BEHRAM FERDOON IRANI (Buasaheb)
Behram Ferdoon Irani, Buasaheb (Behramji) had been in Meher Baba’s contact since 1914, He was born 40 days after Meher Baba in the same Sasoon Hospital, Poona and in the same bed and same the nurse attended to his mother’s delivery. And both went to school together. He was one of Baba’s earliest friends. In 1921 Baba tutored him Persian, and he later became his business partner in a Poona toddy shop. He had stayed with Baba throughout the Manzil-e-Meem and early Meherabad years. Baba made these remarks about him to the mandali:
Gustadji was a garrulous raconteur and had a wealth of stories from his days with Sai Baba, Upasni Maharaj, and Hazrat Babajan. Since he was so talkative, the other mandali would at times wish him to be quiet. One day Buasaheb teased him a little and Gustadji became so upset that he went on abusing Buasaheb for over two hours. After hearing about his harangue, Baba too seemed fed up with Gustadji. On 1st May, He ordered him, “From now on, you are to remain silent.”
Some of his life time events as conversation with Meher Baba are recorded below:
In 1927, once there was Baba’s order that everyone should drink tea from his own cup and eat from his own plate. One day Bapu Brahmin went to Ardeshir for tea with Pendu’s cup, as he was delayed in taking the boys to the school. Ardeshir refused to serve him and put Pendu’s cup away, keeping it on a shelf. Bapu informed Pendu about the incident.
When Pendu went to Ardeshir and asked why he did not give tea to Bapu, Ardeshir reminded him of Baba’s rule not to use another’s cup. Pendu then inquired why he did not return his cup. Ardeshir said he was not going to return it, which irritated Pendu. Buasaheb came along and sided with Ardeshir. A heated quarrel took place and Pendu shouted in sheer exasperation, “You Persian Iranis really are jungli [uncouth, ignorant]!”
This remark upset Buasaheb who complained to Baba, adding that it would not be possible for him to act as manager any longer with an assistant like Pendu. Baba called Pendu and Ardeshir. Pendu explained that they always used each others’ cups and plates, so why was it that only today Ardeshir refused to serve tea to Bapu in his cup. Baba turned to Ardeshir and asked, “Why do you use others’ plates and cups?” Ardeshir brazenly replied that it was untrue, that he never did.
Hearing this blatant lie, Pendu lost his temper and picked up a ladle lying nearby to strike Ardeshir. Baba’s brother Beheram interceded and grabbed the ladle from Pendu’s hand. Baba became very upset with Pendu for his obvious intention. He scolded Pendu severely for losing his temper, but after a few minutes, Baba in a calm manner explained to Pendu, “It is not befitting to get so angry. He who fails to control his temper is a weakling. To conquer anger is true courage. A commander of an army may rule the entire country, but he may not be able to control his own temper.
Baba returned at seven and then after the 7:30 P.M. bell had rung for all to leave, Baba noticed Buasaheb and Borker sitting idly and talking. Baba took Buasaheb to task, criticizing him, “You complain about Raosaheb and others breaking orders when you yourself break them!”
In 1928, the residents in Toka were divided into three sections under the management of Buasaheb, Raosaheb, and Rustom. Buasaheb was in charge of the boys of Meher Ashram, Raosaheb of the Prem Ashram boys, and Rustom of the mandali. At meals, the mandali were given stale chapattis to eat and had no proper arrangement for cooking. But under Buasaheb, the children did not suffer in this way; the food cooked for them was excellent and they were given milk each day. The mandali had to remain content with their bland diet, and hence Pendu named the mandali’s section the “Harijan Department.”
Another day, there was a quarrel between Baily and Buasaheb. Buasaheb wanted to know who had given Baily tea and bread without his permission. It was a petty matter and Buasaheb stirred up a storm unnecessarily. Baba severely took him to task over it, and Buasaheb apologized for being overzealous.
After Buasaheb acknowledged his mistake, Baba ordered him to place his head on Baily’s feet, which he did. But this did not pacify Baily who wished to be transferred to Rustom’s department in the ashram. While permitting it, Baba remarked to him, “If despite Buasaheb’s apology your heart has not forgiven him, then you have no heart.” This, in turn, made Baily apologize. )
In 1928, in night, Baba would rest in Buasaheb’s old room on the south side of the Water Tank on the hill. It was a small room built between the two large halls of the water reservoir. On 13th December, 1928, Baba began spending His nights in the underground crypt on the hill again.
In the morning at six o’clock, Baba returned to Meherabad with the boys in a motor trolley. Buasaheb and Gustadji followed in the bullock cart, which the group had brought with them to haul their beddings and other necessities. On the way back, the cart overturned; Buasaheb was saved from harm, though Gustadji received minor injuries.
In 1929, Baba returned to Harvan the morning with Buasaheb and the boys to settle the details of going into seclusion there. Baba planned to leave the houseboat and go to Harvan the following day. He discussed what the mandali’s food and living arrangements would be while he was in seclusion. At one point, Baba remarked, “Leaving Venice tomorrow, we will go to Palestine.”
In Kashmir, Baba came to the mandali’s boat for a bath, but finding His water not yet warmed, He slapped Ramjoo and Buasaheb. After the water was properly heated, Chhota Baba and Gustadji assisted him in bathing.
In Kashmir trip, Chanji was reluctant to accept the duty of night watchman, but Baba, with His humorous sallies, kept him on watch from 1:00 A.M. to 6:00 A.M. each night. Buasaheb, who was on watch in the evening until 1:00 A.M., was not in the least afraid.
Meher Baba had stopped writing since 1927, but to obtain a British passport to travel to Persia was not possible without his signature. Prior to departing, for two weeks every effort was made to secure the necessary documents. Pudumji (who had influential contacts), Padri, and Chanji approached the highest authorities, but to no avail. For his own reasons, Baba was not willing to sign his name – and without His signature, the authorities refused to issue Him a passport.
The men accompanying Baba had to obtain passports and there was some indecision as to what exactly to write in concerning their professions. Most of the men simply wrote: “Private servant of M. S. Irani.”
When Buasaheb went to the Persian Consulate to obtain visas in the mandali’s passports, he mentioned the difficulty Meher Baba was having in obtaining a British passport. The Persian Consul himself suggested Baba declare Himself to be a Persian subject, having been born to Persian parents. Baba did so. He went to the Persian Consulate on Thursday, 12th September 1929 and easily obtained a Persian passport by giving His thumbprint.
During the rest of the voyage, Baba refused to come up on deck. The cabin he had been provided with was in the hold and the men were sweltering in the heat. Baba remarked, “It’s My luck. This place (the hold) is destined for Me and I like it.”
On 24th September 1929, Baba began goading Buasaheb. Once while Baba was teasing him, Buasaheb, in his vexation, said something regrettable, and Baba advised him, “Learn to swallow your anger.
Baba said, “Try to remain cheerful in all circumstances. Try to be humble and don’t ever answer Me back.”
“These sharp arrows of Mine are very good for your spirit; the wine is hidden in them. You have been My companion the longest. Have courage; it is because of your courage that I am going to Persia (Buasaheb’s birthplace). Keep Me pleased and remain content that you do so. I have to retire in seclusion for four months, after which we will have to travel around the world.”
Baba then gave these special orders for the men to follow:
No one should talk about Me, either on the ship or in Persia. None should distribute any books, photographs, or lockets without My permission. No one should come to know of my presence, as that would disturb my seclusion. After My work is done, I myself will speak and inform others. Remain quiet and continue doing as I order until then.
Before having received these instructions, Buasaheb had given Dastur’s English booklet on the Meher Ashram to a fellow passenger. The next day, Chanji found out about it and informed Baba, who was furious with Buasaheb. Chanji managed to get the booklet back from the man, but on account of it, two or three other persons came to the cabin for Baba’s darshan.
On Sunday, 27th October 1929, the group went to the suburb of Mubarka where Baba met Buasaheb’s father Faredoon.
Once, Baba sent Buasaheb, into the town in search of a “good boy” who would attend to Baba in His special work. Buasaheb found three boys in Duzdab and brought them before Baba, but Baba glared at him and did not find them suitable for His purpose. However, he fed the boys and gave them new clothes, and then sent them back. After Baba did this several times, the following heated confrontation ensued between Him and Buasaheb:
“Jungli, why do you bring boys like yourself?” Baba asked Buasaheb caustically. “For God’s sake, bring Me a good one next time!”
“Searching for them is a great headache,” Buasaheb answered. “I selected the best youths I could find. What am I to do if you don’t approve of any I bring?”
“Animal that you are, you bring only animals! Don’t you feel ashamed to show Me such beggars?”
Exasperated, Buasaheb burst out, “Now I don’t want God or the world! I can’t bear this life under you; I am leaving!”
“Wherever you go, I will be there too! Show Me the place where I am not! Fool that you are, go and see for yourself; you will discover what I say is true.”
“Baba, I am terribly harassed. I cannot bear your taunts and teasing any longer,” Buasaheb pleaded.
Baba then replied, “I get angry because of you; your ways cause Me anger. How could I be angry without reason? Now that I am angry, you should try to pacify Me. But no, you people get upset by the smallest things, so I have to console you — and that makes Me angry again. Your duty is to serve Me; but on the contrary, it is I who serve you! What is the purpose in staying with Me like this?”
Baba then explained, “My work is to wound and kill you gradually, but what am I to do when the wound makes you fret and fume?
Should I stop wounding you? I try to appease you, I give you explanations, and I give you courage. I have to wound you, so I want you to be brave enough to bear it. But you remain impervious to My mercy.
Baba discussed His future plans with the mandali. He informed them, “I have now decided to proceed directly to Nasik. I will remain there in seclusion and Buasaheb will be My mujawar (personal servant), with incense burning all the time!”
Before leaving Duzdab, Buasaheb found another boy he thought would fit Baba’s description and brought him to Baba. Baba dressed the lad in fine clothes and fed him, but sent him back.
In 1930, Buasaheb had been appointed the manager of journey, supervising the men and boys. Preparing to leave, Baba instructed Buasaheb that some of the group were to go by bus and some in advance by car. Buasaheb was about to ask Baba who should be seated in the bus and who in the car when Dastur entered the bus and the car left without him.
Baba was highly annoyed. He ordered all to wait by the bus until those in the car came back. Baba began scolding Buasaheb, blaming him for what had happened. “Why did you break My order? Why didn’t you ask Me about it before the car left?”
Before Buasaheb could answer, Baba slapped His own face violently on both cheeks and His expression turned grave. He stated, “When the Master has to punish Himself for the faults of His disciples over their disregard for His orders, it is not good!”
On 17th March 1930, Buasaheb scolded a boy named Ramu for some mischief and twisted the boy’s nose when he did not listen. Ramu complained to Baba, who told Vishnu to twist Buasaheb’s nose for breaking His order against physically reprimanding the `e, and began wandering the streets.
Rising early the next morning, Baba woke the mandali and inquired the whereabouts of Buasaheb. They could not find him and informed Baba that he was missing. Baba sent Ramjoo and Raosaheb to search for him.
Finally, finding him at a teashop, they brought him back, and Baba remarked, “Last night I had blisters on My tongue and lips, and I was suffering greatly because of them.
But no one has any feelings for Me; on the contrary, everyone tries to give Me more trouble! I have to arrange things for the mandali, as well as for all the outside persons who come to see Me with their personal affairs. And on top of this, Bua behaves in this disgraceful manner with Me!”
With Sadashiv Patil’s arrangement, a darshan program was held in Poona. Baba sent Chhagan and Buasaheb to see his parents, but He himself did not go. Chhagan and Buasaheb were instructed not to reveal Baba’s presence in Poona.
Wishing a change, on 20th August 1930, Baba left Nasik for a visit to Calcutta. Buasaheb and Chhagan were still in Panchgani, where Buasaheb had been in seclusion in Baba’s cave in Tiger Valley since 21 June.
Occasionally, the Poona devotees would send other packages to the mandali with someone traveling on the train. As the train neared Meherabad, the person would toss the package out and the men would pick it up near the tracks. In this way, baskets of sweets also began to be sent, and the “laborers” were enjoying them.
One day, while Sadashiv Patil was passing Meherabad on the train, he threw out four large parcels of laddoos, which the four working on the cave retrieved. Being more than enough for them, they distributed a large portion of the sweets to the rest of the Meherabad community. This upset Buasaheb, because he was the manager of Meherabad and eating such “contraband goods” was not allowed without Baba’s prior permission.
After brief visit to Nasik, Baba returned to Meherabad on 11th November 1930, whereupon Buasaheb complained about the four cave workers. Baba lambasted them, “Why did you eat the sweets without My permission? No one here, except Buasaheb, is faithful!” But Jalbhai saved them from a terrible scolding. He admitted eating the laddoos and, since he was their supervisor, they could not be wholly blamed. Baba forgave all with a warning not to do it again.
In 1931, several of the men were employed at Rustom’s theater: Beheram was the projectionist, Buasaheb was the cashier, and others were apportioned different duties without wages. Rustom had agreed to provide their food, but he had gone so heavily into debt financing the theater that, at times when insufficient revenue was generated to meet operating expenses, arranging for the mandali’s food became difficult.
One day, a person who was familiar with Baba came to Him and poured forth his tale of being reduced to poverty. Baba frankly explained to him, “I have no money at all. My mandali go hungry and I Myself am looking for someone to arrange for their food. My mandali consist of such gems that they consider it an ordinary thing to sacrifice their lives for My cause.”
The man remained quiet and then went away. Sending for Buasaheb, Baba directed him, “Follow that man and give him Rs.100.”
Buasaheb looked astonished and said, “Day and night we rack our brains trying to make ends meet! And you want to give him Rs.100?”
Baba exclaimed, “Pay him Rs.200!”
Buasaheb was taken aback, but he wisely kept quiet. He thought: “Knowing Baba, if I say anything more, the figure will jump from Rs.200 to 500.” So he prudently exited and gave the man Rs.200.
Buasaheb returned to Meherabad on 15th February 1934 from Persia. His sudden departure from Nasik the previous year had caused a lot of inconvenience for the mandali, so no one spoke to him when he returned. As he looked from one to the other, they would turn their faces away. He had also left matters at the Circle Cinema in a mess, which added to the bitter feelings of the mandali.
Of his own accord, Buasaheb had done Baba’s work of spreading His name and message in Persia. But Baba had never asked him to go there, nor liked it that he left his responsibilities in Nasik. Baba met him and told him to rejoin the mandali. When Buasaheb refused, Baba directed him to go to Nasik and become a partner in Sailor’s tea stall (next to Circle Cinema) and a new restaurant to be opened. So Buasaheb left, though in his heart he suffered banishment and exile as he obeyed Baba. After a while, Buasaheb eventually resettled in Poona and opened a restaurant there. Although he no longer lived with Baba and the mandali, he remained in close contact with Baba and would come to Meherabad from time to time.
While in Poona, Baba sent for Sadashiv and Buasaheb. Neither man wanted to move from Poona. Baba told them, “You are both breaking My order by not staying at Meherabad.” In spite of Baba’s insistence, Buasaheb refused to accept Baba’s wish to stay at Meherabad.
As the years went by, however, Buasaheb was to regret his mistake.
In 1938, Baba again reminded Buasaheb, “Your connection with Me is very old, and I wish that you now permanently come and stay in Meherabad. You have been with Me from the beginning; I no longer wish you to continue to reside in Poona. You won’t have such an opportunity again in this life!” Buasaheb declined Baba’s offer, mentioning the businesses (toddy plantations, several toddy shops, and a restaurant) that he had started since leaving Baba. Baba again emphasized to Buasaheb, “I am giving you the chance of a lifetime! Return to Poona and, after thinking it over, write Me your decision.” Buasaheb left, but sadly did not write back to Baba and they never did come and live with Him again as he wished.
Baba sent a message to Sadashiv Patil and Buasaheb in Poona particularly to come to Lonavla.
Baba again tried to induce these two early followers to come and stay with him and the mandali, and was particularly anxious to have Buasaheb with him. Buasaheb, however, pleaded business commitments, whereupon Baba offered to take the complete financial burden upon Himself and free Buasaheb of any monetary responsibility. An agreement to this effect was even drawn up, but Buasaheb later backed out of it and it was torn up. In light of subsequent events, it was an attempt by Baba to save Buasaheb.
Buasaheb (Behramji) had been in Meher Baba’s contact since 1914, when he was tutored by Merwanji in Persian, and he later became his business partner in a Poona toddy shop. He had stayed with Baba throughout the Manzil-e-Meem and early Meherabad years. Baba made these remarks about him to the mandali:
In 1940, after Buasaheb’s death, the practice of issuing circulars to Meher Baba’s disciples and devotees in India and abroad began. Before 1940, Baba’s orders and various messages were being conveyed to his lovers through correspondence or typed copies. But after Buasaheb’s death, they were conveyed through printed circulars.
Of his own accord, Buasaheb had done Baba’s work of spreading His name and messages in Persia. But Baba had never asked him to go there, nor liked it that he left his responsibilities in Nasik. Baba met him and told him to rejoin the mandali. When Buasaheb refused, Baba directed him to go to Nasik and become a partner in sailor’s tea stall (next to Circle Cinema) and a new restaurant .So Buasaheb left, though in his heart he suffered banishment and exile as he obeyed Baba. After a while, Buasaheb eventually resettled in Poona and managed a restaurant there. Although he no longer lived with Baba and mandali, he remained in close contact with Baba and would come to Meherabad from time to time be opened.
Baba said, “Behram (Buasaheb) was one of My nearest and dearest disciple, unconsciously when alive was One with Me, and now that he has left the body, he consciously enjoys that blessed union with Me!”
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