Nirmala Srivastava

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Nirmala Srivastava
Shri Mataji Nirmala Shrivastava.jpg
Born(1923-03-21)21 March 1923
Died23 February 2011(2011-02-23) (aged 87)
Known for Sahaja Yoga
(m. 1947)

Nirmala Srivastava (née Nirmala Salve) (21 March 1923 – 23 February 2011), also known as Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, was the founder of Sahaja Yoga, a new religious movement sometimes classified as a cult. [1] [2] She said "You cannot know the meaning of your life until you're connected to the power that created you". She claimed to have been born fully realised and spent her life working for peace by developing and promoting a simple technique through which people can achieve their own self-realization. [3] [4]


Early life

Born in Chindawara, Madhya Pradesh, India to a Hindu father and a Christian mother Prasad and Cornelia Salve, her parents named her Nirmala, which means "immaculate". [5] [6] She said that she was born self-realised. [7] Her father, a scholar of fourteen languages, translated the Koran into Marathi, and her mother was the first woman in India to receive an honours degree in mathematics. [4] Shri Mataji descended from the royal Shalivahana/Satavahana dynasty. [7] The former union minister N.K.P. Salve was her brother and the lawyer Harish Salve is her nephew. The Salve surname is one of a number included in the Satavahana Maratha clan.

She passed her childhood years in the family house in Nagpur. [8] In her youth she stayed in the ashram of Mahatma Gandhi. [5] [9] 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. [5] [10] [11] Taking responsibility for her younger siblings and living a spartan lifestyle during this period infused the feeling of self-sacrifice for the wider good. [12] She studied at the Christian Medical College in Ludhiana and the Balakram Medical College in Lahore. [8]

Shortly before India achieved independence in 1947, Shri Mataji married Chandrika Prasad Srivastava, [10] 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. [13] They had two daughters, Kalpana Srivastava [14] and Sadhana Varma. [15] In 1961, Nirmala Srivastava 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.

Sahaja Yoga

Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi temple in Naddi HH Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi.jpg
Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi temple in Naddi

Nirmala Srivastava founded Sahaja Yoga in 1970. [16]

Shri Mataji at Easter 1985.jpg

During meditation, seekers of truth experience a state of self-realization produced by kundalini awakening, and this is accompanied by the experience of thoughtless awareness or mental silence. [17]

Shri Mataji described Sahaja Yoga as the pure, universal religion integrating all other religions. [18] She claimed that she was a divine incarnation, [19] more precisely an incarnation of the Holy Ghost, or the Adi Shakti of the Hindu tradition, the great mother goddess who had come to save humanity. [18] [20] This is also how she is regarded by most of her devotees. [21] Sahaja Yoga has sometimes been characterized as a cult. [22] [23]

Later work

Nirmala Srivastava in her last years Nirmala Srivastava.jpg
Nirmala Srivastava in her last years

In 2003 a charity house for the rehabilitation of destitute women was set up in Delhi (the Vishwa Nirmala Prem Ashram). [24] She set up the Shri P.K. Salve Kala Pratishthan in Nagpur as an international music school in the same year, to promote classical music and fine art. [4] [25]

Until 2004, during her travels, she gave numerous public lectures, pujas, and interviews to newspapers, television and radio. In 2004 her official website announced that she had completed her work and Sahaja Yoga centers exist in almost every country of the world. [26] She continued to give talks to her devotees [27] and allowed them to offer her puja. [28]

She spoke on several occasions about the harms of drinking alcohol [29] and that many people were cured from addiction when they got their self realization through Sahaja Yoga. [30]

Honors and recognition

See also

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