VOA ITV Interview with Sir C.P.
Interviewer: … me Mr. Chandrika Prasad Srivastava, a retired IS officer who’s had a sterling career in the government of India, he’s been the Joint Secretary to the Prime Minister of India in ’64-’66, Chairman of the Shipping Corporation of India, also he was the Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization of the United Nations and has won several accolades. He was knighted by the government of England and he’s won the Padma Bhushan, and has won several awards from different countries – Norway, Italy, Germany – for his service in the Maritime Organization as an administrative officer. Also, of course, above all he’s the husband of Shri Mataji Nirmala Deviji, whose name is synonymous with Sahaja Yoga these days, and he will tell us all about His journey, his transformation, from a skeptic to a believer in this discipline of Sahaja Yoga.
Mr. Srivastava, it’s a pleasure to talk to you as well in the ashram in Ridgefield Park, in New Jersey, in Sahaja Yoga. Tell us – your wife, your consort, your spouse has been a proponent of this technique of Sahaja Yoga for over thirty years now and I believe, according to Her as well – because She told me, not on this interview but before that – that you were never really a big believer of this discipline.
Tell us how this transformation took place, because I’m sure there are a lot of viewers who may relate to you and your story about your transformation, this big transformation that happened in your life and how it has impacted you as well.
Sir C. P.: Thank you very much for this opportunity. It is quite true that when She began to propagate Sahaja Yoga, I was a skeptic. Not just because I happen to be Her husband but because also I was a bureaucrat trained not to accept anything until it was proved beyond any doubt. And therefore, when She told me that She was now going to engage in Sahaja Yoga with a view to transforming human beings from within, I wondered whether that could really be done, because I had dealt with many human beings in my career. I provided a good model, but I don’t think I could ever have transformed anybody. Perhaps they became a little bit more hard working, more devoted, but inner transformation is something which was to me an impossible feat. Therefore I was a skeptic to begin with, and I kept aloof from this in the beginning.
But then something happed. And what happened was: in 1973 I got elected as Secretary General of the United Nations Maritime Organization and we went to London, my wife and I both. We took up residence in a place called Oxted in Surrey which was a little away from London. I used to commute.
Now things are going on, She was attending to Her Sahaja Yoga work, as well as to Her duties as a wife or as a mother. And then one day when I returned home, I found in my house a young, white gentleman sitting on the sofa in my drawing room. I didn’t know how he had come. I don’t know who he was, and I was greatly surprised. And I was wondering whether I was seeing real or there was something wrong with me. But soon I found that he was wearing my clothes, so I was perplexed totally. And I felt something really wrong with me. So I retraced my steps, went back to Her, my wife, Nirmala Devi, and I asked what the matter was – was I sane or insane already. She says, “No, no. There’s everything all right.”
And then She narrated to me a story, which is briefly this: that She had gone that day to London, to Piccadilly, and there She saw a young man lying on the floor, unattended and obviously very sick. So, She’s a person of great compassion, which I had known for many years. She went up to that young man said, “What’s the matter with you?”
And that boy said, “I’m sorry, I’m sick, jaundice and so on, and nobody to care for me, I’m sleeping it rough” as they say in London.
So She said, “Okay, would you like to be helped?”
He said, “Yes.”
She said, “Come along, get up, come with Me. Hop into My car.” And She brought him home, and when that boy came home, he was dirty, filthy and so on, so he had to be given a wash immediately. But he had no clothes to change and that is how She gave my set of clothes. They didn’t fit him quite, because he was not as tall as I am. So that’s how he was wearing my clothes.
Now I was very happy because out of sheer compassion – She didn’t know who this person was, what was his country of origin, what is his diseases. Took great risk. I don’t think I would have personally taken that much of risk. But She was a very brave person, full of compassion. So, She said, “Okay, come along.” And I was very happy about it.
Then what happened was, this young man stayed on for a couple of months or more than that in our house and She treated him with what was Sahaja Yoga – Sahaja Yoga treatment. And from day to day this young man began to transform himself. He was addicted to drugs. And next morning he said he didn’t want any drugs. Drugs had gone away, and I couldn’t believe it but there it was happening right in front of my eyes. He did not want any alcohol, he did not want any bad company and, you know, after period of about four or five weeks he blossomed into a handsome young man. And eventually he was cured for his diseases.
We found out he was a qualified engineer from Australia. And then we helped him to get back to Australia. Can you imagine the happiness of his parents to have got back that young man?
Now having seen that I could not remain a skeptic anymore. So that was a personal experience which changed my whole approach. And then I began to see others as well, his was not the only case. There were others also. Some related to drugs. They came after talking to Her on telephone and feeling attracted, something there which brought them to Her. And after this Realization, which you saw today, they would say, “Well, there’s something has happened to me. I have no problem. I’ don’t want any drugs, or alcohol, or things of that kind.”
So that is how I began to see and that is how Sahaja Yoga has grown over me. And I have become from a skeptic to a convert, to a believer.
Interviewer: That’s great because coming from the words of a bureaucrat you’ve had such a sterling, impressive career in the service. Do you feel that it has helped you in your careers as well, and also in your spiritual growth, in your physical, emotional enhancement?
Sir C. P.: Yes, greatly. I’m eighty-years of age now and I have lived a life, very busy life, very hard work, eighteen hours out of twenty-four would not be an exaggeration and yet I have not suffered from any tension. You know when in United Nations you deal with a hundred and fifty governments and you deal with all kinds of people, it’s a tense job, but I had no tension. I attended to my duties very well to the satisfaction of everybody. I was first selected for four years, I was reelected for three further terms, four years. They wanted to give me a fifth term which I decline. So I attained a degree of equanimity which I would never have attained without Sahaja Yoga, and inside balance, you know it is with that balance inside you that you can really approach all countries, all governments no matter who they are with the same devotion, same dedication. And as you have seen so many awards from many countries. It is just because they felt that I was for them. I was for everybody. You know countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia, Europe they all supported just because my attitude was one of a Sahaja Yogi. A Sahaja Yogi is someone who is not full of ego, who desires to serve. Who feels that the world is one, who genuinely feels that human beings belong to one race, that is one human family. So that is how it has helped me greatly in my duties.
Interviewer: Tell us – on a little detour and digression here, you have written a book on Lal Bahadur Shastri, the Prime Minister of India. Throw some light on that as well.
Sir C. P.: Thank you very much. Yes, that’s also a subject after my heart. I had the great privilege of working with Mr. Shastri when he was first Transport Minister, then Commerce Minster. I went back to shipping and came back again when he became Prime Minister. I worked with him, and it was a wonderful experience, great experience. He was an unassuming man, short statured, mild; but inside he was very strong and his stature inside was very big. First of all he was totally honest. You know, for a political leader to be totally honest provides a very rare example. He had humility in him. He was a great nationalist, devoted to his country. But he wanted to promote peace with Pakistan and with all other countries, and he devoted his life to that kind of pursuit.
He was a common man, a poor man. His background was very poor … you know he came from a very poor family. He lost his father when he was eighteen months old. It was a great struggle even getting educated. But despite that he kept to a very, very strong moral and ethical code. Never to do anything wrong. Never. That he decided very early in his life and maintained to the very end of his life.
And with that kind of background, he served the country, first in U.P. then in Delhi. He was member of the cabinet of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, had very various portfolios: transport, communications, commerce, industry, home. Then he became Prime Minister. Unfortunately he was Prime Minister only for about nineteen months. He had a heart attack and he died because of some circumstances. But during those seventeen months he demonstrated that he was a great leader of his country. People began to love him.
When there was a war during this time. Pakistan attacked India and Kashmir and Mr. Shastri said, “Kashmir is India, and as long as it’s part of India then any country that attacks India must be, you must defend your country.” So he defended very strongly. But he never called Pakistan an enemy country. He said, “This is a military regime which is trying to play tricks. We’ll deal with them.”
He said, “Pakistanis are our kith and kin. I have no problem with them at all. There’s no problem, we want to be friendly with them. But if someone attacks our country, then we have to defend.”
He stood for the common man, for the poor man. He said, “Planning has no meaning if the poor remain poor, so we must aim at helping them.” He was for friendship with all countries. And that was his philosophy of life.
And, if I may mention, he was a great admirer of my wife, Nirmala Devi. Whenever we met, he was most respectful to Her, in fact he wanted Her to join politics but She wouldn’t. She said, “Spiritual activity is enough for Me.” But he had recognized Her and was very deferential to Her. So it was a wonderful experience.
Interviewer: And last, Mr. Shrivastava, very quickly, what legacy do you leave behind as a bureaucrat?
Sir C. P.: I think Indian bureaucracy, particularly the Indian administrative service, has a tremendous role to play, has played and has a tremendous role to play. You know, in a democracy, permanent civil service is a very important part of the system that governs the country. Political leaders are elected for a term. And that is democracy. No one is permanent there. No one should be, because people must have the right to reject or elect every four or five years. But there has to be some permanent machinery which keeps the administration of the country going, which is fair, which is objective, which is honest, which advises correctly the ministers, which implements the decisions correctly. So, that is the steel frame of a democratic country. And that steel frame is provided by the Indian administrative service.
So, it has a tremendous role to play in the preservation of democracy, in the honest governance of the country. So my main message to my own fellow civil servants would be: they have to be aware of the tremendous responsibility they have. They can provide honest administration to the country. They can promote policies and implement them. They can help in the promotion of policies which are pro-poor, and they can ensure their implementation so that the poor cease to be poor.
I want all my people to have good drinking water, to have food, to have clothing. It’s very hurtful to see poverty. But Indian administrative service, if it gets down to it, can provide a tremendous support to all programs for the alleviation of poverty, and of course for running the country properly, for industry, for trade, for transport, everywhere. You know people in the administrative service, they hold every position of power down from the village to the Prime Minister’s office, to cabinet. Everywhere. Any important position is held by an IS officer, secretaries to the government of India. They are the ones who can really promote the welfare of the country. So my position to them is: Serve your country with total commitment, dedication and integrity.
Interviewer: We are in dire need of people like you, definitely. And thank you very much, Mr. Srivastava
Our guest today is Mr. Chandrika Prasad Srivastava, retired IS officer, a distinguished bureaucrat, and above all espousing the technique of Sahaja Yoga for the path of Self Realization. I’m Rita Lobo reporting from Ridgefield Park in New Jersey.