13 Oct 2012 – How Eruch joined Baba’s mandali


Eruch Jessawala reading out Baba’s message from the alphabet board

(Eruch Jessawala 13 Oct 1916 – 31 Aug 2001)


Eruch narrating about how he joined Baba’s mandali:

HAVING BEEN BORN into a Zoroastrian family, I was brought up by my parents on the ancient Zoroastrian precepts of good thoughts, good words and good deeds, and in the early years of my life everything was in the right place – loving parents, beautiful environment and a comfortable home. There was a constant exchange of the feelings of love and affection all around me and there was not a single discordant note in my life.

My mother was sixteen years old when I was born and since my father was away in Calcutta as a manager of one of the largest distilleries in the country, my mother had only me for company. Consequently, she lavished all her love and affection on me, fed me well and as a result I grew up a robust child.

One day during my month-long Christmas vacation, my mother’s brother who lived in Ahmednagar, wrote her a letter stating that he had met someone in his town who could be the Expected One, the one for whom the Zoroastrians had been waiting for several thousand years and so he invited us to come and visit this man whose name was Meher Baba.

My mother who was always interested in matters spiritual decided to investigate and thereupon along with my two sisters, we travelled to Ahmednagar. Being just nine years old, I knew nothing about Meher Baba or the purpose of our visit. I was just a playful lad who liked swinging from trees and running around as children do, but of course the thought of an excursion away from Nagpur excited me.

We travelled in a carriage and due to the lack of space inside, my mother instructed me to ride outside at the back, and this I did enjoying the ride as the horses galloped towards Meherabad. Suddenly at one point when we had evidently reached our destination, I heard my mother shout, “Eruch, jump!” and so I jumped off but in landing I received a slight bruise on my elbow. The family then proceeded to walk towards a spot where a group of people were sitting.

I noticed that in the centre of the group sat a man at whose side there was a pile of slates used for writing on. It was Meher Baba and when He looked at me He beckoned that I should come to Him. Sobbing, I told Him that I had bruised myself and He took me on His lap and hugged and comforted me. I can still remember the feelings of love which surged within me as I was cared for and cheered by this stranger who then proceeded to bandage my bruise with His own handkerchief . After some time He distributed sweets and my immediate reaction was that this man was not only kind and loving, but also very generous.

After my vacation I was enrolled in a fine Roman Catholic school. … growing up in a predominantly Christian environment had made me long for the Lord Jesus Christ and as I was longing for the advent of the Christ, I was prompted once to ask about the Second Coming of the Lord. I can remember that it was the same day on which Baba paid His first visit to our house, but all I received from the catechism teacher was a rude rebuff to my question.

I was cycling home after school and as I drew near the house I saw Meher Baba standing at the gate. I hopped off my bicycle and bowing down to Him said, “Forgive me, Baba” without really knowing why I said so. Baba looked at me, then He hugged me and put His arm on my shoulder as we walked into the courtyard. Finally He said, “l am glad that you have come. Let us play some games” and with that we started to pitch marbles.

Earlier I had promised my classmates that I would play in the interclass soccer match but now I was in a quandary. However, I continued my game of marbles with Baba although my thoughts were on the soccer match which I was missing, and I made up my mind that I would not let such a thing happen again.

Next day on returning from school, I espied Baba waiting at the gate, so with the previous day’s resolve in mind, I quickly changed my approach and entered the house through a back door. I took a quick shower and rushed off to the playground using the same exit.

When I returned in late evening, my mother wanted to know why I had not showed up at the house after school but I explained what I had done in order to avoid Baba. She was aghast.

“Do you know who He is,” she asked me.

“No. Who?” I answered.

“He is Zoroaster come again,” she declared in the intensity of her faith.

But since my heart was already set on Jesus, I said, “So what if He is Zoroaster!”

My mother was annoyed with my heedlessness and expressed her displeasure by not talking to me any further. Baba who by then was in the house, asked her what was wrong and on learning what had transpired, encouraged me to go to the playground every day, and then on my return He used to question me in detail about the soccer matches. With this closeness of association, I began to be able to read with increasing speed whatever He wanted to say on the alphabet board which He used for communicating, and at night I enjoyed the stories He related.

When Meher Baba left Nagpur it was only then I realized how much I missed Him. Whenever I had longed to be with Him, I found Him waiting for me at the gate and once or twice in class my longing for Him had trickled tears down my cheeks. It was in my longing for the Lord that He had come to me and l realized how in my ignorance I had once avoided Him.

… It was in 1938 in the month of May while I was working in the garden that I received my first telegram from Meher Baba. It read: “Come immediately and see Me at Panchgani” and having read it, I put it my pocket and resumed my work. My mother however had seen the postman deliver the telegram to me and so she came out of the house to ask about it.

I handed her the telegram and having read it, she exclaimed, “He wants you to come immediately, and you are still tending the plants!” “l’ll go tomorrow after I finish the gardening,” I said casually.

Excitedly she said, “You have no idea. Don’t you realize what the word ‘immediately’ means?” and she became still more upset as I began to recite all kinds of excuses about the plants. While I was thus arguing with her, another postman arrived with a second telegram and this too read: “Come immediately and see Me at Panchgani – Meher Baba.” It was not a repeat telegram and this time my mother lost her temper and asked me to leave immediately for Panchgani. With just an hour left to catch the next train and without taking any clothes, I drove to the station and left the car there. On reaching Panchgani I made some inquiries and was directed to a house where Baba was staying. I climbed the steps to the house and since the door was open, I walked right in to see Baba seated before me.

“So you have come,” He said.

“Yes, Baba,” I replied and bowed to Him.

“ls it possible for you to leave everything and come to Me?” He asked.

“Anything is possible by Your grace,” I answered without thinking.

“Good! Then come on August 1” was his reply.


-Eruch B Jessawala

Extracted from (‘The Ancient One – A Disciple’s Memoirs of Meher Baba’ – Naosherwan Anzar, p XVIII)


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