“Gurur Brahma, Gurur Vishnu,
Gurur Devo Maheshwara.
Gurur Sakshat Parabrahma,
Tasmai Shri Gurave Namah.”
The Guru is Brahma, the Guru is Vishnu,
The Guru is the Lord Shiva.
The Guru is the Supreme Reality,
I bow in reverence to that Guru.
1888 – 1936
“Maya is not afraid of anyone except the one who knows Brahman. Many are the members of the cult of Maya, and very few followers belong to The Path of Knowledge. You are in essence the incarnation of the Divine, and to destroy Illusion, is your ordained program.”
Born at Pathri, a small village in Solapur district of Maharashtra, Siddharameshwar Maharaj was destined for greatness as was revealed to his grandmother in a dream by the Saint Siddheshwar after the sixth day of his birth. A child with a naturally intelligent bent of mind, he left school early and at the age of sixteen began working as an accountant in Bijapur to support his family. Around this time, he met his guru Sri Bhausaheb Maharaj who was a firm believer in Meditation and taught the Pipilika Marg, or the ant’s way, a painstakingly slow process of attaining the ‘Final Reality’.
After his guru passed away, Siddharameshwar Maharaj renounced the world and began disseminating his guru’s teaching… and then went a step further by advocating his own technique of Vihangam Marg or ‘the bird’s way’ that was a faster, direct path to the understanding of the ‘Final Reality’. His disciples were first asked to renounce the world, and then later to renounce even the act of renunciation. Once that happened, he imparted the knowledge of Vignana – the ‘Thoughtless Reality’.
Siddharameshwar Maharaj spoke the language of the people and, therefore, his teaching was delivered in a simple, lucid and easy to understand style. He was a contemporary of the great Advaita sage Sri Ramana Maharshi and the Spiritual Master of the well-known sages Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj and Sri Ranjit Maharaj.
1897 – 1981
“My Guru ordered me to attend to the sense ‘I am’ and to give attention to nothing else. I just obeyed. I did not follow any particular course of breathing, or meditation, or study of scriptures. Whatever happened, I would turn away my attention from it and remain with the sense ‘I am’. It may look too simple, even crude. My only reason for doing it was that my Guru told me so. Yet it worked!”
When he was asked about his birth, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj used to say “I was never born,” for he did not identify himself with his body. All the same, he was born on Lord Hanuman’s birth anniversary and his parents named him ‘Maruti’ – one of the many names of Hanuman. He moved to Bombay with his older brother, after their father passed away in Kandalgaon, a small village in Ratnagiri district. Here, he set up a small provisions store selling bidis and paan.
He met his guru Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj of the Navnath tradition through a friend, and that meeting proved to be the turning point in his life. He was given a mantra, some simple instructions on meditation, and urged to concentrate on the feeling of “I Am.” For a time, he renounced his family and business and left for the Himalayas. There he met a fellow seeker who convinced him about the shortcomings of leading the life of a renunciate. When he returned to Bombay, he adopted the name of Nisargadatta (‘nis-arga’ literally translates as ‘without parts’) which means ‘naturally given’.
He started accepting disciples in 1951. Many of his talks were recorded and these would later form the basis of I Am That (a book that has been hailed as a ‘modern spiritual classic’) and all other books that followed. Maharaj’s aphorisms, almost always to-the-point, have been known to lead to shifts in consciousness – just by listening or even reading about them.
1917 – 2009
“How can we know that the world is transitory, that time is passing, that nothing stands still? We cannot know that our river is flowing unless we have one foot on the bank! There is no entity, only a continuum, and that continuum is Consciousness.”
Among the foremost disciples of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, Ramesh was attracted to Advaita, the philosophy of non-duality, early in life. Some days after he had retired as President of a leading bank, he came across an article about a sage called Nisargadatta Maharaj who was giving daily talks on Advaita. When he went to hear Maharaj talk, he immediately knew that he had found his guru. Ramesh began going for the talks every day and, with Maharaj’s approval, began translating them into English.
For Ramesh, the total understanding that ‘no one does anything’ happened in 1979. He was given the ‘command’ to talk by Maharaj just before he ‘dropped’ his body. Starting out with small groups, the number of visitors to his home in Mumbai grew over the years. “No one is invited. Everyone is welcome,” Ramesh was fond of saying.
Recognised the world over as one of the leading sages of Advaita, Ramesh, who was married and a father of three children, was widely regarded as a ‘householder’ guru who elaborated upon his own concepts by seamlessly blending them with those of Nisargadatta Maharaj, the Buddha, Ramana Maharshi, selected Hindu scriptures as well as the teachings of Taoist Masters and Wei Wu Wei.
He authored over 30 books (either written directly by him or published from transcripts of his talks) including Consciousness Speaks, Who Cares?, Peace and Harmony in Daily Living and The Ultimate Understanding. All reiterate his core teaching that, “All there is, is Consciousness.”