Chapter 19: 1989 – August to October, Europe East and West

Recollections - Book by Sahaja Yogis


After Shri Krishna Puja in England in 1989, our Divine Mother travelled to Finland and the Soviet Union for programmes there. Shri Mataji’s first port of call was Helsinki, where She arrived on Wednesday evening the 16th of August. The following morning a small puja took place, and in the evening four or five hundred people attended Mother’s first programme in a Nordic country. Many enthusiastic and respectful seekers were in the audience, although many had been damaged by contact with false gurus. We stayed in the hall until after midnight helping to give advice and vibrations to newcomers.

Phil Ward

Love always knows

I was wonderfully blessed to attend Shri Mataji during Her visit to Helsinki in August 1989. By Her Grace I was also allowed to help do the puja to Her. We were just a few yogis in a hotel meeting room. Afterwards, She gave presents to the children, and I noticed that a little boy hadn’t yet received one. I looked at the little brass Shri Ganesha statue on the table beside Shri Mataji, thinking that this would be a good present for him. She suddenly looked over at it, picked it up, and handed it to the little boy with a beautiful smile. Love knows everything!

Brigitte Saugstad


In 1989, we travelled from Helsinki to Leningrad (St Petersburg), pleasantly surprised by our reception in Russia. All through our stay in Russia we felt no problem in talking to people whom we met, nor did we feel any inhibition on their part in talking to us; a great change even from two years before, when Shri Mataji was in Moscow and some of the Sahaja Yogis were unable to meet Her as unofficial contact with foreigners was not allowed.

The hall in Leningrad, (St Petersburg) in the Palace of Youth, a large and rather drab building in the centre of the city, held 1,400 seats. Practically no postering had been done, but Shri Mataji had appeared very briefly on television earlier that evening at a peak-time what’s-on-in-Leningrad programme. When the visiting Sahaja Yogis arrived about fifteen minutes before the scheduled start of the programme, the hall was completely full and we were obliged to stand at the back. We unfortunately had to turn away quite a few newcomers. Oleg gave an introduction and then translated Shri Mataji’s address, at the end of which, after giving realisation in the usual way, Mother invited Her audience to ask the question whether Russia was going to lead the world in spirituality. Everyone felt the cool breeze!

That night all the Sahaja Yogis were instructed to go first to Shri Mataji’s hotel for the distribution of presents. Mother had bought many warm and stylish clothes for our Russian brothers and sisters, and other gifts such as leather wallets and sunglasses, all very difficult to obtain in Russia, and these were distributed in Her hotel room which was crammed full of local and visiting yogis. The visiting ladies also received presents. At one point our Divine Mother corrected some of them for not observing Her protocol, chatting and giggling in Her presence. The local Sahaja Yogis would follow our example, She reminded us, and for ourselves we can make no progress if we do not bear in mind constantly in whose Divine presence we have the privilege to be. Shri Mataji mentioned with approval the example of Bruno’s wife Misao, originally from Japan; every time she entered or left Mother’s room she would bow to Her. That is the best way to make progress, by bowing, She told us.

Spontaneously, two more programmes were arranged for the following day, at 11 am on the steps outside the hall, and at 4 pm in the hall again. Shri Mataji was travelling by train to Moscow at ten that evening, with the Sahaja Yogis, so the programme could not be later. The morning programme attracted a few hundred people, and was preceded by a television interview outside the Palace of Youth. Shri Mataji spent a long time answering questions from Her audience, assuring them that communism had done them no harm at all by comparison with the capitalism of the Americans, which had made them completely stupid, a theme She repeated several times over the different programmes.

Someone asked about Stalin; ‘Forget the past,’ was Mother’s answer. Mr Gorbachev is a realised soul, Mother said, and everyone should support him and not oppose him for petty or nationalistic reasons. Meanwhile the Sahaja Yogis were busy giving realisation to newcomers, behind where Shri Mataji was sitting. We were all impressed with the quality of the people who came; all seemed very intelligent and cultured.

The visiting Sahaja Yogis did not attend the 4 o’clock programme, as Shri Mataji had advised us all to visit the Hermitage Art Museum, one of the world’s largest art galleries, full of great paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, and many other realised artists, and the building itself is gorgeously and beautifully decorated. Behind the Hermitage stands a great square with an obelisk, to the far side of which is the Winter Palace. Shri Mataji said that Leningrad was the world’s most beautiful city. It has many canals, like Amsterdam or Venice, and one splendid building after another laid out along wide avenues. Shri Mataji remarked, in Her hotel the evening after the first programme, that in those days people were able to build for posterity, and doubted that in modern times we could still do so, and perhaps the water flowing in the Neva and all the canals had something to do with this. Shri Mataji asked Lev and Dr Bohdan to return there after the Moscow programmes to take care of the follow-up.

Phil Ward

Official recognition for Sahaja Yoga in the USSR, 1989

Shri Mataji in St Petersburg

Lining up to get realisation

In 1989 we were a group of people starting Sahaja Yoga in Finland, and after that we went to St Petersburg to attend the first programmes with Shri Mataji there. At that programme there were approximately two thousand people waiting outside the hall, because they did not have a ticket to come inside. Shri Mataji suggested they should come back the next morning. She received two thousand people in the hall of the place where we had been the day before. She spoke about America, smashing the ideas they had about it, and saying it was not the beautiful place they thought it was.

The people were lining up in long lines to get their realisation. We were a few yogis standing at the end of the lines, giving realisation. When the Kundalini was cool above their heads, then we went on to the next one. For hours we went on giving realisation to people. Shri Mataji was sitting on the stairs in the middle of that big crowd. People just kept on coming.

Gunter Thurner

Saint Petersburg

The year of Sahaja Yoga Centre establishment: Sahaja Yoga is officially considered to start spreading in Saint Petersburg since the summer of 1989 when Shri Mataji came to the city and did a public programme for the first time. She came to Saint Petersburg five times – first in 1989, and then in 1990, 1991, 1994 and 1996.

The first meeting of Shri Mataji with the people of Saint Petersburg took place in the Palace of the Youth in 1989. The hall was overcrowded. Mother told the audience about the subtle system and its connection with the physical body. Anyone who wanted could ask questions. Approximately one thousand people got their self realisation. In the following years, the programmes were held in the Saint Petersburg Sport and Concert Complex, the Palace of Sport ‘Yubileiny’, the House of Culture ‘Vyiborgsky’, and the House of Culture named after Lensoviet.

Anonymous Russian Sahaja Yogi

You have a tremendous job ahead of you

In Moscow we were again lodged with local Sahaja Yogis. Two programmes had been arranged in a hall in the centre of town, very comfortable but not very large – only 450 seats and room for a few more in the aisles. 5000 people applied for tickets at the box office! The halls were full to overflowing on both evenings, with very cultured and sensible people. In Her discourse Shri Mataji approached Sahaja Yoga in a very matter-of-fact way, not enlarging much on the ‘religious’ side. At one point, during the questions, She was asked who She was.

It’s rather embarrassing to say,’ She replied, ‘I’m a housewife.’ We stayed in the hall until it closed, giving vibrations and talking to the new people, many of whom spoke good English, to our surprise.

During Shri Mataji’s stay in Moscow, an article appeared in Trud, the Soviet trade union newspaper, with the largest circulation of any Soviet daily, about Sahaja Yoga, praising its curative properties and being very positive. A movie film was made of our Mother that would be shown throughout the Soviet Union on television later that year.

After going shopping in the GUM store and elsewhere, our Divine Mother left Russia for England on Tuesday evening. She hailed the Austrian contingent by saying that at last the Germans have conquered Russia, but in the true way, with love.

You have a tremendous job ahead of you. But you asked for it!’ She said, and promised to return in June 1990.

Phil Ward

A little TV

After St Petersburg we travelled on, to Moscow. We brought a lot of spaghetti and tomato sauce and olive oil from Italy. This was for food for our long trip. In Moscow, at the hotel we decided to cook for all the yogis who came and also for Shri Mataji. She invited a lot of us into Her room and at a certain point She switched on the TV. We saw some people killing each other and shooting and blood was going everywhere. It was a kind of a Wild West show, and we didn’t know how to react.

Oh, it is so relaxing to have a little TV!’ Shri Mataji said after some time.

This was while we were eating the pasta in that hotel in Moscow.

Gunter Thurner

Shri Mataji asked me about every person

In September 1989 I was able to phone Shri Mataji from Brazil. It was a long call, about half an hour, during which She asked me about every person She had met in Brazil, and about the collectives of Brasilia and Salvador. She particularly gave me instructions for people who had had experience with spiritualism. They were to put the right hand on the ground and say the mantra to Shri Mahakali. She said it would be good if some of the seekers of Brazil could go on the India tour, and explained that it was not comfortable physically, but was for the spirit. She asked me to bring presents made of leather for the Indian Sahaja Yogis.

Duilio Cartocci

I will always love you

During the Navaratri Puja in Margate England in 1989, I was attending Shri Mataji with another yogini. At one stage I was alone in a room with Shri Mataji and She was asking me some questions about myself. After a while I became aware of the expanse of the sky outside the window and a great silence.

You know that I love you, and will always love you,’ Shri Mataji said after a while.

Danielle Lee

Navaratri Puja at Margate, England

Diwali Puja 1989, Montecatini (email report)

This year the Diwali Puja took place, by the Grace of our Divine Mother, in Montecatini, a resort town in the hills between Florence and Pisa, Italy. Several hundred Sahaja Yogis converged from many corners of the world on Pisa Airport to greet Shri Mataji and Her husband, Mr CP Srivastava, on their arrival from London. The small size of the airport meant that most of the people there were Sahaja Yogis. Shri Mataji arrived around lunchtime, to be greeted with flowers from all of us. She travelled to Montecatini in Her car, while the Sahaja Yogis followed Her and spent the afternoon settling into their respective hotels.

On Friday evening a sitar concert was held in a theatre in Montecatini, with Debu Chauderi and his son. They had flown from India especially for the occasion at Shri Mataji’s request. At the end of the concert, after praising the musicians, Shri Mataji spoke on the role of music and art in Sahaja Yoga and how they are intended to entertain the Spirit.

On Saturday the Italians had laid on a special train for us to travel from Montecatini to Florence, to enjoy the city with its art galleries, palaces and ice-cream shops. The highlight for many Sahaja Yogis was the Uffizi Museum, which Shri Mataji always visits when in Florence, full of art done by realised souls such as Botticelli and Giotto, often depicting the Divine Mother with the Christ child in Her arms, and with beautiful vibrations.

During the afternoon our Divine Mother and Her husband also came to Florence, and spontaneously met up with the musicians near the Duomo cathedral, where a number of street artists were plying their trade. Shri Mataji and Mr Srivastava sat down to be painted by two of them, surrounded by a growing number of Sahaja Yogis. The likeness of Mr Srivastava was not good, and that of our Mother was even less accurate, and She spent a few minutes advising the artists as to how they could improve their pictures.

Shri Mataji in Florence

In the meantime another artist, with quite a big ego, was trying to sketch one of the musicians. It was hopeless. So Shri Mataji sat down before an easel and started to do the job Herself, spending twenty minutes or so sketching in Debu Chauderi’s features as an astonished crowd of yogis and passers-by looked on. When She had finished, a Sahaja Yogi commented to Her that there were many other people who would like to be sketched by Her. Shri Mataji answered that She very much enjoyed painting, only Her time is so much taken up with travel, programmes, and other functions.

Phil Ward

Keeping up with Shri Mataji

In 1989, when Shri Mataji went to Florence, She went shopping, and my husband Henno and I were also there. We saw Shri Mataji on the other side of a market place but decided not to follow Her, so as not to disturb Her, but suddenly She came towards us and greeted us.

With your French wife,’ She said, while patting me on the shoulder, ‘your children will not be too tall. You will have no problem to find clothes for them.’

On the same day we were a group of yogis following Shri Mataji on the street and Henno and I were at the back. Shri Mataji was walking normally but at times we had to run to be able to follow Her. Afterwards many yogis also said that they had difficulties to keep up with Shri Mataji, while She appeared to be walking normally.

Trupta de Graaf

Diwali Puja

In the evening, back at Montecatini, we made our way to a gymnasium that the Italian Sahaja Yogis were busy transforming into a puja hall, with saris, candles, lights, shrubs and flowers. When Shri Mataji and Mr Srivastava arrived we all stood outside the entrance to greet our Mother with a dazzle of sparklers, and a loud and brilliant firework display laid on by the Italians. Once inside the hall, Mother talked to us about how at the time of Diwali we are all meant to be joyful.

Shri Mataji announced that She wanted to give us all presents. First came the little girls, and then the little boys, who received tee-shirts decorated with a Mickey Mouse that squeaked when you pressed him. Then it was the turn of the teenagers, and then little by little the older yogis. Nearly everyone received a present in person from Shri Mataji; it was really fantastic. Bangles for the ladies, little decorated boxes for kumkum, leather purses, and many other sorts of gifts. After a while music started up in the audience, and with the bhajans we kept going on the vibrations of our Mother’s Love until late in the night.

Sunday was the puja day. After the puja, which went on for several hours, Shri Mataji again distributed presents. Lev was very loudly applauded as he received his, for organising Sahaja Yoga in the USSR.

At the same time, Shri Mataji received many presents from the different countries and Sahaja Yogis. Shri Mataji spoke of the importance of oiling the hair, and stressed in categorical terms that all Sahaja Yogis should put a little coconut oil on the Sahasrara, every day. Otherwise we will go bald – and even those who are bald should put a little on. The Sahasrara is Her chakra, She said, and though we need not put on as much oil as She, we must still put a little. Mother suggested that we start a Sahaja fashion, with the hair oiled like this. Shri Mataji left Italy the following day by plane to Rome and Istanbul, for the programmes in Turkey.

Phil Ward

Diwali Puja 1989

No wish left unfulfilled

In 1989 I was living in a Sahaja Yoga ashram in a European city. Shri Mataji’s birthday was approaching and I had the idea to organise a card-decorating room. Many yogis and yoginis came to draw and paint beautiful, heart-felt artwork there for Her in the big room full of tables and art supplies. The vibrations became so strong that I felt I had been drawn up into a powerful wave of joy and clarity. In this state of connection to the Divine, I felt completely confident to ask Shri Mataji for a wish. As my wife and I had nothing lacking except for money, I knelt at the altar and asked Shri Lakshmi, sakshat Shri Mataji, for financial assistance. I definitely didn’t expect my wish to be answered by God in person; but it was, and within just a few months.

At the following Diwali Puja, Shri Mataji saw my wife, Brigitte, and asked her to phone Her at Her London residence. We were invited by Shri Mataji to visit Her at Shudy Camps near Cambridge – the place we had called home the year before – as She wished to help us start a business. So, a few days after the Shri Lakshmi Puja, we found ourselves in the royal setting of Shri Mataji’s suite, sorting through new oil paintings to sell. Shri Mataji gave us a total of fifty paintings. Over the following years, we tried to pay the money back to Her, but She refused each time, telling us to invest it in more paintings. About nine years later, we eventually deposited a sum onto Her account, and sent Her a poetic letter, declaring our undying gratitude. We were told that She read the letter and said that it had such beautiful vibrations, that She would accept our repayment.

A small incident at Shudy Camps showed me the powerful, motherly healing influence that Shri Mataji has over Her children. She was distributing presents to everyone who had helped with packing and sorting furniture and ornaments. As I hadn’t helped, I waited downstairs, until someone suddenly called me up. I sat shyly at the back. Then a penetrating, confidence-inspiring voice commanded, ‘Edward’. I felt my left Vishuddhi and my whole chest become light and clear at Shri Mataji’s call, as I stood up and went forward to receive a token of my Mother’s love.

Despite Shri Mataji’s many universal spiritual concerns, She drenched us in much of Her priceless attention during our stay in the heart. Brigitte was very moved when Shri Mataji Herself phoned her to suggest that she could try hand-painting porcelain door knobs to earn a living. Since then, Brigitte has become a very successful artist, manifesting strong vibrations in her works.

Edward Saugstad

Shri Mataji was doing all this for me

My parents went to Shudy Camps to tell Shri Mataji that they were going to go and live in Scotland, and She spoke to them all about marriage. It was a time when I was having a lot of worries and confusion about getting married. I didn’t see them for some time, but a bit later some of us went to the airport, and welcomed Shri Mataji, and when I gave my flower to Her She smiled at me so much, which I couldn’t believe, because I was in such a state.

Did you get My present?’ She said.

No, Shri Mataji,’ I replied. When I got back home my mother said Shri Mataji had said to her, ‘This is for your daughter, she looked after Me so well,’ and I did not know what this meant, because I did not know when I had ever looked after Shri Mataji. It was when we came back from Finland, but I felt I hadn’t done anything. Then my mum said how surprised she was that Shri Mataji had talked to them, an old married couple, all about marriage. I told her that I was going through the most tremendous dramas about getting married, and it turned out Shri Mataji was doing all this for me.

Katie Headlam

Does She really know everything?

Once Shri Mataji showed the doubting Thomas in me who She is. I was invited into Her room at Shudy Camps. I was sitting there and Shri Mataji had Her back towards the door and was going to have dinner with the people in the room. Somehow the mind started thinking, ‘How special it is,’ and so on, and Shri Mataji was talking very sweetly, telling stories. My mind started thinking, ‘Does She really know everything that goes on around Her?’ At one moment the door behind Her opened.

And the door opened and at that moment the waitress came in with all the food,’ She said, even though Her story was about something completely different. She could not see the door opening because it was behind Her. So I told myself, ‘She knows everything!’

Henno de Graaf

Shri Mataji wanted me to stay for a week

One day I met Shri Mataji along with the other Sahaja Yogis of the UK, at the airport. I was feeling very ill. She came up to me and said She was feeling bad to see me in this situation, and I was to go to Her house near Cambridge (Shudy Camps). When I went there I thought it would be just for a few minutes or hours, but She wanted me to stay there for a week.

Twice Shri Mataji worked on me, and had me sit and cleared my left and right side. After those seven days She said I was alright and could go. The next day I saw Her at the airport, and She was happy to see me and said I was alright.

Joga Singh

Shri Mataji was thanking me

One morning at Shudy Camps in England, I was in such a hurry to serve Shri Mataji that I threw my sari on wrongly and couldn’t even see that I had done so. Upon entering Her bedroom, I found Shri Mataji seated upon an armchair close to one of the windows, overlooking the garden.

Ah, Marilyn,’ She said, ‘what a lovely sari you’re wearing. It suits you so well. You’re wearing it the wrong way round.’ Somehow She was so gracious that I didn’t feel silly. She then stood up and proceeded to remove my sari and then put it on again properly, circling me, tucking it in all around, pleating it and all the time saying to me, ‘I don’t know how to thank you. You’ve done so much for Me.’

Imagine, Shri Mataji was thanking me! How gently Shri Adi Shakti worked out our Nabhi and Vishuddhi.

Marilyn Leate

Shri Shiva in Scotland

Shri Mataji told me that She wanted the main centre, which was then at Shudy Camps, to be in Scotland but some Sahaja Yogis were saying it was too far from London. She said that Lord Shiva was there and he would spread the vibrations down south if the ashram was there.

Derek Ferguson 

The little pearls that Shri Mataji gives us

We were living at Chelsham Road in 1989, and Mother wanted to see me, so I had to get ready. At this time we were not wearing saris to go and see Her, but I wanted to look nice and elegant so I was frantically looking in my cupboard to match my clothes. When I left the house I realised I had not had the time to do a foot soak, because I had been so preoccupied about my external appearance.

I arrived at Shri Mataji’s flat, near Victoria Station, and sat at Her Feet – my favourite place. Tea was brought in. I was so thirsty because of the trip in the tube train, but I wanted to wait until Shri Mataji started to drink Hers, and She looked at me smiling.

Have it,’ She said, and continued jokingly, ‘you don’t need to match your stockings with your skirt.’

Oh Shri Mataji,’ I said, and I was so enamoured and a bit confused.

These are the little pearls that Shri Mataji gives us to show us that we are constantly in Her benevolent attention, and it is so endearing.

Antoinette Wells

Words of wisdom

21st November 1989 (extract from my diary)

My husband and I are about to buy the house recommended by Shri Mataji and before that I had the opportunity to see Her twice privately with him, and the two visits were very significant. The first one was when Mother invited him and myself for dinner at Her apartment near Victoria Station.

She had had Alfonso mangoes brought by the servant because so sweetly She had remembered that he loved mangoes, and to me She gave some little Indian perfume bottles that I still have and put on Her photograph sometimes when I meditate. Before that I had spoken with Her about little problems which were happening in the ashram where we were living then.

Shri Mataji made me laugh, saying that She knew everything, like that I did not need to look so smart to come and visit Her, but it was even better to do a footsoak to clear the vibrations. I burst into laughter! It was wonderful because it dispelled every bit of my worries, and I was feeling Her attention so much on the ashram and on us. Now I had just only one thing to do: listen to Her words of wisdom.

I always wait until a situation reaches its own climax and breaks, and then I come with a ripple of vibrations. I never interfere, I am and it just happens,’ then She said, ‘You only need to be; you are not in charge of anything, just be very sweet.’

Antoinette Wells