Above pic: Nisargadatta Maharaj
In the context of a Facebook conversation I made the following comments (slightly edited), which I felt appropriate to put up as a separate post:
I wanted to mention that I recall reading that Nisargadatta got closely associated with a spiritual guru as a shishya/student/follower. The guru taught him a Jnana marga path.
Later Nisargadatta was with his family, perhaps ran his tobacco & bidi shop (common in rural and semi-urban Maharashtra even in the 90s as I have seen many such shops; and they were respected shops in such rural and semi-urban communities), but also taught others the Jnana marga path that he was taught by his Guru, and by which he claimed to have achieved self-realization.
Now Nisargadatta was not, I believe, a scholar of Hindu scripture like a Veda or Shastra pandit. However, as he was taught Jnana Marga by his guru, in my view, he surely has to be viewed as coming from a Guru-shishya parampara, and so certainly qualified to teach what he had learned from his Guru, and what he learned additionally.
Decided to browse for some info. Here's info. from Nisargadatta Maharaj's wiki page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nisargadatta_Maharaj:
Nisargadatta Maharaj /ˌnɪsərɡəˈdɑːtə ˌmæhəˈrɑːdʒ/ (17 April 1897 – 8 September 1981), born Maruti Shivrampant Kambli, was an Indian Guru of nondualism, belonging to the Inchagiri Sampradaya, a lineage of teachers from the Navnath Sampradaya and Lingayat Shaivism.
The publication in 1973 of I Am That, an English translation of his talks in Marathi by Maurice Frydman, brought him worldwide recognition and followers, especially from North America and Europe.
In 1933, he was introduced to his guru, Siddharameshwar Maharaj, the head of the Inchegiri branch of the Navnath Sampradaya, by his friend Yashwantrao Baagkar. His guru told him, "You are not what you take yourself to be...". Siddharameshwar initiated him into the Inchegiri Sampradaya, giving him meditation-instruction and a mantra, which he immediately began to recite. Siddharameshwar gave Nisargadatta instructions for self-enquiry which he followed verbatim, as he himself recounted later:
My Guru ordered me to attend to the sense 'I am' and to give attention to nothing else. I just obeyed. I did not follow any particular course of breathing, or meditation, or study of scriptures. Whatever happened, I would turn away my attention from it and remain with the sense 'I am'. It may look too simple, even crude. My only reason for doing it was that my Guru told me so. Yet it worked!
After an association that lasted hardly two and a half years, Siddharameshwar Maharaj died on 9 November 1936. In 1937, he left Mumbai and travelled across India. After eight months he returned to his family in Mumbai in 1938. On the journey home his state of mind changed, realizing that "nothing was wrong anymore." He spent the rest of his life in Mumbai, maintaining one shop to earn an income.
Ever since his return to Bombay in 1938, Nisargadatta had been sought out by those desiring his counsel on spiritual matters. Many wanted to become his disciples and get formal mantra-initiation from him, reverentially calling him "Maharaj," "Great (Spiritual) King." Yet he was reluctant to have disciples and serve as a guru. Finally, in 1951, after receiving an inner revelation from Siddharamesvar, he began to initiate students into discipleship.
After he retired from his shop in 1966, Nisargadatta Maharaj continued to receive and teach visitors in his home, giving discourses twice a day, until his death on 8 September 1981 at the age of 84, of throat cancer.
--- end wiki extracts ---
Ravi: So, from a Hindu tradition point of view, Nisargadatta has clearly to be seen as a guru in the sampradaya (tradition) of his guru, Siddharameshwar Maharaj, even if Nisargadatta was seemingly not well-versed in any part of Hindu scripture.
I recall reading that Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba had written/said that those who achieve self-realization by following a particular path teach others that path to self-realization.
I would also like to share that among some Prasanthi Nilayam residents including student-staff, Nisargadatta's book, "I am That", was quite revered (I am talking about period before Mahasamadhi). I was also told by some PN resident(s) that Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba was appreciative of Nisargadatta's teachings (and perhaps that book too). But I must also say that I do not recall coming across any public discourse of Bhagavan where he has referenced Nisargadatta.
Therefore, in my view, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba would have surely approved of Nisargadatta being a spiritual teacher (teaching the spiritual path that he had followed, which was taught to him by his Guru, to reach self-realization).
A public comment on the associated Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/1744918239058079, mentioned: "I am told that this is one realised master (along with Sri Ramana Maharishi) who our beloved Swami referred to many many times in interviews."
I (Ravi) responded:
Thanks for the useful info. This confirms something on similar lines that I had heard in PN. [PN: Prasanthi Nilayam (Puttaparthi ashram name)]
[I thank Wikipedia and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]