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Nirmala Srivastava (née Nirmala Salve, more widely known as Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi)  was the founder of Sahaja Yoga, a new religious movement. She proclaimed that she was the complete incarnation of the Adi Shakti, and is recognized as such by devotees in 140 countries.

Nirmala Srivastava was born in Chindawara, India to Christian parents Prasad and Cornelia Salve. Her parents named her Nirmala, which means "immaculate." She said that she was born self-realised.Her father, a scholar of 14 languages, translated the Koran to Marathi and her mother was the first woman in India to receive an honours degree in Mathematics. Nirmala Srivastava said she was descended from the royal Shalivahana/Satavahana dynasty.The Salve surname is one of a number included in the Satavahana Maratha clan.

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 was jailed for participating in the Quit India Movement in 1942. As a young woman she was a youth leader, and participated in the Quit India Movement. She also studied at the Christian Medical College in Ludhiana and the Balakram Medical College in Lahore.

Shortly before India achieved independence in 1947, Nirmala married Chandrika Prasad Srivastava, a high ranking Indian Civil Servant who was bestowed an honorary knighthood by the Queen of England, and served the former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri as his Principal Secretary. They had two daughters, Kalpana Srivastava[10] and Sadhana Varma.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 Film Censor Board.
[edit] Sahaja Yoga
Main article: Sahaja Yoga

Nirmala Srivastava was known to have been concerned with the damage being done to society by 'false gurus' and because of this visited a meditation camp in Nargol that was presided over by Rajneesh (later known as Osho). She "was shocked to see him loot people under the guise of spirituality"and said that he was mesmerizing people.The camp ran from 2 May to 5 May 1970, and Rajneesh led sessions in an early form of dynamic meditation, discoursed on kundalini and other matters, and answered a question about Sahaja Yoga.

Judith Coney wrote that Nirmala Srivastava can be seen in a video of the camp. Sudhir Kakar wrote that Nirmala Srivastava was "closely associated" with Rajneesh in her "apprenticeship years".Nirmala Srivastava said that she had also visited Muktananda and that Rajneesh was 'very much after' her. Interviewed in the movie "Nirmala Devi: Freedom and Liberation", Nirmala Srivastava said that these supposed spiritual people were greedy and promiscuous rather than spiritual and that this caused her to give up hopes and begin searching within herself.

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.
[edit] Spreading of Sahaja Yoga

In 1972 Nirmala Srivastava sailed to the U.S. and warned against false gurus. In 1974 Chandrika Prasad Srivastava was elected to serve as the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a United Nations agency based in London, serving a record 4 successive 4-year terms as Secretary-General from 1974 to 1989. 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.[24] Also in 1995, Nirmala Srivastava gave a speech at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.

In 1996 Nirmala Devi established the International Sahaja Yoga Health and Research Centre in Mumbai for the use of practitioners from all over the world. Sahaja Yoga methods are used to achieve better meditations and the technique is studied for its curing effects of various illnesses.In 2003 a charity house for the rehabilitation of destitute women was set up in Delhi (the Vishwa Nirmala Prem Ashram).In the same year Nirmala set up an international music school, the Shri P.K.Salve Kala Pratishthan, in Nagpur to promote classical music and fine art.

Until 2004, during her travels, Nirmala Srivastava gave numerous public lectures, pujas, and interviews to newspapers, television and radio. In 2004 the official website of Sahaja Yoga announced that Nirmala Srivastava had completed her work.She continued to give talks to her devotees and allowed them to offer her puja.

Nirmala Srivastava spoke on a number of occasions about the evils of alcohol. In Australia in October 2007 she spoke at length about the problems associated with alcohol, both in relation to society, its effects upon people and the dangers it poses to the family.

On 17 August 2005 the official Sahaja Yoga website reported that, on the eve on India's independence day, "an Indian flag was offered to Her and a prayer was recited for the divine blessings and protection of India."  In 2007, two images showing the Indian national flag at the feet of Niramala Srivastava (with her husband seated beside) were circulated by youngsters[36] on the social network Orkut, provoking "outrage" and "anger" according to one source. According to India's 1971 Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, it is an offence to show disrespect to the national flag or let it touch the ground. Rajendra Kumar, a trustee of Sahaja Yoga Trust issued an apology on behalf of Nirmala Devi. He said it is inconceivable that any member of Shri Mataji's family would tolerate even the slightest disrespect to our National Flag.

Nirmala Srivastava passed away on Wednesday, February 23, 2011, in Genoa, Italy at the age of 88. Shri Mataji will be laid in state in the apartments of Palazzo Doria, Cabella Ligure from Friday, 25th February to Saturday, 26th February. All Sahaja Yogis who wish to pay their last respects and to have her darshan may do so on both days., followed by darshan in Delhi on the 27th and 28th.


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