Nisargadatta Maharaj started speaking sometime in the early 1950s. Initially he would speak on popular scriptures like Sage Eknath's Bhagwat and Sage Ramdas' Dasbodh. A few years later the subject matter of his talks spontaneously broadened up and by mid-1950s Maharaj was speaking less about the scriptures and more from his direct experience. Maharaj used to say, 'I am not speaking these words; they are coming from the Absolute. Just as you hear them, I too am their witness.'
In 1954 Shankarrao Bajirao Dhaygude, one of Maharaj's senior disciples, started noting down Maharaj's discourses in their original language, Marathi. His jottings filled up five notebooks. He later shared these 45 discourses with his friend and Guru Bandhu Shri Dinkar Kshirsagar who edited them slightly, taking great care "not to add our own concepts to the text."
These talks were first published in Marathi as 'Sadguru Nisargadatta Maharaj Yanchi Durmil Nirupane'. These were then translated into English by Shri Mohan Gaitonde, Maharaj's 'evening' translator, into the present work.
These earliest discourses of Nisargadatta Maharaj are noteworthy because they reveal a new facet of his teaching, including a deeper flavour of bhakti. They are also remarkable because they indicate how his Teaching intuitively evolved over the years. Since the Source spoke through Maharaj, his talks were Self-tuned to the need and capacity of his listeners. As a sidelight, these early talks are an interesting indication of the nature of Maharaj's audience in the 1950s.
Mohan Gaitonde, a Science graduate from Mumbai University, was an atheist until December 23, 1958, the day his father passed away. That was the day when he first became aware of his ignorance.
His intense introspection brought up two profound questions and one determination: 'Why am I here?’ What is the purpose of this existence? Is it real?' and 'I must know everything that is worth knowing.'
The search for a Guru began and a dozen of them were seen. Most of them were themselves in darkness but were kind enough to show light to others. The search continued until March 1976, when his eldest sister took him to meet Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj. She was not a resident of Mumbai and lived 600 km away in the south. She had read about Maharaj in a Marathi magazine which was published as a special issue on Maharaj's 75th birthday.
With that visit, Mohan's outward search ended but not the inward.
These rare old discourses of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj were received from our Guru Bandhu, Mr. Shankarrao Bajirao Dhaygude. These talks were delivered during 1954 to 1956 at Ashram, as Maharaj's residence was called by his disciples. In all, these are 45 discourses. Shankarrao had jotted down key sentences and phrases while listening to Maharaj, which he then faithfully fleshed out on reaching home. These jottings filled up five notebooks, which were kept in good condition even after a period of 33 years.
Shankarrao handed over this valuable treasure, so that Guru Bandhus and others could benefit from them. Our brother is now 60 years of age. He had met Maharaj in 1951, followed by formal initiation in 1954. In those years, which were full of bliss, he introduced about 35 new seekers to the Ashram, who also received the mantra from the Guru.
His hometown was Ahire village in Satara district of Maharashtra state. He migrated to Mumbai for a job in a textile mill, which helped him lead a simple life as a householder. He customarily wore a white shirt with a white cap and spent his evenings with Maharaj, right from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. He enjoyed the Gum's company not only at the Ashram but also at Maharaj's tobacco shop. His faith in his Master brought to his credit certain miraculous experiences.
With the author's consent, some minor changes have been made in the hand-written material. In some earlier discourses there were incomplete sentences, which have been completed as per the context. The same have been re-read and rewritten after due contemplation for better understanding. However, utmost care has been taken not to add our own concepts to the text. At some places commas, full stops, quotation marks or question marks have been added for better clarity. Repetition has been avoided wherever possible, and long narratives have been shortened to limit the size of discourses. Those who are familiar with Maharaj's talks will have no doubt that there is none voice other than His in these writings.
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