Shree Mataji (21 March 1923 – 23 February 2011), known as Shree Mataji Nirmala Devi, and founder of Sahaja Yoga, a meditation technique and new religious movement She claimed to have been born in a fully realised state and spent her life working for peace by developing and promoting a simple technique through which people can achieve their own self-realization. Shri Mataji never charged for her instruction in Sahaja Yoga which is now practised and taught for free in over 140 countries
Shree Mataji was born in Chindawara, Madhya Pradesh, India to Hindu father and a Christian mother Prasad and Cornelia Salve. Her parents named her Nirmala, which means “immaculate”. She said that she was born self-realised. Her father, a scholar of fourteen languages, translated the Koran into Marathi, and her mother was the first woman in India to receive an honours degree in mathematics. Nirmala Srivastava descended from the royal Shalivahana/Satavahana dynasty. Former union minister N.K.P.Salve was her brother and lawyer Harish Salve is her nephew.The Salve surname is one of a number included in the Satavahana Maratha clan.
Nirmala Srivastava passed her childhood years in the family house in Nagpur. In her youth she stayed in the ashram of Mahatma Gandhi. Like her parents, she was involved with the struggle for Indian independence and, as a youth leader when a young woman, was jailed for participating in the Quit India Movement in 1942. Taking responsibility for her younger siblings and living a spartan lifestyle during this period infused the feeling of self-sacrifice for the wider good. She studied at the Christian Medical College in Ludhiana and the Balakram Medical College in Lahore.
Shortly before India achieved independence in 1947, Shri Mataji married Chandrika Prasad Srivastava, a high-ranking Indian civil servant who later served Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri as Joint Secretary, and was bestowed an honorary KCMG by Elizabeth II. They had two daughters, Kalpana Srivastava and Sadhana Varma. In 1961, Nirmala Srivastava launched the “Youth Society for Films” to infuse national, social and moral values in young people. She was also a member of the Central Board of Film Certification
Shree Mataji was known to have been concerned with the damage being done to society by ‘false gurus and because of this visited a meditation camp in Nargol that was presided over by Rajneesh (later known as Osho). She said that she “was shocked to see him loot people under the guise of spirituality and said that he was mesmerising people. The camp ran from 2 May to 5 May 1970, and Rajneesh led sessions in an early form of dynamic meditation, discoursed on kundalini and other matters, and answered a question about sahaja yoga.
Shree Mataji said that while in Nargol, on 5 May 1970, she witnessed the rising of the Primordial Kundalini. Later she described the experience as follows: “I saw my kundalini rising very fast like a telescope opening out and it was a beautiful color that you see when the iron is heated up, a red rose color, but extremely cooling and soothing.” She stated that the potential for all humanity to gain spiritual self-awareness was realised at this time, which she characterises as a “historical process of en-masse self-realization and inner transformation”. Soon after she founded Sahaja Yoga in Mumbai
Spreading of Sahaja Yoga : –
In 1972 Shree Mataji sailed to the US and warned against false gurus. In 1974 Chandrika Prasad Srivastava was elected to serve as the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a United Nations agency based in London, serving a record 4 successive 4-year terms as Secretary-General from 1974 to 1989. After moving to London with her husband, Shree Mataji worked with seven London hippies who became the first Western Sahaja Yogis. In 1979 Shree Mataji declared herself to be the complete incarnation of the Adi (Primordial) Shakti or Holy Spirit to her devotees. She has also claimed to be Maitreya and the Mahdi. Shree Mataji has been described as “a simple Indian housewife… with a motherly and compassionate personality”.
In 1980 Shree Mataji first toured Europe spreading Sahaja Yoga and in 1981 she toured Malaysia, Australia and North America – many other countries were to follow.In 1989, after the lifting of the Iron Curtain, Shree Mataji began visiting Eastern Europe where Sahaja Yoga spread quickly. In 1995, Shree Mataji was awarded an honorary doctorate in Cognitive and Parapsychological Sciences by the Ecological University of Bucharest, Romania. Also in 1995, Shree Mataji gave a speech at the Fourth World Conference on Womenin Beijing. In 1997 Claes Nobel, the founder of United Earth, spoke in strong support of Shree Mataji and Sahaja Yoga which he described as a reference point for determining right from wrong. He said he was very comfortable with Shri Mataji and her teachings quoting “you shall know the tree by its fruit” and described Sahaja Yogis as ambassadors for the earth .
Honors & Awards
AWARDS AND ACHIEVMENTS
I986: ITALY. Shri Mataji was acknowledged as the ‘PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR’ by the Italian Government.
1989: MOSCOW – RUSSIA. Shri Mataji had a meeting with the Head of the Ministry of Health, USSR. Following which SAHAJA YOGA was granted a ‘Full Government Sponsorship’ which included funding for promotion and scientific research.
1989: NEW YORK – USA. Invited Shri Mataji to the United Nations for a talk on ‘how to achieve world peace’.
1989: NEW YORK – USA. Shri Mataji was awarded the ‘UNITED NATIONS PEACE PRIZE’.
1992: CINCINNATI – USA. The 10TH of September got proclaimed as the “SHRI MATAJI NIRMALA DEVI DAY”
1993: PHILADELPHIA – USA. The 15th October got proclaimed as the “SHRI MATAJI NIRMALA DEVI DAY”
1993: LOS ANGELES – USA. A letter of welcome was granted from the Mayor Richard Riodan, on behalf of the people of Los Angeles.
1993: ST. PETERSBURG – RUSSIA. She got appointed as Honorary Member to ‘The presidium of Petroyaska’s Academy of Art and Science’. Only twelve people so far have been granted this honor; Albert Einstein is one among them.
1993: ST. PETERSBURG – RUSSIA. Shri Mataji inaugurated the ‘International Conference on MEDICINE AND SELF – KNOWLEDGE’
1994: LOS ANGELES – USA. In behalf of the people of LOS ANGELES ‘A letter of welcome and continued friendship’ was extended by the Mayor Richard Riordan.
1994: NEW YORK –USA. Honored Shri Mataji and her association with ‘MAHATMA GANDHI- A POLICE PARADE’ with a half day march from 5th Avenue to the Central Park.
1994: NEW YORK –USA. She was invited by the UNITED NATIONS for Four consecutive years to speak: ‘How to achieve world peace’.
1994: BRITHISH COLUMBIA- CANADA. In the behalf of the people of Canada granted ‘A letter of welcome’, by the Premier Mike Hacourt.
1994: BRAZIL –BRASILIA. Shri Mataji got from the Mayor of Brasilia the ‘KEY TO THE CITY’ and he sponsored all her S.Y. programs.
1995: BEIJING – CHINA. Shri Mataji was invited by the UNITED NATIONS as‘Official Guest Speaker of the Chinese Government’ to speak at the International Women’s Conference.
1995: ROMANIA. Shri Mataji got the ‘HONORARY DOCTORATE in Cognitive Science’ from the Romanian Ecological University.
1997: INDIA. Shri Mataji got the ‘UNITY INTERNATIONAL PEACE AWARD’.
1998: A road in Navi Mumbai got named as the H.H. SHRI NIRMALA DEVI MARG.