Born : 1884
Died : 10th August, 1962 - Ahmednagar, India
Buried : Saturday, 11 August 1962, Upper Meherabad, India
Married : Kaikhushru (Khan Saheb) Sarosh Irani
Children : Adi (Sr.), Rustom, Piroja, & Dolly
Parents : ?
Siblings : Minochershaw ( Dr.), Soonamasi
Nationality : Indian
Meher Baba's Spritual Mother
Merwan Seth's ( Merwan Irani given name prior to Meher Baba ) frequent visits to Sakori expanded his circle of contacts. Upasni Maharaj, like Babajan, would often mention Merwan to his followers. One of Upasni's disciples was a very special woman named Gulmai, the wife of Kaikhushru Sarosh Irani, a prominent businessman and civic leader in Ahmednagar. Gulmai was then 36 and the mother of four children. Married at an early age, she had encountered many problems in her life and, prior to meeting Maharaj, had been depressed and unhappy at her joint-family home.
Merwan's uncle Masaji was
employed as a clerk at a liquor store owned by Kaikhushru in Ahmednagar. The owner's sister, Gulnar, suffered from a skin disease, and Masaji told her and Gulmai about Upasni Maharaj and about
During August 1919, Gulmai's sister Soonamasi and her husband Kaikhushru Masa came to Ahmednagar from Bombay to visit their relatives. Kaikhushru Masa was an ardent lover of God and and about eight years before had been to Shirdi for Sai Baba's darshan. It was at Shirdi that he had learned of Upasni Maharaj and had gone for his darshan at the Khandoba Temple. Later, he became a regular visitor to Sakori, where he met Merwan Seth and immediately recognized the divinity manifest in him. Kaikhushru Masa tried to persuade his sister-in-law Gulmai to accompany them to Sakori, but she refused because she felt her husband would not like it.
When Kaikhushru Masa, Soonamasi, and Gulnar were present before Upasni Maharaj, they spoke to him about Gulnar's rash, and then about Gulmai's devotional nature and her family problems. Gulnar explained to the Sadguru, "My sister-in-law is very depressed and alienated; she faces oppressive conditions in her husband's joint-family household. Could you draw her to you like you have drawn us?"
Upasni replied, "Do not be so worried about her. I will do the same for her as I have done for you. You and she, as well as the whole family, will come to me. Have faith and come to Sakori as frequently as you can. Your skin disease — and her depression —will disappear."
Upasni then told them that they were welcome to stay the night in Sakori, but Gulnar wanted to return to Ahmednagar. However, on their way back they were stranded near a river which had flooded. Thus, instead of being in the ashram of a God-conscious Master, they had to spend the night in a donkey stable! When Gulnar returned, she was happy that she had met the impressive Sadguru, and she told Gulmai about the trip, and urged her to make it a point to meet Upasni Maharaj soon.
Gustadji had been at Sakori on this occasion and had accompanied the group back to Ahmednagar on his way to Poona. He told them about the arti to Upasni Maharaj which Merwan Seth had composed, and Gulnar, wanting to recite it, requested that Gustadji write it down. However, he did not remember the entire arti and told her to get it from Merwan Seth. (Later, when Gulmai's husband Kaikhushru went to Poona, he met Merwan Seth who wrote out the arti for Gulmai.)
Soonamasi longed to take her sister to Sakori before she and her husband left for Bombay. For two weeks she pleaded with her sister to visit the Sadguru, but Gulmai refused. Finally, Gulmai agreed and was accompanied by Kaikhushru Masa, and Mr. and Mrs. Bekhoda Irani, acquaintances from Poona. They reached Sakori around noon and saw Upasni Maharaj's humble thatched hut situated among thorny, scraggly bushes with a small temple nearby. A few paces away was a pipal tree, under which two young Persian men were sitting. Gulmai approached them and Kaikhushru Masa and Bekhoda started a conversation. Bekhoda's wife whispered to Gulmai, "Do you know who that is?" Gulmai shook her head, no.
"Do you know Sheriar Moondegar of Poona?" Bekhoda's wife asked.
Gulmai said, "Yes, Sheriar is related to my father and came to my wedding [in December 1896]."
Bekhoda's wife explained, "That is Sheriar's son, Merwan, and the other is his business partner, Beheram. They own a toddyshop in Poona. They are Maharaj's bhaktas [devotees]."
Gulmai replied, "I have heard that Sheriar has a son who is insane and abstains from eating meat, fish and eggs. Is he the same son?"
Bekhoda's wife said, "Yes. However, wait till you hear him sing. He sings beautifully."
"I would like to hear him," Gulmai said. "We will ask him to sing later."
Upasni Maharaj asked each about matters pertaining to them personally. As soon as Gulmai had entered his hut, she was astonished to find that the near naked Master was the same figure who had appeared to her recently in a vivid dream. She listened intently to his words as he spoke of God, the spiritual path and the need of a Perfect Master. Gulmai was impressed with Upasni Maharaj, and she immediately felt comfortable in his presence, as if she had found an old friend.
Gulmai spontaneously said, "Maharaj, you have what is not available elsewhere. I want only that!"
At this time, Merwan Seth was standing near a well with Sadashiv. When Gulmai came to get a drink of water, he inquired how she was doing. Then, to win her over, he remarked to Sadashiv, "How sweet is this lady's nature. How different my life would have been had she been my mother!" With these compliments, Merwan Seth snared her heart. Gulmai returned home the same day.
During her frequent visits with Upasni Maharaj over the years, Gulmai never gave up hope of living in his ashram at Sakori. While there, she and Merwan Seth often met. He revealed to her his spiritual experiences, which convinced her beyond doubt that he was, in fact, the chargeman (spiritual heir) of Sadguru Upasni Maharaj.
During one stay with Upasni Maharaj for twelve days, Gulmai had to bear austere hardships, and was even severely slapped by Maharaj. Explaining to her what she was undergoing, Merwan Seth assured her, "You are very fortunate. By withstanding these tests, you are the first woman to have been granted the grace of a Perfect Master such as Upasni Maharaj. You passed through these hardships brilliantly. It is a blessing if a Sadguru beats a person; you are indeed blessed. Babajan also beats people with a stick."
Before Gulmai left Sakori, Upasni Maharaj told her, "People like holy places where there are big and beautiful temples — important and influential persons throng there. That is a common occurrence. But to come to this barren place with love and devotion, and serve the Master wholeheartedly with full faith is real. What is there in Udwada? There is fire, but here burns the living fire! Real pilgrimage is at the feet of the Perfect Master."
During 1919, Merwan Seth initiated the building of a small temple in Sakori for performing Upasni Maharaj's arti. He himself would defray the expenses of bhandaras (feasts) held there, as would Gulmai. Other temples were constructed later in Sakori as Maharaj's fame spread; a rich maharaja built one magnificent Hindu temple there. But the distinction of funding the first temple in Upasni Maharaj's honor rested with Merwan Seth.
Gulmai's devotion to Merwan Seth deepened with each encounter and later she and her husband and their sons Rustom and Adi, and daughters Piroja and Dolly, dedicated their lives and property to his cause.
Since 1919, Gulmai had been a regular visitor to Upasni Maharaj's headquarters at Sakori, where she had met and talked with Meher Baba many times. Gulmai
and her husband Kaikhushru, 42, had two sons named Rustom, 20, and Adi, 16, and two daughters Piroja, 14, and Dolly, 7. Adi had seen Baba at Sakori one time on 27 December 1919, when he had visited his mother there. Adi was studying at a Parsi boarding school at Panchgani. He had come to Sakori only at his mother's insistence as her escort, but when he saw Maharaj, he spontaneously fell
at his feet.
Maharaj told them, "I have poured my entire spirituality into Merwan. You must stick with him through thick and thin. I am now an empty vessel."
Gulmai's contact with Meher Baba increased during 1920, as she came to Sakori more frequently. In December 1920, Baba asked her if she would like to accompany him to Nasik. She agreed and returned to Ahmednagar to prepare for the trip. After a few days, Baba showed up at her home in Ahmednagar and was welcomed to stay the night. That evening a singer was called to entertain him.
It was during this occasion that Baba commented to Gulmai's husband Kaikhushru that he would one day become Khansaheb (an honorary title conferred by the British). Kaikhrushru took it as a joke. Baba repeated his prediction in all seriousness, and a year later the distinguished title was conferred upon Kaikhushru.
To Gulmai, Baba remarked, "You will be like Babajan."
Gulmai doubted that she would ever be on the same level as Hazrat Babajan and said so. Turning to Babu Cyclewalla, who was seated beside him, Baba pointed to Gulmai, and repeated emphatically, "It is a fact. You are like Babajan!"
The next day Baba left for Poona with Babu Cyclewalla, but did not take Gulmai with him. Accompanied by Gustadji, his mother Memo, and one of her lady friends, Baba and his company traveled to Nasik via Bombay. In Nasik, Baba, Memo, and her companion stayed at Sayyed Saheb's family house. After several days, the ladies returned to Poona while Baba and Gustadji traveled to Ahmednagar. They stayed at Gulmai's home, and on the next day Baba asked her to accompany him to Sakori for a week until the Hindu festival of Sankrant. She agreed.
At Sakori, Baba showed Gulmai the room that Upasni Maharaj had designated for him, saying she could keep her luggage there. The room had not been swept, and Gulmai cleaned it with his permission. Afterward she went to visit Durgabai. At dusk, Yeshwant Rao Nandram Boravke, one of Upasni Maharaj's close circle members, arrived and stayed with Baba until he was to meet with Upasni.
A Zoroastrian woman named Pilamai Hormuzd Irani of Karachi had come to Sakori for the first time for the celebration. Pilamai and Gulmai were distant relatives through marriage. A year or so previously in Bombay, Pilamai had met Gulmai, who was there visiting her brother. The two women became closer during this visit. Pilamai confided her problem with depression to Gulmai, who suggested she meet Upasni Maharaj (who had helped Gulmai overcome her own malady). At her suggestion, Pilamai brought her children and stayed in Sakori for a month.
One day Pilamai and Gulmai were sitting near Meher Baba, and he asked Gulmai to sit closer, saying, "Sit here, Mother. I have something I want you to understand. Every Sadguru has a spiritual mother; Durgabai is Maharaj's. Narayan Maharaj and Tajuddin Baba have one also. Similarly, all Perfect Masters have spiritual sisters, too. Likewise, you are my spiritual mother and Pilamai is my spiritual sister; I have a past link with both of you through many lifetimes. I am telling you the fact that I am your son; and Pilamai, I am your brother. You are most fortunate."
Taken aback, Gulmai replied, "I know nothing about spiritual facts. I am not equal to even the dust under your feet. I am not worthy of anything spiritual. I am a simple woman — quite tired of life — with the one desire to stay near Maharaj always, to serve him and die at his feet."
Baba looked at her seriously and declared, "I am Maharaj, and Maharaj is myself! Only the bodies are different. I am his son. Do as I tell you." (Gulmai was ordered by Upasni to always bow to his wish, so she accepted what Meher Baba had declared.) Later he confided in her, "You and your whole family are dear to me, and there is a certainty of our staying together in the future. Even if the whole world goes against me, you and your family won't leave me."
Several days passed and Meher Baba was sitting under the canopy of the Hindu temple in Sakori with Durgabai and Gulmai. Paintings of different Hindu gods had been hung inside the canopy. He began telling them the story of Sudama, a devotee of Krishna. When Baba finished that story, Gulmai asked for another, and Baba replied, "How can I explain everything?"
Gulmai pleaded, "Baba, you know everything."
Baba smiled and then said, "When one visits Bombay, one goes to some particular place. One does not see every nook and corner of the city. Why I don't explain everything is similar to this."
After a week, her husband Kaikhushru arrived to take Gulmai home. At noon all gathered for lunch in Pilamai's room. Baba also came and sat down to eat. Gulmai remembered that, being Sunday, it was her one day per week to fast. She got up without eating. Baba remarked, "Never mind. Have lunch." Because it was Upasni Maharaj's orders, she politely refused. Baba insisted that she should eat. The tussle reached Maharaj's ears and he ordered Gulmai to eat. The incident served to demonstrate to Gulmai that it was Maharaj's wish that she defer to Meher Baba's wishes in all matters. After lunch, Baba took Kaikhushru aside and began giving him spiritual explanations and telling stories about Maharaj.
Gulmai and her family were living in the Parsi dharamshala in Shani Gulli, Ahmednagar, and during 1921, her husband Khansaheb had built a new house next door, which he named Sarosh Manzil. Gulmai desired that Upasni Maharaj should come and inaugurate the house before they moved in, but her orthodox relatives were averse to the idea of a Hindu opening the house. Hence, the ceremony was performed according to the Zoroastrian religion. A local Mohammedan saint named Gilori Shah was called to perform the inauguration and the poor were fed. All of their furniture was shifted there, but Gulmai was adamant that she would not stay in the new house until Upasni Maharaj himself came and performed the housewarming ceremony.
Several months passed. But when Gulmai went to Sakori and invited Upasni Maharaj, he instructed, "Make a seat for me and place my photograph on it. This will be tantamount to my coming in person." Gulmai was not satisfied and requested that Maharaj come himself.
Gulmai did as instructed. Gustadji came two days in advance of the opening ceremony to instruct and assist her in preparing for Upasni Maharaj's arti and puja. A car was hired to bring Maharaj. Rustom and Adi drove in it to Sakori. Durgabai accompanied Maharaj. The automobile stopped in front of the Irani's new house and Upasni descended. He was garlanded with flowers, offered a coconut, and welcomed inside. Everyone present took his darshan. Only Khansaheb's brother-in-law (Sarosh's father) remained staunchly opposed and refused to enter the house.
The Irani family was wealthy and the housewarming ceremony was elaborately planned; many from the town were invited. Before the ceremony took place on Tuesday, 26 July 1921, the orthodox Zoroastrians and some of Gulmai's own relatives again strongly objected to a Hindu guru cutting the welcome ribbon. Gulmai, however, refused to relent and insisted Upasni Maharaj be given the honor. The ceremony proceeded as Gulmai had planned.
On another occasion, Gulmai came to Poona with her son, Adi, to meet Baba at Vithal's house. Baba was relaxing and conversing with a few persons. Noticing her in a distressed state, he called her upstairs. Gulmai's hand was paining; she was tired and had a severe headache. When Baba inquired what the trouble was, Gulmai claimed, "It is only a slight headache."
The next evening, Gulmai and Adi were sitting in the hut with Baba and talking about why he had chosen this site along Fergusson Road. Baba revealed that long ago, when the area was a jungle, a great sadhu had inhabited the spot where his hut stood.
Shortly thereafter, Gulmai's nephew, Sarosh Kaikhushru Irani, nineteen, arrived from Panchgani, where he (like Gulmai's son Adi) was in boarding school. However, he did not approach the hut, but stood at a distance by his tonga and spoke with Aunt Gulmai there. Sarosh had heard of Meher Baba but had no faith in him, and he had no desire to meet him, either. (In Ahmednagar, Sarosh's father was the person most staunchly opposed to Baba.)
Sarosh informed Gulmai that he had left school, because he was not given permission by his teacher to appear for the matriculation exam. Gulmai was upset and said, "You did not behave well in Ahmednagar. You troubled your mother and teachers, so you were sent to Panchgani. You must have misbehaved there also, and that must be why your teacher refused permission."
Sarosh insisted this was not the case. "I did not misbehave!" he said. "I brought something to the notice of the principal, who reproached my teacher. In retaliation, the teacher did not give me the examination form — so I left."
Sarosh said he was staying the night in Poona and would go to Ahmednagar the next day. Gulmai told him to come and see her before leaving. After he had gone, Baba asked who the young man was. Gulmai explained that he was her nephew Sarosh. Baba expressed his wish to meet him, saying, "I have a lot of work in the world for him later on."
On 11 March 1922, the Hindu festival of Holi was celebrated with a game of atya-patya and later with the burning of a fire in an earthen pit. Baba himself had earlier brought a large branch of a felled tree in a small bullock cart from Kasba Peth. The wood was placed in the pit and lit, along with twigs and dry leaves. He explained, "The holi is symbolic of the fire of divine love and the wood represents the lower self which is to be burned in that fire."
The group of fishermen devotees from Kasba Peth were present and entertained the Master with bhajans until midnight. Since it was so late, Gulmai and Adi were told by Baba to sleep inside his hut.
Gulmai again received a letter from Baba saying that she should come to Poona. She went with Rustom, telling her husband and in-laws that they were going to visit Adi. Baba had instructed her to arrange Rustom's marriage, so the pretext of looking for a young lady for Rustom to marry provided an additional excuse. In Poona, accompanied by Naja Behramji Irani, Gulmai visited the homes of eligible Zoroastrian girls and in the evening reported to Baba. None of the girls was approved, however. Baba told her, "Continue looking, but it will be settled as planned by me," though he did not reveal how.
That night, Baba had Gulmai and Rustom sleep inside his hut, while he and the other men slept outside. Before leaving, Gulmai was instructed to have sewn eight white cotton pajama pants for him using Adi's measurements, and to bring them with her when he next called her.
Meanwhile, Adi (later known as Adi Sr.) became romantically involved with Naja Irani's daughter, Freiny. The young woman loved Adi and wished to marry him; but Gulmai soon found out about it and immediately informed Baba.
Soon after, Baba met Freiny, her mother, Adi and Gulmai at Sadashiv Patil's house. He told the young lady in a gentle manner: "Forget about Adi; he belongs to me. Even his mother has no claim on him. It will not be good for you to marry him. You would not be happy. But with my nazar, you will marry a rich man and be very happy."
Freiny wept but accepted the Master's decision.
Gulmai had explained to Naja Irani about Baba, and had urged the woman to talk openly with the Master about her problems. She was skeptical, though, and said, "I have one or two things to discuss with him. If he gives me a satisfactory reply, I will believe in him and even sweep his hut." Since Naja was a wealthy woman, her promise was even more significant because such persons never did such menial tasks.
One day, when Naja was dropping Gulmai at the hut, she approached Baba and said, "I wish to go to Iran and perform certain Zoroastrian rituals. I also want to get my daughter married there. If this is fulfilled, I will serve you and sweep your hut every day."
Baba smilingly replied, "All right. Your wishes will be fulfilled." Then he added seriously, "But don't forget to come back and sweep my hut!"
1922 - Upasni Maharaj's darshan
Chief among these was a Zoroastrian jeweler from Bombay named Kaikhushru Masa Beheram Irani, his wife Soonamasi, and their twelve-year old daughter Khorshed. Kaikhushru Masa was a frequent visitor to Sakori, and it was he who had first told his wife and her sister Gulmai about Upasni Maharaj. He was instrumental in bringing Gulmai and her whole family into Maharaj's contact and, subsequently into Meher Baba's. Kaikhushru Masa had seen Baba at Sakori, and his wife Soonamasi most likely met Baba a year prior at the opening of Sarosh Manzil in Ahmednagar. But for their daughter Khorshed, this meeting on the train was her first encounter with Baba, to whom she would soon dedicate her life.
Reaching the village of Chitali, Baba sent his mother in one tonga and Ramjoo with Kaikhushru Masa and his family to Sakori in another tonga, while Baba and the others walked (nine miles). Khansaheb, Gulmai, their son Adi, and nephew Sarosh had already arrived. Also gathered were the Irani sisters, Daulatmai and Freiny Masi, along with many others. Upasni Maharaj's birthday was to be celebrated on a tremendous scale with a four-day program, and a great feast was served to several hundred people.
Soon after arriving, the disciples of Baba went for Upasni Maharaj's darshan.
Gulmai was instructed by Baba to wave the arti tray in front of Maharaj; this was followed by devotional music and bhajans. Afterward, a large photograph of Maharaj was displayed in a palanquin and taken through Sakori village in a grand procession accompanied by bhajan-singing and a band.
Gulmai, however, did not join the procession. Frequently, Baba emphasized to her, "Do only what I tell you to do here. And do exactly as I tell you to do." This was irksome to her because she felt he was saying it in an attempt to distance her from Maharaj, whom she loved deeply. After the procession left, she sat alone weeping under a tree, depressed and confused over what she mistook to be rivalry in the guru's darbar.
Soon Maharaj approached and sat beside her. Gulmai told him what Baba had said, and he explained: "Difficulties have to be faced in every noble endeavor. God has two wives: one on this side, another on that side. One wife faces difficulties bravely and goes on; the other creates difficulties and always complains.
We must go forward, facing any and all opposition. Difficulties will always be there. We must bear suffering patiently and do our duty without caring about anything else."
The return of the palanquin was welcomed with flowers and coconuts. The photograph of Maharaj was placed on a gaadi (divan) Gulmai had brought from Ahmednagar, which was decorated with cushions and silk sheets. The feast was served to all the guests by Maharaj himself.
Khodadad K. Irani, of Ahmedabad, heard about Meher Baba from his aunt Gulmai and was permitted to stay in Manzil-e-Meem. During the day, he was employed in a textile mill. Khodadad had suffered from chronic asthma since childhood so Baba nicknamed him Asthma. Despite the best medical treatment and dietary precautions, Khodadad could not rid himself of this ailment. But it was observed that since coming to the Manzil and being addressed by this new nickname, he was freed from any asthma attacks, and the disease eventually left him altogether. It seemed almost miraculous that his attacks did not recur in spite of taking cold baths each morning like the other residents.
Gulmai had been permitted to visit Manzil-e-Meem several times prior to the following incident. Once, after Baba had returned from Ajmer, she had gone to Bombay in response to a telegram informing her
that her father was seriously ill. Gulmai arrived in Bombay at nine in the evening, consulted with Baba at the Manzil and then went to Parel where her father lived. He passed away the next
morning. While the funeral prayers and rites were being performed, she received a message from Baba to come to him. She went as soon as the body had been taken to the Tower of Silence for the
dead and, after seeing Baba, returned home to Ahmednagar.
Some time later, her daughter Dolly's navjot (Zoroastrian thread ceremony) was performed in Parel. In the evening Baba and the mandali were invited to celebrate the occasion. Gulmai's brother, Dr. Minochershaw Irani, had been ill and was to have an operation soon and wished to consult Baba about it. Baba informed him that there was no need to be concerned and that he would recover. Despite the Master's kindness, Minochershaw had no faith in Baba and spoke against him to his sister and others.
Because of her faith in Meher Baba as a Master, Gulmai also continued to be harassed at home by her in-laws, also, who did not believe in his divine attainment. When the situation became intolerable, Gulmai would weep while secluding herself in a special prayer room where Upasni Maharaj had stayed while visiting her. One day her in-laws ridiculed her terribly. On that very same day, at Manzil-e-Meem, Baba told Adi and Gustadji that he was very angry with Adi's father, and that Gulmai would be coming to see him within eight days. And she did arrive exactly on the eighth day.
On one occasion, while Gulmai was present, Baba turned to Gustadji and said, "As I see all things, my heart sinks!"
Gulmai requested a clarification, but Baba refused to explain himself. He then asked her what she had been doing on a certain day in the recent past. She remembered that it was the day when she had wept while looking at his photograph. She tried to evade a reply. He gazed at her and asked, "Were you looking at my photograph?" She nodded affirmatively, and then he asked, "How many tears did you shed on my behalf!" She evaded his eyes and kept her head bowed.
Her son, Adi, interjected, "That was the same day when Baba told us that he was very upset with Father."
Baba smiled at her, softly saying, "I see you in Adi's eyes. He is the frame, and you are the image inside."
The following day was Id, a holy day in honor of Prophet Muhammad, and a celebration was held. Munshiji brought a white kafni with lace for Baba to wear. The Master looked magnificent in it. Seeing Gustadji's torn shirt, Baba told Gulmai to repair it, but Gustadji would not let her. Baba later told her, "Never mind what he says. If you sew for Gustadji, it is tantamount to doing service for me."
After a few moments of silence, Baba asked Gulmai, "Do you know what I did just now?" She said no.
Baba said, "No one knows what I am doing even at this moment."
Gulmai answered, "Nothing of what you are doing is apparent to me."
"It is my work which no one can understand," he replied.
On one occasion, while placing his hand on a light switch, he told Gulmai, "Look, the bulb is connected by a wire to the switch.
I just press the button, and there is light. Similarly, when the Perfect Master presses the button, the spiritual mother will have illumination! Until then, remember, patience is required."
Baba stayed at Khansaheb and Gulmai's property Khushru Quarters, not far from their Sarosh Manzil residence. Except for Gulmai's family and her nephew Sarosh, no one else in the local Zoroastrian community respected Baba as a Spiritual Master.
Gulmai's Irani in-laws, who stayed in the large compound of Khushru Quarters, constantly ridiculed Gulmai's devotion to Meher Baba. But Baba kept Gulmai and her family under the protective shelter of his nazar. He had revealed his divinity to them to such a profound extent that, despite severe opposition against him, they would always remain at his feet — obedient to him no matter what. Due to her relatives' disbelief and opposition, Gulmai underwent terrible mental suffering; but she remained steadfast to Meher Baba's divine love and did not argue with them.
For several days, Baba and the men walked through the nearby predominantly Muslim locality of Ahmednagar, exploring the area. Also during his stay at Khushru Quarters, Baba remained secluded in one room for seven days partially fasting. Adi and Gustadji attended to his personal needs, and Gulmai prepared curry with curd (yogurt) for him. Baba instructed Gulmai to keep an oil lamp burning day and night in the nearby room designated as Upasni Maharaj's.
One day Adi told his mother that Baba appeared pale and she thought it was due to the fasting. Soon after, the Master called her and said, "I have not become weak; I do not feel any weakness. I am as strong as ever." He added, "I had gone to attend a meeting."
Baba then told Gulmai to use the room in which he had sat in seclusion for herself.
One day the local Muslim saint Gilori Shah, whom Gulmai had told Baba about, appeared at the gate of Khushru Quarters. Adi saw him, but Baba told him to go inside and not approach the saint.
The mandali were surprised because, although they had heard about Arangaon and Baba's intention of staying there, they did not know its location. Gulmai had only mentioned the name of the place and had planned to take Baba there after Rustom's marriage. Baba sat down under a neem tree by an old well. He pointed out the recently constructed tomb of Gilori Shah, a few feet away, then observed the neglected buildings, a small howd (cistern) and a concrete platform.
A dispute again arose between some of Gulmai's relatives over Khansaheb's property. Some warned that Meher Baba would usurp Khansaheb's land in Arangaon if immediate steps were not taken to prevent this. Baba came to know of the heated quarrel, and vacated Sarosh Manzil on Friday morning, 11 May 1923.
There had been exchanges of bitter words and criticism toward Meher Baba by certain Zoroastrians. Gulmai felt disheartened by Baba's departure from her house due to the hostile and disrespectful attitude of her relatives. She felt disappointed because she had invited the Master to set up his headquarters on her husband's property at Arangaon. Like Shireenmai, Gulmai was destined to play a certain role. Who can measure the pain behind a mother's sorrow?
Khansaheb was moved by his wife's devotion and hastened to the dharamshala to try to correct the situation and appease Baba's feelings. He pleaded, "On behalf of my family, I beg your forgiveness, Baba. Accept my prayer to remain in Arangaon. Gulmai is beside herself with grief over what has happened."
Baba answered, "A Fakir has no home and at the same time he has everything. He only stays in one particular place for certain reasons. I do not wish to create differences or divide your family by staying in Arangaon."
Khansaheb earnestly pleaded with him to reconsider, and finally Baba agreed to return. So after a three-day stay in the dharamshala, the men, led by Baba, walked back to Arangaon on Sunday, 13 May, and stayed again in the deserted Post Office building.
Gulmai's sister Soonamasi Irani, her husband Kaikhushru Masa, and their daughter Khorshed had come from Bombay to attend Rustom's wedding. On one occasion, Baba advised Soonamasi and Khorshed to stay in Ahmednagar so they could regularly come for his darshan at Arangaon. Pilamai was staying, too, and she also went to Arangaon for Baba's darshan daily. On one occasion he told her, "Gulmai is my spiritual mother, but remember you are my spiritual sister, so you should stay in close contact with me."
28th April, 1924
Gulmai traveled to Poona at 10:00 P.M. that night, and as the train passed Meherabad, Baba and the mandali stood by the railway tracks and waved to her.
The very next day, Yeshwant Rao arrived from Sakori with some of his friends for Baba's darshan. Yeshwant was a main inner link between Sakori and Meherabad, and would always bring messages to Baba from Upasni Maharaj and then convey Baba's reply to Maharaj. Occasionally, during the 1920s, Gulmai and Adi would be sent to Sakori and would also act as messengers between the two Masters.
Gulmai, Adi, Rustom and Sarosh were often the victims of Baba's criticism, because among their large family all other relatives were coldly indifferent toward Meher Baba and did not believe him to be a God-conscious Master. Baba, however, was gradually drawing the entire Irani family toward him and wanted to impress upon those opposed to him that he did not need their property or anything else. By occupying their land, he was in fact putting them under a great obligation and doing them an inestimable honor that they could never repay. Amidst all the controversy in their family and hostility from the local Zoroastrian community, Rustom and Adi faithfully served Baba, leaving nothing undone in meeting the material necessities of all phases of life at Meherabad.
For several days, Baba remained disturbed by Khansaheb's attitude and, during the early morning of 24 May, he again mentioned his thoughts of leaving Meherabad. Gulmai and Rustom arrived; Baba promptly informed them of his intentions. The bitter repetition of Baba's complaints against his father annoyed Rustom (who had "already been deluged with such messages from Baba since morning," Ramjoo recorded). Unthinkingly, Rustom said something unpleasant. Baba became furious saying he would never return to Meherabad! He immediately sat in Abdul Tayab's car accompanied by as many of the mandali as could squeeze inside.
As the car was about to leave, Gulmai began weeping, and she and others beseeched Baba to forgive Rustom. Rustom also sought Baba's pardon.
But Baba did not get out of the car. It was a tense, serious situation that lasted for some time. Finally, after much discussion back and forth, very reluctantly Baba, though still upset, agreed to stay in Meherabad on the following three conditions:
1. Adi should not stay with him.
2. Rustom, Khansaheb and no one else from the Irani family should come to Meherabad.
3. The Meherabad land should be legally transferred to either Adi or Gustadji's name.
Baba then got out of the car and said, "It is only because of Mother [Gulmai] that I have alighted."
At this time, Daulatmai's daughter Mehera was still staying in Sakori, and Soonamasi's daughter Khorshed was now with her as her friend and companion. After settling in Bombay, Baba sent Gulmai to Sakori to bring both young ladies to be with him. Baba then housed Mehera with Khorshed and Khorshed's parents in Irani Mansion. The Purush had his Prakruti beside him; the Perfect Man had the mirror of creation with him, and this pure image of the Beloved's heart began singing the Song throughout the Garden.
On 2 July 1939, Savak Kotwal arrived at Meherabad and saw Baba. Ramjoo's son Dadu also had an interview the same day. Baba frequently visited Gulmai at Khushru Quarters and went to a movie at Sarosh Cinema. On 4 July, Gulmai wept before Baba and bitterly complained about having to live apart from him (in Ahmednagar rather than on Meherabad Hill, as she had done before) because of Shireenmai. When Baba went to see her a week later, on the 12th, and informed her that she would not be accompanying the group when they shifted from Meherabad, Gulmai was even more disappointed and said she wanted to commit suicide. Baba consoled her, emphasizing her spiritual connection with him, and commented, "Suffering is necessary when you are in this spiritual path."
Among the men mandali in Lahore were Anna 104, Baidul, Chanji, Ghani, Gustadji, Kaka, Kalemama, Krishna, Masaji, Nilu and Vishnu. They were staying at a house in 294 Garden Town. Jal Kerawalla, Babadas, Adi Sr., Gulmai and Deshmukh were occasional visitors and stayed in a small cottage on the property, and Don came once in July.
Baba was also constantly going out in search of masts with Adi Sr., who would come from Ahmednagar daily, as mentioned, and would drive him. Baba would occasionally visit Khushru Quarters to see Adi's mother Gulmai, and stop also at Akbar Press to see the Satha family.
Adi Sr.'s father Khansaheb Irani had been ill and bedridden for the past several months, and so Baba went to see him at Khushru Quarters on the 19th ( September ). Khansaheb had always had great reverence for Baba, but no love. Now, much to his wife Gulmai's delight, he felt genuinely drawn to Baba.
Baba asked him, "What do you wish for?"
"Good health for two months and, thereafter, liberation," he said.
Baba promised: "Do as I say for two months, and I will definitely fulfill your wish."
Baba gave him some instructions regarding personal matters, and Khansaheb was happy. He garlanded Baba, and a photograph was taken of Baba, Gulmai and Khansaheb. Before leaving, Baba took Adi and Gulmai aside and remarked, "He will be relieved of his agonies in October."
This was to be Khansaheb's last meeting with Baba, and his last wish was fulfilled by Baba. He merged in God's infinity eighteen days later on Sunday, 7 October 1945, at noon, with Baba's name on his lips. He was 67 years old.
Adi brought Gulmai to Guruprasad on 9 May 1959, along with Kaikobad. The Poona Center lovers would come to Guruprasad and describe all the work they were doing for Baba, boasting: "We held such-and-such a program there ... We had to face many difficulties ... We worked so hard ... We sang such beautiful bhajans that people were wonderstruck ... Our lecture created a great impression," and so on. Baba would listen to them and praise them for their efforts.
According to the Irani calendar, Monday, 6 August 1962, was the Prophet Zoroaster's birthday. That day, for the first time since he returned from Poona a month before, Baba left Meherazad and visited Meherabad to see the mandali and the resident families there. Usually, whenever Baba went to Meherabad, he would stop near Khushru Quarters to see Gulmai, who was unwell. But Eruch had sent a note to Adi three days prior to this, stating that Baba did not wish to stop on the 6th, but would stop briefly at the Akbar Press Gate, meet his lovers there, and come to see Gulmai at Khushru Quarters on the 12th.
Meanwhile, Adi's mother Gulmai's ill condition, due to kidney disease, worsened in August. While at Meherabad on 6 August, Baba informed Padri to be prepared for Gulmai's burial on the hill, as she would be dying shortly.
On the evening of the 8th, Gulmai's condition became serious, and Adi sent Sarosh to Meherazad to inform Baba. Baba instructed Sarosh that when Gulmai passed away, he should be informed and her body removed to Meherabad Hill, where her coffin would be lowered into the grave in his presence.
On the morning of 9 August, Baba unexpectedly asked to be driven to Khushru Quarters to see Gulmai. Although she had ceased to recognize anyone and was almost in an unconscious state, she opened her eyes and her face brightened when she saw Baba. She caressed his face and managed to utter, "Ba ... ba." After kissing her on the forehead and embracing her, Baba returned to Meherazad. Eruch sent Adi this note: "Baba wants you to be happy and feel happy, for Gulmai is and will ever be HAPPY."
The next day, taking a critical turn for the worse, Gulmai was unable to speak and suffered spells of unconsciousness. Even so, with great difficulty she was moving her lips and repeating Baba's name. At midnight, she startled from a coma-like sleep and loudly called out Baba's name. With all her strength, she continued this for a few minutes without pause. While uttering Baba's name, Gulmai merged in him forever at the age of 78. Waman Padale was sent to Meherazad to inform Baba of Gulmai's passing.
Gulmai's body was taken to Meherabad early on Saturday, 11 August 1962. It was placed in a room adjacent to the hall at Upper Meherabad.
In August 1962, Adi’s mother Gulmai’s health grew steadily worse, due to kidney disease. While at Meherabad on August 6th, Baba informed Padri to be prepared for Gulmai’s burial on the Hill, as she would no doubt be dying shortly. On the evening of August 8th, Gulmai’s condition became very serious, and Adi sent Sarosh to Meherazad to inform Baba. Baba instructed Sarosh that when Gulmai passed away, He should be informed and her body removed to Meherabad, where her coffin would be lowered into the grave in His presence.
At 9:00 A.M., on Saturday, August 11th, Gulmai’s body was taken to
Meherabad Hill where the grave had been dug. Baba arrived at ten o’clock and performed the last rites by placing flowers on her forehead and body. Almost two hundred persons from Arangaon and Ahmednagar were present. As the coffin was lowered into the earth, Baba, looking extremely sad, tossed flowers over it while Kaikobad offered prayers. Thus Baba’s spiritual mother Gulmai came to rest in Meherabad, the place she herself had been so instrumental in laying at his feet. Baba remarked to Adi, “She is very fortunate that I was present at her burial.” This was the last time Meher Baba visited Meherabad.
Gulmai’s dedication, service and love for Meher Baba were truly
monumental, for she and her husband, Kaikhushru (Khan Saheb), were the ones who gave him the land in Arangaon later called Meherabad. Prem Khilnani was present for the funeral, and as Baba was looking at the tower of the Meher Retreat Building, Prem said to him, “Someday Meherabad will be like Benares.” Baba nodded, “You are right, it will.”
After his return from Poona, Baba's seclusion continued, and he did not leave Meherazad. Previously, Baba would sometimes visit Meherabad, but since Gulmai's death in August 1962, he stopped going there also. If need be, he would send for either Padri or Don from Meherabad. Likewise, he would occasionally call Mansari or Kaikobad's and Bhau's families to Meherazad.