Shri Ganesh Puja, September 1991 (email report)
About four to five hundred Sahaja Yogis arrived at Cabella from all over Europe on Friday and Saturday. We were lodged in two large tents, the men’s tent being also the puja hall. Saturday lunch was held at our Divine Mother’s invitation in the back garden of Her castle. Shri Mataji, helped notably by some of the Indian ladies living in Europe, has been tirelessly busy cooking for those staying in Her house and even for all the hundreds of yogis attending for puja. All the cooking – for hundreds of people – is done over open wood fires at the back of the house, as the local electricity supply is very limited.
On the eve of the puja there was a fantastic concert by Ajit Katkade who sang some classical ragas and later had us all spellbound with his Hansat Ali. He provided the perfect illustration of what Shri Mataji had said at Shri Krishna Puja about humility by telling us ‘of course you people sing this much better.’
In the puja tent was a beautiful backdrop which showed the different swayambhu manifestations of Shri Ganesh as mountains, with the Matterhorn and Ayer’s Rock in the foreground. At the conclusion of Shri Mataji’s discourse, and to sounds of thunder, a further backdrop behind the first was illuminated which transformed these mountains into images of Shri Ganesh.
The presents to Shri Mataji were all painted porcelain statues which She had found in Naples earlier this year. Each of the beautiful little statues represented some aspect of the theme of the mother with her children. Shri Mataji spoke very warmly about these figures, showing how each child was different, and saying what a feeling the sculptor must have for children. She said that of all the countries in the West the Italians had the greatest feeling and respect for motherhood. One Sahaja Yogi from France offered an oven cloth to the Rome ashram, and some little soap and perfume sets to the ladies there. Shri Mataji was very pleased with this gesture, and pointed out how grateful we should be to the people of Rome who are doing so much work for our children. Shri Mataji presented gifts to some Sahaja Yogis.
The most beautiful are the human beings
On the way from Milano to Prague, we were watching the beautiful autumn colours of the forests from the plane. Mother said that She liked these colours in autumn and the trees looked like the fur of a tiger.
‘Shri Mataji, how beautiful Your creation is,’ I told Her.
‘Yes, but the most beautiful are the human beings,’ She replied.
During the renovation works, the ‘kitchen’ was shifted into the cellar. The old pizza oven, the staircase and the other extensions were pulled down. I remember standing on the bridge holding a big sledgehammer in my hands. It was difficult for me to use brute force in the presence of Shri Mataji, but She cheered us on, ‘Demolish it!’ – and I really came out of my shell under Her guidance. Later the castle was reconstructed and plastered outside.
Many of us liked the ailing antique look of the natural stones, but Shri Mataji was never a friend of antique things just because they were old. On the contrary, She said they often carried the negative vibrations of their time and the people who had owned them. She said that in modern times craftsmen should be promoted, who may produce beautifully decorated furniture, lamps and so on, using the old techniques. She believed that such skills should be retained, and encouraged many yogis to produce carvings, stucco works and other handcrafted things. She was most sceptical with regard to fashion trends and modern designs, which often just served the image of their owner or projected their Egos. Like this, Cabella, Shudy Camps, Pratishthan, the Delhi Ashram and other projects became real gems where many yogis learnt handicraft skills and gave free rein to their creativity.
From then on food was prepared for hundreds of people. It had always been important to Shri Mataji to fix the menu for the weekend Herself and to give details as to how to cook it. Sometimes She sat in an armchair in the middle of this big kitchen, surrounded by gas cookers, large pots and many people moving back and forth, cutting vegetables and so on. One day I came to the kitchen and She was sitting amidst a cloud of steam and cooking fumes. A CD player played the inimitable, celestial music of Kishori Amonkar. We were spellbound by this atmosphere, which seemed to be beyond time and space.
Since we had taken down the broken pizza oven and I had good connections with some factories, I ordered material for two new ovens and with some yogis built them outside the new kitchen. When they were finished, after a puja weekend, I found myself with one of the architects, participating in the rebuilding of the castle, in Shri Mataji’s room.
She explained how a staircase to the top floor could be fitted in the dining room. Since there were no plans it was difficult for us to imagine where it would end. If we now look at the wonderfully carved staircase with the office in the mezzanine and the stairs to the top floor, it seems to be the most self-evident and beautiful thing.
She wanted to give me something for the pizza ovens. I rejected Her suggestion and the conversation went on. I was fascinated by Shri Mataji’s wonderful embroidered shawl, or maybe I was enchanted by the vibrations.
‘Shri Mataji, You look so beautiful in the shawl,’ I said.
‘Oh yes, it’s in South Indian handicraft style… have it,’ She replied.
I felt embarrassed that She took advantage of my remark to give it to me.
‘No, I can’t accept that,’ I went on, and She took off the shawl and threw it two metres to me. What could I say? It is the most holy piece of matter I own.
Difficult to confront their Egos
I only once saw Shri Mataji directly confront a young yogi. He had big emotional problems and treated his wife badly.
‘Mr So and So, you know you are crazy. You should try to express your emotions. Try to write poems. Go into nature, for example to a lake, and talk loudly to it,’ She said. After the young man had left the room She said, ‘His emotions are so shattered, people like him just cannot bear more. He suffered too much. It’s very difficult to confront their Egos.’
Navaratri Puja, October 1991
I was asked to go ahead of time to the Navaratri Puja at Cabella to take some documents and give a hand to the building work going on. I had heard from some friends who had just stayed there that you couldn’t see Shri Mataji much, but it was a nice place to be before Navaratri. Having no specific skills, I was told to drill the stones of the basement and later to dig next to a wall in the upper garden.
We didn’t see Shri Mataji for a few days, but once we were called to Her dining hall and She wanted us to listen to the new tape by Hemlata and Ravindra Jain. She was really touched by the song, having tears in Her eyes when listening to Vishwa Vandita. She praised the player of the dholak.
Just before the Navaratri seminar, we heard that a miracle had happened. As a lady was massaging Shri Mataji’s Feet, a yellow powder came on the towel, giving a powerful flowery perfume. In the evening we were all called to Shri Mataji’s room. She told that it was the first day of the Navaratri celebrations and explained the meaning of the miracle. It was not taped, but with friends we tried to remember what She said.
‘One day the Sage Narada, who always creates problems, came to ask Shri Krishna why Shri Radha was his favourite among the gopis. Krishna told him to put their devotion to a test. “Shri Krishna is sick. He could get cured if he ate the dust from one of your feet as a remedy”,’ Narada said to the gopis. They were shocked.
‘How dare you ask such a thing to us? It would be an insult to Shri Krishna. Do you wish to make us loose our punyas?’ they all said. Then Narada went and ask Shri Radha. She did not hesitate a second. He took the dust from Her feet and returned to Shri Krishna.
How could Shri Radha do such a thing? Shri Krishna allowed Narada to use His divine vision to look in His heart. In Shri Krishna’s heart is a lotus, and on that lotus stands Shri Radha. Sitting on the lotus flower, Her feet are rubbing the pollen. The dust from Radha’s feet was nothing but this pollen and the powder on the towel. The towel was exposed in the living room at Cabella, and we could feel its vibrations.
Shri Mataji then said that Shri Ganesh was the first step in creation and that all was made to His image. She said that at some point the earth had gone closer to the sun, then to the moon and this could allow the beginning of life.
On the next day, second day of Navaratri, Shri Mataji called us again and gave a lecture on the creation in the Swadishthan, the succession of the Adi Gurus in the Void and the maryadas in the Nabhi. After Shri Mataji had told us about the maryadas, She invited us to stay and watch the Indian film Shrikanth based on Sarat Chandra Chatterji’s famous novel..
On the third day, Shri Mataji addressed us about evolution, starting from the Void and getting to the Heart through the grace of Mahalakshmi’s principle which first incarnated as Shri Rama and Shri Sita. As an illustration, we stayed with Her to watch an old movie version of the Ramayana. I was seated almost next to Mother’s sofa. She was sweetly resting and from my side we could have the darshan of Her Sahasrara. Actually, I remember more of looking at Mother’s Sahasrara than of the Ramayana movie!
There were no more talks because on Friday the Navaratri seminar started. After the week-end some furniture from Shudy Camps was being brought to Cabella. Some Golden Builders and others were busy helping to unload the truck and move things to Shri Mataji’s apartments in an attentive, but smooth and happy mood, as we knew Mother was sitting next door. Instead of going down the slope to fetch some more items, two of us were stopped at the door of the castle and given what looked like a wrapped armchair to be carried to Mother’s room.
Carefully, we entered the room, holding this chair. Shri Mataji, sitting in the middle of the room, was having Her Holy Feet massaged by a lady who was looking after Her. She interrupted Her conversation and asked what it was. Shri Mataji was told that it was a present from an Italian couple, and She made a joke about how things are going to be if people start sending Her armchairs as personal gifts!
The chair was unwrapped and we were about to leave when Shri Mataji handed an English man the letter accompanying the gift. She asked him to read it and he began reading an extract from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran. The extract was very beautiful but very stern. All along, Shri Mataji was nodding and smiling.
Yes, that’s the way He is. He is terrible, you know, I must always intercede,’ She commented.
I remember at Cabella when during the collective morning meditation in Shri Mataji’s living room, She played the bhajan, Vishwavandita, to us for the first time. It was a very strong moment, many yoginis in the room had tears in their eyes and Shri Mataji commented afterwards, that if we had not had these tears coming when listening to this song, there was something wrong with our emotions.
I can read minds
At Cabella, it was Navaratri 1991. The English collective was hosting the puja and some of us were in Shri Mataji’s sitting room. Laid out in front of Her on the floor were some beautiful handmade glass lampshades and chandeliers. Shri Mataji was assigning each one to a country as a gift for after the puja. The list of countries grew and grew as there was quite a pile. Portugal was in my head for some reason, it was not coming up in the allocations. They were coming to an end and the activity was blending into the next focus of Her attention. Slightly anxious about the omission, I leaned to the guy next to me.
‘What about Portugal, that wasn’t done, was it?’ I whispered.
‘Portugal,’ Shri Mataji said, to the person near Her side, for one of the very few remaining lamps. just as I said that in his ear.
This made us both laugh to each other. Shri Mataji noticed from across the room and asked why we were laughing. I explained what I had whispered.
‘Yes I know, I can read minds,’ She said.
I bow before Your throne
I play the violin and luckily had the opportunity to play for Shri Mataji. I was seeking a lot and went to a seeker’s exhibition and saw the Sahaja stall and a picture of Shri Mataji. At that moment there was a feeling as if the music was rising inside me and I felt I had found the source of creation and She had to be the Creator.
After that, one year later, it was Diwali Puja. It was my birthday and many people went up to the stage to give presents and I thought, ‘What can we give Shri Mataji? The only thing we can give Her is music.’ When I was thinking this, four Czech men went to the stage and presented Shri Mataji with a folk song. So in my ignorance, I took my violin and went to the stage very slowly because I didn’t know if it was going to be okay or not.
‘Shri Mataji wants to see you,’ someone said.
I climbed up to the stage and I was thinking of Bach. At the end of his life, he was writing a very complicated work, which is called The Art of Fugue and even today they cannot analyse it. There is a chorus in it, which goes, Now I go and bow down before your throne.
‘The great Bach wrote that, but could not bow down and here am I, bowing to You,’ I thought and did not feel worthy. But I started tuning the violin and felt completely in Sahasrara. When I started playing in front of Mother, it was as if the sound was made in the Sahasrara, even though I was playing with my hands — total heart, the strongest experience I ever had.
Then I bowed down in front of Mother and felt I never wanted to get up again. Shri Mataji smiled at me and took my hand and put Her hand on my Sahasrara.
That was the greatest present of my life.
She really spoiled us
We lived in Cabella at the beginning. We were quite nervous to begin with, to think we were living like in an ashram, with Mother there upstairs, but when She came, She really spoiled us. We were always up there. We would prepare food for Her and take it to Her and stay while She was eating. When She went to bed, we used to turn down the cover and everything. It was like a family life. She would come down in the kitchen and teach us some recipes and cook with us. We would bring the children upstairs.
Offering aarti and the garland
Mother came into the hangar, or the hall, before any event, not only the puja, and She went and sat down. Then you came towards Her. Sometimes either one or two ladies gave Her a garland before we did the aarti, or sometimes afterwards, and they put it around Her neck. Then two other ladies came with a silver tray with some kumkum, turmeric, rice and sometimes flower petals, camphor and incense.
We lit the incense before Shri Mataji arrived, and then we knelt at Her Feet with the tray in front of us. If Shri Mataji did not make some sign for you to take off Her socks, you left them on, but sometimes She told you to take them off. If She had socks on we usually offered the things in front of Her Feet, otherwise if Her socks were off we offered them on Her Feet. We usually put on the kumkum – each lady took a pinch and put it on Her Feet, and then a pinch of rice, and turmeric, and some put petals of flowers. Then we had some cotton with perfume on it – Kush or whatever. Also you took the cotton and if She gave us Her hand we put it on Her hand too, and if She did not offer Her hand we put it on Her Feet. Then we did the aarti, and lit the camphor, and started on the left of Shri Mataji. Normally you did it three times – usually after three times Shri Mataji made a sign for us to stop. Then we did namaskar and went away. She often said ‘May God bless you’. Then we left, without turning our back on Her.
One time we were doing aarti and we had an oil lamp instead of camphor, but we could not get it to light. We were trying to be delicate in front of Shri Mataji, but in fact were being a bit clumsy, so after some time She just pulled out the cotton wool full of oil, pulled it up, and we could straight away light the lamp. It was to show us to be simple, practical and natural!
Trupta de Graaf