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PapajiPapaji: One of the major Indian export gurus of the twentieth century, Sri H.W. Poonja, later called Papaji or Poonjaji, was not affiliated with any formal Indian tradition or lineage. His mother initiated him into the path of Bhakti Yoga through devotion to Krishna; for many years, while repeating the name of Krishna continuously, he travelled throughout India seeking teachers who could provide an instant glimpse, a darshan, of the divine.

These travels eventually led him to Tiruvannamalai to visit the sage, Ramana Maharshi. Ramana advised him to devote his sadhana to self inquiry and to look fearlessly within for the God he had searched for in vain without, pointing out that visons of God are non continous experiences, but that the One who witnesses these visons is always present. Ramana instructed him to re-focus his path and to locate this “seer.” Thus, Ramana pointed Papaji to what is called the direct path, known in India as Advaita (nonduality) Vedanta, Even after his meeting with Ramana Maharshi in 1944, Papaji continued his japa, the mantra devotional practice repeating Krishna’s name, declaring he was not much impressed with the advice he had been given, but, after another vision, he returned to Ramana and, in a devotional crisis, announced Ramana Maharshi his guru, staying with him on and off for three years. Although Ramana never conferred his lineage on anyone including Papaji, his repeated visits to Ramana’s Ashram in Tiruvannamalai imbued his future teachings with a certain implied credential many Westerners sought.

In 1966, he retired and settled in Lucknow, India, where he received visitors until his death in 1997. During this period, he echoed Ramana’s reccomendation of self inquiry, but reccomended a simpler method, asking the question, “Who am I ?” and waiting for an answer as the primary tool of discovery. Like Ramana, he taught that silence is the best teacher, certainly more important than words in pointing to Truth. He pointed his followers to nonduality and the path Ramana Maharshi had advised him to take. Known for the intense experiences of shaktipat, or energy transmisssion that many visitor’s experienced in his presence, many Westerners returned from Lucknow to teach in Europe and America, asserting a lineage connected to him. Some of these Westerners have been characterized as “drive throughs” indicating they spent very little time with their teacher.

Papaji adamantly recounted to David Godman, his biographer, in the book, “Nothing ever Happened”, that this validation was never bestowed by him on anyone. In fact, he stated, the Westerners never requested nor received true teachings; what they recieved, he recounted, were “lollipops for the ignorant” which he dispensed to them. He called the Western teachers “fake coins, which glittered like gold but have no real value.” Nobody, Papaji claimed, was “worthy to receive his final teachings.” Read the full story here.


Abhinavagupta Adi Shankaracharya Anandamayi Ma Atmananda Krishna Menon Buddha Chinmayananda Dalai Lama Gautama Buddha Huang Po Lao Tzu Nisargadatta Maharaj Papaji Ramesh Balsekar Rumi Swami Dayananda Ramana Maharshi U.G.Krishnamurti

Pointers to Presence

And what is mind And how is it recognized? If I clearly draw In sumi ink, the sound Of breezes drifting through pine Is all that is seen.

- Ikkyu Sojun (1394-1481)

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