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NISARGADATTA  MAHARAJ

A  GREAT  MAHARASHTRIAN  JNANI



Let there be peace and love among all beings of the universe. OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

early life history | daily routine | daily programme | maharaj's teachings | pearls from maharaj's lips | some less known facts in maharaj's life
becomes maruti rao shet | meets his guru | leaves for pandarpur | returns home | becomes known as "maharaj" to his disciples
performs "sapthaha" | arrival of maurice frydman | miracles of maharaj | the last days | the last moments | wisdom



NTRODUCTION


Though a Maharashtrian myself it was a matter of great shame for me that I had not known of this great Maharashtrian jnani [a Self-realised being], Nisargadatta Maharaj till March 1992.

I was waiting for Bhagavan's morning darshan as usual at Brindavan ashram. A friend of mine sitting next to me was pouring over the pages of a fairly bulky book. I gave a sly glance at the book unwilling to disturb him. I found the title of the book I Am That. This roused my curiosity about the author's name.

I found the author to be Maurice Frydman whose name sounded very familiar to me. I was a frequent visitor to Sri Ramanasramam [ashram of Ramana Maharshi at Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu] in the early years between 1944 and 1948, when I was a judicial officer there. I had seen him there though I had not talked to him.

My friend somehow sensed that I was anxious to look into the book, and to my great joy handed me the book. I poured over a few pages at random and found precious pearls of wisdom on the few pages I happened to browse.

This is the genesis of this book, the seeds of which were sown about a year ago. I had no intention whatever of writing this book. My ceaseless remorse at not knowing about the existence of Maharaj earlier haunted me. Added to this was a sense of pride that he belonged to my community, the Maharashtrians.

Nearly about a lakh of Maharashtrians live scattered in places like Madras, Bangalore, Tanjore, North Arcot and Krishnagiri district and a few other places. A strange urge to write about this great jnani took possession of me. I was anxious that I should make him known to the people of the South, Who were utterly unaware of his existence. They could scarcely believe that such a great soul lived in a bye-lane in the city of Bombay, avoiding publicity. It sounds somewhat paradoxical that people in the Western world knew more about him than his own countrymen in India. We have ourselves to blame for this situation.

If by publishing this book I have aroused some interest in him in the people of the South and dispelled the unpardonable ignorance about him, I will deem it, that I have achieved something. May the ever merciful Maharaj forgive us in his infinite grace, and make us aware of his sublime teachings.





It remains for me to express my gratitude to all my friends and well-wishers who were anxious that I should publish this book for the benefit of all concerned. I must first thank my very good friend Mr. Krishnamurthy who was instrumental in typing the manuscript for this book. He did it in such a perfect way that not a world needed correction.

I must next thank Mr. Hans Bearholm and his wife Lilian from Denmark, a highly spiritual persons, for all the moral support they gave in encouraging me to write about this great jnani. Next I must thank other friends and well-wishers who took a keen interest in the publication of this book. I must also thank my good friend Mr. C.S. Ramakrishnayya of the Gita Press.

                                 
G.K. Damodara Row


EARLY  LIFE  HISTORY


Vanamali Mansion, 10th lane, Khetwadi in Bombay became a landmark for many persons who were seekers of the spirit. Here lived Nisargadatta Maharaj, a great jnani in relative obscurity, in the early years of his life. He was running a small beedi [cigarette] shop offering a variety of hand-rolled tobacco, which poor people smoke. In fact, Maharaj himself was a chain smoker.

It is to the credit of late Maurice Frydman that he discovered Maharaj in his wanderings in quest of a Guru. He visited Sri Ramanasramam and Ganeshpuri [ashram of Nityananda] and other spiritual centres until he came to Bombay having heard about Maharaj. With some difficulty he found the lane where Maharaj lived. He was very intrigued that a great soul like Maharaj should live in such squalor and stench in a bye-lane in Bombay instead of in the Himalayas. Maharaj was a pious man dressed in simple clothes, and steeped all the time in meditation and Atma vichara [Self-enquiry]. The surroundings in which he lived did not in the least bother him. He lived aloof in his loft room, totally detached from the noisy world around.

Visitors, both foreign and Indian, sought his company. It was an interesting sight to see gleaming Mercedes cars glide gracefully with their rich owners in search of N°10 Khetwadi Lane.

It is said that Maharaj refused to talk about himself and such information as could be got was only from the early devotees, most of whom were ordinary poor people who used to go to the shop to purchase beedis. During the course of the purchase, Maharaj used to draw them into conversation as shopkeepers often do. The peculiarity of Maharaj was that he would speak mainly on adhyathmic subjects and there will be no idle gossip as is the wont of poor villagers. He never used to encourage it with the result there used to be a small band of earnest seekers standing in front of the shop listening in awe to the pearls of wisdom that fell from his lips. It was indeed an unusual sight in those days to see persons who came to purchase beedis, stay for hours listening in rapt attention to Maharaj. Maharaj explained great truths in very simple language. Some of the old people living in the locality were almost daily visitors to his shop and were mesmerized by his talks and would not leave him until they were compelled to go, and attend to their daily avocations.

From the available materials we are able to gather that Maharaj was born on a full moon day in March 1897. His birthday coincided with the auspicious day of Hanuman Jayanthi [birthday] and he was therefore named as Maruti. His childhood was spent in a village called Kandalgaon, a short distance from Bombay. It is said that his father moved to that village at the time of the plague. When somebody who was anxious to know about the date of birth of Maharaj, persisted in asking him about it, Maharaj replied bluntly that he "was never born" – a highly abstruse philosophical statement which most of us cannot understand. Thinking of his declaration deeply, one is led to think that Maharaj referred to the Unborn, undying Self [Atman] and not to the body. Anyway, many of his devotees left it at that and did not try to find out the exact date of his birth.

In a reminiscent mood, Maharaj used to say, "I remember being carried on my father's shoulders which I greatly enjoyed". His father was a poor agriculturist and died in 1915. As the income of the family was found insufficient, the family had to go back to Bombay to earn their livelihood. Maruti joined a private firm as a clerk, but he had to leave it because of his independent temperament. He often used to say, "Better one day of independence than a lifetime without freedom". Being a Maharashtrian by birth and belonging as he did to the great Shivaji's clan, his view of life is not surprising.

Maruti grew up almost without education. As a boy, he tended cattle, worked in the fields with his father and was a real son of the soil. His pleasures were equally simple. But it is said by people who knew him as a young man that he had an inquisitive mind, anxious to know about the mysteries of life, its pleasures and sorrows. Maruti started a business venture in selling beedis in a shop owned by him in Khetwadi Lane. Luck smiled on him and he soon became the owner of eight more shops. Then he got married and had four children.

Though his business was prosperous and the life was comfortable, a vague sense of something missing in his life haunted him. He sought the help of his learned brahmin friend, Vishnu Gore who kindled in him questions regarding the world outside, man and God. Then he befriended another friend, Yashwanth Rao, who took him to the great and holy Siddharameshwar Maharaj, a realised soul, who initiated him into the mysteries of life, God and karma and gave him a mantra [sacred words or syllables].

This was the turning point in his life and he took Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj as his Guru and clung to him till his Guru attained Mahasamadhi in 1936. The following year, Maruti suddenly decided to abandon his family and also his prosperous business, and wandered about aimlessly visiting temples and places of religious interest. His mind was restless. He travelled north, determined to spend his time in the Himalayas and never to return home. It is said that he walked barefoot in the Himalayan region. There he happened to meet a fellow-disciple of his Guru who told him that such wandering was of no avail and was really not necessary for a spiritual aspirant. He suggested that Maharaj should go back home and live an active life as a house holder. He advised selfless service to the poor which was far more meaningful.

After deep thought Maruti returned back to Bombay. He found all his shops taken away except one, but he was not in the least perturbed and got reconciled to the situation and calmly decided that one shop was enough for his worldly needs.

After some time when his son was able to look after the shop, he retired to his small loft room in the house, which later became an ashram to the devotees, both Indian and foreign who came to him. He lived in this small room, till his final Nirvana in 1981. It is of some importance to note that he did not yield to the persuasions of some of the rich Bombay devotees who owned palatial residences with marble flooring, to come and stay with them. He refused their request as only a jnani would and continued to live in his small loft room in the lane.


DAILY  ROUTINE


Maharaj used to get up at 4 A.M. It is said that he used the public toilet in the street opposite to his residence, sometimes, not minding the stench emanating from such toilets, especially in Bombay bye-lanes.

We have to linger here and spend some thought on his courage and sense of detachment in using a public latrine which is commonly used by all poor folk living in the congested locality. He bathed in the kitchen as there was no bathroom.

Persons who have some knowledge of these dirty public latrines with unbearable stench associated with them should ponder over his product in refusing the luxury of marble floors and posh bathrooms and preferring to be "himself" and live like a monk in a cell in his very small apartment with no relative comforts. Except for a loft room which can hardly accommodate 20 persons to which he escaped when devotees, both foreign and Indian came, there was hardly any decent accommodation in the modern sense. Devotees who have visited Maharaj often have told me that he was totally dead to his surroundings. If foreigners could come all the way from their country and hunt out the obscure 10th lane in the Khetwadi area, unmindful of the dirt and squalor, it only shows their genuine interest in Maharaj.

Maharaj did not wear saffron clothes or beads as sadhus [wandering renunciates] do. He had no particular pose at all. He was a humble house holder who dressed in ordinary clothes like the poor people in the locality. When we think of it, it is difficult to understand the personality of Maharaj. As for his food habits, he was a non-vegetarian initially and later became a vegetarian. It is said that he had an innocent fondness for sweets, such as pooran poli and srikand. Persons who were his neighbours somehow were reluctant to talk about his early days. Even Maharaj was reluctant to talk about himself as an individual.

One significant statement made by him is, "I consider myself as a male human being who got married and had children, then met my Guru and after this initiation I came to know I was absolute Reality [Brahman] ".


DAILY  PROGRAMME


Maharaj was a stickler for discipline and punctuality. The programme for the day will start and end on time. He used to get up at 4 A.M. and after finishing his ablutions he will do kakada aarthi [morning worship] to his Guru's photo. There will not be anyone in the loft room at the time and his veneration for his Guru was such that during the course of the aarthi he will go into a trance and will get back to his consciousness only after an hour. At 5 A.M. he will go down when the members of the household were still asleep and open his beedi shop. He will sell beedis and other articles like pan [betel-nut], supari and lottery tickets. After some time his son will come and take charge and then Maharaj will retire to the loft room.

At 7.30 A.M. there will be meditation, followed by reading of the great Marathi volume, Dasbodh by Swami Ramdas, and other books on the lives of saints like Eknath and Tukaram. At 8.30 A.M. there will be bhajans [devotional singing] for an hour with other devotees. The bhajans will be in Pandharpur-style, ecstatic, and Maharaj will join the bhajan-dance and forget himself. At 10 A.M., he will get ready to receive the visitors some of whom will be foreigners. It was an interesting sight to see Maharaj dance in ecstasy forgetting himself and the atmosphere will be surcharged with such great joy that some of the foreigners waiting will also join the bhajans and enjoy the company of Maharaj.

Maharaj, before starting his talk, will look round to see who have all come. He said once that he was not very happy with devotees who came there just to gaze at him mechanically without asking any questions, even though Maharaj would persuade him to do so. To such persons he used to say that instead of spending more time with him it is better for them to get into some ashram and start their sadhana [spiritual practice]. This he had to do because there was no space in the loft room for the earnest seekers, some of whom came from distant foreign countries. They felt disappointed and had to go down the stairs ad stand in the room below for want of space. Maharaj felt very sorry for such people and hence he devised a rule that persons other than earnest seekers should stay away after ten days with him and give room to the newcomers.

Very often the loft room will be packed to capacity, but Maharaj will be happy, and talk to them in his usual way with vigour. He mildly apologised for want of proper place. At noon, Maharaj will close the first session, and request the devotees to come at 3 P.M. for the second session. When they came back, he will again talk to them answering questions and very often put questions to draw them out. Maharaj's talks in Marathi used to be translated into English and Maharaj's answers were taped by many of the devotees gathered there. A few books written in Marathi mentioning Maharaj's answers to the various questions put by devotees have been made available to me. I am distinctly of the opinion that Maharaj's teachings are better understood in the Marathi language than in English. They have a beauty of their own.


MAHARAJ' S  TEACHINGS


Before I go to his teachings, I consider it necessary to mention that Maharaj did not encourage people who went to him for advice in regard to material benefits. He gave solace to any tormented soul and to such persons who were genuinely interested with adhyathmic matters.

Maharaj did not favour any one religion, either Hinduism, Christianity or Buddhism. He often said that "he is anxious to present a spiritual mirror in which we could, if only we seriously wished so, see our own true image". He did not encourage people, particularly foreigners coming everyday to his loft room, to sit gazing at him for hours on end without any participation in the discussion. However, he was sympathetic to them and spoke kindly asking them to attend his talks for ten days which he considered was enough for them, and that they should then go to an ashram, stay there and examine his teachings seriously, if really they desired to get any benefit at all.

I have a feeling that Maharaj did so for two reasons. His loft room was too small to accommodate the growing crowd of foreign and Indian devotees. The second reason which appeals to me is that Maharaj enjoyed questions put by real seekers who want their doubts to be cleared and did not want a dumb crowd of devotees who usually came to the ashram more to be in the presence of the great one than to get the benefit of the philosophical talk which emanated from Maharaj.


PEARLS  FROM  MAHARAJ' S  LIPS


In one of the morning sessions when he found a local Marathi gentleman sitting in front of him in the crowded loft room, Maharaj mildly admonished him saying, "You only know how to sing bhajans. How could you understand what I am telling these visitors, some of whom have come from far distances". I must mention here that unless one is attuned to Maharaj's abstruse sayings on the subjects of "beingness", one will be lost in confusion when they read the questions and answers of Maharaj. No doubt it is a very slow process, involving critical study of Maharaj's way of thinking and his approach to the realities of life.

I will now proceed to give a few instances which will help us in understanding his teachings. I call it a preparatory course for my readers.

I will first refer to Maharaj's concept of vital breath[prana]. When a visitor asked whether it is in the flowers also, Maharaj's answer was, "Not only in flowers but even in their colour and flagrance. It is everywhere".

"One should aspire for the desireless state and not bargain with God by doing penance and the repetition of sacred words or syllables [japa] to acquire something spiritual." Maharaj called this desireless stage as "Poorna Brahmam", "Paramathmam" and "Parameshwara".

At another stage while explaining the concept that, "You are not the body, nor the mind", he recited a verse of Guru Nanak which runs as follows

"O Mind. What are you searching inside and outside? It is One only. Once the earthen pot bearing the name "Nanak" is broken by getting rid of the concept that "I am the body", where then is the inside and outside? It is only "I" prevailing everywhere".

Guru Nanak further says, "Like the fragrance in a flower, like an image in a mirror, this sense of "I amness" is felt in the body. Therefore, give up your name "Nanak" and also your identity with the body and abide in the sense of "I amness". You shall be liberated."

Below are a selection of teachings from Maharaj:

"It is a matter of actual experience that the Self has being independent of mind and body. It is being-awareness-bliss. Awareness of being is bliss. One must merge back into Self, which is the highest, most blissful state, a qualitative consciousness."

"Do not get entangled in the branches and leaves. Go to the seed. Without the seed the tree will not be there. Find out where the tree comes from. This is where I am taking you back."

"True happiness cannot be found in things that change and pass away. Pleasure and pain alternate inexorably. Happiness comes from the Self and can be found in the Self only. Find your real Self and all else will come with it."

"Even among the crowd be alone. Abide in your own Self. Do not neglect this body. This is the house of God. Take care of it. Only in this body can God be realised."

"It is the nature of mind to roam about. All you can do is to shift the focus of consciousness beyond the mind. Refuse all thoughts except one, the thought "I am". The mind will rebel in the beginning but with patience and perseverance, it will yield and keep quiet. Once you are quiet, things will begin to happen spontaneously and quite naturally, without any interference on your part."

"You are the Self here and now. Leave the mind alone, stand aware and unconcerned and you will realise that to stand alert but detached, watching events as they come and go, is an aspect of your real nature."

"You people come here wanting something. What you want may be knowledge with a capital K – the higher truth. But none the less you do want something, most you have been coming here for quite some time. Why? If there had been a perception to what I have been saying you should have stopped coming here long ago."

"You can find what you have lost. But you cannot find what you have not lost. When you are searching it shows that you believe you have lost something. But who believes it? And what is believed to be lost? Have you lost a person like yourself? What is this Self which you are in search of? What exactly do you expect to find?"

"What a fantastic subjects this is – the subject is illusive. The person who thinks he is listening is illusory and yet nobody believes that he does not exist. When you come here I welcome you and extend to you my humble hospitality, but in doing so I am fully aware of the exact position that there is neither a speaker nor a listener. Why is it that nobody can honestly say that he does not exist because he knows that he is present, or rather he is that intuitive sense of presence."

"You people have been coming here hoping all the time that I would give you a programme of what you should do in order to get liberation. But what I keep telling you is that there is no entity as such and that the question of bondage does not arise. If one is not bound then there is no need for liberation. All I can do is to show you that what you are is not what you think you are".

"I repeat, I was not, am not, shall not be a body. To me this is a fact. I too was under the illusion of having been born, but my Guru made me see that birth and death are mere ideas – birth is merely the idea, "I have a body" and death is the idea, "I have lost my body". Now, when I know I am not a body, the body may be there or may not, what difference does it make? The body-mind is like a room. It is there, but I need not live in it all the time."

"Until man can free himself from false identifications, from pretensions and delusions of various kinds, he can not come face to face with Eternal Verity that is latent within his own Self."

"The only awakening or enlightenment, the only illusory liberation or an illusory bondage the awakening from the living dream. What is it a Guru can do. A Self-realised Guru will do the only thing that could be done point towards the Satguru within. The Satguru is there always whether you remember him or not."

"Direct experience of Self is by its very nature inexpressible. Images are built of words and by words they are also destroyed. You got yourself into your present state through verbal thinking; you must get out of it the same way."

"What has been attained may again be lost. Only when you realise the true peace, the peace you have never lost, that peace will remain with you for it was never away. Instead of searching for what you do not have, find out what is it that you have never lost. That which is there before the beginning and after the ending of everything, to That there is no birth nor death. That Immovable state, which is not affected by the birth and death of a body or a mind, that state you must perceive."


SOME  LESS  KNOWN  FACTS  IN  MAHARAJ' S  LIFE


I have collected them from the sheaf of papers sent by Dr. Rashinker.

In the early childhood Maruti had very little formal education and one is amazed at the way he blossomed in later life into a great jnani. Maharaj ascribed it to the grace of Siddharameshwar Maharaj.

As for his early childhood he used to go to the farm with his father and work in the fields. He was a very healthy young boy and was of great use to his father in ploughing the land, preparing the seed bed, etc... Deep down his father was full of remorse that his son was not attending school. The conflict was between sending him to a primary school in Khandalgaon where the education was only up to IV standard and the future well being of the family which primarily depended on agriculture. In those days, even for going to a school in a village in the rural areas the children had to walk 5 or 6 miles on foot daily and return late in the evening giving an anxious time for the parents, who will be awaiting their return. The age of Maruti was also not suitable for this kind of daily ordeal. Yet his father having lived in Bombay, knew the value of higher education but the circumstances were against sending him to a school in an urban area.

As such the daily routine of Maruti was to go with his father and his brothers, work in the farm, take the cattle for grazing in the nearby forest. In the evenings, regularly the father used to gather the family and tell them stories from Navnath Bhaktisaar, Ram Vijay and Bhaktivivay. Sometimes Vishnu Gore, the erudite Brahmin priest will join them and both he and Maruti's father used to discuss on adhyatma. Vishnu Gore was also an astrologer and Maruti in his formative years had great admiration for him. He was an example of piety, courage, perseverance, and hard work.

Though the brothers of Maruti had already seen life on Bombay, Maruti was out and out a product of a completely rural life. But yet a spirit of enquiry got possession of him even at the early age of 14 years and aroused his inquisitiveness. He used to think as follows: "We sow very little in the fields but we get back much more in quantity for a little effort of sowing when there was nothing but soil and water in the field. How was this possible? From where came the fruit and how did the sour ones ripen automatically into sweet ones. All fruit have seeds inside except in the case of the cashew nut in which the seed was protruding from the fruit".

These questions disturbed Maruti's mind and he could not get satisfactory answers. He put a question to his father about this and he said that it was the leela [play] of God. He then thought that God must be a very powerful person as everything depended on Him. He heard stories from Navnath Bhakthisaar that they could do and undo things if they willed it. It therefore troubled his mind how they could do and undo things, if all the creation was looked after by God. In his innocent way he thought that Navnaths were more powerful than God. Then the question arose in his mind, "Is there one God or many gods?" He could not get a satisfactory answer. It was then that he met his Satguru Siddharameswar Maharaj who explained to him in a convincing way that God manages everything, birth, death etc., and was more powerful that the Navnaths especially, Matchindranath.

Maruti was a healthy boy and used to do his best to help the needy persons on the occasion of funerals, fire fighting etc... Being very healthy and strong, on many occasions he helped the villagers to lift their cattle, which had fallen into a well while grazing. He had no distinction of caste and creed and felt very much for the poor families of the harijans [lower caste]. He used to question his father, "If there is a merciful God why should poverty be there and why should some people be born in a high family and others in a low family?"

His father, Shivaram Pant, though inwardly happy about the intelligent questions put by his son Maruti was, yet apprehensive that he had not given Maruti a decent education to survive in the battle of life. Maruti's father died in 1915 and a few hours before his death he had told Vishnu Gore that he was shedding his body that day. Maruti loved his father very intensely and his father died with his head on the lap of young Maruti who was plunged in sorrow.

Thus Maruti with his intuitive intelligence though his formal education was low, had the help of his father's friend Vishnu Gore who moulded in him a right frame of mind in his search of God. The unpolluted rural life in the village helped Maruti to pursue the questions with the help of his father's friend. It has got to be remembered that Maruti was a Bandari by caste, who where traditionally engaged in production and sale of country liquor, toddy etc... But Shivaram Pant had kept them away from this traditional business as he did not like his sons to continue in it.

It was in 1918 that Maruti decided to go to Bombay for work to support his family. In Bombay, he sued to work in the day time, and study in the night which was very taxing especially for young Maruti. He found that it was not possible to go to the school regularly. But the family needed money. So, he sought work as a clerk at the Princess Dock, in Bombay's harbour, thus ending his education forever. However, his mind was restless and as a young man he thought of the future and wanted to increase his income for the benefit of the family. He was ambitious and therefore decided to do some business of his own instead of serving others.


BECOMES  MARUTI  RAO  SHET


Though Maruti did not have any formal education he was intelligent and physically strong. As he had a family to maintain he had a necessity to think of other avenues which would get him substantial income to maintain the family in reasonable comfort. After great deliberation he decided to start some business of his own instead of working under masters. He collected some capital and started a small shop selling beedis, pan, tobacco, etc...

After it became popular, he realised the limitations of this shop in the matter of expansion. With the money he saved he decided to enter other lines of business. He started a cutlery shop and when it got him a sizable income, he started another shop selling ready-made garments. He was by nature very economical and when profits came, he did not squander them away. Then he started production of different kind of beedis, as the beedi business was very lucrative. His beedis in particular acquired a high reputation and were in great demand. Then he started a cloth shop. When he started earning sufficiently he got married to one Sumathibai in 1924. He often used to say that God was kind and merciful to him. He always wanted what really belonged to him. He used to ask his Guru, "Kindly tell me who I am and what is mine. I want what is mine. I will not touch anything that is not mine". When he pressed his Guru for an answer as to who he was, his Guru told him that he was the "Ultimate Truth". His business was very prosperous and he employed as many as 40 assistants to look after his shops which were located in different places in Bombay, from Khetwadi in Girgaum [district of Bommbay] to Boribunder. People finding him very prosperous, used to address him as "Shet", which is an appellation for moneyed people who had become prosperous in business. They now used to address him as Maruti Rao Shet.

He thus achieved a great deal of success in his material life but this could not solve the basic questions in his mind which had remained unanswered since his boyhood days. He often used to think on questions as, "What is this world? Who I am? Where is God? Can we see Him or talk to Him?" Day after day these questions agitated him and slowly he was losing interest in his business. He met so many sadhus and sannyasis who were only in appearance saffron clad sadhus, wearing a number of malas [beaded necklaces] and displaying prominently tilaks, but they were ignorant about God.


Maruti continued the traditional pujas [ritual worship], fasts, and vrathas as per the command of his father. He also went to the Shiva temple at Bhuleshwar and Walkeshwarand and observed all the necessary fasts as per the command of his mother. Everyday, before going to the temple he would offer flowers to his mother, make a deep bow and then go out in search of a cow to feed it with green grass. His favourite deity in those days was Panduranga of Pandarpur and the great saint Dhyaneshwar of Alandi. He used to read the Venkates Wara strotra every morning and while doing so, he stood on one leg by way of penance. Though born in a family eating non-vegetarian food, he gave up eating it and turned out to a very strict vegetarian.

Days went on without any spiritual progress, but finding momentary satisfaction in pujas and vrathas. The business was not affected as very trusted servants were looking after it. He had read stories from Navnath Bhakthisaar in his childhood. The incredible ways in which the Navnaths had undergone the tapas [arduous spiritual practice] raised doubts in him but yet he had great respect for Matchindranath. He decided to meet sadhus who knew this ways of tapas. This made him bring home regularly sadhus and sannyasis, offer them bath, puja and food and also money and prostrate before them so that they may show him the way to God. This also did not help him.

Then he turned to Hatha Yoga. In Girgaum, there lived a Hatha Yogi by the name of Athavle. Maruti learned this Yoga from him and practice it on the loft of his residence, especially the pranayama [breath control] and kumbaka [standing on one leg]. The practice of kumbaka swelled his body like a frog and his hope that this would awaken his kundalini [creative coiled power of Shiva] and bring him siddhis [supernatural powers] did not materialise. Then he made up his mind not to go to anybody in search of God and decided that he himself would find Him and talk to Him.


MEETS  HIS  GURU


Maruti Shet had a trader friend by the name of Yashwant Rao Baagkar. He was a highly religious man and often used to discuss bhakti sadhana [devotion]. He used to go to a saint in Karnataka, named Sri Satguru Siddharameshwar Maharaj, for his darshan regularly whenever the Guru was staying in Bombay for two or three months. Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj was from the famous Naath Sampradaya with Sri Revan Siddha as the original Siddha Purusha. Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj was a disciple of the famous Sri Bhausaheb Maharaj Umadikar [Deshpande]. Maruti's friend, Baagkar, used to attend regularly the bhajans and the daily discourses. After some time, Sri Baagkar was blessed with spiritual initiation by the grace of his Guru.

Naturally in the discussions with Maruti Shet, Sri Baagkar told him the gist of the discourses given by the Guru. He wanted Maruti Shet to accompany him for the discourse. At this point in time there was a change in the outlook of Maruti Shet and he was given the name of Nisargadatta. His mind was now ripe and he had read about many saints in Maharashtra, like Gajanan Maharaj, Akalkot Swami Maharaj, Gondavalekar Maharaj and Sri Sai Baba of Shirdi who preached prem bhakti. Nisargadatta had high regards for them but, in spite of that, there was a lurking disbelief in the existence of such saints in a city like Bombay. Moreover he was sadly disillusioned when he saw many so called sadhus and sannyasis who observed it as a way of life for getting their "dal-roti" [daily food] and also for some money without leading a spiritual life. He was therefore not interested in takibg initiation from Siddharameshwar Maharaj or even attending his lectures. Sri Baagkar felt very sad at this, and made a plaintive request to Nisargadatta one day to come and attend the discourses at least for his sake. He agreed reluctantly. Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj was then staying with one of his disciples, Sri Pathare. One evening, Nisargadatta and Sri Baagkar started to attend a bhajan and discourses of Siddharameshwar. His brother also accompanied them. They had to go to a place in Tara Temple lane where Siddharameshwar was staying then and at the entrance of the lane they found some young boys making fun of Siddharameshwar and laughing loudly and asking people to go back.

Nisargadatta's brother refused to go further and asked his brother also not to go. But as he had given his word to Baagkar he told his brother to go back home if he was not inclined and he would accompany Baagkar. The discourse that evening was on the Yoga Vasishtha, which was somewhat difficult to understand and more so to follow as the type of sadhana preached by the Maharaj was beyond his capacity. But the words of Maharaj haunted him and would not leave his mind. After the next three or four days Sri Maharaj called him and told Nisargadatta that he wanted to give him initiation. He had read about the gurusishya relations where the disciple has to meticulously follow the orders of the Guru if he accepted Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj as his Guru. Maharaj sensed the difficulty in Nisargadatta's mind and told him, "Don't worry. If you feel afterwards that you do not want to continue, you can leave it there". After this, Nisargadatta felt relieved and agreed to become his disciple with a very clear mind and in a happy mood as it was on his own terms. This again brings into sharp focus his uncompromising nature, in his honest search for God. Slowly the persons who were in business contact with him or in social or religious life he dropped away as they found him somewhat odd. They could nor realise that he was always in meditation having taken adhyathma seriously.

When Maruti prostrated before his Guru, the latter asked him to sit in front of him. He heard his Guru's words and felt something unusual happening to him and then went into samadhi [a direct but temporary experience of the Self]. About this unique experience he told his friends in Marathi, "Bambaal Zala", which means that his identity has changed and he became the whole universe and in the process so many colourful lights intermingled. Ultimately the universal identity also vanished and he became conscious of his surroundings only when his Guru brought him back from the state of samadhi.

It is not known at what point of time the name Maruti was changed into Nisargadatta. The surmise of the devotees is that this Guru himself had renamed him as Nisargadatta. But anyway the puzzling questions which troubled him and which nobody could answer were solved at the feet of his great Guru. This was in 1933.

Nisargadatta was continuing his business and also doing sadhana. He had a feeling that he was being taken away slowly from his family and his relations and friends and felt a sort of "aloofness" from everyone. After the initiation by his Guru his mind changed radically. He gave up all pujas, vrathas and ignored the idols which he was worshipping. Now his only God was his Guru and obeyed Him without question. Even his brother went away and only his mother stayed with him till the last as she was in a position to understand the change wrought on her son.

But most unfortunately his wife could not understand him, even though he treated her with respect and like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa put her on the onward path. The teachings of Swami Ramdas greatly appealed to him. It is well known that Swami Ramdas was a saint of Maharashtra in the 17th century and was the Guru of Shivaji Maharaj. Dasbodh became the sampradaik "grantha" of this Siddha sampradaya and was daily read in the month of Shravana. When rich and learned people used to visit his Guru, Nisargadatta used to stand in a corner with a note book and a pencil and write down whatever fell from the lips of his Guru. He used to say that his Guru's words were his food and he used to eat them and not hear them, as the whole of his body turned into "Shravan-Yantra" and the bhajans were the meals offered to his Guru who needed nothing else.

On one occasion when he was alone with his Guru, he told Him very respectfully that he had a doubt in his mind about adhyathma. On hearing this, his Guru said, "You will never have a doubt nor get any doubt hereafter", and a change came over him and he found no difficulty in following his Guru's words or the teachings in the scriptures.

Along with other gurubandhus [co-disciples] he accompanied his Guru to his village Bhagewadi, in Karnakata, on the occasion of the Jayanthi of his Guru's Guru Bhausaheb Maharaj, for whom his Guru had built a samadhi. It is said many Gods used to give darshan to Nisargadatta and he experienced "Divya Prakash" on many occasions. Surprisingly when he went to his home town, he was in a position to give offhand a series of twelve discourses. For the first time he surprised everybody who heard them. His Guru Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj attained samadhi in 1936 just before Deepawali festival. Nisargadatta became very unhappy as he loved his Guru very much. He was grief-stricken and used to remember his Guru's words, of which he had taken copious notes. Nisargadatta however consoled himself and decided to follow his Guru's teachings in thought, word and deed.


LEAVES  FOR  PANDARPUR


Every year Deepawali is celebrated with great joy in Bombay and the whole city is agog and the sky will be lit with fireworks. But to Nasargadatta it had no joy and his mind was mentally absent to welcome Deepawali. He was constantly thinking of the death of his Guru Maharaj and decided that he should renounce everything that he had in life and go away to the Himalayas. For a gurubhakta there could not have been a more suspicious occasion than Deepawali. On the first day of Deepawali he left his house without informing anybody; family and friends could not locate him. He started walking towards Pandarpur on foot and reached the place in about four days. He prostrated before Panduranga, and prayed for His Blessings for his future life. He purchased two saffron lungis and rudrakshamalas and a rug, removed his clothes and gave them to a poor person. He found that he had one anna left in his pocket which he threw into the river Chandrabagha which flows by Pandarpur.

From Pandarpur he started walking southwards without any plans. All the time he was only concentrating on his guruvachan, the "naam" with his identity. He had tremendous faith in his Guru and he narrated an experience to his gurubandhus about the power of Guru Maharaj. He was a vegetarian in a family which was eating meat. Once he went to his Guru to Bhagewadi in Biljapur District and in the course of the spiritual discussions his Guru Maharaj suddenly changed the subject and looking at him asked whether he ate mutton to which he replied in the negative.

After hearing this his Guru said that he would make him eat mutton the next day and he felt very confused and shocked. He bowed down to him and requested him to excuse him because it was likely that he would vomit. But Guru Maharaj told him not to worry about it and said if any such thing happened he himself would clean the floor. Unable to go against the dictates of Guru Maharaj he ate mutton and he experienced Brahmananda the whole day. Obviously Maharaj knew about it and asked him with a smile as to how he felt. Speaking about this Nisargadatta used to say, "If one type of food can restrict your spiritual progress, it would mean some other type of food can accelerate it".

His faith in his Guru was such that he had no fear whatsoever about his future and walked on foot from place to place. He went first to Gangapur and then to Tirupati en-route to Rameswaram. He did not know any of the South Indian languages but this created no difficulty for him in getting food whenever necessary. Actually he did not care for food as he was mentally ready to throw away his body if necessary. He had great faith in his Guru's words that he will shoulder the responsibility for the well being of the disciples.

It often happened that somebody in the garb of a sadhu would come and give him whatever he needed: food, railway fare and bus tickets for his journey which he politely refused. He walked on foot and when tired used to get into a train without a ticket but surprisingly nobody checked him for a ticket even though he walked past the ticket examiner along with other passengers who were being interrogated. It looked as though some power made him invisible to the eyes of the ticket examiner. He had similar experience in the night when walking on the footpath in Bombay where curfew had been ordered due to communal riots. Armed guards were patrolling the streets but they used to walk past him without any interrogation though other persons were interrogated. He was somewhat intrigued about this incident and came to the conclusion that his Guru was protecting him in his own invisible way.

Very curiously he was not harassed by the police who allowed him to go about freely without any interrogation. On one occasion when he was taking shelter under a tree for rest he clearly saw his Guru's image on his feet and the feeling of loneliness vanished. After sometime he practiced the most difficult mantra called "Trataka", looking at the sun with the naked eye for hours. After some days he found that the sun started looking like a ball of ice. Then he gave up practicing Trataka.

During his wanderings, an extraordinary incident happened. One day around noon, he felt tired, hungry and thirsty. He looked around for some human habitation nearby and could not find any house nearby. Still he kept on walking, looking around for a possible source of water at least. To his surprise he saw a hut in a lonely field and he walked towards it. The owner of the hut welcomed him, gave him water first as he was thirsty and made him sit down on a bench and served him food saying that he has been waiting for him for the past few days. This added to his confusion and after eating the food he made a low bow, thanked him and left the place. When he reached the road he looked back, but found that the hut which provided him food and water had vanished and he could see only fields all around.


RETURNS  HOME


On his return journey he met a gurubandhu at Sholapur who gave him a saffron lungi and a photograph of Siddharameshwar Maharaj, a copy of Dasbodh and some agarbhathis [incense sticks]. After walking some distance, Nisargadatta sat under a tree and after reading Dasbodh, started singing bhajans in front of his Guru's picture. He had grown a lot of hair and a beard and looked like a sannyasi. He came to Bombay, but decided not to go home. He was roaming in the forest of Borivli where he met a college lecturer who was in search of a Guru who could teach him adhyathma. The lecturer stayed with Nisargadatta for some days, asked many questions and got his doubts cleared from Nisargadatta. In the sampradaya of a disciple he followed him, carried his bag and wanted to serve him which Nisargadatta refused.

Due to the divine grace of Nisargadatta, he was offered the principalship of a college in Bombay and he left his Guru and did not care to meet him afterwards.

Nobody ever knew where he had gone and Nisargadatta did not bother about it at all.

While in the Borivli jungle, Nisargadatta had a burning desire to go to the Himalayas and settle down there. With this in mind he went to Delhi via Mathura and Brindavan. At Delhi he unexpectedly met another gurubandhu who was anxious to listen to Nisargadatta's story. After listening to him he praised him for his courage and his resolute nature and with great hesitation advised him not to go to the Himalayas. He told him that this was against his Guru's advice as also directions in the Dasbodh. Nisargadatta replied, "Yes, I know all this. But once I have left everything I no longer wish to return to the family". However he started thinking over the gurubandhu's advice and then came to the conclusion that there was no harm in returning home as his sannyas [renunciation] was not based on physical abandonment but rather on viveka [discernment]. The inner voice told him to go back and then he decided to go home and meet the members of his family.

When he arrived home the members of the family, though very happy, found to their shock that he had vastly changed, with matted long hair, beard, saffron cloth and beads? He removed them and threw them into the sea and joined his family. His prosperous business enterprises had gone and were closed. His original pan-beedi shop alone remained. The loss of all the investment did not in the least trouble him as he had become very rich in the athmic sense, though not by the yardstick of material possessions. He slid back to where he started some 18 years ago. He sat in the shop as usual and conducted the business, but a change had come over him. His talks centered not on worldly things but only on adhyathma. After a year or so, due to the wandering and extreme sadhana, his physical frame had became very weak, even though he looked cheerful. He refused to go to a doctor though the family members insisted that he should consult one. He yielded to their persuasion and a doctor was brought who examined him and diagnosed that he was suffering from tuberculosis. But Nisargadatta smiled and refused to take any medicine and prayed intensely to his Guru. After a few days of intense tapas, he started the Indian exercise of "Dand Paithaka". Surprisingly his health improved and in two years time he looked like a wrestler, much to the surprise of his relatives and friends. This was in the year 1940.

Nisargadatta used to attend the programme of bhajans arranged by the gurubandhus and the talk will be on adhyathmic matters. During this period, he came in close contact with one of his gurubandhus by the name of Bainath. Bainath was a devout soul and before meeting his Guru, Siddharameshwar Maharaj, he used to go to a Hanuman temple in a lane almost daily and pray there intensely. One day Sri Hanuman appeared to him during his dhyana [meditation] and told him to go to Siddharameshwar Maharaj and have his darshan. Bainath got many of his doubts cleared from Him. As they had not enough time for discussion, they both used to go to the beach at Girgaon. In the rainy season they used to sit on the planks of the closed shops and their discussions continued till 2 A.M. After this, they would return home and complete their night bhajans and aarthi, which took almost an hour. This practice continued for nearly two and half decades, till 1966.

Tragedy overtook Nisargadatta between 1942 and 1948. He lost one of his daughters, his wife and also his mother. The daughter was of a marriageable age and he concealed his sorrow and told people assembled that the Paramatma [Absolute] Himself had married her. His wife, though a religious woman, was not very happy with the life Nisargadatta was leading. A few days before her death she told her husband that she was tired of her life and wanted to die. All his attempts to console her were of no avail and one day when she stated that she wanted to die, Nisargadatta said, "If that is your wish let it be", and she passed away a few days thereafter. Sorrow did not touch him and his relations and disciples found him very different from what he used to be. When relatives gathered to offer condolence, one Sri Kholapure, a disciple of Sri Bhausaheb Maharaj happened to come there. Forgetting the sorrow in the house, Nisargadatta talked to him on spiritual matters. To the utter surprise of Kholapure, after the discussions were over, Nisargadatta told him of the death of his wife and requested him to attend the funeral. As the relations were coming or condolence, Nisargadatta plunged himself into singing bhajans in the loft room unconcerned about the funeral arrangements for his wife. His soul had blossomed. By the time he had lost his business and also some property in Konkan. When one of his friends tried to console him over the tragedy that had overtaken him, he smiled and said like a true jnani, "One must be lucky to be the recipient of such calamities and welcome more such calamities".


BECOMES  KNOWN  AS  " MAHARAJ "  TO  HIS  DISCIPLES


I was often wondering as to who conferred the name of Nisargadatta on the socially popular Maruti Shet. I could not get information from any of the devotees and surprisingly from an unknown source I came to know that Nisarga means "natural" and as such Nisargadatta Maharaj's path is a natural one along which the earnest aspirant can walk safely to the goal Supreme. I will refer to Nisargadatta hereafter as Maharaj, as he had become popular with his gurubandhus and hosts of devotees who started calling him Maharaj.

Maharaj did not observe any "varnabheda" or casteism. To set an example, amidst protests from the family he got his son and his daughter married outside his caste. The protest died down ultimately and many of the devotees followed his lead, as he used to proclaim in many of his talks that there is only one caste, namely, the caste of Humanity. While selling pan and beedis he used to be so detached that he did not count the money and oftentimes used to pay more to the purchasers, who however with great humility returned back to the correct amount due to Maharaj.

He was pursuing the sale of beedis which had sustained him and his family for over five decades, as a "kulachara" than as a business venture. Very often, from the poor people, he will not take any money and give a bundle of beedis free as a gift. His name as a jnani spread far and wide beyond the frontiers of the Khetwadi area and many people started coming, among whom were a number of foreigners. Maharaj did not allow his devotees to discuss anything relating to family problems or to sidhis. One of the listeners started taking down notes of what he spoke and later compiled a book in Marathi and it was sold widely in some of the bookshops in the local area.

Day after day the number of disciples started increasing. The loft where he held his sadhana was converted into a sort of a mezzanine floor where he installed a magnificent picture of Siddharameshwar Maharaj. This place was later known as Nisargadatta Ashram. Almost everyday, after the aarthi, bhajan and puja were over he used to give a discourse for about an hour. After this discourse he would go out for a walk, to the Girgaum sea shore where he would sit with his chosen disciples, Bhainath and others and talk on religious practices and return home at about 11 P.M. Oftentimes he would not take any food and his daughter had to coax him to eat a little food at least. He did not relish eating and mechanically he will mix all that was put on the plate, make it into a ball and swallow it in matter of few minutes. He did not enjoy any taste but he never failed to praise the preparations made by his devoted daughter.


PERFORMS  " SAPTHAHA "


The sampradaya of the Guru entailed the practice of observing sapthaha [pilgrimage] at different times of the year and at different places known as Gurusthan. Among them were Inchegiri, Baswan Bagawadi, Siddhagiri in Kolhapur district and Nimpal in Karnataka. Siddhagiri is the place of a well known saint Kade Siddeshwar Maharaj. Nimpal is known for the ashram of Gurudev Ranade. The ashram in Karnataka is named after Yargattikar Maharaj. Every year Nisargadatta, along with his gurubandhus used to go for sapthaha at some of these places.

The daily programme for sapthaha was the same as prevailed in Nisargadatta ashram. The only addition was reading and explaining Dasbodh. Even during the course of the sapthaha, Nisargadatta never skipped any of the daily bhajans, even when he was running high temperature of 102°. While travelling, he carried with him a photograph of Siddharameshwar Maharaj and Bhausaheb Maharaj. He used to carry with him puja articles like agarbhathis, etc... Maharaj was a chain smoker much to the consternation of his devotees. When asked about it he said, "For others it contains tobacco. For me it is a good fomentation".

As the number of disciples increased, activities also increased. There was persistent request from some of the disciples that Maharaj should visit their houses. So till 1974 he obliged some of them by visiting their houses. Slowly, he became a Guru himself, and some of his gurubandhus were jealous and did not approve of it. In fact, they expressed their disapproval and doubted whether he had the authority from Siddharameshwar Maharaj at all to initiate the disciples. They had the courage even to ask him to stop the practice more out of jealousy than of a genuine desire.

Nisargadatta had to explain to them that he cannot stop giving initiation to disciples and disobey his Guru's mandate. He also told them that if perchance they thought by keeping the big picture of Siddharameshwar Maharaj, they thought that the authority to give initiation, he boldly told them that he did not need the picture of his Guru at all and that they could come and take it and immerse it in the sea.

Thereafter, he observed the practice of making the sadhakas [devotees] stand before a big mirror and ask them to prostate before it before taking their initiation. Nisargadatta was in the habit of taking copious notes during the talks by his Guru. He published two books compiled from these talks which also the gurubandhus did not like.

His disciples wanted to celebrate his birthday, but he agreed on one condition that he should be very simple and that there should be no waste of money. He insisted on bhajans and discourses to which he invited all his gurubandhus in Bombay. When they arrived he used to garland them, offer them sweets and prostate before them. One extraordinary practice of Maharaj was that he would never accept any gift either in cash or in any kind from his disciples. On their vehement persuasion and out of his love for them he accepted a dhoti [loincloth], a kurta [long shirt], a khadar cap and a pair of chappals [sandals] on the occasion of his birthday. But some of his disciples did not feel happy and without his knowledge left in the ashram pieces of cloth, chaddars, etc., as tokens of their love. But Nisargadatta would distribute them to some of his poor disciples, as his prasad [consecrated offering].


ARRIVAL  OF  MAURICE  FRYDMAN


Maurice Frydman a Polish engineer, visited Nisargadatta Maharaj after locating him with some difficulty. He is now well-known as the author of the great book, I am That. He was a highly evolved spiritual soul. He first went to the ashram of Ramana Maharishi and followed Mahatma Gandhi in his tour and also attended the meetings of J. Krishnamurti. After a lot of wandering he finally arrived at Nisargadatta Maharaj's ashram in or about 1965. he was greatly attached to him and used to stay in Bombay and visit him as often as possible. Maharaj cleared many of his doubts and he started the practice of taping the discussions, typing them and after showing them to Maharaj and with his approval he produced his monumental book, I am That, which became the best seller in all the countries. It is to the credit of Maurice Frydman that he projected Maharaj and his teachings with great precision. It will be surprising to note that he learnt both Hindi and Marathi so that he might be in a better position to understand the message of Maharaj.

After reading this great book, one young German girl, whom Maharaj named as Krishna used to fly from Germany for his birthday function. She will shed copious tears at the sight of Maharaj and after the function is over she used to fly back to Germany from Bombay and reach there in the night. She used to sing a Marathi bhajan which Maharaj greatly loved. She had the blessing of Maharaj in abundance as she had blossomed into a great spiritual soul early in life and her face radiated peace and serenity.

One of the well-known dignitaries of Bombay, a great social worker, used to visit Maharaj and have discussions with him. He was none other than late V.S. Page, a well-known Maharashtrian. He had remarkable experiences. When he went home he found Maharaj very avidly listening to his discourses in homely Marathi. He used to call them Upanishads. He finally took initiation from Maharaj and could not visit him as before due to extreme old age.


MIRACLES  OF  MAHARAJ


On Maharaj's birthday, one of his devotees requested Maharaj to permit him to publish a souvenir as it would give him adequate publicity. He sharply rebuked him and said, "I am only seeing the Reality as others do and pointing out the obvious Truth. What is the use of publicity?". Pointing to the picture of his Guru and others in the ashram he said, "If all this is responsible for bringing publicity to me I would rather pay Rs. 100/- to somebody to take away all these photos from here and drown in the deep sea". Though Maharaj was not known for miracles and was usually very shy even to talk about them, many miracles have been reported.

I would mention only a few of them as they find a place in the sheaf of papers given to me. Maharaj's niece was almost dying and doctors had given up hope and told the relatives that it was a matter of an hour. The life of the girl was slowly ebbing away and her husband and relatives and friends were anxiously waiting outside the house thinking about the preparations to be made for her funeral.

Maharaj who normally used to visit their house, had gone there on a courtesy call. When he heard that she was dying, he entered the room where her body lay and said loudly, "What is this? Why are you sleeping at this hour? Get up. Your Mama has come [Maharaj] after a long time. Will you not give him a cup of tea?" Hearing his voice, she got up from the bed much to the amazement of her husband and others surrounding her and made tea for Maharaj who enjoyed it.

Only then the relatives told Maharaj about her serious condition and how Maharaj had saved her life.

A lady disciple had gone to the ashram after a long absence. She was somewhat nervous as to what Maharaj would think of her. Adding to her embarrassment and shock, Maharaj asked her, "Why have you come here now? Go back immediately. Don't stay even for a minute". On hearing this, the lady left very miserable and unhappy, and she rightly thought that the Guru was angry with her. She did not understand the ways of a saint. With tears in her eyes, she prostrated before Maharaj who was unmoved and she went back home. She found that her husband had suddenly taken seriously ill and that her presence was very urgently required, as he had to be taken to the hospital for treatment. It was then that she realised the strange behaviour of Maharaj which had a divine purpose.

Another instance is that of a disciple who was admitted into the hospital for some very serious illness. Maharaj was informed about it and he was very found of that disciple for his purity of heart. He completed the bhajan at the home and then left for the hospital to see the disciple. In a place like Bombay where the hospitals are scattered at distant places, it was not easy to reach within time. Maharaj, a simple man would not take a taxi. Instead, he waited for the bus and got into it. It is well known in Bombay that they are long queues for the buses and one has to take his turn. Though Maharaj was informed that the disciple was dead he was not perturbed. He reached the hospital after some delay and went straight to the mortuary where the body was wrapped up in a cloth and was waiting to be removed by the relatives. On seeing the body, Maharaj said, "How can you go away without my permission?" He then removed the cloth covering the body, put his hand on his chest and called the disciple by name and asked him to get up. The disciple came back to life.

Another instance reported is when Maharaj was walking through the streets of Pune along with his disciples. He suddenly stooped in front of a bank and asked one of his disciples whether he would like to be employed in the said bank. The disciple, a young man, who was badly in need of a job was overjoyed at the compassion of Maharaj. With great humility he touched Maharaj's feet and said, "As per your will Maharaj". Maharaj and the disciples walked along giving no thought and the young disciple did not in the last dream that he would get a job in the bank as nothing was known for a month. But surprisingly later, he got a letter form the bank appointing him in a clerical post. He could scarcely believe it and jumping with joy he went straight to Bombay, prostrated before Maharaj and conveyed the happy news.

Yet another instance is that of 20 year old girl who suffered form tuberculosis. Her operation was fixed at Bombay. Apprehensive that she may not live, she went to Maharaj for darshan, prostrated before him along with her father who had accompanied her. But in an un-understandable way, Maharaj said, "Go immediately to Nasik. No operation is necessary. If perhaps your father has fixed it, have it cancelled". It will be of some importance to note that Nasik is a great pilgrim centre and the famous temple of Triambak is situated there. It is said that Sri Rama cut the nose of Surpanakha when he was staying in Panchavati. And the word Nasik [nose] reflected this incident and the place came to be known by the name. Maharaj evidently had a purpose in asking her to go and stay in Nasik leaving Bombay and it is needless to state that she got cured.

Many disciples had other wonderful experiences, but Maharaj used to advise them not to publicize the miracles. He used to say very cryptically, "Don't come here as you would go to a shop or a bazaar. Do as I tell you. Give yourself up completely to the Guru inside and your problems will disappear".

Such was Maharaj, the great jnani, a simple unassuming person, repository of vast knowledge, living in a crowded lane in Khetwadi area in a humble abode. From his dress and appearance nobody would say that he was a spiritual dynamo. He had bright powerful eyes and to draw a parallel one is reminded of Bhagawan Ramana.

Maharaj spoke only in homely Marathi, though he knew English. He spoke it with perfect ease and composure. Though the truths he presented were all high dynamite, he stunned publicity, formed no organisation, did not accept gifts. He worked alone. It will be of some importance to note that he refused to be treated as a Guru. To quote a review in The Hindu on Maharaj, with an impish glint in his bright eyes and with a sweeping wave of his expressive hand he would say, "When I go about I am just an old man out for a walk. So nobody bothers me and I can go as I pleased".

The purpose of life as Maharaj points out is to be free from suffering, and all suffering results from our deep-rooted identification with the body-mind complex. I am tempted to quote some more words of Maharaj which express his simple philosophy. "Only the Self is, it is impersonal, pure awareness beyond time and space. Unattached to anything it is ineffable bliss. Desire is the villain of the piece".

Fueled by the memory of the dead past and dreaming for a rosy future, we do not live in the intense present which is the only Reality. Abide not in the future but the simple "I am" and give up thinking "I am this" or "I am that". "Love and do what you will and when all the false self-identifications are thrown away, what remains is all-embracing love. You are no longer separate from the world. You are not in the world but the world is in you".

Maharaj's sayings were priceless pearls. "Liberation is never of the person. It is always from the person. Discard every self-seeking motive. Do not search for truth will find you."

Such were the teachings of the great saint Nisargadatta Maharaj, who lived in a crowded lane in Bombay, in a humble abode, wearing the dress of a common man. It is difficult to make him out in a crowd unless you have already known him. He was found of his grandchildren who called him "Bappa", i.e. God in Marathi, and they used to scramble for a place in his lap. They used to tease him by snatching the cigarette lighter or sometimes spilling the water kept for him while he was in a serious discussion with Maurice Frydman, the Polish engineer. On his birthdays and other festive days, he faithfully used to go to the samadhi [tomb] of his Guru situated at Banganga burial ground in Bombay to offer prayers. One could easily find him travelling in a bus along with others.

It is said that Maharaj would not forget to vote and exercise his franchise as a voter in the elections. As is well known, one has got to stand in a queue. Maharaj untiringly sometimes even in the hot sun would wait in the queue for long hours and exercise his franchise. The simplicity of his nature baffles all analysis. Oftentimes when he needed a haircut he would quietly go to a hair cutting saloon, either for a shave or a hair cut without any discomfiture. It was an interesting sight to see Maharaj taking his grandchildren along with him and buy them a lassi [milkshake] in a wayside shop and teach them how to drink it properly.

Maharaj loved some of his disciples very dearly, and even in pouring rain he would walk with them to Chowpathy seashore and discuss with them about the easy path to Self-realisation. Unmindful of the great stature he occupied as a jnani, he would sit on the benches on the seashore in the pouring rain holding an umbrella and enjoying his beedis. The talk will go on till 11.30 P.M. sometimes till late in the night. They will be only on athmic matters and the few chosen disciples who accompanied there to hear him would get their doubts cleared. Sometimes on the wayside at the pressing request of his disciples, that he should enjoy a cup of tea with them, he would walk into the nearby Irani hotel so common in Bombay, enjoy a cup of tea and also eat a few biscuits.

When Mercedes and Contessa cars were ready to take him wherever he wanted, his grim determination not to accept such obligation but to "walk along" in communion with the Self is somewhat astonishing. One has also got to remember that he was over 80 years then and not in good health. The dreaded cancer was showing its hood, but he would not go to a doctor. Even the disciples could not understand him and found it difficult to change his iron will.

It is of very importance to note that despite the cancer for which he was not taking any treatment, he was cheerful and went through his usual rounds: selling beedis in the shop for an hour, morning bhajan in the loft room, meditation with the disciples without any indication of the deterioration in his physical health. His simple abode, more particularly the loft room was so peaceful and quiet, despite the noise from the street traffic outside. One did not know in what period of human history Maharaj lived. It is said that his affection for his family did not dry up and his grandchildren clambered up the stairs into the loft room and crawling along used to sit on his lap and sometimes divert his attention from the serious talk in which he was engaged. He will call the daughter-in-law, and ask her to come and take the children away.

Maharaj was not a learned man, but he talked in homely Marathi without quoting scriptures. Though his disciples were anxious to build an ashram, he would not permit it and stoutly opposed it. He was easily accessible to everyone rich or poor provided they showed a spirit of enquiry in his teachings. Doctors who were brought by some of the disciples were baffled as Maharaj did not show any signs of suffering or pain especially in the region of the throat. He explained away the absence of suffering by saying, "All this happens in consciousness. I do not feel any pain". But one could see that as the last days were nearing, Maharaj was showing signs of weakness, even though his face did not lose its radiance and his eyes particularly sparkled.

The disciples were anxiously hovering round his bed but he used to ask them to go back later. The disciples knew very well that they would not see him again and were unwilling to leave him but with a show of his hand he asked them to leave, saying that he was feeling sleepy. Maharaj told his disciples that they need not be worried, that he was not going anywhere and that he would be with them right through. The disciples reluctantly went home knowing that a dream was about to end.

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THE  LAST  DAYS


Edith Powel who has compiled the final teachings of Maharaj in her beautiful book, The Nectar of the Lord's Feet, says with great authority, "The message which comes through loud and clear from Nisargadatta Maharaj's final teachings is to turn to what you were before your so called birth the emergence of a particular body which you have identified yourself so willingly and unthinkingly". He advises, "Be in that Eternity which is a stage of wholeness even though your body may be broken, even though you may have no earthly possessions, even though the world around you may go up in flames".

Ever since the disciples came to know that Maharaj was seriously ill, a pall of gloom descended on the occupants of the loft room. They came to know that Maharaj was suffering from cancer of the throat, a disease Bhagawan Ramakrishna Paramahamsa suffered from in his last days. Bhagawan Ramana Maharshi similarly suffered from cancer of the left arm [sarcoma]. Finding the devotees moody and with no cheer on their faces, he told them in his jocular way, "There is no difference at all between life and death. Were you not dead before you were born? What is darkness other than the absence of light? What is death other than the absence of life?" To relieve them of the fear he said, "The fear of death is actually a product of the desire to live, the desire to perpetuate one's identity with the elusive entity of "I". Those who know Reality also will know the falsity of life and death.

Coming to know that Maharaj's life might end at any time, the disciples, not all but a few who were permitted in the loft room were keen to tape record Maharaj's last words as they were very precious. The irrevocability of death lent it a sinister image. As Sri Balsekar puts it in his own inimitable language, "Dark and dismal clouds overhung the horizon and there was the distant rumbling of the thunder and lightning. We knew the storm was coming, the inexorable finality, the relentless leveller who holds nothing as sacrosanct. The disciples were in a very unenviable position. They knew that their beloved master's vitals had been consumed by cancer and that the frail body cannot hold out longer. But they did not want to show their fear to Maharaj for the reason that he would be hurt to find that his teachings were wasted on them. They had heard Maharaj say that "death was an ecstasy and treat it as only the body that is subject to birth and death and not the imperishable Atma."

Though the disciples had assimilated the teachings and were fully aware of the prospects of his passing away, intellectually they accepted it, but emotionally found it very difficult. The last talks, though brief, were full of light and wisdom and like the candle which burns bright before it burns out, they were Upanishadic in nature. As Sri Balsekar puts it, "It was a Great Beyond speaking and not a frail old man in the clutches of death".

Sri Mullarpatan told me that he was constantly attending on Maharaj during his last days and found to his sorrow that Maharaj was not able to talk to his disciples with his old zest. As he found that talking drained his energy he had to make a humble request to Maharaj to talk for half an hour and not more as it exhausted him physically so much so that he was unable to sit up thereafter. He said that the visitors also responded in an intelligent way in view of the extremely weak condition of Maharaj finding their discomfiture tried to encourage them by saying, "Get your difficulties cleared up. There is so little time left now."

I must mention here of the sorrow of the poor crowd of beedi buyers. They found that Maharaj was critically ill and they could not gain entry into his apartment even to stand from a distance and have their last darshan. In their innocent way, from rumours afloat outside the house they thought that Maharaj was dying and will not be seen anymore by them. They could not reconcile themselves to the finality of death and the impermanence of the body. They grew to love Maharaj by their association with him for many many days in the morning over the purchase of beedis and the half hour talk by Maharaj. Emotionally they found themselves unable to contain their feelings of separation from Maharaj.

On one day, Maharaj was informed that his old customers, most of them poor old people of the locality, were anxious to have a glimpse of him and that they were not allowed inside by the people guarding the entrance restricting the admission not to disturb Maharaj who needed a lot of rest and to prevent him from having an emotional outburst. On seeing his dear and poor customers, Maharaj, with his instinctive compassion allowed them to climb up to the loft room in small batches to have a glimpse of him and then go down. Maharaj consoled them saying that he was not going away anywhere and that he will be with them and that he will be soon selling them beedis. Maharaj's love for them became a legend and they were the fist callers on Maharaj.

One day when the number of visitors was small, Maharaj was inclined to talk to he assembled crowd on the problem of suffering. When someone asked him why one has to suffer and waited for Maharaj's answers, after closing his eyes for a few moments, he softly answered the question, though his reserve energy was low and though the doctors had told him that he is suffering from the vile disease of cancer. He was not perturbed at all. The very mention of the disease cancer – would normally put a patient into a state of shock, but Maharaj asserted most emphatically, though in a feeble voice that his reaction was totally different. He asked the assembled crowd, "Who is ill?" and added that whatever was born should die in the appointed time and the only thing that will survive will be the consciousness. In his enigmatic way, he said that his "relative absence will be his absolute presence and that the moment of death will be the moment of the highest ecstasy".

During the last days when the crowd was restricted and only the relations and a few intimate friends were allowed to stay in the loft room under doctor's advice Maharaj continued to talk, though in a low voice, half-reclining in his bed with his eyes closed. The persons in constant attendance on Maharaj were Sri Mullarpatan and Sri Balsekar and a few family members. Maharaj suddenly opened his eyes and started to talk in a spirit of admonition. He told them, "You have been coming here of your own volition to see another individual a Guru who you expect will give you liberation from bondage. Do you not see how ridiculous all this is. Your coming here day after day only shows that you are not prepared to accept my word that there is no such thing as an individual!" He then added, "Whatever I say is being tape recorded by some people and some others take down their own notes. For what purpose?" On another occasion Maharaj said, "People have been coming to me wanting knowledge. What is this knowledge that you want? This knowledge about which you take down notes. What use will be made of those notes? Have you given any thought to this aspect of the matter?" Maharaj talked on other things also on that day and one could see that he was visibly exhausted and lay back again on his bed and with a wave of his hand asked them to go, adding with a light touch of humour that it was perhaps just as well that he could now only give out "capsules of knowledge".


THE  LAST  MOMENTS


At 10 A.M. on the 8th of September 1981, the day Maharaj attained Mahasamadhi, he appeared to be considerably better than he was the previous day. One could see that his face had better colour and his eyes were bright with the usual radiance. The doctors observed that his chest was heavily congested, that the administration of oxygen was necessary. The doctor quickly arranged for an oxygen cylinder. Sri Mullarpatan and Sri Balsekar were by his bedside along with his relatives. They also left a little later. Then Maharaj had a cup of milk and a little later a cup of tea and was feeling more comfortable.

They both left Maharaj hoping to come again in the afternoon as usual. Sri Mullarpatan came back in the afternoon and found Maharaj's condition had deteriorated and gave room for anxiety. He immediately phoned up Sri Balsekar who rushed to Maharaj's residence. He found that oxygen was being administered and Maharaj's eyes were open but with a blank expression which indicated that he was in the no-mind state. His breathing was laboured and it seemed to the people around that his end could come at any time. Those moments, when the disciples and the family members watched Maharaj breathing very heavily were the saddest moments in their lives. The end came at 7.32 P.M. and Maharaj made the transition from the relative to the Absolute with the greatest ease and peace.

The funeral was arranged to take place the next day. The next day, the 9th of September 1981, Maharaj's body was placed in a reclining position and taken to the Banganga cremation ground in a procession which comprised several thousand people. When the body reached the cremation ground at 2.45 P.M. the crowd had swelled. The funeral pyre was lit by Maharaj's son at the end of a simple but moving ceremony which started with the usual bhajans before Maharaj's Guru's Shrine which was nearby. The flames consumed the body of Maharaj and the physical frame of Maharaj got merged in the elements of which it was made.


WISDOM


1. All your problems are your body's problems – food, clothing, shelter, family, friends, name, fame, security, survival – all these lose their meaning the moment you realise that you may not be a mere body.

2. You give no attention to your Self. Your mind is always occupied with things, people and ideas, never with your Self. Bring your Self into focus, become aware of your own existence. See how you function. Watch the motives and the results of your actions. By knowing what you are not you come to know your Self. The way back to your Self is through refusal and rejection. One thing is certain; the Real is not imaginary, it is not a product of the mind. Even the sense "I am" is not continuous, though it is a useful pointer; it shows where to seek but not what to seek. All you need is to get rid of is the tendency to define your Self. All definitions apply to your body only and to its expressions. Once this obsession with the body goes, you will revert to your natural state spontaneously and effortlessly. We discover it by being earnest, by searching, enquiring, questioning daily and hourly, by giving one's life to discovery.

3. Between the spirit and the body, it is love that provides the bridge. The mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it.

4. A sense of separate existence is a reflection in a separate body of the one Reality. In this reflection, the unlimited and the limited are confused and taken to be the same. To undo this confusion is the purpose of Yoga.

5. He who has a body, sins with the body: he who has a mind, sins with the mind.

6. Like beads on a string, events follow events, forever. They are all strung on the basic idea; "I am the body". But even this is a mental state and does not last. It comes and goes like all other states. The illusion of a body-mind is there only because it is not investigated. Non-investigation is the thread on which all the states of mind are strung. It is like darkness in a closed room. It is there, apparently, but when the room is opened, where does it go? It goes nowhere because it was not there. All states of mind, all names and forms of existence are rooted in non-investigation, non-enquiry, imagination and credulity. It is right to say "I am" but to say "I am this" or "I am that" is a sign of not enquiring, not examining, mental weakness or lethargy.

7. If you say, "I am the body", you show it. Well, it is there only when you think of it. Both mind and body are intermittent states. The sum total of these flashes create the illusion of existence. enquire what is permanent in the transient, real in the unreal. This is sadhana.

8. Events in time and space – birth and death, cause and effect – may be taken as one; but the body and the embodied are not of the same order of reality. The body exists in time and space and is transient and limited, while the dweller is timeless and spaceless, Eternal and all-pervading. To identify the two is a grievous mistake and the cause of endless suffering. You can speak of the mind and body as one but the body-mind is not the underlying Reality.

9. I repeat, I was not, am not, shall not be a body. To me this is a fact. I too was under the illusion of having been born, but my Guru made me see that birth and death are mere ideas – birth is merely the idea, "I have a body" and death is the idea, "I have lost my body". Now, when I know I am not a body, the body may be there or may not, what difference does it make? The body-mind is like a room. It is there, but I need not live in it all the time.

10. Question: What dies with death?

Nisargadatta: The idea: "I am this body", dies; the witness does not.

11. The blankness of deep sleep is due entirely to the lack of specific memories. But a general memory of well-being is there. There is a difference in feeling when we say, "I was sound asleep" from "I was absent". In sleep, the body functions below the level of brain consciousness.

12. Surely, you must sleep in order to awake. You must die in order to live, you must melt down to reshape anew; you must destroy to build, annihilate before creation. The Supreme is the universal solvent, it corrodes every container, it burns through every obstacle. Without the absolute denial of everything, the tyranny of things would be absolute. It is the great Harmoniser, the guarantee of the ultimate and perfect balance of life in freedom. It dissolves you and thus reasserts your true being.

13. Dreams are never the same, but the dreamer is unique. I may dream of being an insect or a pest, but in reality I am neither. I am beyond all dreams. I am the light in which all dreams appear and disappear. I am both inside and outside the dream. Just like a man having a headache knows the ache and also knows that he is not the ache, so do I know the dream, myself dreaming and myself not dreaming – all at the same time. I am what I am before, during and after the dream. But what I see in the dream, I am not.

14. All suffering is man-made and it is within man's power to put an end to it. God helps by facing man with the results of his actions and demanding that the balance be restored. Karma is the law that works for righteousness and is the healing hand of God.

15. All life on earth depends on the sun. Yet, you cannot blame the sun for all that happens, though it is the ultimate cause. Light causes the colour of the flowers, but it neither controls nor is responsible for it directly. It makes it possible, that is all.

16. Between the banks of pain and pleasure the river of life flows. It is only when the mind refuses to flow with life and gets stuck at the banks that it becomes a problem. By flowing with life, I mean acceptance, letting come what comes and go what goes. Desire not, fear not, observe the actual as and when it happens, for you are not what happens. You are the one to whom it happens. Ultimately, even the observer you are not. You are the ultimate potentiality of which the all embracing consciousness is the manifestation and expression.

17. My experience is that everything is bliss. But the desire for bliss creates pain. Thus, bliss becomes the seed of pain. The entire universe of pain is born of desire. Give up the desire for pleasure and you will not even know what is pain.

18. You have gone beyond the body, haven't you? You do not follow your digestion, circulation or elimination closely. It has become automatic. In the same way, the mind should work automatically, without calling for attention. This will not happen unless the mind works faultlessly. We are most of the time mind and body-conscious because they constantly call for help. Pain and suffering are only the body and the mind screaming for attention. To go beyond the body, you must be healthy; to go beyond the mind, you must have your mind in perfect order. You cannot leave a mess behind and go beyond.

19. Desire is the memory of pleasure and fear is the memory of pain. Both make the mind restless. Moments of pleasure are merely gaps in the stream of pain.

20. Memory is in the mind. The mind continues in sleep. As long as the mind is there, your body and your world are there. Your world is mind-made, subjective, enclosed within the mind, fragmentary, temporary, personal, hanging on the thread of memory. I live in a world of realities. Yours is of imaginings. Your world is personal, private, unsharable, intimately your own. Nobody can enter it, see as you see, hear as you hear, feel your emotions and think your thoughts. In your world you are truly alone, enclosed in your ever-changing dream, which you take for life.

21. It is not your real being that is restless but its reflection in the mind that appears restless because the mind is restless. It is just like the reflection of the moon in the water stirred by the wind. The wind of desires stirs the mind, and the "me" which is but a reflection of the Self in the mind appears changeful. But these ideas of movement, of restlessness, of pleasure and pain are all in the mind. The Self stands beyond the mind, aware but unconcerned.

22. The world of your perceptions is a very small world indeed. And it is entirely private. Take it to be a dream and be done with it. A dream does not last, neither does your own little world. Is not the idea of a total world a part of your personal world? The universe does not come to tell you that you are a part of it. It is you who have invented a totality to contain you as a part. In fact, all you know is your own private world, however well you have furnished it with your imaginations and expectations.

23. Perception, imagination, expectation, anticipation, illusion, are all based on memory. There are hardly any border lines between them. They just merge into each other. All are responses of memory.

24. The Supreme gives existence to the mind. The mind gives existence to the body.

25. Examine carefully your waking state. You will soon discover that it is full of gaps, when the mind blanks out. Notice how little you remember even when fully awake. You cannot say you were not conscious during sleep. You just don't remember. A gap in memory is not necessarily a gap in consciousness.

26. We use the words "aware" and "conscious". Awareness is primordial, it is the original state, beginningless, endless, uncaused, unsupported, without parts, without change. Consciousness is on contact, a reflection against a surface, a state of duality. There can be no consciousness without awareness, but there can be awareness without consciousness as in deep sleep. Awareness is absolute, consciousness is relative to its content; consciousness is always of something, consciousness is partial and changeful, awareness is total, changeless, calm and silent. And it is the common matrix of every experience. Since awareness is in every state of consciousness possible, the very consciousness of being conscious is already a movement in awareness. It is not a new state. It is at once recognized as the original, basic existence which is life itself, and also love and joy.

27. You talk of the unconscious when there is a lapse in memory. In reality, there is only consciousness. All life is conscious, all consciousness is alive. Even stones are conscious and alive.

28. At the root of all creation lies desire. Desire and imagination foster and reinforce each other. The fourth state [Turiya] is a state of pure witnessing, detached awareness, passionless and worldless. It is like space, unaffected by whatever it contains. Bodily and mental troubles do not reach it – they are outside "there", while the witness is always "here."

29. Knowledge has its rising and setting. Consciousness comes into being and goes out of being. It is a matter of daily occurrence and observation. We all know that sometimes we are conscious and sometimes not. When we are not conscious it appears to us as darkness or a blank, but a jnani is aware of himself as neither conscious nor unconscious, but purely aware, a witness to the three states of the mind and their contents.

30. Look at it this way. The mind produces thoughts ceaselessly, even when you do not look at them. When you know what is going on in your mind, you call it "consciousness". This is your waking state: your consciousness shifts from sensation to sensation, from perception to perception, from idea to idea, in endless succession. Then comes awareness, the direct insight into the whole of consciousness, the totality of the mind. The mind is like a river, flowing ceaselessly in the bed of the body; you identify yourself for a moment with some particular ripple and call it "my thought". All you are conscious of is your mind, awareness is the cognizance of consciousness as a whole.

31. The entire universe [mahadakash] exists only in consciousness [chidakash], while I have my stand in the absolute [parakash]. In pure being consciousness arises, in consciousness the world appears and disappears. All there is me, all there is mine. Before all beginnings and after all endings, I am. All has its being in me, in the "I am" that shines in every living being.

32. What begins and ends is mere appearance. The world can be said to appear, but not be. The appearance may last very long on some scale of time and be very short on another. Whatever is time bound is momentary and has no reality.

33. The consciousness and the world appear and disappear together, hence they are two aspects of the same state.

34. The power of life is consciousness. All is consciousness. Consciousness itself is the source of everything. There cannot be life without consciousness, nor consciousness without life. They are both one. In reality only the Ultimate is. The rest is a matter of name and form. As long as you cling to the idea that only what has name and shape exists, the Supreme will appear to you non-existing. When you understand that names and shapes are hollow shells without any content whatsoever, and what is real is nameless and formless, pure energy of life and light of consciousness, you will be at peace, immersed in the deep silence of Reality.

35. Samadhi is not making use of one's consciousness. You just leave your mind alone. You want nothing, neither from your body nor from mind.

36. When you see the world, you see God. There is not seeing God apart from the world. Beyond the world, to see God is to be God, the light by which you see the world which is the tiny little spark, "I am", apparently so small, yet the first and the last in every sort of knowing and loving.

37. The objective universe [mahadakash] is constant movement, projecting and dissolving innumerable forms. Whenever a form is infused with life [prana], consciousness [chetana] appears by reflection of awareness in matter.

38. To watch the universe emerging and subsiding in one's heart is a wonder.

39. The child is born into your world. Now, were you born into your world, or did your world appear to you? To be born means to create a world with yourself as centre. But do you ever create yourself? Or did anyone create you? Everyone creates a world for himself and lives in it, imprisoned by one's ignorance. All we have to do is to deny reality to our prison.

40. Witnessing is an experience and rest is freedom from experience.

41. Beyond the mind [chit] there is no such thing as experience. Experience is a dual state. You cannot talk of Reality as an experience. Once this is understood, you will no longer look for being and becoming as separate and opposite. In reality, they are one and inseparable, like roots and branches of the same tree. Both can exist only in the light of consciousness which again arises in the wake of the sense "I am". This is the primary fact. If you miss it, you miss all.

42. Don't drag down Reality to the level of experience. How can Reality depend on experience when it is the ground [adhar] of experience? Reality is in the very fact of experience, not in its nature. Experience is, after all, a state of mind, while being is definitely not a state of mind.

43. Without an experiencer, the experience is not real. It is the experiencer that imparts reality to experience. Of what value is an experience which you cannot have?

44. The knower and the witness are two or one? When the knower is seen as separate from the known, the witness stands alone. When the known and the knower are seen as one, the witness becomes one with them.

45. The jnani is the Supreme and also the witness. He is both being and awareness. In relation to consciousness, he is awareness. In relation to the universe, he is pure being.

46. Before the world was, consciousness was. In consciousness it comes into being. In consciousness it dissolves. At the root of everything is the feeling "I am". The state of mind, "There is a world", is secondary to the sense "I am", I do not need the world, the world needs me.

47. Who was born first, you or the world? Realise that the world is in you and not you in the world. All scriptures say that before the world was, the creator was. Who knows the creator? He alone who was before the creator, your own real being, the source of all the worlds with their creators.

48. What does it mean to see the world as God? It is like entering a dark room. You see nothing. The window opens and the room is flooded with light. Colours and shapes come into being. The window is the giver of light, but not the source of it. The sun is the source. Similarly, matter is like the dark room; consciousness is the window flooding the matter with sensations and perceptions; and the Supreme is the sun, the source both of matter and of light. The window may be closed or open, the sun shines all the time. It makes all the difference to the room but not to the sun. Yet all this is secondary to the tiny little thing which is the "I am". Without the "I am", there is nothing. All knowledge is about the "I am". False ideas about this "I am" lead to bondage, right knowledge leads to freedom and happiness.

49. To exist means to be something, a thing, a feeling, a thought, an idea. All existence is particular. Only being is universal, in the sense that every being is compatible with every other being. Existences clash, being never. Existence means becoming, change, birth and death, and birth again, while in being there is silent peace.

50. Freedom form desire means that the compulsion to satisfy is absent.

51. The mistake of the students of yoga consists in their imagining the inner to be something to get hold of, and forgetting that all perceivables are transient and therefore unreal. Only that which makes perception possible, call it life or Reality or what you like, is real.

52. The same consciousness [chit] appears as being [sat] and as bliss [ananda]. Chit in movement is ananda; chit motionless is being.

53. The sense of "I am" is always with you, only you have attached all kinds of things to it; body, feelings, thoughts, ideas, possessions, inner and outer, etc... Because of them you take yourself to be what you are not. Go deep into the sense of "I am" and you will find the sense of being, of "I am" is the first to emerge. Ask yourself whence it comes or just watch it quietly. When the mind stays in the "I am" without moving, you enter a state which cannot be verbalised but can be experienced. All you need to do is to try and try again.

54. Everything is a play of ideas. In the state free from ideation [nirvikalpa samadhi] nothing is perceived. The root idea is "I am". It shatters the state of pure consciousness and is followed by the innumerable sensations and perceptions, feeling and ideas which in their totality constitute God and His world. The "I am" remains as the witness but it is by the will of God that everything happens.

55. A memory of the event cannot pass for the event itself. Nor can the anticipation. There is something exceptional, unique about the present event which the previous or the coming do not have. There is the "stamp of Reality" on the actual, which the past and the future do not have. There is nothing peculiar in the present event to make it different from the past and future. For a moment the past was actual and the future will become so. What makes the actual so different? Obviously my presence. I am real for I am always now in the present, and what is now with me shares in my Reality. The past is in memory, the future in imagination. There is nothing in the present event itself that makes it stand out as real. It may be some simple, periodical occurrence, like the striking of the clock. In spite of the fact that we know that the successive strokes are identical, the present stroke is quite different from the previous and the next as remembered or expected. A thing focused in the new is with me for I am ever present; it is my own Reality that I'm impart to the present event.

56. We consider memories only when they come into the present. The forgotten is not counted until one is reminded, which implies bringing it into the now. Things and thoughts have been changing all the time. But the feeling that what is now is real has never changed, even in dream.

57. Causation means succession in time of events in space, the space being physical or mental. Time, space, causation are mutual categories arising and subsiding with mind. It is the illusion of time that makes you talk of causality. When the past and the future are seen in the timeless now as parts of a common pattern, the idea of cause-effect loses the validity and creative freedom takes place.

58. The witness consciousness is not permanent. The knower rises and sets with the known. That in which both the knower and the known arise and set is beyond time. The words "Permanent" and "Eternal" do not apply.

59. Permanency is a mere idea, born of the action of time. Time again depends on memory. By permanency you mean unfailing memory through endless time. You want to eternalise the mind, which is not possible. Only that which does not change with time is Eternal. You cannot eternalise a transient thing. Only the changeless is Eternal.

60. The past and the future exist in the mind only. Time is in the mind, space is in the mind. The law of cause and effect is also a way of thinking. In reality all is here and now and one. Multiplicity and diversity are in the mind only.

61. You cannot speak of a beginning of consciousness. The idea of beginning and time are within consciousness. To talk meaningfully of the beginning of anything, you must step out of it. But the moment you step out, you realise that there is no such thing and never was. There is only Reality, in which no "thing" had any being on its own. As waves are unthinkable without the ocean, so is all existence rooted in being.

62. Question: When did the feeling "I am the body" arise? At my birth? This morning?

Nisargadatta: Now.

Question: I remember having the same feeling yesterday too!

Nisargadatta: The memory of yesterday is now only.

Question: Surely I exist in time. I have a past and a future.

Nisargadatta: That is how you imagine now.

Question: There must have been a beginning.

Nisargadatta: Now.

Question: What about ending?

Nisargadatta: What has no beginning cannot end.

63. King Janaka had a dream that he was a beggar. On his walking up he asked his Guru Vasishta; "Am I a king dreaming of being a beggar or a beggar dreaming of being a king?". The Guru answered: "You are neither. You are both. You are and yet you are not what you think yourself to be. You are because you behave accordingly; you are not because it does not last. Can you be forever king or beggar? All must change. You are what does not change. What are you? Janaka replied: "Yes, I am neither king nor beggar. I am the dispassionate witness". The Guru said: "This is your last illusion, that you are a jnani, that you are different from and superior to the common man. Again you identify yourself with your mind, in this case a well-behaved and in every way exemplary mind. As long as you see the least difference, you are a stranger to Reality. You are on the level of the mind. When the "I am myself" goes, the "I am all" comes. When the "I am all" goes, "I am" comes. When even "I am" goes, Reality alone is and in it every "I am" is preserved and glorified. Diversity without separateness is the ultimate the mind can touch. Beyond that all activity ceases, because in it all goals are reached and purpose fulfilled.

64. Freedom from all desire to last is Eternity.

65. The Supreme state can be described only by negation as uncaused, independent, unrelated, undivided, uncomposed, unshakable, unquestionable, unreachable by effort. Every positive definition is from memory and therefore inapplicable. And yet my state is supremely actual and therefore possible, realisable, attainable.

66. My world is real, true as it is perceived, while yours appears and disappears, according to the state of your mind. Your world is something alien, and you are afraid of it. My world is myself. I am at home.

67. Outside the Self there is nothing. All is one and all is contained in "I am". In the waking and dream states it is the person. In deep sleep and Turiya, it is the Self. Beyond the alert intentness of Turiya lies the great silent peace of the Supreme. But in fact, all is one in essence and related in appearance. In ignorance the seer becomes the seen and in wisdom he is the seeing. Know the knower, and all will be known.

68. Unmanifested, manifested, individuality, personality [nirguna, saguna, vyakta, vyakti] all these are mere words, points of view, mental attitudes. There is no reality in them. The Real is experienced in silence. You are conscious of being a person only when you are in trouble when you are not in trouble, you do not think of yourself.

69. Non-distinction speaks in silence. Worlds carry distinctions. The unmanifested [nirguna] has no name; all names refer to the manifested [saguna]. It is useless to struggle with words to express what is beyond words. Consciousness [chidananda] is spirit [purusha], consciousness in matter [prakriti]. Imperfect spirit is matter, perfect matter is spirit. In the beginning as in the end, all is one.

70. Reality is neither subjective nor objective, neither mind nor matter, neither time nor space. These divisions need somebody to whom to happen, a conscious separate centre. Reality is all and nothing, the totality, and the exclusion, the fullness and the emptiness, fully consistent, absolutely paradoxical. You cannot speak about it, you can only lose yourself in it. When you deny reality to anything, you come to a residue which cannot be denied.

71. It is a matter of actual experience that the Self has being independent of mind and body. It is being awareness bliss. Awareness of being is bliss.

72. I appear to see and hear as you do, but to me it just happens as to you digestion and perspiration happen. The body-mind machine looks after it, but leaves me out of it. Just as you do not need to worry about growing hair, so I need not worry about works and actions. They just happen and leave me unconcerned for in my world nothing ever goes wrong.

73. My world is just like yours. I see, I hear, I feel, I think, I speak and act; in a word I perceive just like you. But with you, it is all: with me it is almost nothing. Knowing the world to be part of myself, I pay it no more attention than you pay to the food you have eaten. While being prepared and eaten the food is separate from you and your mind is on it. Once swallowed you become totally unconscious of it. I have eaten up the world and need not think of it anymore.

74. By being asleep, you mean unconscious, by being awake you mean conscious, by dreaming you mean conscious of your mind but not of the surroundings. Well it is the same with me. Yet there seems to be a difference. In each state, you forget the other two, while to me there is but one state of being, including and transcending the three mental states of waking, dreaming and sleeping.

75. On realisation, pleasure and pain lost their sway over me. I was free from desire and fear. I found myself full, needing nothing. I saw that in the ocean of pure awareness, on the surface of the universal consciousness, the numberless waves of the phenomenal world arise and subside beginninglessly and endlessly. As consciousness, they are all me. As events, there are all mine. There is a mysterious power that looks after them. That power is awareness, Self, Life, God, whatever name you give it. It is the foundation, the Ultimate support of all that is, just like gold is basis for all jewels. Be free of name and form and only the Void remains, but the Void is full to the brim. It is the Eternal potential as consciousness is the Eternal actual.

76. You may not be quite conscious of your physiological functions, but when it comes to thoughts and feelings, desires and fears, you become acutely self conscious. To me, these too are largely unconscious. I find myself talking to people or doing things quite correctly and appropriately without being conscious of them. It looks as if I live my physical, waking life automatically, reacting spontaneously and accurately.

77. The tremendously complex work going on all the time in your brain and body, are you conscious of it? Not at all. Yet for an outsider all seems to be going on intelligently and purposefully. Why not admit that one's entire personal life may sink largely below the threshold of consciousness and yet proceed safely and smoothly. When self control becomes second nature, awareness shifts its focus to deeper level of existence and action. You agree to be guided from within and life becomes a journey into the unknown.

78. It is all matter of focus. Your mind is focused in the world; mine is focused in Reality. It is like moon in daylight when the sun shines, the moon is hardly visible.

79. The ordinary man is not conscious of his body as such. He is conscious of his sensations, feelings and thoughts. Even these, once detachment sets in, move away from the centre of consciousness and happen spontaneously and effortlessly.

80. The centre of consciousness is that which cannot be given name and form, for it is without quality and beyond consciousness. Like a hole in the paper is both in the paper and yet not of paper, so is the Supreme state in the very centre of consciousness and yet beyond consciousness. It is as if an opening in the mind through which the mind is flooded with light. The opening is not even the light but just an opening. From the mind's point of view, it is but an opening for the light of awareness to enter the mental space. By itself the light can only be compared to a solid, dense, rocklike, homogeneous and changeless mass of pure awareness, free from the mental patterns of name and form.

81. That in which consciousness happens, the universal consciousness or mind, we call the ether of consciousness. All the objects of consciousness form the universe. What is beyond both, supporting both, is the supreme state, a state of utter stillness and silence. Whoever goes there, disappears. It is unreasonable by words or mind. You may call it God or Parabrahman, but these are names given by the mind. It is the nameless, contentless, effortless and spontaneous state beyond being or not being. As the universe is the body of the mind, so is consciousness the body of the Supreme. It is not conscious but it gives rise to consciousness.

82. I am telling you from experience that the Supreme is neither conscious nor unconscious. "Knowing absolute Reality is the supreme Knowledge" ["Prajnanam Brahma"]. Prajnanam is consciousness as the essence of the Self, the energy source that is prior to everything. Everything is a form of energy. Consciousness is most differentiated in the waking state. Less so in dream. Still less in deep sleep. Homogeneous in the fourth state [Turiya]. Beyond is the inexpressible monolithic Reality, the abode of the jnani.

83. God is the All-Doer, the jnani is a non-doer. God himself does not say: "I am doing all". To him things happen by their own nature. To the jnani all is done by God. He sees no difference between God and nature. Both God and jnani know themselves to be the Immovable centre of the movable, the Eternal witness a point of pure awareness. They know themselves to be as nothing, therefore nothing can resist them.

84. Being nothing I am all. Everything is me, everything is mine. Just as my body moves by mere thinking of the movement, so do things happen as I think of them. Mind you, I do nothing. I just see them happen. I accept and I am accepted. I am nothing and nothing is not afraid of nothing.

85. Just as the taste of salt pervades the great Ocean and every single drop of sea-water carries the same flavour, so every experience gives me the touch of Reality, the ever fresh realisation of my own being.

86. Of course, you are and I am. But only as points in consciousness; we are nothing apart from consciousness. This must be well grasped, the world hangs on the thread of consciousness; no consciousness, no world.

87. A life lived thoughtfully, in full awareness, is by itself Nisarga Yoga. Living in spontaneous awareness, consciousness of effortless living; being fully interested in one's life all this is implied.

88. Why should a liberated man necessarily follow conventions? The moment he becomes predictable, he cannot be free. His freedom lies in being free to fulfill the need of the moment, to obey the necessity of the situation. Freedom to do what one likes is really bondage, while being free to do only what one must, what is right, is real freedom.

89. Take the experience of death. The ordinary man is afraid to die, because he is afraid of change. The jnani is not afraid because his mind is dead already. He does not think: "I live". He knows "There is life". There is no change in it and no death. Death appears to be a change in time and space. Where there is neither time nor space, how can there be death? The jnani is already dead to name and shape. How can their loss affect Him? The man in the train travels from place to place, but the man off the train goes nowhere, for he is not bound for any destination. He has nowhere to go, nothing to do, nothing to become. Those who make plans will be born to carry them out. Those who make no plans need not be born.

90. A jnani's state is not so blind. It tastes of pure, uncaused, undiluted bliss. He is happy, and fully aware that happiness is his very nature and that he need not do anything nor strive for anything to secure it. It follows him, more real than the body, nearer that the mind itself. You imagine that without cause there can be no happiness. To me dependence on anything for happiness is utter misery. Pleasure and pain have causes while my state is my own, totally uncaused, independent, unassailable.

91. I may perceive the world just like you, but you believe to be in it, while I see it as an iridescent drop in the vast expanse of consciousness.

92. I am a dream that can wake you up. You will have the proof of it in your very waking up.

93. How do you go about this finding out? By keeping your mind and heart on it. Interest there must be and steady remembrance. You come to it through earnestness. What is supremely important is to be free from contradictions; behaviour must not betray belief. Tenacity of purpose and honesty in pursuit will bring you to your goal. Turn within. "I am" you know. Be with it, all the time you can spare until you revert to it spontaneously. There is no simpler and easier way.

94. Skill in meditation affects deeply our character. We are slaves to what we do not know; of what we know we are masters. Whatever vice or weakness is in ourselves we discover and understand its causes and workings, we overcome it by the very knowing; the unconscious dissolves when brought into the conscious. The dissolution of the unconscious releases energy; the mind feels adequate and becomes quiet. When the mind is quiet, we come to know ourselves as the pure witness. We withdraw from the experience and its experiencer and stand apart in pure awareness which is between and beyond the two.

95. It is the nature of mind to roam about. All you can do is to shift the focus of consciousness beyond the mind. Refuse all thoughts except one, the thought "I am". The mind will rebel in the beginning but with patience and perseverance, it will yield and keep quiet. Once you are quiet, things will begin to happen spontaneously and quite naturally, without any interference on your part.

96. True happiness cannot be found in things that change and pass away. Pleasure and pain alternate inexorably. Happiness comes from the Self and can be found in the Self only. Find your real Self [swarupa] and all else will come with it.

97. You are the Self here and now. Leave the mind alone, stand aware and unconcerned and you will realise that to stand alert but detached, watching events as they come and go, is an aspect of your real nature.

98. By eliminating the intervals of inadvertence during your waking hours you will gradually eliminate the long interval of absentmindedness, which you call sleep. You will be aware that you are asleep.

99. It is your fixed idea that you must be something or the other that binds you. How can you get rid of this idea? If you trust me, believe when I tell you that you are the pure awareness that illumines consciousness and its infinite content, and live accordingly. If you do not believe me, then go within enquiring "What I am?" or focus your mind on "I am", which is pure and simple being.

100. Discover all you are not. Body feelings, thoughts, ideas, time, space, being and not being this or that nothing concrete or abstract you can point out is you. A mere verbal statement will not do. You may repeat a formula endlessly without any result whatsoever. You must watch yourself continuously particularly your mind moment by moment, missing nothing. This witnessing is essential for the separation of the Self from the not-Self.

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101. Realisation is but the opposite of ignorance. To take the world as real and one's Self as unreal is ignorance, the cause of sorrow; to know the Self as the only Reality and all else as temporal and transient is freedom, peace, peace and joy. It is all very simple. Instead of seeing things as imagined, learn to see them as they are. When you can see everything as it is, you will also see yourself as you are. It is like cleansing a mirror. The same mirror that shows you the world as it is will also show you your own face. The thought "I am" is the polishing cloth. Use it.

102. When it comes to the actual finding of this inner Self, you say it escapes you. The idea "it escapes me" arises in the mind. Who knows the mind? The witness of the mind. Nobody came to you and said "I am the witness of your mind". Then who is the witness? "I am". So, you know the witness because you are the witness. Here again, to be is to know.

103. Are you a person with gaps in self-consciousness? So to be a person, you need memory. But you surely do exist without memory as in sleep. Since you admit that as a person you have only intermittent existence, can you tell me what are you in the intervals between experiencing yourself as a person? You now say, "I am", but I do not know that "I am". Could you possibly say it when unconscious? No. Were you really unconscious or you just do not remember? Maybe you we conscious in sleep and just do not remember? Your only proof is your memory. Let us consider the waking hours only. Waking and dreaming go together – their only difference is merely in continuity. When we talk of the waking state, we also include the dream state. The world and the consciousness of the world are essential to your existence as a person, an individual. The person and the world appear in consciousness, and also disappear in consciousness. You say you are a person because of the world. I say, because of you there is a world. You will understand on investigation.

104. You do not know yourself. Your ideas about yourself change from day to day and from moment to moment. Your self-image is the most changeful thing you have. To know what you are, you must first investigate and know what you are not. And to know what you are not, you must watch yourself carefully, rejecting all that does not necessarily go with the basic fact; "I am", "I am born", "I am related", "I am this" separate these consistently and perseveringly the "I am" from "this", and try to feel out what it means to be, just "to be", without being this or that. All our habits go against it and the task of fighting them is long and hard sometimes, but clear understanding helps a lot. The clearer you understand that on the level of the mind you can be described in negative terms only, the quicker you will come to the end of your search and realise your limitless being.

105. Give up all questions except one: "Who am I". After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are. The "I am" is certain. The "I am this" is not. Struggle to find out what you are in reality. Strive without seeking, struggle without greed.

106. When you shall begin to question your dream, awakening will not be far away.

107. You are always the Supreme. But your attention is fixed on things, physical or mental. When your attention is off a thing and not yet fixed on another, in the interval you are pure being. When though the practice of discrimination and detachment [viveka-vairagya] you lose sight of mental and sensory states, pure being emerges as the mental state.

108. By focusing the mind on "I am", on the sense of being, "I am so and so" dissolves. "I am a witness only" remains and that too submerges in "I am all". Then the all becomes the One.

109. Self-forgetting is inherent in Self knowing. Consciousness and unconsciousness are two aspects of one life. They co-exist. To know the world you forget the Self to know the Self, forget the world. What is the world after all? A collection of memories. Cling to one thing that matters; hold on to "I am" and let go all else. This is sadhana. In realisation there is nothing to hold on to and nothing to forget. Everything is known, and nothing is remembered.

110. Desire what is worth desiring and desire it well. Just like you pick your way in a crowd, passing between people, so you find your way between events without missing your general direction. It is easy if you are earnest.

111. Anything you do for the sake of enlightenment takes you nearer. Anything you do without remembering enlightenment puts you off. What you want to be, you are it already. Just keep it in mind.

112. Develop the witness attitude and you will find in your own experience that detachment brings control. The state of witnessing is full of power, there is nothing passive about it.

113. You can do nothing to bring it [realisation] about; but you can avoid creating obstacles. Watch your mind how it comes into being, how it operates. As you watch your mind, you discover yourself as the watcher. When you stand motionless, only watching, you discover yourself as the light behind the watcher. The source of light is dark, unknown is the source of knowledge. That source alone is. Go back to that source and abide there. It is not in the sky, nor in the all-pervading ether. God is all that is great and wonderful; I am nothing, have nothing, can do nothing. Yet all comes out of me the source is me; the root, the origin is me.

114. When Reality explodes in you, you may call it experience of God. Or, rather, it is God experiencing you. God knows you when you know yourself. Reality is not the result of a process; it is an explosion. It is definitely beyond the mind, but all you can do is to know your mind well. Not that the mind will help you, but by knowing your mind you may avoid your mind disabling you. You have to be very alert or your mind will play false with you. It is like watching a thief not that you expect anything form a thief, but you do not want to be robbed. In the same way you give a lot of attention to the mind without expecting anything from it.

115. We sleep and we wake. Both sleep and waking are misnomers. We are only dreaming. True waking and true sleeping, only the jnani knows. We dream that we are awake, we dream that we are asleep. The three states are only varieties of the dream state. Treating everything as a dream liberates. As long as you give reality to dreams, you are their slave. The essence of slavery is to imagine yourself to be a process, to have a past and future, to have history. In fact, we have no history, we are not a process, we do not develop, nor decay; see all as a dream and stay out of it.

116. The three states rotate as usual there is waking and sleeping and waking again, but they do not happen to me. They just happen. To me, nothing ever happens. There is something changeless, motionless, Immovable, rock-life, unassailable, a solid mass of pure being-consciousness-bliss. I am never out of It. Nothing can take me out of It – no torture, no calamity. There is peace deep, immense, unshakeable. Events are registered in memory, but are of no importance. One is hardly aware of them. This state did not come it was always so. There was discovery and it was sudden. Just as at birth you discover the world suddenly, as suddenly I discovered my real being. Once you have awakened into Reality, you stay in it.

117. Just puzzling over my words and trying to grasp their full meaning is sadhana quite sufficient for breaking down the wall.

118. The perceiver of the world, is he prior to the world or does he come into being along with the world? Unless you know the correct answer, you will not find peace.

119. The body appears in mind; your mind is the content of your consciousness; you are the motionless witness of the river of consciousness which changes eternally without changing you in any way. Your own changelessness is so obvious that you do not notice it. Have a good look at yourself and all these misapprehensions and misconceptions will dissolve. Just as all the watery lives are in water and cannot be without water, so all the universe is in you and cannot be without you.

120. God is only a idea in your mind. The fact is you. The only thing you know for sure is: "here and now I am". Remove the "here and now", the "I am" remains, unassailable. The world exists in memory, memory comes into consciousness; consciousness exists in awareness and awareness is the reflection of the light on the waters of existence.

121. All I can truly say is: "I am", all else is inference. But the inference has become a habit. Destroy all habits of thinking and seeing. The sense "I am" is the manifestation of a deeper cause which you may call Self, God, Reality or by any other name. The "I am" is in the world; but it is the key which can open the door out of the world. The moon dancing on the water is seen in the water, but it is caused by the moon in the sky and not by the water.

122. Examine the motion of change and you will see. What can change while you do not change can be said to be independent of you. But what is changeless must be one with whatever else is changeless. For duality implies interaction and interaction means change. In other words, the absolutely material and the absolutely spiritual, the totally objective and the totally subjective are identical both in substance and essence.

123. The main point to grasp is that you have projected on to yourself a world of your own imagination, based on memories, on desires and fears, and that you have imprisoned yourself in it. Break the spell and be free. Assert your independence in thought and action. After all, all hangs on your faith in yourself, on the conviction that what you see and hear, think and feel is real. Why not question your faith? No doubt, this world is painted by you on the screen of consciousness and is entirely your own private world. Only your sense "I am", though in the world, is not of the world. By no effort of logic or imagination can you change the "I am" into "I am not". In the very denial of your being you assert it. Once you realise that the world is your own projection, you are free of it. You need not free yourself of a world that does not exist, except in your own imagination. Realise that there is nobody to force it on you, that it is due to the habit of taking the imaginary and be free from fear. Just like colours, so is the world caused by you but you are not the world.

124. That which creates and sustains the world, you may call it God or Providence, but ultimately you are the proof that God exists, not the other way round. For, before any question about God can be put, you must be there to put it.

125. Even the sense of "I am" is composed of the pure light and the sense of being the "I" is there even without the "am". So is the pure light there whether you say "I" or not. Become aware of that pure light and you will never lose it. The beingness in being, the awareness in consciousness, the interest in every experience that is not describable, yet perfectly accessible, for there is nothing else.

126. Having never left the house you are asking for the way home. Get rid of wrong ideas, that is all. Collecting right ideas will take you nowhere. Just cease imagining.

127. The main thing is to be free of negative emotions desire, fear etc., the "six enemies" of the mind. Once the mind is free of them, the rest will come easily. Just like cloth kept in clean water will become clean, so will the mind get purified in the stream of pure feeling. When you sit quiet and watch yourself, all kinds of things may come to the surface. Do nothing about them; as they have come, so will they go, by themselves. All that matters is mindfulness, total awareness of oneself or rather of one's mind. Be oneself, I mean the person, which alone is objectively observable. The observer is beyond observation. You know you are the ultimate observer by direct insight, not by a logical process based on observation. The Self is known as being, the not-Self is known as transient. But in reality all is in the mind. The observed, observation and observer are mental constructs. The Self alone is.

128. A man who seeks realisation is not addicted to desires; he is a seeker who goes against desire, not with it. A general longing for liberation is only the beginning; to find the proper means and use them is the next step. The seeker has only one goal in view; to find his own true being. Of all desires, it is the most ambitious, for nothing and nobody can satisfy it; the seeker and the sought are one and the search alone matters.

129. To be free from thoughts is itself meditation. You begin by letting thoughts flow and watching them. The very observation slows down the mind till it stops altogether. Once the mind is quiet, keep it quiet. Don't get bored with peace, be in it, go deeper into it.

130. What your thoughts and watch yourself watching the thoughts. The state of freedom from all thoughts will happen suddenly and by the bliss of it you shall recognize it.

131. Your expectation of something unique and dramatic, of some wonderful explosion, is merely hindering and delaying your self-realisation. You are not to expect an explosion, for the explosion has already happened at the moment when you were born, when you realised yourself as being knowing feeling. There is only one mistake you are making; you take the inner for the outer and the outer for the inner. What is in you take to be outside you and what is outside, you take to be in you.

132. The mind and feelings are external but you take them to be intimate. The world you believe to be objective, while it is entirely a projection of your psyche. You have to think yourself out of it. There is no other way.

133. Watch your thoughts as you watch the street traffic. People come and go; register without response. It may not be easy in the beginning, but with some practice you will find that your mind can function on many levels at the same time, and you can be aware of them all. It is only when you have a vested interest in any particular level, that your attention gets caught in it and you blacked out levels goes on, outside the field of consciousness.

134. Do not struggle with your memories and thoughts; try only to include in your field of attention the other, more and more important questions like "Who am I?", "How did I happen to be born?", "Whence this universe around me?", "What is real and what is momentary?". No memory will persist if you lose interest in it, it is the emotional link that perpetuates the bondage. You are always seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, always after happiness and peace. Don't you see that it is your very search for happiness that makes you feel miserable? Try the other way; indifferent to pain and pleasure, neither asking nor refusing, give all your attention to the level on which "I am" is timeless present. Soon you will realise that peace and happiness are in your very nature and it is only seeking them through some particular channels, that disturbs.

135. You yourself are God, the Supreme Reality. Trust me, trust the Guru. It enables you to make the first step and then your trust is justified by your own experience. I am telling you again: you are the all-pervading, all transcending Reality. Behave accordingly, think, feel and act in harmony with the whole and the actual experience of what I say will dawn upon you in no time. No effort is needed. Have faith and act on it. It is not the body that you love, it is life; perceiving, feeling, thinking, doing, loving, striving, creating. It is that life you live, which is you, which is all. Realise it in its totality, beyond all divisions and limitations and all our desires will merge in it for the greater contains the smaller. Therefore, find yourself, for in finding that you find all.

136. Everybody is glad to be. But few know the fullness of it. You come to know by dwelling in your mind on "I am", "I know", "I love" with the will of reaching the deepest meaning of these words.

137. It is the mind that, itself in movement, sees everything moving, and having created time, worries about the past and future. All the universe is cradled in consciousness [maha tattva] which arises where there is perfect order and harmony [maha sattva]. All the waves are in the ocean, so are all things physical and mental in awareness. Hence, awareness itself is all-important, not the content of it. Deepen and broaden your awareness of yourself and all the blessings will flow. You need not seek anything, all will come to you most naturally and effortlessly. The five senses and the four functions [of the mind: memory, thought, understanding and selfhood], the five elements [earth, water, fire, air and ether], the two aspects of creation [of matter and spirit], all are contained in awareness.

138. Look, my thumb touches my forefinger. Both touch and are touched. When my attention is on my thumb, the thumb is the feeler and the forefinger the Self. Shift the focus of attention and the relationship is reversed. I find that somehow by shifting the focus of attention, I become the very thing I look at and experience the kind of consciousness it has; I become the inner witness of the thing. I call this capacity of entering other focal points of consciousness as love; you may give it any name you like. Love says, "I am everything". Between the two my life flows. Since at any point of time and space I can be both the subject and the object of experience, I express it by saying that I am both and neither and beyond.

139. This union of the seer and the seen happens when the seer becomes conscious of himself as the seer; he is not merely interested in the seen, which he is anyhow, but also interested in being interested, giving attention to attention, aware of being aware. Affectionate awareness is the crucial factor that brings Reality into focus.

140. Question: When do I know that I have discovered the truth?

Nisargadatta: When the idea, "this is true", "that is true" does not arise. Truth does not assert itself, it is in the seeing of the false as false and rejecting it. It is useless to search for truth when the mind is blind to the false. It must be purged of the false completely before truth can dawn on it.

141. Attachment destroys courage. The giver is ready to give. The taker is absent. Freedom means letting go. People just do not care to let go everything. They do not know that the finite is the price of the Infinite as death is the price of Immortality. Spiritual maturity lies in the readiness to let everything go. The giving up is the first step. But the real giving up is in realising that there is nothing to give up, for nothing is your own. It is like deep sleep you do not give up your bed when you fall asleep – you just forget it.

142. The innermost light, shining peaceful and timelessly in the heart is the real Guru. All others merely show the way.

143. Until man can free himself from false identifications, from pretentions and delusions of various kinds, he can not come fce to face with Eternal Verity that is latent within his own Self.

144. Once you beyond the "I am the body" idea, you will find that space and time are in you, not you in space and time. Once you understand this, the main obstacle to realisation is removed.

145. Happiness comes from the Self and can be found in the Self only. Find your real Self and all else will come with it. To be happy, you need nothing except Self-knowledge.

146. Neither action, nor feeling, nor thought can express Reality. There is no such thing as expression of Reality.

147. Just like the wood produces fire, which is not wood, so does the body produce mind which is not body.

148. The death of the mind is the birth of wisdom.

149. The mind will set itself right as soon as you give up all concern with the past and future and live entirely in the now.

150. The way to truth lies through the destruction of the false. To destroy the false you must question your invetrate beliefs. Of these the idea that yopu are the body is the worst. With the body comes the world, with te world God, who is supposed to have created the world and thus it starts – fears, religions, prayers, sacrifices, all sorts of systems – all to protect and support the child that man has frightened out of his wits by monsters of his own making. Realise that what you are can not be born nor die and with the fear gone all suffering ends.

151. What the minds invents, the mind destroys. But the Real is not invented and cannot be destroyed. Hold on to that over which the mind has no power.

152. Go beyond the "I am the body" idea and you will find that space and time are in you and not you in space and time.

153. True happiness can not be found in things that change, decay and die. True happiness comes from the Self and can be found in Self only, not your bodily self, but the inner Self which is the everlasting reservoir of oy. All search for happiness outside your Self is misery and leads to more misery.

154. The window is the absence of a wall and it gives light because it is empty. Be empty of all mental contents, of all imagination and effort and the very absence of obstacles will cause Reality to rush in. There is trouble only when you cling to something. When you hold on to nothing no trouble arises.

155. By focussing the mind on "I am", the sense of being "I am so-and-so" dissolves. What remains is "I am a witness only". Later, it develops into "I am That" – the Reality, and ultimately it merges into "I am All".

156. God can be realised only when you have emptied yourself of all else.

157. The Self does not need to be put to rest. It is peace itself, not at peace. Only the mind is restless. All it knows is restlessness with its many modes and grades. The pleasant are considered superior and the painful are discounted. What we call progress is merely a change over from the unpleasant to the pleasant. But changes by themselves cannot bring us to the changeless, for whatever has a beginning must have an end. The Real does not begin; It only reveals Itself as beginningless and endless, all-pervading, all-powerful, Immovable prime mover, timelessly changeless.

158. The personality [vyakti] is but a product of imagination. The self [vyakta] is the victim of this imagination. It is the taking yourself to be what you are not that binds you. The person cannot be said to exist on its own right, it is the self that believes there is a person and is conscious of being it. Beyond the individual self [vyakta] lies the unmanifested [avyakta], the causeless cause of everything. Even to talk of reuniting the person with the Self is not right because there is no person, only a mental picture given a false reality by conviction. Nothing was divided and there is nothing to unite.

159. You can find what you have lost. But you cannot find what you have not lost. When you are searching it shows that you believe you have lost something. But who believes it? And what is believed to be lost? Have you lost a person like yourself? What is this Self which you are in search of? What exactly do you expect to find?

160. The true knowledge of the Self is not knowledge. It is not something that you find by searching, by looking everywhere. It is not to be found in space and time. Knowledge is but a memory, a mere pattern of thought, a mental habit. All these are motivated by pleasure and pain. It is because you are goaded by pleasure and pain that you are in search of knowledge. The being ofSelf is completely beyond all motivation. You cannot be Self for some reason. You are That and no reason is needed.

161. You cannot approach Realty through worship only. For a seeker of Reality, meditation is essential and there is only one meditation: the rigorous refusal to harbour thoughts.

162. What has been attained may again be lost. Only when you realise the true peace, the peace you have never lost, that peace will remain with you for it was never away. Instead of searching for what you do not have, find out what is it that you have never lost. That which is there before the beginning and after the ending of everything, to That there is no birth nor death. That Immovable state, which is not affected by the birth and death of a body or a mind, that state you must perceive.

163. In life nothing can be had without overcoming obstacles. The obstacles to the clear perception of one's true being are desire for pleasure and fear of pain. It is the pleasure-pain motivation that stands in the way. The very freedom from all motivation, the state in which no desire arises is the natural state.

164. Leave alone your desires and fears, give your entire attention to the subject, to Him who is behind the experience of desire and fear. Ask, "Who desires?" Let each desire bring you back to your Self.

165. The happiness you can think of and long for is mere physical or mental satisfaction. Such sensory or mental pleasure is not the Real, the Absolute happiness. It has its roots in imagination. A man who is given a stone and assured that it is a priceless diamond will be mightily pleased until he realises his mistake; in the same way pleasures lose their tang and pains their barb when the Self is known. Both are seen as they are – conditional responses, mere reactions, plain attractions and repulsions, based on memories or preconceptions. Usually pleasure and pain are experienced when expected. It is all a matter of acquired habits and convictions.

166. Pain and pleasure go always together. Freedom from one means freedom from both. If you do not care for pleasure, you will not be afraid of pain. But there is happiness which is neither of these, and which is completely beyond. The happiness you know is describable and measurable. It is objective, so to say. But the objective cannot be your own. It would be a grievous mistake to identitfy yourself with something external. This churning up of levels leads nowhere. Reality is beyond the subjective and objective, beyond all levels, beyond every distinction. Most definitely it is not their origin, source or root. These come from ignorance of Reality, not from Reality itself, which is indescribable, beyond being and not-being.

167. The desire to find the Self will be surely fulfilled, provided you want nothing else. But you must be honest with your Self and really want nothing else. If in the meantime you want many other things and are engaged in their pursuit, your main purpose may be delayed until you grow wiser and cease being torn between contradictory urges. Go within, without swerving, without ever looking outward.

168. Desires and fears reside in your memory. Realise that their root is in expectation born of memory – and they will cease to obsess you.

169. When the mind is quiet, we come to know ourselves as the pure witness. We withdraw from the experience and its experiencer and stand apart in pure awareness which is between and beyond the two.

170. Find your Self first, and endless blessings will follow. Nothing profits the world as much as the abandoning of profits. A man who no longer thinks in terms of loss and gain is the trly non-violent man, for he is beyond all conflict.

171. The only help worth giving is freeing from the need for further help. Repeated hekp is no help at all. Do not talk of helping another unless you can put him beyond all need of help.

172. When you have understood that all existence, in separation and limitation, is painful, and are willing and able to live integrally, in oneness with all life, as pure being, you have gone beyond all need of help. You can help another by precept and example and, above all, by your being. You cannot give what you do not have and you don't have what you are not. You can only give what you are – and of that you can give limitlessly.

173. How restless people are, how constantly on the move. It is because they are in pain that they seek relief in pleasure. Does a happy man seek happiness? What else can be the cause of this universal search for pleasure? All the happiness they can imagine is in the assurance of repeated pleasure.

174. To be your Self you can only cease to be as you seem to be now. There is nothing cruel in what I say. To wake up a man from a nightmare is compassion. You come here because you are in pain, and all I say is, "Wake up! Know your Self. Be your Self." The end of pain lies not in pleasure. When you realise that you are beyond both pain and pleasure, aloof and unassailable, then the pursuit of happiness ceases and the resultant sorrow too. For pain aims at pleasure and pleasure ends in pain, relentlessly.

175. In the ultimate state there can be neither happiness, nor sorrow, only freedom. Happiness depends on something or other and can be lost; freedom from everything depends on nothing and cannot be lost. Freedom from sorrow has no cause and therefore cannot be destroyed. Realise that freedom.

176. Being the source of both, the Self is beyond both knowledge and power. The observable is in the mind. The nature of the Self is pure awareness, pure witnessing, unaffected by the presence or absence of knowledge or liking.

177. Have your being outside this body of birth and death and all your problems will be solved. They exist because you believe yourself born to die. Undeceive yourself and be free. You are not a person.

178. What world do you want to improve? You are creating it and with it the horrors and misery. You first create your "self" with the subtlest movement of mind in "I am". Stop creating and the misery and the horrors will not be there. Why are you interested in this mad rush to organise and systemize that which is like a dream? Just wake up and it will not be there. Why worry about that which is not? Realise what is.

179. Before you can know anything directly, non-verbally, you must know the knower. So far you took the mind for the knower. It is not so. The mind clogs you up with images and ideas which leave scars in memory. You take remembering to be knowledge. True knowledge is ever fresh, new, unexpected. It wells up from within; when you know what you are, you are also what you know. Between knowing and being there is no gap.

180. Once you know your Self as pure being, the ecstacy of freedom is your own.

181. Nothing you do will change you. You need no change. You may change your mind or your body, but it is always something external to you that has changed, not your Self. Why bother at all to change? Realise once and for all that neither your body nor your mind, nor even your consciousness is your Self. Stand alone in your true nature, beyond consciousness and unconsciousness. No effort can take you there; only clarity of understanding. Trace your misunderstandings and abandon them; that is all. There is nothing to seek and find, for there is nothing that is lost. Relax and watch "I am". Reality is just behind it. Keep quiet, keep silent. It will emerge, or, rather it will take you in.

182. I am uncaused, independent, unrelated, undivided, uncomposed, unshakable, unquestionable, unreachable by effort. Every positive definition of my Self is from memory and therefore inapplicable.

183. Societies are like people, they are born, they grow to some point of relative perfection, then decay and die.

184. Whatever has a beginning must have an end. In the timeless all is perfect, here and now.

185. Time cannot take us out of time, as space cannot take us out of space. All you get by waiting is more waiting. Absolute perfection is heare and now, not in some future, near or far. It is your behaviour that blinds you to your Self. Disregard whatever you think your Self to be and act as if you were absolutely perfect – whatever your idea of perfection may be. All you need is courage. Courage is within you. Look within.

186. As the sun knows not darkness, so the Self knows not the non-Self.

187. Beyond living and dying it is the all-inclusive, all-exclusive Life in which birth is death a,d death is birth.

188. The Real does not die, the unreal never lived.

189. To know what you are, you must first investigate and know what you are not.

190. The source of consciousness cannot be an object in consciousness. To know the source is to be the source.

191. To know the world you forget the Self, to know the Self you forget the world.

192. When life and death are seen as essential to each other, as two aspects of one being, that is Immortality. To see the end in the beginning and beginning in the end is the intimation of Eternity. Definitely, Immortality is not continuity. Only the process of change continues. Nothing lasts.

193. Not making use of one's consciousness is samadhi. You just leave your mind alone. You want nothing, either from your body or your mind.

194. Your mind is always with things, peaple and ideas; never with your Self. Bring your Self into focus. Become aware of your own existence – "I am".

195. Pain and pleasure are the crests and valleys of the waves in the ocean of bliss. Deep down there is utter fullness.

196. If you could but keep in mind what you do not know, it would reveal to you its secrets.

197. All causes are served best by the man who has returned to his source.

198. When all the false self-identifications are thrown away, what remains is all-embracing love.

199. Learn to look without imagination, to listen without distortion: that is all. Stop attributing names and shapes to the essentially nameless and formless, realise that every mode of perception is subjective, that what is seen or heard, touched or smelled, felt or thought, expected or imagined, is in the mind and not in reality, and you will experience peace and freedom from fear.

200. From my point of view everything happens by itself, quite spontaneously. But man imagines that he works for an incentive, towards a goal. He always has a reward in mind and strives for it.

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