"The solitary retreat is an old farm house situated in grounds of sixty acres of open country. Individual help and instruction in meditation and practical psychology are given by the founders. Visitors usually divide their time between meditation, study and exercise according to individual requirements."
I describe this retreat in detail because it was here that some of Baba's first American and English followers came to hear of and to meet Baba through Meredith Starr, the outward link, so to speak.
One of Baba's first activities in India after his Realization was in the field of education. This is not surprising when you realize how much illiteracy, superstition and religious intolerance existed in India at that time. The schooling facilities were very inadequate with no primary schools. In the villages, which comprised about 80% of the population, nearly eighty out of one hundred of school age were without any schooling at all.
So in May 1926 Baba opened a school in Ahmednagar with 150 students. Everything was free; tuition, books, board, clothing and medical services. Children of different religions — Hindus, Mohammedans, Parsees and Christians — lived together and were taught, plus the 3 R's, to realize the fundamental brotherhood of all religions.
A year later Baba sent Rustom Irani, a close disciple, to England to bring back a few English students so that the West might be represented in this school of universal brotherhood. This plan for many reasons was not carried out, but one contact made by Rustom during this visit was to have far-reaching results in relation to Baba's work with the West. While in England, Rustom met Meredith Starr. Shortly after this meeting Rustom returned to India and a year later Meredith Starr followed. For nearly six months Meredith lived in Baba's ashram in Toka.
Six months later Baba went on a visit to Persia and Meredith was sent back to England to find a suitable spot to which Baba could come later. At this time, Meredith was a most devoted follower of Baba, as the following letter, dated July 16, 1929, written to Baba from East Challacombe, indicates:
"I want to help everyone and anyone as you said I should do, to the very utmost of my capacity. To bring love and truth to all around me, and to do this fully, I must be fully conscious of the creative power. But I know this will come. I have tremendous faith in you and this faith increases daily. . . . Please, dearest Baba, consider this house as your own. Come here whenever you like . . ." In a later letter, September 9th, 1929,