Inside a Cage

On Meherabad Hill, about 60 feet behind Beloved Meher Baba’s Tomb, is a “cage-room”, one-quarter cage and three-quarters room. It was built inside the hospital building at the end of July 1940 at Baba’s order to house the mast, Karim Baba. For those who don’t know, a mast is a God-intoxicated person on the spiritual path. Karim Baba had been brought by close disciple Kaka Baria from Calcutta to the mast ashram in Ranchi and soon was moved with other masts to Meherabad Hill.

In his book, The Wayfarers, William Donkin describes Karim Baba: “The memory of this great … mast of the sixth plane will, perhaps, never leave the minds of those who saw him, for the face and eyes of Karim Baba radiated such a plenitude of fire and glory that, in his presence, even a phlegmatic man felt deeply stirred.” As Dr. Donkin went on to explain, this was not a picturesque exaggeration and the mandali named him the “tiger man”, because “he really possessed the power of provoking a mood of admiration mixed with fear…” Dr. Donkin pointed out that in his one photo Karim Baba jerked his head at the moment of exposure and, despite attempts at touching it up, it “does not reveal the immeasurable splendour of his glance…” (The Wayfarers, p. 73)

According to Baba’s instructions, Pendu, another close disciple, built a special cage for Karim Baba by assembling strong pieces of bamboo into a lattice screen through which food, water and other essentials could be passed to the mast. Baba worked with Karim Baba there for two weeks, while staying in an adjacent room, sitting with the mast many times a day and attending personally to his needs. At the end of the two-week period, Baba sent Karim Baba back to Calcutta.

Karim Baba, at home in Calcutta.

A year later, at the end of July 1941, Baba elected to sit in the cage-room for important seclusion work. The inside of the bamboo screen was covered with cloth and, instructed by Baba, Padri [another disciple] cut a small piece of bamboo from the partition to make an opening. Baba entered seclusion on 1st August, working only with another mast, Chatti Baba. A different disciple, Vishnu, “…would go to Him every morning for 15 minutes, and Baba would give him instructions through the window-like opening of the cage, using His alphabet board.” (Lord Meher, p. 2709) Due to strong winds and other factors interfering with His work, Baba moved out from the cage-room after a week.

The Cage Room has remained exactly as it was when Baba stayed there in seclusion in 1941, and has never been used for any other purpose.

—Heather Nadel for Avatar Meher Baba Trust, 22 January 2015

Meher Baba in the cage-room, the day before His seclusion began, 31 July 1941

Meher Baba using the alphabet board from inside the cage-room, near the onset of His seclusion.