Birthday Celebrations, Speech of Dr. S. Swaminathan (sister of Shri Mataji) in Marathi (from Nirmala Yoga, Issue 25, Pages 36–38)
Speech of Dr. S. Swaminathan
Honourable guests, who have graced the occasion of my elder sister’s 60th birthday, my younger brothers and sisters and Sahaja Yogi brothers and sisters. This evening, I consider myself fortunate for getting this opportunity of saying a few words about Nirootai. We call her Nirootai* whom you know as Mataji Nirmala Devi.
Nirootai and myself, we both grew up together and hence I had the privilege of being closely acquainted with her virtues and the dynamism of her personality. We were born when India was a slave country, yet, being born in an affluent and well-to-do family we did not suffer from any want or other problems of life. Our childhood days were spent happily and merrily. We were born at Chhindwara i.e. my elder brother Mr. Narendrakumar Salve,—who must be known to you all because today he is the Minister for Steel and Mines,—Nirootai, myself and my younger brother Mr. Balasaheb Salve, we four were born at Chhindwara; and the younger three brothers and sisters were born at Nagpur, because our father shifted to Nagpur in the year 1928. In the year 1930, which is supposed to be the most crucial year in the struggle for the Independece of our Nation, our life-style underwent a total change. Our father renounced his title of “Rao-Sahib” to join the Freedom movement. We were too young to understand the significance of the change that was coming in our way of life i.e. our clothes, our activities etc. but perhaps due to an inborn love for freedom, we welcomed the change and never opposed it. All of us accepted the change but, amongst us. Nirootai was most zealous about accepting this change.
Our mother had to take all of us in the car whenever she and father had to attend the meetings of the then Congress, and I remember that Nirootai held similar meetings at home for us and imitating the leaders she delivered speeches from the “Home-Stage”. We sang the song “ Charkhd chata chata ke Lenge Swarajya Lenge’ (we shall win our freedom by turning the spinning wheel). We accompanied our mother for picketing the wineshops. But most important were our processions. Bapu (Gandhiji) had introduced “Vanar-sena” (Army of the monkeys) especially for the children. With the tri-colour flag of Congress in her hands Nirootai led these processions which went round the locality where we stayed.
Thus “leadership” and that too with full understanding and purpose of achieving something in life and not merely to satisfy one’s ego, was evident in Nirootai, right from her childhood.
In 1942, when “Quit-lndia” movement started, Nirootai participated very actively. I do not know if she has told you of an incident, of this period, that she had to be rusticated , from the college, for presenting bangles to the son of the Director of Public Instructions-who refused to co-operate with the movement.
When the orders of the rustication wer^ received by the Principal of the college, he, being a close friend of our father, proceeded on leave. The Vice-Principal came to our home and met our mother. Father was already in jail and hence he requested our mother that she should withdraw Nirootai’s name from the college otherwise her educational career would be ruined. Mother discussed the whole issue with Nirootai, who fearlessly told mother and the Vice-Principal that she would never allow her name to be withdrawn. She would much rather accept the punishment (of the British Govt.). What a sacrifice! A girl taking such a bold decision at the age of 1 5 or 16 was not a trifling matter. Such decisions can be prompted only by some inner inspiration. They cannot be forced and hence these inspirations coming from within like the “Word of Divine”can lift a person to very high and lofty levels. We were very lucky in having very understanding parents who neversuppressed our inner urges. I have already men- ^ n e d that our father was already in jail.
Correspondence with the family was not allowed. I do not know if you are aware of the hardships of the families of the freedom fighters before independence, because today you are sitting here in a free India and many of you may have been born in Independent India. We received a letter which our father had put in the pocket of the coat which he had sent for the laundry-wash. He had written “I have read in the papers. Heartiest Congratulations to Nirmala” . Thus, even then all of us were proud of her. Just the other day some persons who are writing the biography of a freedom-fighter had enquired about Nirootai’s contributions to freedom struggle, because she and a friend of her’s had dared to travel about with this freedom fighter as his daughters only to save him from being arrested.
Even after her marriage Nirootai did not changeandonly becauseof hersuch unequivocal qualities she has been able to collect a big family of so many of you. According to me she has been attracted by “Sahaja Yoga” mainly because of the solid foundahon, of right-values, importance of an ethical life and spirituality, laid by our parents in our childhood.
Every evening, after returning from the court, our father played the organ and taught us Bhajans (devotional-hymns) of all religions. We are Christians but I do not remember any special preference for Christian hymns alone. Being fond of music I was specially interested in learning these Bhajans. The first Bhajan taught was “ Bande Jap Man Har Giridhdri” (O mind remember Har (Shiva) and Giridhari ie. Shri Krishna) in Rag (melody) Darbari Kanara. He even made us sing these Bhajans individually.
Thus reverence for all religions was imbibed in us right from our childhood and with this background, I am not in the least surprised that “Sahaja-Yoga” has become the “life-mission” of Nirootai.
Her another distinguished quality is her motherly love for all. We are much impressed and moved by the deep faith and the genuine devotion that all of you have for her. I have been observing since yesterday how earnestly and tenderly you want to look after her. I remarked jokingly that I cannot be certain that even my daughters-in-law would look after me so well!
Therefore in a world like this, to come across such deep faith, genuine devotion, loving considerations and pure-affection is a rare experience. We shall collect by thousands if we are asked to be selfish, to distrust each other and to be violent and destructive. But we shall hesitate to come forward if we are asked to love each other, care for others as our own, and respect a human-being just because he or she is a human being.
Therefore Nirootai has accepted a real challenge—a challenge not onlyon the national level but also on international level, and for this we, brothers and sisters are very proud of her. She has given me an idea of her work and the people who have become her disciples. Why not ? Because I firmly believe that “ goodness” is the essential quality of a human-being and therefore whatever temptations may come hisway he ultimately chooses the right path and comes to realise that spiritual-life and God are not myths but are Real!
I am grateful to you all for giving me an opportunity for expressing my thoughts before you and on behalf of our family members I pray to God that Nirootai should be blessed with a very very long life. We shall try to contribute in our way in her mission of “ Sahaja Yoga”. I am sure all of you will also cooperate with her. And in the end, beseeching the Lord to help her, I conclude my speech.