David Godman

Average: 4.2 (21 votes)
Fast Facts
Main Countries of Activity: 
Date of Birth: 
Place of Birth: 
Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, UK
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Ancestor Gurus: 
Other Related Gurus: 
Lakshmana Swamy


David Godman is widely acknowledged to be one of the leading authorities on the life, teachings and disciples of Ramana Maharshi. In the last twenty-five years David Godman has written and edited fourteen books on topics related to Ramana Maharshi.

He was born in 1953 in Stoke-on-Trent, England. His father was a schoolmaster and mother a physiotherapist who specialized in treating physically handicapped children. He was educated at local schools and in 1972 won a place at Oxford University.

It was sometime in his second year there that he found himself getting more and more interested in Eastern spiritual traditions than in his university studies. Then, one day, he took home a copy of Arthur Osborne's 'The Teachings of Ramana Maharshi in his Own Words'. Reading Ramana's words for the first time completely silenced him.
He says, "It wasn't that I had found a new set of ideas that I believed in. It was more of an experience in which I was pulled into a state of silence. In that silent space I knew directly and intuitively what Ramana's words were hinting and pointing at. Because this state itself was the answer to all my questions, and any other questions I might come up with, the interest in finding solutions anywhere else dropped away. I suppose I must have read the book in an afternoon, but by the time I put it down it had completely transformed the way I viewed myself and the world".

He first visited the Tiruvannamalai ashram of Sri Ramana Maharshi in 1976. For eight years, between 1978 and 1985, he was the librarian and archivist of the ashram. In the early 1980s he also edited The Mountain Path, a journal published by Sri Ramanasramam.

In the mid-1980s he edited Be As You Are, an anthology of Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teachings which is now published by Penguin. This best selling book has been continuously in print since 1985. Translated and published in at least twelve foreign languages, it is the text through which many people outside India are introduced to Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teachings.

In the late 1970s he made many visits to Nisargadatta Maharaj. He has written lengthy account of his experiences there.

In the early 1980s he started to visit Lakshmana Swamy, a disciple of Ramana Maharshi, in his ashram in Andhra Pradesh. At the instigation of Lakshmana Swamy he wrote a book titled "No Mind – I am the Self" about the lives and teachings of Lakshmana Swamy and Saradamma, the latter being Lakshmana Swamy’s own disciple. When Lakshmana Swamy and Saradamma decided to move to Tiruvannamalai in the late 1980s, David Godman looked after and helped to develop their new property, which was located close to Sri Ramanasramam.

In 1987 David Godman interviewed Annamalai Swami, a devotee of Sri Ramana Maharshi who worked at Sri Ramanasramam between 1928 and 1938. The interviews were eventually published as "Living by the Words of Bhagavan", a book which chronicled Annamalai Swami’s eventful and devotional relationship with Sri Ramana Maharshi. In the late 1990s David Godman also edited Final Talks, a book of Annamalai Swami’s teaching dialogues.

In 1992 David Godman began to visit Papaji, a disciple of Ramana Maharshi, who had made many visits to Sri Ramanasramam in the 1940s, and who later became a teacher in his own right.

In 1993 David Godman moved to Lucknow, the city where Papaji lived, and spent the next four years chronicling his life and teachings.

In 1993 he edited Papaji Interviews, an anthology of interviews that various journalists and visitors had had with Papaji in the early 1990s. Later that year, in cooperation with Jim Lemkin, he brought out Call Off The Search, a documentary that focused on Papaji, his devotees and his teachings. An extensive filmed interview that Godman had with Papaji, entitled Summa Iru (Keep Quiet) was also brought out as a separate documentary that year.

In late 1992 Papaji asked Godman to be his official biographer. Over the next four years Godman did extensive research on Papaji’s life and the result was Nothing Ever Happened, a three volume 1,200-page biography. In 2007 Godman brought out a new volume of Papaji’s teaching dialogues entitled The Fire of Freedom.

When Papaji died in 1997 Godman returned to Tiruvannamalai.

Between 1999 and 2003 he was engaged in a project to record the lives and experiences of devotees of Ramana Maharshi. These narratives were eventually published in a three-volume series entitled The Power of the Presence.

Between 2003 and 2008 David Godman, along with Dr T. V. Venkatasubramanian and Robert Butler, worked on translations of Tamil poems by Muruganar that had recorded Ramana Maharshi’s teachings in Tamil verse. These were eventually published in two books: Padamalai which was brought out in 2003 and Guru Vachaka Kovai which came out in 2008.

David Godman, Dr T. V. Venkatasubramanian and Robert Butler also cooperated on a translation of two books that contained Ramana Maharshi’s teachings: Sri Ramana Darsanam, a Tamil account by Sadhu Natanananda that explained Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teachings through a series of anecdotes and lectures, and Sri Ramana Puranam, a long Tamil poem, jointly authored by Sri Ramana Maharshi and Muruganar, that is modeled on the ‘Siva Puranam’, the first poem of the Tiruvachakam by Manikkavachagar.

In the last few years David Godman has worked with Dr T. V. Venkatasubramanian and Robert Butler on more translations of Tamil mystic poetry, particularly that composed by Hindu saints who have been associated with the sacred mountain of Arunachala.

David Godman now lives on the southern side of Arunachala, about 5 km from Sri Ramanasramam. He is currently working on translations of Tevaram poetry (Tamil poetry written between 500 and 800 AD) and translations of the poetry of Guhai Namasivaya, a poet-saint who lived on Arunachala about 400 years ago.


-- No teachings were entered yet for this guru. Please help by clicking the Edit tab and adding teachings, theories, points of view, techniques and other messages related to the guru. --


-- No locations were entered yet for this guru. Please help by clicking the Edit tab and adding details about ashrams, centers, temples, satsangs and any other locations and events related to this guru. --

View Video

Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image

Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi (Compass)

by Sri Ramana Maharshi


\"Our own Self-realization is the greatest service we can render the world\"

The simple but powerful teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, one of India\'s most revered spiritual masters, continue to enlighten and enrich over sixty years after his death.

Be As You Are is the definitive compendium of his knowledge, edited by the former librarian from Sri Maharshi\'s ashram, which can be found flourishing at the foot of the holy mountain of Arunchala. The book collects conversations with the many seekers who came to him for guidance, answering the questions sought on the road enlightenment.

Through this book, we can discover the essence of Sri Ramana\'s teaching: that self-realisation is the vital quest we must all pursue, before we can attempt to understand the world.

Reissue of the classic spiritual work, updated with a new cover.

Cover image

The Power of the Presence (Part One)

by David Godman


Gripping firsthand accounts of eight devotees of Sri Ramana Maharshi narrating their personal stories of living with him and being guided by him.