|On Sacred Ground|
Perhaps the greatest significance of the Jhopdi is that Meher Baba began His long silence there on the 10th July 1925. It so happens the Jhopdi is also the scene of a children’s game Baba played with the men mandali just after it was built in April 1924.
Beloved Meher Baba's Jhopdi was the first structure to be built at Meherabad under Baba's supervision and instruction. This private room for Baba's personal use was constructed during the "ghamela yoga" phase—that time in Baba's Advent when the men laboured arduously at Meherabad, demolishing dilapidated structures, clearing the rubble, and levelling the grounds in general.
The mandali excavated the foundation for the Jhopdi site. They assisted a mason and a carpenter who had been hired for the job, by preparing the mortar and carting stones and other materials necessary for the project. Baba also had a hand in the work as He wanted it done in a hurry, all the while continuing His habit of fasting.
|The Jhopdi in 1938. (Photo courtesy of MN Publications)|
As Baba was planning to do seclusion in this hut, He had the windows set low in order to see whoever was keeping watch, and also so that He could leave notes for the mandali on the sill which could be easily read. Screens were fixed on the windows to prevent insects from entering. A bathing area was created for Baba behind the Jhopdi, and a banyan cutting was planted there where Baba's bathing water drained off. That tree is the giant that gives shade to the Jhopdi today.
Meher Baba behind the Jhopdi in October 1926. Mehera
It was amidst all this physical toil that, one day, Baba was in the mood to play a game of Hide-and-Seek.
He called the men to Him and told them He would hide in the area of the Jhopdi, not up the hill or in the village, and that Baba's uncle and mandali member Masaji would call them when Baba had hidden. After searching and searching in the vicinity of the Jhopdi, the men came to the conclusion that Baba must have gone up the hill or to the village, saying, "Baba often says one thing and does another."
They had searched far and wide but to no avail. Baba was nowhere to be found. Puzzled, the men returned to Masaji who was waiting for them by the Jhopdi. Masaji then walked to the door of the Jhopdi, unlocked it and to their surprise out stepped Baba!
Smiling, Baba said, "I was so close to you, yet you saw the lock, used your minds and looked elsewhere, instead of trusting my words. I am in you all—I am your very life. Seeking me outside—here and there—can never find me. So try to find me within. Seek me inside your own self where I am hiding." [Lord Meher, online edition, p. 519]
—Suzie Iimura for Avatar Meher Baba Trust, 9 July 2015
In 1935 the Jhopdi peeks out from the orchard (planted in 1924) in the mid-right section of the photo. Gilori Shah's shrine is in the lower left and the Old Dharamshala in the upper left. (Photo courtesy of the MSI Collection)