Margaret Thatcher, who has died of a stroke aged 87, surrounded herself with many an advisor during her now-legendary time in politics.
Most of The Iron Lady's guidance-givers were cut from the same - very fine - cloth: immaculately attired in sharp suits which cost more than the average householder's mortgage payment, speaking in clipped tones and touting PPE's from Oxford.
At the beginning of her 11-year reign in office however, the longest-serving Prime Minister of the 20th Century, also drew on the apparent wisdom of a most unlikely counsellor: an eccentric and controversial Indian mystic.
Self-professed faith healer and preacher Chandraswami had first met Mrs Thatcher in her Commons office during a secret meeting soon after she became leader of the opposition Conservative party in 1975.
The future prime minister was so impressed with the apparent powers of the preacher, sitting in a lotus position on the floor of the office, she agreed to his request to wear a special red dress and a special ¬talisman around her wrist to a second meeting.
At the meeting Chandraswami accurately predicted that Mrs Thatcher would become Prime Minister in "three or four years" and would remain in office for "11 or 13 years".
Details of the meeting were revealed years later by former Indian Deputy High Commissioner to the UK - and later Indian External Affairs Minister - Shri Natwar Singh, who was present during both meetings.
Days before the first meeting, the tantric had arrived in London demanding a meeting with Mrs Thatcher, who had just become the first woman to lead the Conservative Party after a landslide victory over the other four - all male - contenders.
The preacher had already made a name for himself as a "spiritual advisor" to a number of high-profile individuals, including Elizabeth Taylor, the Sultan of Brunei, Nancy Reagan and billionaire Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi.
Mr Singh offered to arrange a ten-minute meeting with Mrs Thatcher but was still astonished when she agreed.
It is claimed Chandraswami arrived at her Commons office wearing an orange shawl, beads around his neck and carrying a staff and offering Mrs Thatcher five strips of paper, asking her to write a question on each.
Mr Singh recalled how Mrs Thatcher obliged with "scarcely camouflaged irritation" and watched as the guru got into the lotus position and went into a trance.
When he emerged, he asked Mrs Thatcher to open the crumpled paper balls one by one, and correctly told her the question written on each.
‘Irritation gave way to subdued curiosity,’ Mr Singh said. ‘By the fourth question, I thought, she began to consider Chandraswami a holy man indeed. Chandraswami was triumphant."
The mystic cut short the meeting when he announced that the sun had set, meaning he was unable to continue.
But at Mrs Thatcher’s request, a meeting was arranged at Mr Singh's house a few days later.
Mr Singh said: ‘Just as we were about to leave, Mr Holy Man produced a talisman tied to a not-so-tidy piece of string and said that Mrs Thatcher should tie it on her left arm when she came to my house.
‘She immediately took the talisman. I was relieved to finally say goodbye when Chandraswami turned to me and said: “Kindly tell Mrs Thatcher that she should also wear a red poshak (dress).”
But when the Iron Lady arrived at Mr Singh’s home in Hampstead, North ¬London, she was wearing a stunning red dress and the talisman.
The former diplomat said: ‘She asked many questions that day, but the most important ones were related to the chances of her becoming the prime ¬minister.
Chandraswami - who has since been hit with allegations ranging from exploiting the "gullibility" of his high-profile followers to money-laundering and tax evasion - didn't disappoint, predicting that Mrs Thatcher would be PM for either nine, 11 or 13 years.
After becoming prime minister, however, Mrs Thatcher appeared to become shy about her sessions with the guru.
At the Commonwealth Summit in Zambia, in 1979, Mr Singh brought up Chandraswami once again, telling the newly elected premier: "Our man was proved right", to which Mrs Thatcher is said to have replied: "High Commissioner, we don't talk about these matters."BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS