You are My instruments
As the earliest beginners in Sahaja Yoga in the USA, or seekers, as Shri Mataji called us, we were so scrambled as to need background music to meditate, to seek the peace and find the silence.
‘No problem, just be pleasantly placed,’ She said. We were able to see Her guidance in every deepening development – the mantras, the bhajans, the holidays, the tender touches, and we began to realise we were changing our troubled world. Shri Mataji invited us to India to travel with Her. She placed us all over the world, with new challenges for growth and said She would send us new seekers with greater depth. We grew to be able to speak about the chakras and share guided meditations. Shri Mataji provided humour in large doses so that we did not take ourselves too seriously. She was blunt in redirecting me on one occasion.
‘You know what is wrong with you?’ She said, ‘You have no discrimination.’ Another thing I remember Her saying was that She would work us out but, ‘You must give up joyless pursuits.’
‘You are My hands, you are My instruments,’ She would say, but ‘You must introspect, you must correct yourselves. First, you must be pure. After all, I love to play with My children.’
The initial shock of so much information and vibrations stunned me and I asked a more seasoned sister as to how to cope with everything. She suggested I say to myself, ‘Shri Mataji, You do everything, I do nothing,’ and that eventually I would be able to mature into, ‘Shri Mataji, You do everything, I enjoy everything You do.’
Three days continuous driving to be at the puja
During the fall (autumn) of 1982 Shri Mataji visited the USA and stayed in the home of a yogini in New Jersey. Several of us from Vancouver drove right across Canada to New York, in a utility van with no seats in it, to be there. We took turns driving, sleeping and eating and made the trip in just over three days. A Shri Krishna Puja was held in the lady’s home and a handful of yogis and yoginis attended. We were all very blessed to have Shri Mataji’s undivided attention for about three days and thirstily absorbed all of Her words and suggestions.
Sahaja Yogis in the future
In New York in 1982, after the puja we showed Shri Mataji the old Star Wars films. It was the one with the little furry creatures in it, and She said these were the Sahaja Yogis in the future.
After some debate among ourselves we made popcorn for Shri Mataji and gave Her some. We weren’t sure whether this was the right thing to do, but we offered Shri Adi Shakti popcorn, because this is what you do when you watch a movie. She was tremendously happy with it because She said She could eat more than channa, and so could eat more bhuts.
In 1982 Shri Mataji graced North America with Her presence in New York at a seminar and public programme in late October. We decided to drive from Vancouver in an old cargo van. There were seven of us, and there were no passenger seats in the back, just mattresses. We thought nothing of the journey, over 4,000 miles through the majestic Rocky Mountains, across the early snow covered fields of the flat grain prairies, around the windswept Great Lakes, through the raw wild nature of Canada to cross the border into New York State. The excitement of going to greet our Mother, whom some of us had never seen before, buoyed us up with an energy of delight and joy.
We stayed altogether in a yogini’s flat. There were her five children and about thirty yogis in a two bedroom flat in the heart of the city. In those days the Goddess blessed us with Her most Motherly form, always asking after our welfare and taking care of our individual needs. We sat at Her Feet, crowded into the living room, while She talked about different things and we thirstily absorbed into our beings Her divine vibrations.
In the evening She invited several women to sleep in Her room with Her, to ease the overcrowding of the floor sleepers in the living room. She made Herself so accessible to us, although in Her physical presence one was always very aware of a certain formality and protocol that must be observed. Shri Mataji’s presence commanded respect and recognition of who She was. In return all Her blessings flowed upon you. The more humble and open hearted one became the more one felt. In Her presence one could experience states of being one could not ever imagine feeling. It is hard to describe the well of depth one could slip into. Being in a place in direct connection with Shri Mataji created this depth of awareness not felt otherwise. It was like there was a comforting hand over everything, a weight in the air, but if one was too familiar there was an immediate correction felt inside oneself and an awareness one had over stepped the boundaries.
In the bedroom that evening Shri Mataji invited me to sleep on the bed next to Her. I was very overwhelmed at this. I was seven months pregnant and somewhat over tired from our journey. Shri Mataji was always compassionate and giving. In the morning I awoke to see Her already awake and talking with others who had slept on the floor. I leapt off the bed, feeling how inauspicious to be asleep in Shri Mataji’s presence.
‘You must never wake up like that,’ She immediately turned and said. ‘Be relaxed, take it slowly. How are you feeling?’ I had slept very deeply.
Shri Mataji in New York, 1982
The first time I met Shri Mataji in North America was in New York City in October of 1982. I met Her at the airport, stayed in the same apartment in the city with Her, along with several other people, and even accompanied Her on a shopping excursion for chandeliers.
In the left hand photo, Shri Mataji is in the apartment, telling us how to grow in Sahaja Yoga, on the 27th October. In the centre, She is on the streets of New York City, on the 28th. In the right hand one She is bidding us farewell at the airport, on the 29th.
There was a public programme in New York. While staying at the apartment with Her, we ate all kinds of American take-out food, including Chinese food and pizza. One evening we watched the video of Star Wars, Episode 4, A New Hope, with Shri Mataji.
At the apartment She explained how everything had been created and then evolved to its present form. We also had the opportunity to talk personally with Her. I could not feel any vibrations and Shri Mataji put Her attention on me. She lifted up Her arm from down low to above Her head in a strong motion, with Her attention directly on me as I sat before Her. As soon as She made that gesture I felt the cool vibrations flowing in my hands.
Shri Mataji gave me so many papatshes that I cannot remember them all in detail. Perhaps it is better because it was so sad not to be able to give Her joy.
There are at least two on tape and concerning one of these not many people know the whole story. It was a puja to Shri Guru Nanak in November 1982 at Nightingale Lane. At that time I was staying with my mother in the country, and the leader phoned me from London and said I was to leave her and to come with the children to stay at Nightingale Lane – that very day. So I duly did as I was told.
Imagine my surprise when in the middle of the talk, Shri Mataji suddenly told me that I had to go back to stay with my mother and look after her, and not leave her alone. Soon after, Shri Mataji asked me to live in India.
Shri Mataji’s Zen Painting
Whilst trying to still my mind for meditation today, I was reminded of a very special car journey I had once with Shri Mataji. I’d been helping at Her Brompton Square London home and the yogis had been told that Mother would be going out shopping – therefore it was unlikely that we’d enjoy Her darshan that day.
Swallowing back my disappointment I continued with the designated errands, trying instead to focus on the incredible blessing of being permitted to dust and pack up the vibrated china plates. I was, I confess, a bit nervous when a yogi suddenly came and said, ‘Mother wants to see you now …’ without any hint of the reason for the summons, my mind scanned various possibilities. Had I perhaps done something wrong? Or maybe, as had happened before, She needed some suitcases to be packed.
Not knowing what to expect, I gently knocked on Her bedroom door and waited to be told. I found Shri Mataji all ready to leave; wearing Her soft camel coat, paisley scarf and shiny patent burgundy shoes.
‘Danya, I think you’d really love this wallpaper shop I’m going to,’ She said upon seeing me, ‘I think you should come with me today.’
Surprised and delighted to be even spoken to, I didn’t stop to question why She thought I’d love that shop so much. She went on to explain that they had very nice designs and was hoping to choose some new wallpaper for some guest rooms. I admit to having no previous interest in wallpaper at all, I was just thrilled to be going anywhere with Her – for the first time!
Shri Mataji’s car was out of service that day – but there was available a very modest white builder’s van with only a front bench seat for three people at a squeeze. Shri Mataji decided to sit in the middle next to the driver with me on the other side. At the beginning of the journey I remember trying to press my body next to the car door so that She could have some space, I was trying to make myself small, trying to still my mind, trying to keep my attention on Sahasrara, in fact, trying much too hard instead of just relishing this amazing blessing.
On the way to the wallpaper shop the driver needed to make a stopover first for materials. He parked the van on the kerb and went to fetch them; yet for some reason he seemed to be gone for absolutely ages. Shri Mataji was completely unruffled by the driver’s disappearing act, She remained in a contemplative mood and we mainly sat in a companionable silence looking through the window at the unremarkable view of a non-descript and rather shabby street, that is until She did something quite magical.
Absolutely from nowhere giant star shaped, feathery snowflakes began to gently float in front of the window-screen. Slowly, slowly the snow began to settle (settling snow was so rare in in London that time of year). I was aware that Shri Mataji was smiling, delighted to see the beautiful entertainment She was creating while we waited. She was beautifying the grey urban scene – and calming my chattering mind at the same time. When the driver returned, there was a blanket of snow covering all the houses and trees and I remember being completely in bliss.
‘Everything is so still and silent now – like a Zen painting all done in black and white,’ Shri Mataji commented as we drove off through the freshly painted streets.
What a privilege to have been sitting next to the Artist! It is strange because I have absolutely no memory of the wallpaper shop – yet the memory of Her divine design remains imprinted on my memory forever.
Mother and child
Back then, as was the habit of the time, when we addressed Shri Mataji it was more usual to call Her Mother. This was a widely established practice in the UK in the 80’s. It was never done in a casual or forgetful manner but rather in a tone of great reverence. In fact Shri Mataji, if She phoned the flat my family lived in, which happened quite a bit in 1985 when She moved into our neighbourhood, tended to begin the conversation on recognising my ‘Hello?’ with ‘Ahh, Caleb, it’s Mother here’. In the affirmations that She developed in the early 80’s as part of the realisation process Shri Mataji also instructed new people to say ‘Mother, please give me my Self Realisation,’ etc. So, for these reasons and others the common practice when we were working in and around Brompton Square was usually to call Shri Mataji, ‘Mother’. This could produce some simply wonderful moments if one asked Shri Mataji a question, moments of great sweetness and intimacy.
‘Mother?’ An eager young face bounds up the stairs anxious to report a development, or to receive a new piece of instruction about some practical task maybe half done, and now requiring Shri Mataji’s authoritative eye or knowledge, a beat of time, an eye blink later, Shri Mataji looks up …’Yes, My child?’
‘Yes, My child’, the words, so simple, but what an infinite tenderness they conveyed. The way Shri Mataji said those words sometimes almost made it impossible to remember what you wanted to say next. You just wanted to stay there in front of Her pondering that beautiful softness of tone.
When I heard Shri Mataji call me ‘My child’, as I did on a couple of occasions it filled me with tingling delight. One felt that I, we, every one of us working on Brompton Square was a precious, loved and deeply known child. From the way She said those few words you intuited Shri Mataji’s knowledge of not just who you were in this life, but in many prior births, someone who had earned the right to be called ‘Her child’. What a blessing! Those words wrapped you in incredible warmth. They also contained such deep patience, and sometimes playfulness. The voice that said them was soft and peace-filled.
In hearing that brief phrase spoken, one felt part of an ancient current of profound seeking and blissfully rewarded finding. Simple. Glorious. Beautiful. Unforgettable.
Working on a cupboard
One of my first times in close proximity to Shri Mataji was when I was invited to go and do some carpentry in Her house in Brompton Square. I was asked to bring some wood to put a floor in a cupboard, so on my way I found something suitable in a skip. I don’t know if this was auspicious or not but this was my style at the time. I spent some time in the cupboard cutting and fitting the wood. I had just got to the last piece and decided to try it in the remaining hole and to my amazement it fitted perfectly without being cut. I was just pondering on the event when I became aware that someone was standing in the door of the cupboard. It was Shri Mataji, smiling.
‘How’s it going?’ She asked.
‘Very well, thank You,’ I stammered.
‘You’ve spent long enough in there,’ She said.
We were all invited into Her bedroom to watch a Hindi movie or two. Shri Mataji sat on a sofa in a very relaxed way and gave us a running translation of the movies. I was naturally amazed at how relaxed and informal it all was and spent the next few days with a kind of special glow at having been honoured to have been there.
Mother’s humour, love and care
It is those everyday things, those little personal moments – of humour, love, Mother’s care for each of us – which continue to stir in our memories and which resonate so tremendously for me now that She has left us. I keep thinking about being in Brompton Square with Mother, back in December 1982, sitting on the floor in Her bedroom the night before She was leaving for India the next morning. Many of us had been in the house that day doing little jobs – helping out – we were wrapped up in coats and thick jumpers, as the house was still something of a building site, and very cold.
Mother was seated on Her bed sorting through Her big white handbag. She paused, having found a packet of Polo mints and She offered me one and took one Herself. She then sat reflectively on the bed in silence, sucking the mint, enjoying the pause in activities and preparations.
‘Ahhh … no peace for the crooked,’ Mother sighed, and said in a wry, joking voice, and began to rummage in Her handbag again. It was a lovely moment of Her twinklingly mischievous humour.
Mother thank You for Your love. Thank You for all You gave to each of us.