|On Sacred Ground|
|The ashram on Meherabad Hill|
In Meher Baba’s Meherabad ashram in the 1930s, only a few Eastern women lived in the Meher Retreat on Meherabad Hill. It had originally been built as a water tank and was only one story high. But when more Eastern and Western women were called to live there as well, Baba had a second story constructed above the existing building in 1938 to accommodate them all. Over the next 11 years Baba established several different phases for those who lived in the upstairs and downstairs rooms. In the latter part of that period, two of these were the “tatta” and “group” phases.
Tatta, a woven bamboo mat, was used to divide rooms into sections. On Baba’s orders the residents in each section lived separately, except at meal times. Later, after Baba shifted to Meherazad, those who remained on Meherabad Hill were divided into completely independent groups.
Katie Irani, one of Baba’s close ones who lived in the ashram during much of that time, came to Meherabad in the late 1990’s to record some of her memories of those years. She recalled:
“Baba would never let us feel settled. We didn’t have much - only one trunk and a bed. But we would get attached, so Baba would always change it: upstairs, downstairs - I stayed in all the rooms. Even the place in the room was selected by Baba. Once we come to Him, we have to forget our wishes and desires. You had to surrender completely; you had to please and obey Him. That was the way.
“Baba had His special work. He wanted us to be in groups. Each room was divided by tattas. Nobody should go into another’s section or talk to anybody except her group. I was the intermediary. You would say, ‘Katie, please tell Mehera that I want some pink thread,’ and Mehera would say, ‘Katie, I’ll give it to you and you give it to her.’ During that tatta time, I did the cooking and everybody ate together, but only the section members were allowed to talk with each other.
“Then later during the ‘group’ system, all had different kitchens and cooked their own meals. Baba said, ‘You’re on your own. You can eat what you like; you can do what you like. Nobody interferes with any other group.’”
Kitty Davy, from England, who also resided in the Hill ashram, recalled the latter years in The Awakener Magazine (Vol.3, No.4, page 23):
“The year 1944 marked still bigger changes which … we felt to be the beginning of the end of ashram life with Baba. Baba gave up His headquarters in Meherabad … and shifted to Pimpalgaon … taking with Him a [few] … disciples, the rest remaining in Meherabad, still, of course, under Baba's orders. … Life on Meherabad Hill was never the same. … It was both a trial and a test…to have Baba comparatively near and yet not be able to see Him for months on end. …”
Then, in 1949, the New Life began and nearly all the remaining women were dispersed from the Hill ashram. Thus ended this special period of Meher Baba’s advent.
—Meredith Klein for Avatar Meher Baba Trust, 11 December 2014
The upper story at Meher Retreat 1938. Meheru Jessawala at lower right.