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The Nectar of Immortality by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. Oct. 18, 2001

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by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. Oct. 3, 2001

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Copyright 2002 Realization.org.


Sri Nisargadatta

1897 – 1981

FROM HIS LIVING room in the slums of Bombay, this self-realized master became famous for brilliant, aphoristic, extemporized talks in which he taught an austere, minimalist Jnana Yoga based on his own experience. Many of these talks have been published in books. The earliest volume, I Am That, is widely regarded as a modern classic by practitioners of applied Advaita.


Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj was born in Mumbai (Bombay) in March, 1897. His parents, who gave him the name Maruti, had a small farm at the village of Kandalgaon in Ratnagiri district in Mahrashtra. His father, Shivrampant, was a poor man who had been a servant in Bombay before turning to farming.

Maruti worked on the farm as a boy. Although he grew up with little or no formal education, he was exposed to religious ideas by his father's friend Visnu Haribhau Gore, a pious Brahman.

Nisargadatta's birthplace

Maruti's father died when the boy was eighteen, leaving behind his wife and six children. Maruti and his older brother left the farm to look for work in Mumbai. After a brief stint as a clerk, Maruti opened a shop selling children's clothes, tobacco, and leaf-rolled cigarettes, called beedies, which are popular in India. The shop was modestly successful and Maruti married in 1924. A son and three daughters soon followed.

When Maruti was 34, a friend of his, Yashwantrao Baagkar, introduced him to his guru, Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj, the head of the Inchegeri branch of the Navanath Sampradaya. The guru gave a mantra and some instructions to Maruti and died soon after. Sri Nisargadatta later recalled:

Nisargadatta's guru, Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj

  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!1  
  1. I Am That, Chapter 75, p. 375.

Within three years, Maruti realized himself and took the new name Nisargadatta. He became a saddhu and walked barefoot to the Himalayas, but eventually returned to Mumbai where he lived for the rest of his life, working as a cigarette vendor and giving religious instruction in his home.

The success of I Am That, first published in English translation in 1973, made him internationally famous and brought many Western devotees to the tenement apartment where he gave satsangs.

At the time of his death in 1981 he was his guru's successor as the head of the Inchegari branch of the Navanath Sampradaya. He was 84 years old.

Nisargadatta smoked and sold beedies, popular Indian cigarettes rolled in tendu leaves instead of paper.


Sri Nisargadatta's teachings defy summarization, but he frequently recommended the practice that had led to his own realization in less than three years:    

  Just keep in mind the feeling "I am," merge in it, till your mind and feeling become one. By repeated attempts you will stumble on the right balance of attention and affection and your mind will be firmly established in the thought-feeling "I am."2  
  2. I Am That, Chapter 16, p. 48.


This site includes excerpts from two books by Sri Nisargadatta, The Nectar of Immortality and The Ultimate Medicine.

We have reference pages on Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy associated with Sri Nisargadatta's teachings, and Jnana Yoga, the practical application of that philosophy. These pages contain articles, links, and book recommendations.



There are two transcripts of talks by Sri Nisargadatta on Rudra's page. For transcripts of talks by Sri Nisargadatta's teacher, Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj, go to Sadguru.com. Hur Guler's site includes some wonderful things including this article by Cathy Boucher. There is a biography on Ananda's Site. There are lots of links to other sites on Prahlad.    


I Am That
By Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
More than five hundred pages of transcribed conversations allow you to eavesdrop on Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, the most famous teacher of Advaita since Ramana Maharshi, as he sits in his living room and answers questions from visitors who have come to ask what they should do to become enlightened. Sri Nisargadatta described what it felt like to be in his state at considerable length, and he did so with a prodigiously intelligent, uncannily articulate modern vocabulary. The force of the language makes this is a unique and astonishing work. Sri Nisargadatta's talks were given in Marathi and translated into English by Maurice Frydman, who had been a devotee of Ramana Maharshi. An American book dealer who carries many books about meditation and Advaita has told us that this book is his number-one seller.
Where to order it

In the U.S.:
Blue Dove
Books Beyond Words
In Europe:
I Am That:
Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
By Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Translated by Maurice Frydman
Edited by Sudhakar S. Dikshit
550 pages.
Published by Acorn Press (1973).
ISBN 0893860220

The Nectar of Immortality
By Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
This book contains transcripts of 21 talks given by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj in 1980, shortly before his death. The talks include "Prior to Conception, What Was I?" and "To Know What One Is, One Must Know One's Beginning." This volume resembles another book by the same editor, The Ultimate Medicine, which was compiled from talks given six months later.

Where to order it

The Nectar of Immortality:
Sri Nisargadatta's Discourses on the Eternal

Edited by Robert Powell
187 pages.
Published by Blue Dove Press (1987).
ISBN 1884997139

The Ultimate Medicine
By Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Edited by Robert Powell
This book contains transcripts of conversations that Sri Nisargadatta held with visitors about a year before his death, when he was 83 years old and sick with cancer. Although it affords extraordinary glimpses into the mind of a man who had been self-realized for over half a century, the tone is occasionally impatient and even cranky. This is a good book to read after you've finished I Am That.
Where to order it

The Ultimate Medicine: As Prescribed by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Edited by Robert Powell


214 pages.
Blue Dove Press.
ISBN 1884997090

This page was published on February 28, 2001 and
last modified on May 30, 2002.


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