His admirers call him Papaji, and he was a devotee of Sri Ramana Maharshi. First, he was very effective at giving people glimpses of enlightenment. Second, he emphasized the aspect of neo-Advaita that appeals most to Westerners: the idea that realization is available immediately without effort. The modern Western satsang movement was created by his students when they came home from India to teach. Biography Hari Wench Lal Poonja was born into an upper-class Brahmin family on October 13, in Gujrunwala in western Punjab, a part of India that is now in Pakistan, and raised in nearby Lyalpur, now called Faisalabad. He was a spiritual seeker from a very young age.

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OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. Poonja discovered Ramana Maharshi in a remarkable manner. One morning, in , while he was sitting on his veranda in North India [now part of Pakistan], a wandering mendicant appeared before him. Papaji brought him some fruit and invited him to eat a meal at his home.

He asked the mendicant if he knew anyone who could help him see God. He had already left his career in the Army and was devoting himself to sacred repetition and the performance of religious rituals. These efforts, aimed at experiencing God, had so far been fruitless. The mendicant advised him to visit the sage Ramana Maharshi in South India and there his desire would be fulfilled.

Poonja noted down the address and though he had no money for the trip at the time, was still determined to go. A friend showed him a newspaper which contained a job offer for an ex-military officer in the city of Madras.

He procured the job and also visited Ramana Maharshi. Entering the hall in which Ramana stayed, Poonja found the Maharshi seated on a couch. He left immediately, unimpressed, because the person on the couch was the very same mendicant who had come to his home in the North. Poonja mentioned to someone that the person called Ramana Maharshi was a fraud, that he had come to his house and arrogantly given him his own address.

Question: When and under what circumstances did you first visit Ramana Maharshi? Papaji: I was looking for a Guru who could show me how to attain enlightenment. So, one day in , I was sitting in my house in Lyalpur when a sadhu approached. I invited him in, "Come and sit down and have lunch with me. You can note down his address and go to him. I decided not to tell my wife or my parents what had happened.

I went out to the town. I had no funds as I had spent everything in my search for a Guru and my father would not give me any money. I heard that you had joined the army and since then we have not seen you. Immediately my eye went to the wanted advertisements. There was an opening at the Cheshire Army Regiment in Peshawar.

They we looking for an ex-army officer to work in their CBI store in Madras to supply army supplies to a British regiment there. Under these circumstances I have gone there. Papaji: When I contacted the Maharshi in the hall, I asked him a question: "Can you give me the experience of enlightenment? Again I asked him, and again he kept quiet. So, I was not very much impressed with him not speaking to me.

Question: Did the Maharshi give you a specific teaching directly? Papaji: It was a very direct teaching, not indirectly, through the senses or any sign. So, by this I mean, a direct teaching from Heart to Heart, without any word. This is the direct teaching. Question: How did it act upon you at that time of you life? Papaji: So, it worked very well, because I had never seen any teacher who could speak directly from Heart to Heart.

Question: What happened to you when you entered? What was inside you? Papaji: I felt some vibration in my Heart and then my doubts disappeared. So, this was the first time I met this kind of teacher. All others, they speak. It is of no use. But then a man who has been working for enlightenment for many, many life times, can be eligible to understand him. I have in the Nirvan Sutra that Buddha had previously spent lifetimes being with the teachers. And, finally he understood that enlightenment was attained by keeping quiet.

He went to Bodhgaya, sat under a tree, and discovered enlightenment. After that he got up and went for five days around that bodhi tree in appreciation of what he had received. Ananda, his disciple, came and asked him, "What did you get? How did you get it?

Question: Can you speak about the path of Self-enquiry and how it is practised? Papaji: Yes. Self-enquiry is the enquiry into your own Self, seeking the source of the enquiry itself. Follow the "I"-thought back to its Source and return to that unknown place where it begins.

Papaji: No, only once. When you arrive there, then you will know that this is the place which gives you happiness and peace. You will naturally keep quiet, knowing that this is the source of "I" and of all the beings that appear in the universe. When you keep quiet you will realise that you have always been That.

There are no words here. Question: How does self-surrender compliment the practice of Self-enquiry? Papaji: So, self-surrender means surrendering your ego to the Self. Surrender your ego to the Self and then you will keep quiet. Question: Is it the same as surrendering your ego to the unknown? Is the Self like the unknown? Papaji: Self is unknown. It cannot be known by any person.

If it can be known, it becomes an object. Therefore, it is called "unknown". Nobody knows it, you see. Question: How would you describe the Maharshi to someone who never met him? Papaji: I would say to someone to see the Maharshi as their own Self. Then you will know who Maharshi is. He lives within your own Heart. And the Self will speak to you directly, not indirectly. You will be satisfied because your doubts will be removed from something unknown inside your own Heart. If you cannot understand, then He will take another form of a person to speak to you directly by word.

But, if you understand, then there is no need for any person to tell you. And for those who want to seek the path that he laid, it is always there. That is, to keep quiet and find out who you are, and find out what is the source of this universe and from where does it come. So, this will give you satisfaction.

Question: Could you describe the place where Ramana Maharshi lived at the foot of Arunachala? Papaji: Definitely. The ashram is there and is a place that many people visit. Traditionally in India, the place where a realised man has tread is sanctified. That land itself is very sacred for those who seek, and it attracts seekers from all over the world.

Like in Ramanasramam, the master is no longer there, but people from all over the world are going there and they get peace of mind, and it will continue like this. Question: What advice would you give a person who is just starting out in spiritual life, specifically regarding the application of the teachings of Ramana? Papaji: Ramana has no teaching at all.

He only pulls you from outside, from the senses which are attracted with other things. He attracts you from inside, from within your own Self, so that you will know your own Self. This attraction is not through words or any statements given in the Upanishads.

Question: What role does the Guru play in the life and teachings of Ramana Maharshi? Papaji: The Guru plays the part to teach you once that the Self is within your own Heart and that you have not to find it anywhere else. This is the role of the Guru: to stop your search for your Self anywhere else, outside of your own Heart. So, this is the role of the Guru. That is very important, you see.

You are your own Guru and not someone who is outside, who teaches you. And this can only be known by one who has really understood it, not by anyone else.

Guru is within you and the Self is that Guru, not known, not outside of any man. So, you will keep quiet.


H. W. L. Poonja Quotes

Vudolmaran Then, soon after, she went to Tiruvannamalai and saw that the Maharshi was the same person who gave her the medicine. Then you will know who Maharshi is. I was looking for a Guru who could show me how to attain enlightenment. Silence will follow you wherever you go. And this often happens in many cases here in satsang. You will be satisfied because your doubts will be removed from something unknown inside your own Heart. This is your own nature.


H. W. L. Poonja

Early life[ edit ] H. Poonja was born in Gujranwalla , in western Punjab, now in Pakistan, in a family of Saraswat Brahmins. His mother was the sister of Swami Rama Tirtha. At the age of six he experienced an unusual state of consciousness: The experience was so overwhelming it had effectively paralysed my ability to respond to any external stimuli. For about an hour they tried everything they could think of to bring me back to a normal state of consciousness, but all their attempts failed. As an adult he led a normal life: he married, raised two children and joined the British army, while secretly his love for Krishna and his visions continued. He became obsessed with a longing to have the experience of seeing Krishna all the time.


H.W.L. Poonja (Papaji)





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