(Aug. 1936) Rahuri was a strange and wonderful ashram where the worldly mad were kept with the intoxicated lovers of God, masts, demonstrating to mankind how the Lord of the Universe becomes a companion to the afflicted and serves them. From four o’clock each morning, Baba gave himself to tending these derelicts. He would wash their faces, shave them, cut their hair, clean their latrines, serve them breakfast and often feed them by hand, and frequently take them in his embrace and kiss them.
He had arranged musical entertainment for them and when the singer, Babu, would daily come and sing before them, Punjia would beat the rhythm on his kerosene tin as another lunatic would dance and Baba would watch and enjoy. Their minds were afflicted, but their hearts were gladdened. It was a marvelous sight. The Rahuri ashram became the safe ground for those suffering mental affliction, and the Lord of Creation welcomed them and the God-intoxicated to his refuge.
The average person is not familiar with masts or their spiritual condition of God-intoxication. The following description by Meher Baba elucidates what constitutes the mind of a mast:
All masts are intoxicated with God; they are intoxicated by divine love. When a normal person is intoxicated by alcohol or drugs he enjoys this sensation so long as the intoxicant is in sufficient concentration in his physical tissues: a drunkard feels happy, cares not for anyone or anything, and has one dominant sensation of drunkenness, in which the past, present or future has practically no meaning. But as soon as the ordinary intoxication passes away, the drunkard suffers the reverse – the hangover. Stimulated physical intoxication is inescapably temporary, because it is limited by the very stimulant itself, the conditions of the environment, the cost of the stimulant and the resilience of one’s condition.
Now a person who is God-intoxicated experiences the same sensation that a drunkard enjoys, and cares for no one and nothing, in proportion to the extent of his inner intoxication; the vast difference is the mast’s intoxication is continual, that it may increase but can never decrease, and that it has no harmful physical or mental reaction. It is an inner state of permanent and unalloyed intoxication, independent of anything external.
The principal sensation of a mast is this permanent enjoyment of divine intoxication. The creation is full of bliss and the mast enjoys this bliss and thereby becomes intoxicated to an almost unlimited extent, virtually consuming him and absorbing him and thereby making the world around him vanish. Absorbed in God, such a person is continually absorbed in thinking about God, and with that comes like a bolt of pure love consuming him further in a state of divine intoxication.
On another occasion, Baba further elucidated:
How does it happen that some men and women become masts? There are those who have become masts whose minds have become unbalanced through unceasing dwelling upon thoughts of God so that they neglect all normal human requirements. There are those whose minds have become unbalanced by sudden contact with a highly advanced spiritual being. There are those who have sought spiritual experience and have met a crisis from which they do not recover. What characterizes all masts is their concentration upon the love of God.
The following is a Persian ode re-rendered about masts from Qutub Shams-e-Tabriz, written during the thirteenth century:
The divinely-intoxicated man is drunken without wine.
The God-intoxicated is full without meat.
In his divine madness he is distraught and bewildered.
The divinely mad needs no food or sleep.
The mast is a king beneath a dervish’s robe.
The God-intoxicated man is a treasure in a ruin.
God-intoxication is not of air and earth.
God-intoxication is not of fire and water.
Inside, the divinely intoxicated man is a boundless sea.
Outside, his divine world rains pearls without a cloud.
In the intoxication his night has a hundred moons and skies;
In the intoxication his day shines upon him a hundred suns.
The God-intoxicated man is made wise by the Truth.
God-intoxication is not learned in any book.
God-intoxication is beyond infidelity and religion;
In the divinely intoxicated state right and wrong are alike.
The divinely-mad has ridden himself of his nothingness
The divinely intoxicated are gloriously attended.
The intoxication is concealed; Shamsi Din
The intoxicated of God you seek and find and become.
This phase had a special significance, and the splendor of Meher Baba’s work with the mad and masts in this Age will provide a source of inspiration to humanity for all time to come.
It was truly wonderful to see the drunkard masts of the ashram whirl in their intoxication and be playful with the Beloved, and to see the Master satisfy their every whim.
What a unique play of the wine! What leela!
The intoxicated were unaware of the game
They were absorbed in their intoxication and
the tavern keeper was serving them more and more wine
to make them totally unconscious of the world,
so that one day they would be prepared
to become completely conscious of Reality.
The enchantment of the masts!
What delirium! No consciousness of the body
or the world – but still conscious of the pain
which longs to be one with the Beloved.
The wine creates fire – longing –
which burns those who drink it!
This is the real reason why the Lord of Compassion and Divine Beloved was the companion and servant of his delirious lovers, and why he served them with such total dedication and all love. It is a wonderful play between the lover and Beloved, and must be experienced to be known. (1)
(1) Meher Baba’s mast work started from the days of the Rahuri ashram, and it continued in full force for the next twenty years until 1957. After that, Baba did some mast work for a few more years by keeping one or two masts in his care. For a full account of his mast work, read William Donkin’s book, The Wayfarers.
Lord Meher, American ed., Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 6, pp. 2301 – 2034.