Freedom and Liberation is the title of an inspiring new film about the life of Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi. Having premiered in Germany in 2007, the film will shortly be shown in many countries of the world to celebrate the 85th Birthday of Shri Mataji, on 21 March 2008.
Freedom and Liberation traces the life of Shri Mataji from her very early years growing up in India as Nirmala Salve, the daughter of Prasadrao and Cornelia Salve. While the family was wealthy, having descended from the Indian Shalivahan dynasty, all that was to change with the coming of Mahatma Gandhi’s Independence movement, working to free India from many centuries of British rule. Shri Mataji had already met Gandhi and stayed at his ashram on many occasions. Gandhi was very fond of Nirmala, and recognised that there was something very special about her.
As Shri Mataji’s parents were very active in the Independence movement, helping to organise protests against British rule, they went to gaol many times. As a small child, she was often left to look after the family. From living in large, expensive homes, the family came to live in huts. However, the children knew how important their parents’ fight was.
With the coming of freedom in India, Shri Mataji was able to turn her attention to her vision, the liberation of human beings from the chains of ego, greed, hatred and conditionings. She knew that she had a special task to undertake, but it was many years before she started her spiritual work. In the meantime, she married, became a mother and then a grandmother. As her husband, Sir CP Srivastava, was a distinguished diplomat and later Secretary-General of the United Nations Shipping Corporation, she moved in very high-level circles.
One day, however, Shri Mataji realised that she had to do something to save humanity from the fraudulent “gurus” who were robbing, misguiding and ruining people in the name of spirituality. She meditated deeply for a long time, and on the night of 5 May 1970 she opened the Sahasrara of the world, an event that symbolised the next great step in the evolution of humankind.
From this time, her real work began. Starting with small groups in India, she developed a unique method for giving realisation to people. Then she developed a method for giving realisation en masse, to many thousands of people at a time. She called this method Sahaja Yoga.
After moving to London because of her husband’s work, Shri Mataji gave realisation to groups of people in England. From this time, she began to travel tirelessly , first to Europe and then further afield, talking to people and giving realisation. Her message spread throughout the world, and today Sahaja Yoga is practised in over 100 countries.
The film is unique in that it shows recent interviews, not previously seen, of Shri Mataji and her family. It provides insights into the tremendous love, compassion and humility of Shri Mataji that drove her to undertake this enormous work.
The film was made in Germany, directed by Carolin Dassel and produced by devifilm GbR (Carolin Dassel and Joseph Reidinger). If you want to find out more about the film, follow the link: www.freemeditation.com/freedom
During March 2008, the film is being shown all over the world. If you want to have details of screening sessions in Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and Romania, follow the link: www.freemeditation.com/freedom
Film session times for Australia are shown below:
Australian Capital Territory
Friday 14 March, 7.00pm
Belconnen Theatre, Belconnen Community Centre, Chandler Street, Belconnen
New South Wales
Sydney: Contact (02) 9037 5837
Saturday 15 March, 7.30pm to 10.00pm
Strathfield Town Hall, Cnr Homebush Rd and Redmyre Rd, Strathfield
Monday 17 March, 6.30pm to 9.00pm
Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace, 380 Military Rd, Cremorne
Tuesday 18 March, 6.30pm to 9.00pm
Chauvel Cinema, Paddington Town Hall, Cnr Oxford St & Oatley Rd, Paddington (entrance on Oatley Rd)
Sunday 16 March, 3 pm
Edge Cinema, Katoomba
Saturday 15 March, 2.00pm
Avoca Beach Picture Theatre, Avoca Drive, Avoca
Friday 28 March, 7.30pm to 9.30pm.
Meeting Room, Cairns City Council Library, Abbott St, Cairns
University of Adelaide
Saturday 15 March, 4.30pm to 7.00pm
Napier Lecture Theatre, University of Adelaide
Saturday 15 March, 4.30pm to 7.00pm
Goodwood Community Centre, 32-34 Rosa Street, Goodwood
Contact: (03) 6245 1476 or 0416 435 278
Tuesday 18 March, 7pm
Community Centre, Cooper St, Glenorchy
Wednesday 19 March, 7.00pm
Health Centre, Jones St, Burnie
Thursday 20 March, 12.00 noon
Library, 21 Oldaker Street, Devonport
Thursday 20 March, 7.00pm
Community Centre McHugh St, Kings Meadows
Contact: 1300 742 242
Friday 14 March, 7.30pm to 9.30pm
Saturday 15 March, 7.30pm to 9.30pm
Treasury Theatre, Treasury Place, Melbourne
Many of us, looking at the current situation with Australia’s Indigenous population, could form the view that their condition is a reflection of much deeper problems facing modern society – dispossession, displacement, disadvantage.
I found myself at Martin Place on a grey and rainy Sydney Wednesday morning, with a surprisingly large number of my fellow citizens, listening to the Prime Minister’s apology to the Stolen Generations of Aborigines. There was a real sense of the unity and wellspring of community goodwill, which has swept our nation over the preceding few days, which could not be manufactured. It has been invigorating to witness this spirit unfold as a spontaneous, collective community expression of the highest principles and ideals. The unity of all people, the importance of reconciliation – it was a time when people across our country, separated by race, have become united in something beyond the mundane, commonplace, and routine, by the need to apologise and to heal.
At times it has felt similar to the spirit which pervades a large gathering at a Sahaja Yoga event, being felt and experienced right across our country. People everywhere were experiencing collective awareness, and were sharing the joy of an open-hearted expression of real forgiveness.
As Shri Mataji has indicated, a conflict between the forces of evolution and those of devolution are ever at play. The day of apology was an occasion when the heart triumphed over the head, a time for love to triumph and to purge hatred and division from the body of our country, and to move away from racism, discrimination, segregation.
The day of apology was a time for the expression of a much more enlightened view of a type rarely seen in public. The opinions of our national leaders were focussed more towards introspection and self-evaluation, on the question of the moral integrity and spiritual wellbeing of our nation.
Popular wisdom was that as soon as John Howard had retired, the new Prime Minister – of either political persuasion – would induce Parliament to apologise to Aborigines for past wrongs, and so it turned out to be the case.
Will its contribution mean an end to Australia’s particular form of apartheid, in which Aborigines are reduced to invisibility in everyday life? Except as issues, not many of us know a single Aboriginal face. They are truly the invisible men and women of Australia, usually only seen or read about in the news.
It is hoped that the official, heartfelt National Apology is one of those “great-leap-forward” concepts our nation can pursue, in its efforts to enable Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples to see one another more clearly.
Many events pull our citizens onto the streets – days celebrating sporting success, or commemorating a great historical event. These are days of joyful celebration. But this day, when so many were united in our community, celebrating something much more important and unique, was a mighty day, more important perhaps than many others before it.
J.K. Galbraith once remarked that the tribulations at the margins of society would eventually upset the contentment at its centre. It seems as if the time has come when the Australian Government realised that the human spirit has to be nurtured through forgiveness, together with a renewed commitment for the future.
As one walked through the city on this day, people in business suits and those in shorts and T-shirts, all seemed to be equally affected by the gravity of the occasion, the magnitude and depth of this moment in our history. By all measures it was a stunning day, and hopefully its great purpose will succeed if it provides a new beginning, and insights into the dignity of Indigenous culture. With our positive desire it will also play a larger role in reconciling a range of issues relevant to all Australians.
This was a coming together of people of varied backgrounds, and a collective expression of an apology freely offered and graciously accepted. It gives us a glimpse of what a wider, enlightened society may one day be like, one where the values of selflessness and social improvement, enlightenment and inclusion for our Indigenous population as the great body of the first Australians, can be renewed.
It seemed that this one day in our history, filled with noble words and deeds and with that most healing of words, “sorry”, was somehow pitted against years of mean observances, of broken lives, and of families rent asunder. And by some miracle of the human spirit, many of those who had suffered most terribly, found it to be most worthy.
In the case of this film, it is love after forty years of marriage. The film is Away from Her. It is a Canadian film. It is directed by Sarah Polley, based on a short story by Alice Munro and starring Julie Christie and perhaps this country’s greatest actor, Gordon Pincent. (Julie Christie is nominated for best actress and Sarah Polley for best adapted screenplay – a tough category.)
The film is about a married couple slowly distanced by Alzheimer’s disease. It is a
story of love in its deepest expression, not a story about infatuation or attraction.
“I never wanted to be away from her,” the husband remembers, now finding that he is, as her memory fades.
Anyone who feels that Canadian films are weak, anyone who feels that filmmaking is a superficial medium, anyone who has seen too many fighting pirates and so-called “romantic comedies,” should have a look at this. This is the real thing. Young or old, you will cherish the people around you.
Away from Her (released in 1997) is available on DVD.
“Say I Am You” is a beautiful poem written by Rumi, a Sufi poet who was born in Takistan (now Afghanistan) in 1207. With his family, he travelled extensively in Moslem countries, finally settling in Anatolia (now Turkey).
An accomplished scholar, he was introduced to Sufism by a wandering dervish, Shamshuddin. Shamshuddin’s death heralded an outpouring of Rumi’s poetry. The underlying theme of his poems is the absolute love of God.
The Youtube video (link below) shows Rumi’s poem, “Say I Am You”, illustrated by a beautiful collection of photographs and accompanied by wonderful music. Please enjoy them.