About the Book
Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj was one of the most significant spiritual teachers of Non-Duality of his time. His powerful non-dual teachings continue to impact spiritual seekers from all over the world, decades after his passing. Maharaj spoke in his mother tongue, Marathi, and a translator would then translate his words into English. It goes without saying that the translator had to be finely tuned not only to Maharajs teachings but also to the subtle nuances of his language, his singular vocabulary of spiritual terms and his distinctive teaching idiom.
Those who had the good fortune of being in Maharaj's presence reiterate that the intensity of his teaching was at its peak in the last five years before he shed his body. In those years, a relatively young disciple, Shri Dinkar Kshirsagar, sat at Maharaja satsangs with a notebook. Every time Maharaj said something which impacted him - it could be a sentence or an entire chunk of conversation - Dinkar-ji would jot it down faithfully, making note of the exact Marathi words used by Maharaj Though he did not jot down every single word spoken by Maharaj during satsang, his meticulous unfiltered 'excerpts' comprised the very essence of the Living Teaching manifesting through Maharaj. They accurately reflected Maharaj's intensity, his steadfast rootedness in the Self and his utterly natural, intention-less compassion for the spiritual seeker.
These talks were first published in Marathi in a book titled Atmaprem. They were subsequently translated into English by Shri Mohan Gaitonde, Maharaj's 'evening' translator, who had the privilege of being with him from 1979 to 1981. This translation is made special by one outstanding fact: years of intuitively translating Maharaj, and that too in his presence, bestowed upon Gaitonde-ji an invaluable gift - an 'ear' for Maharaj's voice and tone. In other words, for his subtlest nuance. For spiritual seekers, keen on accessing Maharaj’s original teachings, this has indeed turned out to be a wonderful gift.
About the Author
Mohan Gaitonde, a Science graduate from Mumbai University, was an atheist until December 23, 1958, the day his father passed away. That was the day when he first became aware of his ignorance.
His intense introspection brought up two profound questions and one determination: 'Why am I here?; What is the purpose of this existence? Is it real?' and 'I must know everything that is worth knowing.'
The search for a Guru began and a dozen of them were seen. Most of them were themselves in darkness but were kind enough to show light to others. The search continued until March 1976, when his eldest sister took him to meet Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj. She was not a resident of Mumbai and lived 600 km away in the south. She had read about Maharaj in a Marathi magazine which was published as a special issue on Maharaj's 75th birthday.
With that visit, Mohan's outward search ended but not the inward. Maharaj freely offered all His knowledge in very simple words, without any reservation. "He was more interested in seeing us free than in our interest in total freedom."
Mohan was one of the disciples during the first two years and became an evening translator from 1978 to 1981. Maharaj's disciple Dr. N. Vanaja had kindly arranged for a tape-recorder, but many a times there would be no blank tapes to record talks on. Hence, Mohan started carrying tapes in his pocket for recording every word of the Great Master. Those rare recordings were finally to lead to the publication of Nothing is Everything.
The book you hold in your hands has had an interesting journey. And the journey is intrinsically linked with the advent of Sadguru Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj,
A sage named Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj of the Inchagiri sect of the Nath Sampradaya (sect) lived in the tenth lane of Mumbai' s Khetwadi locality. His presence was felt in the neighbourhood because of his regular bhajans - morning, evening and night. Every Thursday and Sunday, in addition to the bhajans, Maharaj would also give a discourse. This discourse would be in the Marathi language (local language of Maharashtra and its capital city of Mumbai, where Maharaj lived).
Shri Dinkar Kshirsagar, an ardent disciple of Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj, was a regular at these bhajans and discourses, in the five- year period from 1977 to 1981. He would generally visit Maharaj in the evening, on Thursdays and Sundays as also on public holidays or on spiritually-significant days like Guru Pournima or Maharaj's birthday. At the satsang, he would meticulously jot down Maharaj's words and important instructions. His main objective in noting these 'meditations' was to be able to ponder over them and allow them to seep deeper, These jottings ultimately spread over two large notebooks comprising over 500 handwritten pages. One day Dinkar- ji placed these notebooks at Maharaj's feet seeking his approval. Maharaj took some time to go through them and to give his approval. He suggested that the material be made available to all those who were interested.
In 1987) that is about six years after Maharaj's passing) Dinkar ji remembered these notebooks and resolved to make the notes available to all. He divided the notes into 30 instalments and dispatched one instalment •per month) without fail) to 300 Guru-bandhus (fellow disciples; literally Guru-brothers) over 30 months. Thanks to this seva (selfless service), Maharaj's disciples had these priceless 'meditations' delivered to their homes) free of cost.
The recipients were thrilled to receive the discourses and passed them along to other friends and seekers. Ultimately these notes were published in June 2011) in the original Marathi, by Shri Nitin Ram and Shri Ravindra Katre, both residents of Pune and keen devotees of Nisargadatta Maharaj. The book was named Atmaprem. They earned the eternal gratitude of Marathi readers for publishing) for the first time) Maharaj's discourses during his last five years.
Nitin provides an interesting context to the contents of the book. "Look at the way it happened. One relatively young disciple (Shri Dinkar Kshirsagar-ji) sat in front of Ma ha raj with a notebook. Every time something Maharaj said impacted him... it could be a sentence or an entire chunk of conversation ... he jotted it down faithfully ... making note of the exact words used by Maharaj. Then he would wait till the next 'impactful' segment. However he was clearly not a stenographer jotting down every single word spoken by Maharaj during satsang. So his notes reflect these somewhat disconnected) but important) observations by Maharaj. We felt that any effort to over-smoothen the text, or to provide' connectives' to the disjointed segments to make them cohesive, would be not only foolhardy but risky."
Later, with encouragement from Nitin and Ravindra, Atmaprem was published by Zen Publications.
However, before its re-publication Zen Publications gave a copy of Atmaprem to Shri Dinkar Kshirsagar for his review, in order to weed out possible editing or typographical errors and to incorporate any content updates that would make the text clearer. Dinkar-ji suggested the following:
Indicate the day and date of each discourse. Add a brief note about the author, Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj, Exclude Maharaj's earlier discourses, covering the period from 1954 to 1956, from the scope of this book and instead publish them as a separate book.
All of his suggestions were incorporated into the revised version of Atmaprem. Also, as per his suggestion, the early discourses were published as a separate book, Sadguru Nisargadatta Maharaj Yanchi Durmil Nirupane.
Later, there arose a keen desire to translate and publish Atmaprem in English too. Both Nitin and Ravindra responded enthusiastically. Nitin urged Shri Mohan Gaitonde, who had been Maharaj's translator for many years, to undertake the task. In response to Nitin's gentle but persuasive coaxing Shri Mohan Gaitonde-ji finally agreed to translate Maharaj's discourses, published in Atmaprem, into English. The result of that intimate satsang, between Maharaj's words and Gaitonde-ji's contemplation of them, is the book you hold in hand - Self-Love.
You cannot see beyond what you take yourself to be or know yourself to be. As the Sadguru is beyond) you cannot know Him. If you know yourself as the body) you will see the Sadguru only as a person with a body and nothing more.
Sadguru means the whole essence ... the Self in all ... all as Self only! Nisargadatta is that Selfin all ... our true Self. It is the unstained ... the . timeless ... free ... Self. Nisargadatta means the infinite) whole) real Self ... which is mine) yours and everyone's eternal nature.
Does the river get thirsty any time?! Does it want to stop somewhere?! The river does not even know how) where and why it flows. This indescribable state is something similar) in which there is neither knowingness nor non-knowingness. When something is needed) it comes naturally or goes when not required. We are not that which comes) nor that which goes away. What exists is only the knowingness of what comes or goes. That has never come from anywhere and will never go anywhere. Whatever appears to have come or gone is only an illusion) a semblance. The semblance is only momentary ... the moment may last for fifty years or sometimes a hundred years. But our Self which is truly everlasting, never depends upon these little or big moments. It is stainless ... timeless ... free. The Sadguru's grace is there ... it is ever there ... always flowing .... and its second name is Self. To know this permanent nature of ours truly and everlastingly, is the real purpose of spirituality.
I am prior to knowingness and non-knowingness, but I exist as the knower of these states, which come and go.
From ancient times, the tradition of Sages has been going on. At different times, several self-realized Sages have appeared in India. They have guided the ordinary worldly people at every step on the spiritual path. We have heard of many such Sages who have realized the Self while living a householder's life. In the ancient times, there were Sages like Rishi Yajnyavalkya, King Janaka, and in the more recent times Sages like Gora Kumbhar, Eknath, Samartha Ramdas, Tukaram Maharaj and Gondavalekar Maharaj are known to us. In this infinite tradition of Sages, there lived a Sage in the twentieth century, whose name was Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj, who belonged to the Inchagiri tradition of the Nath sect.
Sadguru Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj (1897-1981) lived in a human form in Mumbai and helped thousands of Indian and foreign seekers who met Him at His residence in Khetwadi, a bustling locality in South Mumbai, Many developed love for Him and were awakened to their true nature. Many took advantage of His guidance to get all their doubts cleared.
What is this self-love? Let us see it in Maharaj's own clear words, 'Love is not a name, love is not a word. Love is our consciousness, which you like most. Our consciousness itself is love. You like it very much and in order to keep its company, you are taking so much trouble. All the activities in this world are meant to have company of self-love. We know that we cannot have its company indefinitely. Still we do so much to continue it... that is the love.
'Your self-love is called Brahman. It also exists as the world. All the names are given to that self-love. The appearance of that self-love for certain duration has created eminence, fame and history. The self-love itself is the Godliness of God, the essence of Brahman ... just Brahman. In this world, what do you like most other than your self-love? You like all other things because first you like to be. Your self-love is a great desire; it is a great craving, a great hope ... that itself is self-love. If you are not, for whom are the hopes, desires and cravings? This desire to be, hope to be or self-love must be known fully.
'By taking your body as yourself, you have hopes, desires and cravings for the things of the world. Instead, hope for your own Self, desire your Self. Your consciousness has appeared spontaneously and there is a craving to be, I must continue to exist. You are yourself a storehouse of joy, you are an ocean of happiness ... but, for that, you have to reach it. All your hopes, desires and cravings based on your body-identity take you on a descending path ... but your urge for the Self will take you up to fullness.
Here everyone is searching for something. What is it that everyone is searching? Some are looking for money, some for position, someone for satisfaction and some other for immortality. Someone is after pleasure, another wants bliss, yet another wants peace and someone else wants eternity. Someone wants to be free of doubts, but the other wants contentment. You may give it any name, but everyone's search is in progress. Looking at all these names with discernment, one finds that every person is searching for only one thing and that is happiness. Generally, we know that happiness, peace and contentment do come, but they vanish in a few moments. Whatever the outward appearance of the search, everyone is in fact searching for the Eternal, the Supreme Being. Everyone is searching for one's own original Self. What could be the true reason behind this? The main reason is that most of the seekers have firm faith that they are only individuals. The real happiness is not external to oneself, but comes essentially from within oneself. But those who identify themselves with the impermanent superimposition of individuality, miss the inherent happiness and get entangled in the duality of pleasure and pain. And this comes from the misconception about one's real nature.
The second reason is the notion that one is incomplete. The third is to believe oneself as different from existence. The fourth is a continuation of the same thought, that is, to believe that something has to be done to achieve fullness or unity. Every seeker has different ideas, understanding and beliefs regarding spirituality. The so-called spiritual search goes on, based on one's understanding and belief. Most of the seekers put in great effort to continue their search without disturbing the accepted tenets. The search goes on by many paths and measures. Someone reads scriptures, quotations and other books and someone has regular spiritual practices like chanting the mantra, Yoga and meditation. Most of the seekers believe in achievements through practices and very few doubt whether 'my doing anything' can be helpful! There are as many temperaments as there are individuals, as many points of view as there are temperaments and as many directions as there are points of view.
Spiritual seekers of such different temperaments used to meet Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj, and they would get directions according to their nature. The seekers of the devotional path, as well as lovers of Self-knowledge, all had free access to Maharaj's small ashram at his residence in Mumbai. Inquisitive people of all levels came to Maharaj for guidance. They were salaried employees as well as professors, doctors, lawyers, judges, scientists, senior government officers, political leaders, etc. Shri Maharaj talked on non -duality and Self-knowledge, based on His direct experience. In brief, His teaching was Nisarga Yoga and its summary was "Know the Self and be at ease." In this publication Self-love, you will be able to read Maharaj's discourses delivered during the years 1978-1981. Shri Maharaj used to guide seekers mainly on two levels: the initial stage and the advanced level While reading Self-love this should be kept in mind. If there is a seeker who has firm faith that he is the body and he is one with his body-form, then the knowledge of the first stage was meant for him. This is akin to the Bhagavad Gita, as told to Arjuna by Krishna. In one way, that also belongs to the first stage in spirituality. For these seekers, Maharaj gave initiation with a mantra. He encouraged them to meditate regularly. All the troubles and unhappiness of the seekers are due to their body-identity, and to break that Maharaj gave knowledge of the first stage for the first thirty years of his teaching tenure. Let us read Maharaj's words in this connection,
'You are not your body, but you are the consciousness in the body, because of which you have the awareness of 'I am'. It is without words, just pure beingness. It has become soul of the world. In the absence of your consciousness, the world will not be experienced. Hence, you are the consciousness ... remember what you have heard ... meditate on it. Meditation means you have to hold consciousness by itself. The consciousness should give attention to itself. This consciousness is Ishwara.
As there is no God other than this consciousness, worship it.' 'The knowledge "I am" is God. It is Ishwara, as well as maya. Maya is God's power. All the names of God are of this consciousness only in different forms. Remember the fact "I am not the body" and get firmly established. That is the sign of a true seeker.'
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