The Story of the West Room
During the Advent of Avatar Meher Baba, some places played especially significant roles. One such place was the West Room, on the ground floor of the Meher Retreat in Upper Meherabad. Originally one section of an empty water tank, this room was used by Baba in many different ways, giving it a uniquely special history. This is the story of the West Room.
Meher Baba started staying in the Water Tank in the 1920s. In order to enter the tank, He had to climb up to a small window opening seven feet off the ground, then lower Himself down with the help of a rope. This rope was His only way out. On one of his stays Baba did not leave the tank for seven whole days.
Notably, the Water Tank and other buildings at Meherabad were honoured by Baba when, in celebration of His 32nd birthday, He had them garlanded and decorated with flowers and potted palms.
While Baba was writing His mysterious book, He sometimes chose the quiet, solitary atmosphere of the Water Tank in which to write. It was during one of these stays in 1926 that the scale of Baba’s suffering was visible: “Once when Adi Sr. was on watch, he witnessed Baba silently weeping. Adi kept quiet as Baba wept (actually shedding tears) but he did not ask the reason.” On another night, “Baba was suddenly overcome with pain; He was unable to sit or stand, and lay sprawled on the stone floor of the room writhing in intense agony … for 20 minutes. … The sight was almost unbearable for Adi to behold. … Baba later remarked, ‘Today you have had ample evidence of what my Universal Suffering means!’ ” [Lord Meher, Online Revised Edition, p. 726]
With the expansion of Meher Ashram, the school for boys, Baba decided to move the ashram from the Arangaon Family Quarters to the Water Tank. This required alterations to the tank with the construction of doors on the east and west sides. A dormitory was set up for the boys in what was now known as the West Room, and almost every night Baba would come to settle them down and say goodnight. Years later, one of the boys, Khosrow Namiranian, visited the West Room, now the Museum. While gazing at the Kamli Coat with tears streaming down his face, he confessed that on those nights the boys didn’t want Baba to leave them and, in their fervour, would tug at Baba’s Kamli Coat, tearing off pieces.
Then in 1937, the room became the living quarters for 3 western women—Norina, Kitty and Rano. (Later various groupings of western and eastern women would stay in the West Room.) Sparsely furnished, with only a bed and a chair for each and one shared cracked mirror, it was an austere setting. Baba had warned the western women before they came to Meherabad, “I will gradually take away all your comforts.” [Lord Meher, Online Revised Edition, p. 1885]
Music programs were held in the West Room on Baba’s birthday in 1929 and during a gathering in 1955. On a few occasions during the Men’s Sahavas in 1954, Baba gathered the men around Him in the West Room, giving discourses and instructions. Of their last visit with Him, Darwin Shaw later wrote, “No more need for anything, but only to sit and gaze upon His lovely being. Baba sat there like a beautiful flower. Waves of love just flowed from Him. The room became love’s sanctuary. … There was nothing but an endless, measureless Beyond of pure, sweet, beautiful, timeless love. … It was so glorious.” [Lord Meher, Online Revised Edition, p. 3617]
Finally, in the ’70s, the West Room became a Museum housing some of the God-Man’s treasures. How touched and amazed visitors are when they walk down the steps into the Museum and realize they are face to face with these sacred treasures, especially considering this unique room has been garlanded and lived in by Baba Himself. It has had discourses and music and lovers of God—all within its walls.
—Suzie Iimura, for Avatar Meher Baba Trust, 24 December 2015