Initiated by Inayat Khan in 1911, and head or Murshida of Sufism in America since 1927, Rabia Martin was destined to come into contact with Meher Baba. In 1942, Rabia Martin met Norina Matchabelli and Elizabeth Patterson, who had come to California to investigate sites for Baba’s proposed American center. After listening to their descriptions of their Master, Rabia became convinced that Meher Baba was an extraordinary spiritual figure. She was profoundly affected by her internal experience of the Master and offered her Sufi retreat center in Fairfax near San Francisco for Baba’s use. Elizabeth wrote Baba in India: “Rabia’s offer seemed to come from the heart and we all agree that she is the most advanced and understanding soul we met in California.”
Over the next three years, Rabia Martin studied Meher Baba’s writings intensely and began a correspondence with him. She also grew closer to Norina and Elizabeth. In April 1945 they invited her to come and live with them. She joined them in New York and then Myrtle Beach until July. Rabia’s inner experiences during those months confirmed her intuitive understanding that Meher Baba was the living embodiment of Sufism and the divine incarnation of God – the Rasool or Avatar.
In May 1945, at Myrtle Beach, Rabia Martin committed herself and her Sufi Order wholly to Meher Baba’s guidance. In the following months, she began to share her understanding of Meher Baba with her closest Sufi students, including Ivy O. Duce, Don Stevens and Samuel Lewis. She also moved to formalize her commitment to Baba by giving him all the material resources and possessions of her Sufi Order, including her retreat at Fairfax. She dedicated everything she had to Baba. Her devotion and gratitude to the Master can be felt in one of her letters to Baba in 1945:
August 24th, 1945
Divine and Beloved Master,
At your request, I briefly state the journey of the past five months has opened – and opened my consciousness of greater vistas of Love, Light and Truth – than I experienced when I came first to New York and said in simple words to you, “I come to learn and serve.” What you have awakened in my heart, my intuition, is without discrimination, analysis, and you cleared the deck of my mind through your Divine Light so fast, I could honestly, earnestly say, “I know:” until my heart panted by the water brooks of your God-Realized experience – and never was there room for doubt, never.
You have often said to us – “You know not love,” and yet the love in my heart increased for Baba, and I would cry out in my soul to Love more (which) must be to cry out for you to come and teach, and most of all awaken the great potentials hidden in the love in my heart for you, the Avatar, and be! my experience. Did not Hafiz say: “Me this heritage reached, from the dawn of the creation” – and so my Divine Master, I understand in some degree “Love” as the rightful owner of our soul which you exemplify as far as I understand and am concerned: Your utterances and activities are all Love, Light, Truth.
Feeling is living – I feel what you awaken and teach – so I must cry out and ask you to come and fill my heart and our hearts so full of love, that only Love can remain.
Great exaltations cannot be written – there is nothing to this task I brought but an emptying, and a stirring to experience some of the spiritual grandeur and the simplicity bound up in One Divine Man called Baba – beyond Name and form – in Reality – but who must, to our limited state of consciousness, come down – personify and help me – help us all to realize who we are – and what we may become! You have then – in Holiness – in the Beauty of Holiness – blessed this striver with both knowledge and service. O, come and lead us consciously through the mazes of our limited existence – to the Limitless Love, Light, Truth, God!
With whatever love and light thou hast granted me – Rabia – she rededicates it to the service of her Beloved, Divine Master, for humankind.
Soon after, Meher Baba replied to Rabia Martin’s letter through his secretary, Adi K. Irani:
October 1st, 1945
Baba is profoundly happy and delighted that the vistas of new and ever-growing consciousness of Love, Light and Truth were experienced and that you rejoiced in their experience. Verily you have understood and grasped the gravity of Love as the basis of all higher aims and for that Baba is pleased also.
Inexplicable as Love is, it is as easy of feeling for a person like you, as it may be difficult for one who is blind to it. Nevertheless, Baba blesses equally those who are ignorant of it and those who are enlightened.
Baba knows you. He knows how you feel. He knows how you aspire. He knows how you love. He knows what you desire.
He sends his deepest love and blessings from his Infinite Heart.
After receiving Meher Baba’s reply, in the autumn of 1945, Rabia Martin announced to all her Sufi students that her work was now dedicated to Meher Baba and that if they wished to remain in her Sufi group, their spiritual allegiance would need to be to him. Rabia declared that Baba’s life, work and message were the essence of Sufism as it was to be lived now and in the future. She was totally dedicated to Meher Baba and fully accepted him as the Avatar, though she had not yet met him face to face.
Without this record kept by Meher Baba’s disciples, no one would know this story, not even the Sufis themselves.
Avatar Meher Baba ki Jai!