From Nirmala Srivastava to Shri Mataji

Nirmala Srivastava, known by the honorific title Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, was born on the 21st of March, 1923 in Chhindwara, India. Her Christian 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.[1] She studied medicine at the Christian Medical College in Ludhiana and the Balakram Medical College in Lahore.

Shri Mataji speaks to a group, in IndiaFrom 1947 to 1970, Nirmala Srivastava courageously stood against prejudice, offered protection to those in need, supported the career of her eminent husband, nourished a growing family, farmed the land, encouraged culture through music and film, constructed numerous homes, engaged in charitable work, fulfilled everyday household duties, raised two daughters, was a loving wife, a supportive sister and eventually a grandmother.

All the while, she deepened her perception of human nature, focusing her attention on the best way to help human beings rise to their highest potential. She came to understand that this transformation could only occur through the process of self-realization, which is the activation of the inbuilt subtle energy present in all of us. The awakening of this energy was something she would experience herself, before dedicating her life to sharing it with others. 

On the 5th of May, 1970 she began her spiritual life-work. At the age of 47 years, she found a way and developed a method of giving en masse self-realization. She desired to offer a genuine experience that people could use to transform and heal themselves, unlike many so-called gurus who took advantage of those seeking spiritual knowledge. She denounced such false gurus and throughout her life warned against fraudulent and abusive spiritual practices.

Shri Mataji with husband Sir C.P.

With her husband as Secretary General of the UN International Maritime Organization in London, Nirmala began her spiritual work with a small group of people, touring the United Kingdom giving lectures as well as the experience of self-realization. She never charged money for these programs, insisting that the awakening of the spiritual energy dormant within all human beings was their birthright and thus could not be paid for. She soon received the honorific title Shri Mataji, meaning "Respected Mother", as those around her came to recognize her exceptional spiritual and motherly qualities.
The method of meditation through self-realization developed by Shri Mataji was called Sahaja Yoga.  Shri Mataji toured throughout Europe, Australia, and North America continuously in the 1980s, teaching this method free of charge to all who were interested. The 1990s saw her travels spreading to South America, Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia and the Pacific region.
Institutions around the world bestowed honorary awards and doctorates upon her. In 1995 she spoke at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. Claes Nobel spoke of her Nobel Prize nomination in 1997, at the Royal Albert Hall in London. A great admirer of Shri Mataji and Sahaja Yoga, he proclaimed it "a source of hope for humanity" and "a reference point for determining right from wrong."

My life now is dedicated for the well-being and benevolence of humanity, completely, entirely.
Strasbourg, Oct 9th 1985
Shri Mataji established non-governmental organizations including a home for destitute women and children, several international schools, a health and research centre, and an international academy promoting classical music and fine art. Her legacy lives on through these institutions as well as through Sahaja Yoga practitioners and meditation centres established in more than 95 countries where Sahaja Yoga is taught, as always, free of charge.



Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi: Short Biography & Awards List (pdf/679kb)

Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi: Timeline of Events (pdf/623kb)

1. ^ A civil disobedience movement launched by MK Gandhi and the Indian National Congress in August 1942, calling for determined but passive resistance to the British rule and for 'an orderly British withdrawal' from India (wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)