reported back, and the whole thing was forgotten.

“Now it was a year later. Second December 1956. I had imported a new Chevrolet car. Baba had used that car going on mast tours and others. At that period, Baba ordered me that whenever I was called to come to Satara from Poona, I was not to take the new car to go see Him, but instead I was to come by bus. This was orders and I was doing that. On that occasion, He asked me to bring some soda, lemonade, orange, four or five crates. I could not carry that much on the bus, so I *did* take the soda with me in the Chevrolet. As soon as I reached there He said, ‘Why did you break my order? Why did you bring the car? Send it back immediately.’ I had a driver and I told him to go back to Poona immediately. Little did I know His purpose in not allowing me to bring that car. At that time Baba had at His disposal an old 1952 Chevrolet that belonged to Nariman Dadachanji.


“The next morning was an eclipse day, and I was a little nervous as we set out in the car. Baba had asked us to keep full fast that day, not even to drink water. Baba, myself, Eruch, Pendu and Nilu — five of us left Satara in that car. Explicit orders were given to us that we should not disclose to anybody where we were going with Baba. Even I had been directed not to tell my wife that I’d be going somewhere with Baba. We came to Poona. First the motorcade of Chou- En Lai crossed our path. We cursed them. Chou-en Lai had been to see the Defense Secretary or someone in Poona, and that held us up. Baba also made a face. Then Baba said that we should go take rest in the Defense Academy grounds, a beautiful place in Poona.”



[ slight break in the tape...]


‘Come on, let us go to see some cricket match.’ Ordinary matches. There were many schools and colleges. So we went around those playgrounds and there was one match going on. We were just watching for a time.

“At that time there were instructions to all Baba’s devotees that no one was to contact Him because He was in seclusion. Even if people see Baba while He is traveling on the roads, they should go away. They should not follow Baba or come near Him. One of Baba’s old disciples, Ramchandra Gadekar, a very nice, very simple man also, he saw Baba’s car, and he was so emotional he could not resist the temptation to follow Baba. [ After telling off Gadekar, ] Baba decided to go back to Satara. It was about quarter to four. Vishnu had been away from Baba in Poona for some work. So Baba said ‘Let us drop Meherjee at his place in Poona and take Vishnu in his place in the car.’ So I was dropped off, Vishnu joined them and they left from my place. The accident occurred at about 5:30 in the afternoon. Where? At the same place where we had played the cricket match. It was a paved road, no obstacles. How did it happen? Eruch was driving but even today Eruch does not know how that accident happened. It just went off the road and Nilu died on the spot. Baba broke His right hip joint, His face was injured, His back was injured. Eruch’s ribs were broken. The old car was totally damaged. That is why Baba did not want me to bring my new car. He later said to me that, ‘I did not want your new car so that I might have been tempted to go in the new car.’


[ Questioner asks about changing places with someone just before the accident, and Meherjee acknowledges, but doesn't remember exactly. ]


“Nilu was an old disciple of Baba, living with Him as one of the mandali. By the by, ‘mandali,’ we use it commonly here, means ‘companion.’ It’s a word in Marathi, not even in Hindi. Among the old-fashioned people of Maharashtra, a husband would not call his wife by name, but he would call her ‘mandali.’ Even today. Even she is sitting, he might say, ‘Mandali, get me a glass of water.’ When Baba refers to ‘My mandali’ it means those who were practically all the time near Him. In general sense, Baba used to say, ‘whoever obeys me and loves me is my mandali.’”


[ Questioners ask a few questions the answers to which are now commonly known. ]


“Whenever I used to go to Bombay, Baba’s orders were there that I should go to Poona, bow to Babajan and go for my work to Bombay, and upon returning I should bow to Babajan on the way back. That way, I must have met Babajan two or three times. On one such occasion, I came from Bombay on the night train, reached Poona in the early morning, and went to see Babajan. She was drinking some tea. It’s tea sold in market stalls, and she was a Perfect Master. I was fastidious. I do not take such tea even today. So when Babajan offered it to me, I had to drink it. I know nothing particular about Babajan, save what Baba told us, that she was perfect. We respected her. Each time I met her, I was only with her for a few seconds, go there, bow down and go away.”



September 1957 : Ahmednagar, India. Photo taken by Manohar Panday. Image rendition by Anthony Zois.
September 1957 : Ahmednagar, India. Photo taken by Manohar Panday. Image rendition by Anthony Zois.