Chapter 09: 1977 – Pujas, Ashrams and Caxton Hall

Recollections - Book by Sahaja Yogis

True seekers – ring this number!

1977 continued with the same sort of meetings and workshop sessions, pujas and havans, as the year before, but new things were happening. A few more seekers came to our meetings with Shri Mataji.

I used to spend my dole money putting cryptic messages into Time Out Magazine. ‘True seekers – ring this number!’

Pat Anslow

Editor’s note: the dole is the informal term for the British government’s financial support for those who are unemployed. Time Out is a magazine that tells readers what entertainment and other events are happening.

Shri Mataji took him home

In 1977 one seeker, a friend of mine, collapsed in the street, seriously ill with hepatitis, and Shri Mataji took him home to Hurst Green and kept him there for six weeks, working on his vibrations until he was better. I also spent a lot of time there in order to try and help him.

Pat Anslow

Alcohol down the sink

Shri Mataji once made me go to my parents’ house and pour all my dad’s whisky down the sink. It was because my son Kevin was staying there at the time and I was upset because my dad had been shouting at him, because his bad liver, due to drinking, made him irritable. It was a very confrontational and traumatic experience. I found it a very difficult and emotionally upsetting thing to do, but some weeks later my dad said that he respected the fact that I had done it.

 Pat Anslow

Shri Mataji gave us so much affection

For me the early days of Sahaja Yoga were the spring and summer of 1977. What was special was that Shri Mataji had just a few Sahaja Yogis. She was trying to bring them up to the level where they could be strong enough, so we could then expand our collectivity.

When I arrived there were about six or seven people — I was probably the eighth. I remember how Shri Mataji worked on an Australian boy for many weeks; She took him home, She looked after him and She cured him. He was like an encyclopedia of drugs, really bad. He had so many problems and She worked on him day in and day out, every day. She never spared any effort. The most extraordinary thing is that She gave him all Her love and, after three months, he just left, and left Sahaja Yoga. When you look at it from our point of view, he wasted Mother’s efforts. But She never actually talked about it that way. She just gave love and there was no condition put on that love.

The most extraordinary thing about Shri Mataji is and was Her capacity as a Mother to nourish the Sahaja Yogis who came at that time, to nourish them with enough love so they stayed in Sahaja Yoga, so they felt, ‘She gives us what we didn’t have,’ so as Shri Sai Nath of Shirdi said, ‘We may want what She wants to give us.’

Shri Mataji worked tirelessly, taking us to Her home. She never hesitated to cook for us – just think, Shri Adi Shakti in Her home, cooking for the few of us. She would, Herself, cook food for us because obviously She wanted to put those vibrations in our Nabhis and improve our Nabhis, which were in such a state. It was so great, the way She actually received us in Her home, whether it was the house She had in Hurst Green or later in the flat in Ashley Gardens. She did everything for us and gave us so much affection.

Djamel Metouri

A day at Hurst Green

Mother invited some of us to come to Her house in Hurst Green. For some time before we were invited I had a burning desire to visit Mother’s house. I could already picture how loving and hospitable Mother was going to be with us.

I arrived in the house on a hot and sunny summer day and yet I felt surrounded by cool vibrations. Every corner of the house was filled with a powerful and yet peaceful energy. Douglas, Pat and Maureen were already in the house and were very familiar with the surroundings, so Pat was showing me the various statues of gods and goddesses which Shri Mataji had brought from India and which gave the house decoration a divine grandeur. Amongst the statues that Pat was showing me I saw a white marble Shiva statue placed over the mantlepiece of the fireplace in the downstairs lounge, depicting the God Shiva in deep meditation, and Pat was explaining how impressed he was with this statue.

Once we were upstairs we came across a wooden statue of Lord Ganesha and Pat asked me to put my hands towards it saying that it had very cool vibrations. I put my hands towards it in a rather diffident way while reflecting on my lifelong habit of neither bowing nor worshipping any man made idol, which came from the religion I grew up with.

Later on I was shown an imposing stone statue of Shri Kartikeya which was located just outside Mother’s bedroom. It had the expression of a warrior ready to fight any intruder. I had to concede that these statues had cool vibrations and so did every object in the house.

The house had a divine fragrance which would become very familiar and was to become very characteristic of Shri Mataji’s presence. All the reception rooms were beautifully furnished with genuine Eastern carpets and hand carved Indian furniture. I could feel lulled into a beautiful feeling of blissful fragrance and peaceful aesthetics.

In the main reception room where the Shri Shiva marble statue was placed there was a large bay window. Douglas caught my curiosity and told me that the window ledge was painted by Mother in white and if I moved my hands along the ledge I should feel very cool vibrations. I tried it and so it was.

Shri Mataji bought the house ready built and when I praised its architecture She remarked that the layout would have been different had She built it Herself. The house was on top of a hill at the end of a wooded alley. It enjoyed plenty of light. The garden did not have an all-round fence but, when viewed from the road leading up to it, had a small decorative wall of stones over which were placed various plants. At the back of the house there was a beautifully kept lawn with a variety of small trees and plants around the edges.

The kitchen was filled with the fragrance of Indian spices. Shri Mataji’s Indian servant, a young man named Paramshiva, was already busy making tea and snacks for the guests. Shri Mataji walked around the house in bare Feet and we followed wherever She went. Towards the end of the day Sir CP Srivastava arrived from work. As a young student I felt rather intimidated by his dignified stature. Later on he came out to the lounge to greet us and addressed us in warm, kind and reassuring words.

Late in the evening we had dinner, and afterwards we all sat around Mother while She worked on us. She was sitting on a couch and was showing us an exercise for the Mooladhara chakra. We had both hands directed to Mother and the left heel placed under the Mooladhara to feed it with vibrations. Mother was trying to awaken our Shri Ganeshas. At one point Gus, the boy She had healed and had to stay with Her, said he had seen Mother’s face changing into Shri Ganesha’s.

Everyone has noticed how much Shri Mataji’s physical nature changed all the time according to circumstances and the environment. During this particular evening She looked so majestic and physically so much greater that we were all awed by Her presence. This became part of the many unforgettable moments we had with our Divine Mother.

Djamel Metouri

I am like the source

One time Shri Mataji gave us a meditation in Her lounge, where we were seven or eight people. We were Maureen Rossi, Gus the Australian from the early days, Pat Anslow and Douglas Fry. Shri Mataji was trying to tell us who She was.

‘The power of God actually just goes to the back of Me,’ She said. ‘I am like the source and it’s just flowing behind Me.’

That is when we started realising who She was. On one occasion She was trying to work on our Mooladharas. One man saw Mother as Shri Ganesha.

Djamel Metouri

A different universe altogether

Mother arranged a weekend at Her house at Hurst Green — Icehouse Wood, Hurst Green near Oxted in Sussex. We all went down there by train. It was extraordinary because there we were, a very strange collection of people in an extremely ‘nice’ neighbourhood.

‘Not even a rat would enter because the houses there were so perfect,’ Shri Mataji described it. The neighbours never had visitors, let alone about fifteen straggling, hippie-type people dressed in jeans.

In Shri Mataji’s house there was a big drawing room downstairs with beautiful Indian rugs and things like that and then a room up the stairs that was on the mezzanine. It was very sunny and there were large statues of deities and a beautiful Shri Ganesha.

Maureen Rossi

Editor’s note: in this photo Shri Mataji is with Maureen Rossi at the house at Oxted, and Maureen is checking the vibrations of another Sahaja Yogi. In the background the wooden statue of Lord Ganesha can be seen.

The list of what She did for us goes on and on

Shri Mataji sacrificed so much to pull us out of the mud. She gave me Her own clothes to wear like the red silk shawl I am wearing in one of the pictures, dresses made out of Her saris, saris, sari blouses, petticoats and cardigans all to confuse the bhuts and help me to clear out.  This was only one occasion!  The list of just what She did for all of us at that time goes on and on: She cooked for us, and She even welcomed my father into Her house, personally taking his hand and giving him no choice but to come in and sit with Her and talk to Her, which he told me afterwards had a profound effect on him.

 Maureen Rossi

Closeness and intimacy

I remember at Oxted, at the house that Shri Mataji had there in the mid-seventies, the sort of closeness and intimacy, and Her relationship with the early Sahaja Yogis. For example, we would have an ajwan session, and She would get under the sheet with everybody and all the Sahaja Yogis would be coughing and spluttering, because of the smoke.

‘What’s wrong?’ Shri Mataji would say, and She would be completely unaffected.

Kevin Anslow

A mixing device

I can remember Shri Mataji working on people. People would come and visit Her. Sometimes Indians would come to worship Her as an incarnation, and then they would disappear again. Then there would be people who had heard of Her or people that Sahaja Yogis had brought along and She would work extensively on them, sometimes for hours. Shri Mataji would talk to them and find out where their attitudes were and suggest things to them.

Once, two or three Sahaja Yogis tried to raise a gentleman’s Kundalini and it wasn’t happening. At the same time I was playing with these kind of electronic spoons, a mixing device that Douglas had bought.

‘Can you come and help?’ they said to me. I remember moving this spoon machine up behind his back as we tried to raise this man’s Kundalini and up it shot.

‘See. That’s how it’s done,’ Shri Mataji said.

Kevin Anslow

Delicious Indian sweets

In the 1970’s, we quite often went to Oxford Street shopping with Shri Mataji, and also round North Gower Street, in North London, to the Indian shops, and to the amazing Indian sweet shop. What was it called? Ambala, that’s right. We nearly always had Ambala sweets when Shri Mataji came to the leader’s flat there. And the extraordinary effect that Mother had was that when She was there you didn’t feel like eating, but when She had gone the sweets had all gone, because everybody had taken them!

Maureen Rossi

To have met someone very special

In the summer of 1977, my aunt and uncle introduced me to Sahaja Yoga.

‘Would you like to try this?’ my uncle said one evening. Without much explanation, they sat me down facing the photograph and brought a bowl of water for me to put my feet into.

The next day, they asked me if I’d like to accompany them to meet Shri Mataji. Of course, I agreed. On the train journey from Euston Station to Oxted, where Shri Mataji lived, I noticed how excited my uncle and aunt were feeling about meeting Her, and the child-like excitement in their faces was striking.

We reached Shri Mataji’s house and it was full of Indian artwork, including large statues of gods in the hall. The house was also filled with the delicious smell of Indian cooking. When we met Shri Mataji in a sunny room overlooking the garden, She greeted us in a very open and friendly way, like a mother talking to her children. It was very peaceful there.

When Shri Mataji talked to me, it reminded me of how my grandmother talked to me. She was interested in what I was doing and what my interests were. She rubbed my head and said something about being careful about eating cheese because some cheeses are not good. She said I had been born with the realisation. I did not have any strong unusual experiences, such as feeling the cool breeze, but I did feel lucky to have met someone very special.

Alan Richards

So informal

Sahaja Yoga was so informal. At first, we didn’t have any programmes which were with a lot of people. We used to go and meet at someone’s place on a Sunday afternoon. Shri Mataji used to come by train to Victoria Station, London from Oxted, where She lived and then She would come by taxi. I even remember Her coming to a programme by tube.

Djamel Metouri

My first puja

My first puja was a Guru Puja in 1977. I was at work and then someone phoned me.

‘Can you come over? We’ll have a puja,’ he said.

I didn’t know what a puja was, but I went. We were something like eight or nine people and an Indian pujari. This was the first time that I was seeing a puja. I sat down and it all felt and looked quite new.

It was in the lounge of a house, with just ten people, as opposed to many thousands today. We had a large piece of paper with a chakra chart drawn and we offered rice and flowers to each of the chakras on the chart, saying mantras for each chakra. That puja was just a small one but there is a picture of Mother who is holding the flowers between Her Feet. That puja was done differently from the way we do it today, which is to do the puja directly to the Goddess, and wash Her Feet. At that time, we did wash Her Feet, but at the same time we used the chakra chart, making offerings to the various chakras.

Djamel Metouri

We are all here

That was the first Guru Puja, in a flat in North London. There is a picture of Mother holding some roses. I remember giving Her those flowers.

‘Mother, be careful, there are thorns in them,’ I said.

‘I have to take the thorns, too,’ She said, and took the flowers. ‘Can you tape record this, My talk?’

That was the first time I remember Shri Mataji giving a formal talk. I thought, ‘What is the point of taping it? We are all here.’

Pat Anslow

Saint Albans

During my first summer as a realised soul, in about July 1977, Shri Mataji was staying in Hurst Green, a charming hilltop village in the heart of Surrey. It was the official residence of Sir CP as Secretary General of IMO (The International Maritime Organisation). In addition to being our divine Mother and our Guru, She also had a responsibility as a housewife. Not only did She have to look after Her husband Sir CP but She also had to attend and sometimes organise official dinners.

Sometimes when Sir CP was away Shri Mataji used to invite us home or we would travel to another venue where we would spend time together. Mother spent many a day working on our vibrations, clearing our subtle centres, removing so many of our left sided problems. Sometimes we had an opportunity to do a puja to Shri Mataji and sometimes we just meditated under Her guidance. These seminars could last a whole weekend.

It was during one of these seminars that Shri Mataji came to stay at my place in Saint Albans, a town just north of London. I lived in a large house which I shared with other students. When She came to stay the house was empty and we had the whole place to ourselves. She arrived in the morning of a warm and sunny day. Pat, his young son and his sister Maureen arrived the day before.

In the evening we had a puja with Mother. It was my second puja since I arrived in Sahaja Yoga and I can remember seeing the whole place full of light as if we were transported into another dimension. It was a Shri Krishna Puja and we washed Mother’s Feet and had a puja the way we do it today, but with perhaps not all the ingredients. It was not a fully fledged puja.

The next day we went to Saint Albans Cathedral. We visited Saint Alban’s grave where Mother knelt to pay Her respects to Saint Alban who She said was an Adi Guru. Saint Alban was a Roman saint who was beheaded for his Christian beliefs in the third or fourth century AD.

At lunch time Shri Mataji invited all of us to a Greek restaurant located close to the centre of St Albans city. While ordering our lunch we had a discussion about the maitre d’hotel who welcomed us to his restaurant. While I was speculating on the state of his vibrations Shri Mataji remarked that he had quite a bad right heart.

Djamel Metouri

Editor’s note: apart from the ten main incarnations, Shri Adi Guru has come on earth many times, as, for example, Saint Alban. The Adi Guru always does miracles with water, as did he.

A part incarnation

We went to Saint Albans with Shri Mataji for one or two days in 1977. Shri Mataji, my sister Maureen, my son Kevin, Gavin and Jane Brown, Douglas Fry and Tony Panayioutou all stayed with Djamel Metouri at his student accommodation in the town. We had a small puja with Shri Mataji at the house and we visited Saint Alban’s grave at Saint Albans Cathedral where Mother paid Her respects and said that Saint Alban was a part incarnation of the Adi Guru. Afterwards Shri Mataji invited us all to have a meal with Her in a restaurant in the town centre.

Pat Anslow

Those blessed times

Early on in Sahaja Yoga, in the 1970’s, before Shri Mataji started public programmes at Caxton Hall in London, our Mother looked after us with great love, patience and kindness. We would go to Her house near Oxted in Surrey and She would spend hours explaining about Sahaja Yoga, asking us about our problems and the seeking we had done, and working on each of us with great attention to detail. She would massage our heads with oil; direct us to wash Her Feet and apply kumkum in small pujas as we sat on the floor around Her chair; and each of us would spent literally hours with our head on Her Feet while She worked on our chakras.

The attention that Shri Mataji focused on us was very intense and powerful, and we often felt as if we were swimming in a rich ocean of blissful, golden vibrations. Mother often discussed the future of Sahaja Yoga and the work we would have to do. She talked about the different stages of self realisation and the tests and illusions we must beware of on our ascent, and the complete oneness we would feel with each other when our divinity finally manifested. The atmosphere was always very relaxed and She often made us laugh, and sometimes cooked beautiful meals for us.

In the beginning we often had to leave when Sir CP came home. He was always polite but found it hard to get used to the strange Western seekers his wife was teaching. Shri Mataji tried to bring him around by giving him his realisation, and asked us to help to raise his Kundalini. We tried on several occasions, but the Kundalini could not pierce the Sahasrara, and Shri Mataji said it was difficult for him because of his high position at work and his traditional role as head of the household in Indian society. She said if Sir CP could get his realisation then anyone could. He eventually got his realisation some years later.

Sir CP became fully reconciled to Sahaja Yoga when the Sahaja Yogis helped finish the work on his house in Knightsbridge in central London. Being an honest and trusting gentleman, he had paid some builders in advance to carry out a huge renovation job, and they ran away before finishing. Shri Mataji asked us to come and help complete it, and dozens of Sahaja Yogis worked hard on the house for several months. Sir CP was very grateful and became much more supportive of Sahaja Yoga from then on.

Pat Anslow

Don’t panic

Shri Mataji told us this once. If you worry too much about something that is wrong within you, bad vibrations or something like that, you start to panic.

‘Do all the things that relax you,’ She said, at least thirty years ago, and She said if you do that it will make you feel better. She said that if you get tense your heart closes up and you can’t feel the love. Then you can’t even receive the love of Shri Mataji or give any love either.

Djamel Metouri

Mother asked us to watch Her with adoration

This photo was taken in Mother’s house in Hurst Green some time in August 1977. It was during a weekend seminar we were having with Mother. We did not call it a seminar at the time. There was a pujari whose name was Satpal, a very sweet man and he was also the pujari of the first Guru Puja in London in July of that year.

We had a puja during this particular get together. At the time Mother would instruct us not to eat in the morning* and the puja itself would take place in the morning. I remember Mother had placed next to Her a very small silver statue of Shri Sai Nath, and I think one of Shri Ganesha as well. When the puja started Mother asked us to watch Her with adoration. It was a very powerful moment which has remained engraved in my memory ever since.

Later on we had another puja in Her house. It was more like a real puja with the amrit and all the elements and so on. That took place during a seminar we had in Her house around September 1977, at Hurst Green in Oxted.

Djamel Metouri

*Editor’s note: this no longer applies

An earthquake disaster movie

While we were there Shri Mataji asked us if we could do some painting and decorating. We were hopelessly inept, and the end result resembled a film set for an earthquake disaster movie. Shri Mataji seemed greatly to enjoy everything we did, and even joined in to help us sand down wood and paint at times.

Pat Anslow

Shri Mataji got us everything

The first London ashram was in Acton in West London, in 1977. The ashram was a rented place, a little house at the bottom of a hill right next to a railway line, so at the back you had trains thundering by and at the front you had lorries making that huge hissing noise on their brakes or revving up to go up the hill. Djamel Metouri and I slept in the lounge. It was really exciting.

Shri Mataji found it and arranged it all for us. She got us everything, even the ironing board. We only stayed there for six weeks or so, and then Shri Mataji told us that She had found a better place in Finchley, in North London. I can’t remember exactly what the initial financial arrangements in acquiring the Finchley Road ashram were, but I’m sure that Shri Mataji must have put up most if not all of the money required. We at least were all working by then and could pay the rent.

Pat Anslow

Strong vibrations

Sometimes if you want to remember what has happened during a particular period of time, you remember anecdotes. This anecdote happened when we were in the first ashram at Acton Lane. Shri Mataji was coming to the ashram, and as we were driving to the place She said She was amazed at how strong the vibrations were, then when we got to the ashram, Pat or Maureen pointed out that it was the 15th of August, which is the day of the Assumption of the Virgin, the day on which the Virgin Mary traditionally rose up into heaven. Mother said there were amazing vibrations that day because of that.

The vibrations were always strong at Acton ashram. There were five of us there, and whenever some Sahaja Yogi came up to see us, they didn’t have to ring the bell, because we felt such strong vibrations we knew there was someone there at the door.

In this photo below of Shri Mataji working on Pat Anslow She was trying to make him less serious.

Djamel Metouri

The first ashram

The very first ashram in London was in Acton Lane, Acton, West London, where the first UK Sahaja Yogis lived for a short time. Then they found a flat in Finchley Central, North London – above a shop which was then called Halaria’s Builders Merchants, in Regents Park Road, in a row of shops next to the junction with East End Road. The entrance was in an alley at the back of the shops, in East End Road, and was the far end house in that alley.

Once, we held a small, symbolic havan outside the back entrance with Shri Mataji. She spent a lot of time at this ashram, and sometimes stayed overnight. Shri Mataji had a tiny room there and six of us ladies squashed onto the floor in that room. Comfort didn’t matter at all. We were in a new dimension of awareness.

Patricia Proenza

Shri Mataji never tired of clearing us out

Once, Shri Mataji came to the house in Gower Street when we used to have meetings there on Sunday afternoons.

‘You are all so caught up,’ She said when She came. We had been playing a Chinese game called mahjong.

‘What is this?’ She said. ‘How did you get so badly caught up?’ We got caught up from the mahjong. She worked on us virtually all afternoon and evening and then at night one Sahaja Yogi had to put one hand on Shri Mataji and we made a chain, so we were all holding hands all night. She was asleep, sometimes waking up.

‘Put your hand here,’ or ‘Put your hand there,’ She would say. I can’t imagine any human being able to do that.

‘Alright,’ Shri Mataji said the next day.

‘You should go and watch a movie,’ She would say, to have a change of atmosphere.

She would work virtually twenty-four hours. She put so much love into us, and worked so hard and we were far from perfect, yet She always had love for us. She always received us: think of all the love She gave us.

‘If you can’t love others,’ Shri Mataji Herself said later on, ‘considering the love I give you, you can’t love anyone.’ It was true because the love She gave us was so powerful. There was so much of it and She showed it at every single moment. She never tired of loving every one of us and was never tired of clearing us out. Every time we went to see Her, She always looked at our vibrations.

Shri Mataji always worked on us. It was a non-stop job for many years.

Djamel Metouri

Shri Mataji worked on people with so much love

Before we had the programmes at Caxton Hall, from October 1977, we had meetings in a Sahaja Yogi’s place on Sundays and sometimes in the middle of the week. Shri Mataji used to come, even though She lived quite far away.

She had so much love that She worked on certain people who came to these meetings, even though they were not necessarily great seekers – they maybe had a marriage problem or some personal problem. Shri Mataji never felt that these people were a burden on Her; She never showed it anyway.

It was an intermediate period, during which many people came to Sahaja Yoga and left and Mother worked on them without ever putting any demands. She always let people choose what they wanted to do. She never forced on people that they should stay in Sahaja Yoga. She always showed a lot of concern for them, for their health, for their well-being, but it paid off because once we started the programmes, then we had real seekers, a whole wave of real seekers coming into Sahaja Yoga. Sahaja Yoga changed beyond recognition after just a few months, even though until the end of 1977 and throughout 1978 we still had these smaller meetings, where the core of Sahaja Yogis used to come and Mother used to invite us in Her home.

Djamel Metouri

Great news for all the Sahaja Yogis, London, 16th October 1977

‘Great news for all the Sahaja Yogis. The first public lecture is on the 24th of this month at Caxton Hall. We have advertised and have invited many people. Let us see how it fares.’

(Extract from a letter from Her Holiness Shri Mataji to Gregoire de Kalbermatten, then in Kathmandu, Nepal)

The Time Out advertisement

The formal programmes started in October 1977 in Caxton Hall, on Mondays. The first advertisements were put in Time Out London. At the same time, we had posters, which we put up in shops and on shop windows. A lot of the seekers came from the Time Out advertisement.

Djamel Metouri

Sahaja Yoga changed gear

That was a complete sea change. Up to that time it had just been a small group of people going around to different houses with Shri Mataji. Then She announced that She would like to have a public programme and we were all mystified. We were quite frightened and didn’t know what would happen.

We put a big advert in Time Out magazine and hired a room in Caxton Hall, in central London close to Shri Mataji’s new home in Victoria. We didn’t know if anyone would come, and to our amazement about two hundred people came. We were rather embarrassed, because Shri Mataji asked us all to sit on chairs on stage with Her. As Shri Mataji gave Her powerful talk I remember gritting my teeth at all of the aches and pains I could feel working out in the chakras and trying my best to look evolved!

She then went down into the audience to work on people, and the next thing we knew we were all moving down into the audience with Shri Mataji and working on people, and in the space of one evening Sahaja Yoga completely changed. At the end of that meeting everyone in the hall felt part of one big family, it was as if the Sahaja Yoga we had known had changed gear and moved to a new level.

Pat Anslow

You’ve got it!

I came to Sahaja Yoga at the first meeting held at Caxton Hall in October 1977. An Indian lady was sitting on the stage with about half a dozen very sick looking people and an English man was standing and talking. I was in the audience because the advertisement said, ‘Your divine birthright’ and ‘No money will be taken,’ which rang true for something spiritual.

The Englishman’s talk became boring and I thought, ‘I can’t sit here any longer, I’m going to leave.’ I sat near the door so I could make a quick exit. Just as this thought came to my mind, Shri Mataji signalled to this man to stop talking. Then She got up and started talking. It was everything that I had expected, at least verbally. When we were supposed to feel the vibrations, I didn’t feel anything at all.

‘All I am here for is to give you love.’ Shri Mataji said, and something happened in my heart. I felt this distinct churning in my chest. She came down and looked at all of us. She told one of the older yogis who was with Her that I had ‘got it’. I felt nothing. Shri Mataji came up to me, stood right in front of me and put Her hand over my head.

‘You’ve got it. You’ve got it!’ She said.

‘No, I don’t feel anything at all,’ I replied.

‘Oh wow, I feel it. I feel it!’ said a person sitting on my right.

‘This is just auto-suggestion,’ I thought.

‘I feel the cool breeze,’ the person on my left started saying. Meanwhile, I felt absolutely no breeze at all. I was quite disappointed and Mother was insisting that I’d got it.

I was a sceptical aerospace engineer, just out of college. Of the thirty or so new people who came to that programme, I was the only one who became a Sahaja Yogi.

Bala Kanayson

Shri Mataji encouraged us to work on others

On that first encounter Mother’s talk was about chastity. She explained how chastity was the most important quality in a woman.

Also Shri Mataji worked upon a young Scandinavian girl who had been seeing a false guru. After Mother had worked upon her, the girl moved back to her seat, however a little while later Shri Mataji looked towards her asking what was wrong. The girl had seen Mother’s golden aura and Shri Mataji worked upon her again, telling her not to put her attention on the false guru any more. The girl began to glow herself, with that inner light, whilst Shri Mataji worked upon her.

A lovable Moroccan boy arrived carrying a daisy for Shri Mataji. He went to Her Feet. Mother greeted him heartily but then was quite firm with him, telling him he shouldn’t just sit there at the front week after week, just bathing in Her vibrations, but that he had to get up and give vibrations to others. And She sent him back to do so.

Shri Mataji encouraged us to work on others almost from the word go, even when we didn’t really have a clue what we were doing. Another thing Mother chastised the Morrocan boy about was his long hair. She told us that men should dress as men and women as women.

In those days (and I can remember vividly seeing this on that first encounter) yogis would frequently raise their Kundalini in front of Shri Mataji at the programmes. She encouraged them to do so, although as Sahaja Yoga grew it became necessary to stop this in Her presence. The Kundalini was originally raised by placing the hands flat, palms inward, fingertips towards each other at the Mooladhara level and then  moving the hands up the Kundalini rather than rolling the right hand over the left; this came later.

  Marilyn Leate

My path to Sahaja Yoga

In 1974 I lost my wife to a car accident. I was only twenty four, totally devastated and my life was at an end. For the next few years I was searching for some meaning to life and after much mental anguish I went to a spiritualist organisation in London to try to find some answers to life. It was while I was in London that day that I bought a copy of Time Out magazine. There was a photo of Shri Mataji and it was advertised that there was public meeting that same evening.

I was in Victoria so it was only a short walk to Caxton Hall. I sat about twenty rows from the front and just looked at this large photograph of Shri Mataji on the stage. A Sahaja Yogi then came forward and began to speak. There was great love in his voice and that feeling stays with me to this day. He must have spoken for three quarters of an hour before Mother came into the room. Everybody stood when She walked into the hall, then She allowed him to continue. After another half hour Shri Mataji stopped him and the programme began. After Mother’s talk came the realisation session. In those days She tried to go to see each person in turn but as over five hundred people turned up that evening She could not see everybody.

I decided to come back the following week, to hopefully get my realisation. There were only about twenty-five yogis in the room when Mother came in. She started talking about the previous week’s public programme, then someone told Her that I had not got my realisation then and had come back to try again.

‘He must be a true seeker,’ Mother said.

I felt the cool breeze that evening in 1977 and that was my path to Sahaja Yoga.

Colin Dunwell

Shri Mataji would talk to people in a very personal way

Shri Mataji took a whole pile of photographs and rubbed kumkum on the pictures. These were small posters, which we used to put in the shops because we thought if Mother vibrated them there would be a greater chance that they would attract seekers, but we didn’t have large posters and all these fancy things.

Mother used to get down off the stage after giving realisation and would go round the hall working on people. She would talk to people, She knew what everybody’s problem was and She would talk to people in a very personal way, trying to resolve their problems, including their health and family problems.

In the early days, Her attention was very much on the seekers who were lost because of following false gurus. Mother used to blast all these false gurus whenever She spoke. She didn’t perhaps do it so much later because things changed, but in those days She could see that so many seekers were lost and, of course, many of the talks in Caxton Hall were about blasting all these horrible gurus who were just torturing the seekers.

Djamel Metouri

The recording of Mother’s early talks

Initially the only recording of Shri Mataji’s talks was done in India. We started to record them in England with a small cassette recorder but the first real recording by the English Sahaja Yogis was at the first public meeting at Caxton Hall on 24th October 1977. This was done with an open reel recorder supplied by Mother Herself.

I was then working at the Audio Visual Department at Kings College at the Aldwych, nearby, and I was taught to transfer recordings from tape to cassette. Also I learnt how to use a tape duplicator, so some of the first copies were done that way. Caxton Hall started in 1977, and from then on it was every week, and I have a list of all the public meetings Shri Mataji gave between 1977 and 1984 there. In about 1979 I bought a high speed tape duplicator and started to copy and distribute tapes.

Initially I used an open reel tape recorder, then bought a small cassette recorder and after a couple of years realised something more professional was needed, so I bought a battery tape recorder and two microphones. This was used for about five years until I bought a high quality recorder, which I used until I stopped doing the recordings in 1985.

Douglas Fry

A glass of water

I was born in Athens in 1945 and as a child knew it was necessary for me to learn English, which I did at the age of eleven and it was most useful later when I met Shri Mataji. At the age of seventeen I had a vision of Lord Jesus in my house, during Easter time, the most frustrating period of the year for me, as I could not bear the crucifixion. Shri Jesus appeared on the cross and as He saw me so frustrated, the nails came off His hands and feet, He came down from the cross, and smiling He sat with me at a large empty dinner table. During His visit I asked why we sat at such a large table and He answered that it would soon be filled with people. He then asked me for a glass of water and some bread, and to touch His wounds. I felt a lot of pain and He said not to worry but to remember Him at a later date when the time was right.

A few years later I went to England and on the March 21st 1970 got married there. My real seeking started and by the mid-seventies I knew I was searching for ‘my Mother’. In about 1977, during a lunch break from work, in Wellingborough, in the Midlands, feeling very sad and depressed from my fruitless search, I walked into a bookshop and pulled out a magazine. I opened a page at random and there was a picture of Shri Mataji. I knew, looking at that divine photograph, that my search was over, as I saw the One I had been looking for. Under the picture was the time and place of the meeting – 7.00 pm, Caxton Hall, London.

I drove to London immediately after work, arrived at Caxton Hall and found it absolutely packed with people. I squeezed through the crowd and found a seat in the third row exactly opposite Shri Mataji, who was wearing a white sari. In those days Shri Mataji, after Her talk, would get up and go to every single person, touching their heads and giving realisation. Anxiously waiting for my turn, after giving realisation to the person before me, She passed by, absolutely ignoring me, and on Her way to the next person I saw in a flash, Lord Jesus, as I had seen Him, when He asked me to remember Him years before. Overwhelmed, I touched Her sari, brought it to my forehead and silently sent out the thought: ‘My Lord, even touching Your gown is enough for me.’

Shri Mataji turned and came back to me. I embraced Her round Her waist and rested my head on Her Nabhi, crying my heart out.

‘Mother, at long last I have found You. May I please become Your daughter?’ I cried. She laughed in the same way Lord Jesus had done in my vision.

‘But you already are My daughter,’ She answered, and asked for a glass of water. Someone brought it to Her. She vibrated it and asked me to drink. I drank half of it and with the rest She washed my face. That was my first encounter with Shri Mataji.

Maria Laventzi

A visit to the Midlands

The next day I rang the ashram. Gregoire answered the phone. I asked him to explain me more about Mother. He simply said that She was the Adi Shakti. I asked what this meant and he replied that She was the Holy Spirit. My whole being filled with tremendous satisfaction, and I was very eager to see Shri Mataji if She was coming up north, visiting the Midlands. My invitation was accepted and Her Holiness’s first visit took place in Irchester at my house with some other yogis. Our first meal together was soup, Greek style, for starters and roast chicken with potatoes and salad for the main course. My thoughts travelled back at that empty dinner table where I had sat with Lord Jesus and I thought that His words were coming true, that the table would soon be filled with people. Shri Mataji looked with Her beautiful eyes directly into mine. She smiled and nodded as if She had heard my thoughts.

A few days before, I had put posters all around the village and the nearest town – Wellingborough. A lot of people came to meet Shri Mataji and get their realisation.

Maria Laventzi

The greatest moment in my life

I received my self realisation in November 1977. I had been seeking for years and as a result of trying various so-called spiritual paths, had become damaged and confused. I decided that it would be better not to get involved with ‘spiritual’ groups or people.

One day, one of the people I was sharing a house with mentioned an advertisement she had seen in Time Out magazine, for a programme at Caxton Hall given by an Indian lady. With my past experiences in mind, I declined to go with her. She went, and when she came back, she looked different. There was some colour in her normally pale face, and there seemed to be a glow about her. On her next visit to Caxton Hall, I again refused to go. I was unwell, and asked her if she would buy me some fruit on her way home from work.

That night she came back late and handed me some grapes. I ate one, and to my amazement received what felt like a very pleasant electric shock! The grape tasted so cool, sweet and delicious – it seemed to sparkle with life! I began to feel better. When I asked her where she had bought the grapes, she said she had bought them in the market. When she went to the Sahaja Yoga programme, the Indian lady had given her a lemon, which she had placed in the same bag as the grapes. They had been vibrated by the lemon. Needless to say, the following week, I agreed to attend Shri Mataji’s programme.

We arrived in good time. Shri Mataji was already seated on the stage, waiting patiently for people to arrive, and looking intensely at the audience. I remember feeling very awed at seeing Her sitting on the stage, and found Her presence immensely powerful. There was a group of Sahaja Yogis seated around Her on the stage – perhaps six or seven. Shri Mataji gave a talk, which I was unable to understand very well, partly due to a very poor sound system, but no doubt also due to my being caught up. She then gave realisation. At that moment I knew that this was the end of my years of searching. I was aware of a happening in my system, and a quietening of the mind.

Shri Mataji then came down from the stage and worked on each person in the audience individually row by row. She came to me.

‘Good!’ She said and made to go away.

‘Can You help my friend? She gets a lot of colds,’ the person who had brought me said.

Shri Mataji looked into me deeply and compassionately. It felt as if Her eyes were boring right inside me, but without judgment.

‘Where is your father? Where is your mother?’ She asked, and I knew She had touched on the most significant problems in my life. I told Her that my father had died five years before. She told me to put my left hand on my right heart and to tell my father not to worry about me, that I was being looked after, that he should leave me and take his rebirth and get his realisation. I told Her that my mother had hardly spoken to me for some years and that I had written to her a couple of months before but she had not answered me.

At this first meeting, Shri Mataji then put Her hand on my back, and on my head. I felt an immensely powerful, rushing sensation up my spine, and then silence, total silence, total peace. I couldn’t speak, and I couldn’t sleep. No thoughts, just being. This was the greatest moment I had ever experienced in my life, a moment in evolution, the raising of the awareness to a new dimension.

We saw a lot of Shri Mataji in those days. She used to come to Caxton Hall every week, on Mondays. Some people were quite aggressive, but they would address Shri Mataji as Mother.

‘If you address Me as Mother you should speak to Me as you would to your mother,’ She said, and that made them better.

Patricia Proenza

I will look after your heart

The second meeting I had with Shri Mataji, after the first one at Caxton Hall, was at the flat in North Gower Street. Shri Mataji invited some of us there and asked me to take along seven lemons and seven chillies and I did, but I didn’t know what they were for. There were a few of us there and one by one She would sit us down at Her Feet with our back towards Her so She could work on our Kundalini.

‘Have you been to any other teachers?’ She said.

‘No,’ I said. Then I said that I had been to something.

‘Ah, very bad one!’ She said. I had not even mentioned this name to Her, but somehow She knew that I had heard his talks.

‘His followers are evil,’ She said. I took this quietly inside myself and after some time I saw this was absolutely true. Shri Mataji said I was in a very bad way. ‘You have given your heart to the wrong people. Say “Mother, I give You my heart” and I will look after it for you.’

Shri Mataji vibrated the lemons and chillies and gave them back to me. The older Sahaja Yogis, Douglas, Maureen and a few others, were sitting in a semicircle round Her, and I was at Her Feet. She was asking them what they felt, and they were saying Left Heart, Right Heart, and in a way I felt as if I understood, although I did not know the terminology. I knew that these people were compassionate. I felt a detached compassion.

Shri Mataji invited me to go to Her house. I went along, with two other Sahaja Yogis and at that time She was staying temporarily in a place off Sloane Square. We went to this house and She worked on me a lot. I had one hand out of the window and the other towards Her.

‘My hand will get cold,’ I said.

‘Don’t worry about that,’ She said.

She asked me about my mother and I explained that she hadn’t spoken to me for five years because I had disappeared off and had been seeking and she couldn’t understand that.

‘Write to her again,’ Shri Mataji said.

‘I did, but she didn’t answer,’ I replied.

‘Just write to her.’

That night I wrote a letter, and my mother answered by return of post. And from that moment our relationship started to heal.

Patricia Proenza

A burst of tremendous joy

In 1977, after I physically met Shri Mataji, She would tell the others that I’d been with Her for more than a year. It apparently went back to the previous year when She raised my Kundalini.

I was at college, in Loughborough, Leicestershire, walking alone, contemplating the meaning of life and yearning to find my ‘guru’. I was crossing a large field at sunset – it was Spring 1976 – 5th May, and as I was walking, I suddenly felt this huge rush of something up my spine. I then felt a burst of tremendous joy. I was just laughing and gushing with this overwhelming bliss. It lasted for quite a while, even after a college mate came and started talking to me. He thought someone had drugged me, and told me so. He came to Birmingham several years later, and insisted that I ‘teach’ him Sahaja Yoga – and he later started Sahaja Yoga in Malaysia.

How wonderfully overwhelming it is, every time we dare to remember, that our Mother and guru is the Adi Shakti Herself, and that She has actually accepted us as Her disciples.

 Bala Kanayson

Shri Mataji welcomed everybody with joy

After the introductory programmes at Caxton Hall there followed a hugely exciting time with large numbers of seekers coming to see Shri Mataji at the Finchley ashram. The number of yogis went up tenfold almost overnight. For us it was wonderful, a dream come true, to be able to share what we had found with other seekers, to experience the joy and wonder of discovering Shri Mataji afresh through the eyes of the newcomers.

For Shri Mataji of course, it must have meant a considerable additional burden, working on the problems of so many people whose seeking had taken them into so many dark and dangerous places. She gave no sign of it, however, welcoming everyone with joy and working tirelessly with them, listening to their problems and healing their wounds. Some sessions would last an entire weekend.

Pat Anslow

Excuses to see Shri Mataji

I often visited the Finchley ashram after coming to Sahaja Yoga in November 1977. I remember the tiny living room overlooking the main road, where we spent so many hours in the holy presence of Shri Mataji. I used to have to make all sorts of excuses to miss work or leave early in order to see Shri Mataji, making the long train journey from Hounslow to Finchley.

On one occasion I was sitting with Shri Mataji in Her little bedroom in the Finchley ashram. A gigantic candle about two feet high was burning in the room, and the flame was flickering. I asked Shri Mataji if it was flickering because of my negativity.

‘I am clearing the catches of the whole world!’ She laughed.

Patricia Proenza

The difference between the cool and the heat

I was at a public meeting in the late seventies, again in Caxton Hall. I had been coming to Sahaja Yoga for a few months and a Sahaja Yogi, one of the ‘first five hippies,’ worked on me from the back, particularly on my Agnya. All of a sudden, I began to feel this tremendous cool breeze flowing. In those days, Shri Mataji used to come by and talk to each one of us.

‘Are you feeling the cool breeze?’ She came up and asked me.

‘Yes,’ I replied. Then She told me to put one hand towards Her and one hand towards a long-haired person who was next to me. The hand towards Mother felt this fantastic cool breeze, whereas the one towards this man felt tremendous heat. As I was doing that, this man turned around to me and said something like that he didn’t like me at all. It was the first time I had felt the difference between the cool and the heat.

Bala Kanayson

Just students

When we were staying at Finchley ashram we started organizing meetings at Caxton Hall, but we didn’t have all the facilities like having cars and vans and things like that; we were just students. We used to take a picture of Mother and anything we could, candles and incense and so on, and we went by bus. A lot of Sahaja Yogis don’t realise that Sahaja Yoga started like this, with very little means, with the very little that the Sahaja Yogis who were there at the time had.

Djamel Metouri

I am always with you

We also spent many wonderful times with Shri Mataji in the flat of a Sahaja Yogi, at 160, North Gower Street, Euston. It was here that only a month after my first meeting with Her, and my self realisation, that Shri Mataji informed us that She was going to India for some time. I must have looked, and certainly felt, aghast at this news. Shri Mataji took my hand.

‘Do not cry. I am always with you,’ She said. Immediately all my pain dissolved away.

I had only been in Sahaja Yoga a month, and felt so much joy seeing Her again when She returned from India.

Patricia Proenza

Shri Mataji decided to move into London

Before long Shri Mataji decided to move into London, and we went with Her to look at properties that were for sale. It was the reverse of what happened in Nepal, where Shri Mataji had helped us not to get overcharged in the shops. Shri Mataji decided to send some yogis to visit properties as potential buyers before She did, in case the owners were artificially inflating the price for Her as an Indian. We thought this was great fun, going into expensive London properties and trying to knock the prices down, when we were in fact unemployed!

Pat Anslow

Shri Mataji moves to Central London

In November 1977 Shri Mataji was staying for a short time at a beautiful flat in Knightsbridge, close to Sloane Square underground station. After that She moved to Ashley Gardens, Ambrosden Avenue, near Victoria Station in Central London. Her flat was on the top floor, and overlooked Westminster Roman Catholic Cathedral. Shri Mataji would make comments on the many barrels of alcohol which were delivered to this building.

Patricia Proenza and others

The Monday evening meeting at Caxton Hall

Shri Mataji often held public meetings on a Monday evening at Caxton Hall, Westminster, Central London, from 1977 onwards. Usually the large hall was used, but sometimes Shri Mataji held meetings in one of the smaller halls. After the meetings, the Sahaja Yogis would often go to The Spaghetti House restaurant nearby in Victoria, and occasionally, Shri Mataji would come too.

Patricia Proenza and others