Chapter 15: 1985 – October, Europe

Recollections - Book by Sahaja Yogis

Are you sure that is My size?

I was in Strasbourg in October 1985 with Shri Mataji, and we were shopping. She wanted to buy a coat. We were at a department store and She wanted a white alpaca coat. The saleslady listened to Shri Mataji, and brought what she thought was the right size for Shri Mataji. Shri Mataji put the coat on.

Are you sure that is My size?’ She asked.

Yes, that is right for you,’ replied the experienced saleslady.

Shri Mataji tried it on, and asked to try a size smaller. Again, when Shri Mataji had the smaller coat on, She asked for a smaller one. Meanwhile I overheard the salesladies talking among themselves, and the one who had given Shri Mataji the wrong size said she had been in the job for thirty years and it was the first time she had given someone the wrong size. Finally, at the third attempt Shri Mataji got a coat of the right size, and the saleslady said to the cashier that maybe she was too old for that job, otherwise how could she have been so mistaken.

Patrick Lantoin

Shri Mataji was laughing so much

The first programme I attended with Shri Mataji was in Strasbourg in October 1985, and Shri Mataji was bursting with laughter and I loved it, and I loved Her. There are some pictures of Her at that programme and She is laughing so much.

Siddheshvara Barbier

Navaratri Puja, Weggis, Switzerland, October 1985 (diary entry)

On Friday evening another Italian Sahaja Yogini and I arrived from Frankfurt – as quickly as possible for fear of missing the arrival of Shri Mataji at Zurich Airport, which was truly emotional. Everyone was lined up on the railings that separated the arrivals and we waited with trepidation for Shri Mataji to appear. After a little time She was again with us. I always forget the great emotion of seeing Her again, the great joy, and every time it seems more beautiful! Then everyone closed around Her to offer their flowers and to show Her a banner. She patiently waited to receive flowers from each person, and when my turn came She said, ‘How nice.’

Then we went to Weggis, on Lake Lucerne, for the great puja to the Devi for the occasion of Navaratri. The gymnasium had been transformed, quickly and beautifully, by our Swiss brothers and sisters, into a place worthy of the Devi. On the back wall was a tapestry on which was a representation of Shri Durga on Her tiger, with Her ten arms and Her hair flying in the wind. Below were flowers of many kinds. Below Her seat was a tiger skin with its head pointing in our direction. Then there were weapons and flags, and silver and bronze puja utensils. There were about three hundred and fifty Sahaja Yogis present, including the English who had come on the express request of Shri Mataji.

We saw Her again the next day, at the puja. At ten o’clock we were waiting for Her, sitting in silence. One Sahaja Yogi led a meditation and another gave a short talk, and it was as if Shri Mataji was with us before She arrived.. When She did arrive She was the Devi. Shri Mataji, wearing a violet coloured sari with gold decoration, looked beautiful as always, smiling as She passed through a long line of Sahaja Yogis. She sat on Her throne in the middle of all the trophies, high on a stage. With Her greatness She dominated the large collectivity of Her Sahaja children, united in adoration of their Mother.

The magnificence of this puja is Her absolute power, Her incredible strength to destroy every type of demon, and the joy of Her victory over the forces of evil. As She said in Her talk, it is for Her devotees, the seekers of truth, that She constantly intervenes, so we can reach the Sahasrara and Her. It is She, with Her constant vigil and Her many incarnations, who has saved us every time from the devils and finally led us to the Sahasrara and Her cosmic being. At the end She said this is a puja of thanksgiving for the patience, the constant, loving work of Mother, the great Devi of Her seeking children.

At the end of Her talk we felt a deep sense of gratitude and love for Her. Then the puja began. First all the children were asked to come up, and then all the people who had not participated in a puja to Her before. They all went up on the stage and took turns to wash Her Feet, to massage them, to put kumkum on them and to decorate them. Then began the part where Shri Mataji is adorned and assumes the physical appearance of the Deity who we had come to worship. This part of the puja was magnificent, regal. Once this adornment was finished, before assuming the traditional mudra, where we sing the aarti, the great Goddess held the weapons that were offered, two swords in Her hands, and assumed the implacable and destructive aspect that She has when She destroys the devils. I seemed to see Her as the shakti of the Devi Mahatmya, where She engaged in battle with the devils Shumba and Nishumba.

First the hymn Jerusalem was sung, then the aarti, as usual. At the culmination of the puja we all experienced, in unison, the great joy of this extraordinary moment, the great apotheosis of the Devi was complete, Her mission on earth, lasting thousands of years, has terminated in this great collective worship by Her children who have been, as She says, transformed into flowers, and the seekers have been saved from the demons, have become united at Her Feet, and in the lotus of the Sahasrara of the universe.

Navaratri Puja, Weggis, Switzerland 1985

The following day the celebrations continued with a havan. The cable car permitted us to go up from the clouds which covered the Lake of Lucerne and took us to a Sahasrara of soft grass where the splendour of the sun dispersed the darkness, like the Spirit. The metaphor was obvious.

Shri Mataji and the Sahaja Yogis going to the havan

Shri Mataji was in our midst for an improvised havan on the summit of the mountain, lapped by the clouds, which came up from the valley below and were all around except for our little glade. The names of Shri Adi Shakti were read out, and the new people came and sat around the fire and had the place of honour to offer to Shri Agni and throw the baddhas in. After we had thrown in the baddhas of Switzerland and the world, Shri Mataji and the three hundred and fifty people went down the short path towards the cable car. She went down first, and the others waited their turn at the cable station. Shri Mataji greeted the Sahaja Yogis with a loving smile, raised Her hand and said, ‘Good bye, good bye.’

Alessandra Pallini

Exactly what I needed

We were celebrating a puja in Weggis, Switzerland. One day we took the funicular to the Rütli Mountain and after the thick fog had miraculously lifted the moment Shri Mataji arrived, we prepared a havan. The little plateau was directly above a steep slope and She asked some yogis to collect some leaves to decorate the place for the fire. About a metre down the slope there was a bush from which I wanted to pluck some leaves.

Take care Thomas,’ I heard Shri Mataji say behind me. These words touched me deep in my heart. She said my name, She worried about me, She had Her attention on me. This does not really explain the impact of Her words on me, but it was exactly what I needed at that moment.

Thomas Menge

A havan in the mountains

At the weekend of the 1985 Navaratri Puja, Shri Mataji had asked us to offer a havan. It was mid-October, foggy and quite cold in Weggis, which lies on a beautiful lake nestled in the mountains of Switzerland. We were very excited about this opportunity; we just had learned that a major false guru had his global headquarters in this very city!

The Swiss organizers chose a place high up on a mountain, overlooking the entire area. We went up by cable car and were a bit disappointed not to be able to see anything of the spectacular view – all was covered in thick fog and we could barely see the yogis walking in front of us as we headed towards the havan place. We helped with the preparations and when we heard that Shri Mataji was coming we all rushed back to the cable car to receive Her.

To our utter amazement the fog opened the very moment Shri Mataji stepped out from the cable car and we were bathed in warm autumn sunshine. Conches and ‘Ki Jai!’ echoed from the mountains all around, and merrily we followed Her, walking to the nearby havan site. 

The fog opened in a circular opening large enough to allow the sun to warm us; it felt like sitting in a warm and cosy room somewhere in this universe as all around was a huge wall of grey mist. We were very comfortable and absolutely protected in this public place, normally quite busy with tourists.

The havan took place with Shri Mataji presiding and giving instructions throughout. It was such a moment of intimacy, our Mother with Her children in a secluded and enchanting place, far removed from earthly influences and conditionings. I was asked to look after the sacred fire and Shri Mataji was watching me very intently as I offered ghee and firewood to Shri Agni. She instructed me to put the ghee on each piece of wood before it went into the fire, which was new to me, and I have been doing this ever since. Mantras along with translations were read and Shri Mataji made many corrections to our translations and explained the meaning of the words in much more depth.

When we reached the end of this havan we felt we had been here with our beloved Mother since all eternity and nothing else really mattered – we enjoyed Her smile, Her laughter, the soothing vibrations, the warmth of the sun – there was nothing else left to desire.

We accompanied Shri Mataji on the short walk back to the cable car and as soon as its door closed and She left, the opening in the fog slowly closed, the sun receded and we were back in the thick wet clouds. But this time we were happy and cheerful, satisfied and joyful, smiling and silent – having a small glimpse of what it meant when Shri Mataji explained that the entire nature, the entire universe is in attendance and support when we meet.

Herbert Reininger

This person is not human

My first meeting with Shri Mataji was in the fall of 1985 at JFK Airport in New York. We had gone to meet Shri Mataji and She was there on a trip with Sir CP for the United Nations. There were maybe a dozen or so Sahaja Yogis waiting at the airport; we were quite shy and quite new to Sahaja Yoga and we had never met Her.

We were standing at the back of this row of people and waiting for Her to come out and didn’t quite know what to expect. We had seen photographs and videos, but suddenly and very quickly this presence appeared, coming out of the exit of the airport and moving fairly rapidly. I became aware of a glowing purple colour surrounding this being.*

Oh, this person is not human,’ I thought. It finally struck me that Shri Mataji wasn’t just somebody who was a nice teacher, but someone who was literally not a human being. I felt this amazing colourful kind of glow emanating from Her – not in a visual or psychedelic sense, but almost like an aroma or a beautiful perfume. As Shri Mataji came by and spoke to various people in the group, I suddenly found myself at the front.

Well, hello. How are you?’ She stopped and said. It felt as though a cosmic bell was ringing through my skull and echoing off to infinity. Then She smiled and walked on and got in the car and went off to the ashram.

Has anyone ever asked you how you felt like that before?’ one of the Sahaja Yogis asked me.

I confessed that no, I hadn’t had that experience before and I was in for a great adventure. This was something I was going to be pursuing deeply for the rest of my life.

Phil Trumbo

Editor’s note: as mentioned elsewhere, if we see colours like this it means we are not totally in the centre.

This was very surprising

When I started practicing Sahaja Yoga at the beginning of the 1980’s my husband was not interested. I really desired that he would meet Shri Mataji and when She was in New York in 1985 I finally persuaded him to attend a programme. He came in late and sat in the back of the hall and Shri Mataji was giving the talk. As soon as She finished talking, he made his move out of the hall towards the stairs, intending to go home. I saw him leave and ran behind him because I wanted to stop him, so that I could introduce him to Mother.

To my surprise when I reached the stairs and came out in the street I saw my husband starting his motorcycle and Shri Mataji was walking very fast towards him. This was very surprising, because when I left the hall She was still on the stage, and there was only one staircase in this building. When I went down the stairs I did not see Mother on the staircase either. So I could not understand how She came down so fast.

So what happened next? Shri Mataji actually stopped my husband and spoke with him for a while. I was really overjoyed.

BW

Tardy

Our leader from Vancouver was there for Shri Mataji’s visit on the East Coast in 1985. When she came home, she told me that Shri Mataji was going through the marriage applications at some point. When She came to mine, She asked what ‘tardy’ means, as I had written as my number one fault, that I’m always late (in those days, we had to write all our faults on the application).

Oh, just like Me!’ Shri Mataji exclaimed, when someone in the room explained that it means being late.

I was so relieved when I was later told this! I married Brigitte two months later, and we live happily ever after.

Edward Saugstad

Those rays were the vibrations

One of the benefits of being a so-called leader, when I lived in New York, was a lot of times one got to ride in the car with Shri Mataji when She was being picked up at the airport, or going to a public programme. She used these occasions to talk about important things, although there was always a lot of thoughtlessness and silence. The information was for all my brothers and sisters as well, so I was very responsible about sharing it with them.

One day when I was in a car with Shri Mataji, the clouds were opening up and the rays were coming through and She said that those rays were the vibrations. Another time I was sitting in front of Her – She was in the back seat and I could feel my chakras spinning. I don’t know whether She was working on me, or whether it was just that Her chakras were so strong, Shri Mataji had such a powerful effect on you.

Carolyn Vance

Driving Shri Mataji

I had the great good fortune to live in Shri Mataji’s house at Brompton Square in December 1985. I remember Her kind words of encouragement and Her trust and Her faith in us all, even though we really didn’t know the extent of the role we were playing. It was hard for me to be removed from the hurly-burly of the Sahaj collective, from the families whose lives I was privileged to share, from the exciting new friends I had discovered, and to find myself in the silence of Her house. I was forced to witness myself, casting aside the distractions of the outside world. I am grateful every day that She gave me that time. It has informed many decisions in life since, enables reflection through small memories, succour in difficult moments and constantly nourishes my confidence.

Shri Mataji asked me if I would like to be Her driver. I responded that I had never lived in London, and didn’t know my way around. She said I’d be fine, and She would show me which way to go. It led to some hairy moments.

Right, on the right,’ She might say.

What did She mean? Should I turn? Change lanes? Should I explain in that split moment that I felt it unwise to travel at speed into the face of three lanes of oncoming traffic? Hyde Park Corner or the Elephant and Castle were not places to question the judgment of the Adi Shakti. We survived, and Shri Mataji always got us to where we needed to be. Then there was parking; Shri Mataji would always find a place, and insist it was fine.

She asked me to leave Her with Sir CP in the car on one occasion while I sprinted into the bus station on some vital errand. When I returned there had been an altercation with a traffic warden and Sir CP was issued with a parking ticket. Shri Mataji didn’t blame me and discussed the relative merits or otherwise of local law enforcement. Sir CP was, as ever, a study in correctness. The car would feel as if we were at the centre of the universe, there was no world beyond, and yet we were starkly reminded of it on occasion.

We would drive to Covent Garden Flower Market at crack of dawn. Shri Mataji would glide about amid the tumult, apparently unassailed by the raucous, ribald atmosphere with scornful Cockney barrow boys and impatient punters. She only had eyes for the huge bunches of gorgeous cut flowers and potted beauties. We would load up the car with armfuls of tulips, hyacinths and chrysanthemums. It smelt like very heaven. Shri Mataji’s face could be seen beaming through the foliage as we drove home.

Some years later in Canberra, there were only a couple of dozen Sahaja Yogis when my son, Christopher was born. He was a couple of months old when Shri Mataji visited us. He was in my arms, and I was in the hallway, and no one else was there. She paused, smiled, asked me his name. As She touched his little bald head and examined his bright blue eyes, I was reminded of the gloriously happy expression on Her face amidst the flowers in the back of the Mercedes years before in London.

Richard Ogden

Laughter is the best meditation

In the ‘80s my brother and I were fortunate to be allowed to help in Shri Mataji’s Brompton Square house. Each day we would travel across London by tube to Knightsbridge. We were full of anticipation, clutching our roses, trying to keep our attention pure, eager to drink in Her vibrations and soak up all the knowledge that She was so graciously imparting.

One day Mother talks to us about the pub culture in the UK and identifies it as the root of many of the country’s problems. She creates such a warm intimacy that it allows for the odd interjection.

Yes, Mother and there is even a TV programme that is set in a pub,’ one of us says, referring to Coronation Street. With much kindness, and no doubt to put us at ease, She conveys incredulous interest.

Really? A television programme of a pub – I have to see that!’ And the conversation then moves on to other topics.

The next day again it is just me and my brother in Shri Mataji’s bedroom. We are painting roses on the ornate wall cornicing and She is sitting on Her sofa guiding our work. Shri Mataji then starts to speak to us on an aspect of the Goddess, we lay down our brushes to listen more attentively. The atmosphere is utterly serene, timeless and holy. Just then, a banal and mournful television theme-tune wafts into Her bedroom from an upstairs guest room, She glances to where the sound is coming from.

Mother, that is the programme of the pub!’ one of us pipes up, excitedly – Her expression is intangible, quizzical yet very kind.

We immediately realise that our comment is totally out of sync with Her current discourse. The juxtaposition of the sublime to the ridiculous is too much for us, how inappropriate to bring such superficial nonsense into Her sacred temple, and all we can do is laugh at our own foolishness. We pull our ears asking forgiveness but cannot stop the laughter, there are tears rolling down our cheeks, we roll on the floor, clutching our stomachs and keep on asking forgiveness. Very graciously we see that Mother is laughing along with us.

Laughter is the best meditation!’ She tells us.

Danya Martoglio

The universe is Her play

I have a dear memory of Shri Mataji in Her room one evening, purposefully walking over to Her window, then peeping out through the half open curtain.

Ah, there she is!’ She exclaimed.

I wondered who She could have seen out there in the dark, who was standing outside Her window? So I came over to see, and Mother kindly pointed out a bright, luminous star twinkling in the night sky just above Her.

You see? There she is, Venus. She is always following Me around.’

Danya Martoglio

Rearranging the universe

Every single thing Our Divine Mother did had a far deeper significance than we could ever imagine – every glance, every breath, every movement was ultimately for the emancipation of this universe. Doing the housework with Shri Mataji could be a real eye-opener – sometimes it seemed that each object in Her home represented a whole country! When I was very new someone also told me that all of Shri Mataji’s personal belongings had their own individual gana to safeguard them, this certainly added to my sense of wonderment – and made me extra careful when doing the dusting. One day Shri Mataji decided to completely rearrange Her dining room beginning with Her collection of tea sets.

We’ll move the Russian set next the Chinese one over here,’ She said, ‘that way Russia and China won’t fight.’

The dynamic energy and enthusiasm with which She worked – bangles jangling, Her beautiful black hair repeatedly tossed back – sending ripples of fragrant vibrations to all those around Her, Her contagious playful laughter, had us all swept up in the exquisite Leela as we climbed up and down ladders to pass Her various objects. Tea sets and furniture newly arranged with the room almost to Her liking, She finally turned thoughtfully towards a shelf of beautiful African tribal carvings. Slowly Shri Mataji began to move some heavy brass Indian statues of the Gods and Goddesses much closer to the African ones. Then She stood back to admire Her work.

The Goddess needs to look after Her African children,’ She said with great love.

Danya Martoglio

Trigunatmika

On the 27th November, 1985 in London, at Hammersmith Town Hall, Shri Mataji gave a speech on William Blake, to celebrate his birthday, on the 28th November. At the end of the programme, the yogis gave Shri Mataji a present. (see the enclosed picture)

Yogi: So Garuda takes wing. While we were preparing the programme of Blake’s Birthday Festival Mother, we found out there was an exhibition of Blake’s work in London in one of the galleries and we very much wanted to give You something that was made by His own hands and with the good wishes of all the Sahaja Yogis of England, and we’ve been able to do it for You. 

Shri Mataji: Oh that’s too much, that’s too much, that’s too much.

Yogi: No it’s something special Mother, we hope that it’ll be our pledge to try to do some justice to You as You’ve tried to do some justice to Blake. 

Shri Mataji: I’m so proud of Him, really. Can you – I am not good at opening. Done so well. Oh. What a beautiful one. Trigunatmika. Do you see the trigunatmika is there? What a vision. I mean how can you understand Him without Sahaja Yoga … picture, you cannot … May God bless you. Thank you very much.

Yogi: This is the engraving of the daughters of Job from the illustrations to the Book of Job. 

Shri Mataji: What is? 

Yogi: Daughters of Job. 

Shri Mataji: Trigunatmika. Three powers – the comforter, and the counsellor and the redeemer, three powers, which you will know, later on. We have those three powers within ourselves. Go ahead.

Victor Vertunni

We needed to defend Her

We were at Heathrow Airport to say goodbye to Shri Mataji and Sir CP, because they were going to India, in 1985. Suddenly a man from the airport staff came up behind Mother and when he got near to Her, he started pushing Shri Mataji. We were completely paralysed for a fraction of a second. After that Matthias and others who were near Mother took this man away from the Sahaja Yogis.

Mother explained to us that She allowed this man to come to Her because She wanted us to realise that we needed to defend Her in any situation, if She was attacked like that, or even if She was attacked by words by someone speaking against Her, we need to defend Her. For all of us this lesson was very important.

Dorota Nocera