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9902 Sulphur Mountain Rd
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(805) 640-0000

Story Blog

Anecdotes, activities and stories about Meher Mount - past, present and future.

Jean Adriel Writes Avatar - A Biography of Meher Baba

Margaret Magnus

By Margaret Magnus 

To the living Christ whose beauty the very heavens cannot contain, but whose presence may be found in every humble, living heart. [1]
— Jean Adriel, Dedication in Avatar: The Life Story of the Perfect Master Meher Baba, 1947
THE ORIGINAL COVER of the hard copy edition of  Avatar: The Life Story of the Perfect Master Meher Baba  by Jean Adriel, 1947, published by the J.F. Rowny Press, Santa Barbara, CA.

THE ORIGINAL COVER of the hard copy edition of Avatar: The Life Story of the Perfect Master Meher Baba by Jean Adriel, 1947, published by the J.F. Rowny Press, Santa Barbara, CA.

In 1947, Avatar: The Life Story of the Perfect Master Avatar Meher Baba by Jean Adriel was published.

As one of the first major works on Avatar Meher Baba, it “…is a classic. The story was still in progress when [it was] written. This book captures the times and travels of Meher Baba's life and works…up to and through WW II. It covers a range of topics that touch the heart and inform,” [2] wrote Bing Heckman in his review on Amazon, October 5, 2012.

Meher Baba was silent from 1925 until He dropped His physical form in 1969. “Nonetheless,” continued Heckman, “his life and work are quite dynamic. His work is for the awakening of humanity; it is universal. This book provides a fascinating view into this extraordinary person.” [3]

Another Amazon reviewer Laurent Weichberger noted, “Avatar is one of the earliest descriptions of the atmosphere of love and grace that surrounds Avatar Meher Baba. Jean Adriel performed an enormous service to the world by writing this book.” [4]

Jean Adriel Meets Avatar Meher Baba

Jean Adriel, born Jean Robinson [5] on September 21, 1892, in Pennsylvania, first met Avatar Meher Baba in 1931 in New York City. At that time, she was married to poet Malcolm Schloss (1895-1954).

Previously, they ran a metaphysical bookstore in New York City called The North Node that eventually met with financial failure. One day a stranger came into their bookstore and gave them a letter from an Englishman who had spent six months in India with a great spiritual Master. Through another mutual contact they learned this was the Perfect Master, Shri Meher Baba (1894-1969).

It was later in 1953 that Meher Baba publicly declared that He was the Avatar of the Age, God in human form. He said He was the same Ancient One known in the past as Zoroaster, Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammed.



Jean and Malcom planned to visit Meher Baba in England during His first trip to the West in 1931, but just before they booked their passage, they received a cable from Meher Baba asking them instead to make arrangements for His coming to America.

Through a friend, they obtained a home 40 miles outside New York City on the Croton River known as the Harmon Retreat. It was Meher Baba’s headquarters for a month in November 1931. [6], [7] 

Between 1931 and 1956, Meher Baba made nine trips to the West including two around the world tours.  

Jean and her husband Malcolm were invited by Meher Baba along with an intimate group of Western disciples to join Him in Nasik, India, where they stayed in Meher Baba’s ashram for six months in 1937.

This was followed by three months in Cannes, France, when Meher Baba returned again to the West with the Western group and several Eastern disciples. He sent Jean and Malcolm back to New York from Cannes in October 1937. Jean and Malcolm divorced in the 1940s.

Writing the Book, Avatar

After returning from India, Jean attended a psychological seminar conducted by Dr. Fritz Kunkel, a renowned integrator of the work of Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler and Carl Jung. This program helped her gain insight “into many of the more puzzling aspects of Baba’s technique with his disciples.” [8] She kept a notebook of her thoughts.

Dr. Kunkel suggested to the group that they write their life stories. “I finally came to the conclusion that the most fruitful course for me would be to write the life-story of my Master, Meher Baba, as I knew it, with particular emphasis upon my own experience with him,” [9]  Jean wrote in the preface of Avatar on September 1, 1946.

“When Meher Baba told me, in India to spend most of my time meditating upon him and writing down the fruits of my meditation, I little thought that they would find their way into print. It was not, in fact, until I had been back in America for about four years that the book AVATAR began to take its present form.” [10]

Jean Adriel and Agnes Baron Meet

While working on Avatar, Jean and her friend the movie producer Alexander Markey (1891-1956) founded the 500-acre New Life Center in La Crescenta, CA, dedicated to Meher Baba.

It just so happened that Agnes Baron (1907-1994), who later became a co-founder and lifetime caretaker of Meher Mount, was staying nearby at the Ananda Ashram.

While she was at the ashram, Agnes said that people complained that the “clacking” of her typewriter until late in the night was keeping them awake. She was asked to stop or please relocate. She was directed to the New Life Center as a quiet place where she could do some writing. She subsequently rented a cottage there.

At that time, Agnes, 39, was not interested in Meher Baba because she had been disillusioned by another spiritual teacher.

According to Agnes, when Jean heard Agnes was a writer, she asked if Agnes would edit Avatar. Although Agnes was put off by Jean's writing style, she was drawn to the descriptions of Meher Baba and asked Jean, "Is he for real?" [11]

The Founding of Meher Mount

JEAN ADRIEL at Meher Mount in 1949.

JEAN ADRIEL at Meher Mount in 1949.

One day, Jean received word from Meher Baba that He wished them to relocate to a place somewhere one or two hours from a big city. They decided to take a drive one afternoon north of Los Angeles and look for property. They invited Agnes to come along.

In 1946, the 172-acres in Ojai that became Meher Mount was purchased. The group later sold the La Crescenta property. Jean and Agnes both moved to Meher Mount to take care of the place.

When Jean returned to India and Meher Baba’s ashram in 1948, Agnes stayed on to care for the property until her death in 1994. At some point Agnes put the property in her name. Upon Agnes’ death, the Meher Mount property became the responsiblity of the non-profit organization, Meher Mount Corporation.

Avatar Is Published

A PRINTING of  Avatar: The Life Story of Avatar Meher  Baba by Jean Adriel, 1971, by The Beguine Library.

A PRINTING of Avatar: The Life Story of Avatar Meher Baba by Jean Adriel, 1971, by The Beguine Library.

On September 1, 1946, at Meher Mount,  Jean wrote the preface for the finished manuscript of Avatar.

The book was published by the J.F. Rowny Press in nearby Santa Barbara, about 45 miles away.

By 1947, almost 10 years had passed between Jean's time in India with Meher Baba and the completion of the book. As the book was being finished, she said, “word has come from him that he places his blessing upon and wishes it given to the world.” [12]

There have been three printings. [13] Although Avatar is now out of print, copies can be found in used book stores. Avatar is also published online at the Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust website.

This colorful biography, written by one of Baba’s early disciples from the West, gives the reader a vivid acquaintance with Meher Baba the man. Besides telling the life story of Baba, the author relates her personal experiences with him, along with those of many other of his close followers. It gives invaluable glimpses into the activities of this preeminent spiritual Master from the time of his first travels to the West, including his visits to Hollywood and his encounters with all manner of seekers both famous and ordinary. This account of Baba’s life describes many events from ‘behind the scenes’ - it captures the gamut of emotions involved as people struggled variously to comprehend Baba’s unusual ways, to carry out his demanding instructions, to test him, and to love him.
— Back Cover, Avatar: The Life Story of Avatar Meher Baba, by Jean Adriel, 1971


[1] Jean Adriel, Avatar: The Life Story of the Perfect Master Meher Baba, A Narrative Spiritual Experience. (Santa Barbara, CA: J.F. Rowny Press, 1947), Dedication. (c) Jean Adriel.
[2] “Avatar: One of the first major books on Meher Baba,” by Bing Heckman, October 5, 2012, Amazon review, accessed September 6, 2017. Bing Heckman was a founding member of the non-profit Meher Mount Corporation and on the board from 1989-2007.
[3] Heckman, ibid.
[4] “Avatar is priceless,” by Laurent Weichberger, September 5, 2006, Amazon review, accessed September 6, 2017. Laurent Weichberger was a Manager/Caretaker at Meher Mount from 2005-2006.  
[5] Jean (1892-1984) changed her name from Robinson to Adriel through numerology.
[6] "Heroines of the Path - Jean Adriel," The Awakener Magazine online: A Journal Devoted to Meher Baba, 1983, Vol 20, No 2, pp. 23-27. 
[7] Bhau Kalchuri, Lord Meher: The Biography of the Avatar of the Age Meher Baba, Online Edition, pg. 1266, accessed September 11, 2017. (c)Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust.
[8] Adriel, op.cit., Preface vii.
[9] Adriel, ibid.
[10] Adriel, ibid.
[11] Kalchuri, op.cit., pg. 2555.  
[12] Adriel, op.cit., Preface viii.
[13] Avatar: The Life Story of the Perfect Master Meher Baba, A Narrative of Spiritual Experience was first published as a special author’s edition in 1947 with a second printing in December 1947 by the J.F Rowny Press, Santa Barbara, CA. A paperback edition, Avatar: The Life Story of Avatar Meher Baba, was later published in August 1971 by The Beguine Library, Meher Baba Information, in Berkeley, CA.