Friday, February 25, 2011

Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi Obit

This is the obituary that was sent out today to British newspapers:

(more obits at the bottom)

On Wednesday, 23 February, Mrs Nirmala Srivastava, better known throughout
the world as Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, the founder of Sahaja Yoga, passed
away at her home in Genoa, Italy.

She was born Nirmala Salve on 21 March 1923 in Chindwara, Maharashtra, India
to Prasad and Cornelia Salve, a Christian couple who were direct descendents
of the royal Shalivahana dynasty. Her mother was the first woman in India to
receive the Honours degree in Mathematics, while her father was a renowned
scholar who spoke 14 languages and translated the Koran into his native
Marathi. The family was closely associated with Mahatma Gandhi and lived in
Gandhi's ashram for several years. As a youth Nirmala played an active part
in Gandhi's freedom struggle and in 1942 joined the Quit India Movement,
which led to her arrest and imprisonment. Her father was later a member of
the Constituent Assembly of India and helped to write India's first
constitution. Her siblings all went on to hold important roles in public
life. Nirmala studied medicine and psychology at the Christian Medical
College in Ludhiana and the Balakram
Medical College in Lahore , and in
1947, shortly before independence, she married Chandrika Prasad (CP)
Srivastava, a high-ranking civil servant. The couple had two daughters,
Kalpana and Sadhana, and Mrs Srivastava spent the following years as a
housewife, raising her children and caring for her husband in his new role
as principal secretary to the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri.



Her family were not only great scholars but also great supporters of the
arts, and of music in particular. In 1961, Mrs Srivastava launched the Youth
Society for Films to infuse national, social and moral values in young
people through the medium of cinema. She was also a member of the Indian
Film Censor Board
.
Throughout her life she continued to support the music and the arts, hosting
concerts with some of the greatest names in Indian classical music, as well
as building a music and arts academy in her father's name.



On 5 May 1970 a new chapter in Mrs Srivastava's life began. After seeing how
some unscrupulous men posed as gurus and preyed on often unsuspecting young
tourists visiting India in search of spiritual enlightenment, she went into
a state of profound meditation at Nargol, a beach in Gujarat that has now
been declared a protected eco-zone. During this meditation she said she
witnessed the rising of the Adi Kundalini, the primordial energy that
sustains the universe. Describing the experience she said, "I saw my
kundalini rising very fast like a telescope opening out and it was a
beautiful colour that you see when the iron is heated; a red rose colour,
but extremely cooling and soothing." In this state she realised that it was
her mission in life to share this spiritual awareness with humanity and that
it could be done by giving Self Realisation (enlightenment) to anyone who
desired it through a process of en-masse awakening of the kundalini. Shortly
after that experience, she returned to Bombay (Mumbai) where she began
practising the new technique she called sahaja yoga (spontaneous union) with
a handful of interested people and became known as Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi.



In 1972 Shri Mataji travelled to the US and publicly warned against the
proliferation of "gurus" coming from India whose main interest was in making
money without the ability to give enlightenment. In 1974, her husband, who
at the time was the chief executive of the Shipping Corporation of India,
was elected Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization
(IMO), a United Nations agency based in London. He was re-elected to that
position a record four times and in 1990 was awarded the title of Honorary
Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished order of St Michael and St George
(KCMG) for his services to shipping. During her time in London, not only did
she play her part as a diplomatic wife, hosting functions for international
dignitaries, but also began her work of spreading Sahaja Yoga, starting out
with "seven hippies", as she called them. From these beginnings, through
free meetings held in small halls around London, the technique began to
spread and Shri Mataji started travelling throughout the UK, at her own
expense, holding lectures and imparting the experience of self realisation.



During the '80s, Sahaja Yoga grew exponentially as Shri Mataji travelled
extensively through Europe, Australia and America. She also toured
throughout India, where she was revered and worshipped as a living goddess,
from the smallest villages to the largest cities. Western practitioners were
invited to join her on these tours to experience India and its culture in
its purest form. At the beginning of the 90s she and her husband bought a
house in Cabella Ligure, in the Italian countryside. She continued to travel
the world, also visiting Russia and China, to spread her message of peace,
collective consciousness and enlightenment, aided by the growing number
yogis practicing her technique of awakening kundalini, which she described
as "one candle enlightening another". She filled venues as varied as
London's Royal Albert Hall and sports arenas in Russia and India. By the
turn of the century, numbers had grown from hundreds, to thousands, to tens
of thousands and her summer home in Italy became a place of pilgrimage. In
2004 she decided to curtail the touring and public lectures she had been
tirelessly giving without recompense for thirty years. As with all people,
age was starting to take its toll on her body. She withdrew from public life
to spend more time with her family and let the movement she had started grow
organically, but she was always there to offer guidance.



Over a forty-year period, her vision for a world of peaceful, enlightened
people has grown from a handful of devotees to an internationally recognised
movement, which led to her nomination for the Nobel Peace Price. She has
built hospitals, schools, music and art academies, shelters for abused women
and children, based around the practice of sahaja yoga, as well as the
all-important centres for meditation.



She will be remembered, by the thousands who personally met her, for her
wisdom, her laughter and great sense of humour, and her unfathomable
knowledge on almost any subject that could confound even the greatest
experts. Although she may not have lived to see her vision of world peace
fully realised, she never faltered from the quest. She was eloquent,
pragmatic and compassionate. Her forthrightness could court controversy, and
celebrity and riches did not sway her. Her concern was for the genuine
seekers of truth, and she would never turn them away. Her generosity, both
spiritually and materially, knew no bounds because, above all, she was a
mother who could not stop loving all her children in equal measure.

Shri Mataji is survived by her husband, her two daughters, four
grandchildren and great grandchildren. She will be laid to rest in her
beloved India.

Marathi Newspaper Saamna:
http://www.saamana.com/2011/February/25/Link/Main9.htm

USA Newsrelease, seen at Yahoo
http://news.yahoo.com/s/prweb/20110225/bs_prweb/prweb5107064_3

Times of India- Mataji Nirmala Devi passes away

Malaysian and Australian News Release (via freemeditation.com)

Blogosphere Tributes:
1000 Petals Blog

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