Agnes Baron " Agni "

Courtesy of MN Collection
Courtesy of MN Collection


Born : 17th January, 1907 - Western Pennsylvania, USA

Died : 5th July, 1994 - Ojai, California, USA


AMERICAN

History :

 

1924 - 1928        Graduated from Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio

1929 - 1938        Works as foreign correspondent in the Balkans, Greece,Spain and Lisbon.

March 1938       Visits Sigmund Freud in Vienna.

1938                  Returns to the USA

1945                  Moves to Los Angeles, California.

1946                  Helps find Meher Mount ( with some co-signers )

26 April '52        Meets Meher Baba in Myrtle Beach, Sth Carolina

2 August '56      Meher Baba visits Ojai.

November '59   Divests herself of her last MM partner - John Cook

September '82  Visits India.

16 October '85  Fire destroys Meher Mount - no fire insurance, lost $200,00 in property, her possessions & memorabilia and the orchard. The rose garden survived.

13 July, 1989     Baron Trust, Meher Mount Corp. established.

 

Literature :        

                       "The Witch of Sulpfur Mountain " by Elena Jervis, Ventura County Sunday Star

                        12 September 1999

 

  Information courtesy of Sher DiMaggio

 

 

 

Meher Mount, 1956
Meher Mount, 1956

Also see the page on Meher Mount  ( select tab from above "Location Gallery" then USA from the index then Meher Mount ) or Click here : Meher Mount

Meher Mount :Couretsy of MN Collection
Meher Mount :Couretsy of MN Collection
Meher Mount, 1956
Meher Mount, 1956
Meher Mount, 1956
Meher Mount, 1956

The following sequences of images are from the video "Meher Baba, The Awakener"

Meher Mount : Agnes Baron with Marion Florsheim in the foreground
Meher Mount : Agnes Baron with Marion Florsheim in the foreground
Meher Mount's swimming pool
Meher Mount's swimming pool
Agnes Baron in 1956 in a photo taken by Lud Dimpfl who visited Meher Mount with his family- Courtesy of Meher Mount Center, California
Agnes Baron in 1956 in a photo taken by Lud Dimpfl who visited Meher Mount with his family- Courtesy of Meher Mount Center, California

Click here : Myrtle Beach, SC

LM ; p.5067
LM ; p.5067
1985 ; Agnes' burned-out car "Woody" - this is the car she drove Baba from LA to Meher Mount and back and also drove Baba in San Fransisco in 1956 --  Courtesy of Sam Ervin
1985 ; Agnes' burned-out car "Woody" - this is the car she drove Baba from LA to Meher Mount and back and also drove Baba in San Fransisco in 1956 -- Courtesy of Sam Ervin
THE HIGH SCHOOL PHOTOGRAPH of Agnes Baron that she gave to Ken and Len Ceder. She graduated high school in 1923 - Courtesy of Len Ceder
THE HIGH SCHOOL PHOTOGRAPH of Agnes Baron that she gave to Ken and Len Ceder. She graduated high school in 1923 - Courtesy of Len Ceder
AGNES BARON in the 1928 Antioch College yearbook "Towers". - Photo courtsy of Meher Mount web site - Antioch College photo
AGNES BARON in the 1928 Antioch College yearbook "Towers". - Photo courtsy of Meher Mount web site - Antioch College photo
Photo courtesy of Sam Ervin - Meher Mount Chairman
Photo courtesy of Sam Ervin - Meher Mount Chairman
Photo courtesy of Sam Ervin - Meher Mount Chairman
Photo courtesy of Sam Ervin - Meher Mount Chairman
1969 : Sam Ervin & Agnes Baron.  Photo taken by Martha Aubin
1969 : Sam Ervin & Agnes Baron. Photo taken by Martha Aubin
Agnes Baron dancing with Sam Ervin at his wedding to Margaret Magnus, November 1979
Agnes Baron dancing with Sam Ervin at his wedding to Margaret Magnus, November 1979
From: Meher Mount News <info@mehermount.org>
Date: January 17, 2012 3:10:24 PM EST
Subject: Happy 105th Birthday to Agnes Baron, Founder of Meher Mount

 



Baba's Tree
  
Happy 105th Birthday to Agnes Baron - A Founder and Lifetime Caretaker of Meher Mount
January 17, 2012 

Agnes Baron - Fiery Caretaker, Crusader, and Meher Baba Devotee
Agnes & Meher Baba
AGNES BARON & AVATAR MEHER BABA at Meher Mount, August 2, 1956.  (Archive photo.)
Agnes Baron, whom Avatar Meher Baba called His "watchdog," was born 105 years ago today on January 17, 1907.  Agnes Baron, along with Jean Adriel and Alexander Markey, were founders of Meher Mount.

 

Agnes played the role of "watchdog" as caretaker of Meher Mount in Ojai, California, from 1946 until her death on July 5, 1994.

 

Agnes was often called "Agni," meaning "fire" in Sanskrit. She often exhibited a fiery passion: for Meher Baba, for what she perceived as truth, and for service to anyone suffering or in need.

 

She explained her approach as "karma yoga," and said one can't know if you are "helping" others and the goal is to forget yourself in service while being detached from the results. She demonstrated this approach throughout her life.  

 

Agnes as a Young Progressive 
Agnes' parents refused to support her when at 16 years old, she enrolled in Antioch College in Ohio, a progressive institution too far away for the family's liking.

 

Having little money of her own, Agnes was taken in by a prominent Hindu professor, Manmatha Chatterjee, and his family at Antioch.  She introduced him to Meher Baba many years later.


Agnes Baron Business Card
AGNES BARON'S BUSINESS CARD when she was a journalist in the 1930s and early 1940s.
Traveling Alone in Europe & the Middle East
After college she travelled alone around Europe and the Middle East, working some of the time as a correspondent for the Herald Tribune.

 

She assisted the U.S. State Department by writing economic analyses aimed at helping Balkan countries bolster their capabilities for staying out of the expanding Axis sphere during the 1930s.  For a while, she lived with bandits in the mountains of Albania.

 

As World War II loomed, she watched the Nazis march into Vienna, Austria.  In Lisbon, Portugal, Agnes worked to help Jewish and other refugees escape the death and oppression they faced in Europe.  She stayed until all Americans were told they must leave when the U.S. entered the war.

 

During her time in Europe, she said, she visited 13 countries and learned 13 languages well enough to get by.  

Agnes & Mani
AGNES BARON (left) and MANI IRANI (right), Meher Baba's sister, in front of the Blue Bus at Meherazad, India, in 1982.  In the background is Bhau Kalchuri. (Amy Nadel Romanczuk photo.)
Return to the United States  
When Agnes returned to the U.S., Professor Chatterjee suggested she go to California and look into what Aldous Huxley, Gerald Heard and Christopher Isherwood were up to.  

 

In the early 1940s, they were researching and experimenting with various "spiritual" activities and communities.

 

Isherwood introduced her to the swamis at the Vedanta mission to the West, based on the life and work of Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, at a time when the swamis from India were developing Vedanta temples at various locations in California.

 

Agnes was quite taken with the teachings and life of Sri Ramakrishna.  She joined Isherwood and the swamis in a celebration inaugurating the new Temple in Montecito, near Santa Barbara.

 

The Life of a Vedanta Nun  
Agnes asked the head swami if she could live the life of a Vedanta nun at the Santa Barbara Temple.   

 

He said yes and that he would be glad to initiate her personally.  Agnes told him no, that she knew from reading Ramakrishna that one must have a deep rapport with one's spiritual teacher, and that she did not feel that with him.

 

The swami was taken aback, as they had never allowed anyone to live the cloistered life without initiation by one of the swamis.  

 

For Agnes, they made an exception.  She was the first live-in person at the Montecito Temple where she lived the meditative life for a year.    

Agnes Nov 1979
AGNES BARON November 1979.
Agnes Meets Jean Adriel, Author of Avatar

 

Shortly after that experience, Agnes was introduced
to Jean Adriel, Chairman of the New Life Foundation.

 

The foundation owned a large parcel of land called The New Life Center at La Crescenta, near Los Angeles, California.

 

Jean was writing the book Avatar, a biography of Avatar Meher Baba.  When she heard that Agnes was a journalist, she asked if Agnes would edit the book for her.  That was Agnes Baron's introduction to the life and words of Meher Baba.

 

Agnes said that she did edit Avatar for Jean.  Reading the book convinced her that if it was true, Meher Baba was truly something very special.  

 

From that time on, there was no question that her life revolved around Meher Baba.   

Agnes Baron and Margaret Craske
AGNES BARON (back) and MARGARET CRASKE (front), a professional dance instructor and one of Meher Baba's close Western disciples clearing weeds at Meher Mount, sometime in the late 1950s or early 160s. (Archive photo.)
The Founding of Meher Mount
Meher Baba's guidance also led Meher Mount founders Jean Adriel, Alexander Markey, and Agnes Baron to the heights of Sulphur Mountain in 1946 and the founding of Meher Mount.  (See sidebar at the right.)

 

Agnes was not on the board of directors of the New Life Foundation.  

 

She said she just wanted to be the "outside man" at Meher Mount, discing and mowing with the caterpillar tractor, wielding a scythe, posthole diggers, crosscut saws for firewood, and generally working as a laborer at her labor of love.     

 

Karma Yoga Is a Central Practice in Agnes' Life 
Throughout her 48 years at Meher Mount, Agnes continued to find ways to practice karma yoga.  

 

She helped start the first Head Start program for pre-school children in Ventura County.  

 

She studied Montessori education and taught in Montessori schools and as a substitute teacher in public schools to support herself and pay Meher Mount expenses through the years.   

 

Agnes helped start a school at Meher Mount that operated for a few years. Agnes provided a temporary residence for a dozen people in a drug rehabilitation program at Meher Mount.  

 

Separately, she worked to assist many programs for alcoholics, ex-convicts, juvenile delinquents and others.  

 

Agnes was a regular phone volunteer on the Suicide Prevention Hotline for many years.   

Agnes Baron 1985
AGNES BARON
one Christmas in the early 1980s. (Sam Ervin photo.)
Agnes Would Search the Newspapers to Identify People in Need 
Agnes provided temporary housing to many people over the years who had lost homes in fires or been evicted or were homeless for other reasons.  

 

She would read the newspaper to find stories of people who needed some form of assistance, then visit them to see if she could offer some service.  

 

She particularly enjoyed taking on officious "bureaucrats" in fearlessly and relentlessly advocating for someone in need.
 
She Heeds Meher Baba's Call to Help Get Young People Off Drugs 
When Meher Baba told some of the young Western Baba Lovers to work to get young people off drugs, because illicit drugs were harmful "physically, mentally and spiritually," Agnes took His words a personal call to action.  

 

Armed with research about various successful drug programs, she said she "bullied" the County Board of Supervisors into providing $20,000 in 1969 to enable her to develop "DART," the Drug Abuse Reorientation Training program.   

 

The program provided  counseling for teenagers who had been arrested for drug related offenses at high schools all over Ventura County.  

 

She recruited young Baba Lovers, including some from UCSB who had experience with psychedelic drugs, to act as "counselors" with whom the kids might identify.  

 

The program was effective with a good number of the teenagers, and their families and Agnes continued to get County funding for it for several years.   

Silence Day at Meher MOunt
AGNES BARON GIVING INSTRUCTIONS to Sam Ervin, Silence Day in the 1970s. (Margaret Magnus photo.)
Agnes Was a Mentor to Many Young Baba Lovers 
Agnes was a mentor to many young Baba Lovers who found their way to Meher Mount over the years, and many of them have remarkable stories of their interactions with her.  

 

At the same time, she was not always easy to be around. She had strong opinions, which she emphatically expressed.

 

She challenged people, especially if she detected self-righteousness, smugness, selfishness or what she called a "pink-cloud" attitude toward spirituality.    

 

She would say, "Okay, Baba, I'll be a watchdog.  I'll snap at the heels of the hypocrites."  

 


THE FOUNDING OF MEHER MOUNT      

 

Meher Baba's guidance also led Meher Mount founders Jean Adriel, Alexander Markey, and Agnes Baron to the heights of Sulphur Mountain in 1946.  

 

They were on an outing in search of suitable property for a retreat dedicated to Meher Baba. 

 

His directive was to find a location at least one to two hours away from the city.   

 

As they motored along the Upper Ojai Valley from Santa Paula to Ojai that afternoon, the sunlight beaming through a crown of tall trees far atop the ridge of Sulphur Mountain caught the eye of Agnes Baron.  She insisted they find their way there. 

 

After winding up the long dirt road to the only residential property on the mountain at the time, Agnes jumped the fence to explore what would become Meher Mount.

 

There was no for sale sign, but they later located the owner, an heiress in the Ralph's grocery store family, and she was open to selling the property.

 

The New Life Foundation sold the Center in La Crescenta and closed escrow on the Meher Mount property on August 9, 1946.  

 

Agnes Baron lived at Meher Mount from 1946 until she required care in a nursing home in Ojai shortly before she died in 1994.  
From the beginning, she had thought of a large solitary coast live oak on the point of land overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Channel Islands as "Baba's Tree" and by His actions.

 

He claimed it as His own when He came there on August 2, 1956.

 

Meher Baba first planned to first visit Meher Mount in June 1952 for a 10-day stay.   

 

But during the cross-country drive from Meher Spiritual Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to Meher Mount in Ojai, California, Meher Baba was in an automobile accident near Prague, Oklahoma.  
After the accident, he recuperated in Prague and then returned to Myrtle Beach, not visiting Meher Mount until 1956.

 

In 1956, Avatar Meher Baba visited Southern California for three days from July 31 through August 2.   

 

The first two days were spent in Hollywood, and on the third day Meher Baba went to Meher Mount in Ojai.

STORIES OF AGNES BARON & MEHER MOUNT

If you have a story or information to share about Agnes Baron and/or Meher Mount, please contact Meher Mount.  These memories are precious and will be of interest to future generations.

Also, all photographs are greatly appreciated and can help capture the feeling and essence of the time. 
 

AMARTITHI OPEN HOUSE - JANUARY 31 
Marker for Agnes
Please join us on Tuesday, January 31st for the open house in celebration of Meher Baba's Amartithi, the anniversary of the day He "dropped His body."
 
You are welcome to bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the views. 
 
All stories, songs, poems and inspirational quotes are greatly appreciated.  There will be time under Baba's Tree for sharing. 
 
Click here for more information on the Amartithi Open House.

Photo:  Marker for Agnes Baron under Baba's Tree. (Nancy Pinckert photo, 2011.)

PHONATHON BRINGS IN MORE DONATIONS - 90% OF THE GOAL 

Saturday, January 14, Meher Mount conducted a Phonathon to raise funds for Meher Mount's Annual Fund campaign.
 
Volunteers made
320 calls including, disconnected phone numbers, completed calls, and messages.    
There were 
49 Pledges and/or donations (a 15% return) and six maybes.

 

Total Pledged:  $24,065
Total Rec'd:        22,955

 

Meher Mount is still $1,435 away from the goal.   

 

 

To send a check by mail, make the check payable to "Meher Mount" and mail to 9902 Sulphur Mountain Road, Ojai, CA 93023  
 

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Meher Mount
Leslie & Samantha Bridger, Manager/Caretakers 

9902 Sulphur Mountain Road  
Ojai, CA 93023 
805-640-0000
 

Website: www.mehermount.org 

Email: info@mehermount.org    

M
eher Mount is a 173-acre universal spiritual center
dedicated to Avatar Meher Baba. 
Visitors come to Meher Mount in Ojai, California, for pilgrimage,
for celebrating Divine Love and Oneness,
for loving God through nature, and for service.