Keep to your traditions
Shri Mataji was in Tunisia in November 1994, just after the Diwali Puja in Istanbul. She arrived at the airport and was welcomed by the VIP people. There was a girl who welcomed Her with a bunch of flowers and there was a man from the government — just three VIP people. Shri Mataji was received in a small room at the airport and then She went to the hotel.
The first evening — the whole seminar happened in the hotel and everybody had to book to be there. There were about three or four hundred Tunisian people, they registered and stayed there for the whole weekend. It was the first visit of Shri Mataji.
The first evening She came, She said hello to everyone and then went into the next room. The television people came and they stayed for the whole weekend. Also some journalists came from the newspapers and the following day we had a few articles. They were good articles in the newspaper and Shri Mataji went on television as well.
The good thing about it was that about two days later, She went to see the ceramics because Tunisia is very famous for ceramics. A little group went — Marie-Laure Cernay and Marie-Martine de Techtermann doing the translation. They went to a little town called Narbeul, full of ceramic shops. Mother had been on the TV the day before and one of the people in the street recognized the yogis from the TV.
‘We saw you on the TV with Shri Mataji, and She can cure,’ they said.
‘Yes,’ the yogis replied.
The people wanted to come and see Shri Mataji. But that is actually why we had that private seminar, otherwise everyone would come just to get cured and it would not be possible. Mother gave two public talks in the evening and the last day, on the Sunday morning, She talked to the women. The women were fascinated by Shri Mataji and were very open. I remember the first evening when She came just to say hello, She stayed for five minutes and then went with the journalists and before She went, the ladies from the front row rushed on the stage and took Mother around the waist. There were six or seven of them and they were all round Mother and they wanted to have a photograph. They were kissing Mother’s hands and She was very loving with them.
One thing the Tunisian ladies noticed was that day after day, She was becoming darker and darker in Her face. By the last day, She looked like Shri Mahakali. It was fascinating because the last day She only wanted to speak to the women. It was difficult to keep the men out, but they were not allowed in. Shri Mataji looked very impressive: very dark, red eyes and wearing a white sari, and She spoke to them, mainly saying that they should not follow the French culture. She said they should keep to their traditions because, if they didn’t keep to their traditions, then the fundamentalism comes in.
‘So don’t run after Western ideas.’ Shri Mataji really emphasized on that.
Public programme in Tunisia
My heart just melted
It was the year that Shri Mataji went to Tunisia. Djamel, Yusuf and I went ahead to prepare. We went to see all the ministers, booked the hotel, did the newspaper articles and so on, and prepared for a hundred and eight yogis and Shri Mataji. When Shri Mataji arrived I was more in the background. Later on there was a big public programme where Shri Mataji gave realisation. Eventually it was finished and Shri Mataji came down the stairs, followed by a crowd of people. I wanted to get a photo of Her but wasn’t quick enough to get ahead, so went by a side way. I came out and there was Shri Mataji in front of me, but I thought it was too late. I just stood there.
‘Stop, Laurent wants to take a picture,’ She said to all the people behind, as She approached. They all had to stop, and my heart just melted. It was a very sweet picture that came out.
This picture was taken in Tunisia. Mother had given me the amber necklace which I am wearing, and I just thanked Her, and so She took it in Her fingers – She was helping my Vishuddhi.
Marie-Martine de Techtermann
Carpets from the souk
A few Yogis organised for Shri Mataji to visit Tunisia in 1994, where She gave realisation to many people. These photos were taken in a carpet store in the souk (market), where Mother also bought a necklace for us to be given in the puja. It was made in the Berber style and consisted out of huge, rather raw diamonds and dark silver. She bought carpets and many other things.
Shri Mataji went there from Istanbul, after Diwali Puja and then went on to Athens.
Shri Mataji shopping in Tunisia
You can feel the love
In November 1994 Shri Mataji visited Greece for another public programme. Meanwhile arrangements were done for Her to stay at the leader’s house. It was so big that it hosted not only Shri Mataji but also many Greek and also some Italians yogis. It was such a blessing staying under the same roof with our Mother and actually sleep and wake up in Her divine presence but also be able to sit in front of Her lotus Feet, listen to Her, perform for Her, or just be there. She worked so much on us to open up our Agnyas and hearts. She said how nice it was that the floors, made out of marble, were cooling down Her Feet.
Many times I relive Her words in the meditation She led for all of us. When our attention reached the Agnya She indicated that all our love flows from there. She then asked all of us to see if we feel a cool breeze flowing from there. After that She said that this was the love flowing from our Agnya and in reality there was such a thick blow of air and vibrations flowing from there that most of us must have felt it that day.
Floating in bliss
When Shri Mataji was in Athens, Greece, in 1994, one night She stood on the terrace, and the moon had a halo around it.
‘If the moon has a halo, something bad is happening,’ She said, but after a reaction from us She corrected Herself and said, ‘not really bad but….’ and She did not complete the sentence. The next morning we heard that Colonel Joshi, a great supporter of Sahaja Yoga in the Indian army, had passed away.
Another famous story of those days in Athens is that one of the Sahaja Yogis wanted to hear Shri Mataji saying that one of the ladies of the collective had a big ego, so he started commenting on the big nose of the lady.
‘Does not a big nose mean that the person has a lot of ego?’ he asked Her. ‘The nose is the ego, right?’
He was going on that way to get a satisfactory answer until Shri Mataji called his name.
‘N…. nose is nose!’ She said, and we all burst out laughing.
At some point Mother came down the stairs to go to the Athens public programme. When She came down She started coughing a lot and in the car She told me to put my hand on Her centre heart, at the back. We drove at night time through this beautiful city of Athens for a long while and when we arrived, my Centre Heart was so cleared out that I felt almost as if I was in a trance. I cannot remember ever before or after that having felt such a stillness inside. I kept on floating in bliss for the whole evening. Shri Athena had blessed me and whole of Athens on that evening.
From the divine point of view
Shri Mataji had a great sense of humour and you never knew when you would be at the receiving end. It always came when you least expected it and took you by surprise. The delight and joy She received from your predicament was a joy to behold. We were arriving in Italy and the terminal was lined with beautiful yogis, all with flowers to offer Her. Mother was walking and accepting flowers from everyone.
‘That is how you all look to Me,’ She turned, and chuckling mischievously whispered softly in Marathi, while looking at a certain yogini.
Not knowing what She meant I followed Her gaze to the yogini and to my chagrin noticed that the yogini’s badge of Mother on her sari was upside down. I sheepishly joined Her laughter to the fact that humanity was simply upside down in the eyes of the Divine!
Do you know who I am?
One year, there were, as usual, many Sahaja Yogis to say farewell to Shri Mataji, who was travelling from Cabella to Rome, and then going on to India, so there were many witnesses to this event. The car was full – in it were Shri Mataji, Sir CP, two people who were helping to look after Shri Mataji, and the luggage. Javier informed Her that there was a strike at all the petrol stations on that day.
‘Do you know who I am?’ Shri Mataji said to him, and gave him a very strong look, as sometimes She did, in this tremendous way. After this answer he surrendered and drove the car to Rome. It is about 600 kilometres, and they were in a large old Lincoln car that was heavy on petrol. Because of the petrol strike he was nervous, because he knew he could not make it all the way to Rome on one tank. Consequently he arranged for another car with tanks of petrol to follow, but Shri Mataji told him to stop the car from following. Somehow he reached Rome and the next day when he went to fill the tank it was not even empty, which in the normal way would have been absolutely impossible.
I am going from My Mother’s place
Shri Mataji came to Jaipur in December 1994, and She gave us Shri Adi Shakti Puja. The old Sahaja Yogis who came said She was so happy there, and they had not seen Shri Mataji so happy for a long time. She gave a long puja talk, for about one and a half hours, the longest puja talk ever.
‘When I leave Jaipur, I feel that I am going from My mother’s place,’ Shri Mataji said when She was at the airport and there were tears in Her eyes. As soon as the plane took off, it became very hot, even though when She had been in Jaipur it had been very cool.
The country of the Spirit
The India tour of 1994/95 reshaped my life; it was an unforgettably rich and beautiful experience. There was so much depth of vibrations and inspiration and so much information. I felt I was travelling next to Shri Mataji all the time. Her attention was so dynamic and constantly on us. The five weeks were densely packed with programmes, pujas, functions and many performances, most of which She attended.
One of the earliest events was in Delhi. It was the presentation of Sir CP’s book on Shastri, which also happened to be the anniversary of when he met Shri Mataji. This was followed by a Raja Lakshmi Puja in which Shri Mataji talked about the liberation of India, and also about when She was hostess to some refugees from the racial violence, who later became prominent artists.
Kindness and genuine affection
That was the tour, 1994/5, where we stopped in Jaipur, and enjoyed a Shri Adi Shakti Puja. Shri Mataji spoke entirely in Hindi, to the Indian ladies who’d come up to sit next to Her. She told them to honour their traditions and not to follow foolish Western fashions blindly. We also were in Dwaraka briefly, and went to some place with an amazing Shiva temple where I felt like weeping – a big clear out. I didn’t always know where I was much of the time, because there were so many trains and buses! I’d been in Sahaja Yoga just nine months. It was such a rush of joyous colours, languages, music, and very kind faces.
I don’t know if I ever explained about the hospitality that we experienced, from Shri Mataji directly and through the local collectives who welcomed us and honoured us with their amazing big hearts. It was a type of hospitality I’d never experienced before, a vehicle for a great love, and we were often brought to tears. The kindness and genuine affection was beyond anything I’d ever dreamed of, and I felt not only touched but changed by it.
When we see nature we should go thoughtless
There was one day on that tour of 1994/95 which I’ll never forget, when Shri Mataji spent many hours with us. Yamuna Nagar was a breath of fresh air which we enjoyed after many days of travel. In the morning we went swimming at the river, it was cool and clean and clearing. While I was still in the river, Shri Mataji called us to the little garden near Her room.
We sat on the soft earth close to Her, and She wore an amber coloured cotton sari with a red border. She asked us if we knew the name of a nearby tree and I think She called it ‘Kiss-me-quick’, it was tall, stretching but rounded, the flowers were kumkum red and looked like poinsettias. She said that when we see nature we should go thoughtless, that we should just reflect and we should take care of the earth, and use and wear natural things. My heart was leaping with joy.
We also sang a popular bhajan with many of Her names. She said that the dholak was an expression of the heart, as if it were the Spirit speaking to us directly. That was the tour where Shri Mataji had made arrangements for many of us to purchase and learn how to play the dholak. Wherever we travelled we carried thirty or more dholaks with our substantial piles of luggage.
On the India tour in 1994, Shri Mataji brought the Noida Music Group to play for us and there was one fourteen year old boy who was the main dholak player. He was brilliant. The boy, who was an orphan, was discovered by the Noida group and he had a natural talent for playing drums. Shri Mataji said we should learn to play the dholak. She arranged through the Noida group to offer dholaks at a cheap price and said the boy would teach us how to play. So many yogis bought dholaks, we had a special truck to carry them! There were dholaks everywhere! We had a few dholak lessons and the sound of dholaks could be heard throughout the camp. I still have mine.
Shri Mataji had us all dance for Her
That night in Yamuna Nagar we went by buses to the public programme. The town was plastered with posters on every visible surface and the programme was very joyful. Afterwards they served us an incredible dinner with fish, which seemed to be trout, and my first jellabies.
I was so surprised that Shri Mataji returned to us after dinner and we all rushed to sit close to Her. She had us get up and move four times, and it takes several minutes to move over 450 people back a foot – it was a light hearted way to get our attention off struggling for the best seat and when all had settled at last a nice area was left open for dancing. We enjoyed dances by local yogi-artists and then Shri Mataji had us all dance for Her in small groups of twenty or so.
I was so amazed and I’ll never forget that day. How does She do it? Music and nature were my favourite topics, swimming and dancing my favourite activities and we even had fish that tasted exactly like my grandmother’s recipe. But it was not only me. Each person was given special experiences. I felt Shri Mataji was granting so many wishes, hearing the concerns or doubts that we each kept to ourselves, and answering them so magically as the adventures of India tour unfolded.
The good thoughts of a hundred monkeys
Shri Mataji sometimes took on your form of speaking when She was with you, like She adapted. She talked completely differently when She was with certain people. The first time I met Shri Mataji was just when I got married and we were up in Pratishthan. We were standing in the kitchen and peering out into the backyard and Shri Mataji was sitting in the garden and She saw us and waved us to come out. So we did, and sat down.
‘What do you think of the house?’ She said, just as conversation.
‘Shri Mataji, it’s a palace. It’s absolutely fantastic,’ I said. I had these turns of phrase that I used.
‘Yes, it’s just one of My crazy ideas,’ She said, and that’s a thing I say all the time.
The yogis there and I just looked at Shri Mataji like — wow! She is actually just catching the thought, like that. They had never heard Her use that turn of phrase. I had the opportunity to ask Shri Mataji on another point.
I was once in a rickshaw in Delhi, in 1994, with an American fellow who was very scared. It was his first time in India and maybe my third time. I was a little bit scared as well because it was getting near sunset and the rickshaw driver didn’t appear to understand us. He eventually nodded and started off and I put it in bandhan and it was so cool I thought, ‘Forget it. Ah, we’ll get there.’ I relaxed and the American sort of relaxed too. After about five minutes, I had this thought, ‘this driver is completely lost. He doesn’t know where to go. We’re never going to get there.’ But I was in such a nice state, I just looked and thought, ‘you’re in bandhan. You are in Shri Mataji’s attention. Forget it.’ Suddenly, the American grabbed my arm.
‘We’re completely lost. We’re never going to get there. This guy doesn’t know where we are going,’ he said in a panic.
‘I’m thinking his thoughts,’ I thought.
When I saw Shri Mataji, I mentioned this to Her.
‘That’s exactly what happens,’ She said.
We actually catch the thoughts of each other and She explained that that’s how we are going to change the world because sometimes you can catch the negative thoughts from people, but then also the people catch the good thoughts from you.
‘Mother,’ I said, ‘does that mean if we have all this bhakti for You and this love for You, then other people, who don’t even know You, will get that and will catch that and will suddenly just feel something for You?’
‘Exactly, that’s the hundred monkey theory, that when there are a hundred monkeys, one will do something, then another, then a few more, then suddenly all the monkeys do the same thing without quite realising why,’ She explained.
She was saying that that’s how the thoughts work, and was saying the same thing about how to meditate.