What are those golden builders doing? Where was the burying place
Of soft Ethinthus? Near Tyburn’s fatal Tree? Is that
Mild Zion’s hill’s most ancient promontory, near mournful
Ever weeping Paddington? Is that Calvary and Golgotha
Becoming a building of pity and compassion? Lo!
The stones are pity, and the bricks, well wrought affections
Enamelled with love and kindness, the tiles engraven gold,
Labour of merciful hands: the beams and rafters are forgiveness:
The mortar and cement of the work, tears of honesty: the nails
And the screws & iron braces are well wrought blandishments
And well contrived words, firm fixing, never forgotten,
Always comforting the remembrance: the floors, humility:
The cielings, devotion: the hearths, thanksgiving,
Prepare the furniture, O Lambeth, in thy pitying looms,
The curtains, woven tears & sighs wrought into lovely forms
For comfort: there the secret furniture of Jerusalem’s chamber
Is wrought: Lambeth! The bride, the Lamb’s Wife, loveth thee,
Thou art one with her and knowest not of self in thy supreme joy.
Go on, builders, in hope, tho’ Jerusalem wanders far away
Without the gates of Los, among the dark Satanic wheels.
Editor’s note: This is a passage from the prophetic work Jerusalem, by William Blake, written about two hundred years ago, that concerns Shri Mataji’s house at Brompton Square. A lot of the stories about that time, in the early 1980’s, when many of us were invited to our Holy Mother’s home, can be related to these lines.
The house was totally vibrating
The house at Brompton Square was a great blessing for me and many Sahaja Yogis. That place was a dimension of its own. Once Shri Mataji said to me that every inch of that house was vibrating, every inch of that house where She had been. She had been everywhere in that house. I’ve been in many of Shri Mataji’s houses, but Brompton Square was quite special and as it was quite intimate with Shri Mataji. It was more intimate in those days. I can remember various experiences — not in proper order because time went out of the window there.
One of the early instances was before I could decorate and it was all through Her blessings that it happened, that we learnt to decorate.
Getting involved with everything
Shri Mataji would get involved with everything. One time a yogi was working with a jack hammer and as I passed by She was watching, I passed by later and She was there discussing the jack hammer with the yogi. The third or fourth time I passed by Shri Mataji was working it. Having seen Shri Mataji involved with so much so often it did not really register what I had witnessed until much later.
Editor’s note: a trade description of a jackhammer is ‘A powerful pneumatic tool that is used to chisel or hammer away at surfaces. Because of their vibrating motion, jackhammers require special safety considerations.’
Shri Mataji is the Goddess and everything is possible
Shri Mataji had some external builders coming into the house. There was a small room which was to be a bathroom and the next room behind that was Her bedroom. Shri Mataji wanted this room turned into a bathroom and She wanted a bath in a very specific place. The external builders were determined that there was no way that this bath was going to fit in there and it was impossible to do the plumbing and so on.
‘This will work and I want it done like this,’ Shri Mataji said.
Eventually, the builders were no longer around and the bath was put in by the Sahaja Yogis and it fitted and worked out exactly as Shri Mataji had desired. This happened again and again. Whenever Shri Mataji had anything to do with the building, She did things which traditional builders will say are impossible, but Mother is the Goddess and they were obviously possible.
Shri Mataji just turned his Agnya
At Brompton Square, someone was putting the staircase in and it just wouldn’t fit. It had been cut out and it was a great long staircase and it just wouldn’t fit.
‘Mother, we just can’t get this to fit,’ he said. She just turned his Agnya about a quarter and then he put it in and it fitted.
‘Prepare the furniture, O Lambeth, in thy pitying looms’
Some of us who lived in one or other of the Lambeth ashrams were making curtains for Shri Mataji’s bedroom. I asked if I could bring my sewing machine to the house and sew them on the spot.
‘No, you must do them at Lambeth. It is in the poem,’ Mother said. She meant the part about Brompton Square by William Blake, where there is a bit about preparing the furniture in Lambeth, at the Nightingale Lane and Chelsham Road ashrams.
‘Prepare the furniture O Lambeth ….The curtains… wrought into lovely forms…. For comfort.’
The way you should do things
We were working at Brompton Square, doing some wallpaper downstairs. Shri Mataji didn’t come out from Her room because when She came out from Her room everybody just stopped working. We would stand up and put our hands out to Her. I was new in Sahaja Yoga and I didn’t know anything. So I was doing the wallpapering, working really fast and I saw Shri Mataji coming, but I just looked at Her and carried on.
‘See, this is the way you should do things,’ She said. At that moment, I stopped because I thought She was correcting me, but, in fact, She was saying how we should do the work.
Brompton Square stories
One day in Brompton Square a Sahaja Yogi came up to Shri Mataji with a bag of lemons and chillies and ask Her to vibrate them because he was getting lots of bad dreams. She told him that you don’t have to dream but if you dream of Her it is ok.
A leader asked how should we view Her and She told him it should be with awe.
While we were working on the house I noticed that my body was starting to swell up with too many vibrations. Shri Mataji called me soon after and told me that we needed to go to a meeting to get rid of the vibrations because were taking them from Her but not exchanging them with other people. However, because we were working till ten at night sometimes, that was not an easy solution. It came to my mind that in the morning before leaving for work from the hotel at Brahman Gardens we could just check each other’s vibrations, which we did and that solved the problem Shri Mataji never brought the subject up again while were there.
One day in the living room of Bramham Gardens She told us that She wanted us to try something new, which was to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning to do morning meditation. There was a sharp intake of breath. Shri Mataji told us that at that time She give out vibrations to all those rishis, saints and real gurus all over the world that were meditating, so if we did the same it would help Her, so we started a new era. In the beginning it was hard but we got used to it.
Once, at the bottom of the stairs by the entrance I was looking at Shri Mataji as She was going to go up the staircase. I then turned around to look at something and when I turned back She was already at the top of the stairs, which was impossible to achieve in those few seconds. She read my mind and told me that Shri Hanuman carried Her.
In Bramham Gardens, while waiting for Her house at Brompton Square to be ready Shri Mataji told us that not everyone could be there with us then, and that we had to share what we got with others, meaning we had to tell other people what She told us when we were with Her.
You should have told Me
Shri Mataji wanted to make a small shrine to Shri Ganesha at Brompton Square, just inside the front door on the left. However, to do this involved hinging the door on the other side, which meant that the door would bang into a large radiator on the right. We rehung the door and patched in the old hinge pockets with car body filler. Shri Mataji came down the stairs and asked if anyone else could smell gas. We said no, but She went round all the gas fires, trying to find the leak. Eventually, someone said that maybe it was the filler I was using, which Shri Mataji declared it was. I took the hint and never used it in Her houses again.
Now we came to the problem of the radiator. I had noticed that there was a large piece of wall outside Shri Mataji’s bedroom with a small radiator on it and I wondered about swapping that with the one by the front door, but I knew not to make suggestions to Shri Mataji. So when Pat Anslow and I were there with Her looking at the problem, I didn’t say anything. Finally, She turned to me with a very knowing twinkle in Her eye.
‘Maybe we could change it with the small radiator outside My bedroom. What do you think?’ She said. I stammered that it sounded like a very good idea. Pat and I drained down the big radiator by the front door and carried it towards the bedroom, which involved going down two or three steps. There was still some sludgy water in the bottom of the radiator and, as we tipped it, going down the steps, the black sludge splurged onto the nice pink carpet. We groaned and started trying to clean it up with that terrible sinking feeling of having done something really stupid. A few minutes later, Shri Mataji came out of Her bedroom and saw us.
‘You should have told Me,’ She said and went into the bedroom to fetch a large canister of talcum powder and an old sari and showed us how to clean off the dirt from the carpet by putting talcum powder on the sludge, then covering it with a sari. She told us to leave it till the next day when it would hoover up. When we vacuumed it the next morning, the stain had disappeared without a trace. We were very relieved and grateful to Her.
The yogis were eager to give Shri Mataji what She liked
Shri Mataji once mentioned that She liked sausages. Just down the road there was a takeaway shop that was open very late, called the Midnight Shop, which sold cooked sausages, so Shri Mataji had an endless supply of sausages, from yogis all eager to please Her giving Her something She liked.
Editor’s note: we also ate a lot of take away roasted chicken and chips from the same shop, and it was an honour to buy Shri Mataji’s portion. We took it in turns, and sometimes Shri Mataji insisted on doing the honours.
Shri Mataji would come to the house every day, with Her camel coloured coat and headscarf and in between going all over the house, She would sit on a chair in one room. I can remember the absolute delight of being able to nip off to The Midnight Shop to buy Her some sausages, which She seemed to enjoy, but I think it was mainly to make whoever got the chance to buy them for Her happy.
Those beautiful white saris
All those beautiful white saris that Shri Mataji used to wear, those beautiful white saris with the red borders that She used to wear at programmes, She gave a whole heap to me.
‘Cut these up and we will make curtains out of them,’ She said. I got the scissors and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t physically cut these saris. I thought, ‘What am I going to do? I can’t disobey Mother, but I just can’t cut these saris up.’
‘I’m sorry, I just can’t cut them up,’ I said.
‘Doesn’t matter, we’ll use something else,’ She said, as if to say it is no big deal at all.
Editor’s note: One time Shri Mataji explained that She wore these colours at the public programmes because white represented Shri Adi Guru, and red Shri Maha Kali, for destroying negativity.
They were really great days
In the early days, Shri Mataji had a special sari that She would wear just for working on the house. She would get involved with everything — the filling of holes in the walls and everything. All kinds of people would go there and sometimes the filling of holes wasn’t good.
‘Who did this?’ She would say, then She would show people how to do things. There was a spot on the wall outside the front of the house that Shri Mataji filled and it was incredible watching Her doing it. That part was as smooth as glass and nobody could get it that smooth. Shri Mataji would be there, staining the furniture – everything. She would be wearing the same shoes and sari and a headscarf and we would have a chair there for Her and a table. Sometimes Shri Mataji would sit there, with all this work going on and all kinds of people doing the work. They were really great days.
‘The ceilings, devotion’
One day Shri Mataji decided to change the colour of Her bedroom ceiling. Shri Mataji wanted me to paint the ceiling not only with all of Her furniture in it, not only all of Her beautiful ornaments but with Shri Mataji in the room also. So I went into Her room with a ladder, paint, paint brush and a plastic sheet. I looked up at the ceiling and began to think where I should start, as the idea of painting the ceiling with everything in the room and Shri Mataji was to say the least out of the ordinary. I tried to work out where to put the plastic sheet in case paint dripped down. I was quite worried about getting the paint on the furniture or on Shri Mataji Herself and in my brain I was projecting/working out where the paint could fall, and my brain went out of control.
‘Oh my god what am I thinking?’ I thought. Then Shri Mataji looked at me and asked what I was doing to which I replied that I was trying to work out where to start.
‘You can start there, you can start over there or you can start there, just start!’ Shri Mataji said
So I just started, I painted all of the ceiling and of course I did not get paint on anything. An unforgettable experience, but with many experiences like this one knows that it happened but part of one’s brain asks, ‘Did that really happen?’
‘Go on, builders, in hope’
Many nights we would spend up all night, working around the clock. We wouldn’t get tired. The vibrations were so great and we were all in heaven with our Mother. It was our conditioning that would pull us down to reality and cause us to go home and sleep.
Then we’d be back as soon as we could, never wanting to ever be away from our Mother’s presence.
How Shri Mataji nurtured us all!
Shri Mataji’s houses were always so special. She would buy some dilapidated piece of property and turn it into a royal abode. Brompton Square epitomised the fruits of Her creativity. It was situated in a square of old Georgian houses facing a small collective garden in a pleasant part of London. The houses were nothing special: tall, four storeys high, and typical of that era, but after the collective efforts of the Sahaja Yogis under Shri Mataji’s tutelage and vision, it was transformed inside into a place of beauty.
Many yogis learnt a trade there, under Her guidance. One became a maker of ornate plaster cornices and ceiling decorations, another a decorative tiler. Being the source of all knowledge, there was no craft that the Devi could not teach to us. I remember the mirrored dining room ceiling, the wonderful plumed birds on the soft velvety golden bedroom wallpaper and the delicately ornate plaster cornice moldings going up the staircase.
To share the joy of the moment
I came to visit and work at Shri Mataji’s house in Brompton Square. Mother passed by and asked what I was doing. I replied, with a big smile on my face, that I was painting the skirting board, and She just smiled and laughed, as if to just share the joy of the moment!
‘…..there the secret furniture of Jerusalem’s chamber…. Is wrought’
One of my first times of 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. I spent some time in the cupboard cutting and fitting the wood. I 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 this when I became aware that someone was standing looking at me. 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 and 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 with Her husband. She 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.
And the screws & iron braces are well wrought blandishments
And well contrived words, firm fixing, never forgotten,
Always comforting the remembrance’
I’d been knocking a nail in the wall and I missed the nail and hit my thumb. Shri Mataji spent about ten minutes holding it because it hurt so badly. You’d be sitting there and She’d be holding your thumb and She’d be giving people instructions on how to paint the ceiling and She was in the room. Shri Mataji would come around all the parts of the house, giving instructions in doing a better job.
I want to understand You
‘I want to understand You,’ I said to Mother.
‘You never will.’
I guess really because what understanding means is intellectual. Understanding means to understand mentally. As we all realise She’s totally incomprehensible.
‘…the beams and rafters are forgiveness’
When we worked in Shri Mataji’s house quite a few things happened in the house itself. One day She gave me a box of wallpaper and asked me to line two open shelves for ornaments. One shelf was easily completed with a roll of paper. Then I looked in the box and found just a few scraps of paper.
‘Sorry, I don’t think there’s enough paper,’ I went to Shri Mataji and said. She told me to go back and try, so I went and, after a long time of total patchwork, the papering was complete and I had the smallest piece of paper left. It all exactly fit. I was amazed. When I stood back from the shelf, I couldn’t believe my eyes. They looked the same, yet one was completely patched.
I felt Shri Mother was showing me that some souls come into Sahaja Yoga so pure without much blemish and some come with holes and need patching. Once the love and vibrations permeate their beings, they are as beautiful as the other. Everything is possible with Mother’s love.
Like a power station
Once I went to the airport to meet Shri Mataji.
‘How are you?’ She asked me.
‘Very well, Mother, thank You,’ I said.
Shri Mataji stood in the middle of the passageway and we were giving Her flowers and suddenly She was the only one who existed. All life and all power generated inside Her and neither the flowers, nor us, nor the houses had any life. Everything around was like cartoon cutouts. Shri Mataji was like this power station, containing incredible energy and She looked huge. I kept standing there with my mouth wide open, not able to communicate to anyone what I had just seen.
I was there with you all along
There was a lot of turmoil in my life, and Mother suggested that I write a letter to Her about it. I did so and She read the letter.
‘Now, go and get a pen and paper.’ She dictated things to me, things I would never mention, but true things.
Mother was telling me, ‘I am with you. I know what you are going through. I know what you have to bear. I was there with you all along in every moment, every thought. I’m always there. There are no secrets from Me.’
Our Mother is Shri Adi Shakti.
A feast of ideas
After Shri Mataji bought the Brompton Square house the Sahaja Yogis spent a lot of time there, working on it. This was our first big collective project and after it was finished we realised we had grown as a collective and changed for the better as individuals.
The work on the house was a feast of ideas just taking shape and then being changed, rearranged and developed. Shri Mataji was with us and listening to Her, dining with Her and watching Her amazing spontaneous interior design skills was breathtaking. Everybody had a go, whether they knew building work or not. The house was not huge but Shri Mataji created an optical illusion of space by using mirrors and mirror tiles. Everything in the house was beautiful and rich in design. It became almost like a Sahaja Yoga centre; we used to visit the house all the time.
Once, someone brought in a tramp who wanted to meet Shri Mataji. Mother was overjoyed. She asked for a table to be set for two and had lunch with him. She said that he was born realised.
He was like a tramp but Shri Mataji insisted on seeing him; She said She was his last refuge.
‘Well contrived words, firm fixing, never forgotten,
Always comforting the remembrance’
Someone told me that Shri Mataji had just bought a house in Brompton Square and there was a lot of work needed, and this would help one clear too. So I went there and rang the door bell, and was asked to go to Shri Mataji to ask Her if I could work in Her house.
‘You are not needed here,’ She said.
I narrated a story of Guru Nanak, (the guru of the Sikhs, and I came from a Sikh background) where He says that the purpose of life is to achieve self realisation and you can only get that from a true master. In a subtle way he also said it is only Shri Mataji, the Mother of the universe, one who can give spontaneous self realisation. He said that once you do find the true master you should serve that master.
‘This is what Guru Nanak said, and that is why I have come to You,’ I said. Shri Mataji completely changed and became motherly towards me. I was happy to do anything because I had found my guru as my Mother.
‘Son, you can start the work,’ She said. I did exactly what She asked me to do.
‘Mother can I come tomorrow?’ I used to ask Her every day.
‘Yes, you can come tomorrow,’ She would say. She was working for months in Her house. I kept going, just to be near Her. She was very happy, seeing me do the work and I was happy to do the work for Her.
Shri Mataji would ask me to sit near Her when She went to sleep, and She said She was going in to my past; She would take me into a stillness and thoughtlessness. I was only aware that I was sitting in front of Her, and She showed me many other things as well on a spiritual level, that She is the greatest of all, the cause of all. Sometimes She would ask me to rub Her Feet and the cool breeze of the Holy Ghost came to me like a very strong wind and made me thoughtless. When I worked in Shri Mataji’s house I used to take one flower every day and Shri Mataji was very happy to receive it.
‘What are those golden builders doing?’
Our life at that particular time used to consist of getting up, going to do a full day’s work, coming home, getting changed and going round to Mother’s house to continue the building work in the evenings. Of course, that would continue over our weekends.
Editor’s note: This was the origin of the name of the Sahaja building firm, the Golden Builders.
‘The stones are pity, and the bricks, well wrought affections
Enamelled with love and kindness’
There were a good number of us working there, mostly from England. We would have meetings and discussions throughout the day with Shri Mataji and She would preside over all the activities in the house, as a sort of Artistic Director and Clerk of Works.
It was a very intimate and enjoyable time with a great deal of work — everything from structural renovations and installations of central heating through to the carpeting and decoration and furnishing. The whole thing took many, many months and sometimes there were about twenty people working in one room, quite late at night. Another time I worked alone. There was great camaraderie and enjoyment.
Shri Mataji was working out problems through the people who were working there. By working with us and on us, She was clearing out much wider collective problems and being in the frontline could be quite an intense experience. Personally, I found I had some difficulty in the early stages, as Shri Mataji tried to impress upon me the importance of working faster, as that was my particular problem. Later on, I improved both in terms of speed and quality.
‘….the tiles engraven gold,
Labour of merciful hands’
There was a lot of work going on; cornices were made out of plaster of Paris moulds, which were then placed at the edges of the ceilings. Then we painted them with gold leaf. I had to go to Harrods to fetch gold leaf paint quite a lot. I did very basic things, like stripping down the wood and painting it with a wood stain of reddy-brown colour. I did lots and lots of painting and scraping. I painted the ceiling of Shri Mataji’s bedroom. I think the shade was called Almond White.
I am in you and you are in Me
One day I turned up and we came in the front entrance of Brompton Square, not down in the basement, which was where we often went in. There were three of us there. It was in the early stages when the walls were being knocked down and there was a lot of dirt. I had quite a bad blocked nose from all the dust.
As we arrived in the front entrance, there was Shri Mataji and we gave Her flowers. She took my flower and smelled it and said, ‘Mmn!’ Then She offered it to me and I also smelled it.
‘I can’t smell anything, Mother. My nose is blocked,’ I said. She took it back to Herself and started smelling it again and again and then I could really smell the fragrance, as if She was showing me, ‘I am in you and you are in Me.
The others were standing watching.
‘I can smell it now,’ they said, and everyone was laughing.