(June 1962) THE TALES of Sadgurus and Qutubs, and the power of their words and blessings, make the most marvelous of spoken and written thoughts. There is a wonderful and mysterious story related by Meher Baba of a Perfect Master who lived in Lucknow, India, in medieval times, between the 13th and 14th century. The exact century was not revealed and Baba did not reveal his name or the whereabouts of his tomb. This Perfect Master is not recorded in any book and he is not included in any spiritual lineage. He is known as “the Mahboobi;” he was unique because he was physically a hermaphrodite. Speaking in symbols, that human being was born free of sex, sexless, (1) by being born with both male and female organs.
In medieval India there was a class of hermaphrodites, who dressed as women and lived as wandering minstrels. Although they were outcasts from normal society, in order to earn a living they were hired to sing and play music at weddings, and also hired to wail and mourn at funerals. Such was their profession. This Sadguru from Lucknow was one of those and the leader of a tribe. (2) The following is the tale that Meher Baba related to the men mandali during the early 1960s, passed on by Eruch Jessawala. It is not recounted in any other Sufi or Vedantic book:
No one in Lucknow but his fellow hermaphrodites knew he was spiritually advanced or was, in fact, a Sadguru. And this is how his fame spread:
One day a group of ruffians, in a bullying mood, were about to harass and do violence to the small band of hermaphrodites. One of the ruffians pointed out the leader of the hermaphrodites (namely, the Sadguru). As the man pointed to the leader and caught his eye and was about to confront him, the man suddenly stopped and could not take another step and could not lower his arm. For several minutes, no matter how he struggled, he was paralyzed in his tracks. Only when the man pleaded with the leader to release him from this spell and assured him no harm would come to the band of the hermaphrodites did the leader restore the ruffian’s ability to move. Soon after, this story spread and the occult power of the leader became known, and people recognized him as a Master.
Later, as the people of Lucknow began to worship this hermaphrodite, opposition naturally arose, for he was of a low and disdainful class. To disprove the power of the leader of the hermaphrodites, a devilish plot was conspired. Two influential families in Lucknow plotted the wicked ruse. It is was decided that two boys, the sons of these two families, deceive the hermaphrodite and approach him disguised as a married couple; one boy dressed as a woman. The ruse was to approach the Master and seek his blessing in the form of a child; naturally, this would be impossible, for both were males and this would prove to the people of Lucknow that the hermaphrodite Master was false and be cast into exile.
One dressed in disguise, the two boys approached the Master, who asked what they sought. “We are newly married, Master; we seek your blessing for a child.”
The hermaphrodite inquired if they were sincere and if they were certain they wanted a child. They assured him that a child would prove a blessing.
“So be it,” said the Master. “You will bear a child.”
The two boys returned to their homes with the news, and the families were convinced that this would eventually put a stop to the worship of that hermaphrodite and expose him as a fraud.
Weeks passed and the boy who was dressed disguised as a girl started to undergo subtle physical changes, which he was afraid and embarrassed to admit. His body was changing into a girl’s body, and to his utter horror he was indeed showing all the signs of being pregnant. Finally, the boy, not knowing what else to do, confessed to his family what was happening to him and exposed his body, which now had a female’s organs. The family now knew that they had cursed themselves. They had no recourse but to confess to the leader of the hermaphrodites that they had tried to deceive him and therefore begged him to lift his curse from their son.
When the family approached the hermaphrodite, he explained that he did not curse the boy and could not undo his blessing, and that the child was destined to be born. Within months that boy turned into a full-breasted woman who bore a child, and the family became devoted to the hermaphrodite. Thus his name and fame spread, though his full story has been lost to recorded history.
Thus, Meher Baba remembered this unique Perfect Master, but did not name him, simply referring to him in the Sufi symbolic term “the Mahboobi.” The symbolism of the Sufi term means a human being who is interchangeable as both a man and a woman.
(1) Meher Baba once related that sexlessness was the highest spiritual experience, or the true spiritual state. Once asked in Europe during the 1930s how he handled his sexuality, Baba replied that “sex did not exist for him.”
(2) In 20th century India, there are tribes of hermaphrodites and eunuchs mixed together, who live among the lower classes. They are called Hirjas, meaning “neither male nor female” though they take both male and female names. Most famous among the reported fifty thousand to over one and a quarter million eunuchs in India is their spiritual and political leader, who has both a male and female name, Ramesh Vare, also called Mata.
Lord Meher, American ed., Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 17, pp. 5913 – 5915.