- History of Spirituality
- Religion vs Spirituality
- Spiritual Benefits of Sahaja
- Sahaja Founder
- Character and Personality
- Doubtless Awareness
The practice of Sahaja meditation was created and founded by one of the greatest all-time masters of the Kundalini energy, Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi. While the world knew her as a famous spiritual guru, a compassionate personality, and a champion of world peace, fewer, so far, understand and appreciate the intricate and powerful creation of the Sahaja technique she developed.
Since ancient times, the Kundalini energy and subtle energy system have been discussed in cryptic terms, thus were widely misunderstood by many. There were several failed attempts to awaken this inner energy, and once awakened, get it to move along the correct channel (the central channel) and ultimately penetrate the 7th energy center in order to achieve a connection with the all-pervading energy of the cosmos. Further complicating matters, beginning in the 1960s and 1970s, gurus seemed to spring up everywhere, most of whom were interested in monetizing meditation and/or attaining fame or power. Few of them could deliver the goods when it came to the ultimate breakthrough of spirituality — the opening of the Sahasrara chakra in the macrocosm and the microcosm (each individual’s subtle energy system). To have any hope of getting your inner Kundalini energy awakened properly, you’d have to search for years to find a highly evolved yogi hiding somewhere in the Himalayas.
And even when such yogis were found, they tended to repel seekers as they were likely harsh disciplinarians who demanded high levels of maturity and purity before they would grant Self-Realization, or the awakening of the Kundalini energy in others. And then there was the propagation of downright false fears about the Kundalini energy being dangerous or other outrageous bits of misinformation, such as the notion that the Kundalini resided in the stomach, or that the Kundalini could only be awakened through sex. Shri Mataji changed all that.
In 1970, Shri Mataji decided that the time was ripe for masses of people to have easy access to Self-Realization. She was born with a special gift, which was the awareness of the Kundalini and being able to work with it both at the level of an individual and in the macrocosm. On May 5, 1970, she was able to achieve the piercing of the 7th center of the macrocosm, or the collective Sahasrara as it is called. This paved the way for the masses to enable their Kundalini energy to pass through the 7th energy center, ultimately achieving Self-Realization. Yet, after this profound spiritual breakthrough, her job was only beginning. She still had to test how her techniques worked on individuals and their effects on human nature.
Shri Mataji started small in India with only a few people receiving their Self-Realization. She studied the effects of Self-Realization on these individuals, how it transformed them. Then, later, she accompanied her husband, whose job with the United Nations took him to England. There are stories of how she gave Self-Realization to beggars and derelicts on the streets, ultimately turning them into fine, respectable personalities over time. For the next 33 years, she traveled extensively across many countries, giving Self-Realization to thousands in as many cities as possible.
More importantly, the system she created had to be scalable, so she devised it in such a way that any person who practiced Sahaja after Self- Realization could also pass it on to others. The en masse granting of Self-Realization came to fruition. She was able to offer a stadium full of people in Russia, for example, their Self- Realization. Soon, established Sahaja practitioners were able to conduct similar programs to pass Sahaja along to other people. Today, Sahaja is practiced in over 90 countries across the world.
As the years passed, the number of people practicing Sahaja increased, but there was one common thread in all their lives — they seemed to transform into well-behaved, peaceful, highly self-aware people through the practice of Sahaja. No, they didn’t become saints overnight. And many are still figuring out what else they need to improve about themselves. But the innate transformation has been unmistakable.
Over the years, Shri Mataji gave many lectures to Sahaja practitioners, powerful doses of medicine on how to orient themselves to become spiritual personalities and how to rise above forces in the world that were dragging them down. And she always spoke about the balance in one’s life between Sahaja, family, career and social living. The inner transformation had to happen while one was simply living a normal life, day-to-day, and participating in society like everyone else.
Peace in the world
At the root of the practice of Sahaja was a powerful, long term theme: make each individual peaceful, one at a time, and the world automatically becomes peaceful. She believed that no amount of resolutions, peacekeeping missions or discussions could establish world peace, and that the only path to world peace would be the innate transformation within each person that dissolves the desire to rebel, revolt, fight or agitate and to inspire each person to give more to others and to society than what they took.
Realization for the masses
Sahaja is the only scalable and easily distributable method for large groups of people to receive Self-Realization at the same time. Prior to 1970, people could still receive it, but only on a one-on- one basis through expert and nearly inaccessible spiritual masters. After 1970, not only was it possible for many people to receive their Self-Realization but there were also no preconditions or pre-requisites. Anyone who desired to get it could get it. The improvement, transformation and spiritual maturity had to be achieved after Self-Realization rather than as a precursor to it. As Shri Mataji would say, “I’ve cooked the food… if you’re hungry, you should eat and not worry about what the recipe is or how it was cooked.” Another of her favorite analogies was: “You get your degree on your first day of college and then you have to start working towards justifying what was conferred on you on Day 1.”
Verifiable proof and experience of Self-Realization
The creation of Sahaja was a unique achievement in bridging the gap between hope or faith and verifiable proof of spirituality. The experience of vibratory awareness on the central nervous system meant that human beings could confirm that the divine, all pervading energy is real – a significant leap to reality as compared to just having just hope and faith that such a power exists. In fact, this aspect is the most underestimated achievement of the Sahaja practice and of Shri Mataji’s work.
Even today, many practitioners continue to take this experience for granted with some degree of nonchalance. It’s no longer “Spirituality exists, trust me!” Rather, it’s: “Feel the energy yourself and decide!”
Treasure trove of precise knowledge on the Kundalini
Up until the creation of Sahaja, no one ever really nailed it when it came to understanding precisely how the ancient Kundalini energy worked or having an intricate understanding of the subtle energy system. Shri Mataji not only provided a vast amount of knowledge on this, but through a method by which every bit of it can be verified through experience.
A viable path to access the ultimate depths of spirituality
Even today, most people feel that accumulation of knowledge on spirituality is the way to become more spiritual. Shri Mataji went the other way. Her contention was that you can never become spiritual unless you actualize it within you — through your Self-Realization. In fact, in the initial stages of a person’s spiritual journey, she deemphasized seeking knowledge and asked people to focus on the experience of higher awareness and feeling their own Kundalini energy. Thus, she was unique in creating a viable path of discovery of oneself through the experience and diagnosis of one’s own subtle energy. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and in Sahaja, spiritual exploration is about exploring and understanding real, tangible experiences, rather than just the accumulation of knowledge about spirituality.
A practice for everyone: simplification and inclusiveness
Shri Mataji welcomed people of all backgrounds, ages and faiths to try Sahaja, with no pre- requisites, pre-conditions or discrimination. She also condensed the essence of the practice in a manner so that anyone can pass it along to others without seeking permission from anyone. She encouraged as many people in the world as possible to receive their Self-Realization with no limits whatsoever.
An intricate system
Shri Mataji was able to devise the precise environment and set of steps that could make the Kundalini rise through specific energy centers, then fill the brain and connect with the all- pervading power. The path of the flow of the energy and the energy channels were revealed, along with precise information about how each chakra functions — what causes it to become energized and be in balance versus being unbalanced.
She was able to correlate qualitative behaviors and aspects of personality and character to specific elements of the energy system and demonstrate a cause and effect relationship between an individual’s actions and the resulting impact on their chakras, as well as vice versa: the state of the chakras and their impact on human behavior. In her lectures, she surprised many medical professionals with her accurate, precise knowledge of how the energy system correlates with the human nervous system, without ever having a formal medical degree.
Strong connection to personality and character improvement
Shri Mataji’s message to human beings was that unless your personality and character reflects your Self-Realization or enlightenment, there cannot be any real spiritual achievement. This was regardless of how charismatic, articulate, intelligent, knowledgeable or successful people were or could be. In the end, all that mattered was how an individual absorbed and demonstrated subtler qualities of the Inner Self or the Spirit. She was less impressed by great monetary wealth and power than she was with simple, innocent people who showed potential for great spiritual growth.
The bridge to science — nervous systems, correlation to disorders
During the years when she was actively taking Sahaja to the public, Shri Mataji was part of many medical conferences with doctors and research where she shared the spiritual constructs and concepts that correlated to scientific components in an attempt to demonstrate that there was never a conflict between science and spirituality, and in fact, that they worked in perfect harmony with each other, provided human beings develop the right perspective. A hospital dedicated to analysis and therapy for various disorders was set up in Mumbai, India. In many of her lectures, she provided the origin and root cause of many disorders, urging doctors who were also Sahaja practitioners to conduct further research in this area.
Appreciation of the subtle – Arts and Music
Shri Mataji was a strong proponent of the arts and music. She maintained that artists were unique creations of the divine and that their art and creations must be preserved as much as possible. She did not approve of arts critics, holding them responsible for the destruction of artistic inspiration and creation. She set up music and arts schools and camps all over the world and would spend endless hours listening to artists performing or displaying their art.
Emphasis on family values
Sahaja is truly a family practice and Shri Mataji emphasized the importance of family values in the spiritual growth of an individual. Throughout her life, she tried to help couples practicing Sahaja creative more effective, fulfilling existences that complemented each other when leading a spiritual life. She saw children as the embodiment of innocence and placed great emphasis on nurturing and caring for them, while enabling them to grow up as successful, strong personalities.
A push to empower women… and men (masters of themselves) and independence
Shri Mataji placed special emphasis on protecting women’s rights wherever they were oppressed. She also inspired many women to become highly educated, competent and powerful so they could serve the needs of their families and their communities. At the same time, she encouraged also to be accommodating, as well as have a strong sense of independence of their own. She clearly laid out how men and women could complement each other perfectly, along with explaining the impact of positive behaviors on the subtle energy system and spiritual development. For instance, she spoke about how, by achieving a balance of qualities in their energy centers, women could achieve so much by taking care of their households and being hospitable wives while at the same time effecting change in their communities and workplaces.
Importance of Dharma
Sahaja was designed to have a strong foundation in dharma and righteousness.
Shri Mataji strongly encouraged all practitioners to stay within limits and protocols of Dharma and never to compromise it for achieving more worldly or material goals in their lives.
Dynamism and modern, staying relevant
Shri Mataji was hardly a spiritual guru stereotype. She enjoyed watching movies, but told Sahaja practitioners that they should use the messages in movies to introspect and improve their own personal attributes. She always emphasized being dynamic according to the needs of the situation and finding relevant solutions to problems in line with the times. At the core, she was completely against dogmas or mental conditionings that held people back. She urged creativity in every aspect of people’s lives. She spoke about how science and technology had evolved primarily for human beings to free themselves from the shackles in their lives and elevate their awareness to greater heights. She encouraged people to continuously evolve to higher stages of maturity. She researched political systems and read a number of books to understand the psyche of human beings, how they think and react. Ultimately she was able to factor all of this knowledge into the qualitative paradigms of self-improvement using the Sahaja practice.
Selfless giving to the world
Sahaja meditation was created so it could be entirely free to the world and be passed freely by any individual to others without any money changing hands. Nor was anyone to try to preserve the “secret” techniques of how it works. In fact, Shri Mataji spent her own money, even in very difficult periods of her life, to travel to as many countries of the world as possible to offer Sahaja to as many people as possible. She had to sell her jewelry to come to America for the first time in 1973. Over the years, she donated many of her properties to allow them to become Sahaja meeting venues or retreats. All the gifts she received from thousands of people over the years were given back to Sahaja organizations. And any donations people made were directed back to organizations that could utilize them for spreading the practice of Sahaja.
Complete freedom and no “membership”
Shri Mataji’s primary tenet for someone to receive Self-Realization was that the person should desire it out of his or her own freedom. In all her public Sahaja programs, she explicitly stated that she could never grant Self-Realization by crossing anyone’s freedom. After Self-Realization, she made it a point never to rebuke any practitioner in order to get them to improve, or force them to get rid of any “bad habits.” She believed in people being strong and mature enough to realize what’s wrong with them and work towards their own improvement. She explicitly made the affirmation “I am my own master” an important part of the Self-Realization process. There never is any kind of membership or record of Sahaja practitioners. She was against forming clubs or groups of any kind. Sahaja was meant to be free-flowing, easily available to anyone.
Creation of inspired practitioners who carry her message forward today
Shri Mataji served as a great source of inspiration to many across the world to reform themselves and transform the world using her creation. Many of her followers continue to be highly motivated and dynamic to further the cause of peace and spiritual advancement in the world.
Creation of rock solid personalities through a frame of reference — a mix of compassion and discipline
Sahaja was created with a specific framework of ideal qualities to be developed by every practitioner and Shri Mataji’s sole focus was to ensure that people used their lifetimes to strive to absorb thse qualities.
Shri Mataji never believed in being popular at all times. No message or viewpoint had to please everyone. She believed in stating the truth, both to Sahaja practitioners about their inadequacies from a spiritual standpoint, as well as about problems in the world she lived in. She did not approve of critics of any kind. She warned people about gurus who mislead people with a maze of spiritual talk, but did not or could not ultimately give them their inner energy awakening or Self-Realization. She had her share of people who were asked to leave the Sahaja practice because of bad or unacceptable behavior, or because they tried to misrepresent what Sahaja was. She always maintained that it was important for people to know the bare truth and that, at some point, everyone had to face themselves. She warned the public of gurus and their systems that were essentially power- or money-oriented. This philosophy was reflected in her creation of the Sahaja organization that is completely non-commercial and decentralized in terms of authority.
Shri Mataji’s goal was always to make people limitless in their existence and to get them to rise above limits of their nationality, backgrounds, faiths or communities. Sahaja represents a global community of practitioners perfectly united with each other, despite their diverse backgrounds and beliefs. She believed that spirituality was above all limitations and that true spirituality only manifests in the infinite realm of the collective unconscious, the storehouse of the universal subtle spiritual energy.
Attracting a wide variety of personalities from all walks of life
Shri Mataji held Sahaja programs all across the world, met with many people in all walks of life, and spoke to many leaders on how to usher in lasting peace in this world through personal and individual transformation of human beings, rather than conferences on world peace. She also held several medical conferences with medical professionals where she explained the connection between medical research and knowledge and the inner subtle energy system.
Integration of all faiths and essence into one
The practice of Sahaja was built by integrating and actualizing the concepts of spirituality from ancient scriptures and the teachings of great saints across all civilizations. And it was created to grant direct access to any individual to his/her inner spiritual self, eliminating any conflict with any religion. The essences of philosophies and teachings from all religions form the backbone of spirituality and the Sahaja practice.
Master of scriptures — yoga, meditation
Shri Mataji discovered the method to grant true yoga to human beings, the union of the inner Self with the all-pervading power. She explained that true meditation and yoga were inseparable and that meditation results through yoga. She was an expert on ancient yoga scriptures, and because of this, was able to actualize the practice of true yoga through the creation of the Sahaja practice.
Master of Kundalini
Shri Mataji was the first-ever spiritual guru to be able to awaken the Kundalini energy of thousands of people at the same time and grant them Self-Realization. Not only that, she was able to establish the practice in such a manner that those who received their Kundalini awakening could grant it to others. She was able to get the Kundalini energy to rise through the central channel, through the 6th center (Agnya chakra), and up into the 7th (Sahasrara chakra), a critical obstacle for most other gurus who were only be able to take the Kundalini energy up to the 6th chakra, possibly because they used either the left or right channels to do this rather than the central channel. Shri Mataji’s teachings and the body of knowledge imparted to Sahaja practitioners explain the intricacies of the movement of the Kundalini through the chakras, and the relationship to personality development, something that has not been done before in such tangible terms that practitioners can actually verify it through their own experience.
Evolution of human civilization to higher levels of awareness
At the root of it all was the desire that human beings ascend continuously to higher levels of maturity and subtler awareness. She mentioned that the only purpose of human beings being born was to grow and go higher in their awareness, and during this process, problems in the world would automatically be solved over time.
Respect for freedom of individuals
Despite all the profound experiences and benefits that the Sahaja practice had to offer, Shri Mataji made it clear that Self-Realization is a choice for every individual, something that cannot be forced on anyone. She said that individuals had to seek on their own and evolve through this process. She was all about making all spiritual resources and knowledge available to everyone so they could then make their own choice.
Simplicity in organization, decentralization and lack of membership
Shri Mataji was clear in that the practice of Sahaja is purely spiritual and should never resemble an overt religious practice, religion, group or organization. She saw religion as something purely personal and individualistic and sometimes referred to Sahaja as the “True, inner and universal religion of the spirit.” She also believed in empowering each practitioner and making them strong masters of themselves. She was against having any kind of membership records for practitioners — Sahaja was to be free and easily available to everyone in a fluid collective setting. And she strongly advised against trying to force Sahaja onto anyone in order to have larger collectives. Sahaja had to be sought after in every individual’s own desire for evolution and higher awareness, and through their own freedom.
Denunciation of elitism, dogmas and puritanism
In all her advice and teachings to Sahaja practitioners, Shri Mataji strongly denounced looking like or sounding elitist. She suggested that every individual had lot of work to do on their individual ascent. The fact that they had managed to receive enlightenment, or an entry to it, did not make them special. How they justified it through their own improvement was what mattered. She also strongly emphasized balance. But while she advocated self-discipline, she was averse to making any aspect of the practice too rigid or putting strict rules being in place. She said that subtlety and the practice of Sahaja can only be learned by being flexible and patient with oneself as necessary. She also warned against the dangers of trying to be excessively puritan. She recognized that no one can be perfect and that the process of evolution was all about gradually evolving to higher states over an entire lifetime.