Before It Was the Samadhi, Part 1

During June of 1927, on the spot where His Samadhi now stands, Meher Baba had a small structure with walls built of tatta (bamboo matting) covered by a tin sheet roof. He spent the night there on June 30th and again on some following days. During July, at Baba’s order, the structure was dismantled and a pit 40 inches wide, 80 inches long, and 60 inches deep was dug and lined with stone. Steps were also constructed leading down into the pit and it became known as the khadda (pit) or crypt.

Another cabin was then built above and wooden boards were placed over the pit leaving the steps accessible. There was a doorway on the south side, two window-like openings in the east wall and one in the north. One of the openings on the east side was screened in and the other became a passageway to a stone platform constructed so that the Meher Ashram School boys and others could listen while Baba discoursed from inside. [Refer to the diagram later in this story.]

On August 16, 1927, Baba began residing there day and night, sleeping in the crypt. Later that year, on November 10th, He started a fast there which would last for 5½ months. He also began giving spiritual talks in the evenings, using His alphabet board and hand gestures, sitting inside while the mandali and boys sat outside on the platform.

This photo of Baba was probably taken in the doorway of the crypt-cabin in late 1927
or early 1928 during Baba’s fast and seclusion. (Photo courtesy of MN Publications)

Around this time, six small tatta cells were constructed behind the north wall of the crypt-cabin, and on December 2, 1927 Baba ordered a group of men representing different religions and castes to occupy five of these cells, calling it the Sadhak Ashram. They were instructed to stay there day and night, to meditate and to only take liquids.

Diagram showing the orientation of the structures near the crypt-cabin.

Near the end of the year Baba began a seclusion inside the crypt-cabin, sleeping and bathing in the pit itself. The nightly spiritual discourses continued and those gathered there would become intoxicated as the words touched their hearts. In his diary, Chanji referred to these sessions as the nightly “love injections.”

On December 28th, Baba gathered the Meher Ashram boys and disclosed, “At first, it was my intention to advance you gradually on the Path, but considering the spiritual outburst that takes place in the world during certain ages, I have changed my mind as that time is very near.” [Lord Meher, p.862]

January 1, 1928 was particularly momentous. Because Baba spent much time in seclusion in the crypt-cabin, the ashram women, who resided down the Hill, rarely got to see Him. It was Mehera’s birthday according to the Zoroastrian calendar, so she and the others were called to have Baba’s darshan; then arti was performed and sweets distributed.

Also on the 1st, many of the boys had spells of crying throughout the day and by evening they were all weeping uncontrollably. Baba came to the window of the crypt-cabin to calm them saying, “Your weeping means love, my love for you; but also obey my orders. When I order you to stop crying, you should stop. Don’t check your love—increase it; but obey my orders.” [Lord Meher, p.880]

On January 6th, after a group of soldiers had come for Baba’s darshan, He dictated a declaration and had it read out, saying that at about 2:00 a.m. the previous night a secret conference of Spiritual Masters had been held in the crypt and it was decided that a great war would soon begin. Baba concluded His declaration by repeating, “A great war will shortly take place, and when it is raging furiously, I will come forward and manifest as the Avatar!” [Lord Meher, p.881]

Baba in the east window-passage opening of the crypt-cabin in January of
1928 during His long seclusion and fast. (Photo courtesy of MN Publications)

The space between the crypt-cabin and the Sadhak Ashram was enclosed and from January 25th two of the boys who were having intense, blissful inner experiences of Baba, Chhota Baba and Rajaram, were allowed to stay there, with only a cloth curtain separating their space from Baba’s inside. Chhota Baba was also permitted to sleep there, a very rare privilege, as the mandali had never known Baba to allow anyone to sleep near Him. Only a few of the mandali were even allowed inside the crypt-cabin and, then, just when called for some specific work.

Baba with some of the Meher Ashram boys, including Chhota
Baba on His left, in the crypt-cabin on 22 January, 1928.
(Photo courtesy of MN Publications)

On February 18th, in response to some of His followers who had travelled a long distance to be with Him, Baba gave permission for His birthday to be celebrated. The women mandali were again allowed to leave their secluded compound and they, as well as the others, were permitted to wash Baba’s feet as He sat in the doorway of the crypt-cabin.

Baba is standing next to the platform, which abuts the crypt-cabin on the left, probably
in March or April 1928. The structure behind Baba’s shadow in the middle is where
Chhota Baba and Rajaram would stay. On the right is part of the Sadhak Ashram.
(Photo courtesy of MN Publications)

Later, in June, Baba had most of the Meherabad residents relocated to Toka where all the ashram activities continued until nearly the end of the year, shifting back to Meherabad again on December 9, 1928.

—Meredith Klein for Avatar Meher Baba Trust, 2 February 2017

[Before It Was the Samadhi will conclude in 2 weeks.]


Some of you may be interested in other On Sacred Ground stories about the Samadhi. Here are a few links to previous stories:

“The Samadhi Murals, Parts 1-3”