H.W.L. Poonja -aka Papaji

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Average: 3 (3 votes)

Just read H.W.L. Poonja's biography and found it fascinating. Anyone interested in nama japa, Krishna Marga, or Ramana Maharshi might find his life and story interesting as well.



>>> After leaving the army, I had no desire to get a job. I felt instead that I needed a spiritual Master who could help me to consummate my love affair with Krishna. I had been sporadically successful in getting Him to appear before me, but I wanted Him all the time. Since I was unable to sum­mon up Krishna at will, I felt that I should find a Master who could help me to do it, or who could do it for me. There was, therefore, only one quality I was looking for in my prospective Master: he must have seen God himself, and he must have the ability to show Him to me. No other qualifications mattered.

With this criterion in mind I began a tour of India which took me to almost every famous ashram and guru in the country. I went to see such well-known people as Swami Sivananda, Tapovan Swami, Ananda Mayi Ma, Swami Ramdas, two of the Shankaracharyas and a host of lesser-known spiritual figures. At each place I stopped I asked the same question: ‘Have you seen God? Can you show me God?’ All of them responded in much the same way. They tried to give me a mantra, or they tried to make me meditate. All of them made a point of saying that God could not be produced like a rabbit out of a conjuror’s hat, and that if I wanted to see Him I would have to undergo years of strenuous sadhana. This was not what I wanted to hear. I told all these swamis and gurus, ‘I am asking you if you can show me God. If you can, and if you can do it immediately, then say so. If there is a price to be paid, then tell me. Whatever the price is, I will pay it. I am not interested in sitting here, year after year, chanting one of your mantras. I want to see God now. If you can’t show Him to me right now, I will look for someone else who can.’ Since none of the people I met claimed they could show me God, I eventually had to re­turn to my father’s house, disillusioned and dispirited.

Shortly after my return a sadhu appeared at our door, asking for food. I invited him in, offered him some food and asked him the question that was uppermost in my mind. ‘Can you show me God? If not, do you know of any­one who can?’

Much to my surprise, he gave me a positive answer. ‘Yes, I know a person who can show you God. If you go and see that man, everything will be all right for you. His name is Ramana Maharshi.’......... <<<

From the chapters "Seeking God" to "Meeting Ramana Maharshi"

Jibanda's picture

Papaji here

i prefer his bio i his profile here which is not biased, plus the opinions, see http://www.gurusfeet.com/guru/papaji.

To me papaji is sometimes too simplistic and 1-dimensional. I think the fact that he didn't leave behind prominent followers says a lot and the famous ones are doubtful.

Jibanda | Fri, 05/14/2010 - 22:17
B-friend's picture

Papaji Bio

Hey Jibanda..Thanks for adding the link to his profile. The link above points to a biography written by David Godman that's a fairly short and easy read and interesting, being more in depth than that of his profile. There may be other sites where you can read this biography but that's the one I came across. Be careful of that cynical impulse you have(I've got it too sometimes) that claims David Godman's bio is biased. It's doing it's best to blind you from a treasure of a story. You can read up on David Godman and see who and what he has written about, even read or watch the interviews with him and then see, to the best of your ability, if he is a biased type.

I'm more impressed by Poonjaji's realization than his teaching ability. I didn't know him or his followers so I can't really judge how many people he has lead to realization. Actually the realization is the easy part, it's abiding in that state where most have their issues. A common misconception is that if you become realized, your supposed to become a teacher..Doesn't work that way. If anyone was simple, though, Papaji's guru was. I mean that dude would just stare at you..lol

The regurgitation by some of his more well known followers I'm sure isn't as tasty as the worm itself..but us hungry little birdies still scream to be fed. Poonjaji would say that one could count with one's own fingers the number of fully Realized in the world. So, among them, only the one's with the prarabdha to teach, teach. What slim pickens we have.

B-friend | Sat, 05/15/2010 - 06:47
joejo's picture

Effort & Effortlessness

What do you have to say about the difference in teachings of effort & effortlessness between Maharshi & Nisargdutta. David also points out some difference between the I AM teaching also though am not sure.


joejo | Sun, 05/16/2010 - 01:38
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Also Papaji & Maharshi Teachings

I should have also added Papajis approach as regards Realisation. The distinction between effort & effortlessness.


joejo | Sun, 05/16/2010 - 02:03
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Effort & Effortlessness

Hey Joejoe, I once said your attic seems cluttered. I hoped you would come back and say, "maybe my attic is just bigger than yours". Hopefully you thought it at least. ;)

Anyways, here is some talk concerning the questions you posed.

Effortlessness gets thrown around a lot by others without the understanding of its true inference. Teachers spoke of the effortlessness of realization when realization occurs. It is a spontaneous and "effortless" occurrence, more simple and natural than when one wakes to the world from sleeping. The objective of the guru was to put the student in the space where this effortlessness was possible. Obviously there is effort taking place whether it is on the part of the student or the guru. This effortless state can be referred to as sattva. The play of rajas and tamas being the obstruction to sattva. Nisargadatta spoke highly of earnestness. What does earnestness imply but determination and sincerity. Nisargadatta would say he attained His state by the grace of his guru. Because he trusted and had faith that what his guru told him was the truth, he kept his attention on the I am and realised the truth of his teacher's words. Although it seemed he wanted his students to abide on that ground of effortlessness he was tilling for them, he would also say things like this...

" You see, I was so at-tuned to my Guru, so completely trusting him, there was so little of resistance in me, that it all happened easily and quickly. But not everybody is so fortunate. Laziness and restlessness often stand in the way and until they are seen and removed, the progress is slow. All those who have realized on the spot, by mere touch, look or thought, have been ripe for it. But such are very few. The majority needs some time for ripening. Sadhana is accelerated ripening."

So here we have a reference to the necessity of sadhana for accelerated ripening. We also have to remember that the doctor treats the patient not the entire ward. As Papaji eloquently put it too,

"The real Master looks into your mind and Heart, sees what state you are in, and gives out advice which is always appropriate and relevant. Other people, who are not established in the Self, can only give out advice which is based on either their own limited expe­rience or on what they have heard or read. This advice is often foolish. The true teacher will never mislead you with bad advice because he always knows what you need, and he always knows what state you are in."

And from Maharshi we have words such as these..

"The conversation turned upon the question as to whether Iswara Prasad (Divine Grace) is necessary for the attaining of samrajya (universal dominion) or whether a jiva’s honest and strenuous efforts to attain it cannot of themselves lead him to That from whence is no return to life and death. The Maharshi with an ineffable smile which lit up His Holy Face and which was all-pervasive, shining upon the coterie around him, replied in tones of certainty and with the ring of truth; “Divine Grace is essential for Realisation. It leads one to God-realisation. But such Grace is vouchsafed only to him who is a true devotee or a yogin, who has striven hard and ceaselessly on the path towards freedom.”

Even with these inferences to the necessity of effort we have to consider Nisargadatta's words when he says this.

"To be, just be, is important. You need not ask any-thing, nor do anything. Such apparently lazy way of spending time is highly regarded in India. It means that for the time being you are free from the obsession with ‘what next’. When you are not in a hurry and the mind is free from anxieties, it becomes quiet and in the silence something may be heard which is ordinarily too fine and subtle for perception. The mind must be open and quiet to see. What we are trying to do here is to bring our minds into the right state for understanding what is real."

Often our arduous and strenuous, scratching and clawing, begging and weeping, striving and conquering ways..are our predispostions, vasanas, and/or samskaras burning themselves out so that the mind can reach a state of calm quiet clarity without clinging to any other false sense of being. The more difficult ones that go are the ones we consider our virtues.

As for the "I am" teaching, what discrepancy are you seeing? Is it the "I" as being ultimately unreal? This can be understood if Ramana's "I-I" is understood.

B-friend | Sun, 05/16/2010 - 08:25
joejo's picture

What David saw

I just gave those links because this was the opinion of David in the interview he gave. Regarding I AM he had this to write

There were clear similarities between what Maharaj was saying and what Bhagavan had taught, but I kept tripping over the dissimilarities: statements that the 'I am' was not ultimately real, for example. However, the book slowly grew on me, and by the end I was hooked. In retrospect I think I would say that the power that was inherent in the words somehow overcame my intellectual resistance to some of the ideas.


joejo | Sun, 05/16/2010 - 14:18
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Kalpana! Kalpana!

It's a great interview isn't it..I enjoy reading things from his firsthand experience with the teachers he met.

B-friend | Sun, 05/16/2010 - 16:33
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More on effort & effortlessness

Hey JoeJo..Here's is a video of Papaji speaking in relation to the discussion of effort to bring more light on the perspective he shared, as requested.


B-friend | Mon, 05/31/2010 - 22:08
joejo's picture

Nice Satsang

Nice, though I am prone to believing that any comprehensive path must have Philosophy, theory(?) and Practise. One of the pactise is for sure Sravan (listening). Thanks!

joejo | Tue, 06/01/2010 - 01:20