A story of Self-Realisation
When it all began…
A story of Self-Realisation
When it all began…
It was the middle part of spring back in 1978 and the atmosphere was so crisp, the air warm and the skies so clear. That’s how we perceived our surroundings from Shri Mataji’s 5th floor apartment in Ashley Gardens. We were all sitting in one of the drawing rooms that were so beautifully decorated by Shri Mataji before She moved in a few months earlier. Rommel, her son-in-law, was sitting at the head of the dining table and was busy making some final touches to a publication project of a photography book of the Himalayan landscapes. Rommel was thus named after a German general who had defeated the British in Libya during the early battles of the 2nd world war. Fortunately, General Rommel turned out to be a hero, following his attempt to assassinate Hitler. Rommel’s ancestral family was devoted to social work and patriotism, so much so that the first president of India, Rajendra Prasad, was his granduncle. Shri Mataji’s daughter Sadhana was moving around the house on some errands while Shri Mataji and her husband, Sir CP were enjoying watching everything while sitting in the lounge area of the drawing room. The grandchildren were playing somewhere in the back of the apartment as for myself who had dropped in for a visit the purpose of which I fail to remember, I was busy perusing through Rommel’s photo book. At some point I stumbled on a page which was showing a photograph of a large stone made statue of Shri Ganesha. I asked Shri Mataji if people around that area were doing puja* (a reverential worship) to the statue. Shri Mataji burst out with laughter and moving Her gaze to Rommel and Sadhana, She said:
“Can you imagine a Muslim talking of puja to Shri Ganesha?”
It was not just what Shri Mataji was saying that struck a chord in your heart, but it is also all the love, sweetness and finesse that emitted from Her voice. In the same way, the sunlight that flooded the drawing room through the large windows was bright and shiny as in any other home except that the light itself felt so much brighter than usual and was filled with a heavenly glow. The whole atmosphere was unique in its divine quality and this is what Sahaja Yogis were always looking forward to enjoying when they came close to Shri Mataji. Was it the bliss of the invisible that permeates all that is visible? It was a similar glowing light that filled Gavin’s apartment a year earlier when I first met Shri Mataji and the handful of yogis who were around Her at the time.
A few months before this meeting, I had been reading some books on Kundalini, an energy which lies in the form of a serpent within the sacrum bone. In short, the only way to get self-fulfilment was to have one’s Kundalini awakened and then attain self-realisation. With a burning desire to gain access to this divine state, I started reading a magazine called “Yoga Today” and one day I saw an advertisement about an exhibition in Earls Court (London) called the “Body and Mind Exhibition”. As a student at Hertfordshire University, I was living in Saint-Albans, a small suburban town in the north of London. My close friends and I never really took any interest in exhibitions held in London, but somehow the “Body and Mind Exhibition” caught my eye. And so I decided to go and visit this event accompanied by Ned, a friend of mine who was quite happy to join me in my mystical search.
Come Saturday, we took a train to St Pancreas station and changed for the underground to get to the venue. Our mood was cheerful, helped by a dry and sunny weather. As we approached the entrance of the exhibition, someone was handing out leaflets. I took one leaflet and pushed it into my jacket pocket just before entering the hall. I found out later on that April 1977 was the very first time that this event was organised. Once Indoor I noticed how big the hall was and the numerous stands aligned side by side. The whole place looked like a bazar of mystical promises ranging from enlightenment through yogic techniques to biorhythms, machines that translate the reaction of plants into bizarre electronic sounds and so on and so forth. It was a good day out and on my way back to St Albans I took out the leaflet that I had in my pocket as I was interested in reading its content even though it had nothing professional about it. It was just a couple of A4 typewritten sheets. The leaflet was giving explanations on how Shri Mataji could give self-realisation and how it gave the aspiring seekers powers of collective consciousness. It talked about the cool vibrations that one felt on hands and on the spine as the Kundalini was rising towards the fontanelle bone area. This whole story caught my attention and I kept that document under my bed so I could read it again in the future. From time to time and before going to sleep, I would pick it up again and read it and gradually I mustered enough courage to call the number mentioned at the end of the text. A voice over the phone which I found out later to be that of Gavin Brown, one of the first disciples of Shri Mataji, told me to come on Sunday afternoon to his place in North Gower Street and gave me directions from St Pancras train station.
On the following Sunday, I travelled to North Gower Street and met the few disciples who followed Shri Mataji at the time on the second floor of a terraced building. It was a small lounge with enough space for a limited gathering and Gavin invited me to sit and wait for Shri Mataji who was expected to arrive soon. At the other end of the lounge, there was a picture of Shri Mataji standing on the mantelpiece of a fireplace and in front of which an incense stick and a candle were burning. I was resting on a settee and on my right side there were two large sash windows facing south. After a while, a few disciples ran to the window to see Shri Mataji getting off a taxi. At the time I was not aware that Shri Mataji was travelling by public transport all the way from Oxted in Surrey to Victoria station. It was difficult to picture the whole context of a Guru who was able to give self-realisation coming from as far away as Oxted (Surrey) to be with Her disciples and look after a very small number of newcomers. Gavin’s flat being on the second floor and with no lift Shri Mataji walked two flights of stairs and when She arrived upstairs and I saw Her face my first reaction was: “ She is much beyond a human being”. Her face, Her eyes and Her expression were not of this world. She asked me where I came from and then sat on a couch, on the left side of the entrance. We all sat in front of Her. She gave a talk as if She was talking to a large multitude and yet we were all together no more than 10 people in the room. There were two other people who came to Her program that day: Gus from Australia and Christine from America. Both had come a year earlier, got their self-realisation and run away and today they were welcomed back by Shri Mataji.
After Shri Mataji’s talk three extremely kind and helpful disciples, Patrick, Maureen and Douglas, started working on me. I could not understand what they were doing, but I knew I was in good hands. Soon afterwards Shri Mataji came to me and put Her hand on my stomach to remove a chronic catch. She then asked me about the pendant I was wearing. I said it was the hand of Fatima. Maureen told me later on that at that very moment my kundalini shot up. Shri Mataji then took some hair lotion and massaged my head for a while. I was feeling very relaxed and a mixture of cool vibrations and tingling. Though I was told I had got my self-realisation, I felt slightly disappointed because I was expecting a big bang at the top of my head. This is the danger of coming to Sahaja Yoga with all kinds of things you’ve read about Kundalini but that are not necessarily anywhere close to reality. When Shri Mataji was about to take Her taxi back to Victoria station, She blessed me and told me that She would teach me how to give self-realisation to other seekers. Wow! I thought. I can hardly say for sure if I had my self-realisation, I was at a loss as to how I could give it to others. When I returned to St-Albans, I was looking forward to telling my colleagues about this unique discovery. Before leaving Gavin’s flat, I thanked Maureen for having given me a leaflet outside the Body and Mind Exhibition hall. She said it was her brother who volunteered to distribute leaflets around London. I discovered later on that the brother in question was Finbar.
The next day I was working on my final year project, which consisted of a study on the aerodynamics of blunt cones in hypersonic air flow. But that day was different. Most of the time I was feeling coolness all around the top of my head. My colleagues and I were getting closer to our final degree exams and so we were spending much of our time going through revisions. I shared a detached house in a quiet part of St-Albans. Since I had the smallest room in the house, I was doing my homework in the dining room. As the spring was getting warmer, the garden at the back of the house was in full bloom. I used to pick up a few roses and put them in a vase just in front of me while working on my revisions. I used to vibrate the roses and then I would feel these same roses emitting a cool breeze on my face. My house mates were all told about my story on self-realisation and the cool breeze emitting from the roses, but they all thought I was a bit cranky. They even talked to each other to see how could save me from the claws of this new mystical fantasy.
Never mind all the scepticism around, I continued forging ahead with my new discovery and so I was always looking forward to the Sunday afternoon meeting with Shri Mataji. At the beginning of my Sahaja Yoga journey I was so impressed with my new vibratory awareness that I wanted everyone to come and try it and so I brought all my friends to see Shri Mataji at Gavin’s place. It did not matter if they were seekers or not. My only concern was to give them an opportunity to get self-realisation and feel the reality of collective consciousness. Shri Mataji was extremely kind to all of them and when some of them would not come back to the follow up meetings, she would enquire about them and would ask me to give them Her love. And so it went on not only with friends who lived in the UK but also with members of my family who came on holiday during the summer of 1977.
Watch out for the next story here in Medium in this section….