Chapter 19: 1986 – Early Summer, Mainly England and Europe

Recollections - Book by Sahaja Yogis

They are very respectful

The couple who were starting Sahaja Yoga in New York moved to a big house in New Jersey. The only place we could find for a puja was to put up a tent in the side yard of this couple. It was a Shri Krishna Puja in June 1986.

There were swarms of locusts at that time, but we didn’t pay much attention. There was a lot of noise from the insects all over the place and in the trees and so on, and Shri Mataji broke off the talk and asked what the noise was. We told her and She began talking again. Then about five minutes later She stopped again, and the noise of the locusts had completely stopped.

See, they are very respectful,’ Shri Mataji said.

Carolyn Vance

There is much more

Shri Mataji was moving house and we used to move Her furniture around. On this day, we were moving furniture from a flat in Hampstead and we had a lot of things to move in. I wasn’t that well that day and I had a bit of a temperature. After we had moved everything, Shri Mataji worked on me. She had me put my left hand out and I felt the vibrations all through me.

Oh, I must give you something,’ She said.

You have already given us something, so much,’ I replied.

This is nothing. There is much more,’ She said.

Antonio Scialo

Changing the direction of the wind

Shri Mataji had gone out and meanwhile Her neighbours started burning rubbish in the back garden.  The direction of the wind was such that all the black smoke went straight onto Sir CP’s window and this situation was quite disturbing. 

Why didn’t you change the direction of the wind?’  Shri Mataji said to the Sahaja Yogi who was there.

Me?  How could I ever do such a thing?’ he asked.

Very easy, just move the palm of your hand gently in the required direction and the direction of the wind will change accordingly,’ Shri Mataji replied. The Sahaja Yogi did not seem convinced, thus Shri Mataji told him, ‘Tomorrow, make up a fire of rubbish in the back garden and then make the smoke change direction according to the movement of your hand.’  He tried it and lo and behold it happened just as Shri Mataji said.

Luis Garrido

A gift from Shri Shiva

When I was staying with Shri Mataji in Dulwich, South London in 1986, She said She wanted to have Her hair done at the local hairdresser. I was quite taken aback as I had not imagined that She would go to a local hairdresser. I had at that time cut a lot of my Sahaja Yogi brother’s and sister’s hair and wanted to ask Shri Mataji exactly what it was that She required. She told me She just wanted a little bit trimmed off and a little wavy.

Can you do it?’ She asked me.

Yes Mother with Your guidance,’ I said.

OK, come along!’ She said.

Suddenly I was at the store buying a pair of scissors and a comb. When I returned Shri Mataji was sitting in front of the TV. I then spread a large sheet on the floor to catch every single hair. After putting on my bandhan, asking Mother for Her forgiveness for any mistakes and begging all the deities for forgiveness for any mistakes, I began to comb through Her hair which was pulsating with vibrations. I felt as though She was inside me guiding me, then at the nape of Her neck there was a huge matted knot. I tried for at least fifteen minutes to comb it out.

Oh, just cut it off,’ She said suddenly, so with the greatest caution I cut through the knot keeping my attention on Her Sahasrara. Then I wrapped it in a tissue and handed it to Her.

Shiva gave this to Me,’ She said.

Wow!’ I just said.

She looked at me with such love I literally had tears in my eyes, I then picked up every single hair from the sheet and gave them all to Her. Such a blessing I will never forget.

Thelma Fishley Patmore 

Sheer sublime bliss

I remember once I tried to sneak out to go to the dentist. I had taken Shri Mataji Her breakfast and some tea and I thought I was being clever by waiting until She had laid down, then quickly putting on my coat and telling Antonio Scialo, who was also there, that I would be back shortly. Within seconds Shri Mataji was coming down the stairs so stealthily that we had not heard Her.

How did Mother get from Her room so quickly?’ I looked at Antonio and muttered.

Where are you going?’ Shri Mataji asked me.

To the dentist,’ I replied.

Why?’ She asked.

Because I have a toothache.’

Don’t go to these dentists; they only want to pull out your teeth for no reason. Bring some olive oil and some salt and come here,’ Shri Mataji replied.

I felt like a naughty child that had been caught trying to sneak out. When I arrived in Her bedroom, She summoned me to Her. I gave Her the olive oil and salt and She mixed the salt and oil together with Her index finger and asked me to rub the mixture on my gums.

She asked me to lie down on the floor in front of Her and placed Her Foot on my face. Oh my word! I was in heaven, literally, as I lay there under Her divine holy right Foot, I travelled millions of galaxies away and beyond; there was no pain, no aches, just sheer sublime bliss – I simply have no idea how long I lay there but as Shri Mataji would take telephone calls, organising the universe, yogis would come in and out of Her room, She would occasionally ask how I was feeling. I did not want Her to lift Her Foot from my face ever.

I think I need a lot more time,’ I said. She gently kneaded my face with Her Foot, lovingly clearing me out. She sat back laughing so hard, of course I would then laugh too. Needless to say I cancelled my appointment and for about a week I stayed in that bliss… such a great boon.

Thelma Fishley Patmore 

The courage of William Blake

I was staying in Shri Mataji’s house in Dulwich, London in the summer of 1986, shortly after Shri Mataji’s return from Italy. My wife Purna and I were standing on the landing in the stair-well in Shri Mataji’s presence. Shri Mataji was telling us that the housemaid had been stealing from guests. I was requested to speak to her firmly and remind her who Shri Mataji was (Shri Mataji’s compassion is boundless) and to raise my voice if necessary. 

You must have courage like William Blake. He was Shri Bhairava with a sword in his hand,’ Shri Mataji then said.

She further advised me to put a bandhan on and shoebeat beforehand, being as shoebeating is a Sahaja Yogi’s vibrational shield and weaponry. The telling off was to no avail, and after being caught in the act the servant was subsequently dismissed. However, I believe it served me more than it served her!

A leader who had just arrived walked into the kitchen while I was telling the maid off. He evidently thought I had had a fit.

Victor, what on earth are you doing? Stop shouting, remember where you are. Go and shoebeat yourself!’ He said to me in a shocked tone.

I just had, but of course I couldn’t say anything. It would have given the game away. So I waited for him to leave the kitchen and when he was out of earshot I took up where I had left off. Actually he went upstairs to see Shri Mataji. After some minutes I was summoned upstairs. I thought: here goes….I’m in for it now! Mother sat in majestic splendour with Her back to the window. I bowed before Her.

May God bless you,’ She began. I was silent and She sipped Her tea. ‘Well, did you do it?’

Er, yes Shri Mataji.’

So, how did it go?’

Very well, Shri Mataji.’

Good,’ She smiled.

I bowed and left. To this day the hapless witness must still think I flipped out in Mother’s kitchen.

Victor Vertunni

A few white lies

Shri Mataji said we should always try to be very gentle with people if we had to say something a little correctional. Even to the extent of telling a few white lies, and pretending that we too had a similar problem, to make the person feel more at ease.

Linda Williams

The neighbours were really blessed

As I walked along the road where Shri Mataji was staying in Alleyn Park, Dulwich, in London in 1986, I felt that the neighbours were really blessed. The trees seemed so beautiful and what I saw had the magic quality that comes from Mother’s proximity.

On arriving at the house, I met David Prole and we waited for Shri Mataji. It wasn’t long until She came. She welcomed us warmly. Shri Mataji talked about the wealth of India in former times, how unimaginably wealthy India was, with buckets full of gold, rubies, diamonds and emeralds. She also told us stories about King Shivaji — the frog in the stone, the mango abscess on Ramdas’s leg and the tigress’s milk*. We had a great architecture session, and looked at the plans for Shudy Camps and for Shri Mataji’s house, Pratishthan, in Pune.

Alan Richards

*Editor’s note: these are well known stories in Maharashtra. One time King Shivaji, who created modern Maharashtra in the C17, was giving out coins to workmen at a fort which was being built. They found a big round stone with absolutely no holes in it, and when it was broken open it contained crystals on the inner side, but also a living frog, sprung full grown from the rock. Swami Ramdas, his guru, pointed out to the king that only God is actually the doer, and can create frogs out of stone. Swami Ramdas, who was an incarnation of Shri Hanuman, wanted to test King Shivaji on one occasion. He had someone put an overripe mango under a bandage on his leg and pretended it was an abscess, and that the only thing to save him would be if someone would suck out the poison. King Shivaji immediately agreed to do this. Then Swami Ramdas said the only thing to save him would be if someone could bring him the milk of a tigress, and again King Shivaji complied.

Shudy Camps Park House

Shudy Camps from the front

Shri Mataji expected us to speak out

In 1986 at Shudy Camps Shri Mataji made some arrangements for some items to be sent abroad and somehow they were sent to the wrong country. I was one of the people involved and could feel that She was displeased. Initially I said nothing but finally decided to say that I had followed instructions, for my own defence. She explained that we must stand up and speak in situations like this, or I could have ended up being blamed for causing this problem.

We’ll ask the person who gave you the instructions to correct the problem,’ Shri Mataji said. This was not the only time She encouraged me stand up for myself.

Luis Garrido

 

What is the point of worshiping stones?

On one occasion Carol, my wife, was at the airport in 1986.

Why did you prostrate yourself on the pavement outside a house where I used to live?’ Shri Mataji asked her. ‘People are saying that you went there and did that. What is the point of worshiping stones?’

Then Shri Mataji explained that the current owners of the house had written asking Her to make sure that none of Her disciples went there to venerate the place. Even though Carol had never done this, she said nothing in her own defence, and Shri Mataji moved on to greet other people. This matter was never raised again until two years later, when Shri Mataji told me my wife was a very sensible and excellent person but the only thing that did not fit with her personality was her going to prostrate herself before a house.

This is strange don’t you think?’ Shri Mataji asked.

I told Her that Carol never did that, and never went near there. Shri Mataji was amazed that none of us ever told Her this. 

I’m glad you told Me because I always found it hard to reconcile that behaviour with the character of your wife, the two didn’t seem to go together. I wish Carol had said this at the time,’ Shri Mataji added.

Luis Garrido

 

Shri Mataji helped us overcome our shortcomings

Shri Mataji was moving house in 1986 to Shudy Camps and gave a certain yogini a list of items to be brought to the new residence, and a list of items to be left behind. At the new residence I heard Shri Mataji rebuking this yogini for not having brought the items that had been agreed. Shri Mataji told her that if she was unsure about what to bring she could have asked. I had been loading the items onto the van and did not know about the two lists, but felt like saying something in defence of this lady. 

Shri Mataji,’ I said, ‘the van was completely full – there was nothing more we could have brought.’ 

I can’t tell you how pleased I am that you stood up to defend this lady,’ Shri Mataji said.

The lady in charge of the lists explained that she had forgotten about them, ended up choosing the items at random, and if the van had not been filled up with the wrong items there would have been plenty of room to bring the correct ones.

I wished that I had not defended her, but Shri Mataji was pleased that I did. Had the whole situation not been clarified, and had I kept quiet I might have deduced that Shri Mataji was being a little unfair to the lady in charge of the lists. Shri Mataji had given instructions to this lady before, sometimes even written instructions but she would always disregard them and do whatever she felt like. 

I’m worried that when you find a job you won’t be able to keep it because you keep forgetting to follow instructions,’ Shri Mataji told her on this occasion, ‘and I’ve been trying to help you overcome this problem.’

Shri Mataji would not spare any effort until She had helped each and every one of Her disciples to overcome their shortcomings, and She often helped people to find jobs, become more employable or learn new skills.   

Luis Garrido

 

Some sound advice

This is a story about the importance of everything that Shri Mataji says. Sometimes it could just be advice that Mother gave in passing, not recorded on video or audio tape. On one occasion in 1986, I needed advice and would have liked to ask Shri Mataji in person, but this was not possible. Instead I asked some Sahaja Yogis if Shri Mataji had said anything on the subject of disturbing old graves in a cemetery.

A Sahaja Yogi related that once Shri Mataji was passing by the tall high rise Centre Point office building in Tottenham Court Rd, central London, and She explained that the reason why this building produced great losses, and businesses were loath to take up rental space there was to do with the fact that during the building phase some ancient graves on that land had been treated without due respect, and in particular the grave of a highly realised soul whose mortal remains rested there.

I applied this wisdom of Shri Mataji to a problem at work. I had professional responsibility towards a certain cemetery and a decision had been taken that implied massive destruction to old graves. Unable to convince colleagues and superiors to change course, I resigned in protest. Those who were involved with the destruction of the old graves ended up being sacked and got their professional names tainted with a scandal that even reached the national news. Only I escaped, thanks to Shri Mataji’s advice and the memory of one or two Sahaja Yogis.

 Carol Garrido

The story of a headscarf

In 1986 in Paris, at the end of Shri Mataji’s visit to Le Raincy, the evening before She left I gave Her a woollen headscarf, coloured red, green and violet.

Thank you, you know My colours,’ Shri Mataji said when I gave it to Her. After that I thought that probably She would never wear this, and for some years I never saw it again.

In 1990 we went to Romania for the Diwali Puja and welcomed Shri Mataji at Timisoara Central Station. It was 5 am and we were waiting on the platform. When Shri Mataji came out of the train, to my greatest joy, I saw that She was wearing the headscarf I had given Her in Paris. I felt so much love that the whole weekend I was happy, it was like if Shri Mataji was wearing it, She loved me.

In 1992, Shri Mataji came to visit Holland and stayed at Zaandam. After She had come into Her bedroom, She asked me to look in Her suitcase and take out a certain sari. The suitcase was full and I had to look everywhere and while doing so I suddenly saw the headscarf I had given Her years before. My heart was full with joy.

I don’t know what is in there, I didn’t pack the suitcase myself,’ Shri Mataji said. She knew that I saw the headscarf and She just made a joke, as She knows everything.

When I was close to Shri Mataji, She always showed Her love for me through these kinds of signs, very subtle, gentle, sweet moments, sometimes with a touch of humour.

Trupta de Graaf

Shri Mataji wearing Trupta’s gift, the headscarf

 See, we are all connected

My first strong memory of meeting Shri Mataji was in 1986 and She came to one of our new ashrams in Vienna. We had four in Vienna then. She came after a shopping session, to have a rest. When She was there, we did a small Shri Ganesha Puja, in that we washed Her Feet. The yogis in the room were sitting around the bed where She was, and Shri Mataji took out a perfume and put it on Her right hand. Then She asked everyone in the room to smell their own right hands. Everybody in the room could smell the perfume as if Shri Mataji had put it on our hands, not Hers. The yogis in the room were all smiling and Shri Mataji smiled back.

See, we are all connected,’ She said.

Gunter Thurner

That’s your kitchen! How lovely!

We had an ashram in the middle of Vienna and Shri Mataji wanted to go shopping on one of the main shopping streets which were very close. We were told that Shri Mataji might pass by, and that She might come for a snack at lunchtime. We quickly prepared some food and got a room ready just in case. We had no time to get anything special – Her own sheets or anything like that.

Shri Mataji came and ate lunch and said She wanted to rest, so we took Her to the room and someone asked if She was tired and whether Her Feet were tired, so She let us wash Her Feet. She took out a bottle of perfume that was standing there, opened the bottle and smelled the perfume.

Oh what a fragrance!’ She said, and we were all very interested.

Do you want to smell it?’ She asked. ‘You only have to take your own wrist and smell it.’ Shri Mataji put it on Her wrist, and we all smelled this perfume on our wrists, even though the perfume was on Hers. Then She said She would like to sleep. There were four of us ladies living there, so the men left the room and Shri Mataji lay down on the bed and told each of us what we should do.

Massage My left Foot,’ She said to one of my friends, and to another, ‘Massage My right Foot, massage My arm.’ Shri Mataji seemed to fall asleep and snore in a way that was the purr of a tiger. Then suddenly out of the deep sleep She opened Her eyes.

Now it’s gone! Now you massage here!’ She would say, and did that a couple of times – one moment She was in deep sleep and the next She would say: ‘Now here! Now here!’ The whole time I felt so bad that I had many thoughts passing through my mind, even though I was massaging Shri Adi Shakti. I realised later that She was working through me. At the time I thought the others were all in bliss and I was in that state with all these thoughts. After about an hour Shri Mataji got up and said we had really helped Her. We all pulled our ears, and She had Her tea and went to the programme. I was standing in the door and asked one of my friends how she felt.

I felt so terrible,’ she said. And I thought everybody except me was in such bliss! As soon as Shri Mataji left all the guilt left and I was in complete bliss. I was in meditation, witnessing how I had changed, how I had reacted to all this, and I know we all have to be there one day, in that state.

On this visit we had so little time to get ready that we just threw everything into the kitchen, and we knew we must keep the kitchen door closed so Shri Mataji would not see the mess. What happened was She passed it and the door was wide open. She looked in and grinned.

Ah. That’s your kitchen! How lovely!’ She said. As soon as She said that we were all free of our feelings of guilt and felt Her motherly love. She was telling us that it didn’t matter and She knew it was all our love for preparing everything for Her. Shri Mataji would always take away our feelings of not being good enough.

Sabine Hackl

I think you should turn left here

It was the day after the programme in Graz in 1986 and Shri Mataji was leaving our ashram for Munich. As often, everything was late (according to our schedule), and when lunch for Shri Mataji was ready we actually had to leave. She suggested She would eat in the car and asked to sit in front. We quickly rearranged the car and Shri Mataji took Her seat with two ladies sitting in the back serving Her, while I was driving. Shri Mataji made all this seem very normal and while She was eating from Her plate on Her knees She playfully engaged me in a very demanding conversation. I don’t remember the exact topic, but it was about e ‘big things of the universe’, and She asked me lots of questions.

All this was while I was driving through the streets of Graz towards the small airport, a trip of about twenty minutes. We started very late, but Shri Mataji did not leave me any chance to think about that, as She kept the conversation going. Just to be sure, I had practiced the route to the airport prior to Mother’s arrival in Graz, remembering the traffic lights and turns. Graz is not a big city and it was fairly easy to reach the airport from the ashram.

At some point of our trip Shri Mataji looked directly at me and asked me another question, when I realised that I had lost my way. I quickly looked left and right and truly had no idea where we were, I had never before been in this neighbourhood! How was that possible? I made a few attempts to turn left or right to get back on the route, but did not recognize anything familiar around me.

I think you should turn left here,’ Shri Mataji said, almost casually, just when I started to feel a sense of panic rising within me. I did as She asked, and saw the airport right in front of us. We had arrived from the opposite direction and how we got there certainly She alone knew.

Herbert Reininger

The kitten at the Feet of the Divine

In Graz, Austria, during Shri Mataji’s first visit there, in 1986 we learnt to distinguish between different categories of cats. When we gave a bandhan to a cat and it continued purring without any other reaction we knew it was OK, but sometimes cats reacted quite violently to our bandhans, with the tail hair standing on end and the cat disappearing with loud shrieks, then we knew it was possessed.

We lived in a nice ashram in the outskirts of the city, next to a forest. Since we had moved there a young kitten visited us almost daily, had a small bowl of milk and then fell asleep right in front of the picture of Shri Mataji’s Feet in the meditation room. We enjoyed these visits and got used to them, considering the little cat as a legitimate member of our ashram.

Then Shri Mataji’s visit was announced. In preparation we turned the whole house upside down and forgot about the cat. When She finally arrived and was standing in the entrance during the welcome aarti, the cat showed up and went straight to the Feet of Shri Adi Shakti! I tried as much as I could to lure it away from there, so as to not to disturb the auspiciousness of the aarti. Shri Mataji noticed my attempts, as well as the cat at Her Feet.

Just let her, she knows where to get the coolest vibrations from!’ She smilingly said.

While some animals are definitely very receptive for vibrations, such as Shri Mataji’s dogs in Cabella, I believe it is much more important to remember the billions of humans who still haven’t had a chance to hear about the great advent of Shri Mataji and Sahaja Yoga.

Herbert Reininger

Summer at Chelsham Road

Once, in the summer of 1986, Shri Mataji came to Chelsham Road to give us a cooking lesson on how to make the base for Indian cooking. First the chopped onions and garlic were fried then the spices were added, then the meat or veg.

She gave us some treatments for the void. One was to eat raw garlic, because the negativity doesn’t like garlic. Another was to eat one green chilli every day. A third one was to drink a glass of salty water once a week. This can have drastic results but again, the negative forces do not like it – and use vibrated salt.

Shri Mataji explained that to begin we don’t necessarily feel catches very well, then we feel them a lot, then eventually we just register them.

One morning Shri Mataji came unexpectedly and at lunch time She was still there. She said She was on a diet and could only have boiled food and asked for boiled chicken, so I boiled a leg for Her, but cheated a bit and put some herbs in the water, because I felt boiled chicken was so tasteless. Then I boiled the rice in the same water with the herbs, too. When the food was served to Her She said it was very nice.

Another time we had made a dish for Her after the puja.

Can I have the recipe? That dish was very tasty,’ Shri Mataji asked. But we had just put in what felt right at the time, and could not remember the exact recipe.

Linda Williams

I am in your heart

At Shudy Camps, I had a very strong desire to see Shri Mataji, to ask Her an unanswered question.

How can we really know You? How can we really get deeper? I want to get deeper, but how can we really feel You?’ She looked at me, and I can still remember Her face exactly – the look in Her eyes, what She did, everything. She pointed with Her finger and looked at me with Her eyes very concentrated.

I am in your heart,’ She said, ‘and I am always there.’ She pointed at my heart and I felt She was really touching me physically.

Sharon Vincent

Shri Mataji’s love and care

In 1986 Mother asked me to come to Her house, Shudy Camps, to help a Sahaja Yogini who was looking after Shri Mataji and Sir CP. The whole day, She kept asking the yogini if I had arrived. Then She instructed that lady to keep food for me when I came, which I did late at night, but this lady told me even if I had eaten dinner already, I should eat the food, as Mother had asked her to keep food for me. So I ate and slept.

The next morning I repaired some of Mother’s blouses, ie stitching work, by hand. For two days I was at Shudy Camps and when I was leaving Mother asked me to choose a sari out of two which She had in Her hands. I humbly requested Mother to give me the sari of Her choice. Then She threw both saris towards me such a way that only one came to my hands, so that was the sari I got from Her.

Shakuntala Tandale

Put Me in your heart

One time Shri Mataji led us in a meditation at Shudy Camps and then invited us to ask questions. I had this question, ‘If you meditate every day and you go thoughtless in meditation and you lead a good Sahaja life, how can you go deeper?’

It depends what you mean by “go deeper”,’ She said.

To feel more joy, more depth, more devotion,’ I replied.

You have to put your guru in your heart. You have to open your heart more and put Me in your heart,’ She said.

Victor Vertunni

We ought to take good care of our health

In 1986 at Shudy Camps Shri Mataji spread joy and bliss around and yet She was constantly sacrificing Her own comfort and personal life, as She dedicated all Her time and energy to emancipating humankind. She did not care what the menu of Her next meal was, and whoever was cooking was not supposed to ask what She would like to eat. She didn’t care if Her dinner took place at 8 pm or 11pm. She often went without sleep, but continued to travel with enthusiasm, one night here and another there. Her concern was always for other people’s comforts. 

Shri Mataji said that sometimes She could be quite cruel to Her body, but none of us should ever do like Her because She was different, and we ought to take care of our health. Mother then worked on a Sahaja Yogi who had eczema on the wrist and explained it was a left Nabhi problem. She spent a considerable amount of time curing what seemed a minor condition, but it was a symptom of a blocked chakra, so received Her loving time and attention. He ended up receiving treatment to all the chakras and was told not to wash up without gloves, as washing up liquid would aggravate the eczema.

If I raise My right side I can go on and on without sleep or rest,’ Shri Mataji said. At the time She was travelling intensively and had just returned home.

Are you using an ice pack on the liver for a running nose?’ Shri Mataji once asked.

No Mother,’ I replied. 

Why not?’

I never heard of an ice pack for curing a running nose.’

Shri Mataji seemed surprised that no one knew this. She told me that I went to bed that night to put an ice pack on my liver, or I could put some ice in a plastic bag and wrap it up in a cloth. It worked! 

There was another Sahaja Yogi who was extremely thin, and very reserved. Shri Mataji asked him whether he was taking lots of vibrated salt and sugar. 

Certainly not,’ he replied. Shri Mataji asked him why not, to which he replied, ‘taking lots of vibrated sugar and salt would be indulging in extremes.’

But if the condition is extreme one might need an extreme treatment, and I would advise you to take a generous amount of vibrated salt and sugar as you are suffering from extreme left and right side problems.’

Another Sahaja Yogi was advised by Shri Mataji to eat plenty of protein and to avoid carbohydrates as he had the tendency to fall into the left side and lethargy. A Sahaja Yogi who enjoyed taking responsibility was advised to stay away from proteins as much as possible. 

Your tendency is to dominate others and to tell everybody what to do, and if you follow this type of diet your health and balance will improve,’ She Mataji told him.

Luis Garrido

A different dimension of time

Shudy Camps was a very magical place and the memories of these days will always stay close to my heart. The house was large and built of red brick. At the back was a large lawn, where tents were erected for puja gatherings, and at the very back was a pond hidden behind some shrubs and trees. Going to the pond was always something of an experience – it was like climbing through the back of the wardrobe into Narnia. I sometimes snuck out there just to have a few quiet moments.

I was blessed to be able to spend quite some time at Shudy Camps looking after Shri Mataji, mostly around the times of the pujas which were held there, but also at other times. Usually I worked in the kitchen, or did some cleaning, or we went on shopping trips into the nearby villages. We worked very hard. At some point there was a routine established, with another lady and me going into Mother’s bedroom every morning, to tidy up and clean the bathroom.

One day as usual we tidied Shri Mataji’s bedroom and cleaned the bathroom, and it seemed not very long to us, maybe fifteen minutes or half an hour, but apparently in the eyes of others we had disappeared for most of the day. So while usually time in Mother’s presence seems to stretch into eternity and a day lasts a hundred years, this was the other way around, and what had seemed a short time to us stretched over most of the day for others.

Sigrid Jones