The Many Lives of the Blue Bus

The Blue Bus has had a long and varied history. It was originally built in Bombay on a Chevrolet chassis according to Meher Baba’s precise instructions. From 1938 to 1941 it carried people and luggage—notoriously beyond its capacity—across India from East to West and South to North, countless miles adding up to innumerable stories. Baba said, “This Blue Bus is like the chariot of Krishna, and after my manifestation, people will worship it!” (Lord Meher, p. 2242 online ed.)

Kaka Baria unloading the Blue Bus in front of Hotel Republica.
April 1940, Panjim, Goa. (Photo courtesy ECPPA)

At the end of 1941, after the life seemed to have been squeezed out of it, Baba asked 100 of His lovers to send 50 rupees each in exchange for a chance to win the bus by lottery. Baba Himself stirred the names and selected the winner: Keki Desai, who was living in Delhi at the time. Keki’s response to winning was, what will I do with it? When Baba learned of his polite refusal, He said, “It has come back on my chest again.”

Baba then gave the Blue Bus to Sarosh, a long-time Baba lover and mandali member who owned Sarosh Motor Works—an auto repair shop and Chevrolet dealership that was adjacent to the Trust compound. Baba told Sarosh to use the bus, so he overhauled it and added it to his small fleet of public transport vehicles that served Ahmednagar. It was at this time that the door at the front of the passenger compartment was added.

Eventually it came time to retire the bus. Sarosh sold everything possible to scrap merchants, and left the shell of the bus in the yard behind the shop. Baba had planned months earlier to use the Blue Bus for His Great Seclusion, and now asked Sarosh to deliver it to Meherazad. It soon came… pushed and pulled the eight miles on a handcart!

Baba chose the location for the bus: in the courtyard to the right of the entry to Mandali Hall, where it would be protected on three sides by existing buildings. Kaka Baria, one of Baba’s close disciples, dug a pit and arranged four large oil drums to serve as a foundation (the steel walls of the drums were very thick back then). The drums and the pit were filled with sand, the bus was mounted on top of the drums, and a brick wall was built up a little higher than the patio to give the bus a solid perch.

Baba ordered that a tall privacy wall of bamboo mats be erected around the bus, creating room for the front door to open onto a small patio. The rear door opened into a private room that still remains in the building behind the bus. Here a bathroom was created with a commode and washing facilities.

Meher Baba at Meherazad seated in front of the Blue Bus the day before the Great Seclusion began.
Note bamboo matting to Baba’s left. 21 June 1949. (Photo courtesy MN Publications.)

The Blue Bus was now ready to serve as a vehicle for Baba’s Great Seclusion, which began on 22 June 1949, lasted forty days, and ushered in the New Life.

—David McNeely for Avatar Meher Baba Trust, 1 January 2015

Disciples called by Meher Baba to a meeting at Meherazad the day before the Great Seclusion began.
Mandali Hall on the left. Blue Bus behind bamboo matting. 21 June 1949.
(Photo courtesy MN Publications)

Present-day Meherazad with Blue Bus in background.