On the banks of the Yamuna River
We had two pujas with Shri Mataji in Yamunanagar, in the foothills of the Himalayas. The first was performed in Emerlin College, where I was educated. That was a Saraswati Puja, in 1992. We were thrilled, because a college is the abode of the Goddess Saraswati and we were having sakshat Saraswati Puja. The next year Shri Mataji came again and we had Shri Krishna Puja. That was performed on the banks of the Yamuna River, at a place almost where the Yamuna comes out of the hills and touches the plains. I remember that the decorations for that puja were all dark blue – Krishna’s colours.
The Yamuna River is where Shri Krishna played, and where He killed the big snake as a child. When He was born in Mathura, He was taken across the Yamuna in the monsoon by his adopted father Nanda to Gokul, where He was brought up. The story goes that the river was keen to touch Shri Krishna’s Feet, and that was why it was rising all the time. Shri Krishna, as a new born child, knew His father would be put to trouble, so He put one foot down, and the moment His foot touched the water it just went down again.
She gave the answer
In 1992 I came to know that Shri Mataji would be visiting Dehra Dun for a public programme. I was extremely happy to learn that She would stay in the Officer’s Rest House at my workplace, the Forest Research Institute, (FRI).
I belong to a community which has worshipped Lord Krishna for many generations, and in our house we had a small temple that was nearly a thousand years old. My parents offered puja to it every day. Since childhood I had a firm belief that I would see Lord Krishna, as my parents had so much bhakti for Him, even though I did not follow the family tradition. I had received my realisation at a public programme some time before, when Shri Mataji had not been physically present, and I had said to the organisers that I could only accept Shri Mataji as the supreme power if I could be convinced that She was Shri Krishna. The gentleman suggested I should ask Shri Mataji Herself.
My golden opportunity came on the morning of the 5th April, when Shri Mataji arrived from Yamunanagar to give a public programme at the Doon School in the auditorium at 10 am. Since my house was about three hundred metres from the FRI Rest House, I decided to try to ask Shri Mataji whether She was Shri Krishna as soon as She arrived. It did not occur to me that my question might be foolish. I went to the rest house and was told She had just entered it, and was asked to wait for a while, because Shri Mataji was having a meeting. After some time, and the organiser came and asked me to arrange for some milk to be brought, because Shri Mataji had asked for some.
We had a cow at home, so I drove back there in sheer delight and fetched a bottle of milk. As I returned, I wondered why Shri Mataji was asking me, who was not even fully in Sahaja Yoga, for milk, and not someone involved with the arrangements at the rest house. I gave the milk to the organiser, and again asked a leader if Shri Mataji was free. Again I was asked to wait, and it was suggested that I talk to Her when She came out to go to the public programme.
I held my hands towards the door and stood in joy. A few minutes later Shri Mataji stepped out, wearing a white khadi sari and holding a brown bag in Her hand. She smiled at us and folded Her hands in namaskar as soon as Her glance met ours. At that moment I felt a strong cool breeze all over my body. I was spellbound and speechless, with absolutely nothing going on in my mind. The world did not exist and time stopped for a while. Shri Mataji walked slowly towards the car, talking to the Sahaja Yogis and She left for Doon School.
I followed Shri Mataji’s car on my scooter, but it disappeared in front of us. Somehow I managed to reach the Doon School, and when we arrived Shri Mataji was just getting out of Her car. Aarti was performed to Her as She reached the stage, and I sat in one of the front rows of the hall. Shri Mataji then delivered Her speech and gave realisation to a packed hall. After that people began leaving, and the Sahaja Yogis surrounded Her on the stage. She was giving blessings, and names to new-born babies. I was standing at a distance watching this and an unbelievable calm came over me. As I looked at Shri Mataji, She gave a loving glance to all in the hall and turned Her face towards me. She paused and nodded twice at me. I had got my answer.
Shri Mataji’s instruments (email report)
I had the privilege of being in Rome when Shri Mataji arrived from India in mid April 1992. She arrived at Rome Airport on Saturday at lunchtime, to be greeted by a crowd of perhaps two hundred yogis, mostly Romans but with a sprinkling from other countries and centres. She took a seat on one side of the arrivals hall to receive flowers from all of us, and the children of Rome ashram sat in front of Her and sang a few songs, beginning with Vishwa Vandita and going on with Shri Ganesh Sits on the Roots of the Tree and Sitting in the Heart of the Universe. For the latter song the grown-ups also sang the refrain, but we did not know the words to the verses, which the children, all singing from memory, did; Shri Mataji told the children that they must teach the song to the rest of us!
The rest of the day Mother spent in Her room, resting and talking to a few Sahaja Yogis. Next morning, before Her departure to Cabella, She kindly came to give us all Her darshan in the ashram sitting room. She sat before us and spoke for a while, a short talk but very important. She said how pleased She was that all over the world Sahaja Yogis are becoming responsible, are taking responsibility for the spread of Sahaja Yoga, and that this is very necessary. It is no longer sufficient, She said, to love Her, nor even to be completely surrendered to Her and to fully recognise Her. We must become dynamic and active in the collective growth and spreading of Sahaja Yoga, as Sahaja Yoga will only be spread by us as Her instruments. Certain basic things are necessary: we must all meditate morning and evening, for instance. We should also know certain songs by heart; and She suggested we could have song competitions between ourselves.
A gentleman from Cuba was visiting the ashram, and he described conditions there as very difficult, as it is not allowed to talk openly about religion. Shri Mataji gave a bandhan to Cuba. She also put Her divine attention to Armenia. Shri Mother said the Sahasrara Puja will be on the following weekend, but on the 5th May itself we should all perform a havan, as this is the day when all wishes are to be fulfilled.
To end Her visit to Rome, we sang a few bhajans, and then Shri Mataji gave us a last blessing and left in Her car for Cabella, where She will be staying until Her return to Rome on Friday for the Easter Puja.
Usually I did not like this soup
The small children in Sahaja Yoga went to the school in Italy at Rome Ashram. When I was there one day some children were allowed to go to the airport because Shri Mataji was going to come. We went in quite a small van and we went very late. We were very excited and a kind uncle gave each of us a flower to give to Shri Mataji, so we all bowed down and gave our flower. That was the best moment of my life.
When we came back to the school, we had a vegetable soup for supper. Usually I did not like this soup at all, but that day it did not seem bad.
Bring children up in nature
Shri Mataji came to Rome Ashram one time. She sat outside under the big tree in the garden where the children played. She spoke about nature, and said Her love and attention were on this house. As She was speaking and praising nature the tree was very gently dropping leaves onto all of us, and Her.
Shri Mataji brought chocolates for the children and dried fruit for the adults and the children all went to Her. If there were any children with problems She worked on them, and after that She left. It was a brief programme, but very intense. Shri Mataji said it was very beneficial to bring children up in the nature and that they would all grow into big trees like the one in the garden there.
My Feet are more important than anything else
In 1992 I was working at Cabella and Mother had asked me to come down to see Her.
‘You must come now, Mother wants to see you right away,’ someone came to me and said. I was dusty and filthy and felt disgusted to go into Mother in that condition. In Mother’s room was an old Sahaja Yogi, who had found some Sanskrit names of the Goddess and was reading them to Mother.
‘All these powers which I have in My material body, are here – I don’t remember all these powers,’ Mother commented. ‘It is amazing, when you tell Me the powers that I have, then I re-remember that I have them.’ I was totally flabbergasted and thought ‘Why am I here? Why did Mother call me here?’ then Mother started talking about Her material body.
‘It is My Feet – My Feet are more important than anything else,’ She said. After this Mother asked the two people with Her to massage Her Feet. She didn’t say anything to me and I was just sitting there in my filthy jeans with my dirty hands.
‘Do you want to rub Mother’s Feet?’ said one of the people with Her. But I was so dirty! So she said, ‘Hurry up, and go and wash your hands.’ I was about to leave the room.
‘Where are you going?’ Shri Mataji asked. Then the lady with Mother explained that I was going to wash my hands because I wanted to massage Mother’s Feet as well. So I washed my hands and sat there for half an hour massaging Mother’s Feet. I felt completely awed and wondered how to do it, but remembered that I used to massage my (earthly) mother’s feet, and just had to look at Shri Mataji like my earthly mother. So I started.
‘Do you want to do My little toe a bit?’ Mother said, and then She would say ‘Harder!’
The need to be careful
Once after a puja in Cabella we were up in Shri Mataji’s bedroom and She was counting money with us.
‘It’s strange,’ Shri Mataji said, ‘counting this money is catching on Sahasrara. It’s because I’m not really supposed to have anything to do with money but in this incarnation I have to be very careful that every penny is accounted correctly.’
Naturally we were all amazed that She could do anything that would catch on Sahasrara!
Help for my family
There was one really personal day in 1992 when I was there with Mother. She asked me to come and see Her.
‘Mother is waiting for you, just go inside,’ the lady who looked after Her said. Mother was in Her morning clothes, not yet Her day sari. I sat down and She started talking to me. She was so familiar with me and started asking me about my mother, and how I grew up. She knew everything anyway, but it was as if I had to tell Her all the love and joy and pain I had had at home. It was as if She wanted me to dis-attach myself from all this, because I didn’t have a very easy childhood. My mother had to bring four children up on her own. Shri Mataji was asking me questions about my mother and how she was and if she was able to look after us.
When my daughters were small I used to often take them with me even to Cabella. There were just under two years between them. I had never had the chance to go up and do puja on stage but that Sahasrara Puja in Cabella (1992) the English were hosting. My desire to help perform puja was very strong. I knew my older two would be ok with an aunty and as the puja went on the youngest fell fast asleep. When they called for married English ladies I made a beeline for the stage.
We had to decorate Shri Mataji’s Feet and put anklets and toe rings on. It was an overwhelming experience. The thing about being physically close to Mother is that you were automatically thoughtless. It was almost like stepping outside of normal space and time. When we were decorating Her Feet, at one point I felt so overawed that I stopped and sat back slightly.
‘Come on, all of you do it,’ She said and I carried on putting kumkum on Her toes. I remember that Her Feet had a carven quality to them, like an ancient statue, and yet at the same time were smooth and young.
What we need is a window
During the refurbishment of the Palazzo in Cabella, in the second year, (1992) Shri Mataji cancelled most of the planned trips and remained in Her apartments and organized the building works. Although Shri Mataji never actually went to see the loft or the basement, She could give accurate details of how to overcome problems and change designs for the better. We were trying to build a kitchen in the basement to cater for the workers and for pujas. Shri Mataji called Michael, the Greek architect, and myself up to Her room to ponder over the design of the kitchen.
‘What we need is a window here,’ She said, putting Her finger on the outside wall on the plans.
‘Yes, Shri Mataji,’ we said, gulping hard.
‘What’s the problem?’ She asked.
‘The walls are five feet thick there, Shri Mataji.’ They were made of stones about two-foot cubed.
‘Well, just have a look,’ She said.
So we went down to the basement, which had been a prison. In the next room there was a window, which someone had decided would be better as a door and two French yogis had spent two weeks with jack-hammers trying to lower it down. The job was finally finished by a whole group of Swiss who took a weekend, so we knew how tough it could be.
We started hacking the plaster off the wall at the point Shri Mataji had indicated with Her finger. After a while, we became aware that there was a line in the stonework and a stone archway at the top. It was an old window. By the end of the day, we had pulled out all the stones filling up the hole, and the daylight was flooding in.
The next day, Shri Mataji asked how it had gone and laughed when we told Her how there had been an old window just where She had pointed with Her finger.
Not sweet sixteen
We are in a busy market square in Sardinia, Italy, in 1992 and Shri Mataji is buying gifts for Her grandchildren. She glides with effortless grace amongst the shoppers, Her radiance lighting a path through the crowds – did I imagine those angels scattering petals from above? A young stallholder beams, enchanted by Shri Mataji as She blesses his merchandise with Her gracious touch.
‘E cosi bella!’ he whispers as She walks away.
Mother asks me what he has said.
‘He says You are very beautiful, Mother,’ I translate for Her.
‘Really?’ She has a surprised look on Her face, with that unique way of raising Her eyebrows, arching them to the skies She laughs, ‘Well, I am not sweet sixteen any more.’
A Roman holiday in Sardinia
In1992 I was fortunate to accompany Shri Mataji and a group of yogis to Sardinia, Italy where She was to give a public programme. Mother was in a joyful mood from the start, and when we arrived She delighted in pointing out everything, from the vibrant flowers to the diverse selection of foods available. She seemed so pleased with the mix of cultural influences from the Arabic and Greek worlds – especially evident in the sweetmeats that were offered to Her. Everywhere She went the locals were enchanted, from the waiters in restaurants, who fell over themselves to serve Her, ‘She looks exactly like my mother!’ one elderly waiter told me, to the young market stallholders who were captured by Her beauty.
The only blot on the trip was a persistent cough that had been troubling Shri Mataji since leaving Cabella. As the cough worsened, the yogis worried whether She would be able to speak at the programme. Mother decided not to pull out, nor to take any cough medicine. She went ahead and gave the most marvellous speech with a clear voice and everyone got their realisation. Later that night in Her hotel room, the cough returned.
‘You see, My body is made for this work – when I was giving realisation there was no cough – because all the deities came to help,’ Shri Mataji commented.
Before retiring She took one spoon of the very mild cough mixture, rather than the two-spoon dose advised. The next morning was a beautiful sunny day with that magical light that comes from the sea. I was sitting in the room adjoining Mother’s with the yoginis who were preparing Her breakfast. The morning stretched on as we peacefully sat outside Her door enjoying the wafts of cool vibrations with not a sound from within to indicate that She was awake. There was just the joyful bird song coming from outside the window – as I watched them swoop and weave their dance higher and higher, it seemed they were announcing Her presence to the world, ‘She has come!’ they kept singing.
In those days Shri Mataji’s habit was to get up very early and have some tea upon waking, so pot after pot of water had been boiled and then had cooled down – and again a fresh one was prepared, as we sat and listened to that sweet raga of birdsong. Eventually I heard a sound from Shri Mataji’s room, indicating that She was awake. I gently knocked on the door and tentatively entered with the tea tray. There She was as fresh as a daisy. I was a little surprised by Her first words.
‘Have you ever seen ‘Roman Holiday’?’ She asked.
‘No, Shri Mataji, I have not seen that film yet,’ I answered.
‘Then you must see it! It is a wonderful film – you must get all these old films!’ She told me.
As She sipped Her Darjeeling tea, an unexpected and delightful conversation ensued on the merits of the classic old films with their clear dharmic messages – compared with the more modern ‘Kali Yuga’ fair. The relevance of Her opening gambit became clear when She explained the plot of Roman Holiday, starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. (In the film Hepburn’s character is given some medicine before sleeping and then cannot wake up for many hours, and because of this has a big adventure experiencing life as an ordinary girl rather than the princess she is). Unbeknown to Shri Mataji, the cough mixture taken the night before had the tiniest bit of sedative in it, and even if She had taken just a child’s dose, due to the sensitivity of Her body, She could not wake up.
‘I had My own Roman holiday!’ She graciously joked.
During breakfast Shri Mataji continued to talk about those great old films, each time asking me if I had seen them and I felt so lucky to be sitting there that I wanted to pinch myself – to check that I wasn’t having a dream myself! I can’t remember all the films mentioned, but I do remember Her talking quite animatedly at one point about another Gregory Peck classic She enjoyed, called Spellbound. She even drew some marks with Her fork on Her napkin whilst discussing the clever plot relating to the main character’s phobia of lines.
Enough for everybody
One day in Cabella Shri Mataji had asked to prepare an Indian dish which was called cholay, made with chick peas and potatoes. We were quite a lot of us, builders plus us, about sixty people. She had ordered the chick peas for us, two kilos, but they were in cans, so not even that much when one had removed the water, and already boiled so they would not expand, and certainly not enough for sixty. Also Shri Mataji wanted to try it and taste it when it was ready. We were desperate, because there was not going to be nearly enough, but Sandeep said not to say anything, and to try, so we cooked the dish following Mother’s instructions. Mother tasted it and said it was really well done, and made in the real Indian way. Then we gave it out, and somehow there was enough for everybody.
An ancient house
In 1992 during the Sahasrara Puja weekend at Cabella, Shri Mataji was sitting down in the castle, the sun was shining in Her eyes and She could not see us while She was talking to us. She asked me to close the shutters. I tried my best but the hinges were so rusty, it was impossible.
‘That’s understandable,’ She replied, ‘this place is so old, more than two thousand years.’
Immediately I heard my brain telling me that this place could not be that old because this would make it older than Christ. Out of politeness I said nothing. A week later I was told that archaeological evidence pointed towards Shri Mataji’s house at Cabella having been built over the foundations of an Iron Age fortress that was more than two thousand years old.
A bhajan by Shri Mataji
Shri Mataji’s manuscript of part of the bhajan Vinate Suniye
The melody of Vinate Suniye – a bhajan Mother Herself wrote in 1992 – was one that She had particularly liked from a film at that time.
I was in the room in the castle when Vinate Suniye was written down and we sang it to Her for the first time. She even stopped me from playing my bells until She had finished and got everything perfect. In the early 1980`s, on the India tour, Shri Mataji gave out over 200 bells for the Sahaja Yogis to learn to play them at pujas. She tried to encourage us at every moment. She even told me to start a Sahaja Yoga disco.