By Satish Purohit
Nothing is everything, The quintessential teaching of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, Mohan Gaitonde, Zen Publications, INR 400; 247 pages
A record of questions raised by seekers put to the flame of searing knowledge by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, the book being reviewed is as much a mirror as it is a body of knowledge. There have been masters who have added corollaries that modify, inflect or even reject Adi Shankara’s declaration that consciousness, whether expressing through this body or that and/or in its nature as the Supreme Soul constitute ‘the’ non-dual ultimate reality. ‘Brahman satyam jagat mithyam, jivo brahmaiva naparah’ (Brahman is real. The experienced world is an illusion. There is no difference between the jiva and Brahman) is how Shankara puts it.
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, the advaitic master and teacher, illuminates contemporary seekers with his insights into what it all means.
Through the book, Maharaj is seen to be repeating time and again, with electrifying directness the advaitic declaration that death, birth and rebirth are illusions. There is nothing but the supreme witness in the ‘I am’ state. The ‘I am this’, ‘I am that’ which follow are but accretions that one assumes. Maharaj goes even further to say that ‘the Absolute’ is beyond even the ‘I am’ and ‘consciousness’ states. When one reaches there, there is not even the realisation that ‘one is’.
Maharaj explains what it means to be there. “I am self-supporting. I do not need any grace or support from outside. It is not that somebody has protected me and I am. I am that which remained unaffected in several dissolutions of the universe,” he declares.
Despite the profundity of questions raised, and the lightning-like answers that follow, the language is direct, unadorned and simple. Maharaj insisted on a literal translation of his words spoken in Marathi. The words spoken from the state of nirvikalpa would do their work, and nudge seekers towards the Ultimate. A vast mine of promising riches, this is a work to be read, reflected upon, and read again.
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