FRAMROZ HORMUSJI DADACHANJI (Chanji)
(First Secretary of Avatar Meher Baba)
Dadachanji was born in Bombay on 23rd November 1892. Educated in Parsi schools in Bombay, he went to college for a year in Karachi and then learned shorthand and typing, and worked for Greaves Cotton Company in Bombay. Four years later, during World War I, he enlisted as a journalist on the hospital ship Takada. He got married in December 1916.
After the war, he worked at various jobs as a salesman, accountant and correspondent with different Bombay companies. He also worked as an advertiser and manager of movie theaters and eventually owned one cinema in partnership — the Madeleine Theater near the corner of Grant and Lamington Road. His partner was his best friend, who had an affair with his wife. The affair led to a divorce in 1920 or 1921, which was quite scandalous at the time.
Some of his life time episodes and conversation with Meher Baba are written below:
In year 1924, one day Baba went for a walk with Naval Talati to Chowpatty Beach. Baba’s gaze happened to fall on a man sitting in a pensive mood, and he asked Naval, “Who is that person?”
Surprised, Naval replied, “Baba, how should I know? Thousands come here every day. He might be anyone.”
Baba said, “Go and ask him his name and find out what he is thinking.”
Naval hesitated, asking, “What do we have to do with him? But if you insist, I will inquire.”
Baba and Naval walked over to the man and called him. The man turned out to be a friend of Naval’s. He asked, “What do you want?”
Baba answered, laughing, “We don’t want anything.”
The man queried, “Then why are you disturbing me?”
Baba replied, “To tell you that only bliss and joy are destined for you!”
Astonished, the man replied, “Joy? I am not so lucky! Happiness is not part of my life. All my happiness has gone away!”
In a serious tone, Baba explained, “Your false idea of happiness will vanish to bring you real bliss. It will be removed to find true joy. So why be miserable and unhappy?”
Hearing this, the man was puzzled and wondered, “Who is this man who reads my mind?” He gazed at Baba and asked, “Who are you?”
Baba only smiled, but His smile was the turning point in the man’s life. As he looked at Baba, he was roused from his painful reverie and freed from the sorrow gripping his heart. Naval told his friend about the Master, and Baba said, “You have a very important part to play in My cinema!”
At this point, the man disclosed, “I too have a cinema … I am the owner …”
Baba laughed and said, “I am talking about the Universal cinema. By coming to Me, you will find out what that is. But what I want to tell you is that good luck is in store for you and you should not feel dejected.”
Naval then gave him Baba’s address and they left. Reading the address, the man’s distress dissolved into rays of hope
Who was this man sitting so forlornly on the beach? He was a man so distraught that he was about to commit suicide by drowning himself in the sea. Why? He once had a beautiful wife, whom he loved dearly. He was completely devoted to her and sacrificed much for her happiness and comfort. Although he had complied with her every wish, she left him for another man — his best friend. It drove him to the depths of depression and he could no longer bear his misery. That day, he had come to the shores of Chowpatty Beach to end his life.
People commit suicide every day, but the Savior did not allow this suicide to happen. On the pretext of taking a stroll, he had come to the seashore and lifted the man’s heart in his hands. At that moment, the man was given a new life and eventually proved an invaluable medium for the Master’s work. He was Framroze Hormusji Dadachanji and he would become Meher Baba’s first secretary.
The morning after the incident on the beach, Baba impatiently paced the floor and later asked Naval to go to Dadachanji’s house and bring him. Dadachanji came, narrated his woes to Baba, and sobbed uncontrollably at Baba’s feet. Baba took him in His arms, patted his cheeks, and told him, “Leave everything and come to Me.”
Dadachanji began visiting Baba regularly and was nicknamed Chanji. After some years, Chanji was reconciled to the turn of events in his marriage which had driven him to despair, because it was his despair that had led Baba to save him. Chanji was a kind man with a forgiving heart, and he never hated his former wife and partner for what had happened. Due to Chanji’s influence, his entire family — his parents, four brothers, one sister, their spouses and children — and numerous other Parsis and Iranis in Bombay, would eventually devote their lives to Meher Baba’s cause.
From the 11th of July 1926, Chanji had been maintaining a separate diary of daily events at Meherabad (which previously Ajoba, Pandoba and Nadirsha N. Dastur had done for a certain number of days each). Thus, it is mainly due to Chanji’s efforts that the record of Meher Baba’s activities is bountiful.
His love-efforts have preserved for posterity the spirit of the Beloved’s divine game.
Baba was playing chess every day at this time with Chanji, Raosaheb, and others. During a game of chess on the 16th June 1929, He commented again that Rumi and Shams were also fond of chess and would do their spiritual work while playing. Baba was doing the same. On 21th June 1929, He played two or three games of chess, but He seemed distracted and played indifferently. He explained, “While playing chess for the past few days with Chanji, I have been going to several places and been doing a lot of work.”
In 1926, while Baba’s group was in bungalow owned by a Bohra Muslim named Ibrahim two miles from Lonavla in the village of Walvan. Baba ordered not to eat anything outside.
He turned to Masaji and Chanji and said, “My standing order was not to eat anything outside of Meherabad unless given permission. Why did you not comply with it?”
Masaji spoke in their defense stating they had broken the order in good faith since they were under the impression that the order was canceled once they left Meherabad. Baba was furious and caught hold of him, shoving him so violently that He ripped Masaji’s clothing. He then lifted him up and threw him ten feet! The mandali standing nearby were astonished to see someone as lean and thin as Baba pick up and throw such a hefty man as Masaji.
Chanji was not spared Baba’s wrath, and he received a few sound slaps. Baba then ordered them to leave at once. After a while He called them back and seemed in a surprisingly good mood. Smiling, He asked, “Have you gotten an idea of My strength today?” The three men burst out laughing. Then Baba lovingly inquired, “Are any of you hurt?” No one was hurt, but Chanji had been so frightened that his pants were damp. )
But on the night of 9th August, Ramjoo forgot to bring wood from the village for the fire. Chanji was keeping watch near Baba’s hut and became frightened in the blackness of the night as he listened to the howls and cries from all sides. It was pitch-dark and Chanji could hear the footsteps of some creature prowling in his immediate vicinity. He told Baba, “I am afraid. I don’t think I can sit here all night.”
Baba replied through Chhota Baba, “For God’s sake, I am hardly a foot away from you. Why are you afraid? If a tiger comes, I will make you ride on its back!”
“No, Baba, I could never sit on the back of a tiger.”
“All right, then I will make the tiger sit on your back.”
Chanji pleaded, “Baba, please forgive me. I will die of fear up here — alone in the dark.”
“That’s right; you will have to die here (in Kashmir). So why be afraid of death? Don’t feel frightened. Even the tiger’s father won’t kill you tonight. I am here and if any tiger appears, I will send him running with one snap of My fingers.”
Chanji was still 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.
In 1926, after Baba completed writing His book, whenever he left Meherabad He took the manuscript with him, locked in a metal case. At one point, Afseri was deputed as “keeper of the book” and would have to carry the case wherever they went. It was kept near Him at all times, even while He slept. Baba would keep the key to the lock on His person, tied on a string around His neck. No one at that time had read anything of what Baba had written.
Baba commented on the contents of His book in Lonavla on 26th November 1926, when He saw Chanji typing His recent discourses:
You find these explanations of Mine very interesting, but they are nothing compared to what I have written in My book at Meherabad. Its 300 pages cover only short points, and when they are fully amplified and rewritten, the points will comprise several large volumes. It is full of secrets which no previous saint or Prophet has ever divulged.
This is no small work or service! And He did all this unasked, on His own accord without even telling us about it. Such service, so selflessly and spontaneously rendered, with no hopes of any reward except My blessings, must succeed, however difficult be the task. And he did succeed. Why? Because of the love which inspired him to do it — for the sake of the love he put in it to make it a success. I am so happy. He deserves My blessings. He is blessed!”
In 1929, gesturing to Chanji and Raosaheb, Baba motioned, “Now, you two, stop worrying! Go with this gentleman to the British Consul and give him the letter immediately.” At ten o’clock that night in the bitter cold, they approached the consul’s deputy and handed him the letter from the Governor of Duzdab. Yet when they returned, Raosaheb and Chanji were restless the whole night and woke up at four o’clock, anxious to finish the job.
They arrived at the consul’s residence in the early hours of dawn and furnished him with full information about Baba and the other men, explaining to him that Baba’s departure that day was imperative. After making them wait, the consul called them into his office at eight o’clock. He was not completely satisfied with the letter of recommendation from the Governor, and he placed it on his table. Exasperated, he said, “At least tell me who you people are!”
Chanji admitted, “Merwan Irani is our Master, and we are His disciples.” Taking this simple statement to heart, the consul directed his clerk to fill out their visas and get their signatures, as a special case.
The British Consul in Duzdab was extremely cautious about issuing visas at that time because the Communist movement had emerged, publicly calling for India’s independence from Britain, and Baba’s party included unemployed Iranis, Parsis, Hindus, and Muslims. The consul was afraid that if Meher Baba’s companions turned out to be Communist agitators and they were permitted to cross into India, creating disturbances there, he would be held responsible.
Some time ago, the British Consul in Bombay had, in fact, sent instructions to all the Consulates along the coastal towns of Persia not to allow Meher Baba’s return to India, because He had only a Persian passport and not a British one, having refused to sign His name. Unknown to the mandali at that time, it was for this reason that Baba had selected the hazardous and rigorous land route, crossing the border at Duzdab where the Consulate had not received these instructions.
An interesting incident occurred some months later. After their return to India, when Chanji again had occasion to meet the British Consul in Bombay regarding issuance of a passport for one of the mandali, the consul asked him, “Has your Master returned from Persia?”
“Yes, He came back several months ago,” Chanji replied.
“Then He has started signing His name which He refused to do before?”
Chanji denied this, and the man asked, “Then how could He have entered British (Indian) territory without a visa?”
Chanji stated simply, “He is a Master, and nothing is impossible for Him.”
Puzzled, the consul queried, “By what port did He leave Persia?”
“He came by the land route, crossing through Duzdab.”
The consul then exclaimed, “Oh, I see. Now I believe He is a Master — and Perfect, too!”
Although the consul did not pretend to understand anything about spirituality, he appreciated Baba’s “work for humanity” and “teachings about the higher ideals of life.” This incident, however, seemed to convince him of Baba’s greatness and power.
Baba had sent Chanji to Bombay to find a good boy, but after searching for four days, he returned to Nasik without one on 27th November 1929.
Baba had previously cabled him twice concerning the importance of this matter, but Chanji still had no success.
Upon his return, Chanji confessed that he had not devoted all of his time and energy to the errand Baba had given him, but was, instead, spending most of his time talking to people about the Master. Baba reprimanded him, “You did not do the work for which I sent you and you ignored My telegrams. You say you have your head on My feet, but you go against My wish! So what is the meaning of your bowing down to Me? It has become a ritual to place one’s head on My feet, but its real meaning is that nothing except My will should be done. This I call bowing down!”
Baba concluded, “Go back to Bombay tonight and do not return without bringing a good boy.” Chanji promptly left.
Chanji had been in touch with a shipping office to book their passage to England on the Tiered, leaving Bombay on 25th August 1931. But when they arrived in Karachi, they were informed that no second-class economy cabins were available. Chanji was agitated about this as he had been promised cabins on the ship, but Baba told him to book another vessel bound for Europe. Chanji was able to secure cabins on the SS Rajputana instead. It was difficult on such short notice for Chanji to obtain tickets, and he wondered why this last-minute trouble had arisen.
In the evening, they went to a play, but it turned out to be in French, which none, including Meredith, could understand. The next day Rustom went to buy a tie and some breeches for Chanji in the bazaar. When Baba found out, He scolded Chanji, who answered in defense that he did not ask for them; Rustom was simply replacing what he had borrowed from Chanji earlier. Nonetheless, Baba reprimanded Chanji, “You called for them indirectly. Don’t hide your desires; you wanted them. Despite acquiring them through Rustom, you still say you did not ask for them!?”
Chanji took Baba’s scolding badly; he was fed up and could not bear his teasing anymore. Unknown to the Westerners, since arriving in Europe, Baba had been taunting Chanji mostly, wounding his heart by becoming angry with him on the smallest pretext. On one occasion, Kitty innocently asked Baba why Chanji and Rustom were looking so sad since they were with him all the time. Baba had brushed her off, replying, “Due to their deep love. They are not sad; it is the pain of love. Their love for Me is unbearable to them!”
Traveling with Meher Baba to the West might appear to an outsider as a “fun vacation,” but life with the Master was a life of death for the disciples. Just a few days before, when the train had stopped in Paris and they got down for a coffee, Baba’s pricking had begun and Chanji later wrote in his diary: “Everyone wishes to be with Baba, but few know the price of it.”
Baba’s real work was to crush the false selves of His circle members, and this was a painful and often humiliating process. For instance, at Baba’s remarks about Chanji’s new clothes, Chanji took them off and slung them on the floor, bitterly complaining; “Now I can no longer stay with you. I am leaving!”
Baba responded sharply, “Go! Who needs you? But don’t defy or threaten Me, thus throwing away everything (spiritual). It doesn’t matter if you go away; I can manage everything. I will break My silence so that there will be no necessity for anyone to read the board. I Myself am fed up with all this dictation. I shall go neither to America nor anywhere else! I shall return to India! I do not wish to go there at this time. But if I do go, it will be because of him (Chanji]) against My will and plans.”
Chanji burst into tears and cried as he had never done before, cursing his lot and blaming himself for ever having joined Meher Baba. Baba left, but came back to his room after a little while and tried to calm him, remarking, “Don’t you know I have My reasons for treating you like this?”
Chanji continued to weep, “It is unbearable now, Baba. Every day like this? Please have some mercy on me! I can’t stand it!”
Baba countered, “This is mercy. This is My grace. Calm down now and don’t think about it.” Baba then embraced Chanji lovingly and directed him to wash his face, after which Baba wiped it dry with a towel. Gathering his composure, Chanji asked for Baba’s forgiveness. Baba nodded and smiled. Such scenes were repeated time and time again with each of those who stayed with Meher Baba.
On 24th August 1932, Baba rode a donkey to the pyramids and Sphinx in Gizeh, and also visited the local zoo. In Cairo, Baba revealed to Kaka and Chanji, “The Coptic Church contains a cave where Mary and Joseph stayed after fleeing Herod. The reason I came to Egypt is to visit this church.”
Finding Chanji shedding tears, Miss Skey was surprised and asked Baba the reason. Baba slyly spelled out, “Look what love Chanji has for Me! Whenever he finds Me alone, he cannot prevent himself from crying. His longing is terrible, so he sheds tears of love. These are his tears of longing.” This statement greatly impressed Miss Skey who then also began crying. Baba directed Chanji to calm the woman. How could she know the facts behind poor Chanji’s beating? Chanji’s heart was frightened of love!
After leaving England, Chanji kept the close ones in London informed of the Master’s activities, and his letters were greatly appreciated. They served to keep Baba close to them during their pain of separation. On 10th October 1921, Kitty wrote in reply to one of Chanji’s letters: “Life goes on as usual truly, but not in the usual way. All is somehow different. All is for Baba now — be it work, play, rest or sleep.” Kitty had indeed begun to surrender all to Baba, as evidenced by this message written on 27th October 1931:
The fact was that, for the mandali, the trip to Spain had been anything but a vacation. Baba had created situations in which He continually embarrassed and teased them in front of the Westerners. Chanji, Kaka and Adi Jr. felt like they were at a breaking point – while to the Westerners, everything seemed wonderful. Several times in private, Chanji had broken down and wept. Although Baba had tried to console him, Chanji could not check his feelings. At other times, Baba would be indifferent and cold toward him, and these terribly “pinching moments,” as Chanji described them, were filled with desperation and internal suffering. So, for the mandali, staying with Baba was never easy.
In 1933, Chanji had been in South India, visiting Baba’s lovers in Madras, Bijapur and elsewhere. Returning after a week on 7 December, Chanji relayed the report of the trip and said that the Madras lovers ardently wished to invite Baba for His next birthday celebration. Baba indicated He would think about it.
Actually, Chanji had very little free time. There was the daily mail from throughout India, Europe and America which Baba wanted attended to immediately, and Chanji was handling all the correspondence single-handedly.
The Master’s words of reprimand “cut deeper than a dagger,” noted Chanji in his diary, and he lost his temper and could not help but think of leaving Baba and going away.
In year 1934, pacifying Chanji, Baba explained, “I know that you cannot spare the time. But you should understand that I do not say anything without reason. You are under the impression that you labor Day and night and that no one else can do the work you are doing. This is a mistake on your part. I also keep some people without work to do and I have My reasons for that, too. Even while apparently not doing anything, they do a lot which you cannot see and would not be able to understand.”
In 1935, the boat carrying Baba and His group arrived in Penang in afternoon and anchored offshore. Baba and the mandali took a launch to the pier and then a taxi around the city. They returned to the ship around five o’clock and ship set sail two hours later.
Baba’s tooth pain had become so severe; He decided to have a dentist remove a loose and aching tooth as soon as He returned to Meherabad. He stopped eating hardly any solid food and drank only bottled milk that the mandali had purchased in Singapore and Penang, and which had to be refrigerated. (Only condensed milk was available onboard their ship.) Baba drank the milk with digestive biscuits three times a day.
At sea, Baba repeatedly sent Chanji to the captain with messages to do his best in speeding up the voyage to reach Colombo, Ceylon, as soon as possible.
Chanji was also directed to give the captain some books about Baba, which he did.
In 1936, before leaving Mysore, Baba had advised Chanji not to keep the lantern and stove filled with kerosene; but in his hectic preparation to depart, Chanji had forgotten to empty them according to Baba’s warning. In the bus to Chikmagalur, the stove leaked onto Baba’s mattress, soaking it with kerosene. When Chanji discovered this while unpacking in the dak bungalow, he was frightened and put the bedding in the sun to dry. But the strong odor remained.
When Baba found out, He was extremely perturbed by Chanji’s carelessness, asking, “What did you do, fill the stove?” Chanji stood silent and Baba admonished him, “Be attentive to what I wish. Your small mistake has resulted in a catastrophe for Me!”
Group returned to Mysore the same day by train. Baba wanted to travel by third class, but Chanji persuaded Him to go second-class, which was much less crowded and hence there would be less chance of his being recognized.
Considering all the hardships of late, to lighten Baba’s mood, Jalbhai and Chanji tried to persuade Him to go to an afternoon movie on Sunday, 24 May 1936. Baba was reluctant to go to any movies due to the difficulties and awkward situations prevailing around the ashram in Mysore. But Jalbhai and Chanji were determined that He should have some recreation, and at last Baba agreed to go.
Chanji wondered about its significance:
For the first time Baba signed as M.S. Irani at Karachi (for his passport) in August 1931 (since Baba gave up writing in 1927) brought about His first tour to the West and a turning point in the political history of India, when the famous Gandhi-Irwin pact was formed and Baba took Gandhi with Him to the West on the same boat (considered at the time an impossibility due to the tension between the British government and the Gandhi movement).
Baba further explained that, while the masses make pilgrimage to such places to “cleanse” themselves of sins, the Masters are drawn there only for their work and sanctify such places by their presence.
In 1939, Baba went in a tonga through the ancient city’s streets, with Chanji and Adi Sr., ostensibly to find an ideal boy but, in fact, to contact masts and sadhus. Along the way, Baba would often have the tonga stopped and get down to contact a specific person whom He spotted, sometimes giving them money and sometimes only looking at them. “His contact was only momentary,” Age observed, “but it spanned ages!” For several years, Baba had not touched money, but, when it came to giving it to the masts, sadhus and the poor, He would give it with His own hands.
Chanji arrived in Quetta to see Baba on 22nd March 1942, and showed Baba some recent critical articles about Him, which had appeared in the Gujarati newspapers (most likely written by Colonel Irani and Venkatapathaiya, the Bangalore attorney). Baba directed Chanji to ignore the inflammatory articles and keep quiet. Shortly thereafter, Chanji was sent to Karachi with Pilamai, to arrange for Norina and Deshmukh to give public lectures there. He had already traveled 1200 miles to see Baba but, with hardly any rest after their meeting, he was asked to journey another 700 miles the same day. )
In 1942, while in Dehra Dun, each day Baba discussed with Chanji Japan’s military movements and affairs, as well as India’s unpreparedness to fight and its internal political instability. Yet He likewise always stressed, “It is all God’s plan.” To the women, Baba remarked on the 11th, “Life will be like a whirlwind in a few weeks!”
At the end of April 1942, Baba sent Chanji back to Delhi to contact other influential persons who had spiritual inclinations, and disseminate his messages to them. Baba particularly wished to contact Colonel Louis Johnson, President Roosevelt’s special envoy from America. Chanji gave him the messages and he promised to study them. (Messages were also mailed to prominent Indian personalities such as Aurobindo.)
One day in Rishikesh, Baba was giving Chanji instructions at the mandali’s quarters when a sanyasi came to the gate desiring darshan. Chanji went to him and told him that Meher Baba, being in seclusion, was not seeing anyone until His tours in the Himalayas were finished.
The sanyasi exploded with anger, “Why does He refuse to give darshan? Am I not worthy? Do you know that I have visited hundreds of the holiest places of pilgrimage in India? Why should I care if I don’t get darshan here!”
Chanji tried to explain the situation and pacify him, but the sanyasi became even more argumentative. He began quoting passages from the shastras, as if to demonstrate his devotion. Eventually he stormed off, quoting this couplet:
Where doest thou seek me, O dear devotee!
I am always near and with thee!
Repeating these lines louder and louder, he raised his arms dramatically and walked off, looking toward the heavens, as if pleading with God to grant a little sense to poor Chanji to be able to recognize someone as sincere as himself.
But the ironic part of the whole affair was that, had the man not been so absorbed in his own performance, looking toward the sky, he would have seen Baba, who was off to one side, watching all the time! Twice, he passed Baba without recognizing Him.
After the man had left, Baba explained to Chanji, “His time has not yet come. People like him wander from place to place, haphazardly, in search of God, muttering verses and chapters from the Shastras and chanting couplets from the poets, but all superficially with the tongue, and not from the heart. They gain very little — practically nothing, spiritually.
“It is not merely the desire, but a keen inner longing that, in time, brings one in contact with a true saint or Master.”
In June, Chanji was sent to Madras, Bangalore, Hyderabad and other places to deliver Baba’s messages to different prominent individuals. When he returned to Dehra Dun, he was sent to Delhi for a week, on 3rd July 1942, to contact Gandhi and other political leaders.
In 1943, at Calcutta for proposed poor programme, Dr. Chowria agreed to make a school premises available for the purpose. But before he committed himself, Chanji presented before him the following four written conditions:
1) None of the members of your organization should meet the Parsi benefactor, except Mr. Chowria, who can share in the work. The Parsi gentleman would like silence while serving the food. [This was specially included so that Chowria would not be inquisitive about Baba.]
2) No one should observe the generous Parsi and His companions, even from a distance, at the time of serving the food.
3) A room must be arranged for the generous Parsi where He may sit alone to distribute dhotis and saris to the men and women.
4) Your establishment should make complete arrangements (such as providing a cook, utensils, grains, servants, et cetera) for which all expenses will be paid. Also, the institution should select middle-class persons who need help, and issue invitations to them in the name of the generous Parsi, whose guests they will all be.
Dr. Chowria accepted the conditions, but no private living accommodation for Baba could be made. The original plan was that as soon as all arrangements had been made, Chanji was to telegram Baba at Lahore, and he would come. But, as was Baba’s habit, He arrived unexpectedly on 14th October 1943, with Gustadji and Savak. Since no residential quarters had been booked, Chanji took them to the Broadway Hotel for at least a day.
In the morning Baba expressed how displeased He was with Chanji, scolding him badly, “I sent you out ten days in advance to make proper arrangements, but you did not do a damn thing!”
He continued, “I did not rest last night. The whole night has been hell for Me. Have you no thought for My comfort and convenience? If you now fail to find a peaceful, suitable place for Me to stay, I will have you hung upside down!”
Finding Baba in such an awful temper, Chanji said not a word, and quietly went out to make the impossible possible. He again approached the owner of the house who had refused to rent it for a month. The man insisted he would only rent his property for a year, and Chanji’s flattery and persuasion had no effect on him.
A Madrasi official named C. R. Sunder Rajan was residing nearby. When Chanji had visited this landlord four days before, Sunder Rajan had overheard Chanji and asked, “What exactly do you require, brother?” Chanji explained the benevolent work the philanthropic Parsi wanted to do for those who had suffered misfortune, and the Madrasi said, “He can stay in my new premises, which I am supposed to move into soon.”
“But you have a family,” Chanji pointed out. “The generous Parsi wants a vacant house.” Sunder Rajan explained that his family was leaving for Madras in a day or two, so the house would be vacant.
So on the 15th, Chanji took Baba to Sunder Rajan’s new house. Seeing Him from a distance, Sunder Rajan was deeply affected. Sunder Rajan told Chanji, “You can use my car also during office hours, from 10 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.” He gave the use of his driver and included free petrol besides. In those wartime days, gasoline was strictly rationed and very scarce, but Sunder Rajan, being a high official in the supplies department, somehow managed to obtain it for Baba’s use.
Chanji’s condition grew noticeably worse and was finally diagnosed as typhoid. On 20th August 1944, Baba had him admitted to the Kashmir Nursing Home, where Daulat Singh looked after him, along with the European staff doctor, an Englishman named Dr. Rollins. Baba had stopped giving darshan after the Raipur program, so Kain and Ganjoo had to wait; but they, along with Dhar, would visit Chanji in the hospital every day, and they left nothing undone in nursing him.
It is a curious story how Chanji contracted typhoid. He was very fond of boiled potatoes, but Baba had casually given him the order not to eat them. “They will eat you!” Baba had warned. Chanji, however, took the order lightly. When Baba arrived in Srinagar, He happened to enter Chanji’s room and found him eating potatoes. Soon after this, Chanji came down with fever.
Baba’s journey to Kashmir seemed to have a decisive effect on the war. The American forces were now sweeping across Europe, and on 23rd August 1944, Paris was liberated by the advancing Allies. General de Gaulle took command of Paris two days later.
On the 24 th August, Mehera, Mani, Meheru and Rano were to be shifted to Bhagat Villa in Nishat. Before proceeding to Nishat, Baba instructed Krishna to follow in the truck with their luggage and not to come by bicycle. But after they had loaded everything in the truck, there was no room for the bicycle, so Krishna cycled to Nishat and Vishnu rode in the truck.
When they arrived, Baba scolded Krishna, “Why did you fail to carry out My order? I told you not to ride your bicycle.”
“There was no room in the truck for the bicycle. The driver refused to take it and I, “Krishna pleaded.
“You should have thrown the bicycle away!” Baba interrupted. “Do you value a bicycle more than My words? Is your bicycle greater than My orders? Why don’t you obey Me?”
Then Baba spelled out, “If Chanji comes, you will have to go.”
Krishna did not understand and Baba spelled out: “If Chanji improves and comes here, you will die.”
That night, Krishna also came down with fever, and Nilu began treating him. Meanwhile, Despite the best possible treatment, Chanji did not improve. At 5:30 A.M. on 25th August 1944, with Baba’s name on his lips, Chanji shut his eyes forever to the world, and opened his eyes to see His Divine Beloved in His Pure Being! He was 52 years old.
Baba’s words to Chanji the previous June (You can attend the Ahmednagar and Allahabad programs — if you are alive!”), now took on added meaning. In fact, in 1929, when Baba was on His way to Harvan Village from Srinagar, He had casually remarked to Chanji, “Your tomb will be here.” And Chanji would often remark, “When I die, I want to die in Kashmir — it’s so lovely there.” Baba had fulfilled his request.
Baba Himself attended Chanji’s funeral in the Parsi cemetery and strewed flowers over his last remains. Thereafter, a headstone was raised and Chanji was finally given a rest after 20 hectic years in India and on trips abroad as Baba’s personal secretary.
During journeys, even in crowded third-class train compartments, Chanji carried a portable typewriter and would type letters and his diary notes, sometimes even at night. Despite his sincere labors, he was inevitably the one whom Baba “picked on” most and who served as Baba’s scapegoat. When Baba slapped him (and he did so many, many times), Chanji would say, “Go on Baba. You have the right to treat me like this. You are the Master, You have the authority.”
All this was not the Master’s abuse but the expression of His deep love for the disciple. The Master’s apparent cruelty toward the slave, who had dedicated everything at his feet, was in fact His benevolent mercy. It was no ill treatment; it was the pouring out of His love, soaking the heart through and through. A disciple such as Chanji was truly incomparable!
The treasure of Meher Baba’s divine words and working, which Chanji preserved, will serve as a memorial of his love and discipleship. His notes will inspire the world for generations to come!
His life has shown others the way to His blessing!”
After burying Chanji, Baba left Srinagar immediately for Nishat, and instructed Vishnu to inform Adi Sr. and Chanji’s family about his demise. Baba dictated this cable:
CHANJI HAS COME TO ME FOREVER. HE HAS JOINED ME ETERNALLY AND NO ONE SHOULD WORRY.
News of Chanji’s death pained Baba’s lovers in the East and in the West. He was the one who kept them informed of Baba’s current activities. Solely due to Chanji’s efforts, many, many people from Bombay had come into Meher Baba’s contact. When they learned of his demise, they were deeply saddened. Bachamai, Arnavaz, Nargis and Naoroji were especially grief-stricken. Age wondered, “Who will convey all the details of Baba’s life and movements now? Who will keep them drunk with tales of the Beloved’s Wine?” But it was all Baba’s wish and, for His own reasons, He called His secretary Chanji to Him at this time.
Chanji’s life had been so hectic attending to Baba’s work that he had not had time to properly arrange all his diaries, notes and letters. He would jot down things and simply collect it all, storing it in his trunk. As stated previously, Eruch and Adi Sr. had been sorting through some of his things while in Bangalore during 1940. After Chanji’s death, his trunks were brought to Meherabad from Bombay, and Baba assigned the duty of arranging and putting them in order to Feram Workingboxwala.
For Feram, going through Chanji’s letters and notes proved a tedious and tiresome task. For one thing, Chanji’s handwriting was at times microscopic; for another, he was in the habit of taking down Baba’s explanations on any scrap of paper handy, and would often not date the entries, or he would simply put the day and month with no mention of what year. Feram was able to complete the work, organizing it as best he could in nine months. And thus, Framroze’s (Chanji’s) legacy was straightened out by Feramroj (Feram)!
After Chanji’s demise, Adi Sr. had become Meher Baba’s official secretary and was handling the duty of correspondence between the Master and His followers. Feram would assist Adi in keeping the correspondence and accounts organized.
Framroz Hormousji Dadachanji (Chanji) served as Meher Baba’s first secretary and was an early diarist. He travelled with Baba in thirties and wrote an account of Baba’s early life in Gujrati. Dadachanji maintained Baba’s diary and noted all important events they were regularly published in Meher Baba journals.
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.
- Adi K. Irani (Adi Sr.)
- Anna Saheb Kale
- Bal Natu
- Bhau Kalchuri
- Don Stevens
- Eruch Jessawala
- Francis Brabazon
- Gustadji Hansotia
- Jal S Irani
- Kaikobad Dastur
- Murli Kale
- Ramjoo Abdulla
- William Donkin