The Rickshaw

Standing in one corner of our Museum on the Hill at Meherabad is an interesting antique—a hand-drawn rickshaw of the type which was used in many Asian countries in the 19th and early 20th centuries. This rickshaw was brought to Meherabad for Baba in September, 1927. Baba was asked to sit in it and He complied, asking Baily, His long-time disciple and school chum who had arrived at Meherabad the same day, to be the first to pull Him in it. Baily pulled Baba in the rickshaw swiftly down the hill to the railway line and back up again.

19 September, 1927: Baily pulls the rickshaw for Baba.
(Photo courtesy of MN Publications)

The boys of the Meher Ashram and Prem Ashram (1927-1929) loved to pull Baba in the rickshaw. Baba would allow them to pull Him around the ashram, though the ground was usually rough and so was the ride! Once the Prem Ashram boys went through an odd, unruly period, behaving rather wildly. One day while pulling Baba in the rickshaw, they ran too fast and the rickshaw turned over and Baba fell out!

One of the Prem Ashram boys, Esfandiyar Vesali, told a touching story many years later about his experience with Baba and the rickshaw. Baba was seated in the rickshaw and it was just starting to be pulled, when He gestured for Esfandiyar to come and sit beside Him for the ride. Esfandiyar jumped at the chance, but he told Baba the seat was not big enough so he would stand on the platform floor instead. All right, Baba said, but you must hold onto my arm. They rode from lower Meherabad up the Hill, a rather bumpy ride. When they stopped, Baba asked Esfandiyar, “How did you like the ride?” Esfandiyar replied that it was so rough he nearly fell out! Baba replied, “Yes and if you had not held onto my arm you would have fallen out. It is the same on the spiritual path; if you don’t hold onto the Master, you will get lost.” [1]

The mandali also pulled Baba occasionally in the rickshaw, sometimes for practical purposes such as when Baba was fasting or feeling unwell.

Baba with some of His mandali and Meher Ashram boys, after coming out of a long seclusion,
February 1928.
(Photo courtesy of MN Publications)

In February 1928 Baba ended a four-month period of fasting and seclusion in His crypt-cabin on the hill (which later became His tomb). At the same time the Meher Ashram underwent an upsetting event—Ali, one of Baba’s favorite boys, was taken away by his father. Baba indicated that His work in seclusion was undone and that He was considering closing down the ashram. But the event of His coming out of His seclusion was celebrated anyway, and the rickshaw was decorated gaily for carrying Baba all round the hill and down to lower Meherabad. When Baba neared the area of the dhuni and table-house in His rickshaw, an extraordinary event was witnessed. Ramjoo Abdullah described it in his book Sobs and Throbs, “Just as the Master’s rickshaw passed the dhuni on this particular day, it suddenly burst out into a distinct flame! I witnessed this extraordinary phenomenon, as I chanced to look at it just at the right moment. Many others also remember having seen it.” After riding around a few more minutes, Baba returned to the dhuni and sat near it for 15 minutes. He then told the mandali, “The dhuni has just conveyed to me a message: ‘Continue and go on with the work.'” And in fact Baba did not close the ashram at that time. [2]

Baba’s rickshaw as it appears today in the Meherabad Museum.
(Photo by Paul Liboiron)

—Irene Holt for Avatar Meher Baba Trust, 5 May 2016

[1] Personal communication to the author.
[2] Sobs and Throbs, by Abdul Kareem Abdullah (Ramjoo), pp. 58-59. eBook from the Trust Online Library,