Have you ever seen a movie with Shri Mataji?
Many of us might remember the early India tours, outdoor screenings on warm evenings in Maharashtra. A dam site in Vaiturna comes to mind.
With the last light of the day, an old 16mm projector clatters into action, shadows and light on a cotton sheet screen. There are chai cups in our hands, passed and passed again to be sure that everybody has one. Shri Mataji is in big chair behind us near the top of the hill. She is wearing glasses. I have never seen Her with eyeglasses before.
An Indian Sahaja Yogi stands next to the projector and translates the Marathi dialogue. There are no subtitles. Then he stops, quickly apologizes. The reels have been mixed up and shown in the wrong order. It doesn't matter, he says. Shivaji will still triumph in the end.
I remember also a crowded cinema in Pune. Or was it Mumbai? Noisy glass bottles, sweet Limca welcomed to our hands. There is a large audience, whistling and clapping as the story unfolds. They wander and visit each other as the story lags. Shri Mataji sits a few rows back. I cannot hear what She is saying. I try. I would rather hear Her than the actors on the screen. There is no translator this time to apologize or explain the plot.
But then, I remember again. It is a few months later. It is October 1982. We are crowded into a two bedroom Manhattan apartment. Shri Mataji is staying there during Her short visit to New York City. So are we, my wife and I and a couple of dozen other Sahaja YogisThis night will be special: a real movie and in a home. The movie is "Star Wars." Most of us have seen it before, but it is like something new because home video is a new experience. This is not a cinema and this is not television. It is both things at once. And then, also, Shri Mataji is there in the room with us. Her presence makes the film new and new again.
I can hear a tapping in the kitchen. It is the pop-popping of popcorn. I can smell the melting butter.
Shri Mataji is served the first bowl. "What is this?" She asks. She has never tasted this popcorn. Perhaps, I think, they have added some Indian spices.
The movie plays out the same as always, simply, straightforward, satisfying: save the princess, destroy the Death Star, one, two, three.
"I think he is very close," Shri Mataji says at the end of the film. She is talking about George Lucas. "This Force is nothing but the vibrations," She says. "It is the collective consciousness."
We are happy She liked our movie, a film we had loved when we had first seen it some five years before. It would be years later that the film would get a new title – "Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope" – but if you had asked us on that evening, we might have agreed. A new hope was what we were all feeling.
Inspired, I sleep well, Jedi dreams. It was a good evening.
And yes, I hear you asking. She also liked the popcorn, very much.
Richard Payment, editor, Divine Cool Breeze