Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi was born on March 21, 1923 in the geographical center of India. Her parents took an active role in the movement of India's liberation from under British rule. Shri Mataji's father was a member of the Indian Congress, and her mother was a recipient of an honor's degree in Mathematics. As a young child, Shri Mataji spent long periods of time at Mahatma Gandhi's ashram who was impressed with her spiritual depth and wisdom. As an adolescent, she was one of the youth leaders in the struggle for India's independence. She studied medicine and married Sir C. P. Shrivastava, who later on became Joint Secretary to the Prime Minister of India and Secretary General of the United Nations International Maritime Organization.
In 1970, after seeing her two daughters happily married, Shri Mataji embarked on her true life's mission, the emancipation of humanity through Sahaja Yoga Meditation. This method created by Shri Mataji is a system of personal development and transformation which over the next several decades spread to hundreds of thousands of practitioners in over 100 countries. Shri Mataji toured around the world throughout this period, selflessly spreading her message of individual and collective transformation and insisting that you can never pay for something that is built into every human being and which can be achieved spontaneously (Sahaja).
For her global humanitarian work, Shri Mataji was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and was honored by the United States Congress, heads of state, and many governments and inter-governmental institutions including the United Nations where she was invited to speak on multiple occasions.
In addition to founding Sahaja Yoga meditation, Shri Mataji has distinguished herself as a great humanitarian by creating a number of non-governmental organizations including:
- Two international Health Centers in Mumbai and Noida, India
- An international Academy of the Arts in Maharashtra, India
- Theater of Eternal Values, a non-profit international theater group the goal of which is the promotion of perennial values through acting, singing and dance performances
- A charitable organization in New Delhi to provide shelter to the destitute and homeless
- Schools in the US, Italy, Czech Republic and Australia that aim to instill youth with idealism and an honesty of purpose of life
- The Center for Evolutionary Learning, a non-profit with presence in 44 countries which helps individuals and organizations evolve towards ideal models of performance, sustainability and social responsibility
Shri Mataji has also written a book called Meta Modern Era which offers deep insights and solutions for the crises of modern times.