Early Years

Shri Mataji and Gandhi

Shri Mataji as a Young ChildMahatma Gandhi left a lasting impression on everyone who met him, including a little girl who used to stay at his ashram. This little girl was Shri Mataji, whom he nicknamed Nepali because of her Nepalese-like features.

From the age of seven, Shri Mataji spent much time with Gandhi at his ashram. “He would sit down with me, very seriously ask me very sweet questions,” recalled Shri Mataji, who often accompanied him during early morning walks before collective prayers.

“He was a tremendous hard master, but an extremely loving and compassionate person,” said Shri Mataji. “He always used to talk to me in a way as if I was a grandmother and he used to discuss things with me, most surprising to all others, in a way, (as if) I was wiser to everyone. And he said that guidance can be better from some children than from the older people.”
Shri Mataji later would praise Gandhi for establishing the base for dharma, inner religion or righteousness, in his country. He encouraged people to explore the Bible, to understand the Bhagavad Gita, to know all the great scriptures and great people of the world, and to understand them in an integrated way.

During her conversations with Gandhi, not only did they explore the inherent nature of the human personality, but also the ways and means to bring about social and spiritual liberation. When asked about her experience with Gandhi,  Shri Mataji recounted one of their discussions: Gandhi was strict with his routine and had people waking at 4 a.m., fasting and so on, and Shri Mataji said to him, "You are too strict...isn't this all too much?"

Gandhi explained that it was necessary to have strict discipline during times of emergency when the country’s momentum for freedom was gaining speed.
Shri Mataji recalls her childhood experiences with Mahatma Gandhi   To this Shri Mataji suggested, "Bapu, if you want to discipline people, why not give them discipline from within?"

Gandhi asked how it would be possible. She assured him that inner transformation was the answer. But he reasoned, "First of all, let us be free (from British rule). If we are not free, what can we enjoy? We cannot talk about it. People will say that we are not even free, how can we talk of freedom of Spirit? We should be free from foreign domination first."

In the following years, Gandhi’s message spread to the masses, from illiterate farmers to the more privileged classes and the most highly educated members of society.  Shri Mataji also took part in the freedom struggle, setting an example for other college students to follow.
If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.
mahatma gandhi

In 1947, India finally became a free nation. It had been many years since Shri Mataji’s childhood discussions with Gandhi, but not long before his last days, he asked to see her. “I met him…immediately he recognized,” Shri Mataji recalled. “He said, ‘Meet me after prayer.’ When I met him, he said, ‘Now take to constructive work. Take to constructive work...' ”

Shri Mataji continued studying the various problems facing human beings as well as possible solutions. It would be many years before she began her transformative work through Sahaja Yoga. Just as Gandhi had stirred the masses and guided his country to freedom, Shri Mataji’s work would transform not just a few individuals but hundreds of thousands worldwide. The time for inner freedom had come.

Shri Mataji speaks to ORF Radio in Vienna, Austria  
A political leader need not worry about spirit and religion, but he considered our country to be a land of yoga ... Gandhi’s main contribution was to establish balance in people and to make them more Indian, removing the slavish mentality that had trickled down into us.