jal bhai brother of Meher Baba

Jal Bhai (Younger brother of Meher Baba) 1974, Poona, India ; photo taken by David Fenster

Jal Sheriyar Irani was Baba’s younger brother and was nicknamed as Jalbhai. He lived in Poona and always been with Baba. In thirties he travelled extensively with Baba.

Some of his contact with Meher Baba are described as under:

Jal did not believe in his elder brother’s advancement and dismissed Merwan (Meher Baba) as being insane. Jal knew a Hindu guru outside of Poona named Siddharudh Swami of Hubli village (reported to be a Sadguru), whom he would occasionally visit. But Jal would ridicule those who believed his brother (Meher Baba) should be given such spiritual respect.

One day everything changed. Merwan Seth (Meher Baba) was at home, talking casually with Jal, Jamshed (brothers) and Baily (friend). He looked at Jal and stated, “Brother, I am God!”

Jal burst out laughing and mockingly exclaimed, “You, God? Merog (Meher Baba), you are no one but a madman! How can a man be God?”

“Believe Me, I am truly God,” Merwan Seth (Meher Baba) replied.

Brazenly, Jal retorted, “This is nonsense! I don’t believe a word you say, Merog!”

Then Jal challenged his elder brother, “If you are God, you must have powers. Prove to me that you are God!”

Merwan Seth agreed to the challenge and said, “I will place a burning coal on the palm of your hand, but you won’t feel any pain. Do you agree to this test?”

Jal arrogantly replied, “I am quite prepared. Let me see what sort of God you are!” Then he added, “If my hand burns and I feel pain, your delusions will be shattered once and for all. I don’t want to hear you ever repeat that you are God!”

Merwan Seth smiled and sent Jamshed to the kitchen to bring the Zoroastrian afarganyu (a pot in which burning coals are kept during prayers). He then instructed Baily to remove one of the red-hot coals with a pair of tongs and place it on Jal’s palm when instructed. Jamshed was told to bring the inkpot from a table in the next room. Merwan then told Jal to extend his right palm, which Jal did. Jamshed held the open inkpot in his hand. Merwan once again asked Jal if he wished to withdraw his challenge. Jal declined.

Merwan Seth (Meher Baba) held Jal’s wrist and told Jal not to move his hand. Merwan signaled Baily, and he kept a small piece of burning coal in the center of Jal’s palm.

Jal, his face drained of color, behaved as if there was no pain and for some moments did not move his hand. The skin started to burn, but Jal did not feel any pain! He stared at his hand in amazement. The moment Jal slightly moved his hand; Merwan Seth picked up the fiery coal with His bare hands and placed it in the afarganyu. Merwan ordered Jamshed to take Jal outside in the compound and pour the entire contents of the inkpot onto Jal’s palm, and then take Jal to Dr. Seldana, their family doctor, for bandaging.

Baily had noticed that, the moment he placed the coal on Jal’s palm, Merwan Seth’s face had turned pale. Merwan clenched both hands tightly as if He himself were undergoing the pain and suffering. This was the real reason Jal had felt no pain.

Shireenmai was cooking in the kitchen, but was unaware of what had transpired. When anyone asked about the bandage on Jal’s hand, all agreed to say that whilst Jal was lighting a match, the matchbox had accidentally caught fire in his palm.

One version of this incident states that Jal had to be hospitalized for several days at Sassoon Hospital for treatment, due to the seriousness of the burn. Merwan Seth visited him often, and Jal’s heart was profoundly touched by the love his elder brother showered on him. Later he confessed, “Merog, my ego is smashed. You are truly God! I was a fool to doubt you. Forgive me.” Mysteriously, whenever Merwan visited Jal in the hospital or Jal was in his presence, the excruciating pain in Jal’s hand would completely disappear. But as soon as Merwan left, the pain would return in its full intensity.

As Jal related years later:

When (the coal) came out, I became unconscious. I was taken to hospital — but during those moments when the coal was on my palm I didn’t feel the pain at all as if it was a piece of paper, and that was a miracle. Baba used to visit me in the hospital. The pain was terrible, and a huge blister formed and it had to be cut with scissors. During the weeks it took to heal, I was wondering why I allowed Baba to test me by burning my right hand unnecessarily. I couldn’t understand it. And then I dreamt of Baba … (I had had one or two dreams of Baba before, in visions of bright light and it penetrated to my heart.) He came, walking in my dreams — I had some experiences in the daytime also — and I felt His divinity.”

When Jal was brought home, Merwan praised him for his strength and courage in withstanding the awful pain for His sake. He then embraced him and asked, “Now will you renounce the world and join Me permanently?” After deep thought Jal told his brother that he was prepared to carry out His will and follow Him. For the rest of Jal’s life, when new persons came into Merwan’s orbit, Jal would show them the scar on his hand and narrate every detail of the event that made him realize his brother was indeed God in human form.

Beheram and Jal had both accepted their brother as someone spiritually great, though their brother Jamshed was the first among the children to have full conviction of Baba’s divinity. Baba, too, would bow to His own photograph there.

Once, in 1929, Jalbhai teased Maruti Patil, “In Isfahan and Yezd, it is so cold that without drinking wine people can’t survive! We too will have to drink and drink, just to stay alive!” Maruti took Jalbhai seriously, however, and, as he was a strict Maratha, he was worried that he would be made to imbibe alcohol.

When Baba was informed about it, he remarked, “It is true that the weather will be severely cold, but why are you concerned about drinking wine? Are we eating meat when we don’t get vegetarian food? (They were not)

In 1939, one day a Christian youth approached Jal and told him, “I dreamt of Meher Baba in an Arab robe, and He told me to see you!” Jal took him to Baba, and repeated the strange tale.

Baba listened and then told the boy, “Life is not to be wasted like this! You are depressed because you don’t find employment. It is good that you have come to Me. Don’t worry, I will help you, and you will feel My help.” The boy understood that Baba had read his mind and knew everything.

Baba returned to Satara at noon on 16th August 1947, with Eruch and Jalbhai, and began discussing plans to move back to Meherabad. Many in Satara were eager for the Master’s darshan, which He allowed on 24th August 1947. From three until seven in the evening at Jal Villa, nearly 500 people came for Baba’s darshan as bhajans were sung. Adi Sr., Meherjee and Nariman came from Bombay. Gadekar and other close Poona lovers were also present.

A final meeting to present the New Life conditions had been arranged at Meherabad for 31st August 1949. Thirty-two close disciples were called, sixteen of them from out of town. Jalbhai was one among others called for the meeting.

During year 1960, in one event, at the zoo, Jalbhai asked Harry Dedolchow, “Next time you return to see Baba, will you bring me an inexpensive transistor radio, about $20, no more?”

Dedolchow said, “No problem, Jal. I’ll get you a nice one. However, only if Baba says so.”

Jalbhai replied, “I know Baba’s ways. I will ask him when we return to Guruprasad.”

When the three arrived a few minutes after one o’clock, the session was already in progress. Dedolchow quickly took off his shoes and entered the room. Baba looked at him and remarked, “I am the chief transmitter and receiver. All this business of ‘I want this, get Me that’ — try to get away from those wants and say: ‘I want Baba, I want God.’ It isn’t easy, but try.”

After the session, Dedolchow approached Baba and told him of Jalbhai’s request, adding, “Jal said he knows your ways.”

Baba retorted, “No one knows My ways,” and He did not allow Dedolchow to bring the radio for Jalbhai.

Jalbhai was always filled with humorous tales and related another. He said that Faredoon was once sitting on the verandah of the Manzil when, finding no one near, he passed gas so loudly Jalbhai thought a firecracker had exploded! Baba again laughed and called out to Faredoon, “Hey Padarya !” (from the Gujarati word paad, to fart) to which Faredoon responded.

During their stay in Happy Valley, Jalbhai told Baba an amusing story about Espandiar’s japa (repetition of God’s name) in Manzil-e-Meem. “Every morning,” Jalbhai said, “I used to watch Aspendiar sit for meditation. Due to the mosquitoes and his sleepiness, his body would sway back and forth — he moved like a pendulum!” Baba laughed at Jalbhai’s description and decided it was an appropriate nickname for his cousin. Aspendiar was thus christened Pendulum, which was shortened to Pendu. And he was called by that name ever after.

In His search for masts, Baba assigned Jalbhai the duty of finding and bringing suitable boys to Him for His work. Daily, Jalbhai would bring a boy or two whom Baba would usually keep for a short time and then send back to their respective homes. But, of the boys found by Jalbhai, Baba chose four to be kept near Him for an extended period. They were: Krishna K. Nair, Raju, Kalappa and Amdoo.

Eruch and Jalbhai went out again in search of masts and returned at about four o’clock with Nannu Bhai. Nannu Bhai proved to be an amusing contact, though he too was not very advanced. He would reel off Urdu couplets without a pause, in a very dramatic fashion. Baba ordered Ghani to reply to him by quoting suitable Urdu couplets in rejoinder. Ghani quoted from Hafiz and Shams-e-Tabriz, but Nannu spoke so loudly and incessantly, Ghani could not get a word in edgewise. As soon as Ghani would start to say something, Nannu would interrupt him and ramble on — often without meaning. Baba was highly amused and silently laughed a lot.

Meher Baba approved the opening of New Centre at Vijayawada, called Meher Vihar by Swami Satya Prakash Udaseen. Baba sent His brother Jal as His representative.

On Eruch’s birthday, 13th October 1963, Jalbhai and others were called to Meherazad to discuss the progress of the construction of the new Poona Center. They had been unable to raise the necessary funds for the project, so Baba had permitted Jalbhai to seek donations in Andhra for work, and Jal had collected Rs.33, 400, which was handed over to Kamble, their treasurer.

In 1966, Baba had Jim stand up and He introduced him to His brother Jalbhai. Baba explained, “Jal will show you around Poona.” He quipped, “The townspeople will be much amused at the sight of a tall American and a short Indian.”

Francis piped up, “That’s the long and the short of it, Baba.”

Baba joked, “Jal’s growth has been stunted!”


References/Images from: Various Lord Meher volumes, discontinued website's ambprasarkendra & love-remembrances, images and dates, stories etc from respective copyright owners websites or publications used with permission - i.e. In His Service, Glow International, MeherBabaTravels, MSI and MNP Collections, from AvatarMeherBabaTrust, BelovedArchives websites and from various other website sources, Books, journal etc. More information where ever available with us like letter scans, stories etc are added. Kindly feel free to Contact us with any updates, photos or corrections etc.

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