Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
The Serene Tranquil Being
I am simply at a loss for words to say about Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. But I will try. He is the personification of Kindness and Wisdom. Every word he says, every answer he gives has intense and profound depth and meaning. They help us immensely while practicing Meditation or Self-Enquiry. Not only that, his guidance is of tremendous help in meeting the problems and afflictions in life, and seeing things in the right perspective. His approach and instructions are practical and refreshing.
He says emphatically that Self-Enquiry is the remedy for all problems of this world. He leads us directly to the Reality, the Self. No beating around the bush. He points out that the remedies to our problems are within ourselves. Since our problems originate from the mind, it is only logical that we enquire ourselves within for solutions. Religious practices and Scriptures can be great aids in preparing our minds for meditation, but in the end only self-investigation within can really help us find out what’s wrong with us. In other words, the doctor can only prescribe the medicine; but we are the ones to take it and absorb it.
In 1933, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj was introduced to his guru, Siddharameshwar Maharaj, the head of the Inchegiri branch of the Navnath Sampradaya, by his friend Yashwantrao Baagkar. His guru told him, “You are not what you take yourself to be…”. He then gave Nisargadatta simple instructions which he followed verbatim, as he himself recounted later:
“My Guru ordered me to attend to the sense ‘I am’ and to give attention to nothing else. I just obeyed. I did not follow any particular course of breathing, or meditation, or study of scriptures. Whatever happened, I would turn away my attention from it and remain with the sense ‘I am’. It may look too simple, even crude. My only reason for doing it was that my Guru told me so. Yet it worked!”
Following his guru’s instructions to concentrate on the feeling “I Am”, he used all his spare time looking at himself in silence, and remained in that state for the coming years, practising meditation and singing devotional bhajans:
My Guru told me: “…Go back to that state of pure being, where the ‘I am’ is still in its purity before it got contaminated with ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that.’ Your burden is of false self-identifications—abandon them all.” My guru told me, “Trust me, I tell you: you are Divine. Take it as the absolute truth. Your joy is divine, your suffering is divine too. All comes from God. Remember it always. You are God, your will alone is done.” I did believe him and soon realized how wonderfully true and accurate were his words. I did not condition my mind by thinking, “I am God, I am wonderful, I am beyond.” I simply followed his instruction, which was to focus the mind on pure being, “I am,” and stay in it. I used to sit for hours together, with nothing but the “I am” in my mind and soon the peace and joy and deep all-embracing love became my normal state. In it all disappeared—myself, my guru, the life I lived, the world around me. Only peace remained, and unfathomable silence.