A few days later, Merwan and Khodu travelled by train mostly, to Shirdi from Poona.
The train route from Poona went west to Dhond, then northwards to Ahmednagar. They travelled further along to Kopargaon railway station which is the nearest to Shirdi near the rail junction at Manmad.
The total rail distance is 170 miles / 274 kms.
The distance between Kopargaon railway station and Sai Baba's temple in Shirdi is 11 miles / 18 kms.
When they reached the village of Shirdi, they encountered a roadblock of stick-wielding villagers, who informed them that Sai Baba was in a foul temper and had stopped giving darshan.
"We have come to see Sai Baba," said Khodu. "Let us pass."
"You cannot see Sai Baba," the villagers informed them. "No one can see him. He has given instructions that no one should come for his darshan today. Go back from where you came."
Khodu pleaded, "We have come all the way from Poona. We must meet Sai Baba. Please understand."
The villagers refused to listen to Khodu's pleads, saying, "We must obey our Master's instructions. We cannot allow anyone to pass."
Khodu turned to Merwan and said, "It looks like we will have to go back."
Lord Meher on-line p.168 / V.1 p.218
But Merwan preferred to wait and sat down under a tree. "You can go back, if you like," he told Khodu, "but I have come to see the Sai and I will." They spent the night under the tree in spite of the warnings of the villagers. It was wintertime and Khodu shivered in the bitter cold.
The next morning, they awakened and had hot tea at a nearby vendor, but there was no word from Sai Baba, and the villagers still refused to let them pass. In the afternoon, word came. "Sai Baba is calling you two to his mosque," the villagers said. "But he is still in a bad mood," they warned. "Be careful."
Sai Baba's Dwarkamai Masjid in Shirdi
Sai Baba was then 77 years old. Dressed in a white kafni, he had a white beard and a head of snow-white hair. He was seated in his mosque (Dwarkamai Masjid) and, pointing to Khodu, said, "I want to see that fellow only."
Khodu nervously walked up and bowed at Sai Baba's feet, and when he did, the old fakir slapped him on the back so hard that it knocked the breath out of him. Khodu was startled, and then Sai Baba inquired, "Who is your friend? What does he want?"
"His name is Merwan ... Merwan Sheriar Irani. He is very devout and eagerly desires your darshan, holy one. Hazrat Babajan of Poona has told us about you."
"No, I won't allow him to come!" Sai Baba said.
Looking at Khodu, he continued, "Give me all your money!" Khodu did and then Sai Baba told him to leave.
Khodu left and reported to Merwan, who shook his head and said, "Let us just wait. I must see him and I will."
Later, Sai Baba appeared to have a good mood, as he was about to walk pass them, Merwan prostrated himself on the ground in front of Sai Baba's feet.
Seeing Merwan lying before him on the ground, Sai Baba uttered the one word : "PARVARDIGAR ! "
After Merwan had risen, he and Khodu slowly walked away.
As the proclamation of "Parvardigar!" fell twice more from Sai Baba's lips.
Lord Meher on-line p.168-9 / V.1 p.217-8
6. MERWAN meets UPASNI MAHARAJ
Merwan felt drawn to visit an old Hindu temple on the outskirts of the village, where they were informed Sai Baba's chief disciple was staying. It was the Khandoba Temple where Upasni Maharaj lived some 3 miles / 5 kms away.
Upasni was seated on its steps, naked and virtually as thin as a skeleton. As Merwan approached, Upasni picked up a stone, stood up, and threw it with all his strength at Merwan, striking him on the forehead exactly on the spot where Babajan had kissed him. The force of that holy blow was so strong it drew blood and left a permanent scar on Merwan's forehead.
Lord Meher on-line p.170 / V1 p.218
Merwan regained gross consciousness for the first time in about 2 years.
Meher Baba later stated that the striking of the stone to his forehead made him know that he was the Ancient One.
Upasni Maharaj lived at Khandoba Temple for 4 years & when he met Merwan he was under the guidance of Sai Baba.
PERFECT MASTER UPASNI MAHARAJ
After been struck by the stone, Merwan walked to Upasni Maharaj and embraced him. Upasni kissed the bleeding wound and took him into the snake and scorpion infested small temple. Khodu stood some distance and was startled by what he witnessed.
He was concerned for Merwan and what his mother might say about the wound. The hours went by and through the cold shivering night.
After 2 days and nights, Merwan came out with Upasni by his side, Upasni saying to Khodu "Take care of your friend, make certain you see that he gets back to Poona safely".
Lord Meher V1 p.223-4
Merwan resumed visiting Babajan 2-3 hours nightly.
Once a month Merwan travelled to Shirdi by train via Kopargaon Railway Station and then by road, to see Sai Baba at his temple and then to stay with Upasni Maharaj at the Khandoba Temple nearby for a few days.
Lord Meher V1 p.224
Merwan Irani in 1918
Since meeting Sai Baba & Upasni Maharaj in December 1915, Merwan began a grim habit of striking his forehead against the hard floor surface of his bedroom. He would collapse, wipe away the blood and cover his forehead with a cloth so not to alert his family and friends of the torment and pain he was suffering in his spiritual state. This went on for a very long time.
Lord Meher V1 p.232
In July 1917, Upasni Maharaj moved from Shirdi to Sakori and Merwan became a regular visitor. Merwan was still taking the train to Kopargaon Railway Station and often walked to Sakori, seeing Sai Baba prior briefly and then proceeded to Sakori by foot.
On one occasion, Merwan was attacked by multiple groups of 4 ferocious dogs at Nimgaon south of Kopargaon, ( but nearer to Shirdi ) that ripped his clothing multiple times, but they did not bite him. He finally dashed off, out-running them by the time he came to Shirdi at 3:30 am. He decided not to go to Sai Baba.
After resting for a few hours on the side of the road until daybreak he
proceeded to Upasni's location in Sakori village, covering the 7 miles /
11 kms distance.
When he arrived, Upasni's chief female devotee - Durgabai was carrying a large dead dog that had fallen in a nearby well and died. She handed the carcass to Merwan and he promptly ran off far away and threw it into a pit. He then ran back and joined Upasni Maharaj.
No-one knew of his previous encounter with the dogs.
Merwan stayed for 8 days, then returned to Poona by train still wearing his torn clothes.
His friends gave him fresh clothing so not to alarm his mother - Shireen.
During this time and afterwards, both Merwan and Upasni regularly sent each other letters and parcels which for most of the time, the contents of these correspondences were incomprehensible and meaningless to everyone else.
Lord Meher V1 p.245-6
Sai Baba died on 15th October 1918.
At that time, Gustadji was living with Upasni Maharaj who was a Perfect Master and heir to Sai Baba's spiritual charge.
October 15, 1918 (Tuesday)
- Gleb Bokii, leading member of the Cheka secret police in Russia, officially announced the end of the Red Terror, with 800 alleged enemies executed in Petrograd and another 6,229 imprisoned. Official press released estimated total casualties from the crackdown were between 10,000 and 15,000 based on lists of people executed by the state. Arrests and execution continued throughout the Russian Civil War in 1919 and 1920.
- Battle of Courtrai – French forces captured the city of Roulers from the Germans.
- Royal Navy Q-ship HMS Cymric mistook fellow naval submarine HMS J6 as an enemy vessel in the North Sea and shelled it, killing 15 of the 45 crew on board.
- Born: Ratan Shankar Mishra, Indian mathematician, noted for finding the mathematical solutions for unified fluid theory by Albert Einstein, recipient of the Padma Shri in Ajgaon, India (d. 1999)
SAI BABA'S FUNERAL PROCESSION IN SHIRDI