Average: 4 (149 votes)
Fast Facts
Other Names and Nicknames: 
H. W. L. Poonja, Hariwansh Lal Poonja, Sri Harilal Poonja, Poonjaji
Spiritual Teacher
Advaita, Neo Advaita
Main Countries of Activity: 
Date of Birth: 
13 October 1910
Place of Birth: 
Gujranwalla, Punjab, India (now Pakistan)
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Date Left His/Her Body: 
6 September 1997
Ancestor Gurus: 
Other Related Gurus: 
(Yukio) Ramana, Yudhistara


Papaji was born in Gujranwalla, in western Punjab, which is now Pakistan. His mother was the sister of Swami Rama Tirtha, one of the most famous saints of India.


At the age of eight, he experienced a state of intense happiness, joy and bliss and could not talk nor communicate for days. This, he realized later on, was the experience of the SELF. He was persuaded by his mother that he could reconnect to this experience by practicing devotion to the Hindu God Krishna, and so he gave himself over to Krishna Bhakti (devotion) with vigor. He proved to be a prodigy of sorts and while still a boy he began to have visions of Krishna, so strong that he could physically touch him. This is known in the Vaisnava tradition as receiving the "Darsana" of God. Playfully interacting with His visions of Krishna while simultaneously experiencing the bliss of spiritual union, e spent his youth in intimate relationship with Krishna as His Friend.


As an adult he led an apparently normal life, married, raised two children and even joined the British army, while secretly His love for Krishna (and His visions of Him) continued. Pursuing the life of a devotee he was not satisfied with having sporadic visions and was deeply troubled when Krishna did not appear. He became obsessed with a longing to have the experience of seeing God all the time, and traveled throughout India asking sages if they could show Him god.

Meeting Ramana Maharshi

After all his attempts had failed, he returned to his family in Lyalpur. A sadhu appeared at the door soon after that, and Poonjaji invited him in and asked him the question he had asked swamis throughout the country: "Can you show me God? If not, do you know of anyone who can?" To his surprise, the sadhu told him that there was a person, Ramana Maharshi, who could show him God. Further, the sadhu provided detailed instructions on how to find this Ramana Maharshi at Tiruvannamalai in southern India. At the soonest opportunity, Poonjaji traveled to Tiruvannamalai to meet the sage Ramana Maharshi. It was 1944, and Poonjaji was thirty-one years old. In His first visit with Ramana, Papaji told Him that he could could no longer bring his mind to think of God, do japa or any other spiritual practice. Deeply concerned, he asked Ramana for help and was told that this was not a problem, that all his practice had carried him to this moment and it could be left behind now because it had served its purpose. On hearing this and bathing in the silent gaze of his guru, Poonjaji felt his body purified and remade atom by atom, totally transforming him as if he were being given a new body one atom at a time and he saw inside His heart, the Spiritual heart and inside that a bud, opening, the flowering of His Spiritual heart. However, this was not enough to convince Papaji that Ramana could "show Him god'. So Poonja went to the Adiannamalai side of the mountain and spent His time playing with his Krishna.


At the end of the period with Ramana Maharshi, When Papaji came to say goodby to Ramana before leaving to return to Madras, Ramana pointed him in the direction of his own Self. He pointed out that gods who appear and then disappear are not continuous, only the One who was aware of those gods was continuous. He encouraged Poonjaji to find the One who had seen the Visions of God because that One ( Consciousness ) does not come and go. He told Poonjaji to find out who the seer is. Poonjaji had a deeply profound experience when he heard this, and under Ramana's gaze he suddenly understood what he was and always already had been. He became aware of the SELF, and that he, Poonjaji, was the same Self as Ramana.

After his transformation he stayed in southern India until 1947, when during the partition of India, despite Poonjaji's fierce longing to stay with His master, Ramana sent him to his old home in the Punjab (then in the new country of Pakistan) to bring His family to the safety of Lucknow, India. Ramana's last words to Him were: “I am with you wherever you go.”

In the following years, Poonjaji worked to earn money to support his family, while seeing devotees and traveling as his jobs required.

A Teacher

In 1966 he retired and went again back to Lucknow, Having married off His children, Poonjaji was free to travel. He traveled throughout India, Europe and the Americas, teaching meditation, opening schools for children and giving Satsang. By the late 1980's, with His health causing Him to stay in Lucknow more, the "Westerners" found Him It was from His home and then His daughter-in-law's house where he gave Satsang, to an increasingly growing number of "seekers" from around the world, until a hall was built, Satsang Bhawan, to hold the 200-300 seekers daily who attended Poonjaji's Satsangs. Papaji gave Satsang up to the minute of His leaving His body. He took Mahasamadhi on September 6, 1997.


Poonjaji always refused to identify himself with any tradition and was decidedly radical in the directness of his teaching. During his satsang his teaching was most close to the ultimate truth as described in the Advaita Vedanta teachings, while his teaching style has been compared to the early Chan ( Zen ) masters.

His message was always that the Self is already enlightened and free. He emphasized that there is no difference between guru and devotee, stating that there is no teacher, no disciple and even no message. His teaching emphasizes again and again that words can only point to ultimate truth, but never are ultimate truth. Intellectual understanding without directly realizing the truth through our own investigation is not enough. This investigation, called Self Inquiry was adopted from Ramana Maharshi. It consisted of locating a person's sense of I (or no-I) by asking "who am I?" and not trying to answer the question intelectually but rather to use it as a pointer to the sense of I. Like his master Ramana, he was quick to point out that devotional bhaktas such as Kabir, Ravidas, Sukdev and Mirabai were also awakened in the same state of Freedom known as Sahaj Samadhi, which they called God.

Poonjaji stressed that teaching through Silence was more important than teaching through words. A powerful transmission of awareness, presence, grace, love, bliss or shaktipat was reportedly experienced by many who met him, often dropping them directly into an experience of the Self.

Many people experienced the way he interacted with others as a vital part of his message: Even when he became a popular guru, he remained available, welcomed newcomers to his home, never took money for teaching, founded no ashram or organization and asked for nothing from those he met. He also enjoyed seeing people sing and dance during satsang.



Papaji House

Papaji shifted to this house in September 1990 when his health did not permit him to travel. From morning to evening many of his disciples were always present in the living room with him in satsang or waiting for him. This room also served as a dining place. Now, his samadhi is in this room in the location where he used to sit and
give Satsang.

Papaji's bedroom is still maintained in the same way it used to be when he was alive. The bedroom was his resting place and also served as a small satsang room where people shared their problems with him, laughed with Him and had some spontaneous Satsangs.. Many still come to meditate and sit in this room and experience his presence and peace. You can see in this room his personal belongings including a calendar hanging on the wall with the dates marked until the day of his death. Nowadays the family of his son, Surendra (who passed-away in 2007) lives in the house. His Daughter-in-law and his grandchildren and their families. Papaji's house is always open to his devotees from all over the world.

Indira Nagar
Lucknow, Uthar Pradesh 226016, India
0091-522- 2346342, 0091-522- 2348525
Contact Persons: 
Indu Poonja Brown

The house is located about 2 KM from Satsang Bhavan. Walk the main road or take a cycle rikshaw (10 Rs.). You should pass the Shalimar junction and continue, passing Amrapali Market and the tall Apartment complex on your right. At the next cross street, across, on your right is the Poonja House.

Special Events: 

Puja and bhajans are sung to commemorate special days like Guru Purnima (July), Mahanirvana Day (September 6) and his birthday (October 13).

Daily Schedule & Opening Hours: 

You can sit in either the living room (where Papaji used to give satsangs and where his samhadi currenly is) and in in his bedroom (which was kept as it used to be) and meditate. The family is very welcoming and you can freely visit the place in any reasonable hour. Please try and call before coming if possible.

The family of Papaji's son live in the house nowadays while it also serves as a visiting place for Papaji's lovers. The family is very welcoming and you can freely visit the place, just respect their privacy and maintain silence.

You can stay in Satsang Bhavan's nice guest house, Baba Guest House, which is located 2 houses from Satsang Bhavan. There are also plenty of guest houses and hotels in Lucknow.

Satsang Bhavan

This is the place where Papaji used to meet seekers and give satsangs. Satsang Bhavan nowadays is an open house, a meeting place for lovers of freedom and peace. In the hall where Papaji gave Satsangs, Papaji video Satsang is usually shown daily, or upon request, if not. There is also a Bookstore where you can purchase books, videos and photos of Papaji and Ramana Maharshi. Sometimes the hall can be available to accommodate gatherings of truth and celebrations of Peace and Freedom.
Videos of Papaji and Yoga sessions take place in this hall, so full with His Presence. The room where Papaji met with people before and after Satsang has been kept as is, and is available for people to just be and to Keep Quiet. SATSANG Video is available anytime on request. There is an organic restaurant at the roof.

Indira Nagar
A - 306,
Lucknow, Uthar Pradesh 226016, India
+91 (522) 2342884, +91 (522) 2352991

Lucknow is a dusty Indian city. Satsang Bhavan and Papaji's house are located in a neighborhood called Indira Nagar. It is recommended first thing when you get to Lucknow to go to Satsang Bhavan and ask for orientation and accomodation options either in the center's guest house or elsewhere.

From the Train station, Airport or Central Bus station, take either a motor rikshaw, a tempo (a shared big motoriksha) or a taxi (do not take a cycleriksha, it is too far away). From the train station, a motor rikshaw will cost you around 70 -100 Rs. Ask the driver to take you to Shalimar Junction in Indira Nagar. Satsang Bhavan is a few houses from the junction located in Sector A, house 306. Taxi from Airport will cost Rs. 250-300.

Contact Persons: 

You can stay in Satsang Bhavan's nice guest house which is located 2 houses from Satsang Bhavan. The place offers nice rooms with or without A/C, hot water, kitchen and more in very reasonable prices. There are also plenty of guest houses and hotels in Lucknow.

Attractions, activities, and more to see: 

You can meditate in the satsang hall or see a video of Papaji's satsangs.

No prior registration is required.
Services in Location: 

# meals a day are served in the house's kitchen (50 Rs for breakfast, 100 Rs. for lunch and dinner). Must give reservation in advance.

There is also a book store in the center.

Daily Schedule & Opening Hours: 

Activities are subject to change depanding on the season and number of visitors.

08:30 - 09:30 : BREAKFAST
13:30 : LUNCH
19:30 : DINNER

View Video

Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image

The Truth Is

by H. W. L. Poonja


A collection of spontaneous \"satsangs,\" or truths, spoken from Sri H. W. L. Poonja\'s experience of the highest and yet simplest truth: that we are pure love and consciousness, the totality of existence. Reveals thousands of ways to help us inquire into who we really are, to bring our awareness into the infinity of the moment, and surrender to the wisdom of our Truth.

Cover image

Meeting Papaji: First-Hand Accounts

by Roslyn Moore


In the early nineties, when H.W.L. Poonja (Papaji), an enlightened master in the lineage of Ramana Maharshi, could no longer travel, a flood of westerners came to be with him in Lucknow, India. He told them to call off their search. He said that they were what they were searching for. All they had to do was keep quiet. \"You are happiness. You are peace. You are freedom itself.\" They heard him. A remarkable number of them awakened, or at least had a glimpse of their true identity. Their stories are captivating, and through their portrayals of Papaji his living transmission is offered to us.

Intimate first hand accounts from Gangaji, Prashanti, Yudhishtara, Isaac, Mira, Surendra, Sangeeta, Chandra, Yamuna, Neelam and Dasarath.

Cover image

The Fire of Freedom, Satsang with Papaji (The Fire of Freedom, Volume 1)


An inciteful and exciting series of edited talks (satsangs) given by the Advaita master and devotee of Ramana Maharshi, HWL POONJA, affectionately called PAPAJi, in his home and at Satsang Bhavan in Lucknow, India, in the early 1990\'s.

Pro Opinions

a deep respect to Papaji

arjuna's picture

Papaji is an incredible master

Fountain head of inspiration

santthosh kumaar's picture

Papaji is the real inspiration in the field of inquiry.

Just visiting Papaji's house - recommended

erez's picture

Regards from Lucknow.

madan_gautam's picture

gurus and teachers

Its all ones faith,belief that comes in front of one in such cases.
Keep it up & you will see more unexpected happenings in your life.The path of Spirituality is the path of mystery itself.

madan_gautam | Sun, 11/09/2008 - 04:53



Seeming a nice person as per the information available on site. He has been a good guide to some devotees.