Saturday, March 8, 2014

Meher Baba, Adolf Hitler, and false rumors

Two posts ago I said I would talk about certain false rumors concerning what Meher Baba said about Adolf Hitler. Such a discussion seems appropriate for this site where the theme is meant to center on Meher Baba's words -- which ought to include discussion of what are not Baba's words.

In my last post I talked about the subject of false rumors in general where they concern what Meher Baba said on certain subjects, as well as naturally occurring confusions about what Baba may have meant by certain things that he actually said.

There is a rumor that I first heard almost forty years ago, when I was a teenager. I now know roughly how this rumor got started, and how it first began to spread. It was from a statement a disciple of Baba made several years after Baba dropped his body, speaking his own thoughts on the topic of God-realization. From what I have been able to piece together, a person who was present misunderstood what the disciple had said, taking it to be a reference to something Baba had said in his lifetime. It was not. Confronted several years later on this topic, the disciple was apologetic for the confusion that had been caused and said that he had likely simply been "talking big." When this was finally disclosed the person who had spread the rumor said he regretted ever saying what he did, having fully realized it was not true.

The rumor was that Meher Baba gave Adolf Hitler's henchmen (Goebbels, Himmler, etc.) "God-realization" for doing such a good job in his work. [Alert! Previous sentence was a rumor based on a misunderstanding and was never said by Meher Baba.]

Now what did this disciple mean when he said sadly he had been merely 'talking big?' From what I understand, he was simply trying to give an absurdly outrageous example to make a point that we know nothing of why God gives Realization to anyone -- and he chose too extreme an example. It was never meant to convey that Baba said this. Yet it was badly misunderstood, and a rumor was sadly formed. While this rumor was long-ago dispelled entirely, through discussion with both parties responsible, it is not always the case that a correction can 'keep up' with the advancing of a rumor, so that it seems it must be from time to time corrected yet again.

This is not unusual in our society. In fact there is research on this exact phenomenon, in corporations analyzing how so-called "facebook memes" go "viral," even when they carry untrue messages. [1][2] Even after a false meme has been thoroughly debunked, the correction is rarely as sensational as the rumor, and so it never quite reaches everyone that hears it, and it goes on spreading. It is as if the correction can't catch up with the meme. For as new generations hear the rumor for the first time, it must be corrected again and again. And this never appears to really end.

A very famous false meme that began in the 19th century, and is still taught in High Schools, is that when Christopher Columbus proposed his plan to cross the sea to discover a trade-route to China, he was met by resistance by medieval scholars who believed the world was flat. See Myth of the Flat Earth.

So many examples of this phenomenon can be shown. When Bobby McFerrin released his popular 1988 song "Don't Worry, Be Happy", two rumors immediately spawned. One was that the song was written by Bob Marley, who died seven years before the song was written. The other is that the person who wrote the song later committed suicide. Obviously Bobby McFerrin is very much alive. Yet in the face of these logical obstacles, the rumors persist, to be corrected over and over.

In fact, there are entire lists of such miraculously persistent common misconceptions. Here's one of them.

Baba's attitude about Nazis continues to be misrepresented

Perhaps it is due to this original rumor that first emerged in the 1970s, that a whole slew of new rumors have spawned very much like it. And it is to address at least a few of these that I decided to write this post.

One thing I am told is said, is that Baba related that Hitler was doing his work, and/or that Hitler was his agent. (For an explanation of what Baba means by agents see this explanation.)
  • Was Hitler a spiritual "agent" of Baba's?
  • Was Hitler good?
  • Was Hitler doing Baba's "work?"
To address such questions I will give some quotes. Baba said an enormous amount about Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. I want to cover several aspects of it. Incidentally, anyone can do their own research in, most importantly for this historical period, Lord Meher and Mehera Meher. Below these are referenced as LM and MM.

I will also give a discussion of Baba's reference to his internal work that involves such tragedies, hoping to put it into a clearer light.

What did Baba really say about the Nazis!

To begin with, all during the period leading up to WWII and during it Meher Baba demonstrated enormous prescience about its unfoldment, often making statements that were not confirmed until much later. I'll give a few examples to show that Baba gave every impression of knowing what he was talking about.

1. Baba predicted a second world war involving Germany (as well as Russia, America, England, and Italy) three years before the National Socialist Party (the Nazis) came to power. (LM, 1986 print edition, p. 1315)

2. Baba predicted Adolf Hitler's suicide five years before it happened. In the same year (1940) he predicted Mussolini would be killed violently. (LM, 2012 online edition, p. 2162)

3. There is great reason to believe that Baba predicted Hitler's mistake of invading the Soviet Union three months before it occurred, and in the very moment Hitler was forming the invasion plan with his generals, an operation called Barbarossa. (LM, 1986 print edition, p. 2742) [see details]

What did Baba say about the Nazis themselves? He said that Germany under Hitler's rule was experiencing "mass psychosis." (MM, Vol. 1, p. 383, & LM online edition p. 1875)

Did Meher Baba say that Adolf Hitler was his agent? This is easy to answer. The answer is simply "no." Baba was actually asked this question in 1941. His answer was that he was not. (LM, 1986 print edition, p. 1315)  

Did Baba say anything good about Hitler? Baba said the same kinds of things about Hitler's enormous abilities that all historians have. He said he was brave and that he was a patriot of Germany. Anyone who knows his distinguished WWI record knows this. Baba said Hitler believed he was doing good. Again, no one who has studied Hitler's career carefully would disagree that Hitler believed in his own twisted mind that he was doing something good for humanity. But did Baba agree he was? No.

Here are some quotes for what Baba said about Hitler. These are taken from the 2012 revised online edition of Lord Meher, that anyone can check. There are 38 references to Hitler in that book.
  • "Hitler is a beast . . ."
  • "Hitler is a coward . . ." 
  • "Hitler is mad . . ."
  • "Hitler really thinks he is doing good, but his 'good' is 'bad' for others!"
  • "Hitler . . . is no good — cruel — hopeless!"
  • "Mussolini and Hitler . . . are good-for-nothing fellows — whereas my mandali are 'good-for-everything!'"
The next question is more complex and requires a deeper answer. Was Hitler doing Baba's work?

The answer I think is 'no.' And Baba never said this. Baba never once said that Adolf Hitler or the Nazis or the Fascists were doing "his work." This simply is not something Baba said, and would be a confused idea of what Baba meant by his work as the Avatar. Baba DID say that all these figures, such as Hitler, Churchill, and Mussolini, were enacting roles in God's plan. They were playing their part, like actors. Anyone who has studied Baba's writing knows that we all are enacting roles. See Baba's analogy of the Theatrical Company here, analogy #13, to see that for Baba every mind plays a part, but the director is the sanskaras, not him.

Now let's step back for a moment and think about the Avatar's work. To begin, use some common sense and think of what all traditions say of the awaited prophet, messiah, avatar, etc. What does he come to do? He comes to dispel the forces of darkness – not to create them.

Below is the Hindu mythical image of the Kalki Avatar, the one that comes at the end of the Kali Yuga to vanquish the demons. It is the word Avatar that Baba chose to most often use to describe himself, which is of course of Hindu origin.

Kalki with his sword vanquishing the demons
Now Baba did not take up a literal sword to conquer anything, any more than Jesus did when he said, "I come not to bring peace, but a sword." Jesus did not create calm, but disruption, to bring about a new age without the forces of evil that existed in his time. All the great religions have this image.

Baba did not take up a sword any more than Jesus. But he said that he did internal work through his agents in the spiritual hierarchy to bring about change and end the sins of the past -- to bring up and destroy those impressions.

And if we carefully follow Baba's actual words about the coming of WWII, and the rise of the Nazis in particular, we see a Baba that is highly concerned with making sure that the world rise up and bravely fight against Hitler -- something that was not altogether certain at the time would happen, as any historian knows, as in that period there was much inertia and fear and even a desire to placate or collude with the Nazis.

And so Baba's own actual words begin to make sense.
I am happy war is declared. I am relieved and feel greatly unburdened. In the suspense of indecision, I felt responsible. (Baba in 1939, LM, revised online edition, 2033)
This appears to have been Baba's internal work, through his spiritual hierarchy, to bring about this fighting back. And to bring this about, Hitler had to be given rope to be defeated. Hitler is not the problem of the world in all its ages. He was a manifestation and expression of an aspect of them.

For Baba, all the world is a stage in God's drama. But Baba says that the world is the Creation of an aspect of God he calls Ishwar. Ishwar creates unconsciously, not even being a God-realized aspect. It is like one that dreams, not realizing he is dreaming.

It is Baba who steps into the dream to alter it consciously, and it is done with great effort and strain.

And yes, all characters are players in this drama, all are God unconsciously enacting what their impressions dictate.
"Hitler is a perfect medium and actor who is playing his role splendidly in the world drama." (LM online edition p. 2270)

"Hitler is the chief villain, Churchill the hero, and Mussolini a comedian in my divine drama." (LM online edition p. 2133)
But nowhere does Baba say that this was his conscious doing. All comes out of him, for every aspect of God is within Him and he knows it. Thus in a sense it is Baba conscious fighting with Baba less conscious.
"Hitler [plays the greatest part] of all. His name will remain immortal for centuries. He plays a double role of hero and villain simultaneously, and so marvelously, [in spite of such] a burden of worries that would make anyone else crazy, and [as well as] being surrounded by enemies [and spies] that endanger his life every moment. He would have been assassinated already, but for God's nazar on him, to enable him to play the role assigned, which he plays so creditably.
Due to this divine grace on him, a sincere belief and strong conviction are created in him so that whatever he does he thinks is for the betterment and good of humanity, and is therefore right [no matter how wrong it is]. Even the trickeries and diplomatic moves against other countries of Europe and now against Russia are thus justified, he thinks. Otherwise, how could God's game continue as planned?" (LM online edition p. 2245)
Now for those who are not pleased that God dreams all, that God does all, that it is God that plays every role unawares, that it is God that in the end conquers all, and realizes all -- then Baba is not the master for them. For this is the monism that he teaches. How he plays his role in it he always says is beyond our conceptions.

In some religions there is a demonic second force that God must contend with for all time -- until the end of time. In Baba's theme of Creation there is no Satan and there is no damnation. One simply cannot have it both ways.

Baba never said that Hitler was doing his work. But Baba said that Hitler was within the will and whim and dream of God -- and in fact like all of us is in fact God having that dream within a dream.

Post note:

Someone in the comments brought up a good question, to which I post one more quote from Lord Meher, online edition, p. 2334.
Curiously, it was reported in the newspaper that Churchill, while speaking to a group of coal-miners, had remarked in hindsight about Hitler's mistake in not invading Britain in 1940: "I have a feeling sometimes that some 'guiding hand' had interfered. I have a feeling that we had a Guardian because we serve a great cause and that we shall have that Guardian so long as we serve that cause faithfully."
Chanji noted, "However unconsciously spoken by the speaker, they literally describe an aspect of the Divine Plan, as explained Baba." 
Download the above essay as a PDF file

Update 9-1-14:

Very interesting additional quote.
Changing the subject to war, Baba commented: "Mahasabha says you should follow the Gita and act as Krishna declared – to defend, but without hatred. Now [Sept. 22, 1940] that is not practical, because the German hate is so profound that the reaction in all the defenders must be of hate. Krishna's teaching advocated by Mahasabha, and Christ's teaching advocated by Gandhi, are both impractical for this war. What did the small nations do? They did not resist and were swallowed up! And now they hate more than those who resisted. So now will come a new, third way for world peace. First world war, then peace."
Somebody made a comment about the war, and Baba spelled out in reply: "What is bad about it? The war is teaching people to be brave, to be able to suffer, to sacrifice." 
(Mehera-Meher, A Divine Romance, © 2003, David Fenster, Vol. II, pp. 98-99)


  1. One crucial question then. Do you think that all the events would have occurred naturally the way they did, even if the Avatar had never been born?

    1. It appears that they would not have. Now that you mention it, I should add one more quote on this point. Something that Churchill said after the war that is quoted in Lord Meher.