The East Room Speaks

What is now known as the Water Tower on Meherabad Hill was originally a water tank that served the British before Meher Baba arrived in 1923. It was dug several feet into the earth, and had walls built of rock that were 6 feet (1.8 meters) thick at ground level, tapering to a little less than 3 feet thick at 6 feet above the ground. The tank was roofed, and divided into two halves so it could continue to serve even if one side needed to be shut down for maintenance.

On 18th June 1927, when the Meher Ashram (Baba’s school for boys) was about to receive many more boys than expected, Baba suggested using the east side of the tank for the ashram (now called “the East Room”). Over the following three days, the men mandali broke through the rock walls to create one door into each side.

On one of those three days, Eruch visited Baba with his father. Baba gave Eruch a steel bar that was probably about 5 feet (1.5 meters) long and very heavy, and invited him to help with the demolition. Eruch said that although he was only eleven and small, he gave it his best until he was very much out of breath.

Students of the Meher Ashram school outside the East Room, late 1927
(Photo courtesy MN Publications)

The walls of the East Room have since witnessed so much of Baba’s activity that this room might be considered one of the primary sites of Baba’s work. If only these walls could talk!

Well, in fact they can. Last fall, while restoring the East Room so pilgrims can experience it themselves, some writing was discovered on a layer of plaster that had been covered by paint. It was likely written by one of the Meher Ashram boys on 12th January 1929, the day Baba unexpectedly announced that the Meher Ashram would close, and that all necessary preparations should be concluded that very day. Or, possibly, it was written on the 13th, the day all boys, including those who had come from Persia, were sent away to their guardians.

East Room wall script.

With meticulous care, paint chip by paint chip, the following message in Persian script was gradually revealed (with some words remaining undecipherable):

“Goodbye Meher Baba. You brought me and all my brothers here and You taught us a thousand lessons. And it was in this spiritual room from every culture and every religion, and You brought us one by one closer to You, and after one year it is difficult to leave.”

“Difficult to leave” is an inadequate translation because English is simply too clumsy to give full expression to the Persian word. In Farsi, there are at least five words one can use to say, “I’m leaving.” This one conveys great depth of feeling, intimacy, longing, and perhaps a shade of emotional pain.

From the beginning, Baba had made very clear to the public that the primary purpose of Meher Ashram was spiritual training. To the boys He said, “Love me, and you will realize me. I am ready to make you like Vivekananda, Ramtirth, Ali and Arjuna. The price I ask is only love. Spirituality is offered as loot. Love alone will get the lion’s share. Divinity is being auctioned; make the highest bid with all the love that you can create and command.” [1]

And love Baba they did. When Baba gave discourses to the boys on esoteric wisdom and spirituality, they began to experience divine intoxication. This culminated on the evening of the 1st of January, 1928: “All the boys in the Ashram burst into tears and began to weep and wail. … The shrieks and cries could even be heard a quarter of a mile away from the Ashram!” [2]

Meher Ashram or Prem Ashram boys with Meher Baba,
Upper Meherabad, late 1928 to early 1929
(Photo courtesy MN Publications)

The East Room will be open to pilgrims beginning this season, but know that this is not a museum. This is sacred ground that is imbued with Beloved Baba’s Presence. Enter, and allow the walls to speak.

—David McNeely for Avatar Meher Baba Trust, 23 April 2015

[1] Lord Meher, 1st ed., p. 978; also Ramjoo’s Diaries, p. 419 (the quotation combines the representations from each source for clarity).
[2] Ramjoo’s Diaries, Pgs. 422–433