Chapter 05: 1981 – Early Summer, England and France

Recollections - Book by Sahaja Yogis

The miracle of the blowtorch

Once we were in Shri Mataji’s house in Brompton Square, London, in 1981. It was being redecorated and Mother was walking around and directing people. She would tell us where paintings and other decorations were to go and what colour this door or that window frame was to be painted.

Shri Mataji, wearing a highly inflammable nylon sari, walked towards a blowtorch which was on the floor in the middle of the room and as She passed very close to it, the flame went from the nozzle completely around Shri Mataji two or three times, forming a ring a few centimetres away from the sari.

Auriol Purdie

A flame leapt out of the torch

Shri Mataji was wearing a synthetic nylon sari, blue and white, and walking around amid the rubble and dust. I was in a room where some people were making plaster moldings to go on cornices. Some other people had been working in the room too and someone had left a blowtorch burning, which is a most unwise thing to do. I had used blowtorches for many years and knew how dangerous they were and was always careful to turn them off when not using them. It was pointing into the middle of the room and Mother walked in.

She walked straight in front of it. A flame leapt out of the torch, then went round Her synthetic sari below knee height in a blue ring, then back into the torch. While all this was happening, I was horrified and took a dive across the room to move the torch, landing in an undignified heap, lying on my stomach at Shri Mataji’s Feet – anything to protect Our Holy Mother.

Linda Williams


I had arrived in Brompton Square not knowing anyone, feeling totally shy, inadequate, caught up, and wondering if I should be there anyway. There was a group of people I joined and two people in charge of choosing workers for their particular jobs. They chose their friends one by one and the group got smaller and smaller until I was the last one remaining, but then the two groups walked off and I was left totally alone. Until I felt a hand slip into mine.

‘Let Me show you My house,’ Shri Mataji said.

How can I describe it? I can’t put it in words without making it sound smaller than that feeling was. Mother held on to my hand tightly, showing me round every room of Brompton Square.

That’s when the blowtorch incident happened. Mother was still holding my hand when the flame actually caught Her sari. I saw it and I still can’t believe it happened. The flame flew all around the bottom of the sari and then back into the blowtorch. Mother just laughed ‘Oh, the flame wanted to do aarti to Me,’ She said, and carried on as if nothing had happened.

Alison Rovina

I am the fire

When we realised what had happened, we looked up in amazement to find Shri Mataji smiling down at us.

‘I am the fire, how could it hurt Me?’ Shri Mataji said, and She went on Her way to supervise putting in some pipes in the next room.

Auriol Purdie

In an instant She became the Goddess

There were so many extraordinary aspects to those times with Shri Mataji in the early days. In some moments She wrapped us all so expertly in Her maya and ‘play’ and it was indeed possible to become totally relaxed, swept up in the feeling, that to be in Her company was the most normal, natural experience and it was perfectly OK to chat, joke, even watch television with Her, or sip Cokes and eat samoosas. But there were other times when in an instant, She became the Goddess, and promoted the deepest feelings of complete humility, gratitude and an astounded sense that we were in the presence of an absolutely divine personality.

One time we were looking at some early photos with Mother. There was one, a very soulful looking portrait, taken of Her in the early 1970’s, a beautiful black and white image. I remarked on what a lovely photo it was, Mother standing, in a white sari.

‘This photo was taken after I opened the collective Sahasrara Chakra. I even look a bit sad,’ Shri Mataji said. Danya and I fell silent and waited for Her to say more. She had become very reflective. ‘I look very serious in this photo. At that time I even stopped eating and became a little thin.’ Then Mother continued, ‘From birth I knew I was the Goddess, and My job was to save and raise up this doomed humanity.’

My sister Danya and I began to realise we had gone from a casual conversation about photos, to sitting at the feet of Adi Maya. Shri Mataji then expressed Her feelings on gazing into the collective Sahasrara chakra of humanity. She said that before this had happened She always felt confident that when the time came She would be able to find a way to do the work of saving us all. She described to us both how it was only when She gazed inside the collective Sahasrara and saw the twisted and tangled nadis there that revealed all the problems of the human condition, that She realised how hard the job would be, and how complicated, and damaged the human race had become. It was these emotions – this realisation of the huge task that lay ahead – that She saw reflected on Her face in that early photo. There was nothing that either Danya or I could say after this.

All we could do was sit in silence, feeling such profound gratitude for Mother’s amazing compassion – Her ability to take on impossible burdens so that all of us could transcend and live better lives.

Caleb Williams

Shri Mataji’s legendary Mahamaya quality

In a recent conversation with my sister Danya, we were both marvelling over Mother’s extremely sweet and disarming capacity to put us both at ease when we sometimes attended Her house at Brompton Square. For a few years, due to whatever unknown boons from past lives, we were both lucky enough to be regular, and in some periods, almost daily visitors. We were there to do little jobs and generally help out in whatever way was necessary, in other words we leapt at any chance to visit in order to be close to Mother and bask in the beautiful vibrations.

Both of us were students back then, and fairly ‘poor’. The normal ritual was to catch the tube across London from Hampstead to Knightsbridge or to South Kensington early in the morning, often struggling mightily to preserve good attention in those crowded, bumpy, rumbling and frequently airless train carriages. Upon arrival we’d stop off to buy some hopefully fresh and fragrant flowers from florist a few minutes away from Mother’s house. Many times we were met at the front door by Mother Herself, beaming benevolently, and, seemingly incredibly surprised and touched we had thought to bring even a single rose.

‘What is this? Really! For Me?’ She would say, making us feel that She had been offered a magnificently unexpected and highly original gift. ‘No, I cannot accept it, you should not have … you are just a student. Flowers can be very expensive.’

‘Please Mother, You must have it, it is for You,’ came the timid reply.

‘Beautiful, just so beautiful, and so very fragrant,’ Mother would say, smiling and inhaling deeply and gathering the small bunch, or perhaps single flower to Her nose.

Hearts and faces melted in such moments. All worries about presenting mankind’s Holy Redeemer on earth with an extremely small and humble offering immediately vanished on hearing these extremely gracious words.

In the early period of Brompton Square, when the house was still a building site, and yet to take on the atmosphere of a holy palace in the heart of London, whoever was going to the local ‘deli’ at lunchtime would ask Mother if they could bring something back for Her. I remember doing this myself.

‘Ah, but what will you be having for lunch, Caleb?’ Shri Mataji said.

‘I will be having a can of Coke and a samoosa, Mother,’ I replied.

‘Then that is what I would like too!’ would be Her reply.

Afterwards we would all sit with Mother sipping from our Coke cans and enjoying a delicious spicy snack in Her company. And somehow Mother would make us all feel utterly at ease and fine about the fact that we had just presented Her lunch to Her, in a humble brown paper bag. This was all part of Her legendary Mahamaya quality, the supreme playfulness and illusion, that allowed us to approach Her with all of our flawed everyday humanity and function – in a relatively uninhibited and reasonably well-coordinated manner – in front of Her. I look back at those times now and marvel at Mother’s unlimited grace and compassion to us all.

Caleb Williams

52, Darwin Court, near Regents Park, London

Around late spring/summer 1981, Shri Mataji had a small operation at the London Clinic, at a time when Sir CP had to go overseas because of his work. Two of us were living in a flat near Regents Park, North London, and it was arranged that Shri Mataji would come there to convalesce after Her operation. We were so truly blessed by this great honour. We had not been there long, and did not even have armchairs or a sofa. We were trying to purchase some chairs when we were informed that Shri Mataji, who knew of our situation, would bring Her own. Just before She arrived, a three piece suite was delivered, belonging to Shri Mataji, which She had used while living in Oxted. This little suite is still in my house.

So Shri Mataji came to stay at 52, Darwin Court, Gloucester Avenue, London NW1. We were instructed by the leader that Shri Mataji should have a complete rest, and on no account should any Sahaja Yogis be allowed to visit Her. That may have been the plan, but it was not to be. Shri Mataji was coming directly from the hospital, and we imagined that She would wish to go to bed immediately. Shri Mataji arrived at the flat, and was followed in by a large group of Sahaja Yogis! She came into the living room, sat down and began to talk to people, discussing various matters, giving advice – just continuing as She did normally.

We asked Shri Mataji if She would like to rest, and She said She would rest later. During all the days of Shri Mataji’s stay, She worked constantly. She requested yogis to visit Her all day and every day. Somehow the number of visitors seemed to increase dramatically at meal times, and somehow the food cooked for a smaller number of people was transformed so that everyone was able to have a meal.

Shri Mataji was seeing, advising, working on people endlessly for the whole of Her so-called convalescence. She said that when She was given a general anaesthetic for the operation, She used this as an opportunity to work in the subconscious realm.

One night Shri Mataji asked someone to switch on the television to watch the news. As soon as it was turned on, the film The Omen came on. Shri Mataji said enthusiastically that we would watch this instead of the news. I remember sitting at Shri Mataji’s Feet, watching this menacing film. Shri Mataji made many comments as gruesome events in the film took place, and She explained that those events could not have really happened, since the negative forces had no control over certain happenings, such as causing a church steeple to fall during a violent storm, in that the negative forces cannot control the elements. It was a memorable, if unusual experience, to be sitting at the Holy Feet of our Mother, watching such a horrible film.

On one occasion, Shri Mataji observed that we had a lot of photos of Her on our rather elaborate altar. She told us that it was better to have just one photo of Her in the room, and to look after that photo.

Patricia Proenza

The deep people

Several moments of those times in the flat with Shri Mataji stand out to me. She must have moved in when I was away because I came home, opened the door and looked down the hall to see Shri Mataji sitting in the lounge room. I think I dropped my bags as I ran down the hall and dived at Her Feet.

‘Surprising,’ I recall Her saying, and I didn’t know whether that was because I had just come from work, or because I appeared so right-sided, ‘all your catches are on the left side.’

The other moments were watching TV with her, and Patricia and me in our sleeping bags on the floor in the bedroom with Her talking to us in the dark. She was talking about knowing the deep people.

‘I may never speak to them but I know them because we resonate together,’ She said.

It struck me as such a beautiful and telling thing to say and as She started naming people in the collective who were the ‘deep ones’, we hung out anxiously to hear our names. Feeling our fretfulness, at the end of Her list She said, ‘And of course, you two,’ much to our delight.

Kay McHugh

God is good!

This is a story concerning our dad, who often worked in repertory theatres up and down the country to earn a living. Occasionally a TV part would come his way in helping to pay the bills. Sometimes there was no money at all, and he would help out in my aunt’s restaurant. Then a cheque would arrive in the post as an old TV series he had appeared in had been sold to Japan or similar.

‘God is good!’ was always his stock response when this happened. That is the one phrase I remember him by from my childhood. Years later my mum, Caleb my brother and I were basking in Mother’s love.

‘What about your father? Why doesn’t he come?’ She would ask, in 1981. One day mum said something about him still drinking alcohol and not wanting to come till he could give this up.

‘That is My job! Doesn’t he know? It is My job to wash away all the sins of the seekers from all their lives!’ Shri Mataji answered really emphatically, almost angry, and then, laughing with Her characteristic humour, said, ‘I am the Maha Dhobi!’

However, nothing would convince him to attend the London meetings where She was giving realisation. In a rather indiscreet fashion my brother and I had taken to rolling lemons under his bed, and watering down any alcohol in the house with vibrated water. He later confessed he knew of our tamperings but turned a kindly blind eye.

One day Mother came again to the Friends Meeting House in Hampstead, a meeting we were now helping to run, and he said he was still not ready to meet Her. After Her talk and realisation Shri Mataji was individually working on numerous seekers seated on the floor in a semi-circle in front of Her, with Her ‘Ha! and ‘Hoo!’* taking out negativity with one hand, vibrating sugar with another – Her thousand arms in action. We were gathered around with our backs to the entrance so we didn’t see my dad slip in – of course, She spotted him immediately – with Her thousand eyes. Mother suddenly looked up, as if seeing a familiar face who had just come back from a trip.

‘Ah! How are you now?’ She said. My dad bowed down to Her Feet in answer, She then tenderly took his hand in Her own and said smilingly, ‘God is good!’

Danya Martoglio

The eternal mother

Only Shri Mataji knows the truth! No matter how many blessings, we all fall through the ‘net’ of maya. Years ago, in 1986 a Sahaja Yogi ‘snitched’ on me for doing something. Mother was both cross with that person, and at my darling mum, such a great seeker and I am ever grateful to her for bringing me to Shri Mataji.

‘Danya would never ..’ my mum piped up to Shri Mataji.

‘I know Danya much better than you!’ Shri Mataji replied, with much kindness to the mother who gave birth to me.

Danya Martoglio

*Ha and Hoo are bija mantras – Ha, for example is the sound of the rising Kundalini.


Brompton Square, 1981

As always, we would work on the house, in this case 48, Brompton Square, London, and Shri Mataji would work on us. I spent a great deal of time stripping white paint off wood panelled doors with a blow torch and then staining them with Peruvian Mahogany wood stainer – a rich brown colour not too far from the colour of Indian people’s skin – or the pigment of the indigenous peoples of the Cape in South Africa, places I lived for most of the next twenty years. All the shops selling it in Knightsbridge and Kensington knew me – including Harrods which was nearby, and we cleaned them out of Peruvian Mahogany wood stain.

I also did a fair bit of glazing as there were a lot of doors in the house which were made of small glass panels. Putty, used to attach the glass to the frame, was nice to work with and I shall never forget the smell of linseed oil when Mother showed me how to put it on – which She did perfectly.

Regular contractors couldn’t take the vibrations – they usually did crazy things or just ran off. The trick was to do exactly what Shri Mataji asked and not argue with Her, and definitely not say, ‘I don’t think I can do that’. She tried to get me to do some wallpapering one day – really expensive paper, and I refused, saying, ‘I don’t know how, I will just waste it’. Shri Mataji said my problem was I didn’t let Her work through me. The person who took over the job when I failed – I think it was Kay McHugh from Australia or maybe Danya Martoglio, just surrendered in their hearts and although they had also never wallpapered before, just said, ‘Mother, You are the doer,’ and the wallpaper went up fine.

Everything was a mess at Brompton Square, to begin with, one day Shri Mataji was walking round overseeing operations – paint stripping, carpentry, electricity et cetera. Someone had a tape recorder and was playing a sung version of Ya devi sarva bhuteshu. Shri Mataji said to turn it off and the person asked if there was something wrong with it. She said there was not, but it caused the vibrations to flow from Her so strongly, and it was too much in among all the building work.

Shri Mataji would appear not to understand something like a complicated point of electricity or plumbing. She would appear to be completely in the dark. Then when whoever it was gave up and said they couldn’t do it, She would very sweetly suggest this and that, and whatever it was, She would give the perfect answer.

A lot of people came from all over Europe and England to help at weekends – French, Italians and also some Portuguese. We would send out for chicken takeaways and other good things to eat from The Midnight Shop, owned by an Indian, just down the road.

Kay McHugh was on the Bombay-London route for Qantas and Mother often asked her to bring wooden sculptures and all sorts of amazing things with her on the flight whenever she came through. Kay put them in a cupboard in First Class – much to the surprise of the rest of the cabin crew.

Linda Williams

At Brompton Square

One day Shri Mataji asked me to plaster Her bathroom ceiling in Brompton Square, but She wanted me to leave the door open so She could sit down outside and watch me. I was really trying hard not to let any plaster or water splash on Her while I was doing the work. Some time after She offered me some tea and started to explain to me one of the protocols of tea drinking which was that we should not use the same spoon for stirring the tea as we use for putting the sugar in.

She gave out some presents and when it came to my turn She ran out so I was feeling a little bit disappointed but She said She would get a present for me later. After about a week my ego thought maybe I should ask what happened to the present which I did.

‘Don’t you feel it?’ Shri Mataji replied, meaning some powers had been switched on which I could feel, but I was not putting two and two together. I pulled my ears and said sorry. She smiled.

One evening in Brompton Square we were all sitting around Shri Mataji and She asked somebody to bring a bible and read the chapter from the book of Revelations, about the 144,000 that it says will be saved from the world’s population when the last judgement comes along. After the Sahaja Yogi had read it out to Her, She said She thought there would be more than that who would be saved.

Also in the house Shri Mataji asked me to call a Sahaja Yogi. I had to tell Her he had collapsed in bed and was sleeping because he had been working hard. She told me I should wake him up and give him basil leaf tea with honey, and tell him to come and see Her. The Indian version of basil is called tulsi and is regarded as a holy plant.

One day down in the basement in the house a suitcase was found and Shri Mataji asked us to open it up. Inside it was full of shoes and She told us to take a pair each, and said they should be worshiped. When I went to Jamaica in 1999 to give realisation I brought a pair with me and placed them on the Mother Earth there and did a small puja to them.

Once, early in the morning I had to take something to Shri Mataji`s room where I could hear a lot of birds outside the window. In those days sometimes She would read our minds and tell us what we were thinking which this time – She did do with me as I was wondering why they were so loud. She told me that in the morning the birds would come and sing to Her.

Derek Ferguson

Working on a cupboard

One of my first times in close proximity to Shri Mataji was when I was invited to go and do some carpentry in Her house in Brompton Square. I was asked to bring some wood to put a floor in a cupboard, so on my way I found something suitable in a skip. I don’t know if this was auspicious or not but this was my style at the time. I spent some time in the cupboard cutting and fitting the wood. I had just got to the last piece and decided to try it in the remaining hole and to my amazement it fitted perfectly without being cut. I was just pondering on the event when I became aware that someone was standing in the door of the cupboard. It was Shri Mataji, smiling.

‘How’s it going?’ She asked.

‘Very well, thank You,’ I stammered.

‘You’ve spent long enough in there,’ She said.

We were all invited into Her bedroom to watch a Hindi movie or two. Shri Mataji sat on a sofa in a very relaxed way and gave us a running translation of the movies. I was naturally amazed at how relaxed and informal it all was and spent the next few days with a kind of special glow at having been honoured to have been there.

Chris Marlow

I was enjoying watching you!

When I was a young girl I had the great fortune and blessing of sometimes accompanying Shri Mataji on some of her trips abroad. I also spent some time ‘helping’ at Brompton Square, Shri Mataji’s London residence during the 1980’s.

It was a time when those yogis and yoginis with decorating skills were invited to come and work on that elegant Georgian house under the watchful gaze of the Adi Shakti. As She watched teams of yogis scrape off layers of wallpaper going back to before Victorian times it felt that many other layers were being worked on inside us all.

As it was such a wonderful opportunity to be in the presence of our Divine Mother it didn’t take long for this young London schoolgirl to swiftly acquire some nifty wallpapering abilities. My first wallpapering task was to wallpaper the inside of Shri Mataji’s sari cupboard in Her bedroom with a beautiful silvery paper with gorgeous white blooms.

Before I began I needed to take out the saris and if I close my eyes I can still see the myriad shades of gorgeous colours and soft subtle silks in hues so vibrated and sparkling with chaitanya that it seemed as if all the colours of the universe were pouring out of the cupboard. And the fragrance – I wish I could conjure that pure fragrance like nothing else on earth and yet very much of the Mother Earth – a divine fragrance that brings tears to the eyes due to its sacredness. No other fragrance in the world compares to the fragrance emitting from Shri Mataji, and Her saris carry a lasting resonance of Her unique perfume.

Thereafter I seemed to find myself at Shri Mataji’s house ‘helping’ every school holidays (and sometimes rather cheekily when I should have been at school). In those days I foolishly imagined that Shri Mataji didn’t really ‘know’ me or hadn’t really ‘noticed’ me in the house amongst the more established yogi workforce. Did She even know my name, I wondered one particular day?

That very day I was given a guest bathroom to wallpaper on the fifth floor of the house. There I was, up a ladder on the top floor of the house wallpapering a bathroom ceiling, very concentrated on what I was doing, when suddenly I started to feel overwhelmed with a warm feeling of love and joy flowing through my body.

As I was balancing on a ladder and focussing entirely on getting the paper aligned I hadn’t actually noticed that Shri Mataji had unexpectedly (and very softly and silently) climbed up the five storeys and was in fact standing in the doorway watching me. When I turned I saw the Goddess looking at me with such an expression of such love and compassion I was overcome.

‘Hello Danya,’ She said simply, with a radiant smile, ‘I was just enjoying watching you. I came to tell you that lunch is ready.’

It was only later when replaying the scene of Her overwhelming kindness did I realise that of course Shri Mataji knew my name, and more importantly, She knew me through and through.

Danya Martoglio

A little London sightseeing

When Shri Mataji first bought the Brompton Square house, which was of a late Georgian date, She asked me if I would take Her to my old college, the Courtauld Institute, then at 20, Portman Square. This house is one of the finest examples of Adam interior design in London, and Mother asked me, as an ex-student, if I could make an appointment and show me round. This was done and we went round the rooms with their beautiful décor.

After this Shri Mataji asked me to take Her to an art gallery, so we went to the Wallace Collection, a small gallery nearby. Despite all my knowledge of Western Art History, I couldn’t think of much to say. But I felt She was saying that this knowledge and love of art was a good thing.

After that I asked Shri Mataji if I could show Her Queen Mary’s Rose Garden in Regents Park. She agreed and we walked around the beautiful roses, all different colours and fragrances – it was a damp day, and after looking at the flowers, which were at their best at that time of year, we went to the cafe in the garden and had a cool drink and cake. I was concerned because the chairs were a bit wet for Shri Mataji to sit on, although She did not seem to mind. Because of the chancy weather, there were not many people and it was very serene and peaceful.

Linda Williams

A well-known phenomenon

I was with a friend who wasn’t a Sahaja Yogi, but he was interested. We’d been out for a pizza in Camden Town in North London and were walking through the back streets, talking about Sahaja Yoga when we suddenly got struck by an incredible smell of roses, very powerful.

‘Wow, that is fantastic,’ we said, and looked around to see where it was coming from. We looked in the bushes, in the grass and everything around. It wasn’t coming from anywhere and suddenly we looked up and realised we were standing right outside Darwin Court, Regent’s Park, and at that time Shri Mataji had moved into Darwin Court for a short period of time and She was most probably up there right at that moment.

I told my friend that it was a well-known phenomenon that Shri Mataji’s presence was pervaded with the smell of roses. It was a very intense smell and it certainly wasn’t coming from anywhere localized.

Chris Marlow

Such grace and subtlety

June 1981 — we were sailing across the Channel towards the French coast, eleven yogis from London travelling to France to the seminar the Parisians had organized. Shri Mataji would be there, too. I spent part of the night chatting with two or three yogis, while the rest of them kept silently together.

‘I’ve been around for seven months now and I don’t even know how to balance my right and left channels of energy. These people stick together and don’t know how to help others,’ I was grumbling to myself.

The following morning, we reached the place of the seminar in a beautiful village outside Paris. About thirty people were there: French, Swiss and English. For each meal, the tables were shaped together as a U and Shri Mataji would take a place at the central table, according to the traditional rules of feasts. Everybody would then sit around Her and all around the tables and I remembered, with emotion in my heart, Christ eating with His disciples. Shri Mataji was so majestic and bringing such justice to Christ.

As usual, I was keeping away from Her. Her sweetness and Her force both combined, intimidated me and, above all, it was not easy to accept that somebody else might have known my hidden being much better than myself, as I was slowly discovering, She could do very well.

In fact, Shri Mataji proved it once more the day after, on Sunday morning. We were all seated around Her in a small room and She was looking around, smiling to the group before starting to speak. Her vivid black eyes were pouring a rain of life, love and well-being. Without doing or saying anything, that invisible rain was already flooding our whole being, binding all of us with a sweet warmth. We remained a few minutes in that exquisite silence, then Shri Mataji asked a straightforward question.

‘Well,’ She said, ‘let’s start with practical things today. Suppose you want to balance your right and left channel, how will you do it?’

In a fraction of a second, Her powerful, dark and shining eyes embraced the whole group, looking for an answer, and stopped on me — two huge penetrating eyes questioning me. Shri Mataji lifted Her eyebrows and with a prompt movement of the head asked me, ‘Mmh?’

I was seated at the back of the room. My heart jumped into my breast and I blushed violently. Shri Mataji scrutinized me for a few seconds, but what a shower on me! Then She looked away and nobody had been aware of Her play, as everything had been shaken around me at such a speed. When She gave the answer, which was less important to me now than the fact She had heard me a couple of nights before, I was stunned indeed. If She had caught my demand on the boat, that meant She had equally caught my accusations, of which I was not proud now. To be able to satisfy and correct at the same time, to be able to correct without bringing out shame or humiliation in front of others — that, I had never seen. I was full of admiration, facing such grace and subtlety.

Guillemette Metouri

The right colour

In 1981, for Mother’s visit to France, we went shopping for material to decorate Her room. By ‘chance’, the only one in sufficient quantity that fitted our budget was an ‘unconventional’ deep pink cotton. The yoginis that were with Mother when She first entered the room said that She commented on the beautiful colour.

Natalie Amram