Chapter 14: 1982 – Summer, London, the USSR and Yorkshire

Recollections - Book by Sahaja Yogis

Back in London

Shri Mataji made several visits to Darwin Court, once when some French yogis came to stay there. Another occasion was when Shri Mataji came to see William, the first baby born to Graham and Gail Pottinger, who were living there from 1981 to 1982.

Patricia Proenza

A talk to Moslem ladies

In the summer of 1982 Shri Mataji was invited to give a talk to a Moslem ladies’ organisation at the Regents Park Mosque, London. Several Sahaja Yoginis were invited by Shri Mataji to attend this talk.

Patricia Proenza

Shri Mataji on saris

Shri Mataji said the sari was the piece of clothing God created for women to wear. It is very auspicious, because if you include the palloo – the end bit – being put over one’s right shoulder for modesty and/or warmth, it is three and a half coils, like the Kundalini. She also said a lot of the traditional decorations are chakras, temples etc. On the sari Shri Mataji is wearing in the photo below, which She gave to me in the summer of 1982, the V shaped designs are temples. The photo is of a puja in Maharashtra in 1980.

Linda Williams

Shri Mataji in Uzbekistan

This photo was taken in 1982, when Shri Mataji was on an official trip to Uzbekistan with Her husband Sir CP Srivastava, for the United Nations.

Shri Mataji in Uzbekistan 1982

This photo was taken in Uzbekistan in 1982. Here Shri Mataji is seen with Sir CP and others in Tashkent.

Maxim Belyanin


Shri Mataji told us this joke. There was a man who had to go to his wedding somewhere in Punjab. He went on the night train and told the guard to wake him up and throw him off at a certain station. He warned the guard that he was a very heavy sleeper, and he would shout and complain, but nevertheless the guard should just pick him up and put him on the platform. In the morning the man woke up, way beyond his destination and still on the train. He questioned the guard.

‘Why did you not put me off as I told you to?’

‘Oh sir, I woke up this man, and he complained so much and was so angry with me when I put him off, I was sure it must have been you.’

There was another joke which Shri Mataji told and it went something like this:

There was a lady who had a daughter who was very dark skinned, and dark skin is not considered desirable in India. The mother finally found a possible match for her and was going on the train with this daughter to meet the prospective bridegroom. The mother was talking about the girl’s dark skin with another lady in the carriage, and the other lady was giving various suggestions to help overcome the problem. They reached the town where they were going and went their separate ways. When they got to the house and met the boy and his family, the mother of the boy was none other than the lady on the train who had been giving the suggestions.


Lost presents

The sari in the classic black and white photo was made into a child’s dress for one of Shri Mataji’s grandchildren. It was pink, with a gold border. When the granddaughter grew out of it Mother gave it to my daughter and she wore it a few times. Then I put it in a trunk with a lot of other presents from Shri Mataji, and left the trunk at Chelsham Road when I went to live in the country in the summer of 1982. Regrettably someone gave the trunk to the rag and bone man, and I also lost a number of saris from Mother, a ruby necklace She had given me, and a number of other wonderful gifts.

However, Shri Mataji said there were some other things in the trunk which had bad vibrations so it had to go. At least a lot of people in the poorer areas of London had some stunning jewellery and saris with fantastic vibrations.

Linda Williams

One day you will know

In London, in the early eighties, Shri Mataji said to us, ‘One day you will know all about the past and the future, but for now stay in the present.’


See My face

In the dining room in Brompton Square, Shri Mataji had all these different tea sets: teapots and cups and saucers and other things, around the picture rail, from about 1982. We had bought some of them in Hong Kong when She was there, from the local Chinese emporium for not very much money at all, but when they were in Shri Adi Shakti’s dining room they looked absolutely stunning. We did a lot of shopping in this Chinese emporium in Hong Kong and saw lots of statues of Quan Yin there.

‘See My face. See My face there,’ Shri Mataji said, about all the Quan Yin statues in a china shop. That was in 1981.

Kay McHugh

Updating the bible

In about 1981, in Brompton Square, Shri Mataji`s house in London, there was a public programme that Shri Mataji did not go to and She stayed at home. She asked someone to bring a copy of the bible and asked them to read out the part about John and the revelations. When it came to the quote that only 144,000 people would be saved, She smiled and said there would be more people than that.

Derek Ferguson

Whatever you praise increases

One day my mum, Magda, had been invited to help at Shri Mataji’s Brompton Square house. As everyone knows, Shri Mataji was always very hands-on in all aspects of Her housing projects. No detail was too small to escape Her divine attention – even down to the quality of the products being used.

Shri Mataji handed my mum a small bottle of ‘very good varnish’ and asked if she could varnish a little wooden bedside cabinet. Magda looked at the bottle and then at the cabinet and thought, there’s probably just enough to cover it. When the cabinet was finished Shri Mataji returned, inspecting the work She declared it a job well done.

‘Good job! It is really good varnish isn’t it Magda?’ She said. Full of enthusiasm, Shri Mataji decided to join in with the varnishing, getting a new brush for Herself. ‘How about we varnish this chest of drawers as well?’

My mum looked at the little bottle, and looked at the big chest of drawers thinking – we’ll definitely need to get some more varnish soon. However, she knew better than to put in her tuppence worth. Alongside my overjoyed mum, Shri Mataji started painting that lucky piece of furniture, giving it a rich, glossy sheen. And so my mum entered into a wonderful, lively divine leela, bubbling with joy to be working next to Shri Mataji.

Every piece of furniture in the room received the same loving attention from Shri Mataji; and each time one varnishing project was finished She would playfully proclaim, ‘What wonderful varnish!’ And they would both laugh.

Finally, when everything had been painted, Shri Mataji handed back the little bottle to mum who rested it on some newspaper. As she placed the bottle down, a little bit of the dark liquid bubbled out of the top.

‘Maybe we praised it a bit too much!’ and then said: ‘You see Magda, whatever you praise, increases,’ Shri Mataji glanced at the spillage, smiled and commented.

Danya Martoglio


In England we have a flower called a daffodil which traditionally does not have any fragrance. However once when we were working at Brompton Square, Shri Mataji came up the stairs from the basement with a daffodil in Her hand and asked us to smell it. She put the flower in front of my nose and, slightly sheepishly, I inhaled. My whole head was filled with a delightful fragrance.

‘You see,’ She said, ‘now even the daffodils have fragrance.’

Chris Marlow

A miracle at Brompton Square

It was a wonderful time for all of us when Shri Mataji was renovating Her house in Brompton Square off Knightsbridge. We were often there, sometimes for days together, and always working under Her personal directions.

One day Mother asked two of us to clean the marble in all the bathrooms. We didn’t know what to use

‘Try this,’ She said, handing us a tin of brown liquid furniture polish. There wasn’t that much in the tin, probably about a quarter full. This was a very pleasant job, and we worked for some hours, finally arriving at the top of the house to finish the last bathroom. It was Sir CP’s room. Mother was with us and my friend remarked how amazing it was that we had cleaned all this marble, and yet there was still polish in the tin. Shri Mataji agreed and we all looked at the tin, marvelling that the polish had lasted so long. At that moment, the polish overflowed out of the tin and made a huge stain on the beautiful new pale yellow carpet. We were amazed and shocked.

‘Oh, we must have praised the polish so much, it has overflowed,’ Mother said. As for the stain, She told us to sprinkle some water on it and then She gave it a bandhan, and told us not to worry about it.

The next day I went to the house as usual, and I was asked to arrange some things in Sir CP’s room. I had forgotten the stain on the carpet and was busy arranging the linen when I suddenly remembered it. I could not find any evidence at all of any stain whatsoever. The carpet looked just like new, not a single mark on it!

Patty Prole

A large ashram called Nirmala Palace

In 1982, a large former nursing home in Nightingale Lane, Balham, South West London, was rented by the Sahaja Housing Coop, and it became an ashram. It was renamed Nirmala Palace. This mansion-like house was about half-way down Nightingale Lane, on the left hand side when coming from Clapham South underground station. Shri Mataji visited on many occasions, giving many talks, and some pujas were held there. The Guru Puja 1982 was held there, in the garden, and began early in the morning.

Nightingale Lane, Clapham, London

Editor’s note: The first large ashram in London was Nightingale Lane. It was obtained through the Sahaja Housing Co-op, had been nursing a home and had a large garden. About twenty or more Sahaja Yogis lived there in 1982, and Shri Mataji blessed it with Her presence at a number of pujas, including the Guru Puja in the summer, seen here, and the puja on Shri Guru Nanak’s birthday in the autumn.

Many of us knew Shri Mataji from previous lives

I was working in London, close to Shri Mataji, but I also felt the urge to visit Derby ashram, because of what Shri Mataji had told me. It happened after a Guru Puja in 1982, at the London ashram when She was giving out some small gifts to those present. I was seated near Her, helping with the gifts. When Bala, from the Derby ashram, came up to receive his gift, Shri Mataji turned to me and spoke to him very lovingly as She handed him his gift. She said how (at that time) all the ‘old seekers’ came to Sahaja Yoga through him, ‘each one better than the other’. In fact these seekers were much older than Bala – many old enough to be his father. Shri Mataji said that many of us knew Mother from previous lives.

I recall a puja in London where Shri Mataji would not allow us to begin even though it was getting late. Then, an hour after the proposed start time, we heard the front door of the ashram open.

‘Ah, Bala is here, now we can start,’ She said, without looking. He had come by train from Birmingham.

Rustom Burjorjee

A note from Shri Mataji

There was a letter pinned to the notice board in Nightingale Lane ashram (Nirmala Palace) back in the early eighties. It was from Shri Mataji to one of Her doubting sons. In it She communicated that of course She didn’t know everything.

‘But does a broom need to know the history and relationship between each and every particle of dust in order to sweep it out of the door?’ She said.

Marylin Leate

A gift for Shri Mataji

I did a watercolour when I was about twelve, as a present for Shri Mataji. My father also helped me with it, as it was a bit complicated for my technical skills at that age. In the original, the area in the bottom half was depicted as though it was rising from the earth, or was made out of it. I gave it to Shri Mataji at Nightingale Lane Ashram in South London, in about 1982. Anyone who remembers the Nightingale Lane house will recall that Shri Mataji had a room on the ground floor overlooking the garden which was in a long corridor that went almost the length of the house and the room was also near to the entrance hall, which had a large staircase leading around it to the upper floor.
The garden was quite large for a suburban house; the building had once been a nursing home, but there was more than enough space for pujas as there weren’t very many yogis then, and some pujas took place in the middle of the garden with plenty of grass around. I recall one where I was sitting towards at the back, and can’t have been more than thirty feet from Shri Mataji.
I cannot recall the occasion when I gave the image to Shri Mataji with great precision, but I do remember sitting outside in the corridor waiting to see Her, and being able to hear Her talking and laughing behind the closed door. When I was little I never felt or thought about the awe and opportunity of being in Shri Mataji’s presence, but by that age I had started to become more self-conscious, and would worry about whether I was doing the right thing or my attention was in the right place when near to Her. That was why I was rather worried that She would not approve of the present and my heart was thumping as I waited. Fortunately She did enjoy it. She studied it quite intently for a few seconds before looking up and making a comment which I do not remember, but it completely relieved my worries.
I also recall, around that time, the yogis sitting up with Shri Mataji most of the night watching Indian movies in a large room to the right of the entrance hall, which was also where we had pujas when She was not present. The movies were the classic kind with great booming villains with massive handlebar moustaches and one was probably a version of the Ramayana, as I recall endless shots of arrows flying in the air. I remember the occasion fairly well as it was the first time I had ever been up into the small hours. Sitting in the dark, with the light of the little TV illuminating Shri Mataji and the yogis around Her seemed like some kind of unusual world I was suddenly lucky enough to experience – though I had difficulty staying awake after it got quite late.

Kevin Anslow


Shri Mataji spoke about Rabindranath Tagore’s school, Shantiniketan in Bengal. She said it was all very well their learning to make nice garlands, but it did not help them pass their exams, and this is a necessary part of a school, to qualify people for life. Right back in 1982, She said She would start a junior school, a senior school, and a university.

Linda Williams

I felt very much at home

When I first came to Sahaja Yoga in 1982 I was seven, and was fortunate enough to meet Shri Mataji. The first time was in Caxton Hall where Shri Mataji used to give weekly programmes. My mother and I walked into the room where there were all the Sahaja Yogis and I felt very much at home – immediately fine. We were introduced to Shri Mataji. I had a fringe of hair at the time, covering my forehead, and Shri Mataji moved it out of the way. She stroked my cheek.

At another weekly programme my mother and I went up on the stage to talk to Shri Mataji, because I had been having very bad nightmares for years. Shri Mataji said I was born realised so there shouldn’t be a problem, but my mother said I was having bad dreams. Shri Mataji said it was all the alcohol that we had in the house was attacking me, and we should do lemons and chillies, because at that time my father had a wine business. (He gave it up soon after). She said realised souls couldn’t bear it and the negativity was coming in.

We went home, and my mother put some lemons and chillies under the bed. I had had the same nightmare every night for three years, and it had terrorised me, and after that I never had that nightmare again. Shri Mataji had completely absorbed it, and this was confirmation at a very early age of who Shri Mataji is. From that moment I have felt Her established in my heart.

Alexandra Fuente

You are the great ego

Mother had often told us to ask for something when we came to take vibrations from Her Feet. Of course we were always thoughtless and just absorbed the vibrations. After a meeting at Caxton Hall I remembered this and wanted to surrender. As I gave Shri Mataji a flower I placed my hands under Her Feet and bowed my head on top of Her Feet. Into my head and from my heart I said that ‘Mother You are the great ego.’ I waited for Her to flick Her Feet signalling that I should get up but it didn’t come. Again from my heart I said over and over again, ‘Mother You are the great ego.’ At last came the flick of the Feet and as I looked up Shri Mataji smiled into my face so that She was all I could see. It felt like we shared a secret.

Gilly Grimshaw

England’s green and pleasant land

In the summer of 1982 I spoke to Shri Mataji about how beautifully the poets, including William Blake, had described the countryside of England but that today a lot of it was so ruined with industries and motorways and ugly high rise housing developments and no longer beautiful. She said that not to worry because England would be beautiful in the future, when it is finished.

Linda Williams

My guru and my guest

I had a cottage in West Yorkshire, in the north of England in a little village called Mytholmroyd. In those early days Shri Mataji would travel all over the country, and later all over the world, whenever anyone asked for Her. I asked Her if She would come to Yorkshire.

‘For one person I will go anywhere,’ Shri Mataji said. She came by train in July 1982. She also brought Her two granddaughters, aged about six and eight, and about eight Sahaja Yogis came to support the meeting we arranged in the village hall. About fifty people attended; some came from Halifax, about eight miles away, and others from Manchester, twenty-four miles on the train. The granddaughters were delighted by the local wild flowers and went picking them by the meeting hall with another little Sahaja Yogi child.

As Shri Mataji came up the path to the front door of my cottage, there was a patch of tall white marguerite daisies on the right hand side.

‘They are lovely,’ Shri Mataji said.

‘It’s a pity they smell so pungent,’ I added.

‘They’re all right now, daisies everywhere will never smell too strong again, because My sari brushed against them as I passed.’ I was astonished, because when I smelled them what She said was true. They had lost that over-strong smell and were very agreeable.

Shri Mataji said She felt happy in the cottage, and my neighbours helped with the cooking for so many guests! We did a lot of chickens, and someone gave me the recipe of how Mother liked them. The man who cooked for the village bakery made dozens of onion and potato pasties. After Shri Mataji came down to eat, I thought I shouldn’t spend all my time with Her, so I was feeding the other people present.

‘Rita, I am enjoying this lovely food and you are not noticing!’ She said. So I enjoyed myself watching Her in my home being happy, and I felt very privileged. In the evening Mother was upstairs in the bedroom and She asked if I could go up and massage Her Feet. She was sitting at the side of the bed, and I had no idea who Mother was at this time. I knelt on the floor and massaged Her Feet, thoroughly hoping that She felt some relief. It was only months later that I knew what a blessing this was for me!

About 5.00 am the next morning we all got up and went to see the district with Shri Mataji. We drove all over the Pennine valleys. We went along a dreary bit of road by the station and suddenly there were four colourful bullfinches flying round the car. Shri Mataji said we could bless all the rivers nearby. The River Calder was one and the River Hebdene was another, so all who put their feet in the rivers would be blessed.

Afterwards we went through some lovely woods, to Pecket Well, and into the National Trust valley known as Hardcastle Craggs. Shri Mataji loved this. We turned right to Old Town, and there were the ruins of an old asbestos mill which had given many of the local people cancer. It was being pulled down and there was rubble everywhere.

‘No one will ever get ill from the dust,’ and She waved Her hand over it in blessing.

Shri Mataji’s train was leaving at nine o’clock in the morning; She was going to Derby for a public programme. By the station was a small craft shop with beautiful china sculptures made by a local artist. There was one which Shri Mataji particularly liked, a shepherd with his dog and a group of sheep by a dusty stone wall. Unfortunately the shop hadn’t opened as it was only eight-thirty. The next time I went to see Shri Mataji, at Chelsham Road in London, I brought Her a set of these sculptures and Her eyes lit up with joy to such an extent that everyone in the room clapped.

I am so grateful that in this life I have been so blessed as to have Shri Mataji as my guru and my guest.

Rita Davies

I felt the rivers of Her infinite cleansing love

I came up to Yorkshire in a car full of yogis to Mytholmroyd, on the 30th July 1982, where Shri Mataji was to have a public programme. During the programme I volunteered to look after Her two granddaughters. Later we returned to Rita Davies’ house with Shri Mataji and the yogis and I noticed how pretty Rita’s cottage was; so typically English with large swathes of daisies inside the gate.

We were given supper and Shri Mataji talked at length about some inauspicious lady, who had not behaved properly. This aspect of Shri Mataji touched an inner fear that I had had from my religious background about God. I found it impossible to repress my sobs and started crying. Shri Mataji immediately beckoned me to come over to Her and made me settle my head on Her lap whilst stroking my Vishuddhi.

‘You see; she has the same problems as you,’ She said to another yogi. This was a very significant moment for me as I had once, long ago, surrendered my troubles in my own mother’s lap, and had registered that moment as having had a divine nature.

After that we all went to bed and Shri Mataji suggested I sleep in Her room. Before I settled on the floor near Her bed, which She was sharing with Her two granddaughters, they asked me to fetch Shri Mataji’s brush and hair oil.

I remember feeling terribly inadequate, having had no experience of being that close to Shri Mataji. I was very new in Sahaja Yoga at that time; it was my birthday that day and I had only received my realisation on 12th June at Caxton Hall. I had already learned the mantras and had attended Guru Puja in Nightingale Lane, where Shri Mataji had asked my name which She made me repeat several times. She had kept on saying ‘Santal’, like the French for sandal wood. The more She opened Her mouth when talking the more I became aware of the universe contained within it. She then invited me to wash Her Feet and again I felt the rivers of Her infinite cleansing love washing over my whole body inside and out.

‘See, better now?’ She smiled and asked me, in that cottage in Yorkshire.

Before going to sleep Shri Mataji asked me to shut the window; even though it was a hot night and there were four of us in the bedroom. I fell asleep with my hands towards Her. This must have been well after midnight.

Very early next morning, perhaps before 5 am, Shri Mataji asked me if I could get Her a cup of tea. There were quite a few yoginis already waiting by Her door meditating. I asked them to get the tea and it arrived quite promptly. I took it in to Shri Mataji, who was by then sitting on the side of the bed facing the window I had closed the previous night. She beckoned me to stay at Her Feet and asked me to talk about myself.

As I attempted to give an account of myself, I felt the most astonishing sensation of being unwound like a magnetic tape which had recorded my life, or lives and was now being read back at high speed. It may have only lasted an instant but seemed to last a lifetime. I felt very vulnerable in the presence of Her all-seeing eyes. I remember thinking ‘So that’s how God knows everything.’ In that same moment Shri Mataji told me that I was a saint. I hadn’t thought that possible since I was a little child when I had wondered how I could use my life to help others.

I talked to Shri Mataji about my life in the ‘alternative’ world of Neal’s Yard, a yard in Central London with all sorts of interesting places, rooms, offices and alternative shops, cafes and Neal’s Yard Dairy, where l worked. She told me that many dead souls had been at the window all night begging for their rebirth. Shri Mataji finished Her cup of tea and somehow my interview seemed to be over.

Soon afterwards – around mid morning, Shri Mataji as well a small party of yogis were preparing to take a ride in the car and somehow I was included in the group. We visited the beautiful country around and then passed Halifax.

We then went on to the Cowley Manor Seminar in Gloucestershire where She revealed Herself as having come this time for Her children with all Her powers!

Chantal Harris

Editor’s note: a yogi who was present at the time remembers Shri Mataji saying that the souls came from the nearby graveyard and asked for their liberation, and that they were good people so She gave it to them.