There are now many books by and about Meher Baba, but when I first heard about him, there was very little available. My first book was the English edition of Charles Purdom’s God To Man and Man To God, Purdom’s edited version of Discourses. I ate it up, read it over and over.
I came across a used copy of Purdom’s first biography of Baba, The Perfect Master, for which I paid ten cents and I devoured that. Someone gave me a copy of Jean Adriel’s Avatar, and that was about it. Newcomers to Baba like me made up for the lack of written material with hours of listening to other people’s stories.
Slowly, new books came out or I was lucky enough to find copies of old books. One of my most treasured gifts was the original five-volume Discourses, given to me by John Bass. Granted, the English wasn’t very good, but the flavor stunned me. It was at once redolent with Baba’s vitality and power, which hadn’t quite transferred to God To Man and Man To God. I loved William Donkin’s Wayfarers and his lyric descriptions of Baba and the masts.
A major publishing event was Meher Baba’s God Speaks, well beyond me, but it was soon followed by Francis Brabazon’s Stay With God, which Baba called “the most important book next to God Speaks.” Francis explained God Speaks in language I could understand.
In the years since, there have been many other books, including personal memoirs of life with Baba. The most meaningful of those to me have been Kitty Davy’s Love Alone Prevails, Margaret Craske’s The Dance of Love, Arnavaz Dadachanji’s Gift of God, and Eruch Jessawala’s Is That So? My copies are ragged from repeated readings.
And my favorite version of Discourses has become the 1987 edition still in print. I remember when I got my hardcover copy, I carried it around for weeks, hugging it as if I feared I’d lose it.
Now, there are many choices among old and new books, a veritable feast. And there are more to come, some published recently, some still in writing or editing stages, some probably just ideas in an author’s mind. They are all welcome. We already have in hand within the last year Darwin Shaw’s fascinating, 600-page memoir, As Only God Can Love; David Fenster’s three-volume, 1,700-page biography of Mehera-Meher, A Divine Romance; and A Mirage Will Never Quench Your Thirst, an updated version of God-In-A-Pill, compiled and edited by Laurent Weichberger. Still in the editing stage and planned for publication in 2004 is Meher Baba’s Infinite Intelligence — dictated by Meher Baba sometime in the 1920s or 1930s. Containing a significant body of Meher Baba’s early metaphysical writings, the manuscript was first found shortly after Baba dropped his body. Dr. Goher Irani’s My Life With Meher Baba, memoirs of her long service as Baba’s doctor, is also planed for publication in 2004.
All of that is more than enough to keep us busy. But we all know that the perennial question remains: where is “THE book”? Theories still abound about what happened to this manuscript penned by Baba and which has been lost to view for many years. Where is it? Will it ever turn up? Just before Meher Baba dropped his body in 1969, Eruch asked him, “Shall we do something about the book, Baba?” Baba’s reply was to make his gesture of tipping a hat, meaning — depending on the context — Adi Irani, the West, or a Westerner. “Don’t worry,” he gestured, “It is there.”
Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. Sometimes I think it may be one more carrot-on-a-stick, held out to us to keep our attention. Even if it never turns up, it certainly has accomplished that.