To All Dear Ones of Baba, Especially Those Who Have the Privilege of Caretaking a Precious Item of Our Beloved:
Now that the women Mandali, who took care of Baba’s personal items during His time on earth as the God-Man, are no more with us, the responsibility has passed to the Avatar Meher Baba Trust Archives to convey to you their wishes concerning His precious articles and documents. We also hope to dispel any misinformation circulating about the Trust Archives.
As many of you may know, Baba’s items were the subject of the very last letter written by Mani as Chairman (see below). This she dictated to Heather on Mehera's porch while bent over in pain. It was a Sunday in early June 1996 and Mani, who had been lying down, felt that she couldn’t rest until she had clarified her view on this very important matter. Shortly thereafter she was taken to hospital in Poona. As she was too ill to manage any further correspondence on the matter, she had it sent out not from her, but from the members of the Trust’s Archives, Museum and Research Committee (which was set up by Mani). The letter was typed, signed by the committee members, and taken to her in the Poona hospital for her approval and signature. Not only did Mani write this letter in response to one Baba lover who had asked for her advice, but to guide the Baba community as a whole. At this same time she asked Baba’s—and her own—Poona family to give some of their Baba treasures to the Trust. The effort it cost Mani to write this final letter for the Trust indicates how critical the matter was to her. We lovingly ask you to take it very much to heart.
In the early years after Baba dropped His body Mehera, with her tender heart, would give sadras to the newly formed Baba centres for His lovers to have a tangible remembrance of Him. But sometimes those fledgling centres would dissolve, and the sadras would pass into the hands of individual Baba lovers, thus becoming inaccessible to others, which was not what Mehera had intended.
With Mehera and Mani’s passing, Meheru took up the responsibility of sharing Baba items. She always referred to those with something of Baba’s as "caretakers," explicitly because that word does not confer ownership. Everything of Baba’s belongs to Him alone, she reminded us, and in His will, Baba Himself left everything to the Trust He had established (as did His Mandali).
Mani and Meheru would underscore that with privilege comes responsibility, which, for even the smallest item of Baba's, is great indeed. How best to ensure its protection and endurance through the centuries? Knowing that His precious articles have already turned up in garage sales or been lost upon people’s death, the Mandali gave careful consideration to this question, and their guidance was unequivocal. They asked specifically that Baba lovers, when they feel ready or no longer able to care for a Baba item, return it to the Trust Archives (either in their will, via a letter of intent, or personally), rather than passing it along to others. Meheru explained: "It is not that we want these things back for ourselves or that, as we have heard, the Trust Archives wants to grab everything and lock it up - nothing could be further from the truth. Baba told us to keep His things safely to share with the world, and it is for us to obey His Wish. ... Nothing was given with the intention for you to claim [it] as your own ..."
The motivation in this is to safeguard Baba’s items and correspondence, so that they remain intact and available for sharing with others as they awaken to Him. Neither individuals nor any of the various collectors can ensure their ongoing security and integrity until the Avatar comes again. For this reason the Mandali wanted Baba’s precious items not already in the care of established centres returned to Meherabad (the "root," to use Mani's word) so that they may be cared for, treated, and safely consigned to His lovers in all the countries of the world, who have nothing of His and who, as they awaken to Him, thirst for a tangible reminder of His Advent.
Our main focus, since the Mandali set up the Archive Committee in 1993, has been to learn how to undertake archival work and to begin doing it through designing and creating archive buildings at Meherabad and Meherazad, labelling and recording the history of Baba’s personal items, duplicating and preserving items that can be copied such as photos, films and correspondence, taking care of buildings used by Baba and many other tasks. At the same time, as part of the mission and purpose of the Archives, we have already begun to share Baba’s heritage in several ways including:
|•||Heart Talk (on Tavern Talk) has for many years posted letters from Baba and His lovers. In addition, under the Archives section of the Trust website, images of correspondence, manuscripts and diaries have long been available for viewing.|
|•||A more recent major undertaking was the launching of a digital archive that may be visited via the link at ambppct.org/gateway.php. Original letters from Baba, the Mandali and His lovers, and other documents can be accessed there. Many more documents will be added as time permits, along with photographs, moving images and audio recordings.|
|•||The Archives has provided material from the collection for publications and programmes about Baba.|
|•||The museum at Meherabad displays some of Baba’s personal items, and is opened for pilgrims every day (except during the summer). In the future a large museum facility is to be built at Meherabad that will allow for the display of many more of Baba’s items.|
|•||Tours of places Baba stayed at and worked in at Meherabad and Meherazad are regularly given.|
In the future, authentication will be a significant concern. While the provenance of everything in the Trust collection is certain and will continue to be authenticated as things are returned to our repository, elsewhere we have already heard of one fake item being sold as Baba’s (for a large sum). When the whole world comes to accept Baba, such fakes could become rife.
Eruch said, "His things are the tangible things that keep His presence alive in our hearts by helping us remember Him. Every little thing keeps His Presence fresh in our hearts. These little things make the Unapproachable approachable." Cherish what you have been given, while prudently making all the necessary provisions, so that it will in due time be returned to the source, His home at Meherabad. In this way the gift from Baba, Mehera or His Mandali will continue to give, offering generations to come the privilege that you have had.
To contact the Trust Archive, Museum and Research Committee for information or help with a letter of intent, please mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beloved Avatar Meher Baba ki Jai!
Avatar Meher Baba Trust Archives