I feel so fortunate to have witnessed Maharaji's arrival in the West. It was such a sweet occasion. I first met Maharaji late in November 1970 when he was 12 years old. I received Knowledge about six months previously, and immediately began to feel an irresistible tug eastward. He made me fall in love with him, made me want to be with him.
He was so kind so gentle and loving. There was a stillness about him. His eyes shining with a warm sweetness. His face so golden, so radiant and beautiful with a joy-filled smile perfect for the melting of hearts. And mine melted. He patiently answered questions with a quiet wisdom and lots of humour, and that stillness. It made me want to stay close to him. It still does. After two wonder-filled months it was time to go. "It's time you went back to your own countries and prepare for my coming." We had no idea how soon that would be.
On 17 June 1972, he arrived. What an incredible occasion. Waiting in the car park was a Rolls-Royce limousine ready to whisk him off to Lincoln Street in Chelsea, with a heart of flowers sellotaped to the hood. The arrivals hall in Terminal 3 at Heathrow came to a standstill.
Two hundred premies waited with bated breath and full hearts for a glimpse of Maharaji. Suddenly there he was, gliding with grace and serenity through the arrivals hall. He took my breath away. He looked so beautiful dressed in Indian whites, one hand gently holding the many garlands around his neck. The smile that melts hearts was playing on his lips and I overflowed. Time stood still, an eternity seemed to pass as he glided to the car, and then he was gone on his way to Chelsea, and eternity was over in a moment.
Maharaji had arrived. Let the magic begin.
One day in June 1970, a young man with long hair dressed in blue jeans, a football shirt and round National Health glasses went to visit a girlfriend. He was depressed because he had just lost another good job, The girl wasn't there, but there was a strange guy sitting on the floor dressed in saffron robes and playing on a wooden flute. He told the young man about a place called an ashram where he could hear about his guru.
"Why don't you come a little earlier, then you can eat with us." Sounded great to someone who had to go back on the dole again. And so he began to attend the little gatherings in a small basement flat in West Kensington, London. There was an Indian instructor, Charnanand who talked about something called Knowledge and his young Master who could reveal it. There was a lovely atmosphere in that place, and often he could not wait for it to be time to go there.
There was a young girl who used to cook for Charnanand and "Saf", the man in robes, and for everyone else who happened to be there. "Can anyone go and buy one onion for this evening's meal?" was often heard if you happened to be there early enough. Well. the day finally came in July when he was invited to come and receive Knowledge. It didn't happen on the day originally set (appointments didn't really count in those days), nor the next, nor the next. But one magical morning, the young man received the gift and miraculously, his life began to change and to have real meaning.
So the young man left for India that September to meet Maharaji and later went to live in an ashram in Leicester. When he arrived the house was in darkness and after knocking a number of times on the door a sleepy face looked out and was rather shocked to find that someone had been sent from London. To do what? Neither of them knew.
But one day in that little house the phone rang and the voice of a pilot friend announced that he had just landed at Leicester airport.
"Is anyone with you? A special person?"
"If we come over, will you still be there?"
"I don't know!"
The housemother said stoically, 'I won't come. Bring him back for tea."
When the two guys from Leicester ashram arrived at the airport, there was Maharaji sitting in the plane and looking ever so beautiful. He wound down his window and looked out.
"Would you like to come to the ashram for tea?" The next moment the door opened and Maharaji and his companions were on the tarmac walking towards a really quite grotty Renault 4. But he came and was quite interested in the car's strange gear change. He had tea, people who lived near came and said "Hello" and then he went back to the plane.
That young man was me. So many precious, magic moments which I treasure - every moment that I am able to spend in your company, Maharaji. Thank you for being in my life all these years and for the years to come. I love you.
I received Knowledge before Maharaji came to England in September 1970, so all the premies I knew went to India for Hans Jayanti and I could not go because I had two small children, but I was just longing to see him.
In June 1971, I was living in Exeter ashram and I can clearly remember Mike Finch bursting into the kitchen waving a telegram and jumping up and down. "He's coming!" We all laughed and cried and felt very happy and excited. Two days after that we drove to London to a house in Lincoln Street and Rosie, my sister, who was staying there, introduced me to Maharaji. I was very nervous and it seemed incredible to actually meet him at last.
My children, Damien and Lucy, went and sat by him and he put a hand on each of their heads - this was very special for me.
That afternoon we went to a small programme and it was the first time I heard Maharaji speak and even though I didn't really understand the nature of what he was saying I felt happy and safe sitting there and listening. I had to leave before Maharaji finished speaking because my daughter started dancing around. I was upset to have to leave, so I walked upstairs and looked down through a small window to where Maharaji was speaking and he looked up at me and smiled and I felt the beginning of my love for him.
It is lovely to remember this time and I am glad I was there to see Maharaji arrive in England. Just about everything has changed for me in the 25 years since then, except the experience of Knowledge. It is impossible to put into words the gratitude and love I feel. And as I begin to get "seriously old" it is very nice to know a part of me will be forever young.
In April 1970, I visited an old friend who had moved into a bedsit on the top floor of a house in Fairholme Road, West Kensington. While staring out of his window I noticed a bald man dressed in a pink gown emerging from the basement of the house opposite.
He was accompanied by a girl I immediately recognized from my days in Soho and the West End some years earlier. It was Sandy Collier. I went across to say hello.
I was introduced to Charnanand, and I began to visit the basement flat in Fairhome Road regularly. I received Knowledge in May 1970 and had a lovely summer living nearby in West Kensington.
A group of us decided to go out to India to see Maharaji. Two van loads! Our van was quite an old one and required a lot of attention along the way. We picked up hitchhikers and some came all the way to India and received Knowledge.
When we crossed over the border from Pakistan into India, some kind of festival was taking place with fireworks and such joy. Perhaps it was a Diwali, but for us it was a celebration of our arrival. We drove on to Prem Nagar ashram where we stayed for quite some time and visited Delhi and the residence at Dehradun.
It was so nice to see Maharaji. He was 12 years old and still at school. Sometimes he would come to Prem Nagar to stay. I remember sitting on the roof with him while he spoke to us about Knowledge.