Secret India: 2
1. Hazrat Babajan died in the Char Bawdi area of Poona on 21 September, 1931. On Wednesday, 23 September, the Evening News of India reported ‘Poona’s Homage to Famous Muslim Woman Saint’: “The Muslim community in Poona has been greatly moved by the death of the famous saint Babajan. It is claimed that she was 125 years of age, and the possessor of magical powers in addition to her powers of insight into the future. Her funeral yesterday … was very largely attended with thousands of people both Muslim and Hindus taking part in the procession.” According to one account: “Her funeral procession was a tremendous affair, never accorded to any dignitary or royalty in the annals of Poona” (Ghani, 1939: 38). On hearing of her death, Meher Baba, who was then in England, sent a telegram to Dr Abdul Ghani directing him to donate four thousand rupees on his behalf toward erecting Babajan’s marble tomb. The small one roomed marble dargah (shrine) was built alongside the neem tree under which she sat for so many years, by the roadside which is now a busy and noisy thoroughfare.
2. Brunton’s record of the interviews he had with Meher Baba cannot be regarded as a verbatim report, but simply as a retrospective narrative influenced by subsequent events, i.e., according to Shepherd (1988: 241, n. 212): “In April 1932, English reporters dubbed Baba in the British newspapers as the ‘Indian Messiah’, which seems to have lent accentuation to the journalism in Secret India, since Baba was commonly accepted in India only as a sadguru.” The term ‘Messiah’ used by Brunton in Secret India would therefore not have been current at either the Meherabad or Nasik ashrams during his stay. Brunton confirms in his posthumously published Notebooks (1987: 226, 6:171) that he did not start work on Secret India until around early 1933: “It was only after nearly two years which were needed to get rid of the blackwater fever which India dragged me down that I was able to begin work on A Search in Secret India.”