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"This article or section needs sources or references that appear in reliable, third-party publications." What's that? a third-party publication?
- The Khauchuri biography of Meher Baba cited in the article contains the most extensive biography of Hazrat Babajan. Khauchuri, it seems to me, definitely qualifies as a third party source. Shepherd's biography is a scholarly work. Unless I can better understand the reason why these would not qualify as objective sources, I'll remove the tag.
- Although, to the Wester world, Babajan is not well known, she is popular and venerated among Sufis and other Muslims in the Pune area who have set up schools, clinics, etc., named for her and in her honor. There are numerous (untranslated) biographies of her available at her dargah. A mark of her popularity is that the dargah is smack in the middle of a busy street, and despite the expansion and modernization of the neighborhood, the city fathers continually change the traffic flow to avoid the dargah, rather than destroying or moving it.
- Among english speakers, however, she is virtually undocumented outside the Meher Baba community, who have studied her background extensively, although few regard as much more than a curious influence (not an object of worship).
If the birth and death dates currently in the article are correct, then she would have been 125 when she died. Making her three years older than the oldest women ever recorded. I find this hard to believe. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 18.104.22.168 (talk) 05:33, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
- Wikipedia is concerned with reporting the published sources, not ommitting information that seems impossible or unlikely, unless you can cite a source that challenges it. If Wikipedia didn't hold to published sources there would be no criterion for which opinion should stand. So please stick to published documented sources over gut feelings and hunches. Babajan would not have been included in such record keeping because in her day she was outside of the mainstay of society and would have passed uncounted, as numerous people do. Dazedbythebell (talk) 15:23, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
- With reference to the unsigned concern expressed regarding Babajan’s actual age when she died, I trust the following may prove useful to improving the article:
- Firstly, much of the accepted information about Hazrat Babajan appears to have been established solely on the authority of Meher Baba, a fact acknowledged by Dr Abdul Ghani Munsiff, who in 1939 wrote the first life-sketch of Babajan. According to Ghani, “the information gleaned from different sources is meagre, since Babajan herself was never communicative to anyone with regard to her life history. The facts of her early life and those relating to her spiritual career have all been confirmed by Hazrat Meher Baba, her chief disciple and spiritual Chargeman (Khalifa)” (Dr Abdul Ghani Munsiff: “Hazrat Babajan of Poona”, Meher Baba Journal, Vol. 1, February 1939, No. 4, p. 31).
- Bhau Kalchuri, a disciple of Meher Baba, and the principal source for the current article, states that Hazrat Babajan “was born to a royal Muslim family of Baluchistan in northern India between 1790 and 1800,” and that her “physical presence on earth lasted between 130 to 141 years” (“Hazrat Babajan, the Emperor”, Meher Prabhu: Volume One & Two 1894-1925, Manifestation, Inc., pp. 5, 19). However, for those who find such ages doubtful, it should be noted that in his colourful spiritual travel book, A Search in Secret India (1934), the then freelance journalist, Paul Brunton (Raphael Hirsch), recounts that he learnt “from former Judge Khandalawalla, who has known [Hazrat Babajan] for fifty years, that her age is really about ninety-five” (p. 62). Brunton had arrived in India, November 1930, and had left several months before Babajan’s death in September 1931. Which begs the question: is the former judge’s estimate of Babajan’s age just as valid as Kalchuri’s? Neither is based on supportive documented evidence.
- Kevin R D Shepherd, in his non-sectarian biography of Hazrat Babajan, observed re Brunton’s report that the Khandalawalla “episode was part of a short stay in India which was written up very journalistically as a bestseller. It was a tourist scoop, extremely superficial … that Khandalawalla had known Babajan for as long as fifty years is questionable; though it need not be doubted that he had encountered her by the time of her second visit to Bombay c. 1900” (A Sufi Matriarch: Hazrat Babajan, Cambridge: Anthropographia Publications, 1986, n. 51, p.77). It should be noted that both Khandalawalla and Brunton were critical of Meher Baba, and Shepherd suggests “Khandalawalla’s conservative estimate of her age was quite conceivably influenced by his antagonism to Meher Baba and the latter’s Hindu teacher Upasni Maharaj, to whom the judge attributed his son-in-law’s financial catastrophe on the Bombay Stock Exchange. Meher Baba was amongst those who said Babajan was well over a century in years” (ibid.).
- Shepherd concludes: “The general computation of her age was about 120 years, though some maintained that it was in excess of this, [Charles] Purdom cited an approximate date of 1790 for her birth, though [Dr Abdul] Ghani [Munsiff] was of the view that she was born later than this. Ghani’s estimate of her age was 125, based on general reminiscences and his own contact with her. In deference to critical tendencies which find the higher estimates indigestible, there seems every ground to believe that the subject was over a hundred by the time of her death” (A Sufi Matriarch, n. 54, pp. 77–78).
- In the absence of any historical evidence, in some respects it does not matter what age Babajan was when she died; yet commonsense is surely required. Longevity is not a spiritual accomplishment, but unfortunately can easily become a superficial hagiographical embellishment. Was she 95, 100, 120, 125, 130, or 141? Perhaps it is sufficient to accept that the subject may well have been over a hundred by the time of her death. The somewhat extreme estimated dates of Kalchuri do appear doubtful and will invariably continue to raise concerns.
- Despite Paul Brunton’s criticisms of Meher Baba (who, ironically, had suggested Brunton visit Babajan), his book does reveal that he was emotionally affected by his meeting with Hazrat Babajan, and afterwards, in his hotel room, he reflected: “That some deep psychological attainment really resides in the depths of her being, I am certain” (A Search in Secret India, p. 64; for a revealing analysis of Brunton’s short stay in India and the background to his observations of Meher Baba, see Kevin R D Shepherd, Meher Baba, an Iranian Liberal, Cambridge: Anthropographia Publications, 1988, pp. 146–176 ).
- With due respect to the more experienced editors, may I, as a new editor, propose that a ‘Further Reading’ section be added to the main article page (see below); these publications provide information about Hazrat Babajan that surely broadens our knowledge of the subject. Brunton, a journalist, did actually meet Babajan shortly before her death and gives a first-hand account (which includes an alternative estimate of her age); Ghani, a Muslim, medical doctor, and disciple of Meher Baba, had also met Babajan and wrote the first biographical sketch (which Kalchuri has drawn heavily upon); and Shepherd’s more extensive, non-sectarian, biography of Babajan (again, based on Ghani) draws together other writings on the subject and provides a needed non-devotee scholarly perspective. Has anyone any objection to this?
- Proposed further reading:
- Paul Brunton: “A Search in Secret India”, first published in 1934 by Rider & Co, London. Reprinted American paperback edition, Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1970, pp. 62–65
- Dr Abdul Ghani Munsiff: “Hazrat Babajan of Poona”, Meher Baba Journal, Vol. 1, February 1939, No. 4, pp. 29–39 (http://www.ambppct.org/meherbaba/Book_Files/journal_1_4R.pdf)
- Kevin R D Shepherd: “A Sufi Matriarch: Hazrat Babajan”, Anthropographia Publications, Cambridge, 1986
Thank you for this. It was very nicely written. It ought to be published somewhere. No objections from me as to the section. Sounds like you made your case. Dazedbythebell (talk) 00:53, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
- Thank you. Perhaps of relevance, I came across a book the other day in which the author writes: “She [Hazrat Babajan] was possibly born in the year 1820 or a little earlier, to a Pathan chieftain of the Afghans”. The author thought Babajan to have been “about 110 years or more …” when she died. (C B Satpathy, Shirdi Sai Baba and other Perfect Masters, New Delhi: Stirling Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 2001, pp. 77, 82). Interestingly, Satpathy’s reference to Babajan being born to a “Pathan chieftain of the Afghans” raises a minor issue, one which may in turn help to improve the article. Following the version of Bhau Kalchuri, the article currently states Babajan “was born as a Pashtun princess to a Muslim royal family of Balochistan”. Yet, Dr Abdul Ghani Munsiff merely informs that Babajan was “the daughter of a well-to-do Afghan of noble lineage” (Meher Baba Journal, Vol. 1, No. 4, p. 31), Kevin R D Shepherd writes, “Her father was one of the chieftains of the Afghan empire” (A Sufi Matriarch, p. 27), and Meher Baba, in 1927, is on record as communicating: “Hazrat Babajan is the daughter of one of the then responsible and chief Ministers of the Amir [ruler] of Afghanistan at Kabul” (see, http://www.ambppct.org/events/taverntalks/part130intrott.html). I do not know where Kalchuri sourced the “royal family” connection; certainly not from Meher Baba or Ghani, it appears. I am aware that in reference to the shrine of Baba (father) Jan (soul), another writer has mentioned, “According to some people Baba Jan’s original name is Razia Sultana. She is said to be the daughter of one Bahadur Shah Zaffar …” (see, J J Roy Burman, Hindu-Muslim Syncretic Shrines and Communities, New Delhi: Mittal Publications, 2002, p. 237). However, “Bahadur Shah Zaffar” is quite possibly a local romanticized embellishment, as Bahadur Shah Zaffar was the name of Bahadur Shah II (1775–1862), the last of the Mughal emperors of India, who also had Sufi affiliations. There is an excellent Wiki article on the subject. Perhaps that part of the article would be better re-worded: “Babajan was the daughter of one of the chief ministers of the Amir of Afghanistan”, which is how Charles Purdom reported Baba’s discourse (The Perfect Master, p. 115). Anyhow, I leave that one with you and the other editors to think about. In many respects, I feel it could be a useful exercise to revise the article by incorporating references where there are differing published views. Stephen Castro 08:48, 15 May 2011 (UTC)
- Dear Stephen Castro, Perhaps a somewhat shortened version of this article by you about Babjan's age ought to be worked into the article, maybe as a final segment at the very bottom, as Babajan's age does seem to be a matter of significant interest. I would put it in myself, but I leave it to you to judge how much. It seems it could be just a bit shortened, though I would not object to all of it being included as it is such lively reading and well referenced, and seems to include all viewpoints in an objective way. Dazedbythebell (talk) 20:02, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
- Yes, I’ll be happy to take a look at that over the weekend and see what can be done. If the addition is too long it could always perhaps be incorporated as a sub-page. Why people are so concerned with Babajan's age I really don’t know. There is nothing significant about old age. Her life does not need any embellishment - it was remarkable enough! But as Babajan would doubtless have responded: “Nobody wants my wares; they are just interested in my age!” --Stephen Castro 13:25, 29 June 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Stephen Castro (talk • contribs)
- Dazedbythebell, after some thought, I believe your above idea can certainly help to improve the article substantially if we perhaps incorporate another proposed section: “Controversies”. Not only can the age issue be looked at in more depth, but also other matters regarding Babajan’s life, especially the discrepancies between the two earliest versions of her life as found in Meher Baba (1927) and Dr Ghani (1939). It really is a shame that the “numerous (untranslated) biographies” of Babajan available at her dargah, mentioned by nemonoman on this discussion page in 2008, are still not available in English translation. Even though they are probably hagiographies, there may well be a few nuggets of information to be discovered that could throw more light on Babajan’s life. The Meher Baba movement have preserved Babajan’s biography, but the drawback is that their versions of her life have been established solely on the authority of Meher Baba. Those versions need to be compared with any other sources outside of the Meher Baba movement. If, indeed, Bhau Kalchuri has “an extensive collection of source material” related to Babajan, now would certainly be a good time to make it freely available. I, for one, would be most grateful for copies of that documentation. Stephen Castro 20:40, 29 June 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Stephen Castro (talk • contribs)
Proposed initial amendments to article
To give a general idea of some initial amendments that are probably necessary in order to include the differing published views, I provide an example below. I also feel the rest of the article could be improved, yet still retaining most of the current text. Again, are there any objections, or does anyone have a better suggestion?
Hazrat Babajan (c. 1806 – September 21 1931) was a Pathan (Pashtun) Muslim Sufi saint considered by her followers to be a sadguru or qutub. Born in either Afghanistan or Baluchistan (what is now Pakistan), she lived the final 25 years of her life in Pune, India.
Early life & realization
The earliest recorded account of Babajan, who was named at birth Gulrukh “Face like a Rose”, states that she “is the daughter of one of the ministers of the Amir of Afghanistan.” Later accounts report that Babajan “hails from Afghanistan … and was the daughter of a well-to-do Afghan of noble lineage”; “Her father was one of the chieftains of the Afghan empire”; and more recently, “born to a royal Muslim family of Baluchistan”. The precise date of Babajan’s birth is unclear. Biography variants range from 1790 to c. 1820.
- Purdom, Charles B: The Perfect Master, London: Williams & Northgate, 1937, p. 115, and referring to Meher Baba’s 1927 public discourse on Babajan, which had been recorded in a diary at the time (see http://www.ambppct.org/events/taverntalks/part130intrott.html)
- Munsiff, Dr Abdul Ghani: “Hazrat Babajan of Poona”, Meher Baba Journal, Vol. 1, February 1939, No. 2, p. 31
- Shepherd, Kevin R D: A Sufi Matriarch: Hazrat Babajan, Cambridge: Anthropographia Publications, 1986, p. 27
- Kalchuri, Bhau: Meher Prabhu: Lord Meher, The Biography of the Avatar of the Age Volume One, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: Manifestation, Inc., 1986, p. 5
- Purdom, Charles B: The God-Man: The Life, Journeys & Work of Meher Baba with an Interpretation of His Silence & Spiritual Teaching, London: George Allen & Unwin, 1962, p. 18, who wrote, “her actual date of birth is not known; it is supposed to have been about 1790”. Kalchuri states Babajan to have been born "between 1790 and 1800" (Meher Prabhu: Vol One, p. 5), and Ghani considered the date to have been 1806, suggesting she was “125 years” when she died (Meher Baba Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2, p. 38)
- Shepherd thinks it is “possible that she may have been born c. 1820 or even earlier” (A Sufi Matriarch, n. 16 p. 72), and Paul Brunton (Raphael Hirsch, or Hurst), quoting former judge Khandalawalla in 1931, wrote: “her age is really about ninety-five”, providing a possible later birth date of 1834 (A Search in Secret India, 1934, p. 62)
- I wasn't sure why you put her back in Pakistan. I took it from your other comments above that it was the Afghan Bolochistan and changed it to reflect that. I added in the material as you changed it. You can change it as you like. Dazedbythebell (talk) 19:22, 21 May 2011 (UTC)
- Thank you for adding the amendments.Yes, the Afghan Baluchistan, or near the border of. Stephen Castro 13:27, 23 May 2011 (UTC)
Proposed further amendment
As I have some time off work today, please see below a proposed draft suggestion to replace the 2nd para for the “Early life & realization” section. I will go through the remaining sections in due course, and when time permits. I will seek consensus before making any changes.
Following the conventions of Afghan aristocracy, Babajan was reared under the strict purdah tradition, in which women were secluded from the outside world, and were also subservient to a custom of arranged marriages. She opposed an unwelcome marriage planned for her, and ran away from home on her wedding day at the age of eighteen. Disguised in her burqa, she journeyed to Peshwar, the frontier city at the foot of the Khyber Pass; nothing definite is known about her life until her subsequent move to Rawalpindi many years later. It was in or near that city she “lead an ascetic life for some years” and eventually came into contact with a Hindu sadguru. Following instruction from the guru, “she went into seclusion in a nearby mountain outside Rawalpindi and underwent very severe Riyaz (spiritual austerities) for nearly seventeen months. Thereafter she came down to [the] Punjab and stayed a few months in Multan. It was in Multan, while [Babajan] was 37 years of age, she contacted a Muslim saint … who put end to her spiritual struggle by giving her God-realisation”. After that experience she returned to Rawalpindi to reconnect with the Hindu guru who, after several years, helped her return to normal consciousness.
- Shepherd, A Sufi Matriarch, p. 38
- Ghani, Meher Baba Journal, Vo. 1, No. 4, p. 32. Ghani does not name the Muslim saint, but Kalchuri states he was known as Maula Shah. This intense spiritual experience does not appear to have been an ultimate achievement. According to Meher Baba, she “became God Realized at the age of about sixty-five”, at the hands of another (unnamed) Master. (See http://www.ambppct.org/events/taverntalks/part130intrott.html)
- Thanks for the opportunity to serve my apprenticeship on Wikipedia. I am learning as I go along, hence the numerous edits! I have actually been using the four tildes re the signature, but for whatever reason the talk page details did not appear, only my name. Anyhow, I will just cut and paste the one above. The ‘realization’ part of Babajan’s life is certainly the most complex section of the article, which is why I have included several references. The fact that Meher Baba communicated Babajan was around sixty-five before she attained full realization does not actually surprise me. I will doubtless need to return to those references if further clarification is required. C B Satpathy confirms Shepherd’s earlier suggestion that, during the years before Babajan moved on to Rawalpindi she may well have linked with Sufi communities or earned her livelihood doing the work of a servant in a shrine somewhere else. Certainly she must have had some Sufi influence or affiliation, though maybe not in any strictly orthodox sense. I feel the rest of the article just needs some additions and references, and perhaps a new section, “Final years”, in order to include journalist Paul Brunton’s meeting with Babajan – there are so few eyewitness accounts. Stephen Castro 16:08, 30 May 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Stephen Castro (talk • contribs)
Another two revised proposed sections below. That’s all I have time for this weekend. It may be a few weeks before I can look at the other remaining sections. I wish to clarify that I am merely attempting to provide a framework which, it is sincerely hoped, other editors with knowledge of the subject will wish contribute towards. I have tried to steer clear of creating a hagiography – not easy! I have deliberately left out the bit about Upasni Maharaj, etc, as this does not seem appropriate; the article is about Babajan. Other matters concerning Meher Baba are dealt with elsewhere on Wikipedia. (I’m also not too happy with the section title, “Master to Meher Baba”.) Babajan was a saint with a largely Muslim following, yet she also appealed to Hindus, and to a lesser extent, Zoroastrians. She is therefore a subject in her own right, and not just an appendage to the Meher Baba movement. However, that is a personal view, and as I stated in an earlier comment: I will seek consensus before posting to the main article. What I would like to do next is to look at the “Travel and pilgrimages” section (which seems okay), but to end that section once Babajan resides in Pune, and then add two new sections: “Life in Pune” and “Final years”.
Master to Meher Baba
In May 1913, Merwan Sheriar Irani, then nineteen years old, was riding his bicycle on the way to class at Deccan College, when he looked up and saw an old woman sitting under a neem tree surrounded by a crowd. He had cycled past on previous occasions, but had never paid any attention to her, though he was vaguely aware that she was regarded by some as a Muslim saint; but then, others thought her “a mad women or a witch or sorceress”. Yet his father, Sheriar Irani, though born into a Zoroastrian family, had been a itinerant dervish for a number of years before finally marrying and settling in Pune, held Babajan in high regard. Babajan beckoned the boy, who in turn was drawn towards her. For several months thereafter Merwan Irani would visit the saint; they would sit together yet seldom spoke. One night during January 1914, he was about to leave, and before doing so kissed Babajan’s hands, and she in turn held his face in her hands. She then kissed him on the forehead, during which she bestowed her spiritual grace (barakah) upon him. The event subsequently left Merwan Irani in an enraptured, blissful state in which he remained abstracted from his normal surroundings for nine months. The young man would later become known as, Meher Baba.
Shrine in Pune
Hazrat Babajan died in the Char Bawdi section of Pune on September 21, 1931. On Wednesday, September 23, The Evening News of India reported her death. The newspaper article informed that the “Muslim community in [Pune] has been greatly moved by the death of the famous saint…. Her funeral yesterday … was very largely attended with thousands of people both Muslims and Hindus taking part in the procession”. The white marble dargah (shrine) of Babajan was built alongside the neem tree under which she had sat for so many years, by the roadside which is now a busy thoroughfare. “It is a small one roomed dargah with the turbat placed under a tree. The trunk of the tree emerges through the rooftop”. Her dargah is frequented by people of all religions.
- Kalchuri, Meher Prabhu: Vol. One, p. 195
- See Kalchuri, Meher Prabhu: Vol. One, pp. 117–131; see also Shepherd, From Oppression to Freedom: A Study of the Kaivani Gnostics, Cambridge: Anthropographia Publications, 1988, Part One
- Reproduced in Kalchuri, Meher Prabhu: Vol. Four, pp. 1426–7; see also Ghani, Meher Baba Journal, Vol. 1, No. 4, p. 38, who observed: “Her funeral procession was a tremendous affair, never accorded to any dignitary or royalty in the annals of [Pune]”.
- See J J Roy Burman, Hindu-Muslim Syncretic Shrines and Communities, New Delhi: Mittal Publications, 2002, p. 237
The idea of changing the infobox to a saint template is good. But some of the information changes are problematic. As the article clearly states the year of Babajan's birth is far from known, let alone certain. It is one of the most enigmatic aspects of her biography. Second she was not known by anyone as far as I know as "Saint Hazrat Babajan." Also the removal of her own master as an influence on her, and to say that she was influenced by her own disciple Meher Baba doesn't make a lot of sense. Dazedbythebell (talk) 18:50, 19 June 2011 (UTC)
Place of Birth
Apart from Hazrat Babajan's age discussion here I am very perplexed by her birthplace controversy here. During her her early life the later North West Frontier Province was indeed an eastern Afghanistan province and was not actually absorbed into British India until 1901 - it is the same region of NWFP of Pakistan that is now known as Pakhtunkhwa (since March 2010). So if Hazrat Babajan mentioned Afghanistan as her birthplace then it is very likely that she really is from the part that was eastern Afghnistan and included present day Balochistan. It should also be noted that present day Balochistan in Pakistan was part of that eastern Afghan province. So the editors should consult the geography that is contemporaneous with the early period of the subject's life and not that of the last hundred plus years. Moarrikh (talk) 16:10, 21 December 2011 (UTC)