Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi

Founder of Sahaja Yoga




Family & Childhood




Shri Mataji’s parents were Shri Prasad Salve and Shrimati Cornelia Salve and belonged to the family that was not only the direct descendants of the royal Shalivahana dynasty, very Righteous, with a great sense of honesty and truthfulness, but that was also very liberal and respected all religions. They were extremely patriotic.


Shri Mataji was born in the middle of the day, on 21st March, 1923 that is the day on which the sun completes its travel from the equator to the Tropic of Cancer and heralds the beginning of bright sunshine, particular in India. It is also the day when day and night are equally divided. Seeing the beauty of this child who was born with a spotless brilliance, meaning without any blemish they called her Nirmala, which means 'Immaculate'.


In her childhood, Nirmala displayed qualities which showed that she was a prodigy. Later on she was known by the multitudes by the name of Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi - the Mother who was born with her complete Self Realization and knew from a very young age that she had a unique gift which had to be made available to all mankind.


Her father Shri Prasad Salve, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, played an important role in India’s battle for freedom; her parents were brilliant, self-less, wise, cultured, learned, courageous and visionary. her father was a renowned scholar, master of 14 languages, and translated the Koran in Marathi. Her mother was the first woman in India to receive an Honors Degree in Mathematics.



Shri Mataji's Parents (left) with Mahatma Gandhi


Freedom Movement


Shri Mataji comes from a family of freedom fighters and enlightened persons. When Mahatma Gandhi launched the “Quit India” movement in 1942, Nirmala then a young girl of 19 years in age, threw herself heart and soul into the movement activites. Even at a young age, her deep understanding was evident to Gandhi, who frequently sought her advice on spiritual matters.




Shri Mataji was born with a complete understanding of the human nervous system and its energetic counterparts. In order to become acquainted with the scientific vocabulary attached to these subjects, she studied medicine and psychology at the Christian Medical College in Lahore.

 Birth of Sahajayoga




Shri Mataji was married to Sir C.P Shrivastava, who was the first chief executive of the Shipping Corporation of India and in 1974 was elected to serve as the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a United Nations agency based in London, serving successive four-year terms as Secretary-General from 1974 to 1989. During this time he played a pioneering role in the establishment of the International Maritime Academy in Italy, and the International Maritime Law Institute in Malta. He was also the first Chancellor of the Sweden-based World Maritime University which was founded in 1983 to address a pressing need for maritime professionals in the developing world.


As Sir C.P. Srivastava moved in fame from the Indian history to the worldly scene, Shri Mataji, after fulfilling her familial duty of bringing up her two daughters, embarked on her spiritual mission.


From her early childhood she had been trying to find solution to redeem the human being from the slavery of his mundane, materialistic habits. As she was pondering on the many faceted problems confronting human beings, on the 5th of May, 1970, on the beach of Nargol (about 150 km from Mumbai) a divine spiritual experience filled her whole being and suddenly she found an answer to her question. She discovered a historical process of en-masse Self Realisation through which thousands of people could get this connection to their Spirit and thereby their inner transformation. Sahajayoga was born : sahaja means spontaneous and yoga is union with Divine.


Spreading of Sahaja Yoga




The most important phase of Shri Mataji’s life began in 1970 when she founded sahajayoga and has, by a single-handed effort, created a mass movement. Through her benediction, hundreds of thousands of people, in more than 85 countries, belonging to different faiths, races and communities have attained an inner transformation through the awakening of their Kundalini and through the resulting self-realization. She is transforming the present-day selfish and immoral human society into a new universal human family of truly elevated, pure, chaste, compassionate and loving men and women of all the ages and of all continents. Drugs, alcohol, immorality,etc. disappeared overnight from the lives of all these transformed people. They understand the integration of all religions and spiritual paths not at a mental level, but through their direct experience on the central nervous system. 


Shri Mataji’s International Awards and Recognition


Shri Mataji has been recognized worldwide by several prestigious institutions for HER selfless work and for the powerful results of HER spiritual teachings through Sahajayoga: some of these are listed below –


United Nations, New York, USA 1989-1994 – Invited by United Nations for four consecutive years to speak about how to achieve world peace.


Brazil 1994 – The Mayor of city of Brazilia welcomed Shri Mataji at the airport and presented HER with the key to the city, and sponsored all of HER programs.


Italy 1986 – Declared “personality of the year” by the Italian government.

Romania 1995- Awarded Honorary Doctorate in Cognitive Science


Yonkers, New York, USA, 1996 – Letter of Welcome was granted by Mayor of Yonkers,New York. September 26 is proclaimed as “Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi Day”


New York, USA,1994- Police escort was granted for a welcoming parade honoring Shri Mataji and celebrating her association with Mahatma Gandhi. The half day march ogiginated on 5th Avenue and encircled Central Park.


Los Angeles, USA, 1994 and 1993 – Letter of Welcome and Continued Friendship was granted by Mayor Richard Riordan on behalf of the people of Los Angeles.


British Columbia, Canada, 1994 – Letter of Welcome was granted by the Premier of the Province of British Columbia, Mr.Mike Harcourt, on behalf of the people of Canada.


Vancouver, Canada,1994 – Letter of Welcome was granted by Mayor Philip W. Owen on behalf of the people of Vancouver, Canada.


Philadelphia, USA,1993 – October 15th is proclaimed as “ Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi Day”


Cincinnati,Ohio,USA,1992 –September 10th is proclaimed as “Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi Day”


St. Petersburg, Russia,1993 – Appointed as Honorary Member of the Presidium of Petovskaya Academy of Art and Science. In the history of the Academy only twelve people have been granted this honor, Einstein being one of them.


St. Petersburg, Russia,1993 – Inaugurated the International Conference on “Medicine and Self Knowledge”, a yearly event now conducted in Russia.


Moscow, Russia, 1989 – Shri Mataji met with the head of the USSR Ministry of Health. Following this meeting Sahaja Yoga was granted full government sponsorship, including founding for promotion and scientific research.


India 1995 – The Indian Government has granted Shri Mataji a one hour prime time television series, broadcast nationally.


China 1995 – Official guest of the Chinese Government to speak to the people of China.


USA, 105th Congress, 1997 and 106th Congress, 2000 – Honorarium read into Congressional Record by Congressman Eliot Engle commending Shri Mataji for HER dedicated and tireless work for humanity.


“Shri Mataji’s discovery brings genuine hope to humanity” Claes Nobel, grand nephew of Alfred Nobel, Nobel Peace Prize Foundation, Chairman of the United Earth Organization.


India 2001 – Manav Ratna Award, in Pune.


Honorary Italian Citizenship, 2006 – The local assembly for the Municipal Office of Cabella Ligure, Alessenandria Italy unanimously elected to award Shri Mataji with the Honorary Citizenship of Italy.

International Achievements


Besides constituting various Institutional establishment of International standard for the humanity, Shri Mataji also founded many Non Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) which include:


1. An international health center to help patients from all over the world to use Sahajayoga techniques in order to treat their ailments. This health center has been producing very successful results in alleviating the symptoms of a number of incurable diseases such as cancer, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. (CBD Belapur, Vashi, India)





2. A charity organization for poor people “Nirmal Prem” in Greater Noida, India to provide shelter  to destitute and homeless women, where they can also optionally learn Sahajayoga (Greater Noida, India)



3. An international music academy (PKS Academy, Vaitarna, Maharashtra, India) to promote classical music, as well as classical dance and fine arts.

4. An international theater company whose international cast and crew has successfully toured throughout Europe, Australia, Israel, India and the USA. Its mission to produce performances that promote racial and cultural understanding worldwide. (TEV)


5. A number of educational establishments to provide culture, ethics and moral values in children have been established (ISPS-Dharmshala in India, Canajoharie-US and many others)




Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi has dedicated her life to the spiritual ascent of mankind through Self Realization, reclaiming the role of women in the spiritual evolution, and guiding humanity to correct today's moral dilemmas. It seems that the light of Gandhi's vision is being brought to fulfilment by this great lady who is revered as the compassionate Divine Mother by her followers, as the "Messenger of peace" by Ayatollah Rouhani, an Avatar of the modern era by Claes Nobel, grandnewphew of Albert Nobel (the creator of the Nobel foundation) and Chairman of United Earth.