Founder of Sahaja Yoga
Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi discovered, through her own experience, the practice of Sahaja Yoga meditation in 1970. Since then, she devoted her entire life to helping people across the world realise their true self and awaken their own inner energy - the Kundalini.
While Kundalini is well described in various ancient scriptures, it is considered sacred knowledge and therefore not common. Ancient sages have known to pass it on to their disciples but it wasn't believed to be possible to spread it knowledge en masse.
Shri Mataji's vision, however, was to achieve world peace through each individual's inner peace and she sought to realise it.
She developed the practice of Sahaja Yoga that helps people not only awaken their Kundalini energy but also sustain it's positive influence on mind, body, and spirit, through regular meditation.
She travelled the world and did free programmes everywhere to help awaken the kundalini of thousands of people at once; regardless of race, faith, country or circumstance.
This earned her the loving title of Shri Mataji, literally meaning respected mother.
Nirmala Srivastava, known by the honorific title Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, was born on the 21st of March, 1923 in Chhindwara, India.
Her parents, Prasad and Cornelia Salve, chose the name Nirmala, which means ‘immaculate.’ Her father, a lawyer and scholar fluent in 14 languages, translated the Qur'an into Hindi. Her mother was the first woman in India to receive an honors degree in mathematics.
Her parents were actively involved in the struggle for Indian independence, and as a child Nirmala frequently stayed with Mahatma Gandhi in his ashram. As a young woman she, too, joined the struggle for independence and was jailed for her participation in the Quit India Movement in 1942. She studied medicine at the Christian Medical College in Ludhiana and the Balakram Medical College in Lahore.
In 1947, she married Chandrika Prasad, later known as Sir CP, a high-ranked Indian civil officer, who worked with Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. They had two daughters Kalpana and Sadhana.
From 1947 to 1970, Nirmala Srivastava courageously stood against prejudice, offered protection to those in need, encouraged culture through various forms of art, engaged in charitable work, was a loving wife and mother, a supportive sister and eventually a grandmother.
However, Shri Mataji always remembered her true destiny - the search of a method for the spiritual enlightenment of humanity.
It was on 5 May 1970, that deep in meditation in Nargol, India, she felt her Kundalini rise within her, moving along her spine through all her chakras until it pierced the final chakra, the Sahasrara, at the top of her head.
At that moment she was brought into a state of total serenity and knew that this was the answer to what so many were searching for. On discovering this method to achieve inner peace, she developed the practice of Sahaja Yoga, which in Sanskrit means 'spontaneous union' or 'born within'.
Shri Mataji (second from left) with her parents and siblings.
Establishment of Sahaja Yoga
The first international Sahaja Yoga meditation programme was in Tehran, Iran in 1970.
From there on, Shri Mataji travelled the world to bring her knowledge to all who wished to receive it. Starting with Europe, North America, and Australia, and later moving on to South America, Asia, and the Pacific region, she tirelessly taught Sahaja Yoga to all who were interested.
Shri Mataji's legacy
Shri Mataji believed in holistic wellbeing and collective growth.
She established various kindergartens and schools, health & research centers, homes for the disadvantaged, art academies and social projects.
Among the many NGOs she established are Nirmala Prem Ashram for women & orphan children; International Sahaja Yoga Research & Health Centre for holistic medical center with focus on natural treatments and research on meditative benefits on health and wellbeing; and an academy for music and fine arts.
A life dedicated to spreading peace