Baha'is meet Meher Baba, Yazd, 1929

On the third day of his stay at Yazd, “his name was by now a subject of conversation all over the city” (Shepherd 2005:117). His companions had feared that local Bahais and Babis would resent him as a rival religious figure. However, the forebodings were proven wrong. Bahais were instead seen to display a marked veneration for the visitor from India.

From Mubaraka, Meher Baba moved on to his ancestral village of Khorramshah. He is reported to have been in a very good mood when he arrived. A crowd assembled, eager to see the visitor. Several Bahais appeared with their local figurehead.

They came from mere curiosity, their leader being determined not to acknowledge the visiting celebrity in any way. Yet when he [the Bahai leader] came into the presence of Meher Baba, he gradually lost his reservations. To the surprise of his retinue, the Bahai leader first bowed before Baba, then asked his group to follow suit, then asked them to kiss the visitor’s hand (a sign of esteem), and finally to prostrate themselves at the visitor’s feet. Meher Baba undoubtedly possessed a strong charisma, and the fact that he was silent and did not lecture anyone appears to have left a good impression with Iranians. (Shepherd 2005:118)

When the visitor returned to Yazd that evening, another Bahai appeared. This man is not named; he is described as being leader of the Bahai community in Shiraz. He arrived by aeroplane, his sole intention being to challenge Meher Baba with theological questions. At the moment of encounter, however, the Bahai leader fell at Baba’s feet and exclaimed: “You are God!” Afterwards, this man moved through the crowd, saying: “I have seen God!” Onlookers were surprised to see a Bahai preacher acting in this manner. Subsequently, that same preacher delivered an unusual sermon to a large gathering, commending Meher Baba.

“Bahais found that he [Meher Baba] did not fit the stereotype of religious teachers in Iran” (ibid:119). The Islamic mullas typically sought to persuade and admonish, promoting their religious perspective at every turn. The preachers might assume irate facial expressions of disapproval, and loudly invoke the name of God while threatening divine retribution. In contrast, the benign Meher Baba was not interested in conversion, and did not mention his own views during this sojourn.

He had gained more adulation at Yazd than in any other city on his travels to date. Yet Meher Baba would not stay; he insisted upon leaving on the morning of the fourth day, October 28. He did not view Yazd as being suitable for purposes of seclusion. Hundreds of people appeared at his bungalow to bid farewell. Meher Baba evaded their attention by departing quickly (Kalchuri et al 1989:1239). Some Yazdis pleaded for photographs of him to keep in fond memory. His companions gave away what photos they had. “Even orthodox Shi’i Muslims were asking for photos of a Zoroastrian” (Shepherd 2005:119). -Source: Kevin Shepherd, 'Meher Baba and Yazd' online article.

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