"I sat next to Baba at the London Coliseum, but he took very little notice of me. I was shy and nervous at first, and could
not find my bearings. I felt as if someone had taken a hammer and knocked me over the head. I was stunned with the wonder of Baba. From just seeing him, nothing else existed for
me. From first sight, I had implicit faith and trust in him. I asked no questions. I wanted nothing from him. I felt I had to love him as Jesus was loved by his apostles. I
therefore gave my life into his keeping and knew that my search was at an end."
"I was stunned with the wonder and beauty of him. I had seen his face before in my dreams; the eyes were startling in their beauty; the face seemed of luminous honey-color, framed
by a halo of long dark hair. His hands were most noticeable; they were strong, slim and sensitive...
During the week of his stay in London, I saw him every day. Time and place seemed not to exist. Everyone and everything faded from my mind except Baba. He alone seemed real - the
perfect human being. Compared to him, everyone seemed like a shadow. He drew me irresistably; his love melted me, and his humor and charm attracted me. His silence was more potent
First paragraph: LM4 p1434
Second and third paragraphs: Av p135-136
For another version, see MJ 1:5 p42
Delia de Leon,
Meher Baba's close disciple since 1931, started our collections half a century ago.
Inspired by Delia, Pete Townshend of rock band The Who founded the Film Archive in 1970
at The Boathouse on the bank of the River Thames in London, UK, under the name Meher Baba Oceanic.
Obituary: Delia De Leon
Friday, 5 March 1993
Delia De Leon, actress and spiritual seeker, born Colon Panama 10 February 1901, died Kew Surrey 21 January 1993.
THERE was a part of Delia De Leon, the actress and co-founder of the Q Theatre, which preferred to have nothing
to do with the crude machinations of this world. She was often delightful, yet infuriatingly hard to pin down to the end of her life.
Born in 1901 in Panama, the eldest of a large family of Sephardic Jews, De Leon was sent at the age of eight to
an English boarding school. In 1911 her whole family moved to London, eventually settling in West Hampstead.
She had two burning ambitions. 'The first,' she wrote in her autobiography, The Ocean of Love (1991),
'was to know and understand about God. The second was to be a great actress. Both desires ran parallel and were the pivot of my life.' In her early
thirties, alongside her more well-known brother Jack and his redoubtable wife Beatie, she co-founded and put most of the money into the Q Theatre, the fringe theatre of its day.
Conveniently situated opposite Kew Bridge station, it attracted a host of talent including Vivien Leigh, Peggy Ashcroft, Anthony Quayle, Flora Robson,
Michael Hordern, Margaret Lockwood, Donald Wolfit, Donald Sinden, Mrs Patrick Campbell, Joan Collins, Sean Connery and Roger Moore.
Acting under the name Delia Delvina in the late Twenties, De Leon won acclaim for her performance in Walter
Hackett's "The Barton Mystery", which transferred to the West End. But by the summer of 1931 she and her large family were looking for a meaning they
hadn't found in the theatre.
Delia De Leon's first meeting with the Indian God-Man Meher Baba took place in the unlikely setting of a box at the Coliseum before seeing a musical comedy, The White Horse Inn. Up to that
point, Baba's main claim to fame had been his difficult relations with Mahatma Gandhi, with whom he had just travelled to
England on the same ship, the Rajputana.
Star-struck, De Leon describes the impact Meher Baba, with his clipped moustache, had on her: 'I was stunned. I had
seen his face before in my dreams: the eyes were startling in their beauty; the face seemed luminous, framed by a halo of long, dark hair. He seemed to be enjoying the play; there was a
funny man in it and I heard Baba chuckling.' It was the first intimation De Leon had of how much Baba enjoyed comedians, including the silent Charlie Chaplin. Baba's own silence,
which had began on 10 July 1925, continued to his death on 31 January 1969.
From the early Thirties Delia De Leon, Margaret Craske, the dancer, and Kitty Davy(as well as other well-heeled middle-class women) became increasingly involved with the
silent God-Man. They were known as 'The Frivolous Three' or 'Kimco', and their romance was well documented in the tabloids.
I first met Delia De Leon in 1968, at the top of a building in Wardour Street in which Pete Townsend then had a flat. I was with Craig San Roque, a poet later to become famous as the first Jungian psychotherapist to work
with the Aborigines in Alice Springs. Delia was positioned at the corner of the room, poised to take on all comers. She plied us with steaming cups of tea, and as many sandwiches and
cakes as she could lay her hands on. I remember how thrilled she was when, in 1976, Townsend started the recording studio Meher Baba Oceanic with
fanfares of trumpets, and 10 days of music, drama, films, poems and more concentrated sandwich- and cake-eating. Adi K. Irani,
Baba's secretary, was flown in to perform the opening ceremony. For one brief moment this seemed the culmination of her and Townsend's dreams. But the studio closed after only five
By then De Leon must have grown used to Baba's methods of raising hopes only to dash them. Apart from his film Delia
(1974), an hour-long tribute to her and Meher Baba, Pete Townsend leaves the most lasting memorial - commenting on Baba's most famous saying, 'Be
Happy, Don't Worry': 'Perhaps there are others who worry as much as she, but I doubt it. Her passion, constancy, meticulousness, and enormous anxiety have all blended to produce an
endearing eccentricity that enriched my life.'
Over 50 years ago Delia de Leon started to collect the mandali's films of Baba. This collection was passed to Pete Townshend who in 1990 set up the Meher Baba Film Archive International, in Norwich, UK. The MBF is curated by Richard O'Casey and it is
the principle organisation responsible for the very long term conservation (700 years)
and restoration of Meher Baba films.
In the early thirties, so many of the first Western followers of Meher Baba were connected to the theatre in some way, it was as if Baba was a stage
director assembling His "cast." Delia was no exception. A vivacious Spanish beauty ( her family comes from Panama in 1911 ), she had been an actress and for
many years ran the "Q" theatre in London together with her brother Jack (Baba visited it twice). In fact, she met Baba at the Coliseum theatre in London, at the performance of a play, "The White Horse Inn", in September, 1931. The "white horse" touch is interesting: in India, Baba is considered by the Hindus to be the foretold "White Horse" or Kalki Avatar. To please His disciples at one
time He even rode a garlanded white horse seven times around Meherabad ashram.
Delia says "I sat next to Baba, but He took very little notice of me. I was shy and nervous, as if
someone had taken a hammer and knocked me on the head. I hardly looked at Him. I heard people talking but felt dazed and far away. At the end I put out
my hand and took His and looked mutely at Him. He nodded His head and I was told that I was to come the next day to Kensington (Kitty's home). During that week I went about like one in a dream. I
was stunned with the wonder of Baba, nothing else existed for me. I saw Him every day, and from then on I had an implicit trust and faith in Him. I asked no questions, I wanted nothing from Him.
I gave my life into His keeping and knew my search was at an end."
In an article in The MeherBaba Journal , she writes: "I felt shy and
nervous. He looked at me kindly and made me sit next to Him. I had seen His face before in my dreams —the eyes were startling in their beauty, the face seemed of luminous
framed by a halo of long dark hair. The hands were most noticeable — they kept up an incessant pantomime, and were strong,
slim and sensitive. Someone said, 'This is your surprise, Baba.' He patted my hand, and I think from that moment I must have intuitively recognized Him as my Master, for I suddenly wanted to cry.
I felt stunned. The stage, the actors, seemed to recede and become vague and far away..."
Ever since a child, she had had an intense desire to know God; this desire had run parallel with her desire to be a great actress. Now she was meeting Him —
and where else, but in a theatre! She too met Baba at a low point in her life and after a deep spiritual search. The figure of Jesus had always attracted her but "quite outside the Church," she relates.
In 1933, Delia with her sister Minta was one of those in the group of women called to India and sent back home to face the unpleasant publicity. Like the others she passed this test with unswerving faith.
She was part of "Kim and Co.," soon shortened to "Kimco," and like some of the others, joined Baba on several visits to
Europe. Baba had given special names to the "Kimco" gopis — hers was Leyla, Margaret's was Zuleika, Kitty's was Saroja. Later on, Elizabeth Patterson was
"Dilruba" and Norina, "Nurjehan."
In December, 1931, on His return from America, Baba invited "Kimco" on a short visit to Paris — also the Starrs, though
Baba sent them back after a day or so, so only lighthearted "Kimco" was with Him. They visited the Eiffel Tower. Delia
also shared in Baba's subsequent visits to Europe ( Portofino, Santa
Margherita, Cannes ) and also joined the Nasik ashram group (
1936-7 ) and the return visit to Cannes the same year.
* The Daily Express, London, 1931
The Awakener Magazine
Volume 20 Number 2
During the war years, Delia remained in London and was supervisor of the Florence Nightingale Hospital for bombed-out people and held many Baba meetings
there, helped by Will Backett and Charles Purdom. The separation from the
Beloved during the war years was hard for all the gopis, but it was sweetened by loving letters from the Master such as these:
Nov. 5, 1938 c/o MS Irani Meherabad Ahmednagar
So you received a cold letter of welcome from your darling Baba. That was too bad. But have you not misunderstood My words? It is true that I need no
disciples here or elsewhere. I can do My work alone through the heart of man without choosing a few selected ones. But in this Avataric period, as in the time of Jesus, I choose to live in close
contact with Me (either here or elsewhere does not matter) those who have been with Me from ages past and who love Me deeply and whom I have loved since eternity.
Still this does not prevent My saying 'I can carry on My work without you.' All could leave Me, but the work would go on. It would be harder for Me. It
would be a crucifixion but nevertheless the work of Love would not suffer. Nothing can stop God's work. If my own refuse or disappoint Me I must get the work done through some other medium. But I
would suffer, so my faithful Leyla must never let Me down, but stick it right to the bitter end, whatever hardships may be in store. Why did I call you the faithful Leyla? Not for no reason. You
know in spite of what you say in your letter that nothing can separate you or all mankind from Me, because I am in all and God cannot be separated from Himself, can He? But as I have explained so
often, that just as the eye or the ear may be more useful and necessary to a man than, say, his sense of smell or touch, so some are more necessary to Me for My present work than others. I say
now as always Kimco is My heart and will remain forever My heart wherever they are and you know the value of the heart to the body. Without it man in the human form could not exist, and I too
without My heart would feel part of Me was missing.
Have I not shown you many times both in the past and now, how deeply I love you and I know how much you are capable of feeling My love at certain moments
when I wish it so. I know the inner growth of each. Must I further demonstrate My love to convince you? Where would your faith come in?
Your third point, 'are you as I made you' . . . the sanskaras you have I gave you to work through, for My work, so it is true to say you are as I made you,
but the goal still remains for you to attain perfection through duality. Remember, maya is My shadow, so indirectly, is Me too and is the means by which the Soul, divine though it is, but
unconscious as yet of its divinity, must become conscious of its oneness with God.
Herein lies the riddle of the Universe and My game too. Perfect you are because Soul is always perfect being God but it must wade through duality to attain
conscious perfection. And as My Circle are already God-Realized (but the curtain being drawn are unaware of it) I gave them, at the appointed time of birth these sanskaras to work through. Now is
it clear? And how can you help Me in this game of Mine? By love and service. By control of your mind and moods and yes, weaknesses which are there for the purpose of exercising control over them.
Often the greater one's love, the greater is the tendency to moods, because the pangs of separation are more acute. But I do not like moods and therefore to please Me, which is one of the best
ways of showing your love for Me, try your best to overcome them.
Now cheer up, my faithful Leyla. I love you as always and you love Me infinitely more than you used to. I will come to the West soon — that I promise you
and let Me see you looking plump, well and happy. A joyful heart will help you most to get strong.
All My love, (signed) M. S. Irani
Bhopal 5th March 1939 (?)
Dearest faithful Leyla:
Will you forgive your Beloved if He writes you a birthday letter one month late? He will make up for it by sending you an extra loving thought with each
line. You will remember He told you how busy He would be on His tour and apart from correspondence connected with the tour and the work He has to do on this tour He has written no letters
whatsoever. Now is He forgiven? Write by return (mail) and tell Him so . . .
And now there lies before Me so many of My dearest Leyla's letters. But amongst the letters I see there is that beautiful poem translated from the Italian
which I love so much that I had it read aloud twice and translated so that all might understand its meaning. Hear part of it again:
'If He offers thee His embrace Run His caress to meet If not His withholding is sweet.
If thou hast served Him well Given Him all that was thine Loved only the Divine He never will part from thee, Wholly in Him shalt thou dwell.'
I was staying in Ajmer, a spot I love so much because of its natural beauty and its spiritual atmosphere, and for one night I took all up to the mountains
to the Tomb of Piran Pir, a great Mohamedan saint.
It was a most beautiful spot — the finest view we have so far seen on the tour. I had work to do there and it was here in this beautiful spot that I called
all together and had your poem read aloud.
I know what a lot you have been through these last two years, but not in vain. You have profited and learnt much. It will be a changed Leyla but yet the
same Leyla. You have helped Me a lot by cooperation and not "kicking against the pricks." I would love to have had you here with Me, but you say truly there are lessons that must be learnt even
apart from the physical presence of the Master. I teach you wherever you are, But not all make so easy for Me to teach them as you have done by trying to understand My ways and yourself better.
You love Me as few do and because of this deep love I can test you by putting so much on you to work through and overcome for My sake.
When I draw the curtain you will understand all and smile at My game. It is all illusion. The pain of yesterday is no more -- the joy of a week ago is no
more — only the present exists and the love you feel for your Beloved. The pain caused from the separation from your Beloved is real as is the happiness that union with your Beloved is
But as I have once said, the unconscious self which is God, to become conscious had to go through the apparent opposite process of dualty to become aware of
the oneness with God and give that conscious union with God which makes lover and Beloved one.
In my conscious state I limit Myself, so too in the conscious state of My Circle I set also limits and when I choose I free them from those limits, but in
My own time. Until then be happy, content and know it is all My doing. If you could understand but a little how great is My love for you, you would feel all was worthwhile if it is to please your
You make the effort and I will give you the victory. It is a divine struggle with purpose behind it. Don't fight against it.
'Tis in vain the bars to beat Effort and struggle are vain.'
All My love to yourself, your Mother and your family.
(signed) M. S. Irani
c/o M.S. Irani The Links Bangalore 10th February 1940
I was indeed happy to receive on the same day two letters from you and also your two articles for the magazine, which I know were written for Me and came
straight from the heart. I like both and especially the one on Love.
When you feel this urge to express yourself on paper never check it. As you try to put these thoughts down they will become clearer and give you a deeper
Much that is written (within?) is often in such a chaotic state, that to disassemble one idea from another is not easy.
I know every inch of you. I know you better than you know yourself and I will teach you in My own way all things concerning your real Self. Seek and strive
to know Me, your Beloved — and bit by bit you will know your real Self, for am I not your real Self?
Realize Me and you will know God. No other pursuit is worthwhile when you have met the Beloved. Everything then centers round Him. You see all beauty
through Him, be it expressed through poetry, art, or music, or through life itself. All work, whether of your hands or academic is done for Him, and your only attachment is your Beloved. All
service then becomes selfless, whether done for friend, family or stranger. All are one and towards this "One" the motion too is one — to please Him, whom to please is to know. There is
no other knowing. Feeling is not knowing.
To please Me is to do — but doing what? That which your Beloved commands you, this is My way, My path. 'My yoke is easy and My burden is light.' My way with
you all is the shortest way to Union which I long for infinitely more than you can ever long. Although the game is of My own making, still I must suffer to enjoy the game of realizing Myself
consciously in all creation. But it is up to you — My beloved ones who know Me in the flesh as none other can to lessen this suffering and give Me all the happiness you are capable of. Will you
do this for Me? Help Me in thought, word, and action. Let your thought be always of Me — your word sprung always from love and your action the expression of one who seeks in all she does to
please Him who is ever-present in the heart of His beloved Leyla. This thought will give you eternal happiness and bliss in the midst of the sad times through which the world is now passing and
must face up to. The suffering for all will be terrible, but remember that underneath are the 'Everlasting Arms.' So keep happy in your faith and love to the very end. I will never fail you and
will never leave you.
All My love My dearest Leyla.
(signed) M. S. Irani
A Letter from the Master
MountAbu, July 25,1935
My darling Leyla,
I have all your loving letters giving news of yourself and also of things and affairs at your end, — RE: your going
to Spain and about Minta and other dear ones coming into your contact.
*You say, you are all scattered about in different places, and feel concerned! Why, dearest? Anything that keeps one busy anywhere must be welcome. My
"mandali" here are scattered too, and I am Myself away and aloof from all, on these mountains. And there is a purpose, dearest, behind everything, especially behind all I do, for my circle,
"mandali" and others in general. It may make one look scared, at times, but later on, when the outcome is seen or experienced and the object behind all this is revealed, all do understand. But
all must wait for that. You will know, one day, everything. Meanwhile, just follow your right impulse wherein you will always be guided and helped by your beloved who looks after you as you can
scarcely imagine! So, darling, go to Spain, spend your time in good work, keep cheerful all the while, and return when you feel your work there is finished, or before if you are needed elsewhere
and informed. In short, dearest, learn to accept things as they come, quietly, without worrying, and much of the anxiety that is unnecessary will disappear, and things will look easier than at
Yes, I might come by the end of the year if I see the necessity, and after finishing the picture, retire there for the rest of the period. For the
present, I must be in seclusion and work. And if letters take longer than usual, it will be due to the importance of the work in hand, and should not be taken for anything else. You should never
think that I love you the less for that, and should go on writing yourself as you have been doing up till now, giving news about yourself and the dear ones of the group.
And you are reading the life of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda and you think you like them better than Baba. But whether you like one or the
other, it is all Baba. So even if you like Ramkrishna better, It makes no difference, for in Ramakrishna too, I was: rather, I was he. But I know that Leyla, anyway, won't falter in her love. At
least, My Leyla won't.
And why think of grey hair and getting old and haggard. Does Love ever grow less for look and age! Why, it grows all the more ripe, intense and deeper
with age and experience. So, dearest, why worry about looks! Whatever you are — withered, shattered, weather-beaten, wishy-washy, wasted, pulled-down, or whatever you look — frail, fragile,
flimsy, rickety, drooping, tottering, and so on and so on — you will ever be the same "loving and lovely" Leyla in the eyes of your beloved, who looks to no outward form or appearance but to the
inner being, the beauty of the heart, the depth of the soul. And besides, I know that whenever I come, you dearest look lovelier, fresher, livelier than ever, in the ecstasy of seeing and being
with your beloved, [whose dearest darling you are.]*
Convey my love, as ever, to dear Kim, to your dear mother, and also to all the dear ones of the group, and to others who need and seek, in
*Left out in the text here, but found in her book, The Ocean Of Love page 83, as part of the
thought that Baba wrote toher.
Courtesy of ; The Awakener - Vol.21 No.1 1984
( L-R ) Unknowns, Anita De Caro ( white coat
),?, Fred Marks, Meher Baba, Eruch Jessawala ( behind Baba ), Ann Powell, Adi K. Irani, William Backett,
Mary Backett,Molly Eve( dark glasses ), ?, Delia De
Leon( front ), Huma "Homa" Dadachanji ( holding bag ).
Look Within Yourself . . .
by DELIA DE LEON
“You, yourself, must make the effort. Buddhas do but point the Way.”
THESE WORDS HAVE a deep and profound meaning, but, like other sayings of the same kind, they can be heard and read over and over again without any
real understanding of the process of evolving development, that lies behind the words. The effort ... for what? And the way ... where?
The materialist makes the effort for material things, and in the process, more often destroys himself, because he becomes enchained by his false values; he
is a slave to the things which can fail him at any moment, and leave him utterly barren, for he is like a spoiled child wanting everything for his own gratification.
The self-styled spiritual person, on the other hand, damages himself by developing a spiritual pride and a feeling of exclusiveness. He does not want to
bring GOD to earth; his GOD is something afar off, and exclusive to himself. He, too, shirks the issue.
The way must surely lie between these two extremes, but to find it, we have first to face ourselves, and the problem of life on earth, with conscious
intelligence, as mature beings; for the whole evolutionary plan consists in this descending unconsciously from God into the densest form of matter; achieving full consciousness as man, and then
ascending back to the source, which leads to God-Consciousness. GOD becomes man, so that man may become GOD.
“It is no game for the faint-hearted,” for the Path back to GOD is likened to a razor’s edge, and needs endless love and courage, patience and humility. The
first requisite is to grow up. This necessitates seeing truly and impersonally our own vices and virtues ... deciding our own way (different for each of us); deciding what to do with our lives
and what to give to life… facing the issues, digging deeply within ourselves, accepting all experiences willingly, without running away ... not thinking wishfully, but bit by bit pulling down the
false facades and facing ourselves squarely. Then we can decide what is of real value to us, and eliminate the superfluous things which clutter us up and blind us to the truth.
It is always difficult to sift the chaff from the wheat, the dross from the gold, because duality (maya’s illusion) gives us such opposite feelings... we
can love and hate at the same time, be spiritual and lustful, have fear and be courageous. The balancing of these opposites, the finding of a middle way, is the art of life. As we begin to
ponder, “Where am I going? Why am I here? What does it all mean?” we will be helped to find an answer, to see the pattern. “When the pupil is ready, the Teacher appears.”
Usually we have to get down to rock-bottom, with its attendant suffering and pain and tears; but when we cease to struggle against life and allow it to flow
through us, accepting whatever it brings, then often a small voice gives us the answer, and truth begins to unfold like a flower. It is an expanding of consciousness, this process of
bringing GOD to birth .. . finding Him in the center and very core of our being, where HE has been all the time!
Many great Masters in the past have given us their pointers: “Hatred does not cease by hatred at any time, hatred ceases by love: this is an old rule.” ...
Dhammapada; “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” .. Jesus of Nazareth; “Whosoever forsaketh all desires and goeth onwards free from yearnings, selfless
and with-out egoism, he goeth to peace.” ... Bhaghavad Gita”; “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that despitefully use you and persecute you.” ... Jesus of Nazareth.
The Masters of Zen Buddhism often just said to their pupils, “Talk on,” or pointed to a Circle, or some other symbol.
Most of us give these words lip-service; that is why there is such chaos in the world today; for until words are illuminated by conscious experience, they
cannot truly be put into practice; they must be applied, in truth, to every waking hour. It is a question of inner knowing and feeling.
Yet all who have trod the Path have left their signposts .. poets, saints, prophets. The Masters have shown the Way because they were the Way. To come into
personal contact with a Master is the greatest of all blessings, for he is a gauge for all our conduct; by him we can measure and find true values. He is our hope and promise, our Light in the
darkness. In loving him, we are helped to live outside ourselves, and the fire, once lit, can never be put out. However often we fall . . . he helps us out of his infinite compassion to rise
again and again. He stirs and shakes us to the depth of our being, so that we may awaken from our dream of maya and become conscious vehicles for the furthering on earth of the
Divine Plan of the great Architect of the Universe. We may take heart from the words of MEHER BABA, who says today to us all: “I have come to help you win the one Victory of all victories, to win
Courtesy of ; The Awakener Vol.1 No.3 1954
Delia De Leon's Residency in London
IN 1933 DELIA LIVED AT 55 COMPAYNE GARDENS, HAMPSTEAD, AS DID HER SISTER AMINTA ( MINTA
The following maps and images of the house are courtesy of Google