Nisargadatta Maharaj


  • When you demand nothing of the world, nor of God, when you want nothing, seek nothing, expect nothing, then the Supreme State will come to you uninvited and unexpected.

  • All that a guru can tell you is: ‘My dear Sir, you are quite mistaken about yourself. You are not the person you take yourself to be.’

  • There is no such thing as a person. There are only restrictions and limitations. The sum total of these defines the person. The person merely appears to be, like the space within the pot appears to have the shape and volume and smell of the pot.

  • By all means attend to your duties. Action, in which you are not emotionally involved and which is beneficial and does not cause suffering will not bind you. You may be engaged in several directions and work with enormous zest, yet remain inwardly free and quiet, with a mirror like mind, which reflects all, without being affected.

  • To expound and propagate concepts is simple, to drop all concepts is difficult and rare.

  • There is nothing to practice. To know yourself, be yourself. To be yourself, stop imagining yourself to be this or that. Just be. Let your true nature emerge. Don’t disturb your mind with seeking.

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David Godman explains his memories about Nisargadatta Maharaj


Harriet: Ramesh Balsekar used to say, ‘The only effective effort is the immediate apperception of reality’. Some people would take that to mean that if you don’t get the direct experience as the Guru, in this case Maharaj, is talking to you, you are not going to get it at all. Are you sure you are not just suffering from a case of wishful thinking?

David: There is something in what you say. If you could keep your intellect out of the way when Maharaj was speaking, his words, and the authority behind them, would do their work. When he spoke he wasn’t asking you to join in the process at all. How could he be asking you to do anything when he knew that you didn’t exist? He wasn’t asking you to understand, and he wasn’t saying, ‘Do this and you will be enlightened’. He wasn’t addressing you at all. He was directing his words at the consciousness within you in an attempt to make you aware of who you really were. However, if his words didn’t immediately produce results, he knew that they might deliver the goods later on. Remember what happened in his own case. Siddharameshwar told him that he was Brahman. Nisargadatta struggled with this for three years until he finally dropped his doubts and realised it to be the truth.

There is a power in a jnani’s words and that power does not dissipate two seconds after the jnani has uttered them. It lingers and it carries on being effective; it carries on doing its work.

Full Conversation: Remembering Nisargadatta Maharaj

David Godman explains his memories about Nisargadatta Maharaj

Harriet: Have you obeyed his instructions? Have you stopped thinking about the teachings?

David: Until you showed up today I hadn’t really thought about the teachings for years. I haven’t even read many of the new books of dialogues that have come out about him. That answer I gave a few minutes ago, ‘The more I listen to Maharaj, the more I understand what Bhagavan is trying to tell me,’ is in one of the books but I didn’t find out until a few years ago.

My former wife Vasanta was reading the book and she said, ‘There is someone here from Ramanasramam. Do you know who it is?’

She read a few lines and I realised that it was me. I used to read I am That cover to cover about once a year, but I don’t even do that any more. Sometimes, if I am in the Ramanasramam library, I pick up I am That and read the opening sequence of chapter twenty-three. It is a beautiful description of the jnani’s state that I never tire of reading. Other than that, I rarely read or think about the teachings any more.

Having said that, I think it would be correct to say that I have more than enough other concepts in my head which are all acting as a herbicide on the words of truth that Maharaj planted within me. However, I have great faith in the irresistible power of Maharaj’s words. Sooner or later they will bear fruit.

Full Discussion => David Godman remembers Nisargadatta Maharaj

  • We are the creators and creatures of each other, causing and bearing each other’s burden.

  • I find that somehow, by shifting the focus of attention, I become the very thing I look at, and experience the kind of consciousness it has; I become the inner witness of the thing. I call this capacity of entering other focal points of consciousness, love; you may give it any name you like.
    Love says “I am everything”. Wisdom says “I am nothing”. Between the two, my life flows. Since at any point of time and space I can be both the subject and the object of experience, I express it by saying that I am both, and neither, and beyond both.

  • Unless you make tremendous efforts, you will not be convinced that effort will take you nowhere. The self is so self-confident that unless it is totally discouraged it will not give up. Mere verbal conviction is not enough. Hard facts alone can show the absolute nothingness of the self-image.

  • A quiet mind is all you need. All else will happen rightly, once your mind is quiet. As the sun on rising makes the world active, so does self-awareness affect changes in the mind. In the light of calm and steady self-awareness, inner energies wake up and work miracles without any effort on your part.

  • The world is like a sheet of paper on which something is typed. The reading and the meaning will vary with the reader, but the paper is the common factor, always present, rarely perceived. When the ribbon is removed, typing leaves no trace on the paper. So is my mind – the impressions keep on coming, but no trace is left.

More ==> More Quote of Nisargadatta Maharaj

  • Look at your mind dispassionately; this is enough to calm it. When it is quiet, you can go beyond it. Do not keep it busy all the time. Stop it – and just be. If you give it a rest, it will settle down and recover its purity and strength. Constant thinking makes it decay.

  • The unchangeable can only be realized in silence. Once realised, it will deeply affect the changeable, itself remaining unaffected.

  • This attitude of silent observation is the very foundation of yoga. You see the picture, but you are not the picture.

  • To locate a thing you need space, to place an event you need time; but the timeless and spaceless defies handling. It makes everything perceivable, yet itself is beyond perception. The mind cannot know what is beyond the mind, but the mind is known by what is beyond it.

  • You are not in the body, the body is in you! The mind is in you. They happen to you. They are there because you find them interesting.

  • Put your awareness to work, not your mind. The mind is not the right instrument for this task. The timeless can be reached only by the timeless. Your body and your mind are born subject to time; only awareness is timeless, even in the now.

  • To me nothing ever happens. There is something changeless, motionless, immovable, rock-like, unassailable; a solid mass of pure being-consciousness-bliss. I am never out of it. Nothing can take me out of it, no torture, no calamity.

==> More quotes of Nisargadatta Maharaj

David Godman explains his memories about Nisargadatta Maharaj

When Maharaj told you endlessly ‘You are consciousness,’ if you received that information in utter inner silence, it activated an awareness of consciousness to such an extent that you felt, ‘He isn’t just telling me something; he is actually describing what I am, right now in this moment’.

Harriet: Did this ever happen to you?

David: Yes, and I think that this is what he was referring to when he talked about ‘getting the knowledge’. It wasn’t an intellectual knowledge he was talking about, and it wasn’t Self-realisation either. It was a state in which concepts temporarily dissolved leaving a simple awareness of the being that underlay them. While they lasted the states were very useful; they gave you the conviction and the direct experience that there was something real and enduring that exists whether the mind is there or not.


Harriet: All this is very interesting, but as you have said, a lot of it is your own personal conjecture. Did Maharaj ever confirm himself that this is what he was doing, or trying to do, with the people who came to him?

David: Not directly. He never explained or analysed his teaching methods, or not while I was there. Most of what I have just said comes from my own experience and my own interpretation of what I saw going on there. Other people may have other theories to explain what was going on. However, the facts of the matter are indisputable. People came to Maharaj, had talks or arguments with him, and at some point dropped their accumulation of ideas because they had been convinced that a direct experience invalidated all the long-held cherished notions they had accumulated.

Let me tell you about one conversation I had with because it gives some good circumstantial evidence for what I have just been trying to explain. Firstly, I should mention that I sometimes used to argue with Maharaj simply because I knew that he liked people to argue with him. He seemed to like the cut and thrust of debate, and if no one had anything to say or ask, I would pick up the ball and start a discussion with him.

I can’t remember any more exactly what we talked about on this particular day, but I do remember that we spoke for about five minutes, during which time I was ostensibly pointing out what I claimed were contradictions in his teachings. He, meanwhile, was doing his best to convince me that no contradictions were involved. It was all very good-humoured and I think he knew that I was only disputing with him because, firstly, we both liked talking and arguing about spiritual topics and, secondly, no one else had any urgent questions to ask. After about five minutes, though, he decided to bring the discussion to a close.

‘I don’t think you really understand the purpose of my dialogues here. I don’t say things simply to convince people that they are true. I am not speaking about these matters so that people can build up a philosophy that can be rationally defended, and which is free of all contradictions. When I speak my words, I am not speaking to your mind at all. I am directing my words directly at consciousness. I am planting my words in your consciousness. If you disturb the planting process by arguing about the meaning of the words, they won’t take root there. Once my words have been planted in consciousness, they will sprout, they will grow, and at the appropriate moment they will bear fruit. It’s nothing to do with you. All this will happen by itself. However, if you think about the words too much or dispute their meaning, you will postpone the moment of their fruition.’

All this was said in a very genial tone. However, at this point, he got very, very serious.

Glowering at me he said very sternly, ‘Enough talking. Be quiet and let the words do their work!’

End of conversation.

I always recollect this exchange with happiness and optimism. I feel I have been graced by his presence and further graced by the words of truth he has planted within me. I think those words will always be with me and I know that at the appropriate moment they will bloom.

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David Godmans explains his memories about Nisargadatta Maharaj:

Harriet: I have read on many occasions that Ramana Maharshi preferred to teach in silence. I never get that impression with Nisargadatta Maharaj. Did people ever get a chance to sit in silence with him?

David: During the years that I visited it was possible to meditate in his room in the early morning. I forget the exact timings, but I think that it was for an hour and a half. Maharaj would be there, but he would be going about his normal morning activities. He would potter around doing odd jobs; he would appear with just a towel around his waist if he was about to have a bath; sometimes he would sit and read a newspaper. I never got the feeling that he was making a conscious effort to teach in silence in the way that Ramana Maharshi did by looking at people and transmitting some form of grace. However, he did seem to be aware of the mental states of all the people who were sitting there, and he not infrequently complained about them.

‘I know who is meditating here and who is not,’ he suddenly announced one morning, ‘and I know who is making contact with his beingness. Only one person is doing that at the moment. The rest of you are all wasting your time.’ Then he carried on with whatever he was doing.

It was true that many people didn’t go there to meditate. They just saw it as an opportunity to be with him in his house. They might be sitting cross-legged on his floor, but most of the time they would be peeping to see what he was doing instead of meditating.

One morning he got tired of being spied on this way and exploded: ‘Why are you people cluttering up my floor like this? You are not meditating; you are just getting in the way! If you want to go and sit somewhere, go and sit on the toilet for an hour! At least you will be doing something useful there.’

Harriet: What about the other times of the day, when he was available for questioning? Did he ever sit in silence during those periods?

David: There were two periods when it was possible to question him: one in the late morning and one in the evening. Translators would be available at both sessions. He encouraged people to talk during these sessions, or at least he did when I first started going to see him. Later on, he would use these sessions to give long talks on the nature of consciousness. He never sat quietly if no one had anything to say. He would actively solicit questions, but if no one wanted to talk to him, he would start talking himself.

I only ever had one opportunity to sit with him in complete silence and that was at the beginning of the summer monsoon. When the monsoon breaks in Bombay, usually around the end of the first week of June, there are very heavy rains that bring the city to a standstill. The storm drains are generally clogged, and for a day or so people are walking round in knee-deep water. And not just water. The sewers overflow and the animals that live in them drown. Anyone brave enough to go for a paddle would be wading through sewage, waterlogged garbage and the corpses of whatever animals had recently drowned. Public transport comes to a halt since in many places the water level is too high to drive through.

One afternoon two of us waded through the floodwaters to Maharaj’s door. We were both staying in a cheap lodge about 200 yards away, so it wasn’t that much of a trek. We scrubbed off the filth with water from a tap on the ground floor and made our way up to Maharaj’s room. He seemed very surprised to see us. I think he thought that the floods would keep everyone away. He said in Marathi that there would be no session that afternoon because none of the translators would be able to make it. I assume he wanted us to leave and go home, but we both pretended that we didn’t understand what he was trying to tell us. After one or two more unsuccessful attempts to persuade us to go, he gave up and sat in a corner of the room with a newspaper in front of his face so that we couldn’t even look at him. I didn’t care. I was just happy to be sitting in the same room as him. I sat there in absolute silence with him for over an hour and it was one of the most wonderful experiences I ever had with him. I felt an intense rock-solid silence descend on me that became deeper and deeper as the minutes passed. There was just a glow of awareness that filled me so completely, thoughts were utterly impossible. You don’t realise what a monstrous imposition the mind is until you have lived without it, completely happily, completely silently, and completely effortlessly for a short period of time. For most of this time I was looking in the direction of Maharaj. Sometimes he would turn a page and glance in our direction, and when he did he still seemed to be irritated that we hadn’t left. I was smiling inwardly at his annoyance because it wasn’t touching me in any way. I had no self-consciousness, no embarrassment, no feeling of being an imposition. I was just resting contentedly in my own being.

After just over an hour of this he got up and shooed us both out. I prostrated and left. Later on, I wondered why he didn’t sit in silence more often since there was clearly a very powerful quietening energy coming off him when he was silent. Ramana Maharshi said that speaking actually interrupted the flow of the silent energy he was giving out. I have often wondered if the same thing happened with Maharaj.

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