H.W.L. Poonja, the Lion from Lucknow, known as Papaji to his devotees

Papaji was born (most likely – no records were kept in those days) on Oct. 13, 1910, in Punjab and died on Sept. 6, 1997, in Lucknow (UP, India).
He was a disciple of Sri Ramana Maharshi and taught the inquiry of the Self. I visited him in 1991 in his house in Indira Nagar, Lucknow, for the first time and spent there many month in 1992 and 1993. Papaji offered satsang (Sanskrit for “communion with the truth”) to those, who were ready to drop the search.

Papaji Mahendra

Papaji guiding Mahendra into Self inquiry. Picture by Arjuna Ardagh

Here is a quote from his talks in satsang – his message in short:

Find out who you are – here and now. You are not the mind. You are not even the prana – the breathing. You know very well that breathing is in and out, inhaling and exhaling. You can feel, “I am inhaling, I am exhaling.” You know this activity also. Who is watching the inhaling and exhaling? This is all that the body is.

So who are you? You are not all these functions. You will have to ask the question, “Who am I?” This is what we have come here to understand, and we have not done this at any time before. This question must be solved but we have postponed it. Everyone has postponed it for millions of years. We will not postpone this here. There is no method to practice. Simply find out, “Who am I?” This is not a method or practice or sadhana.”

This can be done here and now – in this instant – because the Self is here.

Enlightenment means to know thy Self – to know, “Who am I.” This is Enlightenment. This is Wisdom. This is Bliss. This is Existence. This is Being. This is Truth.

This truth is not located at a distance – it is your own Self through which you are searching for truth and freedom. It is not any distance from here. It is within you, nearer than your own breath. It is behind the retina of your eyes, which you cannot see. You need not look outside. It is behind the retina; it is that through which the retina sees. You need no effort to see it.

Papaji talking to disciples in the Botanical Garden of Lucknow, 1990. Copyright Jürgen Marsiske.

In 1993 Papaji went to Kathmandu and met a Tibetan lama, Chokyi Nyama Rinpoche. The ensuing talk has been recorded and included as a chapter in the very recommendable book “Papaji Interviews”, edited by David Godman, Avadhuta Foundation, 1993, with the title Nothing Has Ever Existed

>> Find out more about Papaji here