20130311 – James McGrew’s meeting with Baba – part 1

JAMES HALL MCGREW found out about Baba from Rick Chapman in the summer of 1965 after graduating from college at the age of 21. (Jim and Rick had been long-time friends in high school in Denver, Colorado, and they had been roommates during their freshman year at Harvard in 1961-62.) In the summer of 1965, Jim was living in Denver and waiting to begin service in the Peace Corps in India. Rick had returned from San Francisco full of enthusiasm for Baba, having met with Ivy Duce and the Sufis there, seen movies of Baba, purchased some books, and signed up for the charter flight to India for the sahavas at that time planned by Baba for December 1965. Jim and Rick had both previously been interested in spiritual development, and McGrew became keenly interested in Meher Baba.

In September 1965, Baba canceled the December sahavas, promising to meet with his lovers “somewhere, sometime, somehow.” Baba further announced his intention to go into seclusion and his wish to be undisturbed even though he was keenly aware of the heartbreak of his lovers who missed seeing him.

As narrated, Jim and Rick’s mutual friend, Robert Dreyfuss, had begun a hitch-hiking trip in Europe overland to India before the cancellation and continued on his journey to India unaware of the cancellation of the sahavas. In November of 1965, McGrew and Chapman received word that Dreyfuss had met Baba in Meherazad.

The news that Robert Dreyfuss had met Baba inspired Jim to also find a way to see Baba, but he did not know how to go about doing so. He wrote to Sufism Reoriented in San Francisco and also to Don Stevens. Kari Harb of Sufism replied that he should contact Baba’s secretary, Adi K. Irani, and to request his help in meeting Baba, explaining why and for how long he would be in India.

The Peace Corps assigned Jim to work as a volunteer for a Primary Health Center in Kalghatgi, Mysore State (now called Karnataka). In January 1966, Jim wrote to Adi. Adi replied that his letter had been read to Baba in his seclusion and that Baba wanted Jim to write again on February 10. He followed Baba’s instructions, posting his request on the date specified by Baba. In his letter, Jim also asked if a friend, Diana Grace, might also accompany him to see Baba.

Baba replied through Adi that he would be pleased to see Jim when he was in Guruprasad. Baba also gave permission for Diana Grace to come. April 15th was the date that fit Jim McGrew’s schedule, and he wrote to Baba to inform him of that fact as Baba had instructed. (He also informed Baba that Diana had decided not to come for the interview.)

Jim McGrew arrived in Poona from Bombay in the late afternoon of April 14, 1966. He was intensely happy and thrilled at the prospect of seeing his Beloved. He wished to give his life to Baba and secretly hoped that he could stay with Baba, or at least would be invited to return to see Baba again. He checked into a hotel and requested to be awaken at 5:30 A.M., as Jim was worried he might oversleep and miss the most precious appointment of his life.


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