September 11th, 1931
Mahatma Gandhi had come to see Meher Baba in his cabin on the
ship S. S. RAJPUTANA
After more discussion regarding India's struggle for independence, Baba ended the meeting by remarking, "Try as much as possible to do as I have told you." Gandhi once again reiterated his endearing invitation to Baba to see him in London and Baba consented to visit him.
Baba and his companions were to disembark at Marseilles the next day. Before leaving the room, Gandhi told Baba, "If it is possible tomorrow to free myself from the crowd in Marseilles, I will meet with you."
He then asked Baba, "When will you break your silence? I am very eager to hear the first words you speak. Will you speak soon? I hope it won't be long. If your influence is so great that you can impress people so deeply without talking, I can imagine what you will do when you speak. You should speak soon!"
Baba dictated in reply, "I am just waiting for that. I will speak soon. The time is near.''
THE S. S. RAJPUTANA landed at Marseilles in the early hours of Friday, September 11th, 1931. Baba stepped onto the shores of Europe for the first time at eight that morning. Meredith Starr and Herbert Davy were waiting to receive him. Baba was dressed in a white sadra and a brown fur coat, wearing a pink scarf around his neck and head. Much correspondence had taken place with Meredith Starr since he had left India in December, 1928, thus establishing the Master's link with the West through him.
After leaving the ship, Baba, Rustom, Chanji and Agha Ali went to refresh themselves at the Hotel Geneva where Meredith had booked rooms for them. Baba left the liner in a hurry and no other meeting took place between him and Gandhi.
Later that afternoon at one-thirty, Baba, Chanji, Rustom, Ali, Meredith and Herbert departed by train from Marseilles for London. Seated in the train, while looking at Herbert, Baba remarked that Herbert's features resembled Vajifdar's. Herbert had worked hard and sincerely in taking care of the group's travel arrangements and comforts. For Baba and the mandali, Herbert had arranged for vegetarian food and in this way was paying close attention to every special request of Baba's.
On September 12th, they arrived in Paris where they were met by an American woman named Enid Corfe who worked for the Texaco Oil Company in Europe and was a friend of Meredith and Margaret Starr. They continued their journey via Boulogne and Folkestone, and reached Victoria Station in London at 4:15 that afternoon. Mahatma Gandhi was also on the same train till Folkestone, but travelled to London by car.
Accompanied by Margaret Craske, who knew French and was acting as an escort, Baba took a train with Ali and Chanji from Paris to Marseilles at six o'clock in the evening of December 16th. The whole group came to the station at Gare du Nord to see them off. Before retiring in their sleeping compartments, Baba indicated to Margaret that if he were awake, he would tap three times on the wall adjoining their compartments. If she were awake, she was to reply with three knocks. Baba indicated that it signified, "I love you." This happened several times between them.
Marseilles the next day, after taking the luggage to the ship and having breakfast, Margaret took Baba to an old church on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean called Our Lady of the Sea.
: Actually the name of the church is Notre-Dame de la Garde (literally Our Lady of the Guard)
Outside the church was a beggar to whom Margaret wanted to give some money. Baba stopped her, explaining, "Give it from me. If you give it, you may receive sanskaras from him."
In the church was a statue of the Pieta.
As Baba stood before it, Margaret wondered if Baba would be crucified. Baba immediately responded by spelling on the board, "It will not happen this time, but I will have mental persecution."
Later, they saw a French film in Marseilles called The Big House. Margaret kept Baba informed by translating into English. Suddenly she noticed that Baba had slumped in his seat and seemed not to be listening. She stopped, and Baba sat up after a while, remarking to Chanji, "I have been to Vienna."
Margaret was sent back to Paris the same day, December 17th. She later wrote to Baba.
On December 18th, Baba, Chanji and Agha Ali boarded the English ship S. S. Narkunda for their voyage to India. Baba had taken the
Paul Robeson records back with him
and would have them played in his cabin. On December 23rd, it was observed that Baba wept while listening to Robeson sing Feed My Sheep – thinking of the new lovers he had left behind and their grief at his departure.
Film : The Big House
Notre-Dame de la Garde
During this four-day stay in Marseilles, some of the group saw some small, brightly-colored parakeets and suggested making a gift of them to Baba. Baba accepted the idea and directed each in the group to select one. Sixteen birds were chosen and brought back to the hotel. Nonny purchased a beautiful pagoda-shape cage in which to keep the birds.
Tod( Quentin ) had kept pet birds in London, so Baba sent for him to transfer these into the new cage. Tod was preparing tea in the next room and he called out to wait a minute, he was making tea. After a couple of minutes, Baba again sent for him and Tod gave the same reply. Baba was annoyed by this and directed Adi Jr. to move the birds. Baba spelled out, referring to Tod, "He thinks more of his tea than of obeying my orders."
When Adi Jr. put his hand inside the birds' cage, one of them pecked him sharply. He immediately drew back his hand, and as he did so, one bird flew out the cage door and away through an open window in the room. Tod appeared on the scene to find Baba very displeased, his eyes glowering intensely. Pointing to those present, Baba asked, "Is this obedience? Is this the way the West obeys me? I will send you all back and never see your faces again! My work is handicapped by the escape of that bird. So I repeat: remember at all times to carry out immediately what I say!"
Lord Meher; Vol.6-7, p1907
Baba then calmed down, embracing one and all. Rano was amazed by Baba's sudden change in mood, since an ordinary human being could never revert so quickly to his happy self after displaying such an explosion of wrath. Baba then remarked about the incident, "This episode reminds me of a similar one at the time of Buddha. The bird that flew away is symbolic of one of my close disciples who will realize me but die before I break my silence."
Afterward, Baba directed the remaining birds be returned and smaller ones bought in exchange. Baba himself went with the group to the market and came back with thirty colorful island birds. Kaka Baria was put in charge of these birds and they were taken back with Baba to India.
Whenever Baba went to a movie, it was his usual habit, no matter how good the film, to watch part of it, then stand up and walk out. But this was not the case in Marseilles. One evening they went to see a film which turned out to be rather boring and even offensive to some of the group because it was erotic in a crude fashion. Some thought it was even pornographic. All wanted to leave but Baba insisted sitting through it until the very end. The film was in French and Baba kept nudging Rano to translate and explain what was being said. This embarrassed her. At one point, Delia naïvely asked, "Baba, darling, is your spiritual work not over yet?" The film was so poorly done that some fell asleep.
Lord Meher; Vol.6-7, p1909
In Marseilles, Rano was given the opportunity to comb Baba's hair. She was smoking fifteen cigarettes per day then, but through Baba's influence she gradually withdrew to just two a day. By giving her and Nonny chances to serve him in small ways, Baba made them feel like they belonged with him and thus they grew closer to him.
Baba sent Rano, Ruano and Nonny back to Paris on July 20th. He sailed for India the same day with Chanji, Kaka and Adi Jr. on board the S. S. Strathnavar. Norina and Elizabeth sailed for America to carry on Baba's work concerning the producing of the film, and Tod, Delia, Margaret and Mabel went to Spain for a rest. Margaret Craske once related about Baba's visits, "It used to be that when Baba came for a week or so, we were exhausted, absolutely drained after he left. We had done nothing, but he drained us."
Lord Meher; Vol.6-7, p1910