nervous iraniKhodadad Farhan Irani, a young Persian lived in Bombay. He became close disciple of Meher Baba and was nicknamed ‘Nervous’. There is very interesting episode as how he was drawn to Baba. Some of his lifetime episodes and conversation with Meher Baba are elaborated as under:

In 1919, Merwan Seth happened to visit Bombay. At this time, Khodadad Farhad Irani was living there. Khodadad had a burning ambition to become an actor and, obsessed with this idea, he went from one theater and film production company to another for auditions, but no one chose him for a part. He became disappointed and depressed, finally contemplating suicide. While Khodadad’s inner turmoil was occurring, Merwan Seth was walking through the city when He came across the dejected young man sitting on the sidewalk. Seeing him, Merwan Seth stopped and inquired, “Who are you? Why do you look so sad? You look as if you haven’t a hope in the world!”

Khodadad retorted, “What business is it of yours, sir? Who are you, anyway?”

Merwan Seth smiled and said, “I am the owner of a film company in Poona and I am here in Bombay to interview actors. Would you happen to know of anyone who would like to work in a film company?”

The young man couldn’t believe his ears and excitedly said, “Yes, sir. I’ve been looking for such a job myself for the past three months!”

Merwan Seth said, “Fine, I will hire you. Can you come with Me now to Poona?” Khodadad agreed immediately.

Merwan Seth took Khodadad to Poona, but when they arrived, He said, “I want you to work in My toddy shop. Your work here is just temporary, of course. My film company is in the final stages of formation, and as soon as it starts up, I promise you will work there.” Khodadad agreed.

However, by being constantly in the spiritually intoxicating atmosphere of Kasba Peth, the young man soon forgot about his previous acting ambition and became totally dedicated to Merwan Seth’s activities.

Later, Merwan Seth nicknamed him ‘Nervous’ because at the slightest mishap, and even more so in Merwan Seth’s presence, young Khodadad would appear uneasy, anxious and nervous.

There is another version of how Nervous came into Merwan Seth’s contact: Baily has written that he first met Nervous on a visit to Calcutta, where Nervous was employed as an actor in a Parsi theatrical company at the famous Corinthian Theatre (run by the Madan Theater Company, which also made films). “When Nervous heard about Merwan Seth,” Baily recalled, “he got so anxious that he wanted to resign from his job immediately and return with me to Poona. It was only after Baily convinced him that he would talk to Merwan Seth and seek his permission first that he agreed to wait. Baily took his address and told him that he would be sending him a reply within a week. Merwan Seth agreed to the request, and so Baily sent a telegram to Nervous asking him to come to Poona. Nervous resigned from his job in Calcutta and came to (either Poona or Bombay), and from then on remained a staunch disciple.”

Gustadji, Slamson and Nervous were now working and managing the toddy shop in Kasba Peth, and Merwan Seth was not involved much in its business affairs. He still oversaw their work and made certain everything was spotlessly clean and that the toddy was of good quality. He had made it a rule for everyone from the Kasba Peth group to take Babajan’s darshan at least once a day, individually or as a group. After closing the shop, Gustadji and others went home only after having Babajan’s darshan, even if it was after midnight.

In 1922, before leaving Arangaon, the topic of giving a name to the place was discussed and the Master renamed it Meherabad — “abad” meaning a prosperous settlement, or a flourishing colony. A large signboard was painted, and Nervous nailed it between two poles and planted it near the railway tracks.

In 1923, at nine in the evening, Group proceeded toward the village of Chauk, carrying the kerosene lanterns to light the way. Nervous’ feet sorely ached, but he still tried to keep pace with the group. His stride resembled a hopping dance. This amused Baba, who told Nervous to ride in the bullock cart with a few of the others whose feet were severely split with blisters.

All the men gathered in Sukkur, and after leaving their luggage in the rented bungalow, traveled on the 30th of June, 1923 to Quetta. There they occupied a two-story house adjacent to Rusi’s on Bruce Road that had been rented for Baba and His group. Everyone was in good health except for Nervous, who had contracted typhoid. Nervous was treated by a European doctor in Quetta, but his condition did not improve. As his condition gradually worsened, he was taken by stretcher to another bungalow in a better locality where it was quiet and peaceful, with hope that a change of scenery and the quietude would help him. Several of the mandali nursed him, and no expense was spared to assure his recovery. Baba visited him several times each day, keeping a careful eye on his treatment.

The next day, Baba awakened everyone at 4:00 A.M. and within half an hour they started along the “shortcut” for Kaira. Dawn was just breaking, but it was already quite hot. Ramjoo had come down with a sudden fever. The dirt road was rough; they walked on loose earth inches deep. Wearing the tough Pathani sandals, they had difficulty treading it. They rested for some time under the shade of a tree, but there was not the slightest breeze to relieve the oppressive heat. After further inquiry, they were told that the road they were on led far out of their way. The heavy load of utensils and grains weighed them down and, after covering only a short distance, they became so exhausted that they had to take rest again under a tree. Vajifdar had blisters on his feet, and Nervous began swearing at Ramjoo for suggesting this shortcut. Baba then remarked, “True, it is Ramjoo’s fault we have taken this road, and we are all irritated about it, but that does not mean Nervous should pick a fight! This is the very reason Khodadad’s name was changed to Nervous!”

Baba and the mandali stayed at Ghulam Husain Lodi’s house in Bushire. Their baggage was brought by mule, the most common means of transportation in Iran at the time. A Primus stove was lit and Baba warmed himself near it, for he was shivering from the extreme cold. Nervous brought charcoal and lit hearths to heat the room. Strong winds were blowing, and the cold atmosphere was gloomy and uncongenial. Nervous brought supplies from the market and Masaji cooked a meal. Water for drinking had to be bought, as there was a great scarcity. But the water which was purchased contained maggots and looked so milky that most people would not even have washed their feet in it! The mandali had to walk to the seashore to wash the cooking utensils.

In Persia, on one occasion, an arrogant Arab kicked Nervous’ bedroll, throwing it aside, rather than ask him politely to move it. Baba quickly stopped Nervous from confronting the man. On another occasion, one Arab abused his fellow Muslim for not offering namaz (prayer) with his face toward the west; however, the next morning, the same Arab was seen offering namaz as soon as he was out of bed, without first washing his hands and feet, which was customary.

On 17th April 1924, Baba sent Nervous to Ahmednagar with instructions to fall on his knees before Rustom and say, “On behalf of Meher Baba, I salute you. Please send the chunna cart.”

Nervous did it and Rustom in turn told him, “Kindly offer my salutations to Meher Baba 20 times and tell him I was not negligent in sending the cart, since His order to me was I should not hire a bullock cart and our cart did not turn up in time.” Rustom, however, soon sent another cart piled with lime to Meherabad.

The two new rules came into effect and, according to the second rule, on 24 April 1924, Baba bowed down to Padri for not following His instructions. Nervous happened to be standing by and, to tease him, Baba bowed to him also. But Nervous took it seriously and, weeping, was on the brink of leaving Meherabad. Baba tried to console him, saying, “I bowed to you of My own accord and not for any default on your part. There is nothing for you to object to.” Nervous remained adamant and, though willing to adhere to all of the Master’s other instructions, he was obstinate about leaving Meherabad and continued to weep. Baba exempted Nervous from the second rule, but this did not appease him and he remained firm in his resolve to leave.

At last Baba permitted Nervous to go and offered him train fare, which he refused. Baba then asked, “How will you travel without money?”

Nervous pointed to the gold buttons on his shirt, implying that he would sell them. Baba ripped them off and then said, “You can go on two conditions. One is that you beg for your food and the other is that you do not borrow or steal.”

Nervous accepted these conditions and was about to leave when Baba added, “Wherever you go, I will follow.” Nervous started to leave Meherabad, and Baba followed him along the road. He began running and Baba, too, began running. After some distance, Nervous started laughing and returned along with Baba.

After Nervous calmed down, Baba asked him, “Why were you so dramatic?”

Nervous said, “When I had not become angry or spoken harshly with anyone, why did you touch my feet?”

Baba replied, “I did so because of some fault in you. Had I not touched your feet, how could you or others have known you had shortcomings?

Had there been no offense, you could have remained quiet, considering it to be My wish. Although you have faults, you thought yourself faultless. I had to show you that you were not so.”

Baba concluded, “Although you are faultless, still you are at fault — but I will free all of you from your weaknesses. So always listen to Me and remember to carry out whatever I say.”

On 13th May 1924, the platform by the well was finished, and digging irrigation channels and paving the rough shahbad stones began. During the labor, Nervous got involved in a quarrel with one of the other men, and they were called to Baba’s Jhopdi, where Baba scolded them both for an hour. He was going to punish them by ordering them to sit at an isolated place and forbidding them to work. But, within minutes, He calmed down and gave them other duties.

After lunch, on the 17th of May 1924, Nervous said, “Today is Zoroaster’s death anniversary.” Baba asked Nervous why he did not inform Him of this earlier so that He could have arranged some program. The Parsi and Irani mandali were in favor of celebrating the day, but Baba said it was too late.

Nervous was sent to Khushru Quarters for some work regarding the upcoming celebrations at Meherabad. While there, Khansaheb spoke rudely to him. Hearing of the incident, Baba was very angry and immediately sent for Adi. He told him, “I am most dissatisfied with your father. Any ill-treatment and insult to My mandali is an insult to me! I am seriously thinking of leaving this place now.”

Baba then insisted that Adi go ask his father why he had behaved as he did with Nervous. He also instructed Adi to tell his brother and his father not to come to Meherabad from that day on and added that Rustom was free to do as he pleased.

Baba once sent word to Mehera to prepare a sago pudding for him, but she did not know how to make it. After consulting the ladies who were good cooks, she learned the recipe. However, there was no mortar and pestle to powder the nutmeg and cardamom for flavoring the sago powder. Nervous brought a grinding stone, and after Mehera rewashed it, she used it to powder the spices. Baba liked the preparation very much and praised her efforts.

Meanwhile, Padri and Nervous took the horse Sufi and the ox Sant from Meherabad to the Ahmednagar train station, and put them on a freight train bound for Chitali. From Chitali, the two men led the horse and ox on a nine-mile walk in the heat of the day to Sakori. Having no money, they ate the bhakri and chutney which they had brought along. They had to be careful handling the animals, because Sufi was in the habit of biting and Sant was in the habit of kicking. Both animals became difficult to control. Sant kicked Nervous very hard. Nervous’ knee was hurt and he kept a cautious distance from the ox. After a while both animals also became reluctant to move, and Padri and Nervous had to pull them by their reins. Inwardly they kept calling out to Baba to help them.

After some distance, they met up with a bullock cart on the road and fervently requested the driver to permit them to tie the animals behind his cart. He agreed and they successfully tied Sant, but Sufi kept nipping at them and could not be tied. The horse also could not be ridden, for it belonged to Mehera and Baba had forbidden anyone to ride Sufi. Padri was forced to struggle, pulling the horse by the reins the whole way to Sakori.

After a most trying journey, they arrived in Sakori at night. Upasni Maharaj had already retired to his hut.

Padri sent word to Maharaj through Yeshwant Rao that Meher Baba had sent the horse and ox as gifts for him, and had requested that Maharaj accept them.

Maharaj, however, was in a fierce mood and sent word that they should immediately return with the animals. He shouted that he was unable to accept such gifts!

Shocked by this stern reply, Padri and Nervous became anxious, wondering what to do with the animals. Where were they to go in the middle of the night? But Maharaj sent another message saying that they could rest overnight in Sakori and then return in the morning with the horse and ox. They spent a sleepless night camping with the animals, and in the morning they begged Maharaj to accept them as an offering from Meher Baba.

Maharaj was standing at a distance and began cursing them: “Call the police at once! They have stolen these animals and brought them here! You sons of bitches had better leave here immediately or you will find yourselves locked up in jail!”

Frightened, Padri and Nervous took the animals and hastily left Sakori. They reached Chitali hours later and fortunately found the same train carriage in which they had come. They returned to Ahmednagar and, after leaving the troublesome horse and ox in Sarosh’s charge at Khushru Quarters, they boarded a train for Bombay.

In Bombay, Baba questioned the two men. Had they successfully delivered Sufi and Sant to Maharaj? Padri smiled, cursed and then told everything in detail, and Baba had a hearty laugh.

Meher Baba decided to travel to Karachi on 16th July 1924. Nervous remained in critical condition. Before leaving, Baba went to the Parsi cemetery with Phirozshah, selected the plot where Nervous was to be buried, and marked the spot with a stick. He gave Phirozshah Rs.2, 500; 500 for Nervous’ headstone and 2,000 for the Parsi Charitable Trust in Quetta. Baba then told the mandali, “Do not lose courage. Do not leave any stone unturned to bring Nervous around — even at the eleventh hour.” But later he admitted that the case was hopeless and indicated Nervous would soon die. He even told the mandali to go to a movie after Nervous’ burial to dissipate their inevitably gloomy mood —- and perhaps in honor of Nervous’ unfulfilled dream of becoming a film actor.

Baba left for Karachi that afternoon with a few of the mandali. When he arrived at Mach station, he received a telegram of Nervous’ demise.

Nervous kept his promise of dedication to the last and died at a very young age. The Master reminded those with him that, in the past at Manzil-e-Meem, he had predicted two or three members of his circle would have to die, and that Nervous was the first.

Five years before, Baba’s disciple Nervous had died in Quetta after Baba had left the city. But before Baba left, he had gone to the Parsi cemetery and marked the spot where Nervous was to be buried.

The day after His arrival in Quetta in 1929, Baba visited Nervous’ grave, and it seemed as if he had purposely come to Quetta to pay his respects to his dear disciple. Baba placed flowers on Nervous’ tombstone and sat quietly for a while. Then, surveying the entire cemetery, Baba remarked, “Those who are buried here are fortunate. Because of Nervous, they are having the opportunity of seeing me today.”


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