By Dr. Abdul Ghani

When Babajan first came to Poona people surmised her age to be not less than 90 years, and thereafter even 30 years added to her life in the city wrought no material changes in her personality. Short in stature, firm and agile in gait, back slightly bent with rounded shoulders, skin fair and sunburnt, face broad and heavily wrinkled, high cheek bones, liquid blue eyes possessing great depths, head covered with a silvery crown of thick white hair hanging loose up to the shoulders, deep sonorous voice, all conspired to make her personality very unique and unwordly. Her attire was simple, consisting of a long apron extending below the knees, a pyjamas narrowed round the legs and a linen scarf thrown carelessly round the shoulders. She always went about bare-headed; the luxuriant crop of white hair — never oiled or groomed — was for all practical purposes a head dress in itself.

Numerous miracles are attributed to Hazrat Babajan, and they are recounted separately in this book. However, some of her characteristic habits (khirqeadat) need a mention here. Babajan slept very little, and the apparent bodily relaxation of Perfect saints is nothing like what human beings enjoy as sleep. Irregular scanty meals and frequent potions of Indian tea would surely have shattered any robust constitution but Babajan, in spite of her age, felt no adverse effects therefrom. One day she would feel out of sorts, at times even high fever, and the next day she would be her usual self without recourse to any medication. Young and old, male or female, she used to address everyone as Bacha or Baba (child or baby). And if anybody accosted her as Mai (mother), she would flare up and say, “I am a man and not a woman,” thereby confirming one of the sayings of Prophet Mohammad, meaning, “Lovers of God are males; lovers of paradise are eunuchs; and lovers of the world are females.

Her method of healing was quite unique and entertaining. When anyone approached her for a cure, she would say, “The child is being tormented by goliyan (small round pellets), meaning thereby the effect of Amal — sanskaras — here wrong actions. To the amusement of those around, she would hold between her fingers, the painful or diseased part of the person concerned, and calling upon some imaginary being, she would give two or three sharp jerks to the affected part, simultaneously ordering the troublesome entity to quit. Surprisingly enough, this funny operation would impart instantaneous relief, and the party concerned would depart smiling and happy.

Babajan’s love and charity towards humanity was supremely Divine in expression; it could not but reclaim a most confirmed sinner and subdue the cruelest of minds. Articles of clothing and other presentations to Babajan, people would remove without her permission, and her seat being open to the road some would even dare to steal, feeling convinced she would not protest. Once a man tried to steal a costly shawl covering her body while asleep, but he found its removal rather risky, as some portion of it was held underneath her body. Babajan instinctively raised herself bodily a little, thereby helping the thief to achieve the purpose.

On another occasion, a person from Bombay, in token of his fulfilled desire, placed two bangles of solid gold round Babajan’s wrists. At the earliest opportunity, an unknown person snatched away the bangles so very roughly that it gave her wrist a nasty cut which bled profusely. The cry of ‘catch the thief’ was raised by people around, and a policeman on duty approached the scene. To the discomfiture of every one around, Babajan ignored the real culprit, and asked the policeman to arrest those around calling for thief.

An idea can be had of her superphysical state when the act of eating was described by her as Jodna (patchwork to the body); and the attendants (Mujawar) also, when reminding her of food, would address her in that sense.

A regular visitor to Hazrat Babajan could never miss hearing her constant muttering to herself, worded somewhat like this: “Vermins are troubling me incessantly; I sweep them away, but still they keep on gathering.” Simultaneous with these mutterings, unintelligible to listeners, she would keep on moving the palms of the hand all over her body, as if removing dust or cobwebs.

Hazrat Meher Baba, when questioned as to the meaning and significance of the above meaningless utterance and the almost constant movement of the hands, gave the following illuminating explanation: “Annihilation Of all Amal (actions) good and bad, means Najat (salvation) and Babajan being God-realized was much above the state of salvation. She not only had no Amal (actions) to account for, but was in a position to destroy the Amals of others. The physical body of a saint like Babajan, when working on earthly plane after realization, becomes the focal point to which myriads and myriads of Amal of the universe get attracted, and getting purified in the furnace of Divinity i. e., the body of the saint, they go out again into the universe as spiritual Amal. Take for instance the white ants which, you know, have a tremendous power of multiplying. The queen of the white ants, a far round bulky creature about three to four inches in length, feeds upon its own kind, the smaller ants. But the queen procreates much more than what she consumes. Likewise perfect saints like Babajan give out more spiritual Amal to the world than what they destroy. Hence it is that living saints are a blessing and mercy to the world whether one knows it or not.” This condition: (halat) in saints is the aspect of Divine love and beauty (Shane-jamal).

Hazrat Babajan often times, when the aspect of Divine glory (Shane-Jalal) possessed her, used to rave and grumble in the following strain: “Why do you torment my children; nay, you even kill them. They have done no wrong to you. Do I not feed you, and clothe you? What is it you lack? And still you perpetrate all these atrocities on them. What have I done to merit all this?” Words conveying this sense have been frequently heard from Babajan and naturally they gave rise to some guess-work on the part of the hearers, who interpreted the words to mean that Babajan was remembering and bemoaning the loss of her children who perhaps were cruelly dealt with by her people.

Hazrat Meher Baba, when questioned on the point, explained: “There can be nothing further from truth; Babajan was never married and had no children. By children, she evidently meant the saints of the time (AwIiyae-waqt), who are misunderstood, vilified and persecuted by the churches of all denominations, upmindful of the circumstances of which they are the outcome. Babajan was equally concerned with the enlightened and the ignorant, and hence her reference to feeding and clothing of the latter. She was as much for the material well-being of the world at large, as for the spirituality of the godly few whom she called her children.

Hazrat Babajan’s spiritual status in the hierarchy of saints is that of Qutub. Literally the word Qutub means a peg or a pin, and a Qutub functioning on the physical plane is the hub round which the universe revolves. Babajan’s subjective experience (halat) of Gnosis (Irfan), would be described by Sufis as that of Salik-Majzoob. After God-realization, one returning to normal consciousness is possessed both of Divinity and Gnosis (Haqiqat and Marefat). When Divinity is uppermost in him he is called Majzoob, and when Gnosis predominates he is a Salik. Babajan had both these aspects in her equally balanced, and hence she was Salik-Majzoob of the time, possessing all the characteristics of a Qalandar.

Hazrat Babajan, like all Qutubs (Perfect Masters), had a circle of twelve disciples and the spiritual chargeman thereof is Hazrat Meher Baba of “Meherabad” (District Ahmednagar). She stood in the unique position of a mother (a storehouse of spirituality) to all the saints of the time.

Once a Fakir complained that Tajuddin’s durbar was more lavish and free in providing worldly amenities than hers; Babajan retorted by saying, “What can Tajuddin give? He gives what I give Him.” This incident is significantly eloquent of Babajan’s relationship with saint referred to above.

After a spiritual sojourn of about 35 years in Poona, Hazrat Babajan left her mortal coil on 21st September 1931 at the ripe old age of 125 Years. Her funeral procession was a tremendous affair, never accorded to any dignitary or royalty in the annals of Poona. Her remains were laid at rest at the very spot* underneath the neem tree where she sat and dispensed Divine Grace for such a long number of years, thus confirming the Sufi belief, that:

“Cycles change,
the worlds rotate,
But Qutubs ne’er their
seat vacate.”

*The beautiful shrine in marble stone is built out of a fund of Rs. 4000/- provided by Hazrat Meher Baba and held in Trust on his behalf by a Muslim Society — “The Anjuman-e-Khuddam-e-Ahle-Sunnatul Jamat, Poona.”

Location MAP Hazrat Babajaan Dargah Pune

The Emperor of The Spiritual Realm of Her Time, p. 29-36
1981 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust

[Hazrat Babajan’s Tomb is in Camp Area of Pune, Near Shivagi Market, Meher Dastur Road.]

Avatar Meher Baba information website