Meeting Baba on the Approach Road

The Approach Road is an appendage of Meherazad that leads directly to its heart, and is also a world unto itself. A lane so long the end cannot be seen, a tunnel of shade that holds the world at bay as one transitions to and from the intimacy of Baba’s Home.

The Approach Road from the vantage of the pilgrim bus in 2014.

Meher Baba walked on this path countless times. Mehera said He would often take the women mandali for early-morning walks, Baba walking swiftly and beautifully. She said Baba always wore a pair of brown tennis shoes on these excursions. [1] The mandali have used the Approach Road for regular walks ever since.

Meherwan & Eruch on an early-morning walk in 1996. (Photo by Bob Ahrens)

Here is a story about one of those walks.

Harry Kenmore made 13 trips to India to be with Baba, no small feat for an unescorted blind person. During the 11th trip, in 1968, Baba instructed Harry to come again the next July for one full month, “to sort out for yourself whether you want to live with me for all time or not.” [2]

Baba passed away in January of 1969, before the scheduled trip. Harry came immediately, before the crypt was closed, but was at a loss about whether to come again in July. Eruch counseled him, “Do you recall what He said, that even if I were to cancel, or postpone, His invitation stood? It is a confirmed invitation. … If I were in your place, I would come.”

Harry arrived on 27 July to begin his month. Eruch spent most of his time with Harry, talking about Baba, His ways, His silence, and about all the questions that naturally arise in one’s mind about the God-Man. One morning as they were leaving the Meherazad gate for their walk down the Approach Road, Harry reminded Eruch that it was the eve of his departure. Harry pointedly asked him, “Do you think Pop knows that I’ve come because He has invited me?”

Eruch responded in typical Eruch fashion: “Harry, since when do you long for such experiences? Why do you want to know? You have come in response to His invitation. That’s all. You have done your duty. What do you want? Whether He knows or does not know, what do we have to do with that Harry?” Harry seemed unconsoled, wanting more.

About halfway through their walk, a stranger, who appeared to be a farmer, came directly toward them. Eruch knew that Harry, being blind, might strike out at anyone who unexpectedly touched him. Since the farmer was approaching them with his arms outstretched to greet them—very unusual behavior for a local farmer—Eruch told Harry to extend his hand. The farmer took Harry’s hand and held it. Harry said, “Mmmm … mmm …,” feeling the farmer’s hand. “Eruch, ask him his age.” The man said he was about 74. Harry continued prodding Eruch to ask questions—what is he doing? where is he going?—and the farmer answered, holding Harry’s hand all the while.

Then the farmer reached up to feel Harry’s face! For Harry, it was in the same way that Baba had, as every morning Baba would feel Harry’s chin and say “Well Harry, did you shave properly today?” Eruch for his part was thinking that this stranger was really going too far, being forward to the point of impudence.

Later, when Eruch saw Mani, he told her how something very strange had happened on their walk, that someone had engaged with Harry in a most familiar way. Mani asked, “Was it Baba?” Eruch, surprised, said no, it was just a farmer.

Mani told Mehera of the incident and she spontaneously responded, “Was it Baba?”

At tea time Harry brought up the subject and asked Eruch what he thought. Eruch simply turned the question back to Harry. Harry said, “Well, I felt the hand unmistakably was His. The hand was His, the way He touched me—the way he felt my chin!—made me feel that He was giving me a sure sign that He knows that I have come here in response to His invitation.”

Francis, Eruch, Baba and Harry on the Approach Road in 1959.
(Photo courtesy of the Avatar Meher Baba Trust Archives)

When Eruch told this story in Mandali Hall, he concluded with this: “What I am saying is that our being over here is all preplanned, I tell you. Unbeknownst to us we are drawn here. … Nothing to be said. Best is to just take it as it comes.”

The Meherazad Gates in May, 2000. (Photo by Bif Soper)

Click here to see a film of Baba on the Approach Road in 1962. Baba sits in the crate
that was the “look-out seat” where Baidul kept watch. (Photo extracted from the film.
Film footage shot by Don Stevens at Meherazad during February 1962.
Courtesy of Avatar Meher Baba Trust Archives.)

The circle marks the spot where the “look-out seat” once rested.

—David McNeely for Avatar Meher Baba Trust, 6 July 2017

1. Mehera-Meher, Vol. 2, by David Fenster, p. 335.

2. Quotations and specific details are sourced from Talk #347 “Harry Kenmore Meets Farmer – Eruch Jessawalla.”


Some of you may be interested in other On Sacred Ground stories which involve the Approach Road. Here are a few links to previous stories:

The Ghyara Cottage, Part 2 

To Love the Lord as Mehera Loved Him