Nirmala Srivastava (née Nirmala Salve) (21 March 1923 – 23 February 2011), also known as Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, is the founder of Sahaja Yoga, a mation technique. She said "You cannot know the meaning of your life until you're connected to the power that created you". She claimed to have been born in a fully realised 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 was born in Chindawara, Madhya Pradesh, India to a 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. Shri Mataji descended from the royal Shalivahana/Satavahana dynasty. The former union minister N.K.P. Salve was her brother and the lawyer Harish Salve is her nephew.The Salve surname is one of a number included in the Satavahana Maratha clan.
Nirmala Srivastava was known to have been concerned with the damage being done to society by 'false gurus' and because of this visited a mation 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 mation, discoursed on kundalini and other matters, and answered a question about sahaja yoga.
Nirmala Srivastava 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.
In The Power of Intention, Wayne Dyer summarises Shri Mataji's message as follows:
You are beyond the body and mind—the greatest truth is that you are the spirit.
One has to know the spirit to know the truth.
Mation is the only way to grow. The growth of awareness takes place in the silence of thoughtless awareness.
Spreading of Sahaja Yoga
In 1972 Mrs. Nirmala Srivastava 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, Nirmala Srivastava worked with seven London hippies who became the first Western Sahaja Yogis. In 1979 Nirmala Srivastava 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. Nirmala Srivastava has been described as "a simple Indian housewife... with a motherly and compassionate personality".
In 1980 Nirmala Srivastava 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, Nirmala Srivastava began visiting Eastern Europe where Sahaja Yoga spread quickly. Also in 1995, Nirmala Srivastava gave a speech at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. In 1997 Claes Nobel, the founder of United Earth, spoke in strong support of Shri 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.
Srivastava in her last years
Shri Mataji established the International Sahaja Yoga Health and Research Centre in Mumbai in 1996. Its website says that practitioners from all over the world visit to use Sahaja Yoga methods to achieve better mations; also that the technique is studied for its curing effects of various illnesses. In 2003 a charity house for the rehabilitation of destitute women was set up in Delhi (the Vishwa Nirmala Prem Ashram). The Shri P.K. Salve Kala Pratishthan in Nagpur was set up as an international music school in the same year by Nirmala, to promote classical music and fine art.
Until 2004, during her travels, Shri Mataji gave numerous public lectures, pujas, and interviews to newspapers, television and radio. In 2004 the official website of Sahaja Yoga announced that Shri Mataji had completed her work and Sahaja Yoga centers exist in almost every country of the world. She continued to give talks to her devotees and allowed them to offer her puja.
Shri Mataji spoke on a number of occasions about the evils of alcohol. In Australia in October 2007 she spoke at length about the problems associated with alcohol, both in relation to society, its effects upon people and the dangers it poses to the family.
Honors and recognition
Italy, 1986. Declared "Personality of the Year" by the Italian Government.
New York, 1990-1994. Invited by the United Nations for four consecutive years to speak about the ways and means to achieve world peace.
St. Peterburg, Russia, 1993. Appointed as Honorary Member of the Petrovskaya Academy of Art and Science.
Romania, 1995. Awarded Honorary Doctorate in Cognitive Science by head of the Ecological University Bucharest.
China, 1995. Official guest of the Chinese Government to speak at the United Nations International Women's Conference.
Pune, India, 1996. On the occasion of the 700th Anniversary of Saint Gyaneshwara, Shri Mataji addressed the "World Philosophers Meet '96 - A Parliament of Science, Religion and Philosophy" at Maharashtra Institute of Technology.
London, 1997. Mr. Claes Nobel, grandnephew of Alfred Nobel, chairman of United Earth, honored the life and work of Shri Mataji in a public speech at the Royal Albert Hall.
A road in Navi Mumbai, near the Sahaja Yoga Health and Research Center, was named in honor of Shri Mataji.
Cabella Ligure, Italy, 2006. Shri Mataji was awarded honorary Italian citizenship.
^Rommel Varma; Sadhana Varma. Ascent to the Divine: Himalaya Kailasa-Manasarovar in Scripture, Art and ThoughtISBN978-2-88169-001-3
^About Shri MatajiArchived 8 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Canadian website. "Corruption and hypocrisy in the religions, and false Gurus' (mainly from India) tantric teachings also contributed to attacking the morality and innocence of society"
^Osho, In Search of the Miraculous Vol 1Archived 19 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine. "Sahaja yoga is the most difficult of the yogas, because there is nothing more difficult than to be sahaja – effortless, natural and spontaneous. What is the meaning of sahaja? Sahaja means: let whatever happens happen, don't resist it. Of course, it is the best, but it is also very difficult. Because nothing is more difficult for man than to be natural..." [ch 8, 5 May pm]
^Gregoire de Kalbermatten, The Advent (daisyamerica: 2003)
^Guru Puja. 2 December 1979. Dollis Hill Ashram, London, UK "But today it is the day I declare I am the One who have to save the humanity. I declare I am the One who is Adi Shakti [Holy Spirit] – who is the Mother of all Mothers, who is the Primordial Mother, the Shakti [power] of the Desire of God – who has incarnated on this Earth to give meaning to itself, to this creation, to human beings, and I am sure that through My Love and Patience and My Powers I am going to achieve it. I was the One who was born again and again. But now I have come in My complete Form and with complete Powers."
^Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, Their Jihads, and Osama Bin Laden 2005 by Timothy R. Furnish & Michael Rubin, p165 "currently there is a woman named Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, born a Christian in Maharashtra, India, claiming to be the Mahdi, Maitreya (a Buddhist messianic figure), and Comforter (Christian terminology for the Holy Spirit), as well as a Hindu divine Avatar. Needless to say, her following in the Muslim world is at best limited."