MEHER MOUNT

9902 Sulphur Mountain Road
Ojai, CA 93023-9375

Phone: 805-640-0000
Email: info@mehermount.org

HOURS

Wednesday-Sunday: Noon to 5:00 p.m.
Monday & Tuesday: Closed

MANAGER/CARETAKERS

Buzz & Ginger Glasky

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Sam Ervin, Preident
Ron Holsey, Vice President
Ursula Reinhart, Treasurer
Jim Whitson, Director
Richard Mannis, Director

OFFICERS

Margaret Magnus, Secretary

9902 Sulphur Mountain Rd
Ojai, CA, 93023
United States

(805) 640-0000

Story Blog

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

Filtering by Tag: Charmian Duce Knowles

Seven Minutes with Meher Baba at Meher Mount - The Film

Margaret Magnus

BY MARGARET MAGNUS

In India in mid-1956, concentrated preparations had begun for Avatar Meher Baba’s one-month trip to the West. A great deal of correspondence took place regarding plane reservations, days of stay at different places, and other arrangements.

Click here to see  Meher Baba in the USA, 1956,    the one-hour-and-23-minute film of Meher Baba’s trip to the U.S. was filmed by Charmian Duce Knowles and produced by Sufism Reoriented. There is a six-and-one-half minute section on Meher Baba’s visit to Meher Mount on August 2, 1956. It starts at 50:21 minutes.

Click here to see Meher Baba in the USA, 1956, the one-hour-and-23-minute film of Meher Baba’s trip to the U.S. was filmed by Charmian Duce Knowles and produced by Sufism Reoriented. There is a six-and-one-half minute section on Meher Baba’s visit to Meher Mount on August 2, 1956. It starts at 50:21 minutes.

Meher Baba’s sister, Mani Irani, worked constantly as the communications intermediary. According to the account in Lord Meher, “Mani’s typewriter was never silent. For the past several months, telegrams and letters had poured in from England, America, Switzerland and Australia, and after receiving instructions from Baba about each, Mani worked tirelessly to reply.” [1]

FOLLOWERS IN THE U.S. MAKE PREPARATIONS

A follower nicknamed ‘Energy’ — Marion Florsheim of Jackson Heights, New York — was appointed by Meher Baba to make all the necessary arrangements for Meher Baba’s trip.

AVATAR MEHER BABA at the reception for Him at Longchamps Restaurant in New York City in 1956. (Image:  Meher Baba Travels )

AVATAR MEHER BABA at the reception for Him at Longchamps Restaurant in New York City in 1956. (Image: Meher Baba Travels)

The Meher Baba Hospitality Committee was formed, with Marion as chairman, Fred Winterfeldt as vice-chairman, and seven other members from Meher Baba's following in New York, with the aim to raise the estimated $12,000 in expenses for Meher Baba and the four men mandali (close circle of disciples) to make the journey.

Committees were also set up by Elizabeth Patterson in Myrtle Beach, Ruth White in Los Angeles, Agnes Baron in Ojai (Meher Mount), and Lud Dimpfl in San Francisco. Ivy Duce and Don Stevens formed a publicity committee.

In Europe, Will Backett made arrangements in London; while in Switzerland, Hedi Mertens and Irene Billo prepared for Baba's stopover in Zurich. In Australia, Francis Brabazon, Bill Le Page and Ena Lemmon set up accommodations, appointments and meetings in Sydney and Melbourne.[2]

On July 16, 1956, Meher Baba and four of His men mandali – Eruch Jessawala, Vinayak Nilkantha 'Nilu" Godse (also known as Dr. Nilu), Adi K. Irani (also known as Adi Sr.), and Meherjee Kakaria – left Bombay on Air India Flight 103 for Europe.[3]

FILMING MEHER BABA’S 1956 VISIT IN THE U.S.

As some point in planning for the trip, it was approved by Meher Baba that 44 of His "doves" (as He called them) were to join Him in the U.S. to journey from New York to Myrtle Beach and to California. This had come about after Beryl Williams, in one of her letters, wrote to Mani that they would "love to fly with the Avatar." The letter was read to Meher Baba, and He gave His permission for those who could afford to go.[4]

AVATAR MEHER BABA arriving at San Francisco Airport in August 1956. With Him (left: Leatrice Shaw Johnston, Bili Eaton (with the white scarf), Kitty Davy (with the black beret), and Adi K. Irani. (Source: Meher Baba Travels)

AVATAR MEHER BABA arriving at San Francisco Airport in August 1956. With Him (left: Leatrice Shaw Johnston, Bili Eaton (with the white scarf), Kitty Davy (with the black beret), and Adi K. Irani. (Source: Meher Baba Travels)

Among those doves was Charmian Duce Corrinet (later Knowles) who filmed Meher Baba’s journey in the U.S. She started filming as soon as Meher Baba arrived in New York City.

“Early one beautiful morning in July 1956, a group of us drove out to Idlewild Airport to begin what Baba had called a sahavas – time in the intimate company of the Master. I had been given a special charge for this visit… Baba had asked that I make a movie of it,” Charmian explained in her book Spread My Love.

Charmian described her film experience and equipment: “I had only held a movie camera in my hands once before… That and two years of still photography in college were my only training for making a film about the Avatar. I decided that what I lacked in experience, I could at least make up for in equipment.

“We had heard about a new movie camera [16 mm] that had automatic light control and that used film cassettes. It wasn’t even on the market yet, but a friend went clear to the factory in Detroit and managed to deliver one to me in New York City. It was the most technologically advanced camera of its time, but there were still drawbacks.”[5]

When Meher Baba emerged from the airport, Charmian started filming. She said she quickly realized “that if I was going to make a move of Meher Baba, I’d better learn to move fast. He moved so swiftly at times, it seemed his feet didn’t even touch the ground.”[6]

AVATAR MEHER BABA’S FOLLOWERS are hurrying to keep up with Him on a tour of Meher Mount on August 6, 1956. This photograph is a screen capture from the film,   Meher Baba in the USA, 1956   ,  by Charmian Duce Knowles and produced and copyrighted by Sufism Reoriented. (Image: Courtesy David Pastor, Sufism Reoriented)

AVATAR MEHER BABA’S FOLLOWERS are hurrying to keep up with Him on a tour of Meher Mount on August 6, 1956. This photograph is a screen capture from the film, Meher Baba in the USA, 1956, by Charmian Duce Knowles and produced and copyrighted by Sufism Reoriented. (Image: Courtesy David Pastor, Sufism Reoriented)

The result of Charmian’s filming and editing is Meher Baba in the USA, 1956 produced by Sufism Reoriented ©1972. In the late 1960s, assisted by Henry Mindlin and Charmian’s future husband, Duncan Knowles, she added a soundtrack. Charmian and Duncan provide the narration.

The entire film is one hour and 23 minutes long. Meher Baba’s visit to Meher Mount starts at 50:21 minutes into the film and continues for approximately six-and-one-half minutes.

After leaving the Los Angeles area, Meher Baba continued to San Francisco, then to Australia, and back to India arriving in Bombay on August 19, 1956.


FOOTNOTES

[1] Bhau Kalchuri, Lord Meher: The Biography of the Avatar of the Age Meher Baba, Online Edition, pg. 3969, accessed July 12, 2019. ©Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust.
[2] Kalchuri, ibid., pg. 3969, accessed July 12, 2019.
[3] Kalchuri, ibid., pg. 3970, accessed July 12, 2019.
[4] Kalchuri, ibid., pg. 4013, accessed July 12, 2019.
[5] Charmian Knowles, Spread My Love (Walnut Creek, CA: Sufism Reoriented), pg. 113, ©2004 by Sufism Reoriented.
[6] Knowles, ibid., pp. 113-114.




SEARCH THE SITE