|Meeting Nisargadatta Maharaj|
|Meeting Maharaj by Cathy Boucher, Part 1
Hur has requested that I share my experience of meeting Nisargadatta Maharaj in 1978. I never took notes when I was there in Bombay so these recollections have been sealed in my memory for the last 23 years.
In 1976 or 1977 ( I believe) a book review of I Am That appeared in the
Mountain Path Magazine. The Mountain Path is the in house magazine of
Sri Ramanasramam in South India. It was a very positive and
because Maurice Frydman had been associated with Sri Ramana Maharshi,
it carried some weight.
This was the first time I found out that there could be a living Jnani,
a realized Sage of the caliber of Sri Ramana Maharshi. I sent for the
book, read it and was blown away. I wrote to Maurice Frydman and he
began to correspond with me. At some point he asked me to find a
publisher for I Am That in the United States. So I began sharing I Am
that with various spiritual publishing houses. I specifically sent it to
Shambhala, Rainbow Bridge and Unity Press. They didn't feel it was good
fit for their publishing houses. Then I got a letter from Mr., Dikshit,
publisher of Chetana Press (which is the publisher of I AM That)
informing me that Maurice Frydman had died and my letter had been found
on his desk. So I began to correspond with Mr. Dikshit. I decided that I
really wanted to visit Nisargadatta and started a correspondence with
Mr. Hate (who was Maharaj's son-in-law). Which brings me to January 1978
when I flew Air India to Bombay with the intention of meeting Sri
We arrived ( my friend Rick and I) around 3 in the morning and sped at
break neck speed from the airport to our hotel. The town looked like it
was littered with corpses because so many people sleep in the streets.
We got to our hotel room by stepping over the sleeping hotel staff and
settled in for a little sleep. At promptly at six our phone rang, the
management requiring our passports. The din outside our room turned on
almost automatically, traffic racing up from Marine Drive. Across the
street was the gray shiny Arabian sea.
I wasn't sure I could stand our hotel room when we first arrived but
after some sleep and meditation we agreed that it was a good place to
stay. Mr. Hate called and said that he would take us to see Maharaj
later that day. Mr. Hate, who was thin, and wiry with a big smile said
that we should bring an offering when we see Maharaj. So we drifted
through the neighborhood marketplace and settled on some bananas. The
street where Maharaj lived was round the corner from the Alfred Cinema.
The noise in the streets was cacophonous. We came to his home and
stepped in. There was no formal satsang going on. In fact, Maharaj was
getting a shave from a roving barber. My first look at Maharaj was very
intense, especially because his whole face was covered with lather and
his eyes burned with an intensity that I could not fathom.
Was this love, anger or just total Awareness? I kind of wondered to
myself if this was all a big mistake. Maharaj was about my height,
around 5'3'' give a few inches. So he looked directly into my eyes. He
was so intense. Mr. Hate explained who we were, were we came from, etc.
So much intensity flowed through his eyes, through his whole being. We
were invited to return the next morning for Satsang.
Satsangs with Maharaj were predominately for western devotees and his
Indian ones who had a discerning, discriminating mind. Maharaj also gave
discourses for his Indian devotees and performed pujas.
The Satsang room was a loft above the family living area. When I had
read I Am That, I got the picture of Nisargadatta Maharaj building a little room,
probably not tall enough to stand upright in. However, in reality,
the room was spacious at least 10'x20' ( my guestimate.)
One had to climb a narrow and sharply inclined staircase to get to it, but once in,
there was quite abit of room. Of course, when you filled it with 10-20
visitors it would crowded. The room was ringed with photos and drawings
of various gurus. Some I did not recognized, some were familiar. There
was a large photo of Ramana Maharshi which was up above Maharaj's
cushion, Maharaj sat directly below a mirror and on the opposite wall
was another mirror. To the side of Maharaj was an his portrait. The room
had pictures of the nine Gurus of his lineage and a huge silver altar
with a large photo of Sri Siddharameshwar. On many of the framed and
glassed pictures was a dot of kumkum. Maharaj would replace the flower
garlands and refresh the kumkum. If you arrived early you could see him
engaged in this devotional activity. Those who think that Maharaj was
not devotional would find out that he was very serious in this.