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Who is Nisargadatta Maharaj
|Maruti Shivrampant Kambli
|Maruti Shivrampant Kambli
17 April 1897
Bombay, Bombay Presidency, British India
|8 September 1981
Nisargadatta Maharaj was an Indian nondualism guru who belonged to the Inchagiri Sampradaya, a lineage of teachers from the Navnath Sampradaya and Lingayat Shaivism. He was born Maruti Shivrampant Kambli.
Nisargadatta was born on April 17, 1897, in Bombay, to Shivrampant Kambli and Parvati bai. The day was also Hanuman Jayanti, Hanuman’s birthday, thus the boy was given the name ‘Maruti’ in honour of him. His parents belonged to the Varkari sampradaya, a Vaishnavite bhakti tradition that worships Vithoba and is egalitarian. Shivrampant, his father, was a domestic servant in Mumbai before becoming a minor farmer in Kandalgaon.
Maruti Shivrampant Kambli was raised with his two brothers, four sisters, and very devout parents in Kandalgaon, a small village in Maharashtra’s Sindhudurga region. After his father died in 1915, he came to Bombay with his elder brother to help his family back home. He began his career as a junior clerk in an office, but soon launched a modest goods business, primarily selling beedis (leaf-rolled cigarettes), and went on to own a chain of eight retail stores. He married Sumatibai in 1924, and the couple had three daughters and a son.
Nisargadatta Maharaj Realization (Enlightenment)
His guru, Siddharameshwar Maharaj, the leader of the Inchegiri branch of the Navnath Sampradaya, was introduced to him by his friend Yashwantrao Baagkar in 1933. “You are not what you think you are…” his guru told him. Siddharameshwar admitted him into the Inchegiri Sampradaya, teaching him meditation and giving him a mantra to chant right away. As he later related, Siddharameshwar handed Nisargadatta directions for self-enquiry, which he followed verbatim:
My Guru told me to focus solely on the sense of ‘I am,’ and to ignore everything else. I simply followed orders. I didn’t follow any specific breathing, meditation, or scripture study regimen. Whatever happened, I would shift my focus away from it and focus on the sense of ‘I am.’ It may appear to be overly simplistic, even primitive. My only motivation for doing it was because my Guru advised me to. Nonetheless, it worked!Nisargadatta Maharaj
Following his guru’s advice to focus on the emotion “I Am,” he spent all of his leisure time staring at himself in solitude, and stayed in that state for years, practising meditation and chanting devotional bhajans:
My Guru said to me, “…return to that pristine condition of being, where the ‘I am’ is still pure before being corrupted by ‘this I am’ or ‘that I am.’ All of your phoney self-identifications should be abandoned.” My guru advised me, “Believe me when I say that you are Divine. Assume that to be the whole truth. Your joy is heavenly, and your pain is divine as well. God is the source of everything. Always keep that in mind. You are God, and only your will is carried out.” I did believe him, and I quickly discovered how accurate and true his statements were. “I am God, I am amazing, I am above and beyond,” I did not tell myself. I simply followed his advice, which was to concentrate the mind on pure being, “I am,” and stay there. I used to sit for hours together, thinking just of “I am,” and eventually calm, joy, and deep all-encompassing love became my natural mood. Everything—myself, my guru, my life, and the world around me—disappeared in it. Only peace and incomprehensible silence remained. (I Am That, April 16, 1971, Dialogue 51).Nisargadatta Maharaj
Siddharameshwar Maharaj died on November 9, 1936, after a relationship that lasted only two and a half years. Maharaj left Mumbai in 1937 and travelled across India. [web page 8] In 1938, he returned to his family in Mumbai after an eight-month absence. On the way home, his mood altered as he realised “nothing was wrong anymore.” He spent the rest of his life in Mumbai, working in a single shop to support himself.
Nisargadatta Maharaj Teachings
Nisargadatta held presentations and answered questions at his modest home in Khetwadi, Mumbai, where he had a mezzanine chamber built for him to host disciples and visitors. Daily chantings, bhajans (devotional songs), meditation sessions, and discussions took place in this space.
According to Cathy Boucher, the Inchagiri Sampradaya stressed mantra meditation from its inception in the early nineteenth century, but with Sri Siddharameshwar, the emphasis moved to a sort of Self-enquiry. Nevertheless,
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj continued to provide mantra initiations, with the underlying concept being that the mantra was more than just a sound; it was the Absolute Itself, which could be repeated throughout life in any situation.
Boucher also adds that Nisargadatta taught his western pupils in a different way, through questions and responses. Many of Nisargadatta Maharaj’s conversations were taped and used as the foundation for I Am That and the other books attributed to him.
Nisargadatta Maharaj Mantra
A purely academic approach to nondual Truth was chastised by Nisargadatta. He had a deep devotional zeal for his own teacher, and he recommended Bhakti yoga to some of his visitors because he believed Jnana yoga, the path of knowledge, was not the sole path to Truth. Nisargadatta also emphasised devotion to the Guru and God, as well as mantra repetition and the singing of bhajans, or devotional songs.
Nisargadatta Maharaj Miracles
On Maharaj’s birthday, one of his devotees asked Maharaj if he may issue a keepsake because it would provide him with enough exposure. He scolded him angrily and added, “I’m simply observing Reality through the eyes of others and bringing out the evident Truth. What is the point of public relations? “.. “If all this is responsible for bringing publicity to me, I would rather pay Rs. 100/- to someone to take away all these photos from here and drown in the deep sea,” he remarked, pointing to pictures of his Guru and others in the ashram. Despite the fact that Maharaj was not known for miracles and was often embarrassed to discuss them, several miracles have been claimed.
I’ll simply list a few of them because they appear in the stack of papers that was supplied to me. Maharaj’s niece was on the verge of passing away, and physicians had given all hope, telling the families that it was only a matter of time. The girl’s life was ebbing away, and her husband, family, and friends were anxiously waiting outside the house, thinking about the funeral arrangements that needed to be made.
Maharaj, who always paid them a visit, had paid them a courtesy call. When he learned she was dying, he went into the room where her body was lying and exclaimed, “What exactly is this? Why are you sleeping so late? Take a step forward. Your Mama has returned after a lengthy absence [Maharaj]. Are you going to make him a cup of tea?” Hearing his voice, she leapt from her bed, much to the surprise of her husband and others in the room, and made tea for Maharaj, who drank it happily.
The relatives only notified Maharaj about her critical condition and how Maharaj had saved her life after that.
After a long hiatus, a female disciple returned to the ashram. She was a little concerned about Maharaj’s opinion of her. Maharaj added to her humiliation and surprise by asking, “What brings you here now? Return right away. Stay for no more than a minute “.. The lady left quite uncomfortable and miserable after hearing this, and she correctly assumed that the Guru was upset with her. She had no idea how a saint operated. She prostrated before Maharaj, who remained unmoved, with tears in her eyes, and she returned home. She discovered that her husband had become gravely ill and that her presence was necessary immediately, as he needed to be brought to the hospital for treatment. It was then that she realised Maharaj’s unusual behaviour served a higher purpose.
Another example is a disciple who was admitted to the hospital with a life-threatening disease. Maharaj was informed, and he was quite impressed with that disciple’s purity of heart. He finished the bhajan at home and then went to see the disciple at the hospital. It was difficult to get the hospital in a timely manner in a city like Bombay, where hospitals are dispersed throughout the city. A simple man like Maharaj would never take a taxi. Rather, he awaited the bus and boarded it. In Bombay, it is commonly known that there are long lines for buses, and one must wait their turn. Despite the fact that Maharaj had been informed that the disciple had died, he was unconcerned. He arrived at the hospital late and proceeded straight to the mortuary, where the body was covered in a cloth and waiting for the relatives to take it. “How can you go away without my permission?” Maharaj said as he saw the body. He then took off the garment that had been covering his body, placed his hand on his chest, and addressed the disciple by name, asking him to rise. The disciple was resurrected.
Another incident was when Maharaj and his students were walking through the streets of Pune. He immediately knelt in front of a bank and asked one of his students if he wanted to work there. The disciple, a young man in desperate need of work, was pleased by Maharaj’s kindness. “As per your desire, Maharaj,” he said, touching Maharaj’s feet with deep humility. Maharaj and the disciples walked along, unconcerned, and the young disciple did not expect to acquire a position in the bank in his last dream because nothing had been known for a month. But, unexpectedly, he received a letter from the bank assigning him to a clerical position. He couldn’t believe it and rushed to Bombay, prostrating himself before Maharaj and informing him of the good news.
Another example is a 20-year-old girl who was diagnosed with TB. Bombay was the location of her operation. She went to Maharaj for darshan, fearful that she would not live, and prostrated before him with her father, who had accompanied her. However, Maharaj stated in an incomprehensible manner, “Go to Nasik right away. There is no need for an operation. Have it cancelled if your father may have fixed it “.. It’s worth noting that Nasik is a major pilgrimage destination, with the famed Triambak temple located nearby. When Sri Rama was residing in Panchavati, it is believed that he cut Surpanakha’s nose. As a result of this incident, the word Nasik [nose] was coined, and the location became known as Nasik. Maharaj had a reason for urging her to leave Bombay and settle in Nasik, and it goes without saying that she was cured.
Many of Maharaj’s disciples had more miraculous encounters, but he advised them not to tell anyone about them. He used to add, in a cryptic manner, “Come here in a different way than you would to a store or a bazaar. Follow my instructions. Your difficulties would vanish if you truly surrender to the Guru inside “..
Maharaj, the famous jnani, was a modest unassuming person, a reservoir of immense knowledge, residing in a humble cottage in a busy lane in Khetwadi. Nobody would mistake him for a spiritual dynamo based on his attire and appearance. To draw a comparison, he had bright, forceful eyes that reminded me of Bhagawan Ramana.
Maharaj spoke only in a simple Marathi dialect, despite the fact that he was fluent in English. He said it with complete ease and calmness. Despite the fact that the realities he provided were extremely explosive, he eluded the press, formed no organisation, and refused to take donations. He was on his own. It’s worth noting that he refused to be treated as a Guru. With an impish sparkle in his sparkling eyes and a sweeping gesture of his expressive palm, he would comment, to quote a review in The Hindu on Maharaj, “When I’m out and about, I merely appear to be an elderly gentleman on a stroll. As a result, no one bothers me, and I am free to travel wherever I choose “..
As Maharaj reminds out, the objective of existence is to be free of suffering, and all suffering stems from our profound association with the body-mind complex. I’m inclined to quote some more Maharaj quotes that express his straightforward mindset. “The Self is the only thing that exists; it is impersonal, pure awareness that exists outside of time and space. It’s indescribable happiness to be unattached to anything. Desire is the play’s antagonist “..
We do not live in the intense moment, which is the only Reality, because we are fueled by memories of the dead past and fantasies about a bright future. Give up thinking “I am this” or “I am that” and instead focus on the basic “I am.” “Love and do what you want, and when all the false self-identifications fade away, all that is left is all-encompassing love. You are no longer isolated from the rest of the world. You are not in the world, but you are in the world “..
The sayings of Maharaj were priceless gems. “Liberation is never a personal experience. It is always from the individual. Every self-serving purpose should be discarded. Don’t look for truth; it will find you.”
Such were the teachings of the great saint Nisargadatta Maharaj, who lived in a small house in a congested street in Bombay, dressed as a normal man. Unless you already know him, it’s impossible to spot him in a crowd. His grandchildren dubbed him “Bappa,” which means “God” in Marathi, and they used to fight for a spot in his lap. They used to mock him by stealing his cigarette lighter or spilling the water reserved for him when he was having a serious conversation with Maurice Frydman, a Polish engineer. On his birthdays and other special occasions, he would go to his Guru’s samadhi [tomb] in Bombay’s Banganga burial yard to offer prayers. He may readily be found riding in a bus with other people.
Maharaj, it is reported, would not forget to vote and utilise his right to vote in elections. One must, as is widely known, wait in a line. Maharaj would patiently wait in line for lengthy periods of time, even in the scorching sun, to exercise his franchise. All analysis is befuddled by his nature’s simplicity. He would often go to a hair cutting saloon discreetly when he needed a haircut, either for a shave or a hair trim, without causing any discomfort. Maharaj buying his grandchildren a lassi [milkshake] from a roadside kiosk and teaching them how to consume it properly was an amazing sight to see.
Maharaj cherished some of his pupils so much that he would walk with them to the Chowpathy coastline in the pouring rain to talk to them about the simple way to Self-realisation. He would sit on the seashore benches in the pouring rain, carrying an umbrella and enjoying his beedis, oblivious of his tremendous status as a jnani. The discussion will last until 11.30 p.m., and on occasion, till late at night. Only athmic subjects will be spoken, and the few chosen pupils who followed him to hear him will have their doubts dispelled. When his pupils insisted that he have a cup of tea with them, he would stop by a neighbouring Irani hotel, which was ubiquitous in Bombay, and have a cup of tea and a few biscuits.
When Mercedes and Contessa automobiles were available to carry him anywhere he wished to go, his grim determination to “walk along” in touch with the Self rather than accept such obligations is remarkable. It’s also worth remembering that he was over 80 years old at the time and in poor health. The dreaded cancer was beginning to show its ugly head, but he refused to see a doctor. Even the disciples struggled to change his iron resolve since they couldn’t understand him.
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. Despite the bustle from the street traffic outside, his basic dwelling, particularly the loft apartment, was so tranquil and quiet. Maharaj lived during an unknown period of human history. His love for his family is claimed to have never waned, as his grandchildren clambered up the stairs into the loft room and crawled along on his lap, occasionally diverting his attention away from the important conversation he was having. He’ll phone his daughter-in-law and request that she come and take the kids away.