Nisargadatta Maharaj

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Fast Facts
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Birthname: Maruti Shivrampant Kambli, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Advaita, Navnath Sampradaya (Nath Sampradaya), Inchegeri Sampradaya
Main Countries of Activity: 
Date of Birth: 
April 17, 1897
Place of Birth: 
Mumbai, India
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Date Left His/Her Body: 
September 8, 1981
Other Related Gurus: 
Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj (Nisargadatta Maharaj's guru, head of the Inchegeri branch of the Navnath Sampradaya)


Nisargadatta Maharaj was a petty uneducated shopkeeper and a realized teacher who lived and taught in a small apartment in the slums of Bombay. Following the publication of the English translation of the book 'I Am That' which contained the transcripts of his early talks, many spiritual seekers from all around the world traveled the globe and sought him out in his unpretentious home to hear his talks and seek his guidance. He is considered as one of the most prominent Non-duality teachers in recent centuries.

Early life

Sri Nisargadatta was born on April 17, 1897, at break of dawn, the full moon in the month of Chaitra, to Shivrampant Kambli and Parvatibai, in Bombay. The day was also the birthday of Lord Hanuman, hence the boy was named 'Maruti', after Lord Hanuman himself. Maruti Shivrampant Kambli was brought up in Kandalgaon, a small village in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, where he grew up amidst his family of six silblings, two brothers and four sisters, and deeply religious parents. His father, Shivrampant, worked as a domestic servant in Mumbai and later became a petty farmer in Kandalgaon.

In 1915, after his father passed away, he moved to Bombay, to support his family back home, following his elder brother. Initially he worked as a junior clerk at an office, but quickly opened a small goods store, mainly selling bidis – leaf-rolled cigarettes, and soon owned a string of eight retail shops.

In 1924 he married Sumatibai and they had three daughters and a son.


In 1933, he was introduced to his guru, Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj, the head of the Inchegeri branch of the Navnath Sampradaya by his friend Yashwantrao Baagkar. His guru told him, "You are not what you take yourself to be...". He then gave Nisargdatta simple instructions, which he followed verbatim, as he himself recounted later:

My Guru ordered me to attend to the sense 'I am' and to give attention to nothing else. I just obeyed. I did not follow any particular course of breathing, or meditation, or study of scriptures. Whatever happened, I would turn away my attention from it and remain with the sense 'I am'. It may look too simple, even crude. My only reason for doing it was that my Guru told me so. Yet it worked!

-- I Am That, Chapter 75, p. 375.

Following his guru's instructions of concentrate on the feeling "I Am", he utilized all his spare time looking at himself in silence, and remained in that state, for the coming years, practicing meditation and singing devotional bhajans.

After an association that lasted hardly two and a half years, Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj, his guru, died on November 9, 1936, though by that time he had done his task, Maruti had reached self-awareness. Soon he adopted a new name, 'Nisargadatta' meaning 'the one who dwells in the natural state'.

In 1937, he left Mumbai and travelled across India. Though realizing the shortcomings of a totally unworldly life and the greater spiritual fruitfulness of dispassionate action, he eventually returned to his family in Mumbai in 1938. It was there that he spent the rest of his life, working as a bidi vendor at his nearby shop, and giving teachings at his home.

Later years

Between, 1942-1948, he suferred two personal losses, first the death of his wife, Sumatibai, followed by the death of his daughter. He started taking disciples in 1951, only after a personal revelation from his Guru Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj.

Sri Nisargadatta continued to live the life of an ordinary Indian working-man together with conducting daily meetings with seekers discussing his teaching. The meetings of the early years are documented in his master-work "I Am That" . Devotees traveled from all over the world to hear Nisargadatta's unique message until his death. Maharaj left his body in 1981 after suffering from throat cancer.


Ebook versions of the books of Nisargadatta Maharaj are attached at the bottom of this Guru Profile

Sri Nisargadatta's teachings are grounded in the Advaita Vedanta and the idea of Tat Tvam Asi ("You are that") meaning you are one with Divinity.

According to Sri Nisargadatta, our true nature is internal and free awareness. Awareness is the source of, but different from, the personal, individual consciousness, which is related to the body. The mind and memory are responsible for association with a particular body; awareness exists prior to both mind and memory. It is only the idea that we are the body that keeps us from living what he calls our "original essence", the True Self.

Maharaj describes this essence as pure, free, and unaffected by anything that occurs. He likens it to a silent witness that watches through the body's senses, yet is not moved, either to happiness or sadness, based on what it sees.

For Nisargadatta, the Self is not one super-entity which knows independently, regardless of things; there is no such super-entity, no Creator with infinite intellect. God does not exist independently from creation. What does exist is the "total acting" (or functioning) of the Ultimate or Absolute Reality along the infinite varying forms in manifestation. This Absolute Reality is identical to The Self.

Nisargadatta also teaches that there is no such thing as a "doer". According to him and other teachers of Vedanta, since our true nature or identity is not the mind, is not the body, but the witness of the mind and body, we, as pure awareness, do nothing. The mind and body act of their own accord, and we are the witness of them, though the mind often thinks it acts. This false idea (that the mind is the self) is what keeps us from recognizing our Self.

Nisargadatta cautions:

The life force [prana] and the mind are operating [of their own accord], but the mind will tempt you to believe that it is "you". Therefore understand always that you are the timeless spaceless witness. And even if the mind tells you that you are the one who is acting, don't believe the mind. [...] The apparatus [mind, body] which is functioning has come upon your original essense, but you are not that apparatus.

- The Ultimate Medicine, (pp.54 - 70)

Satsang, Books



Nisargadatta Maharaj's home

This is the place where Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj used to live and give his daily satsangs to his followers.

Today relatives live there and they are kindly allowing seekers to visit the room where satsangs took place and you can even sit on the floor and meditate for a few moments.

The house (including the satsang room) was renovated by the new residents a few years ago. There used to be stairs that led from the satsang room to the downstairs beedi shop but these were removed when the house was renovated. In the room, you can see hanged on the wall his pictures as well as pictures of his gurus and of Ramana Maharshi.

A special energy is felt there by many and for people who were so fortunate to benefit by reading his amazing words, the visit is certainly a touching thanksgiving experience to this great man.

Worthwhile if you happen to visit Mumbay or/and attend Ramesh Balsekar satsangs.

Vanmali Bhavan, 10th Lane, Khetwadi, Girgaum neighborhood,
Mumbay, Maharashtra , India
(read carefuly the directions how to arrive provided below)

The house is located in a poor, crowded market neighborhood of Mumbai (quite interesting area by itself) called Girgaum. The house is a bit hard to locate but do not give up. Read carefully the following instructions and act accordingly:

Ask the taxi driver to take you to the Khetwadi area at Girgaum neighborhood which is located at the foot of the Malabar Hill, approximately half the distance between Colaba and the house of Ramesh Balsekar (see map at the bottom).

In Girgaum, ask the taxi driver to drive to Khetwadi area and to drop you at Alfred Theater or/and Super Cinema (which are located in front of each other and serve as good landmarks). Insist with the driver, he will eventually find the place by asking people in the street, if needed.

You are now on the edge of the Khetwadi area which is actually a set of more than 10 parallel lanes. You need the 10th lane. There is a sign in the entrance of each lane, follow the signs until you reach the 10th lane of Khetwadi (see at the end a photo of the sign).

Nisargadatta's house is in this 10th lane in a building called Vanmali Bhavan (buildings here do not have numbers but names and... the name of the building is not posted anywhere on the front of the building). You can either ask for the building or better locate it by spotting a colorful public toilet in front of the building (see picture of this public toilet at the end) and recognizing the building itself (see picture of the building at the end).

Nisargadatta's house was on the right hand of the building (ground floor used to serve as the beedi shop, upper floor was the house with the room in which satsangs took place). Climb the stairs one floor and knock on the door. You made it!

Surprising as it may sound, only a very few people in the neighborhood know what a great sage used to live here but don't give up and keep asking the friendly people around in case you lose your way.

It is customary to bring some presents to the current residents of the house and to respect their privacy. Another small ritual is to smoke a beedi right after the visit standing outside in front of the house near the entrance to the public toilet. Beedi is an indian hand-made cigarrete, Sri Nisargadatta was a beedi seller, his beedi shop was located on the ground floor of this same building. While smoking the beedi and coughing, you can watch the house and compare it to its past image in the old photos that appear in Nisargadatta's books.

Mumbay has a lot of accommodation options, from simple to luxurious. Mind that the accommodation prices in Mumbay are much more expensive than in other places in India.
For options see Mumbai Accommodation options for seekers

Maps and Pictures of Location: 
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Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image

The Ultimate Medicine: Dialogues with a Realized Master

by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj


The Ultimate Medicine is not for those who like their spirituality watered down, but for serious students searching for awareness. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (1897-1981) lived and taught in a small apartment in the slums of Bombay. A realized master of the Tantric Nath lineage, he supported himself and his family by selling cheap goods in a small booth on the streets outside his tenement for many years. His life exemplified the concept of absolute nonduality of being. In this volume, Maharaj shares the highest truth of nonduality in his own unique way. His teaching style is abrupt, provocative, and immensely profound, cutting to the core and wasting little effort on inessentials. His terse but potent sayings are known for their ability to trigger shifts in consciousness, just by hearing or reading them.\"The point is that man freed from his fetters is morality personified. Such a man therefore does not need any moralistic injunctions in order to live righteously. Free a man from his bondage and thereafter everything else will take care of itself. On the other hand, man in his unredeemed state cannot possibly live morally, no matter what moral teaching he is given. It is an intrinsic impossibility, for his very foundation is immorality. That is, he lives a lie, a basic contradiction: functioning in all his relationships as the separate entity he believes himself to be, whereas in reality no such separation exists. His every action therefore does violence to other \'selves\' and other \'creatures,\' which are only manifestations of the unitary consciousness. So Society had to invent some restraints in order to protect itself from its own worst excesses and thereby maintain some kind of status quo. The resulting arbitrary rules, which vary with place and time and therefore are purely relative, it calls \'morality,\' and by upholding this man-invented \'idea\' as the highest good–oftentimes sanctioned by religious \'revelation\' and scriptures–society has provided man with one more excuse to disregard the quest for liberation or relegate it to a fairly low priority in his scheme of things.\"

Cover image

The Wisdom - Teachings of Nisargadatta Maharaj: A Visual Journey

by Matthew Greenblatt


This book is a compilation of unpublished talks with the contemporary Indian sage, Nisargadatta Maharaj. Recorded in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it represents some of the fundamental teachings of this important sage. All of the sayings point the reader back to the truth of one\'s true nature--one of undying peace and happiness. Many contemporary teachers, such as Lama Surya Das, Wayne Dyer, and Jack Kornfield, draw on the words of Nisargadatta for inspiration and clarification. These wisdom-teachings are combined with photos of Maharaj and some of the locations he lived in in Bombay and the surrounding area. This book is a spiritual journey back to the source of true and abiding peace and happiness. Nisargadatta Maharaj was a simple family man, and owner of a cigarette shop. The beauty of his teachings lie in their remarkable clarity and wisdom, which is borne of the highest realization and spiritual understanding.

Cover image

I Am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

by Nisargadatta Maharaj


This collection of the timeless teachings of one of the greatest sages of India, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, regarded by many as a \"modern spiritual classic\" is a testament to the uniqueness of the seer\'s life and work

\"I Am That\" preserves Maharaj\'s dialogues with the followers who came from around the world seeking his guidance in destroying false identities. The sage\'s sole concern was with human suffering and the ending of suffering. It was his mission to guide the individual to an understanding of his true nature and the timelessness of being. He taught that mind must recognize and penetrate its own state of being, \"being this or that, here or that, then or now,\" but just timeless being.

Recommended DVD & Video: 
Cover image

I Am That I Am: Experience the Teaching of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj


I Am That I Am: Experience the Teaching of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj DVD

Pro Opinions


Omkaradatta's picture

An acknowledged master of Advaita (along with Sri Ramana Maharshi), he came at a perfect time in history to put things in modern terms, yet firmly rooted in thousands of years old Advaitic tradition.



saints are difficult to have to be recognized in the lack of genuine intimacy; however, this saint is found out followed by many on this site.prior to see this site i did not know him but after seeing

madan_gautam's picture

that this saint is good.

A saint is saint and nothing good and bad about him for which we can comment.
Its our view only how we see,but the saint is just saint.

madan_gautam | Wed, 09/02/2009 - 05:26

beyond good and bad----------Mad an g au tam

seeing beyond good and bad while being in the realm of good and bad; when are you coming on this site for comments on my writing?

NIDHI PARKASH | Wed, 05/11/2011 - 16:58

Mystic, Universe,

earthling's picture

Mystic Way of Universe to spread the wisdom.

He Was Like Lotus.

Metta ~

Oscarro's picture

the tiger of the truth...

Oscar-Nisargadatta's child.

This is a real master-completely fearless and full of knowleged-his sentences are like razor blades that cut ignorance on hit with deep reach-I owe all my peace and joy to this man-for me is the greatest-I love him- I only wish I could have met him in person..

Oscarro | Fri, 11/06/2009 - 18:24

The tiger of truth!

Oscarro's picture

This Guru for me is the greatest- the most quick and effective method for klling ilusion and ignorance- I love this guy-he is fabulous-I owe my peace and fearlessness to him-thanks to him I know my re


MAI's picture

I would share some revelations and deep insights with a close friend/devotee who ,among a couple of other friends had their own share of experiences to tell.
She listened carefully....

The closest words to truth I have ever read

Luna's picture

After reading hundreds of spiritual books, I can testify that "I Am That" is the closest to truth I have ever read. This man is divinity.

lamasam's picture

book:im that

hello, this is very true book very near to truth itself.when i was reading,i felt myself very near to enlightment.really best book ,i ever read.

lamasam | Thu, 03/11/2010 - 14:44

The detailed location of the house is precise

Luz76's picture

Tested it, directions are great and the address listed here is the correct one (I mention this since I found different though similar addresses in other places that proved to be erroneous).


santthosh kumaar's picture

Hi lillian,
I am very happy you have taken much pain and collected the full details about, the great Advith Master, Nisargadutt Maharaj.
Keep it up.
Take care
with respect and regards

Con Opinions

Problematic followers

shishmanidov35's picture

No doubt this sage and his words were phenomenal.

Nathyogi's picture

Re: Problematic followers

There is a saying among the wise. What matters is one's actions.

"According to His karmas the Guru goes,
Do what Guru says, not what the Guru does.
According to his karmas the disciple goes.
Do what Guru says, never what the Guru does!"

*** Salutations to the shoes of Guru Siddha Nath ***

Nathyogi | Thu, 07/31/2014 - 09:49
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj - I Am That.zip2.53 MB
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj - Yo soy eso (Spanish)3.25 MB
All the I Am quotes of Nisargadatta Maharaj.pdf461.06 KB
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj - Seeds of Consciousness.pdf1.36 MB
Nisargadatta Maharaj - Consciousness And The Absolute - The final Talks.pdf580.65 KB
Nisargadatta Maharaj- Self Knowledge and Self Realization (illustrated).pdf661.69 KB
The Nectar of Immortality - Misargadatta Maharaj - by Robert Powell.pdf1.33 MB
The Ultimate Medicine - Nisargadatta Maharaj - by Robert Powell.pdf1.66 MB
Nisargadatta Maharaj - Prior to Consciousness.pdf1.15 MB