The Selling Of Meherabad And The Corruption Of AMBPPCT

I have blogged before on “The Selling of Meherabad”, herehere and here, but this post supersedes previous posts. This story is not going away, despite countless Baba lovers having buried their heads in sand regarding it. This is a complex story, but I will try to be as concise and cogent as possible. No doubt much more information will come to light in time, but these are the basic facts.

About two years ago, a property of 3.75 acres at Lower Meherabad owned by the late Dadi Kerawala was given by his heirs to Gary Kleiner to monetize as Gary had placed a deposit on the land years before. Evidently, Dadi requested that this be done just before he died, although the property in question had not been paid for and had appreciated fantastically since the original agreement. The disposition of the property presented a problem as Kleiner is not an Indian citizen. An arrangement was made whereby the land was deeded directly into an Indian buyer’s name, and with Kleiner surreptitiously getting his cut. Ramesh Jangle was the dealmaker in this transaction. This property sold for a rumored $1,000,000.

Kleiner had been clandestinely investing in Meherabad properties for years when he was in service to Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust, with Jangle as his Indian partner and front man. Others have been part of their investment schemes, including Craig Ruff. Both Ramesh Jangle and Craig Ruff are currently Trustees of the Trust, although they may not have been Trustees when these investment properties were acquired. This point is murky because as much as 60- 70 acres of land are reportedly held by Jangle and his proxies, and we don’t know the details of these transactions, i.e. when they were procured, how they were procured, where the money came from and how many other investors are involved. The Dadi parcel was sold to a Jain developer who is planning to subdivide the property into approximately 80 lots, and perhaps serve as the contractor in building condos on them. This development will be adjacent to the old Pilgrim Centre on one side, and the historic Meherabad cremation grounds and Baba’s Flour Mill on the other side. The land in question was part of historic Meherabad, and the sale of the land and wall now enclosing it blocks access to a road that local villagers have used for well over a hundred years.

Why did the Trust allow this transaction to go down? This is an excellent question. Why did Dadi’s heirs not broker a deal that sold the land to the Trust for a fair price and which justly compensated Kleiner? Why did the Trust not object to the termination of an historic right of the villagers to access an ancient road (that at one time went all the way to Ahmednagar)? Above all, with respect to all the parties, why countenance the degradation of Lower Meherabad with condo squalor?

In fact, one account has it that Dadi originally procured this land with the understanding that he would deed it to the Trust when they were in a position to compensate him for it! So, what happened? This looks like a titanic fuck-up on the part of the Kerawalas, the Trust, Ramesh Jangle and Gary Kleiner. Obviously, this is all about spectacular greed and stupidity corrupting the better judgement of everyone involved. It is important to grok the fact that the Trust could have prevented this transaction, but chose not to.

This is not the only transaction that Kleiner has been involved in. He also acted as Jack Small’s agent in the sale of his property east of Lower Meherabad. Now, this may seem inconsequential on the face of it, but several illegal actions are implied: 1) He must arrange for the transfer of the property to a buyer who on paper will pay a fraction of the actual sale amount (so as to avoid taxes); 2) The transaction in rupees  must be converted into dollars on the black market for it to be remitted to the US and avoid a paper trail; 3) Couriers need to be solicited to convey the cash in amounts not greater than $10,000 to circumvent currency restrictions imposed by US Customs. There may be additional US and Indian laws that are broken in such transactions. Jack Small’s property reportedly sold for $500,000, half of which went to Kleiner.

Reports state that Kleiner is conducting his illegal real estate transactions from his office at Meherabad where he has a continuing business interest in partnership with Alan Wagner to provide food service to the Meher Pilgrim Retreat. Also, it is rumored that this business concern provides the cover for him to solicit pilgrims to serve as couriers to remit his proceeds to the US. Evidently, the couriers get a free round trip plane ticket out of the deal. There are also reports of astonishing vulgarity with which this business is conducted, i.e. interminable phone calls throughout the night at high volume which have necessitated pilgrims to lodge elsewhere; “holding court” in the MPR dining hall, etc.

Remember that Kleiner has as much as 60-70 acres of land in a silent partnership with Ramesh Jangle that, at current market valuation, is worth anywhere from $150,000  to $300,000 or more per acre. Also, keep in mind that the Trustees and many of the Meherabad residents are perfectly aware that Kleiner and Jangle, and perhaps Ruff and others, are involved in these transactions. How could this be countenanced? Why has the AMBPPCT not put a stop to such venal and predatory speculation?

Well, the Trust itself is compromised: at least two of its Trustees are involved to a greater or lesser degree. Thus, Kleiner and Jangle have carte blanche to conduct a real estate business that is not only illegal but severely obnoxious to the integrity of Meherabad and the sacred trust Baba has reposed in his lovers. And then there is evidently another reason: if there were to be an official police or government investigation into land transactions at Meherabad, it is possible that some past transactions  involving foreigners would be determined to be illegal, potentially affecting a great many Meherabad residents. According to this view, the Trust is reluctant to force the issue as the Meherabad status quo might be threatened by taking action against Kleiner and Jangle.

In conclusion, it should be noted that Kleiner has been quoted as saying, “I am no longer a Baba lover”, and  “What did Meher Baba ever do for me?” Also, Jangle is reportedly a member of the Hindu arch nationalist political party, Shiv Sena, presumably in an effort to develop a power base in his community. And the Trust; what about the Trust? The Trust has clearly become a paper tiger that many have come to disrespect and even hold in contempt.

Eruch Jessawala, in his last days when he came to hear of Kleiner’s speculation in Meherabad real estate, said, “Gary, I am very disappointed in you.”

Finally, I should pointedly state that the present discussion has little or nothing to do with the Kalchuris, who I may have implied in previous remarks  were implicated in suspect real estate transactions. But, to my knowledge, nothing on their part remotely compares to the “selling of Meherabad.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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24 Responses to The Selling Of Meherabad And The Corruption Of AMBPPCT

  1. Peter Milne says:

    Bill I smelt rats a long time ago and vacated the field out of disappointment in the venality of so-called Baba lovers of long and very long standing. I decided it didn’t really matter and was simply further proof that at such low points in humanity even ‘good’ people have no awareness of the state of things. C’est la vie.
    Best of luck but it’s a waste of your good time to pursue this – it is just small scale corruption in the grand scheme……and doesn’t really matter anyway……

  2. bill gannett says:

    Meherabad does not have to devolve into a casino. And people can be held accountable. That matters.

  3. Susan Herr says:

    What do you think can be done?

  4. bill gannett says:

    Ok, thanks for asking. If I were Trust chairman, I would say to Kleiner, Jangle and co-conspirators: “Either you deed to the Trust all the speculative real estate that you bought while you were ostensibly serving the Lord and Master- willingly and happily on the basis that this was your intention all along- you were just waiting for the right moment to surprise everyone with such thoughtful largesse, OR the Trust will break your balls and have you tried and convicted on the appropriate legal basis, i.e. a foreigner clandestinely supplying dirty money to subvert the local economy in collaboration with a village stooge, etc.”

    “Also, for the duration of your incarceration, Alan Wagner will be compelled as a condition of his continued residency at Meherabad, to personally bring cold gelatinous leftover spaghetti for your daily meal.”

    Now, if I were a resident of Meherabad/ Zad, I would organize as an adult community and demand of the Trust that it adhere to strict transparency and accountability- OR, if that were not possible, ask a government agency to take over the administration of AMBPPCT.

    Otherwise, I propose blogging and commenting on the astonishing mess before us.

  5. Paul Birchard says:

    Bill – I agree with your plan of action. And – if I may – I would add – and not in a namby-pamby, head-in-the-sand, hearts-and-flowers kind of way – that we:

    “Tell Baba everything, and ask for nothing.”

    There may yet be another way – a way of His making – to resolve this apparent saturation in worldly, venal, illusory values – awash and ascendant at this time beside the very darbar of the Avatar.

    And – again – not in a weak-knee’d way – it might also behoove us to realize that “There but for the Grace of God go I . . . ”

    I asked Adi K. Irani, back in the summer of 1973, what he thought he might have done with his life if he hadn’t met Meher Baba. He smiled in a gently rueful way and said: “Oh . . . I probably would have been big in the black market.”

    The advice that Baba Himself gave – freely adapted here – seems apt: That we should take land speculation, worldly wealth and volley ball lightly – and God seriously.

    The desecration of Meherabad – after all the tireless effort, fasting, sweat, labor and Love that Baba personally poured into it during His earthly lifespan – seems a sad and terrible dereliction of trust and duty, but . . . Baba did say:

    “The universe is my ashram.”

  6. bill gannett says:

    For all of you symbolists:

    The sale of the late Dadi Kerawala’s parcel of land at Meherabad to a developer, in which historic access to an ancient public right of way was abrogated, was coincident with the beginning of the thuggery contesting the private right of way at Meherazad: karmic tit for tat?

  7. Dagmar says:

    I am so glad you bring this out in the open. I had heard about Dadi ´s land and Gary’s infamous deal and I was apalled.
    Thank you! It should definitely be denounced to the authorities. Jai Baba

    • bill gannett says:

      Dear Dagmar;

      Hah, ha ha! I am denouncing it to the authorities as we speak! But are they listening? That’s the problem. This is just a game for them- ignoring the plebs complaining about the status quo. This has been going on for years- so what’s new? I fear nothing at all will happen as a result of my blog post- except that a few people will get richer and richer!

      But let’s not worry too much; Baba’s Word will break and bust their heads with the dawn of a New Humanity.

  8. bill gannett says:

    Sorry about the problem with commenting. I think I- ultra ludite, fixed it.

  9. bill gannett says:

    Several people have asked me about the attribution that Gary Kleiner has renounced Meher Baba. I did not hear Kleiner make this statement, but it was convincingly related. I included it in my blog post for the reason that I believe actions speak more loudly than words, and in fact confirm words. And Kleiner’s actions indisputably and definitively reveal that he is not a Baba lover. If Kleiner wishes to make this point yet again by verbally stating such- that is his prerogative, but it does not greatly add to the evidence of his predatorial behavior.

  10. Clive Adams says:

    This is a shocking indictment of Gary K. & the AMBPPC Trust and if true, heads need to roll!

    • bill gannett says:

      Let the heads roll into jars of formaldehyde to preserve for coming generations of Baba lovers what the betrayal of the Master’s trust looks like.

  11. Charlie Gard'ner says:

    Bill…..Read your very strong article concerning the Trust, the buying and selling of land around Meherabad, and the references to Gary Kliener and his business dealings.
    Just for the record…..Did you ever personally contact Gary himself and ask him if the comments that you ‘heard’ about about him were true. I believe that it would be fair to give Gary an opportunity to share his perspective publically concerning the information about him that is whirling throughout the ‘Baba’ world. Did you, and were you, able to get his side of the story?
    As you know I have been bashing my head for years with various ‘Trustees’, especially concerning the brutal death of Eric Nadel. All they do is sweep their hands, and say……”Oh that’s all in the past. We don’t need to talk about it.” The ‘stuff’ that is going on right now at Meherabad is the ‘stuff’ that Erico was deeply concerned about and was what he was investigating before he was killed. But of course…”That is all in the past, so we don’t need to talk about it.”
    Please try to contact Gary and get his side of the story. Thanks.

    • bill gannett says:

      Hi Charlie;

      No, I have not talked to Gary. I was sufficiently confident of the basic facts of the story, i.e that he has a real estate partnership with Ramesh that goes way back; that his relation to the sale of Dadi’s land was rapacious; that his subsequent behavior selling real estate at Meherabad (which I didn’t detail) is also rapacious; that he abuses his privileged relationship to the MPR for personal gain, etc.

      To ask Gary for his opinion about such well known behaviors is not of interest to me. He is free to comment on my blog and tell readers his story, if he cares to.

      I agree completely with you that, according to several sources, Erico was indeed deeply concerned about real estate transactions at Meherabad, and that this was presumably the reason for his murder.

      Of course, we have heard absolutely nothing from the Trust about the results of investigations into Erico’s murder, subsequent judicial actions, their outcome, etc. This has been an extreme disservice to the Baba community.

      • bill gannett says:

        Hi Charlie (cont.);

        I invite Gary to answer the following questions in the effort to establish the context for this investigative story. We should be entirely clear about what we are talking about.

        1) When did your real estate partnership with Ramesh Jangle begin?
        2) Who are the other investors in this partnership to “sell Meherabad”?
        3) Did these transactions all occur with “black money”? Was the Reserve Bank of India ever involved (as required by law)?
        4) Did your visa status allow you to lawfully engage in such commercial transactions?
        5) Did this speculative investment in Meherabad property continue after Ramesh became a trustee?
        6) How many acres are represented in the Kleiner/ Jangle partnership?
        7) What is the full extent of Craig Ruff’s involvement and knowledge of this investment activity?
        8) Are other trustees involved?
        9) Does Allan Wagner, or trustees other than Ramesh Jangle and Craig Ruff, know that you are using the MPR as a cover for your speculative investment in Meherabad real estate, involving illegal activities such as soliciting pilgrims to serve as couriers of bundled cash to the US, or elsewhere?
        10) Is you wife involved in these transactions?
        11) Do you have speculative real estate partnerships other than the Ramesh Jangle partnership?
        12) Have your real estate partnerships ever threatened others?
        13) How do you feel about having involved Eruch’s family in the “selling of Meherabad”, especially after Eruch having protected you from Mani Irani’s resolve to expel you from service to AMBPPCT for transgressions? Is this your lasting tribute to Eruch?

  12. Charlie Gard'ner says:

    Bill….Thanks for the reply to my comments. I do indeed feel that it would be honorable to extend an invitation to Gary to give explanations as to his personal comments about his relationship with Baba, and also his land dealings with members of the Trust.
    I hope that there are other people out there who would like to hear Gary side of the story.
    If he is excluded we will never know the WHOLE truth….just a one-sided truth.
    Personally I have a hard time now connecting with ‘The Kliener’. He seems like a stranger to me……but maybe that is my fault….I don’t reach out much to him anymore.
    Maybe I should?

    • bill gannett says:

      Ask him to reply to the questions posted in my last comment.

    • jack burke says:

      Charlie, for your own closure, I feel it will help a lot. To me, he exists and, and other than a nod of that existence, that’s as far as it goes. A few years ago I was, out of the blue, having had no previous contact being made, asked to join his “God Speaks” meetings. My highly sensitive intuition flooded my gut and with a smile I begged off without explanation.

  13. jack burke says:

    We MUST keep this dialogue going no matter what the consequences, good, bad or indifferent and no matter who is involved or who gets involved; as I often have said over the years that Baba’s humiliation and Baba’s work on transparency are intertwined and eventually the whole truth will come out.

    • bill gannett says:

      The only way this will happen is if Baba lovers bring pressure to bear on the Trust by insisting on transparency, accountability and clarity as to what represents conflict of interest on the part of the trustees. We have an outrageously blatant instance of conflict of interest in the present discussion that has gone on for years but which all or most of the trustees have known about but ignored- and, in fact, facilitated!

      What does this say about Indian cultural power structures?

      The AMBPPCT is funded largely (I would guess) by non-Indian donors who have every good reason and right to not only insist- but DEMAND that the Trust abide by internationally accepted standards of transparency, accountability and a policy that vigorously prevents conflict of interest on the part of the trustees.

      Without which, we can kiss Meherabad goodbye.

  14. bill gannett says:

    Also, what does the present discussion have to say about the tacit complicity of the residents of Meherabad and Meherazad in the tragically inept management of the AMBPPCT? Many of these people are foreign residents whose background should have demanded a far more responsibly run Trust.

    It is abundantly clear that the great majority of residents have adopted the point of view that their “spiritual training” requires them to embrace stupidities on a daily basis.

    • jack burke says:

      Bill, Amen to all you say! There’s great points, good points and less than good points. Those of us who reside in Meherabad either full or part time have no power in the everyday sense of the word to change anything. We can talk it to death for the next hundred years(and I pray that we will) however, it will have very, very little short-term effect. In so many respects the ‘situation with the Trust’ is very much like what Baba said about marriage, that it was all about ‘rubbing burrs’. The present day situation is Western moral standards with their incumbent Christian standards based on a 2,ooo year old story that has very little basis on fact, rubbing up against a more than 10,000 year old culture that makes its way in the everyday world almost completely in reverse.

      Our ‘culture’ gets a lot of people to produce a thing and taking the chance that it will be accepted and bought. Indian culture demands the buying first before the product is ‘produced’ to the buyer. The really sad fact of this kind of transaction applies mostly to foreign nationals in the sense that you are constantly buying the same thing over and over again before it is finally produced. Any initial money ‘up front’ is gone way before the second money transfer is handled. It goes on and on, especially in real estate. The culture controls the transaction. One can stipulate all he/she wants, and, alas, to very little or no avail. So be it! All donations, I’m led to understand, go wherever
      the Trust feels like, which we, as foreigners may look askance at.

      Eventually and with persistence on everyone’s part, the ‘rubbing’ will erase the conflict-that in itself is Baba’s part and will be taken care of. We have to play our part to our best ability, no matter what that is, and ,as He says, leave the rest to Him.

      I have no idea what this diaribe will have on the consciousness of anyone and I
      really have very little care only knowing within myself that I will respond to a situation one way or the other in this grand and amusing play of the opposites.
      Thanks for posting and thanks for reading. Jackass

      • bill gannett says:

        Hi Jack;

        Probably the best response to you comment above is to simply state that a chunk of Lower Meherabad got sold out from under the Trust with the help of trustees and those who work or have worked for the Trust. This is not a complicated story. The Trust was decidedly not the advocate for preservation of Lower Meherabad that it should have been. This is a straightforward instance of malfeasance and conflict of interest.

        That trustees and the residents of Meherabad and Meherazad do not grok this can not be rationalized.

        • jack burke says:

          Bill, Rationality on the part of Westerners only goes so far. The talk of transparency was discussed at length a few years ago and seems to have ended to the Trust’s satisfaction as far as to what is evident on the surface and also seems to have drifted into translucency, if not opaqueness. In my experience ’emotional rationalization’ on the part of any Westerner in relation to the Trust usually results in that person being escorted out of the country by the state police. We are ‘guests’ first of India and spiritual training personnel second, and the same action would undoubtedly occur in America if the situation were reversed. I’m not advocating anything nor am I against advocacy. India, itself, is a democracy although 99.9% of a billion and a half are natives, unlike America which is going through a 3rd century shift in cross cultural immigration from all over the world. As noted before, keep it going, get it out there and we’ll see how the drama unfolds.

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