This book contains interviews of a number of spiritual seekers, who tell how they came to their 'love of their lifes', Papaji, and how he influenced them by turning their whole lives upside down. It gives you a beautiful taste of how it is to be with a saint, and how awakening or enlightenment is. The words of these extraordinary people, who where lucky enough to find their way to Papaji, touched me very deeply. Truly amazing!
It was more by accident that I picked up this book as a bedtime reading and then I couldn't stop reading.
It's always fascinating to read other people's life stories and to find out, what they experience on their journeys
with their masters. All the private moments, the particularities and variety of people who step on to a spiritual path.
Twenty years ago I would have truly needed this book! Especially in the West, the "Spiritual" gets hyped and we
may think that we ourselves are not good enough to walk on a spiritual path or strive for what is called "awakening"
or we have ideas about how it is to be with a spiritual master.
Yet with this book Premananda shows us that it is very "normal" people whose inner compass has brought them to
their master Papaji and read their stories and what they experienced with him. It's soothing and encouraging to read
all these life stories that are so distinct and unique as we human beings are distinct and unique.
Mr D. Laws
A beautifully laid out book with photos, filled with some inspiring interviews with people who met the advaita teacher Papaji.
This book is an immersing collection of biographies of people drawn to the spiritual search, especially for the reader who feels a spiritual pull of any kind.
Through the interviews you can really see the progression of these people as they move through the world, with events happening outside of their control that lead them into powerful situations and meetings with powerful people.
Though the book focuses on the presence of Papaji and the influence of him into the interviewees' lives, it wonderfully maps the entire process of the so called 'spiritual search', and really gives support for anyone who feels doubt about their own path, and how difficult it can be to see clearly. I highlighted "spiritual search", because the beautiful and simple realization of these people at the end of their search, was that everything is already in its perfect essence, exactly as it should be, in the form of God, or Self, or Consciousness. Papaji was only a gracious mirror for those who searched, a mirror showing them their true selves. In the words of Papaji;
'What is eternal is always within you, as your own Self.'
"A true master cannot be identified thru his words or actions but
your mind will likely become quiet around him" - Papaji
H.W.L. Poonja (known affectionately as Papaji) held satsangs in Lucknow between 1990 and his death in 1997, and elsewhere in earlier years when smaller numbers congregated around him. This attractive volume gives us transcripts of interviews with 15 people who experienced awakening at these satsangs. The interviewer/author, Premananda, was also a member of this sangha which numbered up to 100 semi-permanent members with another 100-200 during times of more comfortable weather. I knew little about the path of devotion to a guru so the book made fascinating reading. Each interview revisits the subject's childhood before moving on to the often circuitous adult search and its culmination in the prescence of Papaji. A glossary of Indian concepts is appended and this helps the reader to transcend the notoriously limited vocabulary of English in this field.
Papaji was a student of Ramana Maharshi and his message is the simple
pointing to non-duality (see youtube for video clips) combined with what
might be called the intersubjective "contact high" experienced in his
prescence. All of the subjects were strongly affected by Papaji at their
first meeting and many of them mention that the prescence of Papaji would
stop the mind and induce altered states.
All felt a profound love for the guru and (indistinguishably) for the formless whole, though it's unclear whether they all felt boundless love for their fellow devotees. Gossip, jealousy and manoeuvrings are reported by some.
Awakenings happened frequently; the author remarks that during his own 10 years with Osho (the artist formerly known as Rajneesh) awakening seemed almost an impossible dream, while around Papaji it was like falling off a log.
Papaji himself was interested in people's descriptions of what happens in awakening,
and these descriptions are a highlight of the book. No one attempts any causal
or conceptual explanation, rather their words about the ineffable are poetic
and evocative - lovely to read before meditation or when inspiration is needed.
Some of Papaji's students have themselves begun teaching - Gangaji, Andrew Cohen, Arjuna Ardagh, Isaac Shapiro and Premananda among them, although none of these are interviewed here.
The book intimates a flavour of satsang with a powerful guru without one having to undergo a near death experience from Delhi belly in the 47 degree heat of a Lucknow summer.
It features photos of Papaji, often candid shots of him smiling while wearing a selection of dubious hats (Lucknow winters are cold apparently) and accompanied by aphorisms from his book "The Truth is"
I can recommend the book as a useful insight into a man who influenced so many. It was a good read, and enjoyable to dip into again later.
"Before a wave arises it is Ocean; before desire moves it is Emptiness." -
"You are the unchangeable awareness in which all activity takes place" -
Bodhi Heeren (Copenhagen), 27 Oct 2008
Premananda is one of the many Osho sannyasins who found a
safe haven after their master's death at the bosom of Papaji, a direct
disciple of the illustrious Ramana Maharshi.
Papaji was a friendly man, a lot more open than Osho to declare each and
everyone 'enlightened' - among them the dubious Andrew Cohen - and sending
them out in the world to give satsang. But whereas most other Westeners
often had a rather arrogant attitude to the tradition and the philosophy
they are supposed to represent, British-born Premananda clearly has respect
for the Indian roots behind Ramana and the vedantic spirituality.
In this book he has the brilliant idea to travel around India to find and
interview Indian disciples of Ramana: men and women, young and old. To
question them about their experiences and their philosophical and
All this makes very compelling reading. You meet some powerful human beings
and get lots of stuff for thought (and no-thought!). A profound book that
can enlighten your life.
Buy it now
Also available as eBook