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Jalu Kekobad Dastur

Jalu (right) with Dolly

Jalu Kekobad Dastur (1929?-2012), a long-time Baba-lover, died in Meherabad on the morning of 1st March. She and her sister Gulu and a third sister Meheru, who preceded her in death, came to Meherabad as young children with their father, Kekobad (or Kaikobad) Dastur, who was one of Meher Baba’s Mandali and lived with his family at Upper Meherabad since the early years. (Please see a delightful drawing of the two sisters at Kendra’s Notebook.)

Jalu and Judy Stephens


The following is reprinted from Mehera Arjani’s blog, “Meher Baba: Remembering Him.”

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Jalu Goes to Baba

Jalu Kekobad Dastur died this morning at Meherabad. She had lived in the quarters adjoining Baba’s Cage Room for many years — first with her sister Gulu and later on her own — until today. She will be cremated at Lower Meherabad in just about half an hour.

Jalu was always considered the ‘fey’ one. She was not always fully present and Gulu used to usually tell her what to do. When Gulu died everyone expected Jalu to not get over her sister’s passing, but Jalu confounded everyone and managed fine. She had a wicked sense of humour and recalled events that showed that she was very observant of everything that went on around her. I recall once she was talking of a lady called Banubai whom she called a tumakhi kutri which means a stuck-up bitch, because the said lady talked down to her as if she were an idiot.

Dolly Dastur [no relation] used to go and visit her each morning and I would sometimes accompany her, and we used to encourage Jalu to do her exercises by all of us lifting and lowering arms and legs, turning our neck and head from side to side and up and down, rolling shoulders and back and finally saying “Jai Baba” loudly. Then Jalu would recite a poem with Dolly’s help. It could be “Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been?” and she always remarked that I came from London (because I used to live in the UK). But my favourite was a Gujarati poem, also about a cat. I recite it here in Jalu’s memory:

Mey ek bilaadi paali chey
Tey halvey halvey chaaley chey
Tey andhaaraa maa bhaaley chey
Tey doodh khaaey, dahi khaaey
Ney ghee toe chup chup chaatee jaaey
Teynaa dilpar daag chey
Tey mhaaraa gher noe vaagh chey

I have kept a pet cat
She walks around very lightly
She sees in the dark
She eats milk, eats curds
And licks up ghee with great speed
She has stripes on her body
She is the tiger of my house

Jalu, you are now with your Beloved Baba, for whom you always waited. You used to say, “Baba always told us to stay at home with our parents. We were from Bombay but we were very innocent. We knew nothing of people who were sophisticated and clever. But Baba always took care of us.”

I salute your love for Baba and your life lived for Him. I will miss you and our morning sessions, your soft skin and your insistence that you would not make me a cup of tea or give me a biscuit for coming to visit, your Chal jaa when you wanted us to go away. Happy trails, sweetheart. I will be thinking of you when they light that fire, and wish I could have been there to see you off. As we say at the end of Arti, “Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai, Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai, Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai!!!

Mehera Arjani at 03:57

Comment by Raine Eastman-Gannett:

We loved Gulu and Jalu too, and I write a sweet little story:

Once when we took our disabled daughter (a down syndrome girl) to Meherabad, her dad, Jack Mormon, decided he should tell Jalu and Gulu that Freiny was disabled. They came over to the Samadhi at first with much concern and looked at her and quickly started beaming at her (she is cute). After meeting her, they then said, “There is absolutely nothing wrong with her at all”; of course at this time Freiny also was chubby, wore two plaits and gathered dresses just like them, so the three of them looked pretty similar except Freiny was a little-girl version. After this meeting when they would see her in the future they would be giggling-girties when around Freiny.

Jai Baba, Jalu, from us 3 xxx Raine Eastman-Gannett [and Bill Gannett & Freinyetta Mormon]

From Tavern-Talk, by Dr. Anne Moreigne, 2nd March 2012:


Jaloo Kaikobad Dastur passed away on 1st March 2012, at 2:20 in the afternoon in her room on Meherabad Hill after a brief illness. She was 83 years old.

Her longtime friend and caretaker Janaki along with medical staff and faithful servants were with Jaloo when she went to Beloved Baba.

Jaloo had come to live in Baba’s ashram in July 1944, when her father, Kaikobad, one of Baba’s close disciples, brought his wife and three daughters to Meherabad at Baba’s order.

Jaloo, her mother Jerbai, and sisters Meheru and Guloo, lived on Meherabad Hill ever since. For most of their life there, the family occupied rooms in a building that had been previously used by Baba for the maternity hospital, masts, the mad, and the Meher Baba’s Journal’s office. Right next to their living quarters was and still is Baba’s Cage Room, used by Him for intense seclusion and mast work. The family was allowed to stay there at upper Meherabad even when Baba left for the New Life in 1949.

Many pilgrims from the 1970s onwards remember Jaloo’s sweet, childlike, humorous and most appealing nature. Walking on the Hill in the evening with her sister Guloo, or having visitors in her room the last few years after Guloo went to Baba, Jaloo was a delight to meet and talk with. Her simple devotion to Baba was unique and absolutely wholehearted. And what a deeply special soul Jaloo must have been to spend almost all her life just a few yards away from the Avatar’s Samadhi!

On 1st March evening while her body was laid on the funeral pyre, Jaloo’s face was strikingly beautiful, radiating peace and  joy, leaving no doubt that she had found her final resting place in the arms of her Beloved Master, Meher Baba.


Susan Paul Describes Jalu’s Cremation

[Note: See also Scott and Nancy’s comments below about the cremation, which came as I was on the verge of posting Susan’s story on the same topic. —Kendra]

Susan Paul has kindly shared with us her description of Jalu’s cremation, which she estimated was about the sixteenth she had attended in India over the last twenty years. “All but one were the old-fashioned kind,” like Jalu’s, she said. The exception was in an electronic crematorium in Pune, similar to those in the States.

Jalu passed away in the same house she had moved into on 31st July 1944 when her whole family came to live in Meherabad, to be with Baba for the rest of their lives. Jalu lived on Meherabad Hill with her mother, Jerbai, and sisters Meheru and Gulu, while their father, Kaikobad, stayed in Lower Meherabad and their brother, Ratan, lived in Ahmednagar. Susan recalled: “In recent times the two elderly Parsi ladies Jalu and Gulu, with their long braids and big skirts, were somewhat reclusive and had not left their house for many years, having a servant to help care for them. I last saw them about thirteen years ago. Jalu’s sister Gulu died a few years ago.”

About the ceremony, Susan wrote: “The old-fashioned kind of cremation is by far the best, and many here, including myself, would not be disappointed to have one firsthand. The wrapped body is carefully carried to the cremation ground on a litter, placed on a bed of sandalwood logs, a cloth covering the nose and mouth. More logs are gently and tenderly placed over the body and extending out about one foot in all directions, interspersed with many marigold blossoms, camphor, and big chunks of solid ghee (clarified butter), about ten pounds, it seemed. This rises to about four feet on the cement platform covered high above by a steeply inverted V roof, in case of rain. There was no danger of rain today [1st March 2012] — probably not one drop until June, if then. Wells are dry . . . everything is dry.

“Meanwhile, the community of about two hundred is gathering, musicians are singing Indian and Iranian songs, complete with daf drum, Iranian setar (like a small sitar . . . sounds like a delicious mandolin), and always at least one guitar. Chairs are arranged a distance from the pyre, the official cremation-wallahs make the necessary preparations, some brief prayers are said, and the closest male relative lights the fire with a long stick topped by a kerosene-soaked rag. Initially, black smoke pours from the pyre, the crowd rearranges itself to avoid the fumes and heat, and then the fire burns bright, clear, and very hot, and one can watch it as it burns downward until the entire pyre is consumed in orange flame. Music continues . . . people mingle and eventually leave. Someone always stays to watch over the pyre until there is nothing left but cold ashes, many hours after the fire was started; it is often an overnight vigil. It had been explained to me by a long-term resident, about twenty years ago, that one listens, if one can, for the cracking sound of the skull breaking from the pressure of steam inside — a sign that the soul has been fully released. I have listened for this many times, but it is hard: you can’t get close enough because of the heat, and the fire itself makes a lot of noise. So, one hopes that this has occurred.

“At the electronic cremation I attended in Pune, all this occurred in three-quarters of an hour, without music, and the family received a hot bundle of ashes forty-five minutes after the body entered the electronically heated chamber on a conveyor belt — heartless. It is done this way in most of the world now, I think. How fortunate one is to be sent off in old-fashioned style, surrounded for hours by loved ones and wonderful music.”










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One Response to Jalu Kekobad Dastur

  • We recently returned from our very first trip to Meher Baba’s samahdi – even got to celebrate his birthday on 25 February. It was a wonderful time and we met so many fantastic people. We feel very, very lucky.

    On our first day, we were walking around the structures near the tomb and said, “Good morning and Jai Baba!” to a sweet, smiling, and ancient face in the window of one of the buildings. (We later learned this had been a maternity hospital and where Jaloo Kaikobad Dastur lived with her family under Baba’s care.) A few days later, she was gone!

    I was returning from the samahdi for a cup of chai, when a note appeared on the dining hall door informing all that Jaloo had passed that afternoon and that she was to be cremated a few hours later.
    I followed others as we walked back to the samahdi just in time to see Jal and a few men carrying her body into the tomb. We said prayers and sang as she was then placed in an ambulance and driven to the funeral pyre.

    More walking and arriving at the funeral pyre; Baba musicians singing as we lined up and placed flowers on her body. Some folks took photos and commented on how peaceful she looked. Without a doubt, she was in a very good place. There was so much love – we were all swimming in it!

    Logs were placed along with what appeared to be large chunks of butter and cow dung fuel. More songs and then the flames were set. I’ve never seen any of this before.

    A few days later, just after morning arti, it was announced that Jaloo’s ashes had been brought and we were all welcome to spread them about the area where she lived, so close to Baba’s samahdi.
    It was an honor.

    That I should be so lucky to have a send off like this! It was beautiful and I won’t forget it.

    Meher, may I always be in your presence!

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