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Shri Mataji (founder of Sahaja Yoga Meditation)
Afrique Magazine — Paris — France
Interview by Catherine Brousse with Shri Mataji (10/07/89)
“The Indians call her “the Great Mother” and see her as a saint; At a very young age she used to write Mahatma Gandhi’s prayers. She’s been living in London since 1975 where her husband is general secretary of IMCO. She has founded yoga centers in India and in several countries in Europe : England, Switzerland, France, Italy.
Shri Mataji Devi is what we usually call a “guru” which is a rather rare status for a woman. People she says mainly would be more balanced and would have a better life if they could get connected with the supreme principle within each of us. How can we reach this spontaneous connection with the divine, this self-realisation ? Thanks to her method of course ! A sort of meditation, regular but easy and accessible to everyone and which is suppose to purify the energies of the body and soothe mental activities : peace “coming from the heart” would settle down this way because the divine has always been with us.
Is it a daring claim and a simplistic method ? Or the strength of a faith which can only bear its fruits ? In any case, the disciples of sahaja Yoga seem more and more; there would be tens of thousands of them in Europe alone… In July 1989, Shri Mataji has held two lectures in Paris in front of several hundred people. But she has confided to us in private.
AFRIQUE MAGAZINE :
Do you think you were born with a spiritual gift ?
SHRI MATAJI DEVI :
I was born in a rich Protestant family. I received a religious and cosmopolitan education. My mother was a mathematician and my father was able to speak 14 languages. He translated Koran in Hindi. They both found out about my vocation very soon. Mahatma Gandhi also realised it when I was 7
AM : Did you know Mahatma Gandhi very well ?
SMD : Yes, he was a very nice man. He was a friend of the family. When I met him for the first time he felt my spiritual capacities and became attached to me. We had religious discussions regularly. When I was at school I got involved into the non violent struggle against British presence in India. My parents and myself were imprisoned and tortured. Gandhi said : “When we are free, you’ll be able to start”.
AM : To start ?…
SMD : My spiritual teaching. I gave my first lecture in Bombay in 1969.
AM : But independence happened in 1947 ?
SMD : I got married that year. Then, I looked after my family. I waited for my children to be older to start public life.
AM : What is your teaching about ?
SMD : I teach Sahaja Yoga, the 21st century yoga. The practise which is very simple connects you with the divine. You sit comfortably in a peaceful place with palms of the hands upwards. You can concentrate on any object (on a candle or on my photograph which transmits my energy as if I were next to you). Keep your attention on top of your head. The feeling of a cool breeze on the palms of your hands and top of your head is the sign of your self-realisation. This connection with the divine must be firmly established. One can feel it once and then it may disappear. For that, a regular practise is needed.
AM : Do you consider yourself as a guru ?
SMD : If you like. I do not have any concept about myself. Mankind is going through a decisive stage in its evolution. We are at the beginning of a new era and there are many false gurus and negative forces. The guru must be interested in only one thing : to make you meet the divine. All the sects are dangerous tricks for the psyche.
AM : Your lectures are free.
SMD : Self-realisation is an inherent right for everyone just like breathing; we cannot pay for it. (Editor’s note : A voluntary monthly contribution of 200 francs from the members to Sahaja centers covers the cost of hiring halls for programs).
AM : What do you think of established religions ?
SMD : They are like flowers that men have cut and which have withered now. The mollahs and the priests want to talk only about the last judgement and apocalypse. But Buddha and Jesus Christ stand there in the narrow door (she shows her forehead). They are compassion and forgiveness. If you forgive, you will be surprised to see how much you live in the present. In my lectures I use “Our Father” as well as the concepts of Hinduism or Koran.
AM : You have created centers in many parts of the world. Italy has just elected you as “personality of the year”. You have just come back from South America… What about Africa ?
SMD : We have contacts there. But there are a lot of false gurus brought mostly by Indians. They practise black magic.
I hope to go there (in Africa) next year.” Interview by Catherine BROUSSE
For about 2 years my family lived in Africa and that realm became our home. We had also significant dreams and experiences that showed us how powerful the connection can be with our yoga teacher – even if the yoga master is on a different continent than her student(s) 🙂 – , especially during the deep meditations. Such saintly personalities (as Shri Mataji is) reach to the heights of a true Avatar in the subtle protection they offer to their disciples (considered as spiritual children) in times of need and distress. Below I am sharing with you two true stories – collected a while ago from my yogi friends from Africa – that I find so beautiful and colorful and that have that specific African flavour that I so much love. Enjoy!
“On the first morning of the collective meditation, we invoked the blessings and guidance of Shri Mataji and Shri Ganesha. Our prayers did not go unheard. Later, whilst in meditation, a sahaja yogini had a vision of Mother as ‘Shri Africeshwari’ (meaning the mother of Africa). She described mother as a mixture between an African and a Red Indian woman wearing a royal gown cascading in long multi-colored beads. She said ‘Mother looked wise and powerful, holding a staff in her hand’. There was no doubt Shri Mataji was there with us right from the start of the journey. (shared by Rajen, South Africa about a series of Sahaja Yoga classes and workshops offered in the neighbouring African countries – excerpt from one of Rajen’s beautiful African Newsletters)
SHRI MATAJI IS BLACK!
“Some time ago, in Kenya, Mutua, a good brother yogi who at that time used to work for me invited me to his village to spread Sahaja Yoga. Since I had a few days holiday, we took this opportunity to go and meet his family and friends there.
We were 4 yogis to go to Kibwezi : men including Mutua, and one lady, all living in the same close, 2 hours south from Nairobi. We stayed 3 days, in the beautiful countryside round the village, going from one point to another and giving a few small programmes, where about 30 or more people got their Realisation (awakening of Kundalini energy) plus many kids escorting us everywhere. The last day, Mutua told me “there is a last important person you have to visit : my father. He knows there is a foreigner in the village, so he is waiting for us” . It was like a kind of “protocol visit”. So we went towards the place where his father used to live. I just took one picture of Shri Mataji with me. As we were coming closer to the little hut where the old man lived alone, I was wondering what to say him and then just left it to Mother. When we reached his place I saw a very old man getting out of his hut (he was 94 years or so);we greeted the Mzee (very respectful term meaning “old man” in kiswahili) with due respect, Mutua and I, always accompanied by the gaggle of kids gently buzzing around us.
Since I did not know what to say after greeting him I just told him “we have come here… to bring you this Lady “showing him the picture of Shri Mataji; we sat down on little chairs just placed for us outside the hut and he immediately stared at the photograph and we all fell in meditation. I don’t remember how long; it was but it was deep. The old man was facing his son holding the photograph; I just put my hand above the Mzee’s head .. As we all felt the joy of the strong kundalini rising, the Mzee told Mutua in his Mother
tongue : “ I know this Mama…She came yesterday… It was night. I was sleeping and She came in my room; it was exactly this Lady; but she was black…” We were drinking his words…So what happened?
“She came close to my bed, smiling, and gave me a little slap on my shoulder, saying “wake up,now!” and then she walked out the hut laughing and laughing…” And still gazing at Mother’s picture he added: “It was Her! The same lady! but She was black!”
Experience shared by Didier from Africa