Francis, was an artist, poet and writer succeeded Baron Wiliam-the head of the Sufi group in Australia who died in 1950. Baron had not accepted Meher Baba but gave Baba’s discourses to Francis Brabazon. Francis was greatly impressed and wanted to meet Baba.
In 1948, Francis wrote to Baba of his vivid dreams. Through Dr. Ghani, Baba replied: “Baba would like very much for you to look upon Him as a friend, and may be, in the course of time, you will grow to look upon Him as the Beloved.” Indeed, it did not take this fragrant flower long to surrender to the Beloved of his heart.
Francis Brabazon had been attempting to meet Baba for several years. An artist, poet and writer, Francis was spiritually inclined and had studied metaphysical literature. He had become attracted to the Persian Sufis and had found out about Sufism and Meher Baba through the Australian Sufi leader Baron von Frankenberg. He had been sent by the Baron to San Francisco in September 1946 to accompany Murshida Rabia Martin to India to meet Meher Baba. But Rabia Martin fell seriously ill with cancer and could not travel to India prior to her death in 1947. Brabazon could not go alone and he remained in America until the next appointed Sufi Murshida, Ivy Duce, returned from meeting Baba in India, during January 1948. Upon Ivy’s return she telephoned Francis in San Francisco and assured him that Meher Baba was indeed “The Qutub of all Sufis.” Brabazon was directed to return to Australia, work hard, save his money and await Baba’s call. Francis wrote a heart-filled letter to Baba that same year. In 1950, when von Frankenberg died, Francis was appointed head of the Australian Sufis by Ivy.
Francis became quite respected in Australia, and at one time sported a yellow robe and was referred to as a “Sheik.” He himself was building a house in Sydney for Baba on Beacon Hill. In 1952, Francis traveled from Australia to New York for Meher Baba’s darshan, but had to remain there for weeks when Baba’s visit was postponed.
Ivy, Charmian and Francis met Baba again on the morning of 11th May 1952, in morning and they also liked the name Sufism Reoriented. Baba informed them:
You are instruments for My work, until you get Light. Then you will know what to do automatically. The name Sufism Reoriented should be the same everywhere, but for the present, I personally think it should be separate, and once it is run as I want, then I will see to incorporating all the different branches in different countries in one. All these points must be noted down; make them precise and practical so that they may be published. All of it should be collected so I can go through it, correct it and have it published before I leave in July 1952.
Francis Brabazon had written a play titled The Quest, a story of a search to find the Beloved, and the group performed it for Baba, with Francis in the role of the seeker. Baba praised their performance and said the play should be published and distributed in other countries.
Baba was so pleased with the play that He told Francis He was going to give him a “reward.” To the many listeners’ astonishment, the reward was a fast of 28 days — the whole of February 1957 — on only milk, tea or coffee, during which Francis would not be permitted to read anything.
Baba explained: for example, here is Francis Brabazon. Suppose that he is illiterate; he has not read anything and he does not want to read anything, but he knows one thing — he has heard somewhere, somehow, that there is a certain thing like God, and with that he is convinced that there is God. He says: “I must see God, I long to see Him.” He is longing to see God and he loves Him very much; he is like a fish out of water. He loses his appetite. He has no sleep and his only thought is to see God. And he does see Him without having intellectual conviction because he has heart. In his heart he wants to see God.
Now, here is another man — he has read much, he is a very intelligent person, he has heard much and he is continually reading. Through reading he gets intellectual conviction. He is convinced intellectually. Now, after hearing and reading this, entire he says: “I am convinced that there is nothing but God.” But that is only intellectual conviction. This man who is intellectually convinced has no love for God; he is simply convinced through his intellect, and there is the stalemate for him. He says: “Here I am, I have studied much, I have read much, heard much, and I am continuing to read books — Meher Baba’s book God Speaks I have read. I am intellectually convinced that there is God, and God is the only Reality.” Baba says over and above that he has to have the heart to love God. If intellectual conviction is there and love is also there, as well as the longing to see God and for union with God, it is that love and longing which helps him to attain his goal.
So, we have Francis who, suppose, has not read anything and who has therefore no intellectual conviction, but who has love in his heart.
And here, this other gentleman, who is intelligent and who is intellectually convinced, but who has no love and no heart.
Then there is another man who is intellectually convinced and also has the heart. He attains the goal; he can see God, become God. The person without heart, only intellectual conviction, can never see God. The one who is intellectually convinced and also has the heart can see God and can make others also see God; whereas he who has only heart realizes God for himself and does not help others to see God. That is the difference. Now do you follow what Baba wants to say?
As soon as Francis Brabazon learnt of Baba’s plans to have a sahavas in Australia, he set about locating a place that would be suitable to hold it. He drove far and wide — to the Blue Mountains west of Sydney and up into the New England Highlands near Armidale, as he felt a city was not the best place for a center. Then, on 11th January 1958, Mani sent the following letter to the Australians:
As in the USA, Baba will give His sahavas in Australia at one place only. Baba leaves the sahavas arranging to Francis, with loving and willing co-operation and help from all as possible. Baba has outlined the main points, and leaves the details to you. For the site of the sahavas: Baba gives first preference to Queensland, and second preference to Beacon Hill. Baba would like Queensland if the climate is good during June, and if the place is practical from all angles — finance, convenience, climate, accommodation for all, etc. But you should not feel bound by this. If Queensland is not found to be practical from the above mentioned points then you should drop the idea and make arrangements at Beacon Hill for all concerned. If Queensland is found practical, then it would be ideal — for Baba would be blessing with His presence yet another part of Australia. Baba wishes Francis to let Him know which is decided.
This was a total surprise. Neither Francis nor any of the Australian Baba group had any connections to Queensland, or had even visited there before. However, Francis knew that Baba would prefer a warmer climate for His sahavas during the Australian winter (which begins in June), and as Baba had indicated a “preference,” Francis decided he would do everything possible to make it happen, despite the limited time.
Within a week of receiving the letter, Francis was driving around hillside locations in Queensland including Tamborine Mountain and Buderim. Finally he came across a run-down 82-acre pineapple farm on Kiel Mountain. It had been started 88 years earlier by Heinrich Kiel, the descendant of a German Lutheran missionary.
The site lay 75 miles north of Brisbane. Francis felt he had found the right place. Francis cabled Baba a detailed description. Baba cabled back that the spot was “excellently suitable.”
Using money received from the late Baron von Frankenberg’s estate, Francis purchased the property, which Baba later named Avatar’s Abode. Being on the summit of a 450-foot hill, Avatar’s Abode had 360-degree views — out as far as the Pacific Ocean (some six miles to the east). The region — the Sunshine Coast — was sub-tropical, renowned for its surf beaches, rainforest waterfalls and small fruit and dairy farms. It was an area dotted with tiny church halls — one of the most religious regions of Australia.
In 1958, Francis Brabazon had sent a copy of the manuscript of Stay With God to Baba for approval. Baba had a portion of the book read out to him each day.
Meanwhile, Francis and Meherdas had arrived from Meherazad on 20th March 1958.
Baba had arranged for Francis to stay at Ramakrishnan’s home in Kirkee, because it was quieter and Francis found it easier to write there. Every morning, Francis would ride a bicycle three miles to Guruprasad. Baba had instructed him to come at 9:00 A.M., and Francis would arrive at 8:45 A.M.
One day he came at his usual time and Baba asked, “Why are you late today? I was waiting for you.”
Francis said, “I have come fifteen minutes early.”
Baba sternly corrected him, “I have been waiting for you for one hour, and you say you are fifteen minutes early. Is it proper for you to speak like this?”
Pained at displeasing Baba, Francis burst into tears. Baba informed him, ” ‘Baba-time’ is something different. Remember that!” Embracing him, Baba assured him not to worry about it.
Francis began arriving at 8:30 A.M., but again Baba informed Francis that He had been waiting for him. The next day, Francis came at 8:00 A.M., but once more Baba was early, waiting on the verandah, and scolded him for being late! This went on until Francis finally moved to Guruprasad.
One day Francis told Baba that the Blue Bus and New Life Caravan were of historic interest. “People in the future will be interested in seeing them,” he pointed out. “And since they are deteriorating in the harsh Indian climate, they should be properly restored and preserved.” Francis sought Baba’s permission to carry out this work himself.
On 21st August 1959, Baba gave him permission, stating, “Start the repairs and take any help you require. Whatever material is not available here will be brought from the market.” Baba sanctioned Rs.1, 000 for this work.
He commented, “Francis, your idea is a very good one. Mehera also appreciated it. I will give you my opinions after personally inspecting your work.”
Baba chuckled and gave him a kiss. But sometimes Francis too came “under fire.” One day, when Baba reprimanded him about something, Francis started weeping and felt much regret. Later Baba called him and gave him instructions about some writing work. Baba assured him, “Don’t get discouraged; you are really doing well, and I am quite satisfied with you. I only said what I did earlier so that your heart will be more comfortable!” Baba gave him a kiss, and Francis, now all smiles, left bursting with gratitude and happiness.
They sat outside in front of the hall under a tree. Francis Brabazon had been composing songs for Baba and would sing a new one each day. Baba suggested Francis sing one of the songs he had written, so Baba could accompany him on the drum. (“Francis looked as if heaven had just dropped on his head!”) After a few moments of inner debate, Francis sang forth while Baba beat on the drum. Don Stevens took shots from several angles and continued filming. Baba instructed Don to purchase 100 copies of Francis’ collection of 25 songs, titled Let Us, The People, Sing, which was being printed on paper from Meherjee’s factory, White Cloud.
In east west gathering on 1962, among the mandali, only Eruch and Francis fully participated at every program. Eruch read Baba’s signs and gestures, and Francis was with the Australians and other Westerners. Therefore, when Bhau expressed his inability to write a full account, Baba asked Francis to do it, which he executed to Baba’s full satisfaction.
After the other men retired, Francis would prepare tea for himself at 9:00 P.M., write until 1:00 or 2:00 A.M., prepare more tea, and then sleep. When Baba came to mandali hall in the morning, He would call Francis. Francis would come looking very sleepy, his legs quite stiff. Each morning, Baba would hand him “half-a-moon” (a stimulant) to prevent him from falling asleep.
Every year, Francis would write a poem in English for the occasion, which he would read out to Baba in mandali hall.
On 7th January 1949, Francis Brabazon purchased land at Beacon Hill, a suburb of Sydney to build a house for Meher Baba. When Francis heard of Baba visit to the States in 1952, he sailed for America where he met Ivy Duce and with her went to meet Baba at the Meher Spiritual centre at Myrtle Beach on 7th May 1952. Baba wanted Francis to return to Australia before 10th of July.
Once, Baba called in Francis Brabazon. “I’ve known you for ages,” Baba remarked, “but you don’t remember it, do you?” Francis admitted that he did not. Baba assured him, “You will come to know it is true.”
Francis was instructed to go straight back to Australia and inform the Sufi group there that Baba had dissolved their initiations and they were to stop all practices of breathing and chanting mantras, et cetera. He left the same day.
Francis Brabazon had waited years for the chance to meet Baba, and the instant he saw Baba, his heart accepted him as the Ancient One. He declared his wish to stay permanently with Baba, but keeping him in Myrtle Beach for only three days, Baba sent him back to deliver the specified orders, and promised to call him.
Francis wrote of his initial contact with Baba:
This meeting was the culmination of ten years of spiritual study and search for that ideal Guide in whom I could unreservedly place my confidence; that man who, I felt, had mastered every difficulty and obstacle which still confronted me. During the previous ten years, I had studied the methods and practices of the great Sufi schools and had read fairly widely in Vedanta, Buddhism and other systems, including Taoism and Confucianism. In Meher Baba I found that person who not merely knew these things, but was the living embodiment of all these systems and knowledge.
Of course, I knew that Baba had been saying for years that He was God-realized; and I knew that the Sufis and thousands of people everywhere had recognized this claim. But as with Thomas, I had to see for myself.
Well, I did see; and the cry of the deepest parts of my consciousness had been answered.
I was satisfied that if ever it were possible to see God on this earth, I had seen Him. And as time went on, the proof that this had not been merely some emotional conversion was shown by the simple fact that a true creativity began in me a few days after this meeting and has continued ever since. I have met no one, or experienced no experience, which has melted my heart or sharpened my intellect as He has.
For seven days after he departed from Baba in Myrtle Beach, Francis continually wept; his heart was in turmoil. “His tears finally dried,” Age observed, “but his heart remained aflame. He was snared in the net of the Divine Fisherman, and his surrenderance at Meher Baba’s feet was absolute.” But the Divine Fisherman toyed with this prized catch for seven long years, before Francis was allowed to stay with Baba at Meherazad.
In 1952, Ivy, Charmian and Francis met Baba again on the morning of 11th May and they, too, liked the name Sufism Reoriented. Baba informed them: You are instruments for My work, until you get Light. Then you will know what to do automatically. The name Sufism Reoriented should be the same everywhere, but for the present, I personally think it should be separate, and once it is run as I want, then I will see to incorporating all the different branches in different countries in one. All these points must be noted down; make them precise and practical so that they may be published. All of it should be collected so I can go through it, correct it and have it published before I leave in July.
Speaking about the practice of Murshids wearing robes, Baba commented: “No robes are required until you become real Murshids. Then you can put on robes. The very basis of Sufism is a woollen garment, because it absorbs the dark sanskaras of others. When you have Light and you wear the robe, the wool will absorb sanskaras. Muhammad wore one; Krishna too; and now Baba wears a woollen garment.”
In 1955, Baba arranged for Francis to stay at Ramakrishna’s home in Kirkee, because it was quieter and Francis found it easier to write there. But on pretext that he was all the time late in coming to Guruprasad on bicycle, Baba shifted him mandali quarters in Meherabad.
On 10th August 1956, Baba called a “work meeting” with Eruch, Francis, Bill Le Page and Robert Rouse. He asked Francis for an account of the work he had been doing in His name, and discussed what he wanted regarding the spreading of his message of love and service. During a pause in the discussion, Baba suddenly asked, “Francis, where is my book?” — referring to the accounts Francis and Don Stevens were both supposed to write on the 1955 Indian Sahavas. Francis was about to defend his nonaction (he had of course been incredibly busy) but held back and answered, “I’m sorry, Baba. I will start immediately after you have left.’ ”Baba gazed off as if into the future and replied, “Good.” The nature of this exchange propelled Francis and the Rouses to reassess what was going to be a simple diary-like account of the 1955 Sahavas and produce instead the magnus opus Stay with God.
Francis Brabazon had been staying at Meherabad since the 1st of November 1956, and had imbibed much Wine. After the Andhra tour, he had written a description of his experience titled Journey With God. Now Baba sent him back to Australia with instructions to write an account of the sahavas, which became Stay With God. Brabazon left Meherabad on 7th December 1956, and stayed in Bombay for a week before returning home.
In 1958, the Australians sent $6,000 for the around-the-world trip for Myself and the mandali. Baba informed Francis [Brabazon] that the sahavas was to be in Brisbane. Francis found a good spot there [Avatar’s Abode]. He started building a new house on the land and making a road leading to the top of a hill. Baba wrote him, “I will come and give you My presence for six days.” Francis replied, “It will be enough if you are here for a single day.” This reminds me of Hafiz, who said, “To be with a Perfect Master for one moment’s time is equal to 100 years of sincere prayer with all one’s heart and soul.
In 1958, when Baba reached Avatar’s abode in Sydney, Francis then handed the key to Baba, who unlocked the door. Francis opened the door for Baba, and the party entered. He was shown around the house and the room specially built for him. Baba was also shown the sweeping views that were at that time visible just behind and in front of the house. Standing there, Baba commented, “In 700 years, Avatar’s Abode will become a place of world pilgrimage.” Robert Rouse recalled Baba also said it would one day be truly “the Abode of God.”
He asked Francis, “Who owns the property?” Francis said that it was now Baba’s. Baba replied, “I hold no goods or property in My name.” He then instructed Francis to register the property in his own name.
Baba said that the prayer (which became known as the Beloved God Prayer) would be recited again three days later on the 28th. To Francis, Baba commented, “The Mohammedan way of praying to God is that which was performed by Aloba. The Parsi way of worshiping is different; they hold a sacred thread in a special manner and complete their worship (at the fire temple). There are different ways of Hindu worship also. What procedure do the Christians adopt?”
Francis made the sign of the cross like a Catholic. “Every religion has ceremonies and rituals,” Baba continued. “They are like dry bones. Love has no bondage. The prayer of the heart is the greatest thing. The Master’s Prayer has substantial force and meaning. That is why I have given it to the world.”
Francis Brabazon had sent a copy of the manuscript of Stay With God to Baba for approval. Baba had a portion of the book read out to him each day. Every year, Francis would write a poem in English for the occasion, which he would read out to Baba in mandali hall
Baba pointed the importance of scriptures. “The scriptures are like rotten bones rotted and are as food for worms. Theosophy and philosophy are like good bones rotted and are as food for vultures. The writings of inspired poets are like fresh bones and are as food for dogs. The writings of spiritually advanced saints are like flesh and are as food for tigers. The writings by living Perfect Masters are like brain and are as food for men! Good bones when rotted have some semblance of bone, but rotten bones when rotted are like filth.”
So, you may go through the scriptures superficially — only to drive away the barking dogs when necessary; for instance, when you are called upon to answer the queries of the priests and the orthodox.
In 1959, One day Francis told Baba that the Blue Bus and New Life Caravan were of historic interest. “People in the future will be interested in seeing them,” he pointed out. “And since they are deteriorating in the harsh Indian climate, they should be properly restored and preserved.” Francis sought Baba’s permission to carry out this work himself. Baba gave him permission, stating, “Start the repairs and take any help you require. Whatever material is not available here will be brought from the market.” Baba sanctioned Rs.1, 000 for this work. He commented, “Francis, your idea is a very good one. Mehera also appreciated it. I will give you my opinions after personally inspecting your work.”
According to Baba’s wish, Francis Brabazon arrived from Australia on 27th January 1959 to live at Meherazad for an indefinite period. He laid the handwritten manuscript of Stay with God at Baba’s feet — and literally began staying with God! Baba commented about the book: “The unique fact of this epic of the living Avatar being written during His lifetime, and being heard by Him in physical form, will have a great bearing and significance for posterity.”
Baba remarked to Francis: “My love will touch the heart of all who read it, as no book has ever done. It will appeal to the highest intellects and to those with simple hearts,” which to Francis was the highest praise Baba could have given.
Francis was working on the notes that were to appear at the back of the book, and he was reading through various scriptures. One day Baba commented about them, putting the scriptures in their proper perspective:
In 1962, Francis Brabazon had been composing songs for Baba and would sing a new one each day. Baba suggested Francis sing one of the songs he had written, so Baba could accompany him on the drum. (“Francis looked as if heaven had just dropped on his head!”) After a few moments of inner debate, Francis sang forth while Baba beat on the drum. Don Stevens took shots from several angles and continued filming. Baba instructed Don to purchase 100 copies of Francis’ collection of 25 songs, titled Let Us, The People, Sing, which was being printed on paper from Meherjee’s factory, White Cloud.
In 1963, Baba remarked that the other new book written by Francis Brabazon, titled The East-West Gathering, was excellent.
In 1966, once Francis was occupied with composing poems, ghazals and songs. Every morning, he would read one of his compositions to Baba. One day, as he was reading a couplet of a song, Baba spontaneously dictated two more lines:
He who seeks My pleasure finds the divine treasure.
In 1967, Often during the sessions in the hall, Baba would motion to Francis and Bill to go out for a smoke, sensing that they needed a break, or if Baba wished to relieve himself on his portable potty. Francis would often go out to urinate, and Baba once commented as he walked out, “Francis is always going to the toilet. He always has to piddle.” Baba turned to Bill and remarked, “Yes, you love Francis very much, and he loves you very much — but I love you both very much more than you do each other.”
Every morning, Francis would read one of his ghazals to Baba, and Baba would ask him to repeat it three times. As Francis recollected: “Each reading, brought the blessing of His embrace and every embrace contained the seeds of the next lines of poetry.”
Once, Baba complimented Francis, “Just as now, in My present advent, I use the ghazals of Hafiz to cite examples of love’s ways, similarly when I come back after 700 years, I will quote from your ghazals. That is why I am having you repeat the same ghazals three times — so that I might memorize it
In 1967, Baba instructed: “Francis will transfer Avatar’s Abode to Bill who will, when the time is ripe, form a trust of which he will be chairman and turn the place over to it.
Francis Brabazon lived with Baba Mandali for ten years. During this period he wrote his poetical magnum opus “Stay with God” and later, his biography of Baba, “The silent word” is considered a fine work by Baba lovers the world over.
Other books by him have titles: “Three Talks on Meher Baba” and “Stay with God”
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- 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