Chapter 20: 1983 – March, Australia

Recollections - Book by Sahaja Yogis

A special place

When Shri Mataji first visited Perth in 1983, She was being driven from the airport.

‘Ah, feel the vibrations of Perth,’ She remarked. Western Australia is one of the most ancient lands on earth, much older than Eastern Australia.

Lyndal Vercoe

Shri Mataji’s first visit

In 1983 when Mother arrived at the airport, I was asked to give Her the garland. She gave me a hug and kissed my cheek, Tim was standing next to me.

‘You lucky thing!’ he said. That was when we were both children.

Katy Mankar

Do you remember anything else about the 1983 visit in Perth apart from putting the garland on?

Lyndal Vercoe

Yes – a few days later Shri Mataji had a headache, and asked for ice. Kay McHugh was putting it on Shri Mataji’s head, and She asked for ice on Her Feet and a Sahaja Yogi massaged one Foot, and I was massaging the ice on the other for some time.

Katy Mankar

I remember Shri Mataji hugging all of us ladies goodbye at the airport. Yes. She’d given us a big hug and a kiss before going.

Lyndal Vercoe

They were as excited as we were

In 1983 we were getting ready for Shri Mataji’s first visit to Perth. We got a new ashram and there had been a long hot summer and the previous tenants had not watered the rose garden, so we pruned them. Then we watered every day, telling the roses they must be ready by March the first because Shri Adi Shakti was due that day.

Four weeks later, they were all bearing good foliage and lots of buds. Shri Mataji arrived with the dawn the following day and the roses all opened on cue, so we had masses of flowers for the puja that morning. They were as excited as we were!

Lyn Vasudeva

A fine photo

In the Perth ashram in 1983 a reporter and a photographer came to interview Shri Mataji. The photographer was very taken with Her and remarked how beautiful the photo of Shri Mataji was that was hanging on the wall. She knew everything about it.

‘That was taken by a boy who was seventeen at the time. He is born realised,’ She said.

The reporter was amazed that someone so young could take such a fine photo.

‘That’s what happens when you get your realisation,’ She said, trying to encourage him.

Kay McHugh

I am Shri Ganesha

In Perth, in March 1983, Shri Mataji was holding a Shri Ganesha Puja and just after the beginning She stopped the proceedings.

‘I am Ganesha, and it is Me you are doing puja to!’ She said.

Collectively, we must have been thinking that Shri Ganesha was a nebulous being somewhere far away, and it must have been evident in our lack of attention. We were remiss in not acknowledging how all encompassing our Holy Mother was. The puja continued after that correction.

Albert Lewis

Every ashram should have a dog

At Dalkeith, Perth, in 1983, we all sat in the kitchen. Shri Mataji was having a meal at a little table, we were all sitting around on the floor, and the dog and the cat kept trying to come and sit under Her chair and people kept chasing them out.

‘It’s all right, the dog is like the disciple of the guru and they teach us devotion. Every ashram should have a dog,’ She said eventually.

Shri Mataji used to call us in to Her room when She was having Her morning cup of tea and said we could ask questions, but we mostly couldn’t think of anything to ask, of course.

Lyndal Vercoe

Aham sakshat Mahakali

At the public programme during Shri Mataji’s 1983 Perth visit, we were going around the audience to the people and there were several lovely young women sitting together. We checked their vibrations and one was really cool, a couple were ok and one was quite hot.

Shri Mataji came up and I asked Her to see the hot one, who had liver. Shri Mataji worked on her and asked if she did Hatha Yoga. She said she did and was a teacher of it. Shri Mataji pointed out that it heats the right side and in India so many Hatha Yoga teachers are divorced because it affects the right heart. All these young women were looking so adoringly at Shri Mataji, and then She asked if anyone else needed Her to work on them. The cool girl nodded and Shri Mataji laughed.

‘But you’ve got it!’ She said.

‘But I just wanted You to touch me, Mother,’ the girl laughed and said. Mother looked so very young Herself, then She playfully patted the girl’s shoulder and everyone laughed.

We had a follow-up programme at the ashram the next day and the people who came were obviously deep but so very damaged that they could hardly sit on the earth. We worked on them in pairs and all the while Shri Mataji moved about amongst them. Even when She was working on someone with Her back to us we could feel Her attention on the person we were with. Her eyes were everywhere.

In those days there were a lot of people from various false gurus, definitely seekers but it was very sad to see how their Kundalinis would pulsate visibly at every chakra in the effort to rise, but would fall back again if we removed our hands. It was the most shockingly sad experience.

Once we were asked to go to the bedside of a dying man. He had been operated on for brain tumours and the doctors told him he might live two weeks. He was paralysed on one side and could talk faintly. We couldn’t use candles in the hospital so we put a picture of Mother on the wall at the foot of the bed so he could see Her easily and we said the Lord’s Prayer, after giving bandhans, and his Kundalini came up with force. It was very hot – he said, feeling with his good hand, that he could cook toast on it. We left him with a lemon and thought we’d probably seen the last of him. Within a day or two we heard that he was feeling much better and would like us to visit again.

We went back and saw his eyes had changed; no longer the eyes of a dying man. We gave him vibrations and introduced him to more mantras. We left more lemons, which went rotten overnight. He was up in a wheel chair in a week or two and into rehabilitation. The doctors said it was spontaneous remission and the inoperable tumours shrank away. Shri Mataji personally worked on him when She came, and cured his partial paralysis, painting a swastika on his head with kumkum.

‘Aham sakshat Mahakali,’ She said in his ear.

We learnt so much from that experience and especially about how Shri Mataji has empowered us to use the Lord’s Prayer, and ordinary lemons.

Lyndal Vercoe

Shri Mataji was stamping on the ground

In 1983, Robert, our brother-in-law, was diagnosed as having a terrible cancer in his brain. The doctors told his wife it was absolutely incurable and he only had about two weeks to live. We had only been in Sahaja a week or two, and came to say goodbye to him, not with any intention to give him realisation.

‘Do you want to learn to meditate?’ we somehow said. After meditating with him, we said, ‘Put your hand above your head. What did you feel?’ He said it felt like it was like an incinerator, red hot. He had also had a stroke and his left side was completely immobile. So we told him to say the Our Father, which he did, and to raise his Kundalini, and we put a picture of Mother up on his wall. After when we visited him again, people who came in said that it was strange that this room was so much cooler than anywhere else in the hospital. Meanwhile, he kept saying the Our Father and forgiving.

We went in twice a week and meditated with him, and raised his Kundalini. His next CAT scan, about three weeks later showed that the octopus of cancer was withdrawing its limbs and in about two months he walked out of the hospital with a stick. I used to go and meditate with him perhaps twice a week and he came to the ashram a couple of times, but I don’t think he enjoyed it.

Eventually Mother came that year, and we introduced him to Her. The only sign that he had been completely paralyzed was that his little finger was tightly curled in. Mother took it and straightened it out and it was straight and perfectly well. Then Shri Mataji worked on him from behind, and She was stamping on the ground while She worked on him.

Robert was perfectly well and working for some time after leaving hospital but stopped meditating and then started to have little heart attacks and ended up in a nursing home, where he lived for another ten years.

Robin Reid

We were so privileged

At a puja in Perth in 1983 we washed Shri Mataji’s Holy Feet.

‘You see, you can’t feel any bones. There are no bones. My Feet are Shri Ganesha. My hands are Shri Krishna and my head is Shri Adi Shakti,’ She commented as we did so. It was true, I realised, as Shri Mataji spoke, I could feel that Her Feet actually felt like lotus flowers to touch.

We were so few then. After the puja, we five ladies squeezed into the back of the car while Shri Mataji rode in the front. We were all so excited, sitting upright and breathless, ears and eyes alert as antennae.

At the airport, when She was leaving, Shri Mataji said She wanted to kiss all the ladies goodbye. She actually hugged each one of us and kissed our cheeks. Looking back now I wonder, how could anyone ever be prepared for that? I still find it hard to grasp, that we were so privileged to be so physically near Her.

Lyndal Vercoe

The desert is God’s place

Once I asked Shri Mataji why we become irritable when the wind is from the northeast.

‘That would be the wind from the desert. The desert is God’s place,’ Shri Mataji said.

Lyndal Vercoe

A statue of Shri Mary

When Shri Mataji was in Perth, we were gift shopping for Her and I mentioned to a Sahaja Yogi that I had a lovely little statue of Shri Mary that I had restored and painted and would he like that to be part of the gift. The Sahaja Yogi was fine with this. When Shri Mataji received it, She was very happy with it, asked who painted it.

‘Look, you’ve painted it the same colours that I am wearing today,’ She said to me.

Diana Selentin

A ball of cool air

My husband Ben decided to go to a public programme to meet Shri Mataji. His wish was granted and She asked what work he did.

‘Sheet metal worker,’ he replied, and as She does with people, She took his hands in Hers. Shri Mataji made sweeping movements across them. He describes how a ball of cool air was felt on his hands and how the ball lifted slightly above his hands and then swirled around each finger.

‘Did you feel that?’ Shri Mataji said.

My husband said that Her face seemed to expand and filled up his entire vision and he seemed to be drawn into the perimeter and nothing else existed.

Diana Selentin

Shri Mataji looked so radiant

There were no yogis living in Adelaide when Shri Mataji arrived there in 1983, because they had all packed up and gone on the India Tour. When I arrived back after the India Tour a few yogis and I went down to prepare for Her arrival. We hired a town house because there was no ashram, and we were all staying in it with Shri Mataji. The person we hired the house from came round to deliver some items like linen and we had put all the puja things in the main room. He said he could not go into the house because it had such a feel about it and if he went in he would leave a mark. He left everything by the door. The vibrations had already started to build up in the house, and we had also spent a lot of time postering for the public programmes.

When Shri Mataji arrived we met Her at the airport, and I had this distinct feeling that She was just gliding, not walking, down the stairs in a pink sari. She looked so radiant and so fresh and joyful when She arrived in Adelaide.

Gillian Patankar

A sense of joy and lightness

It was twenty-eight years ago today, in March 1983, that I first met Shri Mataji, at a public programme in Adelaide, South Australia. For almost ten years I had been seeking a way to the Divine. In the weeks leading up to the programme, after seeing the posters, I was feeling this increasing sense of joy and lightness in my life. On the evening I picked some fresh fruit from our garden and put it in my bag to take with me, as I knew one should always take an offering when meeting a great saint.

I got a front row seat in the hall and waited for the programme to begin. When Shri Mataji arrived my mind started to rebel. This short Indian woman, elegantly dressed in a plain sari, couldn’t possibly be a saint, according to my idea and experience of what yogis looked like. She spoke plainly and simply and Her followers dressed in normal clothes (much too normal for my taste). And yet I couldn’t move. I was awestruck. After the realisation She came and talked to people.

‘Are you married?’ She asked me, which caught me off guard. At this time I was very much playing the ascetic.

‘No!’ I replied in no uncertain terms.

‘Are you against marriage?’ She went on.

I was not sure what to reply. As my brain tried to figure out where I stood on marriage, Shri Mataji moved on. I felt too shy to offer Her the fruit in my bag.

Despite the minor inner turmoil, I went back for the second meeting. I don’t remember a lot about it, only that I didn’t want to leave Her presence afterwards, even if my mind was still trying to throw up obstacles.

That weekend there was a workshop in the park on the bank of the River Torrens. The group there was not very big and Shri Mataji was seated on a chair in the shade of the trees. I sat at the back listening and taking photos. People kept going up to be worked on, but I wasn’t sure about joining the queue, until one of the yogis came up to me

‘Go up,’ he said. I said there were too many people, to which he replied, ‘Push in, if you don’t you may regret it for the rest of your life.’ So I did.

I sat at Her Feet and She asked me questions about my seeking. As I rattled off the things I had done and the ‘gurus’ I had been involved with (luckily I avoided the major league baddies, mostly due to poverty, and possibly divine intervention) She told me about them. She placed Her Foot deep into the left side of my stomach and left it there for around twenty minutes while She worked on other people. I lost track of time. Eventually She gave that familiar look.

‘Better,’ She said in Her way that was partly a question. I don’t remember what I answered. I was in another world. As they got ready to leave the same yogi came up to me again, offered me a tissue and told me to wipe my forehead before I left. It was covered in red. And I still hadn’t offered Shri Mataji any of the fruit I’d taken.

My brain wasn’t completely ready to surrender, but everything else had. I was well and truly hooked. From then on I was at the ashram almost every day. It took me a few weeks to pluck up the courage to ask if I could move in, but I did and spent the most amazing first year of Sahaja Yoga there, which ended up, on the exact first anniversary, in India sitting in Shri Mataji’s room where I had been summoned along a small group of yogis, many of whom are still close friends.

Chris Patmore

Australians should learn to make fine art and fine pottery

We went shopping with Shri Mataji in Adelaide. She wanted to go and see all the crafts that were being made in Australia. So we took Her round the shops and She made the comment that the crafts in Australia were more of a rustic kind, not a very fine kind and that it was important that Australians should learn to make fine art and fine pottery. We went into a glass shop and there was a very – what we call ‘ocker’- Australian there – untidily dressed and not very sophisticated. Shri Mataji wanted to go into the shop, and the man kept telling Her that most of the brass in it was from India. Shri Mataji was looking at everything. Around the top were all these pressed copper pictures of ships, and She looked up at them.

‘What about those?’ She said. The shopkeeper looked up.

‘Yes, actually those are made in Australia,’ he said, and Shri Mataji bought quite a few.

Gillian Patankar

A beautiful double storey house

There was the time when Shri Mataji found the Adelaide ashram. We didn’t have an ashram and She said it was important that we had one. She was looking through the newspaper, and suddenly put Her finger on an advertisement.

‘This one,’ She said. So we rang up the real estate agent and they said we could go round and see it. As we were driving in the car to go and see this house – none of us had ever been there.

‘I think it is to the right,’ one of the yogis said.

‘No, no it is to the left,’ Shri Mataji said. And sure enough, there it was, right in front of us. It was a beautiful double storey blue sandstone house, what they call Adelaide Blue. Shri Mataji went inside and walked right round. It was really big, with plenty of space, kitchens and was on two levels. It had big bedrooms with high ceilings, overlooking the park, a nice garden, and even had lampshades that were lotuses. She stood at the top of the cellar at one point.

‘Oh, that’s a nice big cellar,’ She said. Later I stood there, and you couldn’t see into the cellar from the top of the stairs, but She could.

Then Shri Mataji went out into the garden and there was just one rose, and some daisies in the garden, which we picked and gave to Her. She smelled the daisies.

‘Now that I have smelled them, they will have fragrance.’

The other amazing thing about that house was that we took it on lease and the real estate agent was very puzzled. He hadn’t received any calls from anybody wanting to rent it, even though it was in such a prestigious area and was such a sought after type of house. Because of this he gave it to us at a very reduced rent. As soon as we signed the lease he got flooded with phone calls from people who wanted it, at a much higher rent.

Gillian Patankar

Shri Mataji knows my name

In Adelaide, Australia in 1983, we were sharing a townhouse with Shri Mataji, about fourteen of us. It was the first time She had come to Adelaide. We had just come back from India Tour, my first tour and the first time I had seen Her.

We had two public programmes in the Adelaide Town Hall and a puja in this small townhouse. Over these three or four days, a persistent thought kept on coming into my head. ‘I have been with Mother for all these days and She does not know my name. She has never said my name.’ I know it was daft, but it was persistent.

On the last day, when Shri Mataji was leaving — I can see Her so clearly — we had sugar, rice, etc. in bowls at the bottom of the stairs for Her to vibrate on Her way out. She looked glorious and radiant as She glided down the stairs. She vibrated the items and then walked past. As She did, the thought came back, She turned around and looked at me.

‘Gillian,’ She said. I nearly fell over backwards with surprise. She then smiled and walked on.

Later on, while waiting at the airport, we were all sitting at Her Feet and Shri Mataji looked at me again and said, ‘Gillian.’

Gillian Patankar

Who won the Davis Cup tennis?

It was in Adelaide, and we were going for a walk around the lake with Shri Mataji.

‘Who won the Davis Cup tennis?’ She said to everybody present, and nobody knew. Then Shri Mataji said, ‘Well, God only knows. But then again, She doesn’t, does She?’

Gillian Patankar

Such special things

In the sitting room in Adelaide ashram Shri Mataji pointed to a tea cup and saucer sitting on a mantlepiece being used as decoration because no one knew where it came from. She saw it and told us the history of that cup, that it had been bought by a Sahaja Yogi many years before in London and it was a very expensive one. He had got a few of them at a good price and had sent them to various places. She then said apologetically that She has to use such special things because of who She is. We served Her tea in that cup from then on.

Lyn Vasudeva

The interviewer suddenly understood what Shri Mataji was saying

One of the clearest expositions of Sahaja Yoga Shri Mataji gave was in an Adelaide interview, where the interviewer suddenly understood what She was saying, and started to ask really good questions.

Frances Henke

Seemed like a miracle

There was a public programme in Adelaide at which Shri Mataji was addressing a smallish audience of about three hundred people and a group of lesbian bikies* came and sat in the front to disturb and heckle.

We were hardly half a dozen Sahaja Yogis and the men had been told to ask the bikies to leave, as no one could hear Shri Mataji. They were nervous about asking them to leave, in case these women started fighting with them, so they asked us girls to ask them to leave.

I kept looking around for someone else to go and ask them to leave, as their shouting was getting louder and I had a baby in my lap. Finally, I stood up and requested in a loud voice that if there were any ladies in the audience who would like the trouble-makers to leave, could they please accompany me to the front. Somehow, with baby under one arm and all the ladies in the auditorium following behind me, I ended up in front of a huge, leather-clad, shouting female person. I requested her to kindly leave.

‘Try and make me!’ she replied.

With Shri Mataji watching with an amused smile, I reached out my one free arm and picked her up by the collar and dumped her in the aisle, whereupon she grabbed her helmet and her girlfriends and ran out of the auditorium.

Seemed like a miracle and the programme continued without further interruption.

Lyn Vasudeva

Editor’s note: *Lesbian bikies: Here, masculine looking women who ride motor bikes, often with the distinctive clothing of leather, and high boots.

Shri Mataji gave Adelaide a bandhan

When Shri Mataji was in Adelaide we had two public programmes and just before She arrived there had been some horrendous bush fires, that had gone through the Adelaide Hills. The bush fires seemed to have some kind of discrimination – they would burn some houses and then go round others. For example they went right round a school and did not hurt the children, but burnt down a pub. In the talk Shri Mataji spoke about the power of the elements to be discriminating and how the elements become enlightened.

We went for a drive up into the mountains with Shri Mataji and She looked at the devastated areas, stopped at a point where you could see Adelaide through the hills, and gave Adelaide a bandhan.

Gillian Patankar

Shri Mataji worked on people

There was also a workshop where people came up and Shri Mataji worked on people. She gave someone a neck adjustment – She cricked their neck – and then that person started to feel vibrations.

Gillian Patankar

Editor’s note: it is not advisable for just anyone to do this, unless they know exactly what they are doing.

Cool flowing across my hands

When She was in Adelaide, Shri Mataji asked us if any of us had problems. I explained that I couldn’t feel vibrations much on my hands. She took my Right Agnya finger and put it on Her Agnya Chakra, on Her forehead, for quite a long time. Then I started to feel cool flowing across my hands.

‘It is alright now,’ She said, or something similar.

Gillian Patankar

Wonder rain

The day after the Shri Ganesha Puja on the beach at Melbourne, in March 1983, we all travelled to Sydney to celebrate Shri Mataji’s sixtieth Birthday Puja. The evening before the puja I was helping another yogini to prepare the garland for the puja. Suddenly there was a crack of thunder, and flash of lightning, and it all began, torrents of rain came down. It was incredible, the first rain which Australia had seen in four months. It was about 3 am when it happened and the rain did not stop, it rained and rained and rained, soaking the beautiful red earth all around Australia which was thirsty to be drenched after such a long time. During the puja, one could hardly hear Shri Mataji’s speech, the rain was so noisy. Shri Mataji was full of joy.

‘You see, all the devas and deities are rejoicing My birthday today.’ Shri Mataji had told us by the sea at Her Shri Ganesha Puja, that Australia’s drought would be over, and so it was. It rained solidly for three weeks and the newspapers headlines were saying ‘Wonder rain’ – and even quoted that grass was growing around the bottom of Ayers Rock in the middle of Australia (normally no grass grows there), the green kusha grass that Shri Mataji Herself offered to the Shri Ganesha swayambhu. The whole of Australia received rainfall on this day, it was tremendous!

I was a very blessed yogini this day to have been allowed to paint the Holy Feet of Our Divine Mother. The vibrations were so powerful, a puja to our Divine Mother, the all-powerful, the pure incarnation of innocence itself, in Her land of Shri Ganesha.

Gauri Mehrani-Mylany

The right idea

At a press conference at the Windsor Hotel in Melbourne in 1983 a reporter was busy interviewing Shri Mataji while the photographer was diligently taking photos. At one stage he took his large spotlight from the front and put it behind Shri Mataji’s chair so She had light radiating all around Her. He then proceeded to click away, taking quite a few shots.

‘It’s artificial, but he’s got the right idea,’ Shri Mataji smiled and remarked.

Kay McHugh

But how do you tie them?

When Shri Mataji came to Australia in 1983 there was a picnic held at Lane Cove Park by the river. As usual Shri Mataji brought gifts including dhotis for the men.

‘But how do you tie them?’ someone said, so She gave a lesson.

Frances Henke

Shri Mataji’s sixtieth birthday cake

This photo is from the Melbourne visit in 1983. It was Shri Mataji’s sixtieth birthday. This photo was taken in candle light. The cake was in the shape of a bandhan.

Frances Henke

That is the least I can do

1983 was a special year for me. I was Shri Mataji’s driver during Her Melbourne visit and was in Her presence on many occasions during this time. On the way to a press conference at the Windsor Hotel after receiving Shri Mataji at the airport I mentioned to Her about the bushfires and severe drought conditions.

‘It will rain now. That is the least I can do,’ She replied.

At the conclusion of the press conference it began to rain. We yogis were overjoyed that the promise had been fulfilled so quickly. As Shri Mataji was getting into the car She pointed out the rain to the journalists. That shower of rain lasted until we arrived at the new ashram at Kew, when it ceased. Alighting from the car, She walked around the house, which was set in an acre of grounds, before making Her entrance.

Shri Mataji’s visit that year had an extraordinary intimate and informal quality which I have never seen repeated. She encouraged us to just behave as children playing at the Feet of the Mother. All our activities, such as our meals, watching TV, shopping, a trip to the movies to see The Man from Snowy River, and of course, the puja at the sea, were spent with Shri Mataji in a relaxed, informal atmosphere in which everyone was able to converse freely with Her.

Shri Mataji had requested that we have a havan which, as was the custom in those days, was to be held in Her presence in order to clear negativity. On the day appointed for the havan there was a total fire ban. It was with some embarrassment that we conveyed this information to Shri Mataji, thinking that if the havan did not go ahead it would be a victory for the negativity. She immediately suggested that we have a puja at the sea instead, so we quickly made the necessary preparations.

‘When does it rain in Melbourne?’ Shri Mataji asked me that morning. I replied that it seemed to me to be mostly in summer and in winter.

‘That is not good’ She said. ‘It is a sign of imbalance. It should rain in spring and autumn. That will change now.’

So we had a wonderful outing to the sea, with a puja to Shri Mataji as the Shri Vishnu principle, followed by a picnic. The puja is recorded on a video. It conveys the informal atmosphere of the occasion. Shri Mataji made a Ganesha in the sand and decorated it with kumkum, turmeric and flowers, then encouraged us all to do the same and make our own Shri Ganeshas. We felt like children building sand castles under the watchful eye of our loving mother.

A couple of points I recall were that during the puja ceremony, Shri Mataji instructed me to go out to the edge of the rocks and pour some oil into the sea for Shri Krishna, as it was Saturday. Before the puja Shri Mataji had asked which direction was south. She sat down on a rock facing south with Her Lotus Feet placed upon the sand, and throughout the puja looked south to the horizon. At the end Shri Mataji pointed to the horizon, where we could see a blue-grey haze. She said that if we looked carefully we could see the vibrations as vertical lines shooting up from the horizon. Half closing our eyes made this easier.

Driving back from the puja was one of the most privileged tasks I have ever been called upon to perform. Shri Mataji slept in the front passenger’s seat, which we had partially laid back to make Her comfortable. The three passengers in the back also slept. With the afternoon sun streaming into the car, staying awake became quite difficult.

The sad day of departure soon arrived. We all assembled at Melbourne Airport to bid farewell to our Holy Mother and to wish Her a safe journey to Sydney for the next part of Her Australian Tour and the celebration of Her sixtieth birthday. She spoke to every one of us individually, giving last minute instructions. She looked around at all our shining faces. We were all struggling to hold back the tears – a mixture of sadness and joy.

‘Alright now? All the problems are now finished.…… I’ll see you all in Sydney,’ were Shri Mataji’s departing words.

Peter Brownscombe


When Shri Mataji first came to Melbourne, She did a sea puja at Shoreham, a beach near where we live, to help resolve Melbourne’s water problems. This was the 1983 tour – we had the bad bush fires and then rain.

My husband Ian and I moved on to Sydney to help with PR. And as we left Shri Mataji’s press conference at the Windsor Hotel the first drops of rain fell. We met a journalist coming out of the conference and said, ‘Told you so’. She never forgot that we’d told her to expect rain following Shri Mataji’s visit.

Frances Henke

The right idea

At another press conference at the Windsor Hotel in Melbourne in 1983 a reporter was busy interviewing Shri Mataji while the photographer was diligently taking photos. At one stage he took his large spotlight from the front and put it behind Shri Mataji’s chair so She had light radiating all around Her. He then proceeded to click away, taking quite a few shots.

‘It’s artificial, but he’s got the right idea,’ Shri Mataji smiled and remarked.

Frances Henke

A little cup and saucer

In Melbourne I got a little cup and saucer. All the children got a cup and saucer, and in Sydney we were given other gifts. I was given a photo album with a boab tree on it, from Shri Mataji.

Katy Mankar

Part of the havan protocol

It was while we were having a havan in Melbourne in 1983 with Shri Mataji controlling the proceedings that She told us to make an eye in the fire in the way we arranged the sticks, prior to lighting it. Shri Mataji also stopped us while reading the hundred and eight names and told us to read the interpretations as part of the havan protocol.

Albert Lewis

Churning the ocean

Shri Mataji came to Melbourne. She wanted some shoes, so we went to a store, Myers Department store. We went up on the first floor and had a look at all the shoes and nothing fitted Her. I was looking at these shoes.

‘Yes,’ She said, ‘the reason why I have a tremendous difficulty with shoe fitting is because my arch is too high and that was the result of the churning of the ocean.’

I don’t think any of the puranas have that detail.

John Henshaw

I wanted to paint

In 1983, after being in Sahaja for four weeks, I desperately wanted to paint a portrait of this wonderful lady called Shri Mataji and give it as a gift to the collective. While painting the portrait, I felt a tremendous energy passing from the portrait to me, which I couldn’t understand. After an indefinite time, the leader of Australia found it and suggested that it would be given to Shri Mataji as a gift. I was honoured and thrilled, but stunned when he said that I should present it to Her in Her bedroom.

I was very nervous and lightly knocked on the door. I was asked to come in and, as I didn’t know the correct protocol, I moved into the room half bowed over with the painting under my arm and, horror of horrors, I lost my voice. So one of the ladies there answered the questions that Shri Mataji asked for me.

She took the painting and was very pleased with it. I had captured the likeness of Her eyes, She said. The right eye is more stern and the left eye expresses more compassion. She talked about the colours and how they vibrated, and She was so thrilled to learn that we were giving it to Her as a gift.

She then told us how She made a piece of craftwork — I don’t remember what it was — put it in an exhibition and won first prize. She was amazed that She did. Of course, we weren’t.

Diana Selentin

Today, I will be doing a puja to Shri Ganesha Myself

After the second India Tour we were very blessed to welcome Shri Mataji to our newly renovated ashram in Kew, Melbourne in March 1983. We were meditating in front of the door of Shri Mataji’s room and suddenly She came out.

‘Why don’t we go to the sea today? We could have a puja there,’ Shri Mataji said. We had all been desiring this and were overjoyed that our desires had been answered. So, like busy little bees, we began to prepare all that was necessary for a puja and all packed into cars and followed Shri Mataji to the sea. We were only about fifteen Sahaja Yogis altogether and the weather was glorious. Shri Mataji sat down on a smooth rock covered with a shawl with Her Feet in a shallow pool of sea water. We just watched Her in awe, such an amazing feeling for us to be in the nature with our Holy Mother.

‘You won’t be doing a puja to Me today, I will be doing a puja to Shri Ganesha Myself,’ Shri Mataji said as we were sitting there. The weather had been so dry in Melbourne and all over Australia there had been drought for at least four months – we were getting desperate for rainfall. Many bush fires had broken out around this area and many homes had been lost in the fires. Shri Mataji had decided to do this puja so that Australia would be blessed with rain.

She began by drawing a form of Shri Ganesha in the sand. We all just thoughtlessly watched Shri Adi Shakti drawing this form of Shri Ganesha. The feeling of timelessness came across us all, everything was so silent; we could only hear the sound of the sea as the waves reached the shore. The sea began to react to the presence of Shri Mataji and the waves began to come in higher and more rapidly. Shri Mataji looked up.

‘I was born from the sea, that is why she is reacting so much,’* She said, with one wave of Her hand. ‘Quieten down please, quieten down,’ and the ocean was immediately calm once again.

As Shri Mataji was drawing the Shri Ganesha in the sand, She was absolutely silent. The vibrations were incredible and it was a very blissful experience. She offered kumkum, turmeric, rice and flowers to Her Shri Ganesha.

‘Now Australia will have no more problems with drought!’ She said at the end. We were all overjoyed and were allowed to bow to Her Holy Lotus Feet through the water. As each of us went forward She blessed us and patted us on the back.

‘Wonderful, excellent, good,’ She said, so full of compassion for Her children.

Afterwards, we looked across at the city of Melbourne where there would be a public programme that evening.

‘Too much negativity!’ Shri Mataji said. ‘It is looking very black over there.’ She raised Her hand. ‘Let’s try and get rid of some of the negativity before the programme tonight,’ She said. She moved Her hand over the city and one could see clearing lines in the sky, clear lines going from the city to the sky where Shri Mataji had cleared away the negativity that hung over the city. That night we had over four hundred people at the programme. A record for Melbourne!

*Editor’s note: at one point Shri Mataji was shown a photograph of some wild flowers growing on a beach just north of Cape Town, South Africa. She was surprised that such beautiful flowers could grow on the beach. ‘That is where I came out of the ocean,’ She said.

Gauri Mehrani-Mylany

Chick pea curry

The next day we had our follow-up programme in the huge gardens of the Melbourne ashram. Shri Mataji had given us instructions the day before how we were to cook the meal. She came into the kitchen in the morning and decided to help us. She put on an apron and then took a wooden spoon and began to instruct us as to how many Indian spices we were to prepare. Shri Mataji put butter into a pan, and all the previously chopped herbs and spices. It smelt incredibly strong and very clearing for the Vishuddhi as She told me several times to smell the spices. I was grinding up the chick peas and Shri Mataji put Her hand over my shoulder and was nearly touching Her face on mine as She helped me. It was a tremendous feeling to be cooking in God’s kitchen and with Shri Mataji as She prepared a fantastic meal for all the seekers who were to come on that day.

The end result was a very big pot of chick pea curry and a big pot of rice. At least a hundred and fifty to two hundred people were to eat food from these two pots, which to me looked like it would only feed about thirty people. As Shri Mataji had finished Her address to the hundred and fifty new people, She then offered them food. We were serving it out, and miraculously the pot seemed to be filling up in front of my eyes. There was so much food that everyone was coming for seconds and the pot didn’t empty. There was even half the pot of food left over at the end of the seminar. For me this was a miracle the same as the one recorded at the time of Christ, when a few fishes and loaves fed the multitudes.

Gauri Mehrani-Mylany

Press and TV coverage

The media in the 1980’s were more interested in visiting spiritual leaders than they are now. Pictured is Shri Mataji’s press conference at the Windsor Hotel where She gave realisation to a TV reporter. Also in Melbourne – in the lower picture – is a reporter from a community television station and Fran Henke interviewing Shri Mataji for the Melbourne Herald in the garden at Burwood where Cheryl and Greg Bradshaw, two Sahaja Yogis lived.

Frances Henke

A historic announcement

The dear Henshaw family took me to see Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi at the Maccabean Hall in Sydney. For some time I had known I had to connect to the Holy Spirit. The leader who was introducing Shri Mataji said that for the first time in Australia, he had been authorised to say that Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi was the Holy Spirit. The synchronicity was so meaningful to me. It was 17th March, St. Patrick’s Day, 1983, and it was the first time I was seeing Shri Mataji, and being told She was the Holy Spirit.

As we have all experienced, She answers our questions, She knows before we do what concerns us, what we are seeking. I knew I was looking for the Great Mother and the Holy Spirit. I felt they were archetypes to be experienced through the collective unconscious, but I had no idea they were one and the same being, and that the Divine Mother would, in Her boundless love, incarnate amongst us and give us en masse self realisation.

‘I come out of love, I come for you.’ She said when She was outside, as She was leaving the hall.

Of course, it took some time for all this to process, but that was the night I received my self realisation.

Heather Jeffrey

This is where I am forever

Our beloved Shri Mother is visiting Sydney in the early eighties. We are all sitting in the main room in Burwood, singing the three great mantras to Her. She leaves Her throne and walks among us as we remain seated on the floor, singing. As usual, I cannot take my eyes from Her face. She walks among us, and stops while approaching me. In monumental bliss, I am singing my head off, and as She stops in front of me, beaming, it seems as if everyone else fades away and there is just a Mother and Her child enjoying a deep and ‘mutual’ adoration, gazing with love into each other’s eyes while the child sings its heart out to its Mother. Time stops; I have always lived like this, in adoration of Her, on the floor at Her Feet; this is where I have been forever.

In Sydney time it lasts for about half of one of the three mantras, then She moves on. It is my most glorious experience of love given and received in ‘human’ form in this life.

Jenny Watling

You are a realised soul

We were all gathered together for a follow-up programme at a hall in Kings Cross, Sydney. I felt concern for our Holy Mother, because this was a ‘nightclub area’. My youngest daughter, Ann, was standing behind the adults.

Shri Mataji came into the hall, She reached over the adults, took the little girl’s hand and did not let it go. Ann had to walk with Shri Mataji up to Her chair.

‘You are a realised soul,’ She said when She took Ann’s hand.

Heather Jeffrey

Her attention was on me

Shri Mataji was in Australia when I had the news I was pregnant with our first child. We had been married in India and She came to Australia in March 1983, and I had the opportunity to tell Her myself. Shri Mataji was at Burwood, and had given us a talk. She was leaving the main room to go back to Her bedroom, and I went and knelt at Her Feet. I was only very young in Sahaja, and She looked straight down on my Sahasrara. It felt like I was made of glass, and all I was, was chakras, with Her attention on me. I felt that was when the spirit of that baby entered me.

‘I think I’m pregnant,’ I said.

‘Yes, of course you are,’ She replied.

Caroline Henwood

He will be alright now

On that weekend, in March 1983, Shri Mataji stayed at Burwood Ashram in Sydney as it was Her sixtieth birthday. The collective of about seventy were sitting before Her and She had one yogi sitting out front off to one side. Without warning my body started shaking. I put up my hand to ask for help.

‘Yes?’ She said.

‘Mother, Your help is needed here!’ I replied.

‘Have you been to a false guru?’ Shri Mother asked.

‘Yes Mother,’ came the reply.

‘Come out here, you silly boy!’ Shri Mataji said.

Next I was sitting at Shri Mataji’s Feet facing Her with my hands out. As She poured Her love on me and the other man, a lady sitting in the collective was asked, ‘Have you been to one too?’ As this lady sat down at the front, she began hyperventilating.

‘Help her, help her!’ Shri Mataji called to the collective, looked down at me. ‘Better now?’

‘Yes Mother,’ I replied, as we had been told a year earlier if we were speaking with Shri Mataji we must not say ‘No’. But as it so happened I felt no better. After more words to the collective, Shri Mataji looked at me again and asked.

‘Better now?’

‘Yes Mother,’ I replied again, which was not the case. More time elapsed and again She looked down to me.

‘Better now?’ She asked.

‘No Mother!’ I said, and pulled my ears.

‘Turn around,’ She said.

Suddenly sixty-four pairs of eyes were looking at me and I closed mine, next Shri Mataji struck my Left Vishuddhi with Her closed fist, giving it three blows.

‘Better now?’ She asked.

‘Yes Mother,’ came the reply, as the black cloud that always hung above me was gone. A chiropractor came from the collective and checked my neck.

‘His neck’s like a rock, Mother,’ he said.

‘He will be alright now!’ She answered.

Peter Corden