An account of how independent research on Meher Baba has been suppressed by the movement in his name, a matter that is further accompanied by misrepresentation.
1. Wikipedia Problems
2. Contesting Misrepresentation
3. Meher Baba Centres and Censorship
4. The Sectarian Issue
5. Suppression of Literature
1. Wikipedia Problems
Meher Baba (1894-1969) was an Irani Zoroastrian by birth. He has a clean moral record, and his evolutionist teaching is distinctive. During the 1960s, he was strongly opposed to the use of LSD, and was a very beneficial influence in that respect. More controversially, he claimed to be an avatar or divine incarnation. Over the years I have included his career in my research interest, adopting a procedure of approaching the data without reliance upon the avatar claim and nor related devotional interpretations. I am resistant to hagiology. Further, this exercise has been part of a more wide-ranging approach, and including studies of Iranian religion and philosophy. (1)
However, aggravations have been in evidence. For instance, in 2009 the Wikipedia article on Meher Baba eliminated an annotated work on the subject in preference for canonical and other books (one of which has less than two pages on the subject). I am referring to my own book Meher Baba, an Iranian Liberal (1988), 300 pages in length, and featuring a bibliography of nearly fifty pages. The Wikipedia exclusion has suggested to observers a well known tendency of religious groupings to suppress works that do not adhere to partisan criteria imposed by a consensus within the movement or sect.
The Wikipedia article and talkpage has prominently featured two pseudonymous sympathisers with the Meher Baba movement, namely Hoverfish (whose real name is known) and Dazedbythebell. The lastmentioned editor was instrumental in the deletion of a Wikipedia article about myself in 2009, even supporting the libellous cyberstalker attack blogs of an agent for the Sathya Sai Baba sect. The factor of "cultist" activity and manipulation on Wikipedia is controversial. There are strong critics of this trend.
Furthermore, the Wikipedia editor Hoverfish was notably aggressive in my direction, even inserting into a noticeboard discussion a disapproving theme clearly originating from within the Meher Baba movement, or rather, the American branch of that contingent. Hoverfish relayed the following statement, and one evidently intended as a form of justification for his resistance to my non-canonical books:
"I hear that Shepherd and his mother had correspondence with Meher Baba in the 1960s, and later with some of his prominent disciples, that they became involved with another spiritual teacher, against Baba's orders, that this caused them to become ostracised by the English Baba group and that in the 1980s they sent letters to all Baba centers around the world defending themselves. I also hear that Shepherd has a dislike of followers of Meher Baba and considers them 'sectarian,' although no sect actually exists." (Hoverfish, Wikipedia Reliable Sources Noticeboard, 29 January 2012).
Acute contractions and blatant inaccuracies are evident in this version of events, and to such an extent indeed, that the mediated version of myself and my mother is extensively misleading, and accordingly in need of repudiation.
2. Contesting Misrepresentation
The only component of the deceptive Wikipedia statement (inabove) which can be considered correct is that myself and my mother (Jean Shepherd, alias Kate Thomas) had correspondence with Meher Baba in the 1960s. We did not in fact become involved with another spiritual teacher; the misrepresented entity was here an Indian disciple of Meher Baba who never made any claims, and who never became a spiritual teacher, instead living a very retiring existence as a scientist and electronics engineer. He always insisted that he was an ordinary man.
The misrepresented disciple had the misfortune to be considered a rival by an influential authority figure, namely Adi S. Irani (d. 1988), the brother of Meher Baba who was resident in London. Adi likewise was not a spiritual teacher, but did demand the allegiance of my mother, to whom he was partial; she was unable to credit that his rival was so irrelevant by comparison. She supported the rival, who had earlier left England, returning to India in relative obscurity. Adi refused to acknowledge the validity of an unpublished book she had written, which expressed esteem for the rival, although within the context of her allegiance to Meher Baba.
I was caught in the middle of this drama, being only sixteen at the time. I was a follower of Meher Baba, though I sometimes reacted to the failings and dogmatism of devotees. I had met both Adi and the rival, and observed many differences between them. I had encountered the rival during a short period in July 1965, when he had briefly returned to England. I never saw him again (and nor did my mother). It became obvious to me that Adi was jealous of Inder (the rival), and not least because he (Adi) was much attracted to my mother, even visiting her shop in Cambridge. Adi was incensed when he grasped that she esteemed Inder more than him.
My mother tended to believe that Inder would eventually become a "master," and when she encountered the dogmatism of Adi, she would not retract this belief, there being no proof that Adi was superior. Adi reacted with a threat, telling my mother that unless she recanted and destroyed some of her writings, he would personally ensure that she was blocked from the movement. She was unable to oblige, and felt nauseated by his calculating tactic.
Adi subsequently engineered an agenda of excommunication, and spread defamation of her amongst the mandali (resident devotees) at Meher Baba's ashram (Meherazad), and chiefly his sister Mani, who believed every word he said. Adi also callously outlawed me for supporting my mother against him (although I held a modified view about Inder). I perceived with shock that this was a campaign of self-affirmation on Adi's part. He was widely considered by devotees to be Meher Baba's impeccable "ambassador" in England, and was proud of that role.
In October 1966, there commenced a complex correspondence with Meher Baba and the ashram, lasting for months. Baba was in seclusion, and generally averse to correspondence, which he discouraged, unless in emergency. My mother had an unusual history of communication with Meher Baba, and I had also received some communications from him in the past. His brief cablegram communications were quite different to the accusing letters sent at this time by his sister Mani, who was clearly in support of her brother Adi in London. My correspondence was with Mani, not with Adi, who remained conveniently, though influentially, in the background.
At first I expressed the belief that Inder could not be an ordinary man, because he stood out so much from the devotees, whom he did not in any way resemble. I dared not refer to the current situation with Adi, fearing that the latter might become even worse in his reactions if I did. The real issue was Adi versus Inder, but this was impossible to explicate under the circumstances. Mani had never met Inder. To agree that Inder was ordinary would mean endorsing the argument of Adi, the presumably superior "ambassador" who basked in the limelight of high status and supposedly infallible utterance (a feat generally attributed to the mandali by devotees).
Meher Baba sent a prolonged string of cablegrams, the final one acknowledging with approval that we (myself and my mother) had conceded his theme that Inder was an ordinary man (which was also Inder's own consistent theme).
That final cable from Meher Baba (dated February 1967) was totally ignored by Mani and by the mandali. Instead they persisted in misrepresenting the situation to devotees at large. Yet Adi prudently retreated, and made no further accusations. However, he neglected to inform the mandali of his own biases which had been so influential in the episode under discussion. Several years later, and after the death of Meher Baba, Adi privately acknowledged (in London) the errors which had been made, but he was unwilling to make this a public disclosure, and never in fact did so.
Adi admitted that Mani and himself had handled the situation, not Meher Baba; they wished to impose the "ban," which they did, but the final cable from Meher Baba conflicted with their tactic, a communication that posed a contradiction for anyone aware of it. Adi was often closely associated with the mandali, having long ago been one of them. By that time, the mandali were believed by devotees to be infallible. The supposed perfection here avoided the final cable, which was effectively suppressed. The "ban" by Mani and Adi was preferred to Meher Baba's own final verdict.
As a consequence of this episode, I stopped being a devotee. I no longer identified with the movement, and detested Adi for his act of incrimination. The situation was atrocious. I was banned by association with my mother, who had not done anything wrong. Adi and his associates denied me all newsletters, though sympathetic devotees compensated for this excess behind the scenes. Adi never bothered to ascertain my views at any juncture of this episode. His power-crazed role as the "ambassador" was unrestrained in this instance. His position was one of absolute authority, and nobody dared to contradict him. My mother was the first dissident.
It was generally assumed that Meher Baba was responsible for the "ban," probably because Mani was so keen to assist Adi in her more visible international capacity. Adi later specified that Meher Baba was not responsible for the "ban," but instead Mani and himself. These two were delegated by Baba to deal with any matters relating to myself and my mother. Adi claimed to know all about the subject of Inder, and Mani sent the letters that resulted; most onlookers did not know that Adi was the pivotal factor of agitation. Meher Baba appeared to agree with Mani and Adi, but subsequently contradicted the "ban" by his final cablegram, which disconcerted Adi (who was sent copies of all the cables by Baba's secretary Adi K. Irani, known as Adi Senior, to distinguish him from Baba's brother, who was his junior).
The nature of Baba's final cable negated any excuse for the "ban" being perpetuated, as Adi Junior knew very well. This factor caused Adi to retreat from the issue. Meher Baba had clearly not censored the victims. His final cable read: "Your cable of acceptance that Inder is ordinary man has made me happy. I send my love [and] blessing to you both. Meher Baba" (26 February 1967).
To sum up, my mother was an oppressed mystic, Adi (Junior) was a cult-like dictator, and I was a juvenile victim in my pre-rational phase. When I began to change my orientation in 1967, I still regarded Meher Baba with respect, but now I could see more clearly the limitations of the devotee mentality. The accepted authority figures like Adi and Mani were not infallible as many believed, but instead made errors that could be very serious. One or two psychologists who subsequently studied the details (in my mother's autobiography), (2) have thought that certain events can be construed as a criminal offence against a minor, i.e., myself, who was only sixteen at the time. I was stigmatised and outlawed, according to a predetermined campaign mounted by a zealous authority figure, who was suffering pique at being considered secondary to a scientist who displayed more sophistication in "Baba's cause."
Over the years, I heard about the distorted version of myself and my mother that was in devotee circulation, though especially in America. The devotees had no idea of what had really happened. Inder was sometimes mistakenly represented as a guru. In fact he was a scientist, working with such leading enterprises as Pye Telecommunications. He was also very unobtrusive and difficult to trace; the mandali eventually admitted that they no longer knew where he lived. This was in the 1970s.
The developing notion that "they became involved with another spiritual teacher, against Baba's orders" is sheer nonsense. We never saw Inder again after 1965, and there was no correspondence with him. Many devotees are unable to assimilate recorded facts. They are instead influenced by hearsay and beliefs promoted by sectarian authority figures.
"This caused them to become ostracised by the English Baba group." That report is erroneous, the nature of events being misconceived. In fact, during the early 1970s I was in contact with three prominent devotees of that group, namely Adi S. Irani, Delia De Leon, and Fred Marks. I was on good terms with them, and in all cases, was invited to their homes, although I was no longer a devotee. I remained wary of Adi, but he was not now hostile; he very reluctantly (and all too briefly) admitted his error in private meetings. He had a habit of smoothing over events, and pretending that everything was now in perfect order, despite the grapevine distortions he had created.
Of these three devotees, I was closest to Fred Marks (d. 1985), a former acquaintance whom I visited several times in London during the years 1973-75 (Meher Baba, an Iranian Liberal, pp. 295-6). He did not fully understand my independence from the movement, although he accepted this, and was well aware that Adi comprised a problem factor. Fred knew more about Adi than did any of the other English devotees, having assisted him at close range with his antiques business over many years. Fred's underlying frustration with some of Adi's habits did sometimes emerge in private conversation; however, in public he had never been able to overcome his awe of Adi's authority role. Fred was a retired dealer in English antique furniture, and quite apart from anything else, had evocative memories of the antiques trade over decades.
By that time, Adi had another rival, namely the rock superstar Pete Townshend, who had become a prominent devotee, and who gained hero worship from young American and British devotees. Adi could not compete with this new development, and became estranged from the London Meher Baba group (then known as the Meher Baba Association).
Ironically enough, Adi was the supporter of my mother in her failed petition to Townshend in 1977. The rock celebrity was so overbearing that he would not heed her version of events, and instead dogmatically maintained that she should be banned from his new London Centre (called Meher Baba Oceanic). Townshend was influenced by the distortions and misconceptions blindly perpetuated by Adi K. Irani (Adi Snr) in India, and ignored the objections of Adi S. Irani (Adi Jnr) in London. The "ambassador" in London was now an ailing man in relative obscurity. Adi Jnr was the ultimate cause of much erroneous reporting, and had neglected his responsibilities in reparation for too many years.
Meher Baba Oceanic transpired to be an impaired project, and collapsed. A few years after Oceanic was founded in 1976, Townshend became notoriously addicted to cocaine and heroin, a drawback accompanied by acute alcoholism, and which led to a dangerously close encounter with a hospital life support system. He subsequently recovered, but lost his role in the Meher Baba movement as a consequence of his problems. In contrast, my mother was a teetotaller and never took drugs. She became noted for her stance against drug ingestion, and strongly opposed the psychedelic therapy (and allied holotropic breathwork) of Stanislav Grof in new age sectors where casualties occurred. See Findhorn Foundation and Against Grof Therapy.
3. Meher Baba Centres and Censorship
"In the 1980s they sent letters to all Baba centers around the world defending themselves." This fiction (above) can easily be refuted. My mother was not involved in any correspondence. The misconception relates to a document despatched on my behalf by an intermediary in 1988, a document that described the errors and distortions which had accumulated. The response to that document was memorably cult-like. There was complete indifference and total failure to reply on the part of many Meher Baba Centres in America (and England). A form of censorship was clearly operative.
The influential Myrtle Beach Centre did respond to the document, but very inadequately, and basically in a vein of facile retort and evasion. The misinformation about myself continued as a consequence of the neglect in ethics, an event quite sufficient to merit the judgment of a cultist attitude from a number of observers.
This leading Centre also suppressed Meher Baba, an Iranian Liberal (1988), then newly published. Their spokesman did concede that this book was favourable to the subject, but took the attitude that mild criticisms of some prestigious devotees were beyond tolerance. The disavowal of all criticism is not a clinching argument in other directions. The spokesman also stated that nobody at the Myrtle Beach Centre had any interest in reading the book, which was evidently considered taboo. In effect, the unread book was unofficially banned.
4. The Sectarian Issue
"No sect actually exists." This assertion (from the deceptive Wikipedia statement inabove) is problematic. The devotees have often disavowed a sectarian identity, but generally insist upon the concept of a unique avatar. Avatar Meher Baba is emphasised as the central belief. The Western devotees often identify themselves as Baba Lovers. They do not wear any distinguishing robes, nor conduct bizarre rituals. The Meher Baba Centres are major vehicles for the avataric theme. Those Centres have tended to promote their literature in a manner conveying the impression that the favoured texts are canonical.
Rather questionably, the Meher Baba Centres have demonstrated tendencies to suppression of unwanted data. In this perspective, the outsider must be wrong; the insiders are totally right. The partisan standpoint has furthered misrepresentation in my case, while non-canonical books on the figurehead are ignored. Dogmatic instances have been known, as on Wikipedia, where outsider authorship is deemed invalid opinion, and canonical authorship legitimated as factual reporting (see Wikipedia Anomalies Sequel, section 3). Such tendencies are regarded by academic analysts as symptoms of a sectarian approach.
In 2007, a British academic editor was disconcerted when an American devotee inserted a "sectarian" sidebar into his Wikipedia article on Meher Baba's father Sheriar Mundegar Irani. That sidebar elevated Meher Baba Centres and ashrams, the organisations Avatar Meher Baba Trust and Sufism Reoriented, "prayers and practices" of the Meher Baba movement, "terms and concepts" of the same movement, major publications, and "major figures" of the movement, including Bhau Kalchuri and other members of the mandali. The non-devotee academic was offended by this clearly denominational gesture, one of the reasons why he soon afterwards migrated from Wikipedia to Citizendium. He was reacting to a form of religious identity, which has also offput many other observers over the years. The insistence of Baba Lovers that they are free from sectarian trappings is not convincing to outsiders.
The jacket of my book Meher Baba, an Iranian Liberal informed that "the author's approach is not sectarian, and throws new light upon many events relating to the Iranian [or Irani] mystic." The non-sectarian book was suppressed in America (and England) by the sect which purportedly does not actually exist. The preface stated: "I respect Meher Baba, but do not choose to propagandize in any way for the movement in his name" (page 5). I was careful to add on the same page that "this movement is highly law-abiding, and in general reflects the moral rulings of the figurehead." Independent assessment of the figurehead is nevertheless resisted by Meher Baba Centres, which is no particular encouragement to regard the movement as being liberal.
I did not make any elaborate point of stressing the Meher Baba movement to be a sect. I was merely making clear my role as an independent commentator. Furthermore, the word sectarian (like the word sect) does not necessarily have any negative connotation whatever, but in itself merely denotes a doctrinal commitment. The avatar doctrine is considered sectarian by many academics, amounting to a religious belief in competition with the teachings of other sects. More than one grouping has entertained this doctrine, for example, the Sathya Sai Baba sect. There are many sects who consider their founders or inspirers to be unique entities, whatever designations are applied.
Some religious sects are tolerant and harmless, while others are insular and dogmatic; the latter category can become obsessive in their promotionalism, which the outside world may not find convincing. Some sects become cults, a situation implying more hazardous occurrences. The word cult has recently gained strong negative implications of extremist behaviour and/or attitudes. See, for instance, Cults and Suspect Parties. The academic literature has debated various manifestations.
The known aberrations in a fair number of contemporary "spiritual" groupings have revealed basic patterns of manipulation, and sometimes with unpredictable consequences. Suppression and misrepresentation are basic resorts of the cultist disposition, which will justify lapses on the pretext of a supposedly higher cause.
According to the Wikipedia misinformation above (), I have a dislike of followers of Meher Baba. Compare some of my published statements, e.g., "if more people were like her [Beryl Williams], the world would be a much better place" (Iranian Liberal, p. 291). Beryl Williams (d. 1968) of New York was a black American devotee with whom I once corresponded. (3) Wikipedia is unreliable. Some other American devotees appear to have a strong dislike of me, based on their misconception of events in which I was victimised at the age of sixteen. For over forty years, they have maintained a very distorted version of 1960s occurrences. For many years also, they have suppressed my book that is favourable to their figurehead, a bias duplicated on Wikipedia by the pseudonymous editors (apparently American) who are party to hostile rumours.
The Wikipedia aggression has also demonstrated a total unfamiliarity with the contents of Investigating the Sai Baba Movement (2005), again suppressed, and which has a substantial section favourable to Meher Baba. Almost mind-boggling is one devotee comment which attributes the theme of "Sai Baba movement" to me, completely ignoring the academic literature on this subject dating back some four decades (see further thebelow).
Professional analysts of sect and cult (who do exist, and who should be reckoned with) are notably sceptical of the "canonical" syndrome. According to some academic authorities, banned or suppressed books are often a source of significant materials. Scholars have proved this factor over generations of research into the history of religions.
The adherence to standard "canonical" books is no proof of accuracy or infallibility. For instance, the lengthy multi-volume work Lord Meher, a canonical biography authored by Bhau Kalchuri (of the mandali), though informative to a substantial degree, is also marred by hagiological flourishes, devotional interpretations, and a number of errors no doubt partly caused by the extensive translation process from the original Hindi. (4)
In 2010, I posted a web item on Meher Baba that amenably distinguished between his devotees and the openly aggressive manifestations associated with the Sathya Sai Baba sect. I had not recently heard of any adverse rumours emanating from the Meher Baba Centres. I was being optimistic, as subsequent developments on Wikipedia confirmed. The gap between these two sects has effectively narrowed. Cyberstalker hate campaign allied with the Sathya Sai Baba sect is closely followed by suppression and misrepresentation achieved by affiliates of the Meher Baba movement. Both of these sects claim surpassing avataric auspices. However, critics still await the proof of exemplary behaviour.
To ensure that I have not misled readers, here is a due reminder of the matter which I kept silent about in 2010, though editorial bad manners on Wikipedia in 2012 forbid any further reticence:
5. Suppression of Literature
Wikipedia events in 2012 included the deletion of an article about Meher Baba and his influential critic Paul Brunton. I was the first commentator to delve more deeply into the Brunton episode than had previously been the fashion, and with results that were not in Brunton's favour. Subsequent sources have served to confirm Brunton's unreliability. See further Meher Baba and Paul Brunton on this website. A new Wikipedia article (Meher Baba's Critics) cited a number of appropriate sources, but was attacked by "Meher Baba" editors Hoverfish and Dazedbythebell, and on grounds that were not convincing to observers outside Wikipedia. A Wikipedia real name academic editor (Simon Kidd) implied that the major reason for this attack was the appearance of my own books in the citations. The nature and significance of this episode has provoked due reflection. (5)
The irrational nature of some devotional assessment is capable of arousing comment. In 1988, I contacted Tom Hopkinson, the new leader of the London Meher Baba Centre (known as the Meher Baba Association). I cordially gave notification of my new book Meher Baba, an Iranian Liberal, and also other books of mine on closely related figures (including Meher Baba's father Sheriar Mundegar Irani and his mentor Hazrat Babajan).
"Hopkinson replied very briefly and dismissively, saying that he and his Association did not want to see or read books on comparative religion, which was the category in which he placed all my books. The sole reason he gave for this uncompromising attitude was: 'we are only interested in Meher Baba.' " (6)
The suppression of Iranian Liberal by American Meher Baba Centres also signified another feature of censorship. Included in the bibliography was reference to an unpublished four volume work by the same author. (7) This longer work is likewise non-canonical, and was thus ignored by the sect which purportedly does not exist. For the record, some of the sources for the unpublished work can be mentioned here:
Reminiscences of Adi S. Irani, one of the most important sources of oral information relating to the main subject, and dating back to the 1920s (and earlier). Other sources include Will Backett, Delia De Leon, and Ann Powell, all being veteran British followers of Meher Baba from the early 1930s. I had personal contact with three out of four of those sources, while Backett was represented by documents and three personal contacts.
Of course, such sources, if included in canonical works, would be welcome to the sect, but if appearing in an uncanonical format, are dismissed by the sect, which rejects data on the basis of partisan criteria foreign to the scholarship found in universities.
Not suppressive, but nevertheless contradictory, is the reference appearing in a book published at Myrtle Beach in 2009. This acknowledges the relevance of my data concerning the two major critics of Meher Baba, but describes me in terms of "no devotee of Meher Baba and a sharp critic of Meher Baba's followers." (8) I am certainly not a devotee, but the factor of criticism needs to be evaluated rather more carefully. The book which this commentator cited was Iranian Liberal. There are indeed a number of criticisms, but that work also includes sympathetic references to, and portrayals of, followers like Charles Purdom, Will and Mary Backett, Ann Powell, Beryl Williams, Gustadji Hansotia, Abdul Ghani Munsiff, William Donkin, Ramju Abdulla, and others. One obvious conclusion to make here is that the appropriate study of books has not yet been learned or undertaken in some sectors of the "new religious movement" trend in America.
Kevin R. D. Shepherd
March 2012 (slightly modified June 2012 and January 2013)
Since this article was placed online three months ago, a mood of insidious hostility has been discernible at the Meher Baba talkpage on Wikipedia (above). On 29 May, 2012, HumusTheCowboy there stated: "I now dislike Shepherd a lot and I never even met him." The strong implication here is that if he met me, he would dislike me even more. This very pointed assertion comes from an ostensibly American editor who has identified himself as a Sufi follower of Meher Baba. Obviously, I will have to take great care not to meet such people. The fact that such animosities can be broadcast on Wikipedia, in the guise of a presumed encyclopaedic expertise, is no legitimate reason for a non-Sufi and non-devotee to be stigmatised as a target for dislike.
One of HumusTheCowboy's devotee colleagues, Hoverfish, has conveyed the erroneous impression (on the same talkpage) that I was the originator of the "Sai Baba movement" theme. "The theory of a movement begun by Sai Baba of Shirdi which included Babajan, Upasni Maharaj, Meher Baba, and Sathya Sai Baba will have to find its way to fame the proper way" (Meher Baba talkpage, 28 May 2012). This adverse judgement was clearly implying the inferior status of my output, suppressed by devotee tactics. Suppression and misrepresentation is not the proper way, though Wikipedia does permit extensive improprieties.
In actual fact, the "Sai Baba movement" theme was created by an American academic forty years ago, and in a learned journal, as is well known in the more informed circles. In 1985, a related book was published in India with the title of The Sai Baba Movement. This theme was further broadcast in the 1990s by the State University of New York Press, who explicitly used the label of "Sai Baba movement" to describe a SUNY book on Sai Baba of Shirdi, the author of whom included reference to all the names mentioned by the obscurantist Hoverfish. Furthermore, I contested this theme in the book Investigating the Sai Baba Movement (2005), a book that has been suppressed for years in the Wikipedia Meher Baba article by Meher Baba devotees. In such instances, the chances of fair representation on Wikipedia are negligible, the cult biases being too intrusive, and the pseudonymous indifference to accuracy being notorious.
A widely held viewpoint amongst university academics is that Wikipedia articles are unreliable and uncitable, and that Wikipedia talkpages represent an even more questionable factor of reference.
Kevin R. D. Shepherd
(1) See further Shepherd, Meaning in Anthropos: Anthropography as an interdisciplinary science of culture (1991), providing a format of themes and guidelines. See also Philosophical Anthropography. My version of Zoroastrianism was first charted in Minds and Sociocultures Vol. 1: Zoroastrianism and the Indian Religions (1995), pp. 203-388. A supplement is provided in my web article Zarathushtra and Zoroastrianism. See also Suhrawardi and Ishraqi Philosophy. An account of Meher Baba's father Sheriar Mundegar Irani (d. 1932) was included in From Oppression to Freedom: A Study of the Kaivani Gnostics (1988), part one. On the Kaivan school, see further Azar Kaivan and Zoroastrian Ishraqis. The book Meher Baba, an Iranian Liberal (1988) may be described as an independent treatment, divided into four parts, and with an annotated bibliography. The title derives from the subject's Irani background, his parents both being emigrants to India from Central Iran. A sequel coverage was included in Investigating the Sai Baba Movement (2005), part three. See also Shirdi Sai Baba and the Sai Baba Movement.
(2) Kate Thomas, The Destiny Challenge (1992), chapter 3. There have been some persons who queried the reason for my mother's apparent pseudonym. Thomas was in fact her legitimate name by a second marriage. Kate was a name she always liked, being the name of her grandmother. Several factors conspired in her avoidance of other family names, including the strong objections of my father (her first husband) to being mentioned in print. I myself emphasised that she should not disclose very much about Adi S. Irani while he was still alive, owing to the problems involved, and this meant that for many years she could never give the full account. My mother also includes such factors as dreams and mystical experiences, which are not part of my own emphasis. I had disagreements with her about this matter, but eventually desisted in view of the fact that she had been oppressed by men all her life, starting with her father, who callously prevented her from attending Girton College (Cambridge), instead opposing her schoolteachers because of economic considerations. My own atheistic father fought her mysticism to a pronounced degree, and the bludgeoning Adi S. Irani was another ogre in the hostile landscape, not forgetting the proscribing superstar Pete Townshend. Her first published book was written under a male pseudonym, as she felt that this was the only way to ensure that men would read it.
(3) Williams "had formerly been rebuffed by white [American] devotees, though she was reluctant to state any identities" (Meher Baba, an Iranian Liberal, p. 291). Beryl Williams had first met Meher Baba in 1952. "I found that the American negroes in the movement were much more helpful than most of the other Westerners" (ibid., p. 290). I doubt whether the black American devotees were consulted by the Meher Baba Centre elites in 1988, when a document was sent on my behalf to those dismissive Centres. The elites were all white Americans.
(4) See further Bhau Kalchuri, Lord Meher (Meher Prabhu): The Biography of Avatar Meher Baba (20 vols, 1986-2001). This work was composed in Hindi during 1971-2, and subsequently translated into English. The sub-title reflects the status profile insisted upon by devotees. Though I have frequently cited from the Kalchuri volumes in my own accounts, I have also recognised the flaws discernible in that presentation. Some Wikipedia editors have queried the relevance of Lord Meher, but I do not myself advocate any suppression of that work. I do not seek to emulate the barbarous suppression that devotees have exercised in my own direction. There are 26 indexed references to Bhau Kalchuri in my Investigating the Sai Baba Movement (2005). On Kalchuri, see also the details in Sheela Kalchuri Fenster, Growing Up With God (2009). See also note 2 of my article Wikipedia Anomalies Sequel, on this website. Another multi-volume work on the main subject, though less extensive in coverage, is Bal Natu, Glimpses of the God-Man Meher Baba (1977 onwards), and which commences at the date of 1943. A more compact work, and not devotional in tone, is Charles B. Purdom, The God-Man: the life, journeys, and work of Meher Baba (1964), published during the lifetime of the subject. The present writer met Purdom in London in 1965, during my youth. Purdom was a British follower of an intellectual type, and averse to sentimental language. See further Shepherd, Meher Baba, an Iranian Liberal (1988), pp. 190-207, 264-5; idem, Investigating the Sai Baba Movement (2005), pp. 253ff. note 468.
(5) For my findings on Paul Brunton, see Meher Baba, an Iranian Liberal, pp. 146-176. The sabotaged Wikipedia article by editor Stephen Castro is preserved at Critics of Meher Baba: Paul Brunton and Rom Landau. The Wikipedia real name academic editor Simon Kidd expressed his verdict at the talk page of Meher Baba's Critics on 21 February 2012, including the observation that "the only source they [Hoverfish and Dazedbythebell] really don't want to use is Shepherd, perhaps because his books have been sidelined by the Meher Baba movement, apparently because they contain some inconvenient truths." The article Meher Baba's Critics was deleted, with ominous threats to that effect from the start, despite the fact that Meher Baba was here favourably represented. The opposition was such that the author evidently decided to concur with deletion rather than see the content mutilated. Observers outside Wikipedia have concluded that the presence of a petty pro-sectarian bias on Wikipedia is very strong, and one undermining due information.
(6) Shepherd, Investigating the Sai Baba Movement (2005), p. 260 note 468. This book was also attacked in the Wikipedia pro-sectarian campaign associated with editor Hoverfish and administrator Smartse. See also Wikipedia Anomalies Sequel. Part Three of Investigating is about Meher Baba (pp. 105-161). Notes 300-480 also relate to Meher Baba, and are found on pages 204-268. The amount of suppressed information, and the relevance or no, is an issue that may be left more authoritatively to real name scholars outside the Wikipedia circuit and the Meher Baba Centres. In the field of religion, Wikipedia has gained a reputation amongst academic specialists for being a pronouncedly unreliable indicator of relevant data.
(7) See Meher Baba, an Iranian Liberal, pp. 271-2. The listed biography was composed during the years 1967-77. The prospect of "a condensed one-volume version" was here mentioned. The current standpoint of the Meher Baba movement is unlikely to improve the profile of their figurehead, especially as the devotees cannot even obtain accurate information about living authors they suppress and misrepresent. As things stand now, the manuscript Life of Meher Baba will be left with my executors, and might be published posthumously. It is no loss to me if that early work remains unpublished during my lifetime. I am thereby spared the updating labours that would otherwise be necessary. Alternatively, some persons have urged me to provide relevant information about a figurehead, and in the face of sectarian misrepresentation of an author, in which context even basic facts are ignored and abused.
(8) Ward Parks, ed., Meher Baba's Early Messages to the West: The 1932-1935 Western Tours (North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: Sheriar Foundation, 2009), p. 223 note 31. The acknowledgments inform that "this book was edited by Ward Parks with the advice and guidance of Meherwan B. Jessawala" (ibid., p. 458).
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