Newspaper Interview before the up-coming USA Tour with Stan Bostock published in Zireus on May 1983
The aim was to talk to Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi about her forthcoming North American tour. What happened was something that is only now, a week later, starting to make sense.
I telephoned the number Shri Mataji’s followers in New York had given me, and found myself, an hour later, knocking on the carved door of a five storied terraced house in London’s classy Knightsbridge district.
The door was opened by a young Indian who ushered me into a reception room as ornate and rich as a jewel box. Furniture covered with rose silk, tables inlaid with ivory, carved and gilded wooden screens, pale pink crystal chandeliers.
I heard Shri Mataji before I saw her.
“How are you? How is America?” Then the lady appeared, short, plump, with long dark hair falling free, and a smile that chips away all the defenses.
Tea was ordered and I was asked to sit down.
Before I could get the first question into gear Shri Mataji asked, “Do you know what the chakras are?”
I mumbled something about subtle energy centers along the spine. “That’s right,” she said, and tapped the base of her neck with her index finger. “This one is called the vishuddhi. In the universe the vishuddhi is North America. Australia is the lowest chakra, the mooladhara. India is the kundalini. which can link all the chakras together,” she traced a line from the base of the spine to the top of her head, “but America is the vishuddhi, isn’t it? Such an important chakra.”
Shri Mataji then touched the red spot in her forehead. “This chakra,” she said, “is the agnya. It is presided over by Lord Jesus Christ, isn’t it? The agnya is forgiveness. It shows that the spirit cannot be destroyed, just as Christ could not be destroyed, but rose again, didn’t he?”
Shri Mataji quietly contemplated the risen Christ for a moment, then jabbed her fingers towards the base of her neck again.
“The vishuddhi, its presiding deity, you could say, is Lord Krishna. The vishuddhi stands for diplomacy and sweetness and self-esteem and communication and collectivity – like your Abraham Lincoln, he stood for collectivity. Abraham Lincoln was a saint – did you know that? – a realized soul. You have had many great men. Roosevelt now, he said, ‘poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere’. So clear he saw it. So clear. America is so great. It is protected by Lord Krishna’s discus.”
Shri Mataji held up the index finger of her right hand and twirled it. and I swear I could see a bright glittering disc whirling round.
“As long as that discus is there,’’ she said, “America can never be invaded.”
“Could that protection ever be withdrawn?” I asked.
Shri Mataji shrugged expressively, and raised her eyebrows high. “Perhaps,” she said. “If the land of diplomacy stopped being diplomatic, the land of communications communicated bad things, the land of sweetness turned bitter, then yes. perhaps Lord Krishna might withdraw the protection.” Suddenly she laughed.
“On my tour I shall tell everybody how to stop that from happening.”
I asked Shri Mataji if she was visting North America just to sound such a warning.
“There are seekers of money, seekers after power, seekers of physical gratification,” she replied, “and then there are people who have done all those things, and are now seeking the truth, seeking their spirit, seeking God. There are many, many seekers of truth in America. Great, great seekers. Oh so great. I want to meet them. Show them how they can get what they have been looking for for probably ages. Lifetimes even. Their self realization.”
“What is that exactly?” I hadn’t yet asked one question from my carefully prepared list.
Tea arrived. Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, the spellbinding visionary, turned into Mrs. C.P. Srivastava, the attentive hostess. Did I have the right amount of sugar and milk? Would I have a biscuit? (Which turned out to be a cookie.)
“Self realization,” said Shri Mataji, “is the yoga, the union. The joining of the microcosm to the macrocosm, you could say. The raising of the energy in each of us, called kundalini. (There is no English word for it. You should invent one. There is a good job for you. invent a good English word for kundalini.) The linking of that energy with the all-pervading energy of God. that is what self realization is.”
“What exactly does it do?” I felt a fool at the naivety of the question.
“It brings about a change in awareness. You feel it as a cool breeze, cool vibrations, you could say. on the top of the head and on the hands. It is an actual happening! Not self-certification. Not saying ‘I am born again!’ or ‘I am this or that!’ You actually become! If you desire self realization, and you get it, then you become collectively conscious, truly sweet and truly diplomatic. A true blue Amercan, you could say.” And the joyous laughter flowed into every corner of the room.
I asked Shri Mataji if she was the only one who could grant this self realization.
“ Oh no,” came the reply, “once you have it you can pass it on to others.”
“But it all seems to start from you,” I said, “Why you?”
Shri Mataji’s face became serious. “As far as I know,” she said, “I am the only one who can do it en masse. Once, in India, 6000 villagers got it at the same time. But if there is someone else who can do it, then I am only too happy to retire. I am sixty years old.” (At times she looks half that.) “I am happily married. I have a beautiful house as you can see. It would be good to settle down and stop all this travelling round all the time. But until I find someone else who can do it, then it is up to me, isn’t it, to meet the seekers and let them know how to gain this gift that is their own, their right, this Union with God.”
“Could I receive this gift?” I asked. Shri Mataji’s eyes danced. “Put your hand above your head,” she said.
I did as I was told. There was a faint, oh so faint coolness on my hand. I looked round to see if there could be a draft coming from anywhere, but there was no air conditioning and the windows were closed.
“You feel it?”
I nodded, tentatively.
“That is the beginning. Perhaps while you were drinking your tea you said to yourself ‘I ’d like that experience,’ a n d . . . ” Shri Mataji snapped her fingers, “ . . . you got it. It can only happen if you desire it. Give me your hand.”
She took my hand and started tracing a cross over the palm.
“You think too much,” she said. “Your mind is busy, busy, busy, thinking away.” From that moment on it wasn’t. It was hardly thinking at all.
“Too much thinking can give people diabetes. It is not sugar that causes diabetes, it’s thinking. We can cure diabetes. After realization. And this new thing AIDS. After realization we can cure that too. With realization you become your own guru. You can diagnose your own problems and those of others, and you can cure them. Anybody with their realization and the desire to develop their spirit, can cure and be cured.”
At this point a wave of most pleasant well-being swept over me. It wasn’t a trance or a hypnotic state (I’ve experienced those) – it was a feeling of deep peace.
I regretted my next question. It caused the smile to fade from Shri Mataji’s face. “How much are you going to charge Americans for this experience?”
“It is part of evolution,” she replied. “It is a gift of love from God, who is the ocean of love, the ocean of compassion. How can you pay for that? God does not understand money. How can yo pay for your evolution? Did you pay to become human from amoeba? Did you pay to stand up on two legs? Anyway, why would I want money? I come from a wealthy family. My husband is Secretary General of the United Nations International Maritime Organization here in London. I do not need money. I do not accept money.”
Shri Mataji let go of my hand and smiled.
“Better now?” she asked.
“That is because your brain is not so active. You are more balanced, more centered, more relaxed. Have some more tea?”
I put my hand above my head again. The coolness was still there. Perhaps even stronger.
“There are so many great seekers in North America.” she said. “I so want to meet them.”
Now, almost a week later, when I sit down quietly, that sense of peace and relaxed happiness returns. I am hoping it won’t go away.