The Tomb of Gilori Shah

Close to the road, near the footpath to the Pilgrim Center in Lower Meherabad, hidden behind flowering bougainvillea, there stands a structure that marks the beginning of Meherabad history. Enclosed in the green lattice typical of Muslim places in the religious color coding of India, this is the tomb of Hazrat Gilori Shah.

Walking from the MPC toward the road in Lower Meherabad, the red arrow points to Gilori Shah’s tomb.
(Photo by Paul Liboiron)

Who was this person who chose Meherabad to be his final resting place? This Muslim man had been a cook for Queen Victoria. After he retired, he came to Ahmednagar. Khorshed once told me he was a hakim (a traditional doctor) and had cured her of a stomach ailment. Occasionally he would come to the house of Gulmai (Adi K. Irani’s mother) for a meal. Gulmai was a Zoroastrian, married to a successful businessman, who lived in Khushru Quarters (now called the Trust Compound). She was no ordinary lady, however, for she followed Upasni Maharaj, a Hindu Master. In His ashram in Sakori she met Meher Baba … but this is another story.

Hazrat Gilori Shah was also recognized as a saint.

Gilori Shah asked Gulmai to give him a small piece of land from her husband’s property in Arangaon for his tomb. She hesitated because honoring the wish of a Muslim, however holy he might be, would not be looked upon kindly in her community. She was already being criticized by her in-laws for her devotion to Upasni Maharaj. But she had a dream that prompted her to act and, after asking Meher Baba’s permission, she did manage to convince her husband to agree to this unusual request.

Then it was the turn of the followers of the saint to object. Why choose such a desolate place, so far from town? They could provide places much better suited to their master’s status. Gilori Shah retorted, “You do not know who will come here and how this place will flourish. … A great one will come here, and this land will one day belong to the people of the world! Only then will you understand why I am buried here.”

Gilori Shah had his final resting place prepared before his death, so the tomb was already there when Meher Baba came for the first time to Arangaon in May 1923. Gilori Shah died in January 1924 and Gulmai’s husband paid the expenses for his funeral. The tomb has been preserved ever since.

This is how Gilori Shah’s tomb looked in 1938.
(Photo courtesy of MN Publications)

Yes, this Muslim saint knew that the Avatar was coming. From Queen Victoria to the Lord of the Universe, Gilori Shah was part of a very special network indeed!

—Anne Moreigne for Avatar Meher Baba Trust, 22 October 2015

Recent photo of Gilori Shah’s tomb. It really has not changed much, has it?
(Photo by Paul Liboiron)