Mātājī Nirmala Devī

(b. 1923)

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(b. 1923)

Founder and propagator of the Sahaja Yoga (‘Innate/Spontaneous Yoga’) movement (also known as ‘Sahaja Yoga International’ or ‘Vishwa Nirmala Dharma’). Her Christian parents were associates of Gāndhī, and as a child she visited his āśram; in the 1940s she was active as a youth leader in the independence movement. Married to the civil servant, Sir C. P. Srivastava, she had a religious experience in 1970 which convinced her that she had discovered a method (subsequently called Sahaja Yoga) through which people could realize their inner, spiritual selves by awakening their kuṇḍalinī. This awakening, or Self Realization, brought about directly by Nirmala Devī herself, and then passed on from self-realized individual to individual, is claimed to bring about a total (physical, mental, and spiritual) transformation, one which is ultimately capable of solving all the world's problems. Sahaja Yoga centres have been established throughout India and around the world, teaching the meditational technique to lay people. The movement claims to have 20 000 members, half of them in India. Clinics and ‘hospitals’ have also been founded, since it is claimed that the technique can help to cure otherwise incurable physical diseases. Nirmala is revered by her followers as the compassionate Divine Mother.

Subjects: Hinduism.

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