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" The Divine Cool Breeze - Deities Issue "
Nirmala Srivastava also known as Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, was the founder of Sahaja Yoga, a meditation technique and new religious movement. She claimed to have been born in a fully realised state and spent her life working for peace by developing and promoting a simple technique through which people can achieve their own self-realization. Shri Mataji never charged for her instruction in Sahaja Yoga which is now practiced and taught for free in over 140 countries.
Nirmala Srivastava passed her childhood years in the family house in Nagpur. In her youth she stayed in the ashram of Mahatma Gandhi. 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. Nirmala Srivastava said that while in Nargol, on May 5, 1970, she witnessed the rising of the Primordial Kundalini. Later she described the experience as follows: "I saw my kundalini rising very fast like a telescope opening out and it was a beautiful color that you see when the iron is heated up, a red rose color, but extremely cooling and soothing." She stated that the potential for all humanity to gain spiritual self-awareness was realized at this time, which she characterizes as a "historical process of en-masse self-realization and inner transformation". Soon after she founded Sahaja Yoga in Mumbai.
After moving to London with her husband, Nirmala Srivastava worked with seven London hippies who became the first Western Sahaja Yogis. In 1979 Nirmala Srivastava declared herself to be the complete incarnation of the Adi (Primordial) Shakti or Holy Spirit to her devotees. She has also claimed to be Maitreya and the Mahdi. Nirmala Srivastava has been described as "a simple Indian housewife... with a motherly and compassionate personality".
In 1980 Nirmala Srivastava first toured Europe spreading Sahaja Yoga and in 1981 she toured Malaysia, Australia and North America – many other countries were to follow. In 1989, after the lifting of the Iron Curtain, Nirmala Srivastava began visiting Eastern Europe where Sahaja Yoga spread quickly. In 1995, Nirmala Srivastava was awarded an honorary doctorate in Cognitive and Parapsychological Sciences by the Ecological University of Bucharest, Romania. Also in 1995, she gave a speech at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.In 1997 Claes Nobel, the founder of United Earth, spoke in strong support of Shri Mataji and Sahaja Yoga which he described as a reference point for determining right from wrong. Nirmala established the International Sahaja Yoga Health and Research Centre in Mumbai in 1996. In 2003 a charity house for the rehabilitation of destitute women was set up in Delhi (theVishwa Nirmala Prem Ashram). The Shri P.K. Salve Kala Pratishthan in Nagpur was set up as an international music school in the same year by Nirmala, to promote classical music and fine art.