Chapter 02: 1981 March and April, Australia

Recollections - Book by Sahaja Yogis

Shri Mataji created a Shri Ganesha

On Shri Mataji’s first visit to Sydney in 1981, She held a Shri Ganesha-Gauri Puja at Burwood ashram. This was the first Shri Ganesha Puja on the land of Shri Ganesha. While Shri Mataji was preparing for the puja She asked a few ladies to come into the bathroom and asked us to help Her. She asked us to rub fragrant paste into Her body. She told us that this was the paste that Shri Parvati had used to create Shri Ganesha. Later Shri Mataji created a Shri Ganesha from this paste and gave it to us.

At the end of this puja, She asked for a large bronze plate that was hanging on the wall. She asked for it to be placed behind Her head. One yogini had been trying to take Shri Mataji’s photo for days without any success and Shri Mataji asked her to take the photograph then. This is the photo of Shri Mataji as Shri Ganesha that so many of us use for Shri Ganesha Puja. Shri Mataji said the best flowers for worshipping Shri Ganesha were hibiscus flowers and you can see that spontaneously everyone brought hibiscus flowers.

Sarah Frankcombe

The negativity tried to knock the seeking out of me

In my very early Sahaja days, a group of us were invited to share an evening with Shri Mataji at the apartment in Sydney, Australia. At one point She noticed my limp, and, insisting that no Sahaja Yogi should limp, and made me lie on the floor in front of Her. She asked me what was wrong and I explained about the osteomyelitis I’d had in the left ankle from an early age. She placed one foot on the damaged ankle and the other on my Nabhi.

Conversation continued and many of those present told stories – some very funny – about their seeking days. At one point I mentioned, from the floor, how I didn’t have any such memories, my need for understanding and peace of mind having taken me into music and poetry and drama rather than towards the Spirit. Shri Mataji, pressing into my ankle, asked when the osteomyelitis had happened. Aged six, I told Her. She nodded and explained how the negativity had tried, at that early age, to knock the seeking out of me.

Lying there, with the Adi Shakti’s Feet on me, how delighted and grateful I was that it had failed.

Brian Bell

Is that better?

When Shri Mataji made Her first visit to Sydney, Her press conference was held at the Wentworth Hotel. My husband Ian Henke was sent to cover it because someone was unwell at the small newspaper office where he helped out occasionally. A friend, Brian Bell had asked him to attend. We knew Brian from the ABC. Because Ian was a seeker, he was able to ask intelligent questions, but didn’t want to write the story until he’d heard Shri Mataji speak in public. So we went to the Maccabean Hall where Ian was recognised as a journalist from the press conference.

As a result we had the privilege of being invited to lunch at Drummoyne where Shri Mataji was staying. When we arrived, She was seated on a couch and Brian Bell was lying on the floor. Her foot was on his ankle that was frozen with osteomyelitis. Shri Mataji went on chatting.

‘Is that better?’ Shri Mataji said eventually. Brian wiggled his frozen ankle and it moved. This was the first of many treatments we saw Her do.

Frances Henke

The first public programme

The first public programme that Shri Mataji gave in Australia was in Sydney in 1981. She was wearing a white sari with a red and silver border. As She spoke the silver caught the light and I remember thinking how beautiful it was.

Towards the end of Her stay Shri Mataji arranged some marriages. We were sent out to search for a piece of material suitable for wedding saris. We searched Sydney but came back empty handed, nevertheless, Shri Mataji said not to worry about it, She would find something suitable.

The next day Shri Mataji was out in the car, and asked the driver to drive down a side street in Surrey Hills. She had found a material shop that none of us knew existed and bought metres of red satin, enough for two saris and at a very good price. She then unpicked two borders off Her white saris, and I got the silver border on my wedding sari. What love She had for Her children!

Sarah Frankcombe

That is right – you are right

The first public programme in Sydney was in Darlinghurst, at the Macabbean Hall on the 25th March, 1981, in the middle of the worst area in the whole of Australia. It was two streets from where I lived, and I was convinced by a friend to come and see Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi.

Shri Mataji spoke about the first centre of our inner subtle system, the Mooladhara chakra, very apt as it was Her very first public programme to be held in Australia. I sat right up at the front and listened, very interested to what She had to say, especially the part where She spoke about an energy that should rise to the fontanel bone and awaken the subtle system within us. At the end of the programme we were allowed to go up and meet Shri Mataji. She held my hands.

‘You’ll be alright,’ She said in a very comforting voice.

We found out that Shri Mataji was holding a seminar on the 28th March, three days after this programme, in the garden of a Sahaja Yogi on the North Side of Sydney. I arrived quite late, and Shri Mataji had already begun talking. I took a place on the grass in the middle and when Shri Mataji was talking I could feel something very holy about Her, even though I was so clouded in my awareness.

Shri Mataji announced that She would go inside and have a rest and while She was doing this we should all lie on the grass and She would work on us. As She walked towards me to go into the house I noticed a white aura all around Her being and the first feeling that came into my heart was that She was Christ – She looked so holy. I lay down on the grass and dozed. As Shri Mataji had said that She would work on us, my experience was quite intense. I felt very relaxed and then I could feel something like thick black oil coming up my central nervous system, like all the tar from all the cigarettes that I had smoked coming out of me at once. Then after some time I felt water flowing through my system and felt it cleansing my whole body like an inner fountain, making me feel light.

Shri Mataji then came back out again and began to work on people. She began with a girl with leukemia and the girl felt so much better and was smiling and joyful. She then worked on a disciple of a false guru. By this time I was very nearby and we could all see a big lump on the spine of this man. Suddenly Shri Mataji lifted Her hand as if She was putting a spear into the lump, and before our eyes it was gone, and the man seemed to be very relieved.

By this time I was sitting right beside Shri Mataji and could only think that I was with Christ when He was healing all the sick. This familiarity was so strong in me that I had this question in my head: ‘You must be Christ. I can remember You way back then by the River Jordan in Galilee healing all the sick.’ This question was only in my mind, but Shri Mataji looked down at me and took my hand and drew a cross on it with Her hand.

‘That is right – you are right,’ She said, and smiled down at me with so much compassion that I was overwhelmed with joy that She had read my mind. She had answered my question without me even opening my mouth.

Gauri Mehrani-Mylany

With one glance

I was never what is termed a seeker. I was cruising through life and not much concerned about anything other than my own happiness. My brother Kerry was always looking for something and said he would tell us once he found it.

One memorable day, in 1981, I was seated in front of the television watching a football game, when my brother came home and said the most incredible thing had happened: he had just met an Indian lady called Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi and had received his self realisation. He told me he had spent the day with Her and a group of people and that he had had the opportunity to wash Her Feet. He had felt an incredible cool wind coming from Her body, especially when washing Her Feet.

One day, a year later, he told me Shri Mataji was in again in Sydney and would I like to come and see Her. I was not very enthusiastic, but went along with him. After some time, someone announced that we should all stand as Shri Mataji had arrived. At this moment, time seemed to slow down. Somehow I could sense Shri Mataji slowly making Her way down the aisle and I could feel a silence and a power I could not describe. With every moment, I could sense it drawing nearer.

I turned my head to look and just at that moment Shri Mataji was walking down the aisle. She paused for a moment, turned Her head in my direction and looked at me for an instant with a powerful stare, which was in that same moment a beaming smile. She paused and our eyes met and suddenly I felt as though I had been living inside a suffocating bag, which had covered my whole body and that it had surrounded me all my life.

As She looked at me, it felt as if someone had grabbed the top of this bag and pulled it from me. I jumped up from my seat in amazement, as if I was seeing and breathing in a new way. It seemed as if a mist or cloud had been blown from my mind and I was only now thinking clearly. Shri Mataji smiled again and continued to the dais to begin Her discourse.

I was still looking around dumbfounded, trying to make sense of what had just happened. I couldn’t think; I just felt alive and fresh. Much of Her talk was foreign to me, but even though I did not understand Her words, I somehow felt that She spoke the truth and that I could trust Her.

Chris Kyriacou

I got all excited

Katy, do you remember anything from the first time you saw Mother in 1981, when you were only nine years old?

Lyndal Vercoe

I remember seeing Shri Mataji’s aura at the first programme. I was really excited and came to the next programme, where I sat at the front, wanting to see that again, but I could not.*

We got there early, and I was bored and went out to play in the lobby area. There was a little ante room off the lobby; I wandered into it and then realised Shri Mataji was sitting there. I got all excited and rushed back and sat quietly waiting for Shri Mataji to come in and start the programme.

Katy Mankar

Editor’s note: *if we see auras, it means we are a little off centre in our awareness.

Profound peace, quiet and joy

It is the first week of April 1981 in Sydney, Australia, and I am sitting in the small Maccabbean Hall awaiting the arrival of Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi at Her last public programme.

I have felt blissful when looking at pictures of Shri Mataji sent to me interstate by a friend, and she had inexplicably picked up a photograph of Her and kissed it this afternoon at my friend’s place.

‘You look as if you are worshipping this woman,’ I warned her, concerned. ‘I know She is lovely but you must not worship anyone but God.’

‘Oh, we can discuss that tomorrow,’ my friend smiled vaguely. She had not said who Shri Mataji was.

Now I am sitting in the middle of the Maccabbean Hall for the public programme; the small crowd is restless; Shri Mataji has not yet arrived; I chat quietly with my friend.

Suddenly everyone leaps to their feet; I stand also, to see what is happening, and catch a glimpse of the back of Her dark head, and a flash of a white-clad shoulder vanishing down the aisle. The dark head disappears in the sea of tall heads but the glimpse is enough: I am in instant bliss – words cannot describe it, and I know Who She is the instant I see the back of Her head; even before She reaches the stage and is visible. I remain in profound peace, quiet and joy for a month.

Jenny Watling

I just want to stay here forever

The next day, Saturday afternoon, I go to Burwood ashram at my friend’s invitation. We sit in the small meditation room with about twenty others, and Shri Mataji comes in. She begins to speak and someone tells Her there are two new people in the room.

She asks us to go up to Her; asks me where I live and what I do. She tells me I work too hard, have a very bad liver and have been neglecting my Spirit. Then She tells me to close my eyes. But I am agog at being so close to Her and I can’t help just watching Her face. I do not mean to disobey. Her eyes close and Her forehead moves. I am in bliss and gaze at Her moving forehead in raptures. She opens Her eyes and speaks more firmly but with a smile.

‘Close your eyes,’ She says. Obeying, I close my eyes. I just want to stay here in front of Her, on my knees, forever.

Jenny Watling

She is glorious

The next day is Sunday and new people who were at the Friday night Maccabbean Hall programme come to Burwood, at Shri Mataji’s invitation, to meet Her.

About two dozen people come. She invites us to wash Her Feet. I hang back while others go before me; I am scared of doing the wrong thing and offending Her. Eventually I take my turn. She is glorious. I am blissed out. Words cannot describe how it feels to wash Shri Mataji’s Feet.

Jenny Watling

Vibrating our jewellery

After the Maccabean Hall meetings, new people were invited back to Burwood Ashram. Shri Mataji sat for eight hours giving a long queue of people vibrations. Certain items of jewellery were taken off and put into vibrated water in the old meditation room where She sat. Since then I put my rings and mangal sutra in front of Her picture every night to be vibrated after a day in the wide world.
Frances Henke

I had to come to see you

In 1981, Shri Mataji’s first trip to Australia, we went on a shopping expedition and Shri Mataji wanted to buy Sir CP a dinner set. So we took Her to the old Grace Brothers store in Sydney. As we went into the china department, who was there to serve us, but a lady who had come to Sahaja Yoga the previous year, and had seemed to really recognise Shri Mataji but had then dropped off. Since we entered, you could see her recognition of Shri Mataji.

‘I didn’t come to see You, Mother’, the lady said.

‘I know, so I had to come to see you,’ Shri Mataji said, and then said, or something like that, ‘The mountain did not come to Mohammed so Mohammed had to go to the mountain.’ I’m not sure of Her exact words.

Sarah Frankcombe

She put Her Feet on the soil

When Shri Mataji first came to Sydney we all went to Taronga Zoo with Her. It is near the harbour and there are winding paths and a lot of people go there. It is a beautiful spot. There was a nice open area to sit down, and Shri Mataji took Her shoes off and sat on a big granite boulder. I was lucky enough to put my shawl down for Her to sit on, and She put Her Feet on the soil. Taronga Zoo is a place where a lot of people take their children, and it has been vibrated by Shri Mataji.

Caroline Henwood

Why Australia has so many mice

Shortly after the Australian yogis had been on their first tour of India, in March 1981 Shri Mataji came to our newly-rented Burwood ashram with Sir CP and Aunty Raolbai. We were a small group of about forty to fifty Sahaja Yogis, some meeting Mother for the first time.

The joy of the visit remains with us: the picnics in parks and bushland, the outings, the public programmes, talks to yogis, and sharing our Mother’s birthday with the first puja to Shri Adi Shakti on Australian soil. My memory is primarily visual – like a photographic gallery – rather than a recall of words spoken.

However, I do remember two occasions more clearly. On one of our excursions with Mother we went to Taronga Zoo, overlooking Sydney Harbour. After wandering around outside and looking at a Noah’s Ark of creatures, we went into the Nocturnal House where many of our native marsupials were found. Shri Mataji walked past the enclosures housing such small and shy animals of the rodent family as the Anticinus and Bilb.

‘Do you know why Australia has so many mice? Because it is the land of Shri Ganesh,’ She observed, but, on seeing the ferocious-looking Tasmanian Devil, Her comment was: ‘There’s a little rakshasa.’

Bogunia Bensaude

I feel You must be the great Goddess

My first memory of Shri Mataji was a public programme in Melbourne in April 1981. I went expecting to hear a lecture on yoga postures.

There was a sense of high expectation in the hall, then suddenly a deep silence fell. No-one had announced anything. We were all waiting, looking at the table with the photo, flowers and a candle beside that empty chair. After some minutes of this strange deep quiet Shri Mataji came in and crossed the platform to sit on the chair. That was a long moment. She seemed to glide rather than walk; She moved swiftly and economically but Her presence was so radiant that She lit the whole space, and time stood still. Then She was seated, smiling and listening to the speaker who introduced Her. I felt impatient to hear Her speak and to my surprise found myself wanting to see Her Feet. Why was this? I had never wanted to see any other person’s feet.

Then Shri Mataji rose and spoke. It was so satisfying just to hear Her voice. She told us about the first four chakras and that Australia itself was the Mooladhara chakra of the Mother Earth and how we were born here because of previous merit, and not to worry about some damage we had sustained in this life. She said She would teach us how we could easily correct it ourselves. Everything She said about the function of the chakras was so clear, such obvious truth. It was familiar, as if we had just forgotten it and now remembered, as She reminds us.

Then amazingly, She said if we would just slip our shoes off and hold our hands open on our laps and close our eyes, She would awaken our Kundalini, the impossible thing I’d read about, but hardly hoped to attain in this life, or at least until I was very old. I could barely feel it and doubted that it was real.

I watched as some people who obviously knew Her were rushing forward to embrace and greet Her. I watched with envy. How I wished I could know Her that well! Such lucky people! But at least, I thought, at least, if She would only smile at me. And then a great feeling of joy! As I watched Her greeting those people, I felt Her smile, and it was actually in my heart. She knows me!

The next morning I went to the park for my usual martial arts practice, but it did not calm my mind as it used to do, instead it made my mind race and I felt quite hot. Thinking about the wonder of the night before I said in my heart, ‘Mother, forgive me for asking, I feel You must be the great Goddess. If this is so, please could You just send me a little sign?’

As I walked out of the park a car drove up beside me. It was someone I had known twenty years before. He greeted me and said he was off to lunch with a friend and had bought some flowers to take, then something had compelled him to buy a second bunch. He had wondered why until he saw me, and then knew who they were for. They were a dozen red roses. My eyes filled with tears as I thanked him and tried to tell him who he was acting as a messenger for, but he rushed off. He was not a seeker.

At the programme a few days later I felt confident that I now knew what was happening, so I sat in the very front row. At the end there were questions and someone asked, rudely, if this was Shri Mataji’s final incarnation or if She would have another life on earth. Shri Mataji politely said She was not here to explain Herself, but to give realisation to those who wanted to receive it. Then that man left.

I was suddenly filled with shame and wished I’d not been so bold as to sit in the front row. Suddenly I saw: I am here right in front of the Holy Ghost incarnate. This was enough to shrivel this ego for a split second, so that the Kundalini could gush forth in a fountain and the amrit then poured down, soothing the Ida and Pingala Nadis. Bliss!

No doubt about feeling it this time.

Lyndal Vercoe

Shri Mataji was standing beside me

A few weeks after my realisation in 1980 I went to see a certain friend, because of all my friends I thought she was the deepest seeker. I spoke for a while but didn’t mention Shri Mataji.

‘Ever since you walked in I’ve been feeling this cool wind all around me,’ she said. So I dashed out to the car and got a photo of Shri Mataji and set her in front of it and she had such a strong experience, but she never came to Sahaja Yoga. The next year, 1981, when Shri Mataji came to Australia I desired so much that this friend should come and meet Shri Mataji, but she didn’t.

However, Sir CP was staying overnight in Melbourne and I was invited to accompany Shri Mataji there, so She could spend some time with him. We were the last people to get on the plane, and as we made our way onto the plane, there was my friend on the very same flight. On landing in Melbourne we met Sir CP and I went off. On the way out of the airport I happened to meet my friend.

‘Was that Shri Mataji that you were with on the plane?’ she said. Before I could answer, Shri Mataji was standing beside me.

‘This is my friend, Shri Mataji,’ I said. Shri Mataji lent forward, shook her by the hand, and then She was just gone.

On that occasion, we were going through the airport and passing the perfumes, and She asked me which one She should buy. I didn’t know what to say.

‘I don’t need to buy any, as I made all the fragrances, you know,’ She whispered to me.

Sarah Frankcombe