Avatar Meher Baba’s place of burial at Meherabad, India supports a community of Indian and foreign devotees who have implicitly or explicitly taken an oath of omerta (code of silence with respect to public oversight) with regard to the Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Charitable Trust that administers Meherabad and Meher Baba’s residence, Meherazad.
The foreigners, largely Americans, whose visas have been sponsored (until recently because of changes in Indian government policy) by the AMBPPCT take an oath of spiritual service and commitment to the Trust based on the premise of “spiritual training”. This “spiritual training” prohibits public disagreement with Trust policy.
Never mind that Avatar Meher Baba passed away in 1969 and left no spiritual successor to guarantee the integrity of any such project; As long as Baba’s closest mandali (disciples) were guiding the Trust, everything pretty much went well. But for the past decade or more the linkage of visa sponsorship to “spiritual training” has increasingly taken on the hubris of institutional presumption: the Trust can do no wrong and its servants had better grok this.
It’s like Meherabad and Meherazad are now administered by well trained Jesuits who are infallibly inspired. There is a curious resemblance to a similar presumption in Sufism Reoriented which believes that Meher Baba has guaranteed that this religious organization will be infallibly guided for the next 700 years.
The Trust is a typical Indian organization with near total control of the Trust residing in the chairman. The trustees basically rubber stamp the chairman’s edicts. Not only is public dissent among the “spiritual trainees” who staff the various Trust projects not allowed, but the trustees themselves habitually defer to the chairman and never publicly counter him.
In short, those who work for the Trust, especially those whose visas have been historically sponsored by the Trust, must never publicly question and criticize the Trust. This is the omertà to which I refer.