Sahaja Yoga starting growing a lot
From 1975 to 1980 we had seminars in Bordi and Lonavala and Sahaja Yoga starting growing a lot in India at that time. Then Shri Mataji went to Pune and other parts. She had a touring programme, visiting many districts in Maharashtra and in the later seventies foreigners would come. The tour was at least a month long and it was very hectic for Mother, She used to work so hard.
Shri Mataji would give discourses on different tattwas, for example prithivi tattwa, the earth principle, that comes from the Mooladhara — then the Shiva tattwa, the Shiva principle, then the Vishuddhi principle. In one lecture She would elaborate on one particular topic in Marathi, Hindi and English. In the country districts, it was all in Marathi, but then She would give the gist in English, depending upon the crowd. If it was a Hindi crowd, She would speak in Hindi, but basically it would be in Marathi and the gist in Hindi and English.
Shri Mataji spoke with absolute authority
I first met Shri Mataji in London in the late summer of 1975. I had been living in London for some years, and my search for spiritual truth had been growing increasingly desperate, when I heard one day that a ‘yogi lady’ had appeared from India. The flat where Shri Mataji was meeting seekers at the time was in a block in Judd Street near Kings Cross Station, and this was the last meeting there. It belonged to an Indian Hatha Yoga teacher whose classes I had attended some months previously. I had seen Shri Mataji’s photograph before I met Mother. One damp Sunday afternoon, it was raining, and I came with my sister Maureen.
I walked through the door into the room where Shri Mataji was and my life was never the same again. My first impression of Shri Mataji surprised me in many ways. I had been somehow expecting a kind of silent gathering with people tip-toeing about and speaking in hushed tones. Instead, the first thing I saw was Shri Mataji correcting someone in a very forceful manner. Not only did this shatter my expectations, but it created a quite unexpected reaction within me, ‘This is what it must have been like to come across Christ preaching in the market place,’ I thought, while at the same time having the strangest feeling that I had somehow wandered inside the pages of the Bible. I felt both startled and uncomfortable by this as I came from a hippy background, and was wary of anything that seemed ‘religious’.
At the same time I felt that the room was full of light, as if I had stumbled out of a jungle path on to a great, royal highway. I felt something long forgotten was rising within me, a sense of goodness, of self worth, a feeling of purity. Shri Mataji Herself was extraordinary. I just could not believe that anyone like Her could exist in this world. I felt transported to a different dimension where anything was possible.
‘This one is sick,’ were Shri Mataji’s first words to me. Then She said, ‘Don’t worry, you will be all right,’ and I felt tremendous relief. I knew instantly that She spoke with absolute authority.
Shri Mataji asked for a bottle of water. She held the bottle for a moment, then gave it to me. I treated the bottle very reverently, and sure enough, when I later drank some of it at home, it had quite an extraordinary effect on me.
I had no idea what I had but knew I had it
It was the 16th September 1975 that we first met Shri Mataji in that Judd Street flat and, similar to my brother, Pat Anslow, it was a most momentous feeling.
‘This lady is a yoga teacher, but She doesn’t teach Hatha Yoga,’ I had been told and I remember thinking that if I was not with people who felt all right about all this, I would have run away. That is how strongly I could feel the force I was walking towards.
We went into the flat and were asked to take off our shoes, which was strange for me, and told to sit down. I saw Shri Mataji working on an Indian gentleman and sorting him out and I thought, ‘She is a Goddess.’ That was my first thought and then I thought, ‘What on earth do I mean by that? I don’t even know what a Goddess is.’ Then She went on seeing to everybody and when my turn came, She told me to put my hands out and asked me what I felt. My attention was drawn to my hands.
‘Oh, I feel something,’ I said.
‘May God bless you. You’ve got it,’ Shri Mataji said.
‘I’ve got it,’ I thought. I had no idea what I had, but I knew I had it. She then went on to everybody else. It was just great!
The gesture was so full of motherly concern
After this I met Shri Mataji at similar gatherings of seekers in a house in Euston. Shri Mataji would come every week, usually on a Sunday, and accompanied by a servant, although occasionally by Herself. It is difficult to imagine now the situations that Shri Mataji subjected Herself to in order to find and rescue the seekers. On one occasion in North Gower Street the room was full of hippies arguing with Shri Mataji that drugs were a good thing. At this point Shri Mataji put Her arms around Herself as if to say, ‘These children are lost. What can I do for them?’ The gesture was so full of motherly concern that it touched my heart.
‘I will give up drugs,’ I said, whereupon the argument subsided.
My first memory of Gregoire de Kalbermatten was when he came to one of the meetings at Gower Street and Shri Mataji was saying it was bad to use drugs.
‘No, it is absolutely not true,’ they were saying.
‘You must stop taking drugs,’ She said.
Gregoire was on his knees.
‘Mother, You must forgive them. They know not what they do,’ he said. It was very dramatic, but very true. He understood what was going on.
It might seem strange that Sahaja Yoga in the West should have its beginnings in such rough, low level surroundings, and yet at the same time Shri Mataji was trying to talk to people in the highest levels of society in England, in which She and Her husband moved, but found no one with any real interest in seeking.
Foot soaking was the first cleansing technique that I learnt from Shri Mataji and She asked us to do this right from the beginning. She simply told us to ‘sit in the water’; to put warm water and salt into a suitable plastic bowl, sit with our feet in the water and place both hands out towards Her photograph, palms upward, preferably with a lighted candle in front of the photo. It was a general treatment, there were no cold foot soaks for the right side, or anything like that. Shri Mataji’s simple description of ‘sitting in the water’ actually led to an amusing incident where we discovered one yogi had been doing exactly that, lowering his bottom into a bowl of water!
Shri Mataji laughed when She discovered this and said it had been good for his Mooladhara chakra.
My first experience of shoe-beating took place at Gavin Brown’s house in North Gower Street in Euston, central London, in the mid 1970’s. I quote from my book:
‘Shri Mataji demonstrates a technique She calls ‘shoe-beating’, explaining that it can help to separate our attention from people we feel are affecting us in a negative way. She takes one of Her shoes, traces a name on the carpet with Her finger and then strikes the spot repeatedly with the sole of the shoe. Just as I am wondering if such symbolic acting-out is really necessary, the floor becomes suddenly transparent, and I find myself staring at a beautiful image of the planet Earth, which shines brilliantly against the vast blackness of space beneath Shri Mataji’s shoe.’
I am back home
I remember entering Shri Mataji’s house in Oxted in 1975. I was in jeans and was wearing an old US Army jacket full of holes. I kissed Her hand and gave Her flowers. Interestingly, I remember bowing and looking at the ground, so spontaneously. She commanded immediate respect. But my heart felt such a relief almost immediately.
It is hard to say when exactly I started recognizing Mother, but clearly the heart was faster than the brain. It was greatly helped, no doubt, by the contagious feeling of lightness and joy, an enveloping feeling of affection and well-being that made you feel, ‘I am back home! Home, sweet home!
Gregoire de Kalbermatten
The shoes of Shri Adi Shakti
I saw from the very first days the colossal meaning of what Shri Mataji was doing. I recognized She brings the total, the grand revolution, the most radical factor of global change for mankind. The French and Russian revolutions were nothing compared to this.
On the other hand, I was looking around me. ‘How on earth and in the heavens are we going to get there?’ This was the problem and the tension within me. It was like being at the bottom of a huge rock and not knowing how to climb it.
One day in August 1975, in the house of Shri Mataji in Hurst Green, there were about seven Sahaja Yogis around the table. Needless to say, in those days we were all new and there was nobody else. Shri Mataji started putting Her shoes on the table, very nice and elegant ones, no doubt. But, of course, we did not know then that Mother was doing it because the vibrations from Her shoes are so powerful.
I was looking at a group of stunned people, sitting around a table looking at a pair of shoes on the table and thinking, ‘Is it with these people we are going to change the world?’
My mistake was to focus on the people, not the shoes. I did not know what shoes can do if these are the shoes of Shri Adi Shakti. And if the world, indeed, will be transformed, let us handle these shoes with the feelings that Bharat had in handling the shoes of his brother, Shri Rama.
Much later, Shri Mataji named me leader of the USA for a brief period.
‘You are quite qualified for this because you know hell best,’ She told me.
It is true that before Sahaja I had experimented with many forms of adharma, but had also discovered their limitations. So, for me, it was not at all a problem to change my lifestyle after meeting Mother. The way She presented it made full sense, while the moral teachers of my past could not explain why I should not do something I fancied doing. I had done it all and I knew it was dust. On one hand, I finally understood from Mother why virtue was good for me. But, all the same, I did not know how to purify my attention right away, and only meditation helped destroy the addictions.
Gregoire de Kalbermatten
In a cocoon of motherly love
Shri Mataji would invite the small group of seekers who were coming regularly to meetings to Her house in Hurst Green, Oxted, south of London, and She would work on us individually and collectively for hours.
I remember these early sessions with Shri Mataji as beautiful moments of sanctuary in a cocoon of motherly love, and revelling in the flood of knowledge that was poured upon us. All of the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle came so effortlessly together and the stunning revelation of Sahaja Yoga quickly took shape. Shri Mataji used to cook for us. The servants cooked, but sometimes She would cook especially for us and the meals used to be the most memorable. We were really spoiled.
Shri Mataji would work on us. It was so intensive. You’d bow down with your hands under Shri Mataji’s Feet and the other Sahaja Yogis would be gathered around and it would sometimes go on for what seemed like hours — just to clear one person out. They would be down for that length of time with their head on Mother’s Feet.
All the time Shri Mataji worked on us, joked with us, discussed spirituality with us, tried to find out what our problems were and taught us techniques for working on the chakras. Always She would talk to us, answer our questions, find out every detail about our problems. Sometimes Shri Mataji would have us all in stitches of laughter. Sometimes She would be very serious. Some moments were unimaginably humbling and profound.
Again, looking back, it is hard to imagine how Mother coped with us when we were so ignorant and unaware of any kind of protocol. I soon became aware of how much I had damaged my subtle system, however, as Shri Mataji struggled over and over again to clear my chakras.
I remember once Shri Mataji gave me a head massage with oil, on another occasion She made me lie face down in front of Her, took Her shoe and tapped it up my spine!* It worked really well!
Also we would do odd jobs around the house. Once we were sandpapering something ready to paint and Mother came over and joined in. She got a bit of sandpaper and sandpapered with us.
* Editor’s note: Shri Mataji’s shoes are pouring with vibrations. Sahaja Yogis should not do this with just any pair of shoes.
That’s better now!
Shri Mataji worked on us and talked to us and there was an incredible smell of Indian cooking for about three hours. The servants started cooking early and then I began to get ill, but I felt brilliant. Everybody went down to the big drawing room and fell asleep on the floor for some time. Then we had another session with Shri Mataji working on us and I was so ill, but it was like being totally divorced from the actual bodily feeling. I felt fantastic.
‘Maureen, you can come and sleep in My room,’ Shri Mataji said.
When it came to bedtime, Shri Mataji went up the stairs that curved round the middle of the house. Half way up the stairs She turned, saw me and called me up out from the crowd. She worked on me, and She slept and then She’d stop sleeping.
‘That’s better now!’ She would say. ‘How do you feel now?’ Then She would carry on putting Her hand on my back and then She would sleep for a bit longer and then stop. It went on all night.
In the morning I was allowed to have bananas and cardamom seeds. That was the absolutely minute attention Shri Mataji would give us; it’s just incredible to think of Her doing that for us.
A lot of clearing out went on
We were all sitting in a line. Somebody had a hand on Shri Mataji and we all had one hand on each other. The end person had their hand out of the window and we were sitting there and it went on hour after hour. Eventually, we all fell asleep. I woke up early in the morning and we were all lying, still holding on to each other. I looked up and Shri Mataji was sitting watching me.
‘Ready? Okay, let’s carry on,’ She said.
I remember a lot of it being quite hard work. It was really difficult at times, quite painful, but it was always magical. A lot of clearing out went on.
It was great being a kid
I got my realisation in the UK when I was seven years old, in 1975. My father sometimes used to bring me to London for the weekend. He first met Shri Mataji about that time, and said I was going to meet this very special Indian lady. I had never met an Indian lady, but Shri Mataji was very different from what I imagined because an Indian lady, to me, would have been a distant person in a sari. She was a quite remarkable lady who was very friendly, so instead of not knowing what to do because She was a strange adult, it was rather fun.
Mother came alive with children and said something like, ‘Really?’ She got their attention and made them feel comfortable and created this instantaneous connection. She asked me questions and Her eyes lit up and there was a huge smile and for some mysterious reason, I can’t remember why, one time I decided I had to be an elephant. It was in the flat in Gower Street where there were some wickerwork drink containers to put your drinks inside. I turned them upside down and stuck them on my feet and roared around the room pretending to be an elephant.
When I did this, Mother just pitched Her head back and laughed and laughed. My father was horrified, sort of, ‘Oh no, what’s he doing?’ but Shri Mataji really brought the situation alive and there was no anxiety or anything like that.
It was great being a kid. With Shri Mataji, you didn’t have to think, ‘Do I have to be this or that?’ You just were.
Shri Mataji was telling bedtime stories
I don’t know how many times this happened, but sometimes Shri Mataji would have the Sahaja Yogis — there were about five or six of them — sleep in Her bedroom at night. They would all be laid out on the floor, and She would be up on a couch. One evening I couldn’t sleep, as I had never had an experience like this before.
‘Come up here on the couch,’ She said.
Shri Mataji noticed I was restless, so I got up and She started to tell me stories. I don’t remember all the stories She told me, but one was about Shri Hanuman going to get the flower and He brought the mountain back. She told me another one about the Prophet Mohammed, but I don’t really remember it too well. She was telling bedtime stories to make me go to sleep. It is a fragmentary memory, but it has always stuck with me.
Shri Mataji was very patient
I remember in the mid-seventies in the UK Shri Mataji being quite stern with the early Sahaja Yogis at times. She could be incredibly humorous and very warm, but quite stern when She needed to be. She was very much a mother figure in every way in those days. Like, one man went off to try the vibrations of the graveyard. He came back and Mother had to work on him for hours on end.
‘What did you do this for?’ She said, and he couldn’t explain it.
An early Sahaja Yogini went off somewhere and bought a necklace.
‘You’ve got to try the vibrations of things,’ Shri Mataji said, and, ‘This thing, there’s something not quite right.’
She had the Sahaja Yogini get a bucket of water and put the necklace in the water and the water turned black, a black cloud came out of it. Shri Mataji was very patient.
How am I going to visit you?
We went to Shri Mataji’s house in Oxted, but I can only remember patchy things because I was quite young. I used to love drawing maps, and drew this map which had some islands, an island for me and an island for Shri Mataji.
‘That’s no good because how am I going to visit you?’ She asked.
‘Well, I can’t take the ordinary train. What about an underground train?’ I said.
‘OK, that’s fine,’ Mother suggested.
So, with Her direction, we drew in this little sort of underground train track. That solved the problem.
Shri Mataji tried things out
Shri Mataji used to give me little presents sometimes. In Gower Street, my father says the older Sahaja Yogis at the time were a collection of ex-hippies and I was younger and clearer. They had had a bit of a wild time and it had left its imprint on their chakras.
Shri Mataji sometimes used to use me to try things out or clear things out. There was a sense that Sahaja Yoga at this time was experimental. She tried things out with people. She would get them to do things and see if it worked or not.
We felt what Shri Mataji felt
We were painting various bits of the house in Hurst Green in Sussex. One evening Shri Mataji went out with Sir, then Mr CP Srivastava to go to a reception. He was at that time the Director-General of IMCO, the International Maritime Consultative Organization. We were cleaning a wall and painting it. About half way through the evening, we suddenly got headaches and it felt really strange, but we carried on working. So it passed. Shri Mataji came home and asked us how we were.
‘I got this headache halfway through. I didn’t know what was happening,’ I said.
‘What happened was that we were at this reception and somebody, by mistake, gave me a glass of wine and I drank it,’ She said. We felt the effects of the wine that Shri Mataji drank. At that time, we actually felt what Shri Mataji felt. That was quite an amazing experience.
The first havan we had with Shri Mataji was on the terrace at Ice House Wood, Hurst Green, at the end of 1975.
A magical year
Shri Mataji went back to India towards the end of 1975, but a small group of us met together during this time and waited for Shri Mataji to come back, which She did in the spring. After this our meetings with Shri Mataji continued throughout the rest of 1976, either at the house in Euston or at Shri Mataji’s house in Hurst Green.
It was a magical year. Shri Mataji had told us that we were all to go with Her when She went back to India this time. The time spent with Her blurred into numerous meetings, laughing, learning and increasingly, hard work.
Profound spiritual truths
I remember us all having cucumber sandwiches and tea with Shri Mataji in a hotel by Victoria Station, also travelling on the Underground together. Shri Mataji was continuing to explain profound spiritual truths to us as we all stood around Her, swaying with the movements of the train.
Part and parcel of Her Divine Being
Once I went to Norwich, a small town in England. I liked silver at that time and admired a beautiful silver cup in a shop window. When I got back to London and was with Shri Mataji She turned to me in a matter of fact kind of way.
‘Nice silver cup, wasn’t it, Kuli?’ She said. I was a little embarrassed to seem so materialistic.
Another time, I used to go to a secluded part of a river near me. In the side of the river bank I had excavated an alcove for Mother’s photo, and made a kind of seat to represent Mother’s chair. I used to stand in the stream and take vibrations. Again, when I was with Shri Mataji and a few others, She turned to me.
‘One day we must visit that river. He’s made a chair for Me,’ She said.
Shri Mataji saw what we saw, felt what we felt and we basically were and are a part and parcel of Her Divine Being.
Shri Mataji went away for the winter
Shri Mataji went to India for about six months at the end of 1975 and we used to meet together, a handful of us, to try to meditate, but we were not very good at all.
‘You can come to India next year when I go. You can come with Me and meet all the Sahaja Yogis there,’ She said, before She went away for the winter, but when She came back we were in such a state.
‘Forget it. You’re not up to it,’ Shri Mataji said about going to India with Her, and then She again started meeting us each week, generally on a Saturday or Sunday, and She again had us to Her house.