I was fifteen and was living in Shudy Camps under the care of some of the yogis who lived there, as my mother had gone to South Africa to spread Sahaja Yoga. I was very innocent to the ways of a Western schoolchild. In India, where I had been living for the previous six years, I had attended a private co-ed school and there were no romantic relationships between schoolchildren and we had no exposure to alcohol and smoking. When I attended the local comprehensive school near Shudy Camps I wanted to be part of the new environment so started to emulate the dress and hairstyles, made friends and started going to parties. I tried alcohol and took a puff on a cigarette, out of curiosity, and did occasionally flirt with the idea of accepting an offer to go on a date, but when it came down to it I knew I was a yogini.
Often Mother would come and stay for a few days and when She arrived we would all gather to greet or offer our respects as She left. On one such occasion I happened to be standing next to a friend who was several years older than me. She was Indian but her mother had been married to a British yogi by Shri Mataji and as Mother was leaving, She suddenly stopped and started to talk to this girl in Hindi (unusual as this girl was from Maharashtra so Mother normally spoke to her in Marathi) but Hindi is a language that I speak. Mother told the yogini not to get sucked into the maya of the Western way of life and to be careful of her ego persuading her that she was ok. I stood there, understanding every word and I very rapidly realised that Mother was not only talking to my friend but also warning me not to let my ego tell me that I was above getting caught up by all these silly things.
Mother had such a wonderful way of gently guiding us. She knew that if She had reprimanded me openly I would probably have been exceptionally embarrassed and upset but because Mother spoke in a language that only She, myself and my friend were able to understand we knew that Mother was protecting us in every way. In every way Mother taught us not only how to grow spiritually but also how to strive to be good, honest, respectful and kind. Would that we could all emulate Her example.
So thankful for Her love and blessings
I was fortunate to live at Shudy Camps for a few years from 1988 to 1990.
At one time, in 1990, I visited my grandmother and she gave me some smallish amount of money to buy something, I bought two blue pottery candlesticks shaped like daisies and had the desire to give them to Shri Mataji. I asked that a yogi present these candlesticks to Her after a puja and didn’t really think anything more about this other than to wonder if Mother had actually received them.
Around that time I was going through a very teenagery phase and I was convinced that Mother didn’t know me and that I was worthless. So when She called me to speak to Her I went into the room with a myriad of emotions playing through my mind. I sat there in front of Her wishing I could clear my attention and just not think. I wished that I was a better Yogini. I felt guilt but also a bit of insecurity about my place as a Yogini in Mother’s eyes.
As She moved across the room to sit at the dining table I looked about and I noticed, sitting pride of place on the mantelpiece, my two candlesticks. It felt as though Mother was telling me that She loved me and that my very meagre gift had been worth something to Her. When I think back now to all of these little things that Mother did for me, and all of the things that She did for others I am so thankful for Her love and Her blessings. In every sense She was and is the Goddess who cared for us, Her children.
Shri Mataji gave gifts to everyone
There was a time when there were boxes and boxes of gifts. I suppose they must have been years and years of puja gifts, which had been stored at Shudy Camps and Shri Mataji wanted us to go through all of them with Her there, to decide whether they should go to India or Cabella or where. So for days, we were unpacking them and getting out these beautiful gifts.
There were literally hundreds of tea sets, the most beautiful tea sets you’ve ever seen, and literally hundreds of cups and saucers and little side plates and other things like this. In among all this there were small objects, like jewellery and coats, and scarves. As we opened each thing, quite often Shri Mataji would just take something out and just hand it to someone. I remember Bridget Shehovych, Bohdan’s wife, was given quite a number of things — a fur coat and other things. Mother gave me a scarf, which I still wear, a looking glass, a hairbrush, and a little gold and amethyst brooch of intertwined snakes.
Mother was so generous. She gave gifts to everyone there and no one left without having received a small pile of gifts.
The human incarnation of God
One time at Heathrow Airport we were invited to greet Shri Mataji. I had not seen Her for some time and I stood in line waiting to give Her my flowers. Eventually I got to the head of the line and somehow was moved to a spot in front of Mother but a little behind some others. I stood there just taking in Her presence for ages, watching Her interacting with all the other yogis and then eventually realised that I still had the flowers.
At that moment Mother looked up and gave me the biggest smile and called me over. It always astounded me that She remembered all of us by name and not only that, She would always ask me about members of my family, what I was doing in my life etc. I know it was silly to be surprised, Mother was the human incarnation of God, but the Maha Maya was so very, very powerful.
I know everything
I was at Shudy Camps and Shri Mataji was there packing up masses of crockery sets and vases that She had bought from all over the world, and they were to be transported back to India. I was in the background to start with, ten yards away, but got active in the task so She drew me in and asked me to do this and that, and it led to me being about three feet away from Mother for the next three days packing all this crockery.
I would wake up in the morning and go straight to Shri Mataji’s Feet. What I remember from that was the realisation that She knows everything. She was coordinating a number of tasks and at the same time knew exactly the state of each yogi; She was giving instructions to that yogi for a particular reason to work something out. One example was being that close to Mother all the thoughts came out, and you realised how much you were thinking. I was trying to pack something into a box and Mother was giving a lot of instructions to different people.
‘Oh, turn that around,’ She said to me as I was thinking, ‘this doesn’t work.’ ‘No the other way,’ Shri Mataji said, and it would slip in effortlessly. She knew everything I was thinking and I tried to keep my attention in Sahasrara. At one point a tiny little glass thing was lost.
‘Give a bandhan,’ Shri Mataji said and the next moment it appeared. It was amazing to be close to Mother and to see how with very simple household tasks like packing how She could be working on your state of awareness, clearing your Agnya and so on, and getting you into the Sahaja state of acting spontaneously, not thinking, being in Her flow. At a certain point the yogi next to me came out with the part in the Devi Mahatmya – ‘You know everything, You are everywhere at the same time,’ and She turned round to me, in among all this packing, and with one glance said, ‘Yes I know everything, I can see everything.’
Soon after we had packed the crockery in Shudy Camps there was a puja and we were all waiting to receive Shri Mataji at the train station. She came to receive the flowers.
‘How are you now, Steve, after all the packing?’ She said. It was really nice that She remembered that. I had brought my brother to that puja and he had such a strong experience of vibrations in Mother’s physical presence, there at that train station.
Shri Mataji packing at Shudy Camps
Easter Puja 1990 (email report)
The first puja in the West this year was Easter Puja, held a week after Easter as our Divine Mother only returned from Muscat a day or two previously. Between five and six hundred Sahaja Yogis converged from all over Europe on the Burlington, a hotel on the sea front in Eastbourne, a holiday resort in the south of England. Shri Mataji arrived from Shudy Camps shortly after half past twelve, and, stopping to take flowers and exchange a few words with Her children, emerged into a hotel lobby crowded with yogis. For quite some time Shri Mataji made Her way up and down the lobby, until everyone had had the opportunity to offer flowers and greetings. Shri Mataji seemed very happy to see such a large gathering.
Sometimes, especially in the early days, in advance of Mother’s arrival I would start to smell an overpoweringly sweet fragrance. It created a heavenly atmosphere and was flowery and rich – like lilies and roses – beautiful. It was very intense and all-pervading and invariably would herald the arrival of Mother a short time later. Once I smelled it on the platform at Eastbourne railway station half an hour before Mother arrived – without a flower in sight.
Where is that little butterfly?
Many years ago I was given the lovely job of listing the gifts that were given at the pujas, so I used to sit on the stage listing the gifts and then I used to supervise them being packed up. On one occasion a large number of gifts had been offered, including some very small ones.
‘Where is that little butterfly that the boy gave Me?’ Shri Mataji asked me in the evening. Luckily I could find it, and it had been made by a small boy. ‘These things are the most important, because they come from the heart,’ She said to me.
The bird does not want to return to the shell
Shri Mataji spoke to us that afternoon, at the Eastbourne Easter Puja, about the importance of our vertical ascent. Sahaja Yoga spreads horizontally, and it is we the Sahaja Yogis who do the work, Shri Mataji told us. Sahaja Yoga is indeed spreading very fast, but we must not be complacent about ourselves; every individual must rise, to keep the vertical depth in proportion with the horizontal spread. Mother reminded us how great and important each of us is, and what boons each of us has to bestow upon humanity. She insisted that we must not let ourselves go backwards, to regress to our state before realisation; the bird does not want to return to the shell, and we should not wish to go back to all the old attachments and involvement in family, marriage, job, and other mundane things. We came to seek truth and to be one with God.
Detachment should be there. Sahaja Yogis, when they are deep, can trigger events, such as the newly-realised delegates at the Soviet Yoga conference, who went on to trigger the liberation of Eastern Europe at the end of last year. All of us can have this power, but we must become the instruments through which the Paramchaitanya can act. We all have Mother’s powers at our disposal, but we must be detached like Her, with a great but detached concern for each other and for the world, giving up the limitations which we still choose to carry around with us. Old tendencies of domination, arrogance, and hurting others must also be given up.
After dinner in the evening we were delighted to be joined by our Divine Mother for a concert. The highlight of the evening was the sitar concert by Nishat Khan, accompanied by his brother Safat Khan on tabla. It was a tremendous virtuoso performance, the two blended perfectly together. I have rarely seen Shri Mataji so moved by music; She was leaning forward, tapping the rhythm with Her hand, reflecting and anticipating the nuances of the music in Her expression, and gazing intently at the musicians as She fed them with divine love and energy. Nishat Khan said afterwards that he didn’t know what was happening, his fingers just seemed to be doing things by themselves. Shri Mataji said afterwards that She felt that Shri Saraswati Herself had been playing.
Shri Mataji, we vow
Shri Mataji had conversations with the leaders at the weekend of the Easter Puja. She said that the political problems of the world are essentially fixed, since Mr Gorbachev has fixed them. All the old East-West tensions are disappearing. But a very serious problem which remains is that of fanaticism, where fanatics believe that they can murder or commit any crime in the name of God, and inflict any arbitrary and cruel punishment on people who disagree with them. Another form of fanaticism also drew Shri Mataji’s attention; sporting fanaticism, especially amongst Sahaja Yogis, where football or some other sport becomes a compulsion and a ritual instead of just spontaneous fun and exercise.
She also talked about the great opportunities in Eastern Europe. She told the German Sahaja Yogis to go ahead now with programmes there, where people have not been spoiled by the ‘freedom’ and materialism of the West and where many excellent seekers are just waiting for their realisation. Shri Mataji was also pleased with the Austrian procedure of holding courses on Sahaja Yoga in different towns in the country, and suggested the Austrian leader speak at an international seminar to tell in more detail how they are doing it.
The puja took place in an oak-panelled school hall a couple of miles from the hotel. The hall was decorated with an enormous fabric sun which hung behind Shri Mataji’s throne. She talked about Christ, whom we had come to worship. The puja was marked by an absence of mantras. Only after the aarti were the three mantras of Sahasrara to be heard. Otherwise the puja was accompanied by music throughout. At the end Shri Mataji asked us all to vow that we would now grow vertically.
‘Shri Mataji, we vow!’ came the response.
My friend thinks that you are charging too much
The Brighton Sahaja Yogis were hosting the puja in Eastbourne. I was helping with the stage. Other people were cooking and looking after Shri Mataji and doing other things. I sat outside Her room meditating and no more than five minutes later someone came out of the door.
‘Does anyone know anything about Hastings? Mother wants to go there,’ someone said. Hastings is about twenty miles from Eastbourne.
‘I do,’ I said, as I had lived there as a child. I ended up spending the entire day with Shri Mataji, having a picnic, going to the old town and She was buying all types of different crafts. We went into one shop and Mother asked me about a price and I said I thought it was a bit high.
‘My friend thinks you are charging too much,’ said Shri Mataji. We went out of the shop and there was a man busking and singing, Knock, Knock, Knocking on Heaven’s Door.
I felt Shri Mataji’s presence through the closed door
Shortly before the Easter Puja in Eastbourne, I got a seat behind a door of the sports hall where it was taking place, and tried to meditate. Suddenly I felt a strong push in my heart and again I felt the great happiness that I had felt before in Shri Mataji’s presence.
‘Ah, Shri Mataji!’ the yogis said at the same moment.
Shri Mataji had just stepped out of Her car, behind me. I felt Her presence through the closed door and then She came in through it, next to me.
Tears of love
The time I saw Mother cry was very moving. It was the Easter Puja at Eastbourne. Our Beloved Mother and all the yogis were staying in a hotel. A choir of ladies were practising songs, there were no instruments, just approximately thirty ladies singing the Lakshmi Song – so sweet and light and beautiful. It held pure love as the yoginis poured out all their devotion and bhakti to Mother in the form of Shri Lakshmi. I was passing through the room just as it started and was riveted. There was an energy and a silence in the room when they stopped singing. We all stood there transfixed, staring, soaking it in, unable to move. Some were crying or fighting back tears; it was so beautiful.
We looked up, and unbeknown to us Shri Mataji had come in during the performance and was standing there crying. Seeing Mother crying with love touched you at the deepest core. She praised everyone, and asked the music team if they’d recorded it, to which they pulled their ears and said no. I noticed during the song that they had been so enchanted by the singing, they had forgotten to attend to the recording equipment. So it was sung and recorded again, but it wasn’t the same.
Sahasrara Puja Weekend 1990 (email report)
Shri Mataji told us that the great break-through would come with the 1990 Sahasrara Day Puja. From Shri Mataji’s arrival at Rome Airport on the afternoon of Friday 4th May, the collective happening grew into a mighty crescendo to culminate in this most fantastic of pujas two days later.
Hundreds of Sahaja Yogis thronged the airport concourse awaiting our Divine Mother. On emerging from the immigration formalities with Mr Srivastava, Shri Mataji found Herself in a sea of joyful faces and hands holding out flowers, and She walked up and down in the crowd for nearly an hour taking the flowers from each and every one, smiling through the afternoon heat. Finally every offering had been accepted, and Mother took Her place in Her dark blue Lincoln car to be driven to Fiuggi, the spa and resort town in the hills to the south-east of Rome where the puja was to take place.
On Saturday afternoon the weather changed abruptly, with a mighty thunderstorm which at one point burst directly over Shri Mataji’s hotel with a thunderclap of such fury that windows rattled and the floor shook, like some sublime fanfare saluting the greatness of the One who blessed us by Her divine presence.
The first event of the weekend was a public medical conference in which Sahaja Yogi doctors presented Sahaja Yoga. After all the doctors had finished speaking and answering questions, the meeting climaxed with the arrival of our Divine Mother, who gave a short talk stressing the importance of Sahaja Yoga and then gave realisation to all the newcomers. Her talk was interrupted by occasional power failures, but miraculously we were all able to hear Shri Mataji’s unamplified voice when this happened.
The evening’s programme was a musical concert by Nishat Khan, whom Shri Mataji had invited for the occasion. He played two ragas in this concert which lasted from around midnight until dawn at 5 a.m. First was Raag Mal Kauns and then followed Raag Darbari, the Raga of the King’s Court, at his request. It was tremendous; as the night grew younger (to borrow Baba Mama’s phrase) all of us grew more and more wide-awake. Finally, after brief speeches by Shri Mataji and Sir CP at the end of the concert and remarking that it was a very suitable time, the two musicians played Bhairavi.
Puja had been announced for 12:30, and the Italians had created a whole garden on the stage behind Shri Mataji’s throne, complete with eight arches arranged in a bandhan side by side, and with rock gardens and plants and flowers, the whole being surrounded by a glowing rainbow and with hundreds of fairy lights above to represent the heavens. After some time it was suggested that we should sing some bhajans. We soon could hear the rain beating down on the roof of the hall again, with occasional thunder. Our Divine Mother arrived in the middle of the rain, and, taking Her place on the stage, began Her talk. She had waited many years for this day, She said, smiling as She spoke. A new era was starting from today, in which we must assume our powers and our responsibilities.
As at Easter Puja, there were practically no mantras, music taking their place throughout. All the presents to Shri Mataji after the puja were of ivory carvings, the international present being a two foot high statue of the goddess with many arms and weapons and many blessings, as Shri Mataji pointed out, and with three heads, above which were three further heads, the whole crowned by the head of Lord Sadashiva. At the end of the puja some thirteen hundred Sahaja Yogis were dancing.
Afterwards, one of the children went to Shri Mataji to complain that they had not been able to dance for Her, only the grown-ups had; so our Mother invited the children to come and dance before Her. The evening ended with the Marathi drama which some of the Swiss had so successfully staged in India. Finally Mother took Her leave of us around 10 o’clock.