Guruprasad, located in Pune, was one of the residences of the Maharani (Queen) of Baroda. With great love, she invited Meher Baba and His mandali to use her palatial home during the hotter months of India. Baba spent the summers during the 1960s at Guruprasad. It was also the site of many darshan programs, including the 1962 East-West Gathering and the 1969 Great Darshan. Guruprasad was later demolished, but certain original materials, including these priceless doors, were saved. Board member Evie Lindemann shares her knowledge and personal thoughts about Guruprasad and the journey of these precious doors now being lovingly preserved as part of MAC’s collection . . .
Guruprasad Doors Find a Home at MAC
By Evie Lindemann
My heart beat more quickly when I was told recently that two doors from Guruprasad were being donated to MAC! I witnessed the original glory of this regal building prior to its dismantling. I had been in Pune in the early 1970’s and experienced first hand the strength of Baba’s presence there. The Palace once belonged to the Maharani of Baroda, and Baba would travel and reside there between 1959-1968 during the hot summer months. You might have seen images of Baba at Guruprasad in films and photos. Hearing the name “Guruprasad” evokes strong feelings of connection, beauty, and love. It is a reminder of some of the events that shaped the lives of those who had the good fortune to join Baba for a personal meeting, an informal gathering, or for a large event such as the East West Gathering in 1962.
Curiously, as so many things connected with Baba have their own stories to tell, these two doors from Guruprasad made their way to the West from Pune through the work of Meherji Karkaria, a long time Baba lover and businessman, who offered them to Annarosa Karrasch in the early seventies when the Society for Meher Baba group traveled to India for Amartithi. The beautiful Guruprasad Palace was to be torn down, and some items would be preserved.
Months later the doors arrived in New York City in a large wooden crate. During transit, the glass in the doors shattered. Annarosa had the doors restored and stained by Amish craftsmen in Pennsylvania, and with new etched glass installed in a similar design to the original. The doors were preserved in the offices of the Society, and after Annarosa’s death, her son Larry and his wife, Rita, were offered the doors.
Larry and Rita have cared for these doors for over two decades, and transported the doors to Myrtle Beach when they moved there. Through Larry and Rita’s generous donation, the twin doors were given to MAC. I was fortunate to be able to travel there to help receive the doors, witness the careful wrapping and preparation that took place in the able hands of Glenn Magrini, Hugh Huntington, and Joe Dunn and take photographs of the journey of the doors to Asheville, NC. Larry and Rita wrote: “For the past twenty seven years these beautiful doors have been in our care in three of our different homes. Although we will miss them, we are happy that so many people will get to see and enjoy them in the MAC Building. We are grateful to MAC for arranging and carrying out their move with loving care and respect."
Appreciation goes to Ted Judson, to Heather Nadel, to Meher Baba’s nephew, Sohrab Irani, and to Cyrus Irani for their assistance in understanding more about the history of the doors. Should you travel to India in the future, you will be able to visit the Guruprasad Memorial Building in Pune, constructed a few years after Guruprasad was dismantled. As a goodwill gesture, the builder, Atur Sangtani, preserved some of the original materials to create the Memorial building at his own expense. Inside the Memorial are items connected to Baba, such as the chair He used for darshan programs, as well as floor tiles from His bedroom. Although Mr. Sangtani was not a Baba lover, he respected Baba and wanted to do something to honor Baba’s presence at Guruprasad. He handed over the Memorial property, including the small garden and the building itself to the Trust as a gift. It is open for darshan every day except Wednesday and is located on Bund Garden Road.