NAJA KHODADAD IRANI W/o of Khodu (Sailor)

Naja Irani photo by Haider Nadel

Meher Baba with Mehera, Naja and Mani at Meherazad, 1959

Naja Irani was Baba’s first cousin, and Pendu’s sister. An expert cook, she had been a close disciple and had a storehouse of stories of her child hood with Baba.

She was married to Ghani’s younger brother Abdur, Khodadad Shirzad Irani (nicknamed Khodu and later Sailor Mama).

Some of her life time event and conversation with Meher Baba is given below:

Gulmai explained to Naja Irani about Baba, and had urged the woman to talk openly with the Master about her problems. Naja Irani was skeptical, though, and said, “I have one or two things to discuss with Him. If He gives me a satisfactory reply, I will believe in Him and even sweep His hut.” Since Naja was a wealthy woman, her promise was even more significant because such persons never did such menial tasks.
One day, when Naja was dropped Gulmai at the hut, she approached Baba and said, “I wish to go to Iran and perform certain Zoroastrian rituals. I also want to get my daughter married there. If this is fulfilled, I will serve you and sweep your hut every day.”

Baba smilingly replied, “All right. Your wishes will be fulfilled.” Then He added seriously, “But don’t forget to come back and sweep My hut!”

Naja said, “I wish to serve you — just give me the chance.”

“To serve Me is most difficult,” Baba replied. “Continue to remember Me, and this will be enough.”

But the lady was persistent in her request, so Baba said, “After settling your daughter’s marriage in Iran, come to Me and I will give you the opportunity of serving Me.”

In 1915, Once Merwan (Meher Baba) went to Khodu’s house, but he was absent. Khodu’s wife, Naza, asked Merwan to wait and he requested her some food. Naza served Merwan a meal, which he ate reverently. After eating, he had decided to leave, when Khodu arrived and started teasing Merwan playfully, catching hold of Him in a tight bear hug.

Merwan warned him “Khodu, stop wrestling with Me, don’t hold Me like this.” Then He mysteriously added, “I am no longer that Merwan!”

Thinking He was joking. Khodu smiling retorted, “If you are not that Merwan, then who you are? I will see who this Merwan is!”

Khodu thought that he would overpower Merwan and hurl him to the floor. (At this time, Merwan was quite slender.)

Khodu lunged for Merwan’s arm, but Merwan stretched out his hand to prevent him, and with a slight shove sent Khodu reeling back, knocking him to the floor. Khodu was both shocked and amazed by Merwan’s strength. Merwan was not angry, and good-naturedly helped Khodu to his feet. Both sat down and started talking. Khodu immediately realized that Merwan was no longer an ordinary man, and he began to look upon him with renewed and greater respect.

“When I looked into Merwan’s eyes,” Khodu said later, “I knew I had lost a friend — but I had found a saint!”

After this incident, Khodu and Merwan started seeing each other more regularly. Merwan told Khodu about Babajan, and Khodu was deeply impressed, accompanying Merwan whenever he went to see her. Hour upon hour, they would sit by Babajan’s side late into the night, returning to Khodu’s house as late as four o’clock in the morning. Often they would discuss the significance of the qawaali singing they had heard that night at Babajan’s

Naja Irani photo by Haider Nadel

Naja was overjoyed with what Baba said, but her husband was bitterly against her going to Iran. She went against his wishes, traveled there and performed the religious ceremonies, and was also successful in arranging her daughter’s marriage to an eligible bachelor. But after returning from Iran, because of her high social standing, she did not go to see Baba. Later, she began to suffer fits. She became mentally unstable and morose, and remained in that condition for a period of six months. Doctors administered all kinds of treatments, but to no avail.

In 1922, Baba was in Bombay. Naja’s daughter Freiny, remembering the promise her mother had given about sweeping his hut, wanted to take her to Him. The mother, too, wished to see Him, but was prevented from doing so by her relatives. Sadly, as a result of her inability to overcome her family’s forbiddance, or because of her indifference to Baba’s advice, her mental disturbance persisted on and off for several years.284/5-1922

Naja, with Mehera’s help, cooked the meals in Bombay. As they cooked, Gustadji occasionally went to the kitchen and expounded on the ways of the Master. Once, while Gustadji was relating an amusing anecdote, Naja laughed loudly. Baba overheard her and angrily ordered Masaji to take his daughter back to Poona. They left immediately for the train station. Naja and Masaji had missed the train to Poona and went to Dahiwala’s home also, where Baba encountered them. Embracing Naja, who was in tears, Baba explained to her that she was not to blame, that He was upset due to another reason. (Naja related that Baba also had tears in His eyes.)

Baba’s younger cousin Aspandiar was the son of Merwan’s maternal aunt Pila Masi. A few years after her death in 1917, Aspandiar had moved to Quetta in northern India and his sister Naja had been sent by Baba to stay in Quetta also. When Naja arrived in Quetta, she informed her brother about Baba’s recent relocation from Poona to Bombay, Naja wrote secretly to Baba to request that He keep Aspandiar with Him, as she did not like her brother staying in Quetta, where he was about to open his own business”

In 1924, Baba led Naja and Masaji back to Bharucha Building, where he explained, “Why did I get upset with Naja? Because of My work, at that moment, it was absolutely necessary that you all not remain in the house. For this reason, I pretended to be upset and ordered all to leave.” Turning to Naja, He reassured her that she was not to blame and shouldn’t worry about disturbing Him. The next day, Baba told Mehera, Naja and Daulatmai, “You should never leave me — even if I force you away. You should always hold on to Me.”

On 30 April 1926, a group of Hindu pilgrims passed by Meherabad. Baba directed the mandali to feed the pilgrims. Without informing Naja, Sailor gave them some of the food cooked for the students, and what remained for the children was later discovered to be insufficient. Baba was furious and called Naja, lashing out at her for her negligence. Naja was quite perplexed and explained that she had cooked the same amount of food that she normally prepared. She could not understand how it was too little. Annoyed, Baba shoved Naja in the presence of others.

Sailor then appeared and explained that it was his fault, that he had given some of the food to the pilgrims. At this, Baba’s anger turned on Sailor and he dictated, “Why for God’s sake did you not tell Naja to cook more food, you Irani idiot?” Sailor meekly apologized for having forgotten to inform her. Baba ordered the mandali to tie Sailor to a pillar and not give him food or water for three days. It appeared to be a dreadful punishment because it was the middle of summer and scorchingly hot. Accordingly he was tied up, but Baba Himself set him free after an hour or so and comforted him by giving him sweets. Baba and the mandali’s food was given to the children, and some additional amount was hurriedly prepared.

Later, Gustadji commented that Naja was chastised unnecessarily. Baba did not appreciate his remark and explained, “I chastise no one! What appears to be punishment is really prasad. Naja received My prasad today. Were it not so, Sailor would not have told the truth.”

In 1943, she travelled to Lahore, with Baba and other ladies.

Naja Khodadad Irani (Sailor’s wife) died at Civil Hospital, Ahmednagar in 1955.


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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