Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj : Realizing the Infinite-Talks with an Indian Sage
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
The Spiritual Light of Nisargadatta
Nisargadatta Maharaj was a spiritual teacher known to speak with remarkable clarity, directness and insight on the question of suffering and how to end it. He spoke in absolute terms, and with such intimacy, that reading transcriptions of talks held with seekers seems to immediately raise one’s level of consciousness, expand it, and make real the seemingly improbable. With unfailing certitude he spoke on matters that, by their nature, defy explanation. His articulations sparkle with the truth like polished, transparent glass through which the ‘other shore’ can be glimpsed. All the more powerful no doubt, heard in the presence of the teacher himself.
Early Life of Nisargadatta
Nisargadatta Maharaj was born on Saturday, 17th April 1897, and died on Tuesday, 8th September 1981 at the age of 84. Biographical details of his early life are scant. His birth coincided with a full moon and the festival of Hanuman Jayanti. In association with this auspicious day, his parents named him Maruti, another name for Hanuman.
His father was a poor man working as a domestic servant in Bombay and later became a small time farmer. As a boy, Maruti assisted him by tending to the cattle and working in the fields. He was noted by elder relatives as having an inquisitive mind and always brimming with questions. A friend of his father’s, Gore, was a devout Hindu and comparatively well educated for a rural man. He and Maruti would engage in long philosophical conversations for which Maruti showed a maturity beyond his years. He saw in his father’s friend the qualities he valued most – wisdom, compassion and earnestness.
Just after turning 18, his father died and Maruti left for Bombay in search of work, following his elder brother. After just a few months of working as a low paid clerk he resigned in disgust and set up a small shop selling children’s clothes and cigarettes. His modest business did well, providing sufficient income to marry and have three children. In most respects he led a very unremarkable life and there was little to indicate that he would one day earn world renown as one of India’s greatest spiritual teachers.
I Am That : Talks with Sri Nisargadatta
A turning point in his life came one evening when a friend, Baagkar, took him to meet his Guru who practiced in the tradition of Navanath Sampradaya, a form of Hinduism. The Guru gave him basic instruction in meditation and some simple advice – to remember that he was the Supreme Reality, to stay within the field of pure being , ‘I Am’ awareness, and to look upon all with affectionate interest, but attaching to none of it. He was also asked to remember his Guru at every moment so that the Guru could help with his spiritual transformation. Maruti earnestly followed his Guru‘s advice and within a short space of time began to experience trance-like states and visions. After about three years of keeping his Guru and the fact of his being or pure consciousness ever present in his mind, a complete dissolution of ego mind occurred. He entered the eternal, and cosmic consciousness arose in him like a brilliant sun, casting light on all alike.
Nisargadatta continued to run his business for a time, living a dual life, but no longer being profit minded, soon abandoned it along with his wife and children who were now grown up. He set off on foot towards the Himalayas, a place seekers have gravitated to throughout millennium. Realizing that in truth he no longer sought anything in order to become complete, Nisargadatta laughed at the futility of his mission and returned to his home and family. The realization had fully awakened in him that ultimately nothing external is worth grasping and that eternal bliss is the true essence of unclouded consciousness.
that Nisargadatta had experienced self-realization spread and soon he had a
steady stream of visitors to his humble tenement flat in Bombay. Visitors
sought advice on personal problems and seekers from around the globe, hearing
of his extraordinary enlightenment, came to drink in his wisdom.The name Nisargadatta translates to 'one who resides in the natural state.'
Nisargadatta’s teachings are harmonious with the tradition of Jnana Yoga / Advaita Vedanta, but the way he expressed the truth was uniquely his own. He counseled visitors to cease identifying with form, including the body and the mind. All forms, he maintained, are in a perpetual state of flux and are impermanent. The world created by the mind through thought is highly subjective and indeed private and the world-view presented to ourselves by the mind is constantly changing according to the restlessness of the mind itself.
The mind, he says, is clouded by limited views – subjectivity, duality, intentionality – but the sense of pure being-ness, pure awareness or knowing that we exist as an immutable fact, stands supreme. Freedom, he suggests, can only come when the self-made prison of conceptual thought ceases and we stand naked in the light of the fact, I Am! To be conscious of consciousness being aware of itself is the key, he says, and admits to the failure of words to adequately convey this attribute-free state. In this state, Nisargadatta offers, there is no suffering because there is no separation from that, which is. No duality, no suffering. There is no longer the problem of the meager little ego self with all its ambitions, expectations, and personal viewpoints which must be fed and defended at all costs. With the allure of past and future gone as refuges of an unfulfilled mind, the here and now becomes the eternal playground of liberated consciousness. Finally liberated from identification with a self in form – the body, the mind and its thoughts – one is free to behold the infinite potentiality of the universe, with which we are one.
Recognized as one of the greatest sages of India, the wisdom that flows from Nisargadatta has helped millions unravel the mystery of the self and its true nature. A truly inspiring collection of transcribed talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj is contained in the book, ‘I Am That’, regarded by many as a modern spiritual classic.
I Am That, Talks with Sri Nisargadatta, Transcribed and edited by Maurice Frydman, Chetana Publishing, Bombay
Seeds of Consciousness: The Wisdom of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, Edited by Jean Dunn. (Talks recorded, 1979-1980). Chetana Publishing, Bombay 1990
The Ultimate Medicine: Dialogues with a Realized Master, Edited by Robert Powell. 1994
The Experience of Nothingness, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj's Talks on Realizing the Infinite. Edited by Robert Powell. 1996
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