Meeting Nisargadatta Maharaj
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David Godman meets Nisargadatta Maharaj

The following is an excerpt from an interview with David Godman, which appeared in the site in September 2001 Have there been living people whom you regarded as your Gurus, or who had an especially strong impact on you spiritually?

David Godman: I think the four key spiritual figures would be Lakshmana Swamy, Saradamma, Nisargadatta Maharaj and Papaji. I have to include Ramana Maharshi on this list, even though I never met him while he was alive. I feel him as strongly as I have felt any other teacher. The Self that took the form of Ramana Maharshi is my Guru. He lit the lamp of enlightenment in the Heart of a few of his devotees, and when I sit in the presence of these beings I am receiving the luster, the light of Ramana Maharshi through them. So I will not say that my Guru has a particular form. I will say that the light of Arunachala became manifest in Ramana, and through him it was passed on to Lakshmana Swamy, Papaji, and Saradamma. When I bask in their light, I am basking in the living, transmitting light of Arunachala Ramana.

Nisargadatta does not belong to this lineage, but he was an enormously beneficial presence in my life in the late 1970s and early 80s. I used to go and see him as often as I could. He repeatedly told me "you are consciousness" and on a few rare, glorious occasions I understood what he was talking about. He was not simply giving me information, he was instead describing my own state, my own experience in that moment. That was his technique. He would talk endlessly about the Self until you suddenly realized directly, "Yes, this is what I am right now." I think you quote Papaji as saying that he met only two Self-realized people in his entire life, Sri Ramana and a Spanish priest. But he also met Nisargadatta Maharaj. Does this mean that he didn't think Maharaj was Self-realized? Can you shed any light on this?

David Godman: When I first talked to Papaji in1992, I asked him how many jnanis he had met in his life. He scratched his head and came up with three names: Ramana Maharshi, a Sufi pir he met in Madras and Tiruvannamalai, and a wandering mahatma who lived in the forests between Tiruvannamalai and Bangalore. When I got to know him better, he would sometimes add names to the list, and Nisargadatta Maharaj was one of them. He went to see him many times in the 1970s and was very impressed with him.