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Sahaja Yoga's Historical Background Shri Mataji's Unique Discovery Sources, Notes and Relevant Links Open Letter to Sahaja Yogis Sahaja Yoga's Official Response

Sahaja Yoga's Historical Background

The photograph below is reproduced from the rare first (1971) edition of the Hindi book Jin Koja Tin Paiyan. It shows Shri Mataji at a meditation camp by the sea at Nargol (Valsad District, Gujarat). The photograph was taken in April 1970 - not long before Shri Mataji began her Sahaja Yoga.

Shri Mataji and Chandra Mohan Jain

The man seated on the podium was a guru called Chandra Mohan Jain whose followers at that time revered him as an Acharya. Chandra Mohan Jain led the meditation and gave talks on the chakras, kundalini and shaktipat (the transmission of shakti or spiritual grace from guru to disciple to bring about the spontaneous awakening of the kundalini).

Shaktipat, sometimes referred to as anugrah or diksha (spiritual initiation or second birth), is a feature of many Indian religious traditions.

Shaktipat is considered to be the beginning of spiritual evolution. When it is given by the guru the disciple is able to enter meditation effortlessly.Traditional mechanisms for conveying shaktipat include: by glance, by word or mantra, by touch or simply by intention. The latter is sometimes referred to as mano diksha (initiation by mind).

Before the 1970 Nargol camp, Shri Mataji had visited Chandra Mohan Jain several times over the previous year at his apartments in Woodlands, Bombay. Hundreds of Chandra Mohan Jain's followers attended the 1970 Nargol meditation camp. During the camp Shri Mataji had a powerful experience which Chandra Mohan Jain declared to be a Satori (a Zen term for a glimpse of Enlightnement).

After the meditation camp, Shri Mataji and Chandra Mohan Jain travelled back to Bombay together in the car of Shri Maheshwari who was one of the trustees of Chandra Mohan Jain's group - Jeevan Jagruti Kendra (Life or Soul Awakening Centre). On the way back Chandra Mohan Jain asked Shri Maheshwari to stop off for a few minutes for tea at the ashram of Swami Muktananda as he had often been invited but never yet been. Swami Muktananda was an exponent of a form of yoga that emphasised shaktipat as a means of spontaneous kundalini awakening. This yoga was usually known as Siddha Yoga but sometimes called Sahaja Yoga or Maha Yoga. Muktananda had already begun to spread Siddha Yoga widely in the West.

Swami Muktananda's followers recorded that on 2 May 1970, Chandra Mohan Jain,

a well-known modern philosopher and teacher, visited us. He was given a loving welcome and courteously taken round our Ashram. He was greatly impressed by the beauty and neatness of the Ashram, so much so that he wondered if he could conduct one of his meditation camps here!

Chandra Mohan Jain later said that when Shri Mataji

saw Muktananda, she could not believe that this stupid-looking man - disgusting more or less a buffoon - had become a great spiritual leader.

After the tea when we re-entered the car she said, "If this man can become a spiritual leader, then why can't I?"

I said "You can", And she became one.

Referring to this meeting with Muktananda, Shri Mataji stated that she found that there

were no gurus, they were false people, most of them. So I said, "If that is the thing that those gurus are doing, better try myself."

It is interesting that Shri Mataji was travelling from Nargol to Bombay on 2 May 1970 yet she says she "opened the Sahasrara of the Virata" on the morning of 5 May 1970 in Nargol. This would suggest that after one round trip of 300 miles (480 km) from Bombay to Nargol and back, Shri Mataji embarked on an identical 300 mile round trip a day or two after returning from the first one. If Shri Mataji really was present in Nargol on 5 of May 1970, it would suggest that she had a mysterious attraction to the site of Chandra Mohan Jain's meditation camp.

Shri Mataji went to visit Chandra Mohan Jain at his Woodlands apartments on one further occasion after the 1970 Nargol camp. However, Shri Mataji was denied access by Ma Yoga Laxmi, who was then Chandra Mohan Jain's secretary. Later Chandra Mohan Jain was to say of Shri Mataji: "I know, she got a Satori experience, but once her ego came, she could not sustain such experience" (translated from the Hindi).

Shri Mataji later condemned Chandra Mohan Jain as a demon and denied her association with him. Chandra Mohan Jain was called Chandra Mohan Rajneesh by his grandparents who he lived with as a child. In 1970 he was known by his followers as Acharya Rajneesh, later as Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh, later as Osho. He has been a frequent target of Shri Mataji's bile. For example, in 1978 Shri Mataji gave a talk entitled Dangers of Rajneesh and in 1987 she said:

I have also seen, like Rajneesh disciples are all mad - are absolutely mad. They are not in their senses. We have been only able to cure one person - also that, to some extent. I would say ... [not] 100 % alright, you can even say, now he's 75 % alright.

Perhaps Shri Mataji's most sustained and vituperative attack on her former teacher came in a letter that Shri Mataji dictated to one of her early followers who was told to sign it from "the seekers of the West". Here is a brief snippet:

He would take us in privacy, make the women nude and use them. He always wanted to touch the private parts of men and women alike, he always liked to smell the private parts on his fingers which he would then lick: all this filth we accepted because we thought it was our test of endurance. He exhausted our money: we had to pay for this trickery which leads you nowhere. Some of us had to work for hours together to find the money. Many things surprised us like this. Some women believed that he was their husband in previous lives.

Interestingly, Shri Mataji claimed that Rajneesh had been "very much after" her both in this life and a former life. She claimed that she had been the Hindu goddess Sita and that he had been the ten-headed demon Ravanna - both characters in the Ramayana. According to this Hindu epic, Ravanna kidnapped Sita from her god husband Rama and was only rescued with the help of a god monkey that could fly and talk.

Other behaviour of Shri Mataji's has betrayed a mysterious preoccupation with Rajneesh. On an early India Tour, Shri Mataji strangely sent a group of Sahaja Yogis to visit Rajneesh's ashram in Pune. In the late 1980s, Shri Mataji issued her Austrian leaders with an explicit video tape showing Rajneesh's followers engaging in sexual meditation practices. Shri Mataji wanted copies of the video tape given to German and Austrian television companies so that the scenes could be broadcast. This attempt to undermine Rajneesh's organisation failed because no television company would accept the proposal.

At a 1990 press conference in Pune, Shri Mataji condemned her former guru as a bilandar (rascal) and mahachor (thief). Rajneesh's organisation responded by showing the above photograph to the press and revealing that Shri Mataji had previously been Rajneesh's follower. This came at a time when Shri Mataji was already on the defensive because she had failed to meet the challenges of the Indian Anti-Superstition Committee. She reacted by claiming that the photograph was taken during a one-off visit to Rajneesh.

That same year Shri Mataji said in an interview:

I went to see this Rajneesh, who was very much after me. I went on my own and stayed there. I was sitting on a little platform under a tree watching all that was there. I was shocked because he was mesmerizing people. How horrible it was.

The unsolicited details of her seating arrangements at the Nargol camp, which are identical to those illustrated in the above photograph, may represent an attempt to gloss over the significance of this photograph. Shri Mataji's narrative suggests only one period of watching from under a tree.

Shri Mataji's visits to Rajneesh and Muktananda are also often presented in Sahaja Yoga as part of a wider project in which Shri Mataji visited many modern gurus and exposed them as incarnations of demons. A toned-down version of this story is given by Shri Mataji in the same interview: "I had been going to all these gurus to see what they are doing, how they work and all that, just to study them." Interestingly, Shri Mataji never mentions any actual visits to gurus other than Rajneesh and Muktananda.

If Shri Mataji had only wanted to observe Rajneesh, she could have done that in Bombay without a 300 mile trip to Nargol and back. However, let us put aside the fact that the Nargol camp lasted longer than a day, Shri Mataji's trip with Rajneesh in Shri Maheshwari's car and Shri Mataji's visits to Rajneesh's apartments at Woodlands (for which there are living witnesses). Rather let us ask: How can we judge if Shri Mataji attended the Nargol camp as participant or horrified onlooker?

Firstly we have the photograph at the top of this page where Shri Mataji hardly looks horrified or furious by any stretch of the imagination. In the photograph below, also taken at Rajneesh's 1970 Nargol camp, she looks positively spaced out.

Shri Mataji at Nargol camp in 1970

By a strange quirk of fate, an even better indication of Shri Mataji's attitude at Rajneesh's meditation camp survives in the form of a film that clearly shows Shri Mataji happily smiling and nodding her head. This does not look like a Goddess being confronted with a demon in the process of using evil spirits to capture the souls of innocent seekers. It is also clear that the footage of Shri Mataji was taken at a different period of time when she was no longer sitting under a tree.

Unedited video clip of 1970 Nargol camp (MPEG format)

Unedited video clip of 1970 Nargol camp (Quick Time format)

It should be noted that Shri Mataji's past association with Rajneesh had been publicly announced even before 1990. Dr Sudhir Kakar's 1982 book Shamans, Mystics and Doctors refers to it in passing: "A demonic guru such as Rajneesh (with whom Mataji in her apprenticeship years was once closely associated)" (p 202). Kakar intended only to describe and analyse Sahaja Yoga, not to expose it, so he makes little of the association. Sahaja Yogis who have read the book have usually assumed that Kakar made a mistake.

One person who left Sahaja Yoga at the beginning of the 1990s followed up Kakar's passing comment and tracked down 6 other independent sources that confirmed Shri Mataji's association with Rajneesh. These sources included an ex-Rajneeshi who remembered the 'Nirmala' who followed Rajneesh and went off to found Sahaja Yoga. Another source was an ex-Sahaja Yogi who followed Shri Mataji since 1972. This early Sahaja Yogi rejected Rajneesh's exaggerated claim that Shri Mataji had followed him for 10 years, but confirmed the association had lasted for at least a few months. Our own contacts with somebody who knew both Shri Mataji and Rajneesh in 1970 indicate that the association lasted for about a year.

Rajneesh died on January 1990. Shri Mataji's preoccupation with her former guru has since subsided.


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Sahaja Yoga's Historical Background Shri Mataji's Unique Discovery Sources, Notes and Relevant Links Open Letter to Sahaja Yogis Sahaja Yoga's Official Response