JANUARY 1965 – SHIREEN AND HER INNOCENT BUT POIGNANT QUESTIONING OF BABA.
On several occasions, Meher Baba permitted his brother Adi Jr. to bring his family to Meherazad. Shireen was only seven years old, but quite intelligent and precocious. Her visits enlivened the atmosphere at Meherazad, and Baba and the mandali enjoyed her company and inquisitiveness. Once a visitor to their London home, seeing a picture of Baba on the wall, asked who it was. Before Adi or Freni could reply, Shireen declared, “That is God!”
She would sometimes ask her father questions that he could not answer. For example, once she asked, “What is beyond space?” and when she did not get a satisfactory reply, she said, “You are God’s brother, and yet you don’t know the answer!”
Adi Jr. told his daughter, “You’d better wait and put such questions to your Uncle when you meet him.”
She would say, “Yes, only God can explain these things to me.”
After embracing Baba one day, Shireen sat near his feet and at the first opportunity asked him, “Baba, what is beyond space?”
The mandali were awestruck at such a question from a child of seven. Baba looked at her lovingly and gestured, “God.”
Shireen seemed to understand this, but then asked, “Then where is heaven?”
Baba gestured in reply, “It is between space and God.” Shireen looked satisfied.
Shireen also asked Baba, “Which is higher: the stars, the Sun, the Moon or the clouds?”
Baba smiled at the girl and answered, “I am. I am the Highest of the High.”
(Shireen and a friend at school thought up that question together. When she told her friend that she was leaving for India to meet God, they thought they had come up with the right question to ask God: “Which is highest?”)
One day, Adi Jr. told her to remove her shoes before going into the hall at Meherazad. Shireen asked why, and Adi explained, “Don’t you know we are going inside to meet God?”
“But isn’t God everywhere?” she questioned. “Is He not in the shoes?”
Adi said, “Baba is God in human form and to express reverence we remove our shoes, for shoes collect dirt and we should be clean in the presence of God.”
Shireen acted accordingly and removed her shoes, but during her visit she indirectly brought up the subject by saying, “Baba, you are God.”
Baba smiled and gestured, “Yes, I am God, and God is everywhere and in everyone,” and he pointed to each of the mandali sitting before him.
Shireen turned to whisper something to one of the men sitting near her, but Baba motioned her to speak freely. She said, “I just had a thought, Baba. If God is everywhere and in everyone, then (pointing at Baba) who is that sitting in the chair?”
Baba replied, “God in human form. God is everywhere indeed, but can you see Him in everything? Can you feel Him in everyone you meet? You certainly do not. So I God have assumed this form of man to tell you and awaken you all to the fact that God is everywhere and in everyone and in everything. I am the God-Man.”
Shireen’s navjote ceremony was to be performed in the Parsi agyari (fire temple) in Ahmednagar on January 7th, 1965, which Baba indicated should be done according to the wishes of Freni’s parents. That morning, Adi Jr., Freni, Dara, Shireen, Freni’s mother Soonamai and Sarosh drove to Meherazad to see Baba first. Baba blessed the sadra and kusti and placed it on his niece with his own hands. Kaikobad was told to recite a short prayer.
A week or so before the navjote ceremony (for which Shireen had to learn many Zoroastrian prayers), Baba asked her to learn the Parvardigar Prayer and recite it to him. She did as instructed and recited the prayer before Baba on the morning of her navjote. Shireen did not make any mistakes and she considered that was her real navjote. Ironically, she made many mistakes when reciting the Zoroastrian prayers later that day at the temple.
After reciting the prayer, Shireen was permitted to take Baba’s darshan. Afterwards, this exchange between her and Baba took place: “Baba, I know we are born again and again, but you are God; so how is it that you get born?” she asked.
Baba replied, “Once in a while, God takes birth because of His love for His creation. I am born in human form so that you may see me as you are, and if you are fortunate to know me and love me, then some day you will see me as I really am.”
“You are in all of us, then are we all in you?”
Baba nodded, “Yes, that is so.”
“We are your children, then why can’t we stay with you?”
“If you love me, then I am with you, wherever you are staying.”
“If I did not love you, Baba oh, I am not saying I don’t, because I do love you! but just supposing I did not, then it would not be my fault, would it? It would be because you did not want me to love you!”
“Yes, it is all my will. My will governs the creation. You love me because I want you to love me.”
The family came to Meherazad the following day also to be with Baba. At another time, while seated in the hall with Baba and the mandali, Shireen was absorbed in gazing at one of Baba’s framed portraits on the wall. In the painting, she noticed a light around Baba’s head. “What is that around Baba’s head?” she asked.
One of the mandali replied, “The circle of light represents the halo around Baba.”
Baba explained it to her more simply, gesturing, “It is my Light, Shireen.”
“But Baba,” she protested, “I don’t see it around you!”
Baba asked her to look at the picture again. He then motioned for her to close her eyes, and when she did so, she was asked, “Now, do you see the light glowing around the face in the picture?” Still closing her eyes, she replied no.
“Open your eyes. Can you see the circle of light in the picture now?”
“Yes, Baba,” Shireen said.
“I am Light, the Ocean of Light. You cannot see it with ordinary eyes. The eye that sees this Light is different. When that eye is opened you will see my Light more clearly than you can now see the light painted in the picture.”
“Why can’t you open that eye, Baba?”
“I can. But for that, my grace has to descend, and for my grace to descend on you, you have to love me as I should be loved.”
“Will that Light burn me if I see it?”
“No, it cannot burn you, it will make you blissful and very happy.”
“When will I see that Light?”
“When you really want to see it, you will. Just as when a child is really hungry and cries for food, the mother feeds it. When you are really hungry for it, you will get the sight to see my Light.”
“When will I be really hungry for it?”
“When you love me as I should be loved.“
“How can I love you like that?”
“By remembering me all the time, with all your heart.”
“By what name should I remember you?”
“Say, ‘Baba, Baba, Baba …’ “
Shireen was quite receptive to all that Baba revealed to her. During her talk with him, she seemed oblivious of the others sitting in the room. After some time, when Baba asked her what she was thinking about, she gazed sweetly at Baba and just opened and closed her lips, uttering in a low, sweet voice, “Ba … Ba.”
When she was having lunch with Baba and the women mandali, she suddenly piped up, “I wish I had a magic wand!” One of the women asked her what she would do with a magic wand, and she replied, “I would wish for what I want.”
“And what would you want to wish for?” another asked.
“To see Baba with the Light around him!”
In England, Shireen had had little occasion to hear of snakes and scorpions, but in India when she was warned about looking out for them, she felt frightened and disgusted. During one of her visits to Meherazad, she asked Baba about them: “Why did God create snakes and scorpions creepy-crawly things like that?”
Baba smiled and pointed to Eruch for an answer. Eruch said, “God has created such things so that in our fear we may call out to Him and remember Him.”
Shireen was not satisfied and retorted, “But God is all-powerful, so He can make us remember Him directly instead of through nasty, horrible things like snakes and scorpions. Was there any mistake on God’s part in creating them?”
Such innocent, but equally deep questions startled those adults present. Baba appeared pleased and happy, and explained to her, “Good and bad, beautiful and ugly, are all mine. They are me. It was not a mistake on the part of God when He created snakes and scorpions. It is all as it should be.”
“But why did God have to create such creatures?” she insisted.
Baba explained, “You Shireen, are so pretty and sweet, and yet every day when you sit on the potty you bring out what is dirty and smelly. Why do you do it? Because it is necessary, and it helps to keep you well and pretty. And so are all things in God’s creation necessary. Both good and bad, beautiful and ugly, are mine.”
This answer was immediately acceptable to the girl, and she gave a deep sigh of satisfaction and wore a happy expression on her face.
When Baba once remarked to her, “I love you,” Shireen went over and whispered in his ear, “I love you even more.” Whenever Mehera or someone else would give her a gift, sweets or a toy, she would run to offer it first to Baba. And to please her, Baba would partake of the sweets (otherwise, he was not eating sweets) and play with the toys.
On occasion, Baba would make Shireen sing and tell him jokes. When Baba would have soup in the afternoons, he would give it to her to finish.
In her words, about her time with her “favorite uncle,” Shireen recollected:
Baba made me feel very loved. He gave me lots of attention, which of course delighted me. I thought he was so wonderful my loving uncle, a magician, and all-knowing God. I felt I could ask him anything, and he always answered my questions at my level, the level of a child, but at the same time he treated each question seriously.
During our stays in India, I only wanted to be with Baba, all the time.
Lord Meher, 1st. ed., Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 19, pp. 6301 – 6305.