MAC Newsletter #1 Spring, 2018. Edited by Susan McKendree. Content supervisor: Renee Bussanich. Layout by Eruch Adams
UPDATE FROM THE ARCHIVES
by Eruch Adams
Since October of 2017, Meher Archive Collective has launched its training for the proper care for physical “paper” archives, also called “rehousing.” We have been collaborating with Marshall Hay’s heirs to rehouse and scan a large collection of Fred and Ella Winterfeldt’s letters, documents, photo prints and slides. So far we have completed cleaning the documents and rehousing them in acid-free folders, between sheets of acid-free paper or archival-grade non-reactive polyester film called melenix or mylar. The plastic sheets were used for the more precious original letters from Mehera Irani, Mani Irani, Adi K. Irani and Elizabeth Patterson, as well as letters and notes dictated by Meher Baba (usually via one of the mandali). This has been a huge undertaking involving more than ten volunteers who have worked once or twice a week.
Currently we are focusing on sorting the documents and arranging them in chronological order in preparation for scanning and filing in archival boxes.
Additionally, four carousels of slides have been scanned, encompassing slideshows of The Three Incredible Weeks, Baba’s trips to America in 1956 and 1958, the East-West Gathering, and a mixed show of the 1969 Darshan and other trips to India. These are in various stages of age deterioration or have suffered other damage, so they will be made available over a period of time.
Another seventy or so photo prints have been scanned, mainly of Baba, but the photo collection also includes some charming personal photos of Fred, Ella and some of their New York friends.
The next stage of scanning the documents will be a lengthy process, but at that point the collection will be digitally preserved and neither fire nor flood can make it vanish.
After the materials have been called they will be digitally catalogued, documenting dates, who sent or created the material, to whom it might have been given or for whom it was created, and subject matter. At that point the collection can be shared online.
The FredElla Collection is a perfect test case for many of the unarchived Baba collections still at large or in some partial state of completion. Cataloguing and preserving this collection is a multi-stage task, as well as time consuming, but in the final analysis—given that it documents the life and work of Avatar Meher Baba, no amount of time or effort can exceed the value of its preservation for the sake of posterity.
WHAT’S COMING UP AT MAC
MAC at the Southeast Gathering April 12 - 15th: Look for both a presentation (Saturday at 10 am) and a demonstration Friday around 11 am) on the schedule, with some interesting reveals from the archival work we are doing. The MAC board will be showing the work progress and will also be available for your questions. Elaine Cox and Jean Ludwig will be showing you how to take care of valuable materials you have at home in their break out session. If you are going, you won’t want to miss these!
Archiving your treasures at home: Mac is working with Elaine to produce a video of how to take care of your precious letters and photos in your homes to preserve and protect for posterity. This video, which will be available on our website and shared at the SEG, will tell you about materials and simple effective ways you can make sure your treasures will not deteriorate. We will discuss also how to ensure that Meher Baba’s history and stories are preserved.
Mandali letters and notes: There are so many incredibly inspiring and loving letters sent from the Mandali in India and we would love to post as many as possible for everyone’s benefit. We will be adding this feature to our website and letting you know how to submit all or parts of your letters in the near future. What a blessing these messages were and will continue to be for all the Baba community.
Updates in the office: A fireproof safe is on the way. We are expanding existing office space by converting a steel and masonry garage into a fire resistant archival vault. Though we are still limited on working space for volunteers, this expansion gives MAC the ability to take on take on 8-10 times more archival material than we currently house. We are continuing to grow and develop this community project that we all feel is so important: to Rescue, Preserve, and Share!
Ty Provosty, architect: Ty is consulting with the Board on land and building feasibility. We are continuing to look for suitable spaces and building options and are excited to be working with him on these projects. He brings to MAC an impressive background and extensive expertise and we are grateful for his guidance.
"Eleven Men with One Heart”
The All-Rounder of All-Rounders Blesses the Indian Cricketers
By Susan McKendree
On April 2, 1959, a rather unusual group of darshanites entered the gates of Guruprasad in Poona, India, to receive Meher Baba’s blessings, at the request of the secretary of the Poona Cricket Association, M. G. Bhave. The Indian cricket team was preparing to travel to England for a series of test matches, the first they had played there since 1952, and the “All-Rounder”1 of all-rounders gave them a proper sendoff.2
Four newspaper articles from the FredElla [Fred and Ella Winterfeldt] Collection, currently undergoing cataloguing and rehousing, document the occasion. Two were published in The Poona Daily News, one by Poona’s Times of India News Service, and the story was picked up by The Sunday Standard in Delhi.
Unsurprisingly, the articles vary in tone and accuracy. The two shortest articles are entitled “Team Blessed by Meher Baba” and “Meher’s Blessing to the Cricketers,” published by The Times of India News Service of Poona and in the The Poona Daily News respectively. While the piece in The Times refers to Baba as “the Avatar,” the second calls Him as the “owatar.”4 The The Daily News observes, “Meher-Baba [sic] and cricket would seem a far cry, but . . . good old cricketing fans could well remember Baba’s exploits on the field.”5
The Poona Daily News “Sportfolio” section included a piece called “An Hour with Meher Baba - A Sportsman and a True Lover of Sport,” accompanied by the byline Mr. “A. David.” Containing few quotes from Baba’s comments to the team, the article focuses on His remarks to the reporters. It refers to Him as “Meher,” as well as “the Baba,” and is accompanied by a group photo of the team with Baba seated in the center front.3
But by far the most engaging of the four articles is “A Silver Lining,” published in Delhi’s weekly Sunday Standard.
THERE is a silver lining to every cloud, and India’s band of cricketers to tour England from this month, damned and demoralised by the pinpricks and brickbats of a host of armchair critics, could not have asked for a better silver lining than the one they saw on the dark horizon on April 2 in Poona.
Meher Baba, the Zoroastrian holy man, reversed [sic] by all castes and creeds in Western India, succeeded in doing something for the team that neither the training camp in Poona nor the pep talks of harassed officials could achieve — close knit team spirit and confidence.
Many of the seventeen bound for England when told that Meher Baba wanted to see them . . . were rather skeptical, and only went to see the holy man to humour him.
But the skeptics felt otherwise when they left his presence.6
The team’s arrival was delayed by medical examinations, so the newspaper reporters gathered to document the meeting took the opportunity to ask some questions of Baba. He told them about of His life-long love of the game, which he had played at St. Vincent’s High School and Deccan College, and how He now attended as many matches as He could. He also revived the story of Yusuf Baig, the Poona all-rounder who famously challenged Baba to bowl to him and “learned to his great mortification that he had been stumped and that Meher [sic] had won the challenge.”7
When the cricketers arrived Baba blessed and embraced each player, after which Eruch read His message aloud to them:
In going to England to represent India in the field of sport you have the unique opportunity of practising and conveying to the people there the great spiritual lessons of concentration and love.
When you take the field, if you play as eleven men with one heart, each enjoying the excellence of performance in another player as he would in himself, whether that player is of your side or of the opposing team, and so eliminating feelings of jealousy, anger and pride, which so often mar sport, you will not only be entertaining the spectators but be demonstrating the real spirit of sportsmanship.
True sportsmanship is concentrated ability enlivened by sincere appreciation of the performances of others. And when this is manifested, everyone, both players ands spectators, receive spiritual upliftment as well as good entertainment.
Some of you are allrounders. I am a spiritual allrounder. I feel equally at home with saints, yogis, philosophers and cricketers, as well as with sinners and scoundrels. I give you my blessing that in all your actions you show the spirit of love.8
After the message was read Baba presented each player with a copy of Life at its Best and embraced each man one more time.
The unfortunate postscript to the story of Meher Baba’s meeting with the cricketers is that the team lost all five test matches against the British players. In fact, the Indian cricketers had an abysmal year altogether, winning just six matches, losing 11, and drawing (unable to finish) 16 of the remaining 33 games. Surely, however, the sting of so many loses was eased by the love that Meher Baba showed them when they came to Guruprasad for His blessings.
“A Silver Lining.” The Sunday Standard, Delhi, India. April 5, 1959. The Sunday Standard is the only weekly newspaper in India. A shorter article entitled “England - Bound Cricket Team Fit and Happy” appears alongside the article about Meher Baba.
“An Hour with Meher Baba - A Sportsman and a True Lover of Sport.” The Poona Daily News “Sportfolio.” Byline: A. David. Poona, India. Thursday [April 2], 1959.
“Indian cricket team in England in 1959.” Wikipedia,
Kalchuri, Bhau. Lord Meher on-line edition. More than 120 references to cricket occur in Lord Meher.
“Members of Cricket Team Felicitated . . . Meher Baba’s Blessing to Cricketers.” The Poona Daily News. Poona, India. No date. Typed copy. Original article is not catalogued in the collection.
“Team Blessed by Meher Baba.” The Times of India News Service. Poona, India. April 2, 1959.
1. Bhau Kalchuri, Lord Meher on-line edition, 4510. Also cited in various forms in the articles.
2. “All-rounder” refers to a player who excels at batting, bowling (throwing the ball) and wicket-keeping. Few players are adept at all three.
3. “An Hour with Meher Baba - A Sportsman and a True Lover of Sport,” The Poona Daily News.
4. “A Silver Lining,” The Sunday Standard, Delhi.
5. “Members of Cricket Team Felicitated . . . Meher Baba’s Blessing to Cricketers,” The Poona Daily News.
6. “A Silver Lining,” The Sunday Standard, Delhi.
7. “An Hour with Meher Baba - A Sportsman and a True Lover of Sport,” The Poona Daily News.
8.“Team Blessed by Meher Baba,” The Times of India News Service, Poona.
Not Just Collecting at the Meher Archive Collective
by Renee Bussanich
The function of an archive is to gather and preserve historic materials such as documents, photographs and artifacts. The vision of Meher Archive Collective is to gather, and, through the use of computer technology, preserve, maintain, restore and make available to the world historic materials that document the life and work of Avatar Meher Baba.
But MAC’s vision extends well beyond the establishment of its own safe and secure collection. Many people in the Meher Baba world community have created their own private collections of materials that have been handed down to them through family connections, given to them to care for, or else acquired by their own initiative. These collections include but are not limited to correspondence between and among other Baba lovers, letters and gifts from the mandali, and, in rarer cases, precious objects such as Baba’s sadras, objects that He touched or items associated with the Perfect Masters. They also contain photographs—both historic and personal, as well as audio and video recordings made during visits to India and at events in the West, when members of Baba’s mandali and other close ones came from India to share their own stories.
While MAC always welcomes the donation of historic materials and encourages all to plan for their collection's safe future, it also recognizes and respects the fact that many people wish to keep their archival materials in their personal possession for the time being. Thus MAC makes its services and expertise available to private collectors by preserving their materials for them and returning them to their owners. In addition, MAC endeavors to educate private collectors in methods of preservation so that they can properly maintain their own materials, by individual consultation as well as in workshops. In the world of Meher Baba archives, it is these services that set Meher Archive Collective apart.
Ultimately every collection should be also preserved and copied in multiple locations around the world to prevent catastrophic loss in the event of fire, flood, or other natural or man-made disasters. Working collectively will get us to that goal faster than in isolation.
Support Meher Archive Collective
If this work resonates with you and you would like to be a part of the MAC, there are volunteer opportunities and we can use your financial support as well. Please visit the website at www.meherarchive.org
Our Mission: To collect, preserve, and share Meher Baba’s Divine legacy of materials, artifacts, and words with integrity, love, and transparency for the benefit of humanity.
News, blogs, and updates on interesting archival finds and events.