The Rahuri Cabin

The Rahuri Cabin, nestled under four neem trees, looks like a dollhouse with its shiny white paint and baby blue trim. But do not be fooled. This little room stands witness to so much of Meher Baba’s work!

The cabin was built in August 1936 in Rahuri, where Baba had opened an ashram for the mad and the God-intoxicated, whom Meher Baba called masts. [1] Rahuri is 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Ahmednagar on the road to Nasik. At that time the mandali were staying in Meherabad, but the recently arrived Western followers were accommodated in Nasik. Baba would commute between these two places, stopping on the way to look after the inmates of the Rahuri ashram. Baba would bathe and feed the mad and masts with his own hands. He told Elizabeth Patterson and Norina Matchabelli during one of their visits, “When I wash the mad at Rahuri, I am ‘washing’ them universally.” [2]

Among the residents of the Rahuri ashram were also a few God-intoxicated masts, about whom Baba said, “Through (them) blows a breeze—a breeze of longing for God.” [3] These special souls would recognize Baba and could not contain their joy when they were in Baba’s presence. Among them was the mast Mohammed, who later stayed in Meherabad for many years until his death in 2003.

The Rahuri Cabin was the only solid structure in the Rahuri ashram; the other buildings were temporary shacks of bamboo matting.

Baba sitting in the doorway of the Rahuri Cabin at Rahuri,1936.
(Photo courtesy of the MSI Collection)

Baba with Norina and Elizabeth in front of the Rahuri Cabin while in Rahuri, 1937.
(Photo courtesy of the MSI Collection)

In his usual way of frequently changing plans, Meher Baba closed the Rahuri ashram in April 1937 (9 months after it had been opened). Baba ordered the mandali to dismantle his cabin and send all the materials to Meherabad, giving very precise instructions such as “keep the material of my cabin separate and untouched by anybody.” [4]

The cabin was then reassembled in lower Meherabad, near the Mess Quarters, the main building at the time. The stone floor, the bricks of the walls, the frame, the door and windows are the same ones that were originally in Rahuri, and the name “Rahuri Cabin” remained.

Buildings were few in the early years of the ashram and this cabin was used as an “audience hall.” Many people met Meher Baba for the first time in this little room; many stories had their beginnings here. It was also used to house special visitors, as diverse as Walter Mertens, a friend of Carl Jung from Switzerland, in 1938, and Kaka Saheb Kalelkar, emissary of Mahatma Gandhi … quite an astonishing guest book!

It served also as an infirmary—young Meherwan Jessawala stayed there when he was afflicted with boils all over his legs after his family had moved to Meherabad in August 1938.

Baba standing in the doorway of the Rahuri Cabin in Meherabad, 1938.
(Photo courtesy of MN Publications)

On the outside of the building are the symbols of four of the world’s main religions. I notice these symbols showing up often in today’s world of iconic representations. I was also surprised to see a drawing with similar symbols in the autobiography of Malala, the young Pakistani schoolgirl who received the Nobel Peace Prize this year. She drew these symbols at the age of 12, dreaming of “interfaith harmony”. In 1931, Baba had said, “The time is soon coming to give mankind a universal spiritual belief which will serve all races of people in every country.” [5]

The Rahuri Cabin as it appears today.
(Photo by Bif Soper)

Why did Baba preserve this small building? How can we ever understand the work he did in it?

Open all day for pilgrims to sit quietly or for musicians who like to play inside, the Rahuri Cabin keeps its secrets to itself.

—Anne Moreigne for Avatar Meher Baba Trust, 18 June 2015

[1] According to Meher Baba, a “mast” is a seeker of God who becomes so intoxicated with the experience of the Divine that he loses interest in the external world of forms. His behavior may resemble that of a “madman” although it is actually a reflection of an advanced inner awareness. (See The Wayfayers, by William Donkin, for more information.)

[2] Lord Meher, online edition, p.1761

[3] Ibid, p. 1761

[4] Ibid, p. 1835

[5] Ibid, p. 1208