“The Avatar can do all that a Sadguru does. He has and prepares a Circle as a Sadguru does, but he does one special thing also. The Avatar can make a person who is not even in the Circle, or turned to God, a God-realised Salik with special duty.

“If I get the whim, I may make a few selected boys of the ashram God-realised at once, and again bring them back for special duty. But for that the time must come – and also the whim.

“Krishna was an Avatar, and he Realised and brought down seventeen people who were outside his Circle. These seventeen were extra God-realised souls.

“Let me see now who gets the apple. It all depends on love. So leave all this crying about separation, and do only one thing – love me. Then I will do something special for not only seventeen, but for many – as many as I like. I have that power. There is no doubt as to that. So create and increase love. And what is the meaning of love? It means but one thing: thinking of me and nothing else.”

Meher Baba, 29 December 1927,
Meherabad, LM3 p1002

“…Even the closest disciples of a Master misunderstand his work.”

Meher Baba, 18 July 1933,
Portofino, Italy, LM5 p1798

“You – all of my Mandali – will see God.”

Meher Baba, 12 December 1941
Meherabad, LM8 p2740

During a stay in Rishikesh, Meher Baba commented to his women Mandali about the sadhus who stay there: “Look at them. Some meditate and repeat God’s name day and night without sleeping. They perform all kinds of rigorous penances. And still I don’t see them. And here I am, sitting with you all, talking with you and looking after you. How lucky you are.”

May or June 1942, Rishikesh, LM8 p2799

“I am extremely happy when I see men like Don.* What a spirit of self-sacrifice and selflessness in giving up everything, everyone so near and dear, and while serving the government, dedicating all to me. What sacrifice and service could be greater? That is what makes me happy with my men Mandali. They are men (heroes) in the real sense of the word. The time is very near when these special selected ones – twenty-four of them – will have the highest experience, as also others of my Circle.”

Meher Baba, 24 April 1943, Bhilar, LM8 p2868
*William Donkin


Gustadji Shilst (Hansotia)

20 February 1890 – 30 October 1957

“Gustadji, unlike the rest of you, is fully prepared for Realisation. The only thing needed is to tear open the veil.”

Meher Baba, before 7 October 1922
to his men Mandali, LM2 p428


My dear old friend and silent companion Gustadji Shilst, dropping his body on 30th October, realised me as I really am. Inform all concerned.

cable to Elizabeth Patterson
5 November 1957, India, LA p505
For more on Gustadji, see LA p505, LM1 p260-261, LM2 p427-428

“Masters of the fifth and sixth planes take unto themselves disciples, initiate them into the Path, and thereafter leave the whole responsibility for achieving progress in the Path to the disciples themselves. Hence arises the need for papers on different practices and meditation. The gain herein is in direct proportion to the exertion by the disciple – of course, under the guidance and supervision of the master, who is the salik of the particular plane. This rules out the question of the imposition on aspirants of disciplinary exercises and esoteric papers by unqualified and unauthorised masters.

Elect and Select Disciples

“The Perfect one of the seventh plane of God-realisation – the Qutub – has a different technique altogether in the matter of dealing with aspirants. Every Qutub has two types of disciples – the Elect and the Select.

“The Elect ones are those who have a sort of spiritual relationship with the Master (Qutub), born of services rendered or part played toward him, even antagonistically, in past incarnations. Such aspirants are invariably the claimants to the spiritual heritage of the Master. And even if they appear of indifferent caliber in the present life, the Master trains and prepares them in his company to become fit and deserving recipients of his divine grace. ‘When the disciple is ready, the Master comes,’ is said of aspirants belonging to this category. Their number is always twelve. The twelve apostles of Christ and the twelve imams of Hazrat Ali are suggestive of this situation.

“Select disciples of a Master have an unlimited scope, qualitatively and quantitatively. These are the fortunate ones who earn the grace of the Perfect One (Qutub) by sheer dint of merit and services rendered. The spiritual benefit accruing to this category is in proportion to the quality of their self-surrender to the will of the Master. It is such aspirants who are in need of disciplinary exercises and meditation papers. Visualising these two types – the Elect and Select ones – I gave you the impression in my previous letters that exercises and papers are both necessary and unnecessary. The Elect ones are the inheritors, and the Select ones are the winners of the Master’s grace.

“Thus, in the domain of Perfection of the seventh plane of God-realisation (the Qutub), the question of initiation and discipleship doesn’t arise. Every atom of the universe is equidistant from the center, the Qutub, round which everything and everyone revolves. In fact, according to Baba, one is entitled to call himself or herself a disciple only after getting Illumination from the Master. Till such time, all – high or low, near or distant – are mere aspirants, and nothing more.

Saheb-e-Zaman or Avatar

“Baba stands in a different category altogether. Baba is not only a Qutub, but at this cyclic period in the history of the world, he is the Qutub of all Qutubs, the Saheb-e-Zaman or Avatar. Unlike all Qutubs or Sadgurus, whose Circle of intimate disciples consists of twelve, in Avataric periods the Avatar has a Circle of 120 disciples, ‘all of whom experience Realisation and work for the liberation of others.’ These 120 are heirs, by right of past association, to the spiritual treasure of the Avatar; and the beneficiaries thereof, as said before, are numerous. In fact, Baba has been heard to have remarked that besides his Circle, who all will be as Perfect as himself, more than a lakh of souls will have Illumination at his hands before his mission comes to an end.*

“You will thus see that a Qutub, or for that matter an Avatar, never goes through the formality of accepting and initiating a disciple. The relationship with the Master known as discipleship has got to be formed and forged by the aspirant himself, the criterion for which is the quality of self-surrender. The Master, in due course, requites the aspirant’s efforts in this direction by imparting Illumination in proportion to the sincerity of purpose and the intensity of longing displayed.

“A master of the fifth or sixth plane (still laboring in the domain of duality) teaches an aspirant to earn Illumination by self-exertion, while the Perfect one, the Qutub, bestows on the aspirant by way of a gift his divine grace, for which the only condition necessary is to establish a link or connection with him by self-surrender.

Abdul Ghani, 10 September 1948, from
a letter to Ivy Duce, HM p718-719
*lakh = 100,000
Illumination = the conscious, continual experience of seeing God face-to-face on the sixth plane of consciousness