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Nirmala Salve, later known as Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, was born on March 21st, 1923 in India. Her father, a lawyer and scholar fluent in several languages, translated the Qur'an into Hindi. Her mother was the first woman in India to receive an honors degree in mathematics.

Shri Mataji’s parents were actively involved in the struggle for India’s independence, and their daughter Nirmala frequently stayed with Mahatma Gandhi in his ashram. As a young woman she, too, joined the struggle for independence and headed the Student Liberation Movement. As a result, she was arrested several times and expelled from college where she had been studying medicine.

Shortly before India achieved her independence Nirmala Salve was married to an Indian diplomat. They had 2 daughters and 4 grandchildren.

From an early age Shri Mataji knew that she wanted to make her unique spiritual gift available to everyone. And so it was that in 1970 she founded Sahaja Yoga which she shared freely. She relied on ancient knowledge, used simple techniques, and discovered a unique process of Self Realization through which everyone could easily achieve the peace of true meditation and balance in their lives. She also denounced so-called gurus who took advantage of those seeking spiritual knowledge and warned against fraudulent and abusive spiritual practices.

Shri Mataji charged no money and instead insisted that this meditative experience was a birthright which should be available to all who asked for it, at no cost. She travelled the globe to give free lectures and the experience, and now Sahaja Yoga is established worldwide. She said “There can be no peace in the world until there is peace within”.

Shri Mataji also established non-governmental organizations including a home for destitute women and children, several international schools, a health and research centre, and an international academy of classical music and fine art.

On February 23, 2011, Shri Mataji left her physical body, but her legacy lives on, with volunteers continuing to teach her method and techniques, always free of charge. In the spirit of her teachings, those who have been helped will help others, like one candle lighting another.

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