House and Home

Shri Mataji’s younger brother Hemant Prasad Rao ("H.P.") Salve often stayed with her while preparing for his accountancy exams. Mr. Salve recalled the care and attention his sister gave him at that time, even staying up late to prepare him his habitual midnight cup of tea. She would first put her daughters to sleep, then “… after massaging my head for about an hour or so she would then go and prepare a cup of hot tea and give it to me.” [1]

Shri Mataji with Musicians from India, in South London, England 1981After his exams, Shri Mataji took her brother to concerts by eminent musicians. She was an early vice-president of Sur Singar Samsad, a cultural organisation fostering musical performances (they can now be found on facebook), as well as a member of the Music Club of Bombay, and was often invited to various concerts. Mr. Salve remembered the immense privilege of listening to great artists like Bismillah Khan, Amir Khan, Bhinsen Joshi, Shivkumar Sharma and Vilayat Khan. Years later, many renowned musicians would play for Shri Mataji personally, such as Amjad Ali Khan, Hariprasad Chaurasia and Debu Chaudhari.

In 1961, Shri Mataji launched the 'Youth Society for Films' to encourage national, social and moral values in young people. She was also a member of the Film Censor Board in Mumbai.

"... Shri Mataji had started constructing a house in Lucknow," H.P. Salve recalled. When she travelled to Jabalpur in order to buy marble in bulk, he would often accompany her, noticing her practical ability for obtaining high quality, aesthetically pleasing materials at their source and for an excellent price. This skill remained a useful one through the years, as Shri Mataji oversaw the construction and refurbishment of many different houses. Taking on dilapidated properties and repairing them became a feature of Shri Mataji’s later life, similar to her capacity to welcome damaged individuals into her home and help return them to balance and health.

Mr. Salve wrote in his memoirs, “After we had ordered the marble we went to meet a cousin of ours. Her daughter turned out to be a student of a professor in the local Robertson College, who was giving spiritual discourses. Knowing the inclination of Shri Mataji towards spirituality, my cousin arranged a meeting between Shri Mataji and the professor. Upon seeing Nirmala, he ran with raised arms towards her, exclaiming: ‘Oh Mother, .. I have been looking forward to meeting you for so long! And today my dream is fulfilled.' So saying, he lay prostrate at the feet of Shri Mataji. I was personal witness to all this, and so was my cousin and her daughter."

This was in 1961, not yet the time when Nirmala would take up her spiritual work. A loving and devoted wife and mother, she waited until her two daughters were grown and married.

Shri Mataji attending the FilmFare Awards in Bombay, 1970s   Shri Mataji with members of the film board in Bombay   Shri Mataji with younger brother HP Salve

1. ^  H. P. Salve, 'My Memoirs' New Delhi: Life Eternal Trust, 2000