Meher Baba visited New York in 1931. I have compiled a brief account of this visit which has been published in Lord Meher, Volume 4. All excerpts in quotes in the following account are from Lord Meher, Volume 4.
Mr. Watson Invites Baba to America
The invitation to Visit America was given to Baba by an elderly man named Thomas Augustus Watson who with his wife, met Baba on September the 13th , 1931 at Combe Martin in England . Baba was on a tour to England and I pick up the thread from the point when Baba reached Combe Martin after a ten-hour car ride from London.
"After a ten-hour ride Baba reached Combe Martin at Five o'clock. Among the persons gathered to receive Meher Baba was an elderly man named Thomas Augustus Watson, who had come with his wife from America to stay at the retreat (Devonshire Retreat) two days. Mr. Watson was a scientist who had worked with Alexander Graham Bell in inventing the telephone, and since retired, was searching for spiritual knowledge. Upon entering the retreat and climbing the staircase to his room, Baba stopped for a moment and gently placed his hand on Watson's head. Baba's divine touch had such a deep effect on him that the old man wept like a child. From Baba's gentle touch, his heart burst and overflowed with love.
Having observed similar incidents while on tour with Baba, Chanji took Mr. Watson into the library and made him sit down. Watson continued to weep for about fifteen minutes and then became quiet. His eyes filled with tears and he asked softly, 'How long have you been with Him?'
'For seven years' replied Chanji.
Hearing this, Watson placed his hand in a fatherly way on Chanji's back and said, 'My son,do you realize how fortunate you are to have been living in such close contact with such a great personality ? '
'Yes Sir I do consider myself fortunate,' Chanji answered. 'It is his grace that I am near him'
After a few moments of silence, Watson revealed 'in my seventy-eight years of life, today is the first time I have experienced what divine love is. I have come to realize this with just a touch from Meher Baba.'
Chanji said ' Such a privilege is bestowed on very few.'
Without Watson's asking, Baba had rocked the grounds of his being. Watson's heart blossomed and he saw new light - the light which dispels the darkness of ages.
It was wonderful how the Master's work was manifesting. He was forging a link with Watson for a plan, which, upto now, he had not revealed. Baba was planning on going to America from England and Watson was to be his medium for setting it up. This is why Watson felt compelled to travel all the way to England just to meet Meher Baba."
The next day Watson met Baba again and Baba explained to Watson about different stages of the development of the mind and described how the mind experiences the universe. Baba said :
"When our sight turns within then the search for God begins. To attain Godhood, two things are required: First, pure conduct, and second, ideal service rendered selflessly.'
Watson asked, 'What can I do? I am too old and feeble to render much service; but I can help in other way you suggest.'
Baba gestured, 'Don't worry I will instruct you.'
On September 15 , Thomas Watson said to Baba, "America is the country for a great spiritual worker like you. You must go there If you permit me, I shall make all the necessary arrangements for you and your group to visit us in New York. On behalf of the American people, I extend my heartiest invitation to you to come to the United States.'
Baba expressed his pleasure at Watson's love, but declined the invitation. Watson felt sad about it and tried to persuade Baba to change his mind. Finally at his constant plea, Baba agreed to go to America.
After Baba accepted his invitation, Watson and His wife prepared to leave for the United Sates to see to all the arrangements for the Master's visit.
Baba arrives in New York to a strange Welcome
Time passed in between . Baba continued his tour of Europe finally reaching America on 6th November 1931 to a most bizarre welcome. Following is the account of Baba's arrival in New York:
"On Friday, November 6th, 1931, passing the Statue of Liberty, the S.S. Roma sailed into New York city harbor at two in the afternoon. However this time, Meher Baba's welcome was not exactly warm or inviting. Two hours passed before Baba and the group were allowed to disembark. An insolent immigration officer kicked up a row on board ship, unnecessarily delaying their disembarkation. He was dissatisfied with the answers given by Meredith Starr to his questions and suspected something suspicious about Baba's silence and alphabet board. He kept detaining Baba and the group with questions and even tried to read the board himself, but could not. He asked Baba directly, 'You have come to teach people in America? But you do not speak. How can you teach with this board? How foolish! Who gave you this silly idea?
Baba spelled out in reply, 'I have come not to teach, but to awaken.' In reply, the man laughed loudly, mocking Baba. Baba's eyes flashed, gesturing to the group 'fool that he is, he laughs at this now, but I will show him. Poor, ignorant soul. I pity him !'
The Officer then warned them, ' I cannot let you pass unless someone in New York stands surety for you'. However this trip to America was not widely publicized and not many knew about Baba's coming. Except for three persons waiting for Baba at the dock, and they were prevented from boarding the ship, there was no one present to intervene on Baba's behalf.. It was quite an awkward situation, but it was the Master's game. Baba remained serene and calm as he meekly submitted to the interrogation by the insulting immigration agent.
Suddenly an officer of the ship dressed in white appeared on the scene, and asked the immigration agent, 'Why do you detain these men when all the other passengers have left the ship?' He explained that he was not satisfied with their travel documents and wanted surety. The Ship's officer looked through the papers and asked, 'What is wrong with them? Let them go.'
'But there is no one here to stand guarantee for them,' the agent protested.
Chanji explained that they had very good references, and the officer said to the agent, 'Quite frankly, I do not see any sense in your behaviour. They even have references to show. If you still need a guarantor, I will stand guarantee. I am coming back shortly and want you to prepare permits for them to land'.
This reprimand upset the immigration agent; however,he issued the landing cards. When Chanji went to thank the Ship's officer, he could not find him. No one knew who he really was.
Baba Drives around Wall Street
Baba after his arrival, drove to a small town Corton-Harmon alongwith his group. Baba stayed there and met many people and gave discourses. Many interesting events happened during this stay. During this stay, Baba had predicted that another world war would breakout : 'The war is a necessary prelude to my manifestation and the subsequent birth of a new and better world'. Baba met many famous people during this period who became his life long lovers. He also traveled to Boston and then returned back to Harmon and after staying there for five days, drove to New York on December 4th to the Stokes residence in Greenwich village.
Before leaving New York on December 5th 1931, Baba wished to be driven around Wall street. New York's financial district. It was a Saturday and the streets were virtually deserted. In the car, Jean Adriel was thinking to herself : 'How ephemerial and unreal is this money madness!'
The next moment, pointing to the skyscrapers, Baba smiled at her and gestured
"It's all a bubble, so easy to prick" . The year was 1931.
Eventually after a short period, Baba's tour to the west concluded and Baba returned to India. I was keen to know more about Mr. Watson's association with Baba after Baba's return to India but could not find any references in Lord Meher on this.
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