Teachings of Nisargadatta Maharaj
Nisargadatta Maharaj was a spiritual teacher who advocated the philosophy of Advaita (non-dualism). He was born Maruti Shivrampant Kambli on 17 April, 1897, in Bombay (Mumbai) India. His early life was unremarkable, as he managed some small retail stores.
In 1933, he met Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj and accepted him as his guru. Kambli was taught a simple meditation technique, which was to focus on the feeling “I am”. Kambli did not read the scriptures or practise any particular type of meditation or breath control. He merely focused on the feeling “I am”. This simple technique worked for him and he attained self-awareness. Soon afterwards, he took the name “Nisargadatta”, which means “one who lives in the natural state”.
In 1937, he tried to leave the worldly life and travelled all over India. But, he soon realized the disadvantages of a life totally detached from the world. So, he came back to his family the next year and spent the remainder of his life in Mumbai.
Nisargadatta taught that one should pursue spirituality to know one’s true nature. This can be done by mental discrimination. So, one should learn to use logic to separate the real from the unreal and to understand the mind’s affinity for the ego. Nisargadatta’s teachings are independent of religious and cultural boundaries and he expounded knowledge that was essential, ignoring frivolous trappings.
Advaita scholar Dr. Robert Powell opined that Nisargadatta’s style of teaching is profound, provocative and abrupt. The guru focused on the core and ignored inessentials. His pity sayings can trigger paradigm shifts in the mind, just by reading or hearing them.
Nisargadatta taught that mankind’s true nature is peaceful awareness. However, we identify too much with the body, which prevents us from realizing our “original essence”. Nisargadatta says this essence is pure and detached from worldly events. It is not moved by either happiness or sadness.
Nisargadatta taught that there is no “doer”. Since our true identity is independent of the body and the mind, we are not required to do anything. The body and mind act on their own and we are mere witnesses to their activity. But, the mind thinks that it is responsible for the actions. This idea hinders us from realizing our true self. To sum up Nisargadatta’s message, to know yourself, just be, do not try to seek as it disturbs the mind.