Self Knowledge And Self Realization
by Nissargadatta Maharj
Edited by Jean Dunn
Intro by Ed Muzika
First published on the Internet by Edward Muzika, August 22, 2005.
Below is small book written by Nisargadatta. As indicated by Jean in her editor’s notes, it was published in 1963. There were 100 copies of this book printed by her. She gave 20 or so copies to friends and students and one to me. For some reason she decided not to give any more out. It has never been published in the West. Therefore, you are among the first to see it. Jean was never able to find anyone who claimed ownership of the copyrights.
Concerning copyrights, I am still amazed by the battles that have surrounded the writings/teachings of all the well-known spiritual teachers even while they were alive let alone after they were dead. Therefore, I have been scrupulous in only posting stuff on this site that I had long ago copyrighted, was written by me, was already in the public domain such as the Heart Sutra, or which is included by permission, such as the Ashtavakra Gita.
Jean told me it is hard to recognize the later Nisargadatta in this book as the style is so devotional and traditional Indian. True. But Maharaj is there. This book is copied exactly as printed with all the absent commas and spellings as found in the original.
Those accustomed to the bold pronouncements on the nature of reality found in his later talks might be surprised by the obvious bhaktic melody throughout this little book. It is also obvious that this is the autobiography of Maharaj’s awakening, not his early teaching. It is a love song both to himself and to his guru.
One might ask, “What happened to the Bhakta?”
I have no idea of what Maharaj was like before he met his teacher. Perhaps he was rude and acerbic then, had a brief period of bhaktic immersion, then reverted to his pre-awakening personality. So, is his later public persona a teaching style, also used by tons of Zen masters (priests, rabbis, sheiks, sifu, etc.), or did he just have a raggedy personality which returned?
I don’t know. If I were to guess, I would lean towards the latter view.
Everyone I know who has seen this book has a different theory; all are speculative. I wish I had had more time to talk to Jean about what he was like. In a larger sense, who cares? His personality is not important in a teaching sense, although this issue may be very important to someone who wants to understand the enlightenment process clinically.
For most of us, it is what his words do to us that is important. This little book speaks to many who have been closed out by the content and style of his later talks.
I want to make one thing absolutely clear. Nisargadatta was filled with devotion immediately after the attained. He was never a talking head. He had formal chnating five times a day until he died. The chanting libretto contained the teachings. he would repeat certain phrases over and over. The Bhakta is extremely important for most of us. Zen monks were incredibly fixated on their teachers, and lived the life of monks, who always chanted.
Robert too loved chanting, as did Ranjit, Nisargadatta’s spiritual brother (see sadguru.com. I am always amazed why so few of those who read Nisargadatta resist chanting.
The original script for these writings of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj was written in the Marathi language and called “Atmagnyana and Paramatmayoga”.
A translation in English by Vasudeo Madhav Kulkarni, at the time a Professor at Elphinstone College, Bombay, India, was published on April 8, 1963, under Maharaj’s title, translated as “Self Knowledge and Self Realization”.
Professor Kulkarni’s adaptation was published with a foreword by Shree Ram Narayan Chavhan, at Shree Nisargadatta Ashram, Vanmali Bhavan, 10th Khetwadi, Bombay 4, India.
Professor Kulkarni’s translation was printed in India by J.D. Desai, Pashtra Vaibhav Press, 273 Vithalbhai Patel Rd., Girgaon, Bombay 4, India.
I first purchased this little book in Bombay in 1978, and while it was difficult to read, it was so very dear that I decided to edit it, making it easier to understand. I did this for myself, and just recently, after lending it to others, and on their insistence, I decided to print a few copies for those on the spiritual path. I tried and failed to trace the original publishers.
While Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, in his last few years, would not entertain any questions about experiences in this “dream world”, I feel that this book tells of his own spiritual path and experiences.
Nisargadatta Maharaj was from the spiritual lineage of the Navanathas.
He was born in Bombay in 1897, and was brought up on a farm in Kandalgaon, a village south of Bombay. He had an alert, inquisitive mind, and was deeply interested in religious and philosophical matters. After the death of his father, he moved to Bombay in 1918, and in 1924 married Sumatibai, who bore him a son and three daughters.
Although he started life in Bombay as an office clerk, he soon went out on his own and started a small business, and in a few years he owned several small shops. A hunger for truth grew in him, and in 1933, due to a friend’s urging, he approached the great Saint, Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj, and was initiated by him.
After the death of his Guru in 1936, the urge for Self—realization reached its zenith, and in 1937 he abandoned his family and businesses and took to the life of a wandering monk. On his way to the Himalayas, where he intended to spend the rest of his life, he met a brother disciple who convinced him that a life of dispassion in action would be more spiritually fruitful.
Returning to Bombay, he found only one store remaining of his business ventures. For the sake of his family he conducted the business but devoted all his energy to spiritual sadhana. He built himself a mezzanine floor as a place for meditation (this is the room where we all used to gather to listen to him talk).
In his own words, “When I met my Guru, he told me, ‘You are not what you take yourself to be. Find out what you are. Watch the sense I AM, find your real Self…’ I did as he told me. All my spare time I would spend looking at myself in silence…and what a difference it made, and how soon! It took me only three years to realize my true nature.” His message to us was simple and direct with no propounding of scriptures or doctrines. “You are the Self here and now! Stop imagining yourself to be something else. Let go your attachment to the unreal.”
Maurice Frydman, a Polish devotee, often acted as translator and the questions and answers were so interesting that tape recordings were made, and in 1973 these were published under the title “I Am That”. . As a result, readers from many different countries came to Bombay seeking the spiritual guidance of Sri Maharaj.
From 1978 to 1981, when Sri Maharaj died from cancer of the throat, his talks were so much deeper than in the previous years that, with the help of a few other devotees, the tape recordings were again resumed and I transcribed and edited them, with the blessings of Sri Maharaj, and these were published under the titles of “Seeds of Consciousness” and “Prior to Consciousness”; both titles were suggested by Sri Maharaj.