The foundation stone
One day, in about September 1980, quite unexpectedly, Shri Mataji came to Chelsham Road and I was upstairs with the baby. I noticed, from an upstairs window, that She was in the back garden with one or two other people.
‘Mother was laying the foundation stone of the New Jerusalem in the back garden,’ someone said afterwards.
One of the early building projects in Sahaja Yoga was the meditation room at the back of Chelsham Road. Everybody contributed work and Mother very generously gave the money and furnishings, a beautiful pink carpet and some light brown velvet curtains. She also lent us some armchairs and a sofa, covered in yellow velvet and very elegant and the first celebration we had there were some weddings — Pat and Grazyna Anslow’s and others. We also had many pujas but soon it became too small to hold everyone, because Sahaja Yoga was growing so fast.
Diary extract, 19th September 1980
Once more, blessed time! I could join Shri Mataji and the other Sahaja Yogis for the programmes in Paris and Lille. We arrived one week ago to Paris at the programme just at the time when Shri Mataji was giving the self realisation; there were around a hundred people. In the train to get there my sister Marie-Laure and I were talking about Sahaja Yoga to an icon painter who came with us to the conference and immediately got his realisation.
At Lille we had a beautiful puja to Shri Krishna – Shri Mataji was so beautiful, all clad in red! She asked me to do the translation, with my hand on my Vishuddhi chakra. Again in the evening at the programme, She asked me to do the introduction; the vibrations coming from Her were just flowing through me. I spoke about the integration of the religions and the discourse of Christ to Nicodemus, and everyone at the programme got their realisation.
After the puja, in the afternoon, I had been in Her room where Shri Mataji was resting and I prayed to Her to open my heart and that I might enter into Her love. The next day at the airport in Paris before leaving She spoke like Christ, as what She was saying was like the Sermon on the Mount. Once again I was translating Her and I got very moved because when She spoke about love it was exactly an answer to my silent prayer of the day before.
What was quite remarkable was that during this week end we travelled for eighteen hours and slept only six hours between the two nights; I was starting my courses at the university again and was absolutely not tired!
I told you that you would pass
It was September 1980 and Shri Mataji was going to Switzerland. We had public programmes in Lausanne, Geneva and Zürich. We were very few Sahaja Yogis at that time, so we were all helping and trying to prepare. I had my final exams of Pharmacy, after six years of studies. I dedicated all my time to the preparation of Shri Mataji’s coming, and suddenly realised that the following day I had my first exam, Pharmacography. I had had no time to prepare for it and almost began to panic. Shri Mataji called me and worked on my head, Her right finger at the level where the hair starts.
‘I give you Saraswati’s blessings,’ She told me. She asked me about Pharmacography, which is the study of plants, their chemical products and what help they give for medicine. Shri Mataji asked me about certain products and plants.
Nevertheless, when I got the exam question, it was a totally different one. I was calm, and the teacher asked me the questions and I was guessing the answers, but I passed. With the other exams I took three or four days to prepare for each one. It was amazing to see how Shri Mataji’s power was working because for every exam there was a big folder that I had never read before. After reading it once I could remember all the names. Overall, I passed quite well. There was a public programme in Paris the following week, and Shri Mataji was coming from an elevator. When She saw me She just laughed.
‘I told you that you would pass!’ She said. She knew everything, even though I did not have time to tell Her. It was amazing the capacity She gave me to study and absorb, beyond all human expectations.
We felt such a deep silence
We were in Zürich and Gregoire was talking with Shri Mataji. We were outside and he was talking about different things.
‘Shri Mataji, are You Shri Kalki?’ he suddenly asked. She just smiled and extended Her hands as if to check vibrations.
‘Just see,’ She said, and we felt such a deep silence which brought us to Sahasrara. ‘You see?’ She said, and smiled. It was a very deep and beautiful experience.
A divine personality
When I first came to Sahaja Yoga in 1980 these early pujas took much longer to reach their conclusion than later ones; some began when the sun was brightly shining overhead and ended when the stars were scattered across the sky. I remembered one puja, in particular, at The Temple of All Faiths in Hampstead, from those early days. It was Navaratri, in autumn 1980. It began with a talk from Shri Mataji, followed by puja, then a havan, while the 1000 names of the Goddess were recited, each name in Sanskrit followed by a full English translation (this went on for many hours, but for me, it was also a strangely timeless experience).
Veterans of that era will also recall similar marathon puja stretches; there was much to be worked out, Mother sometimes orchestrating changes to proceedings as the puja unfolded, or giving advice on the pronunciation of Sanskrit words, as we – many of us then, fairly new Sahaja Yogis – learnt to worship Shri Mataji in the correct way and to maximise vibrations and our abilities to receive and absorb them.
Shri Mataji’s divine chakras, would of course, emit a tremendous amount of vibrations during a puja, particularly during the recitation of mantras or when different bhajans were performed, and it was essential that these vibrations were properly absorbed or else it would lead to Mother suffering pain and discomfort later on. During this particular Navaratri uja Shri Mataji sat regally enthroned before the havan, Her face, the essence of divine authority and majesty. In some moments Her expression seemed to signal that She was fully present among us all, and at others, She seemed far away, as if engaging with dimensions we could not see, perhaps traversing universes, yugas and lokas beyond our understanding.
As the 1000 names progressed and the havan, fed with copious ladles of ghee, blazed and crackled before us, the vibrations became so powerful that Shri Mataji began calling up certain Sahaja Yogis to sit beside Her and instructed them to use their hands in order to channel vibrations from parts of Her body. I was then a seventeen year old boy, and fairly new to Sahaja Yoga, and was thrilled and honoured to be one of those called. Moving beside Mother I was asked to place my right hand in the small of Her back and left hand toward the havan. After some time Mother instructed me to switch to another position, channelling vibrations from another part of Her body.
I sat there next to Shri Mataji channelling vibrations for what seemed an inordinate duration. I lost all track of time, and felt I had drifted off into another dimension. As the havan continued, I saw the dancing licking flames, felt the heat on my face and arms, heard the rising and falling cadences of Sanskrit, but inside my main sensation was of throbbing coolness, profound thoughtless awareness. I’d become a hollow conduit, and in pressing on Mother’s back, literally discerned ‘infinity in the palm of the hand’.
As the experience continued my personality seemed to realign and simplify. I felt myself becoming a much earlier, deeper self: child-like, inviolate, pure, my only aim, and the entire meaning of my life, to serve and please my Mother. Afterward, when the havan was over and people were relaxing over a plate of food, chatting, milling around and laughing, it was difficult for me to speak to anyone. The silence inside was so great and the clarity so overwhelming, ordinary conversation, beyond a few mumbled monosyllables, felt nearly impossible. It was such a powerful experience, I knew then, beyond any doubt, as I still do, that Shri Mataji was a completely Divine personality.
I have some other very powerful memories of those early Temple of All Faiths pujas; it seemed to me, we were living through a time with Shri Mataji when all sorts of prophecies and scriptural predictions were being borne out in reality. For example I remember one early puja in which Christ’s Sermon on the Mount was read out to Mother ‘Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled,’ and ‘Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy,’ and ‘Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God’, with each sentence, the vibrations became more and more powerful, the bliss of hearing those words while sitting in front of Shri Mataji was indescribable. The Kundalini poured through the Sahasrara and came down in overwhelming cascades of grace and there was hardly a dry eye among any of us there, who had, in our earlier lifetimes, hungered and thirsted after righteousness and longed to see God.
A beautiful pink sari
I was fortunate to receive one of Shri Mataji’s saris, in October 1980 soon after the first programmes that I had organised in Geneva. We were in the flat of our friend Mathias. Shri Mataji was staying there and She had worked on one of my best friends, who had attended the programmes. At some point Shri Mataji called me and gave me the most beautifully woven dark pink sari. It was of an ancient way of weaving where the figurines of deities were inserted in medallions in the fabric. I was in awe, and put the sari on my lap. My friend was not yet sure if she was feeling the vibrations, so I told her to put her hands towards the sari and lo! she got a flow of vibrations. She asked Mother if She was a prophet, so Shri Mataji made her ask these questions:
‘Mother, are You Shri Krishna?’
‘Mother, are You the Virgin Mary?’
Every time the vibrations were coming in her hands stronger and stronger and my friend was more and more puzzled! At the end my brother read the hymns to the Great Goddess, the Devi Mahatmyam.
A few years later I was in Columbia where I joined Shri Mataji and some Sahaja Yogis for the first programmes there. Another friend, Brigitte, had organized the first three in 1988, and after this there was a puja – I think it was to Shri Mahavishnu (Christ) – in the garden. We decorated the whole garden with exotic flowers and after the puja Shri Mataji asked if the ladies wanted a name from Her. I wanted one so much, and although I was not Columbian I queued with the others.
‘Who gave you this beautiful pink sari?’ Shri Mataji said, when I was in front of Her. I was wearing the one She gave me, and She touched the silk fabric. ‘One can’t find this sort of sari anymore.’
‘Shri Mataji, You gave it to me,’ I replied.
‘Really?’ She said, and we both laughed, enjoying the situation. ‘You too want a name?’
‘Oh yes, Shri Mataji.’
‘Amruta is your name,’ She paused and said.
I thanked Her very much. I always thought my name, Antoinette, is a bit harsh, whereas I love the softness of Amruta. When I am in India, as the Indians can’t pronounce Antoinette, I always say my name is Amruta.
In the autumn of 1980 the Swiss yogis planned a tour through Geneva, Lausanne, Bern, Zurich and Basel. Gregoire de Kalbermatten sent a letter to me asking whether I could prepare one or two programmes in Germany. After well-attended programmes in Lausanne and Geneva, the ones in German-speaking Switzerland were rather disappointing, but I had the chance to join those in Zürich and Bern. I took a wonderful photo of Shri Mataji which has accompanied me all through these years in which She looks so young and radiant.
The first public programme in Germany
I rented the lecture hall of my college in Freiburg and was quite nervous about how everything would be, knowing that I might be asked to say something and some of my friends might be among the audience. Shri Mataji arrived with Gregoire’s wife Catherine and five other yogis. The programme was relatively well attended. However, Shri Mataji’s arrival brought a special blessing for us. My wife and I had been hoping for a baby for quite some time and the doctor said that at this point in time a pregnancy was not possible, but the very day Shri Mataji arrived we got the message that my wife was pregnant.
I still have a poster and the newspaper advertisement announcing this first programme on German soil, on 14.10.1980.
The second programme
The second programme, two days later, took place in Bonn. I asked a friend from Bonn to arrange a hotel, rent a small hall and place an advertisement in the newspaper. Considering the little effort we had made, this programme was rather successful.
The hotel, however, was beneath the dignity of Shri Mataji. Being a poor student I neither had the sense of Shri Mataji’s status nor the means to think of a more dignified hotel. There was no soap in the bathroom and the door was not lockable, so Catherine had to stand in front of the door when Shri Mataji used it. We bought some takeaway chips and fried chicken and ate them from the packaging. It took me a long time to overcome the shame of all this, but Shri Mataji never gave me the feeling of having been displeased. However, since She mentioned the lack of soap, when She was staying in Lausanne, Switzerland, the next year, I gave Her a nice piece, saying I felt sorry that the soap had been missing the year before. In Her own inimitable way She took some green Chandrika soap out of Her handbag and let me smell its fragrance. She showed me how good scents can open the Vishuddhi. My left Vishuddhi, my exaggerated guilty conscience, opened up and I felt Shri Mataji’s endless benevolence flowing through me.
At the first programme in Bonn I stood in front of the audience to say some introductory words. I had a big lump in my throat, convinced that nothing would come out of this. Shri Mataji noticed it and looked at me. I felt the Kundalini rising powerfully and She dissolved the lump in my throat. I started to talk and from that day onwards, I had no problem anymore to speak in front of ten, a hundred or a thousand people. It was a gift which greatly helped me in my professional career as well as in spreading Sahaja Yoga.
We went from Freiburg to Bonn by train. Having arrived in Bonn we went through the pedestrian area and through a part of my past. Shri Mataji bought presents for Her grandchildren in a big toy store. The owner’s son had been my classmate. Then we had lunch in the restaurant of a big department store where my father was the manager. The atmosphere was very light and Shri Mataji gave us the feeling of human closeness and naturalness.
The next day we saw Shri Mataji off at Düsseldorf Airport. It was one of those loving good-byes many more of which were to come and which left us in silent joy and thoughtless awareness.
Extract from my diary, 13th October 1980
‘You have to stand like a rock,’ Shri Mataji told me.
There was a lot of turmoil and invisible battles with the negativity in the early days, and this reminded me of the parable of Christ, who said that you should not build your house on the sand. Then Shri Mataji spoke about sin: She said She is beyond sin, She is Nirmala, and that those who commit sins are divided in two categories: those who say, ‘What’s wrong, I like it,’ (they are on the right side) those who say, ‘I am a useless person and I can’t help doing it,’ (they are on the left side) and then there are those who see that it is wrong and won’t do it.
Shri Mataji even made a wedding turban
I moved to Chelsham Road just after it was purchased in July 1980. It was a ruin and the vibrations were strange. We burnt candles and incense and said lots of mantras to clear the place out, because knew we were there for a purpose – to build the foundations of the New Jerusalem.
Shri Mataji had many pujas there, and there were marriages as well. In 1980 I was engaged to Pat Anslow by Shri Mataji, and She rang the ashram and fixed the date of our wedding for 5th of December. It was to be the first marriage there. By the end of November I was a bit worried, because the space which was going to be the meditation room was just a concrete floor, the walls were bare bricks and the roof was nonexistent.
On the morning of my wedding I was close to tears. I was new in Sahaja Yoga and not good at witnessing. One hour later we got a message that the roof had arrived. I started to feel more hopeful. After another hour the place was transformed by the whole collective into a magical tent from an Arabian fairy tale and the walls were covered with Persian carpets.
Shri Mataji arrived shortly afterwards and even had to make a wedding turban for Pat. We had a Hindu priest to conduct the ceremony.
In the upper photo Shri Mataji is tying one of Her saris around the bridegroom’s head as a turban. In the lower one the couple are kneeling at Her Feet after the wedding.
The advice Shri Mataji gave me when I married was ‘Never let the sun go down on a quarrel,’ so I always apologised and made up if we had an argument.
Some little jewels from Shri Mataji
Shri Mataji told us never to keep half an onion in the fridge or elsewhere for later use, because once one has cut an onion, it should be either used or thrown away. A cut onion absorbs negativity. The same applies to lemons.
If a baby is born with a good head of hair it means he/she has less ego. Also that a child should be able to sit in meditation with its parents for a few minutes by the time it is two years old.
Shri Mataji said the violent political troubles in Northern Ireland in the 1980’s, that were causing a lot of deaths, were another aspect of the evil of the rakshasa Narakasura creating dissension between people.
Someone was saying how horrible it was where, in the Devi Mahatmyam Shri Mahakali drinks the blood of Raktabija, to stop it falling on the ground and turning into more asuras like him.
‘How many of you would drink the blood of an asura to save your children?’ Shri Mataji replied, to show how much She has always loved us, time out of mind.
Shri Mataji explained that She had three places in the solar system: the moon as Shri Mahakali, Venus as Shri Parvati, and Pluto as Shri Kalki.
She explained why She felt the cold rather a lot: ‘The temperature of the Spirit is absolute zero – cold within and cold without,’ or words to that effect.
In 1980 Shri Mataji asked us to learn Her 108 names off by heart, and also the meanings.
The word in Hindi for farmer ‘kissi’ is from the word Krishna. Shri Krishna planted the seed in people’s minds and hearts to seek for the Spirit.
I asked Shri Mataji what would be the languages of the future, because I did not want my children to be bothered with learning languages that they would never use. She told me that English and Hindi were the most important.
Shri Mataji looks similar in every incarnation. This is why the description of Her in the Saundarya Lahiri is so accurate.
As Sahaja Yogis we help our relations for seven generations in either direction.
Young children should generally be put to bed about eight thirty. It is alright once in a while to keep them up late, like when She was there, or arriving or leaving. Also She was strict with my two that they should be clean, quiet and sit still in Her presence.
One of the main causes of cancer is alcohol. She told us that when people understand the relationship between alcohol and cancer they will stop drinking very fast. She also told us one should not have a hot shower and then go straight out into the cold air in London as this could also cause cancer of the lungs.
The Swadishthan chakra is always moving, either to the right or left, as it circulates around the Void.
There was something Shri Mataji used to say to us in the early days. ‘Don’t try to penetrate the maya’. She also often said, ‘be in your fortress of thoughtless awareness.’
Lord Jesus said He was the light, the truth and the way, but He never said He was the goal – for that we have to come to the Sahasrara, to Mother, through the gate of the Agnya.
In the future anything that we have close to us, like clothing, furniture etc, will be hand made out of natural products, with love and care so it has good vibrations. Nevertheless we will live in a very high tech world when it comes to computers, transport etc.
Someone asked Shri Mataji if we take another birth after we have received our realisation. She said we didn’t have to but we would like to because it is going to be so beautiful.
The standard treatment for Vishuddhi was initially ajwan dhuni (smoke). Shri Mataji gave this treatment right back in the seventies. Allah hu Akbar was given later.
Mother often used to ask for a lemon which She would vibrate, then give it to the new person or possessed person to hold, and the negativity or bhut would go into the lemon. It would often change colour – then Mother would ask us to chop it up and put it down the toilet and sometimes to also burn it in a candle.
The ancient Romans were a whole race of rakshasas. However in 2001, She said about the Italians: ‘Where did we find this beautiful country with all these wonderful people in it?’
There is a name in the aparajita hymn: chaya. The line is ‘ya Devi sarva bhuteshu, chaya rupena samsthitha’. One time someone who was not a Sahaja Yogi was quite unpleasant to a Sahaja Yogi for no apparent reason, and Shri Mataji explained it thus: She said that the word chaya does not only mean shadow, but also reflection, and what happens is that the person sees his or her own defects in the Sahaja Yogi, who is like a mirror, and then the caught up person starts criticising the Sahaja Yogi, but actually it is their own faults or problems they are seeing. So forgive them, or don’t worry about it!
The reason people in the West often wear soft and gloomy colours is that they have such big egos the bright colours would overshadow them, so they wear dull colours. Peasants wear bright colours and they tend to have less ego.
On many occasions Shri Mataji asked us ladies to wear clothes which covered our knees and shoulders, to protect those chakras – the Shri chakra and Shri Lalita chakra on the shoulders and the Nabhi for the knees.