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Hazrat Babajan

Hazrat Babajan – the Messiah whose grace and love – is still experienced by many devotees who visit her Dargah (shrine). It is not only the men who have attained the peak of enlightenment but also several women — who have revolutionized the world with their Divine message. One of them is Hazrat Babajan. She was born in Baluchistan. Her birth name was “GULRUKH” (which means “Face like a Rose”). She was born to a Royal Muslim Family of Baluchistan. Following the conventions of Afghan nobility, Babajan was reared under the strict purdah tradition, in which women were secluded from the outside world and also subject to a custom of arranged marriages. She opposed an unwelcome marriage planned for her and ran away from home on her wedding day at the age of eighteen. Disguised in her burqa, she journeyed to Peshawar, the frontier city at the foot of the Khyber Pass. It was in or near Peshawar that she eventually came into contact with a Hindu sadguru. 

Following instruction from the guru, “she went into seclusion in a nearby mountain outside Rawalpindi and underwent very severe [riyazat] (spiritual austerities) for nearly seventeen months. Thereafter she came down to [the] Punjab and stayed a few months in Multan. It was in Multan, while [Babajan] was 37 years of age, she contacted a Muslim saint … who put an end to her spiritual struggle by giving her God-realization.”

After that experience, she returned to Rawalpindi to reconnect with the Hindu guru who, after several years, helped her return to normal consciousness. After a second stay in Rawalpindi with her earlier Hindu master, Babajan embarked on several long journeys through the Middle Eastern countries Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. “It is said that she traveled to Mecca disguised as a man [apparently to avoid detection] by way of Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and doubling back into Arabia.” At the Kaaba, she offered salat (prayers) five times a day, always sitting at one selected spot. While in Mecca, Babajan often gathered food for the poor and personally nursed pilgrims who had fallen ill. From Mecca, Babajan made a pilgrimage to the tomb of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in Medina, where she adopted the same routine of offering prayers and caring for fellow pilgrims. 

Leaving Arabia, she passed through Baghdad, Iraq and back to the Punjab. She then traveled south to Nasik and established herself in Panchavati. From Nasik, Babajan travelled to Bombay, where she stayed for some time and her fame grew.

By 1905 Babajan arrived in Pune, where she established her final residence. Now an old woman, her back slightly bent, shoulders rounded, with white matted hair, and shabbily dressed, she “was seen sitting or resting at odd places, in different parts of the City.” After several months’ exposure to the natural elements, Babajan grudgingly allowed her devotees to build a basic shelter of gunny sacks above her. She was a homeless faqir; she knew how they lived. The gifts from her devotees were shared among the poor and destitute and, in some instances, stolen from her by thieves. 

She remained indifferent to the material offerings or the loss. Gradually, out of devotion or mere curiosity, increasing numbers of people from Pune and elsewhere sought her out. Several alleged miracles have been attributed to Babajan. According to one observer, within a decade of Babajan taking residence “the Char Bawdi locality underwent a metamorphosis surpassing all expectations. What with the featural changes in the buildings all around, electrified tea shops ringing with the clatter of cups and saucers, a concourse of peoples consisting of all ranks and creeds waiting for Babajan’s darshan, a street bard entertaining the crowd with his music, the beggars clamoring for alms, easy-going idlers standing indiscriminately hampering vehicular traffic and the whole atmosphere heavily laden with sweet burning incense perpetually kept burning near Babajan, presented a scene typically Eastern, leaving an indelible impression on one’s memory.” 

That is how the presence of a great master can transform an utterly deserted area into the most beautiful area of the town. And that is how a true master can transform a sinner into a saint – a mad man into an enlightened being. On 21st September 1931, one of the greatest saints – Her Holiness and the perfect Master Hazarat Babajan left her mortal body. The Evening News of India reported her death. The newspaper article informed that the "Muslim community in [Pune] has been greatly moved by the death of the famous saint. Her funeral was very largely attended with thousands of people, both Muslims and Hindus, taking part in the procession." The white marble dargah (shrine) of Babajan was built alongside the neem tree under which she had sat for so many years, by the roadside, which is now a busy thoroughfare. "It is a small one roomed dargah with the turbat [grave] placed under a tree. The trunk of the tree emerges through the rooftop." Her dargah is frequented by people of all religions.

Today, Hazarat Babajan’s Dargah (shrine) is located at the same place where she spent most of her days – in Camp locality, which is the very heart of Pune city. However, before leaving her body – she transferred her great powers and blessings to one young man and His name was Merwan Sheriar Irani, a Parsi young boy who must have been 19 years old at that time when he met Babajan for the first time. It happened so that was riding his bicycle on the way to class at Deccan College when he looked up and saw an old woman sitting under a neem tree surrounded by a crowd. He had passed from the same road on previous occasions but had never paid much attention to her, though he was aware that she was regarded by some as a Muslim saint. Soon, he started visiting her; they would sit together yet seldom spoke. 

One night in January 1914, he was about to leave, and before doing so, kissed Babajan’s hands, and she, in turn, held his face in her hands. She then kissed him on the forehead, during which he received her spiritual grace (barakah). The event subsequently left Merwan Irani in a state of coma in which he remained abstracted from his normal surroundings for nearly nine months. This young man, Merwan Sheriar Irani, later became known as Avatar Meher Baba. 

For nearly one year continuously, the kiss remained on him, and he was in a coma. It may happen suddenly like this. This was a great transfer, and Hazrat Babajan died afterward because she had just been waiting for this moment to give someone the whole energy. This was her last life, and there was not enough time even to explain what she was giving. And also, she was not the type to have explained. She was a silent mystic. She had not touched anybody for years. She was only waiting for this moment when she was to kiss someone, and all her energy was transferred in a single transfer. Before this, she had not even touched anyone, so this touch was to be total. 

When the divine touch – when the realization – when the enlightenment happens – all actions stop. Because desires no longer exist. Many desires will drop, and many actions will also. Those actions which were just caused by desires will drop. If I was running for a particular desire, how can I run if the desire has dropped? My running will stop. At least the same running on the same route will stop. So when a person becomes desireless, at least for an interim period, for an interval – and how long it will be will depend on the individual – he will become inactive. The desires will have dropped – and all the actions that he had been doing were concerned with desires, so how can he continue? They will drop. One may also go into a coma.

That is how Meher Baba – with that divine touch of Hazrat Babajan – went into a coma – because all desires vanished with that one divine kiss – and when there is absolutely NO DESIRE – there is NO ACTION – you almost go into a deep sleep to which the world may address as Coma! 

After one year of coma, Meher Baba opens his eyes – his eyes are the same but now his perspective towards life has changed – everything around him is the same – but he is no more the same – great spiritual energy – a great light has come to his heart – the transferring has happened – spontaneously – with just one divine kiss – the Hazarat has passed on her ‘self’ to Meher Baba – how deep must be the love between them – how deep must be the connection of many past lives between them! Hazarat Babajan left, but before leaving, she gave the greatest gift to humanity in the form of Avatar Meher Baba. Meher Baba – the man who revolutionized the whole world – traveled around the world – and transformed many mad men into enlightened beings.

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