On Sunday, 18th Sept. 2016, Naosherwan and Marrukh Nalavala were our delightful guests. We heard many beautiful stories of Meher Baba’s compassion and personal guidance, fascinating accounts of the work with Glow International Magazine and Beloved Archives, and a lovely short story from Marrukh of coming to know of Baba through Naosherwan in 1970.
(Deep apologies for our erroneous statement in last week’s Chat notice about Naosherwan’s nickname “Anzar.” Naosherwan corrected us: the name was not given by Baba, but was a “nom de plume” or pseudonym that Naosherwan first used in Urdu poetry he wrote as a college student, when he would attend ‘mushairas’ or Urdu poetry conventions. He used “Anzar” in the same way as the Persian ghazal poets did, to “sign” their poems in the last couplet, and as Bhau and Francis also did in their Hindi and English ghazals composed for Baba. Naosherwan humorously hastened to add that he was not comparing himself to Hafiz or Rumi!
When on the corporate beat as a young reporter, Naosherwan was advised that it would be prudent to use a name other than the family name, as his father was a businessman in Dehra Dun. Thus he began to sign as “Naosherwan Anzar” for his articles as a journalist. When he wrote letters to Baba, he would also sign “Anzar” – so the Mandali, especially Eruch, usually called him by this name.
Anzar does not mean “star” – that was also our error – it derives from “Nazar,” as Baba had once cabled him, “My Nazar is on you.”)
In his very articulate and pleasant speaking style, Naosherwan related many wonderful stories of his family’s and his own deep connection with Beloved Baba. His father Kaikobad, who was called “Keka” by Baba to distinguish him from Keki Desai, first met Baba in Dehra Dun in 1941, and his mother a year or so later.
In 1946, before the Partition of India and Pakistan, Baba had traveled directly from Lahore to Dehra Dun. He came with four of the Mandali to the Nalavala family home for lunch. On that occasion, according to Naosherwan’s mother Freiny, the lucky 2-month old baby Nosh was carried around in Baba’s arms for nearly four hours!
Hence, Naosherwan named his book of poetry, published in 1966, In the Lap of Love.
During the New Life, Baba came to stay at Lytton Road in Dehra Dun for nearly a year, and the family home was practically across the road. As a small child, Nosh had “full freedom” to walk in and out. During this New Life period, the family spent a lot of time with Baba, and Baba came again to Dehra Dun in 1953 and stayed for almost a year.
Naosherwan had Baba’s darshan at the East-West Gathering in 1962 and at Guruprasad in Pune in May 1965, when Beloved Baba guided him into his career as a journalist, writer, editor and publisher. He was most fortunate to have a final one-on-one meeting with Him at Meherazad just 40 days before Baba dropped His body.
And on 31st January, 1969, Naoshweran was on the first day of his first job with the Times of India, which he had joined under Baba’s instruction. When he saw in the papers that Baba had dropped His body, he went to tell his boss that he wanted leave! His boss “nearly fell off his chair” – he was asking for leave on his very first day of training. But, as Naosherwan says, “In India they understand about spiritual issues, spiritual masters…” and he was allowed time off, though under the condition that he rushed back from Meherabad after one day.
The stories of Naosherwan and his family’s life in the orbit of Beloved Baba which he generously shared with us are too numerous to relate here – but one more particularly touching story was about his father and his work at the Singer Sewing Machine Company, and a profoundly transformative letter from Meher Baba. Naosherwan told us that he quotes the letter in every talk he gives – it is filled with robust encouragement and uplifting, strengthening divine love and humor, which healed and roused his father from a state of depression to become his own boss (or ‘bose,’ rhymes with close, as Baidul would say it).
Naosherwan emphasised that every word from, every order given by, every moment with Beloved Baba had tremendous importance and significance, monumental impact from a spiritual standpoint – far beyond his ken at the time. But he was able to single out this most memorable moment:
“It could only be memorable if it was life-transforming, and that’s what happened. On May 4th 1965, when I was in Baba’s presence…there were a lot of events, a number of things happened at that meeting…. He gave me the mandate to tell the world that He was God in human form.
“In the afternoon, it was soon after 1965 Sahavas of three days… on the fourth day, I met Baba. In Guruprasad…the afternoon session was in the large hall, for those who had volunteered for Sahavas for three days and did not have the opportunity to be near Baba. They had looked after the elderly, were babysitters for babies, held hands and held people back as Baba was walking: the volunteers. My father was a volunteer and was there; most were from Poona and Bombay, with their families. I was not a volunteer so I sat outside.
“The next thing I saw, Eruch craned his neck out, and said, ‘Baba, Naosherwan is sitting outside.’ Then Eruch said, ‘Come in,’ he called me in. As I reached the door, I saw that every inch of space of that hall was completely covered.
“Baba was sitting on a low couch, and Eruch was on his side. The only spot that was open was at Baba’s feet – nobody dared go and sit there. I didn’t have a choice – if I sat somewhere, it had to be there! I gingerly walked there…[ed. it was so crowded where I sat down that] I couldn’t face Baba, so I sat and turned around, and my lower back leaned against Baba’s leg. No choice!
“In those days, Ramakrishnan would stand up and say, introduce, ‘Baba, this is so-and-so, he did a lot of work here…this is his wife and son.’ Somebody would say, Baba, ‘I’m looking for a husband for my daughter,’ everyone was taking the opportunity. Others would say, I did a lot of Baba work…(ed. Nosh imitates Baba’s gesture and expression of ‘Very good!’) There was a lot of interaction.
“The session ended, and Baba said we were going to have the Hindi arti. I grew up singing the Hindi arti, but as I started singing with the others, hardly did I reach the first sentence when I started sobbing uncontrollably…my heart was bursting with love.
“As I looked at Baba, I saw Him become larger and larger, I saw Baba asking Eruch to move back, not to do anything, to let me sob. It was a moment of extreme ecstasy and joy and love.
“After some time, it must have been a short time, Baba put his hand on my shoulder. As if a faucet was turned off, I stopped crying.
“The upshot is, in the 10 years I had spent not meeting Baba, I was always engaged in intellectual pursuits – reading Kant, Nietsche, Kierkegaard, Gurdjief, Ouspensky, other philosophers. I felt I was carrying an intellectual millstone around my neck. My heart had never opened to Baba’s love, I was filling my head with mumbo jumbo…
“At that instant, Baba opened my heart completely. I won’t say I’m completely out of it, the intellectual still attracts me, but Baba opened my heart. It never happened to me again. That to me was the most memorable event of my life with Baba.”
Both Naosherwan and Marrukh spoke “glowingly” of the sparkling celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Glow International Magazine which was held at Beloved Archives earlier this year. There was Indian classical music, singers, 250 people attended. They invite all to read about it on the belovedarchives.org website.
The genesis of the Glow was fascinating to hear. It was launched in February 1966, with the name “The Spark,” a tabloid size magazine, put together to commemorate Meher Baba’s 1953 visit to Dehra Dun, filled with Baba’s messages and photos. It was financed by the Meher Baba Centre of Dehra Dun as a one-time publication. But Baba liked it so much that He sent cables to Naosherwan.
The Dehra Dun Baba lovers felt that the magazine should continue. The “Awakener” magazine had been published since 1953, but many in India were not able to afford it.
Naosherwan’s mother Freiny gave him 200 rupees, and another Baba lover gave, so the magazine was launched. It was found that “The Spark” could not be used because it was the name of a Communist journal in print. Naosherwan wrote to Baba proposing two options, “The Glow” or “The Ray,” and Baba chose “The Glow.” (Naosherwan learned that Francis Brabazon had suggested the name “In the Flow,” but nobody seemed to like it.)
Meher Baba gave a special message for the first issue and the second issue of The Glow. Naoshwerwan would send seven copies of each issue to the Mandali, and one to Baba. Baba would sign one copy of the magazine and send it back to him, and this continued until the time of his last meeting with Baba in 1968.
We did not give Naosherwan enough time to speak of Beloved Archives, yet he gave us a fine glimpse of its evolution and present-day status. Baba had given him the mandate in 1965 to tell the world “I am God in human form.” His first response was to start the Glow, and Baba instructed Eruch, Mani and Adi to give him material. That formed the basis of his archives in the House of the Beloved in Princeton, New Jersey. Later Mehera, Khorshed and others gave him a tremendous amount of material. Adi gave him all of his diaries, which Naosherwan transcribed and returned to the Trust.
He calls his mother, who had a very large house, the first Archivist. When Meher Baba came to their house, if He sat on a cushion or used a teacup, it was put away; if He had a toffee, the wrapper was put away. Anything that Baba touched was part of her Archives.
He stated passionately that the purpose of Beloved Archives is to share – anyone can come use the computer banks of 100,000 documents that have been scanned, and organized by year. There are 6000-7000 photographs, 200-300 films. Other precious items such as Baba’s sadras, sandals, suits, pajamas, boards, Baba’s hair, Babajan’s hair, Meher Baba’s prayer with corrections done by Eruch are carefully kept. But they are hoping to get a larger space – presently they have only 1200 square feet – so that the many artifacts can be well-displayed for His lovers.
Original documents now need to be archivally rehoused – as with all of Meher Baba’s causes, more funds and volunteers are needed for this also. When more support is available for digitally sharing on the internet, he hopes this can also go forward. “I’ve spent all these years…now it’s for posterity.”
Naosherwan told us that a regular stream of people visit the Archives, and invited all listeners to come and take advantage of the Archive “that belongs to them.” How to get there? Fly into Newark, N.J. or JFK airport in New York City, take the train from Penn Station-New Jersey transit to Princeton or Hamilton, New Jersey, contact Naosherwan and Marrukh and they will pick you up!
Beloved Archives, Inc. has recently published two new books, Meditation for the New Humanity by Meher Baba, and Teachings-Discourses by Meher Baba. Naosherwan spoke at length about the individualized instructions Baba gave to many for meditation – what he calls “God-centred meditation.”
Finally, we invited Marrukh to speak to us briefly about her life with Meher Baba. In a lively and loving manner, she told us that she heard of Meher Baba from Naosherwan in 1970, at the time when she was a student of finance at Bombay University. Her law professor was a staunch Zoroastrian who wanted young Zoroastrians to meet, so he organized meetings and outings. She came from a family who was not religious, they would just attend fire temple on holy days – and she felt that made it easier for her to come to Baba. (Later she came to realize that the Bombay Meher Baba center was across from the place where she lived, but she had never paid attention!)
At the social meetings for young Zoroastrians, she met Naosherwan, who was working for Air India at the time. He would speak about the Zoroastrian religion, but would “bring up Baba somehow.”
The group took outings to an art gallery, a picnic in Lonavala, then there were dinner dates, movies, always talk of Meher Baba. Naosherwan told us that he gave Marrukh little bits from Chanji’s diaries to translate from the Gujarati, and his book, The Beloved to read.
He said, “Why not visit Pune and meet the family at Bindra House?” She had no idea what that meant – but was very happy to be received so warmly and lovingly by Gaimai Jessawala and the family, and to feel their love for Naosherwan. She felt, “They must have a wonderful Master to bring out this love.”
“This was my coming to Baba. As we met more often, Nosh talked a lot about Baba, so much so that my family came to Baba. My father, mother, and brother.”
Most poignantly, she told us that her father, a heart patient, passed away while in Meherabad for Silence Day some years back. Judy from the chat team exclaimed that she had been on duty that day. She did not know it was Marrukh’s father, but she remembered how all were so touched that he had fallen from the bed and lay facing Beloved Baba’s Samadhi as he breathed his last.
Thank you from our hearts, dear Marrukh and Naoshweran, for your beautiful sharing. (Please do forgive any errors in this account, and kindly correct us.) Thank you Beloved Baba!