David Godman explains his memories about Nisargadatta Maharaj:
Harriet: Every book I have seen about Maharaj, and I think I have looked at most of them, is a record of his teachings. Did no one ever bother to record the things that were going on around him? Ramakrishna had The Gospel of Ramakrishna, Ramana Maharshi had Day by Day, and a whole library of books by devotees that all talk about life with their Guru. Why hasn’t Maharaj spawned a similar genre?
David Godman: Maharaj very rarely spoke about his life, and he didn’t encourage questions about it. I think he saw himself as a kind of doctor who diagnosed and treated the perceived spiritual ailments of the people who came to him for advice. His medicine was his presence and his powerful words. Anecdotes from his past were not part of the prescription. Nor did he seem interested in telling stories about anything or anyone else.
Harriet: You said ‘rarely spoke’. That means that you must have heard at least a few stories. What did you hear him talk about?
David: Mostly about his Guru, Siddharameshwar Maharaj, and the effect he had had on his life. I think his love for his Guru and his gratitude to him were always present with him. Nisargadatta Maharaj used to do five bhajans a day simply because his Guru had asked him to. Siddharameshwar Maharaj had passed away in 1936, but Nisargadatta Maharaj was still continuing with these practices more than forty years later.
I once heard him say, ‘My Guru asked me to do these five bhajans daily, and he never cancelled his instructions before he passed away. I don’t need to do them any more but I will carry on doing them until the day I die because this is the command of my Guru. I continue to obey his instructions, even though I know these bhajans are pointless, because of the respect and gratitude I feel towards him.’
Harriet: Did he ever talk about the time he was with Siddharameshwar, about what passed between them?
David: Not on any of the visits I made. Ranjit Maharaj once came to visit during one of his morning sessions. They chatted in Marathi for a few minutes and then Ranjit left.
Maharaj simply said, ‘That man is a jnani. He is a disciple of my Guru, but he is not teaching.’
End of story. That visit could have been a springboard to any number of stories about his Guru or about Ranjit, but he wasn’t interested in talking about them. He just got on with answering the questions of his visitors.
Read More: Remembering Nisargadatta Maharaj – I