top of page

H.H.Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi (1923 - 2011)

Early Life


H.H. Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi more famously known as Shri Mataji, was born in Chindawara, Madhya Pradesh, India to Shri Prasad and Cornelia Salve. Her parents named her Nirmala, which means "immaculate". 


She was born self-realised and everyone around Her could sense a very distictive feeling of peace, joy and bliss bubbling out of Her. Her father, a scholar of fourteen languages, who translated the Koran into Marathi, was a very great freedom fighter. He was known for his selfless sacrifice of all that he had owned from houses to cars to clothes etc which he had earned and acquired from his position as a magistrate. Her mother was an ideal housewife and was the first woman in India to receive an honours degree in mathematics. A mother of thirteen children who displayed and imbibed a great sense of sacrifice in all her children.  


Shri Mataji descended from the royal Shalivahana/Satavahana dynasty.Former union minister N.K.P.Salve was her brother and lawyer Harish Salve is her nephew.The Salve surname is one of a number included in theSatavahana Maratha clan.

Shri Mataji sitting second from left with Her parents and family.

Shri Mataji passed her childhood years in the family house in Nagpur. In her youth she stayed in the ashram of Mahatma Gandhi. Like her parents, she was involved with the struggle for Indian independence and, as a youth leader when a young woman, was jailed for participating in the Quit India Movement in 1942. 


Taking responsibility for her younger siblings and living a spartan lifestyle during this period infused the feeling of self-sacrifice for the wider good. She studied at the Christian Medical College in Ludhiana and the Balakram Medical College in Lahore.

Mahatma Gandhi

Family Life


Shortly before India achieved independence in 1947, Shri Mataji married Chandrika Prasad Srivastava, a high-ranking Indian civil servant who later served Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri as Joint Secretary, and was bestowed an honorary KCMG by Elizabeth II. 


They had two daughters, Kalpana Srivastava and Sadhana Varma. In 1961, Shri Mataji launched the "Youth Society for Films" to infuse national, social and moral values in young people. She was also a member of the Central Board of Film Certification.


Beginning of Sahaja Yoga


Shri Mataji was very concerned with the damage being done to the society by 'false gurus' and when She visited a meditation camp in Nargol said that She "was shocked to see him loot people under the guise of spirituality". On finding the genuine seekers of truth being cheated openly in the name of God, She left the camp. 


While in Nargol, on 5th May 1970, after meditating for more than 24 hours, 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." 


The potential for all humanity to gain spiritual self-awareness was realised at this time, which she characterised as a "historical process of en-masse self-realization and inner transformation". Soon after Sahaja Yoga was founded in Mumbai.

Shri Mataji with Her husband Sir CP

Spreading of Sahaja Yoga


In 1972 Shri Mataji sailed to the US and warned against false gurus. In 1974 Chandrika Prasad Srivastava was elected to serve as the Secretary-General of theInternational 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, Shri Mataji worked with seven London hippies who became the first Western Sahaja Yogis.


In 1980 Shri Mataji 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. In 1995, Nirmala Srivastava was awarded an honorary doctorate in Cognitive and Parapsychological Sciences by the Ecological University of Bucharest, Romania. Also in 1995, Nirmala Srivastava gave a speech at theFourth 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.


Shri Mataji has been described by many as "a simple Indian housewife... with a motherly and compassionate personality". 

Shri Mataji in 1970s 

Shri Mataji in early years of Sahaja Yoga

Shri Mataji explaining Sahasrara Chakra

Her Work

Inorder to account and describe all of Her work, one has to write a book as there have been so much work done by Her alone single-handedly. Its quite surprising how one normal human being can achieve so much in such less time. She says it is due to the inherent nature of the Kundalini that one can continue to work endlessly without getting tired as you can understand that all the living work is done by the collective consciousness and that it has all the power to work out everything for us. And all of this She accomplished without asking any money from the seekers.


As mentioned earlier, She started Sahaja Yoga as a non-profit organization in the year 1970 with only a handful of people and today we have meditation centers in more than 120 countries.


Some of Her most prominent works that well known worldwide are stated below. For more details Click Here:


Shri Mataji established the International Sahaja Yoga Health and Research Centre in Mumbai in 1996. ( Sahaja Yoga practitioners from all over the world visit to use Sahaja Yoga methods to achieve better meditations; 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).


In 2004 Shri Mataji opened another Health and Research Center in the heart and capital city of India, Noida- Delhi.(


The Shri P.K. Salve Kala Pratishthan( in Vaitarna was set up as an international music school in the same year by Shri Mataji, 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.


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.

Shri Mataji answering questions from seekers

bottom of page