Before It Was The Samadhi, Part 2
At the end of 1928, when the Ashram resettled at Meherabad from Toka, the intense activity surrounding the crypt area lessened as Baba came and went, traveling to other parts of India as well as abroad.
In early March of 1929, He had the tatta crypt structure dismantled and reconstructed in the same location with soft rock walls. On the 9th afternoon there was an opening ceremony for this new room with gramophone records played and tea with sweets distributed.
Over the following months Baba stayed in this crypt-room on some nights and Gustadji, a very close mandali, slept inside with Him. During this period Baba also slept in other rooms in both Lower and Upper Meherabad. On July 10th 1930 for the fifth anniversary of Baba’s Silence, there was a celebration on the Hill in the environs of the crypt-room, during which the mandali were allowed to wash Baba’s feet.
In mid-1933 the corrugated roof, the planks covering the crypt and even the door were stolen. Baba called Satya Mang, a well-known local criminal who had also earlier worked as a Meherabad watchman, and ordered him to find the guilty party. Another thief accused Satya and so they both decided on a challenge to eat dhuni ash, agreeing that the true culprit would die within 8 days. In fact, the accuser did die and it was later learned that he was indeed the perpetrator. This event so impressed Satya’s criminal associates that they all ceased thieving.
Later, during some other construction and repair work on the Hill, the door from Baba’s cabin in Toka was installed in the crypt-room. After returning from Europe in November, Baba began staying there for a while again, having His night watchmen remain on the outside platform, which was covered with tatta and canvas for protection in the winter. During the warmer months, Baba also slept outside on the platform.
In May of 1934 an altercation between some of the men mandali left Baba angry with them. That night, as He slept in the crypt-room, there was a severe storm with high winds. Some of the same men, along with Baba, had to hold the purlins (horizontal supports) to keep the roof of the crypt-room from blowing off. They then sought other shelter, thinking that perhaps the intensity of the earlier clash had saved them from harm during this violent weather event.
In mid-1935, to provide a sturdier place for Him to stay and in anticipation of a long seclusion starting in July, Baba had Padri build a tin cabin to the east of the crypt platform. During this time it served as His bedroom.
The next year, the area around the crypt-room was enclosed with barbed-wire on three sides (with the fence of the Meher Retreat compound forming the fourth side). There was a gate on the south and a henna hedge also planted along the barbed-wire.
In 1938, Baba had the soft stone crypt-room taken down and a new, stronger building constructed in its place, using stones from the dismantled Lower Meherabad Post Office building, with a dome above and symbols from four major religions fitted atop the upper corners.
The Dome, as it came to be called, was inaugurated on August 28th. In the following months Baba had Helen Dahm, a famous Swiss artist living in the women’s ashram, paint murals on the inside walls and ceiling.
During the 1940s, Baba occasionally resided in the Dome building and used the surrounding compound to hold small programmes. In May of 1943, during the Divine Theme Sahavas, the attendees would gather with Baba in the compound every evening for discourses and light entertainment.
In May of 1947, the Dome was broken into and Baba’s belongings rifled through, but nothing was taken. Baba was in Satara at the time and He sent a letter instructing that more night watchmen be employed, saying, “If anything again happens on the Hill, Meherabad will be doomed.” [Lord Meher p. 2578]
In the ensuing years Baba would occasionally visit the Dome, bringing people there to see it, telling them of how He had lived in the crypt structures in the early years and reminding His mandali to bring His body to be interred there on His passing. On January 31st 1969, when He dropped His body, this did happen and Avatar Meher Baba’s Samadhi became the central place of pilgrimage for His lovers, who now stream from all over the world to Meherabad for His darshan.
—Meredith Klein for Avatar Meher Baba Trust, 16 February 2017
Some of you may be interested in other On Sacred Ground stories about the Samadhi. Here are a few links to previous stories:
“At the Threshold” https://avatarmeherbabatrust.org/index.php/osg-45/
“Go See My Tomb” https://avatarmeherbabatrust.org/index.php/osg-48/
“The Samadhi Murals, Parts 1-3”