Final Note: Ramana Maharshi is not to be confused or equated with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Ramana apparently was genuine. He left home, lived in a cave and would have died if a man in the neighborhood had not taken care of him when he was ill, and later built him a small ashram.
Ramana never left India. His relatives swooped in and took over management of thier illustrious relatives ashram as soon as they learned that he was attracting visitors and still manage it today for it remains a valuable pilgrimage site--and a must visit place for both seekers and for various and sundry teachers who claim to have some sort of tie with Maharshi.
Maharshi died in the early 1950s and had no rock star disciples, unlike MMY.
Now that he is dead he can make no objections to anyone displaying his picture or invoking his name so as to elicit trust.
It appears one of the first to start the 'resume' movement was Poonja and
as Poonja, unlike Maharshi, could speak English, Poonja was able to do outreach to English speaking Westerners, without any need to resort to interpreters.
Fact checking Poonjas background is difficult. He was born in an Indian village now in Pakistan, which means he would have had to flee for his life during the post Partition violence in 1947. Or, at the very least, had he been lucky enough as a Hindu to be on the Indian side in 1947, he could never have returned to his home village. Any records or people who recalled his early years would have been destroyed or dispersed. The trauma of those years cannot be under-estimated. Read Dalyrmple's City of Djinns
and VS Naipaul's interviews with Pakistanis in his 1997 book, Beyond Belief
. Dalyrmple met people in Old Delhi who had survived the Partition and their witness is heart rending. C)
"A Short Biography of Sri HWL Poonja, 1913 - 1997
HWL Poonja, lovingly referred to as Papaji, was born on October 13, 1913, in a part of the Punjab that is now in Pakistan. He had his first direct experience of the Self at the age of nine. He met his Master, Sri Ramana Maharshi, in 1944. Shortly afterwards he realized the Self in the presence of his master.
Being a householder, Papaji continued to work and support the many members of his extended family until his retirement in 1966. After extensive travel Papaji settled down in Lucknow, India, where he received visitors from around the world. Papaji died on September 6, 1997. "
Another site states
Hari Wench Lal Poonja was born into an upper-class Brahmin family on October 13, 1910 in Gujrunwala in western Punjab, a part of India that is now in Pakistan, and raised in nearby Lyalpur, now called Faisalabad. He was the nephew of Swami Rama Tirtha, a famous saint who died four years before Poonja's birth.
He was a spiritual seeker from a very young age. When he was a small boy he saw a picture of Buddha as a skeletal ascetic and began to starve himself. His father had to take him to a doctor to make him eat again.
His first samadhi occurred when he was eight or nine. Since he lived in a Moslem part of India, he was taken to the local mosque, where his trance was diagnosed as possession. (There was friendly interchange between Hindus and Muslims in pre-Partition North India, so such an encounter could have happened. Or..invented in retrospect. We can never know C)
Poonja grew up in an Indian town (red dot) that is now in Pakistan.
The samadhi lasted several days. After it ended, in an effort to re-experience it, he followed his mother's example and became a devotee of Krishna, chanting mantras for hours each day. His mantra practice continued until he reached his mid-thirties.
At age twenty, his marriage was arranged to a Brahmin girl, and he entered the army as an officer. Within a few years the couple had two children, Surendra and Surendri.
While in the army, Poonja woke up at two a.m. to seek visions of Krishna. They often occurred, but the experiences weren't permanent, and he felt a painful sense of separation from God. He decided to leave the army so he could search for a guru who could help him stabilize permanently in a state of awareness of God.
Poonja's uncle, Swami Rama Tirtha, was a famous saint. (Proof? Where are the documents? C)
He moved his family into his father's house, resigned his commission, and left home to look for a guru. His search ended when he met Ramana Maharshi, who pointed out to him that visions of Krishna come and go, but the seer — the one who sees Krishna — is permanently present. "God cannot be an object that appears and disappears," said Sri Ramana, "so find out who the seer is."
As Poonja later recalled:
For the first time ever I heard, "Find out who the seer is."
With the master [Sri Ramana], I got the experience. This experience was already here. When we love God, we think he is an object. But he is the subject. So you have to surrender to the subject. The ego is the object.
“God cannot be an object that appears and disappears,” said Sri Ramana, “so find out who the seer is.”
You merge into the subject so that no object is left behind. God will speak, God will walk, and God will see. I got this from my master. I saw the seer. I realized the seer through my master, and I prostrated before him.1
1. Wake Up and Roar Vol. 1, p. 124
Poonja took a job in Madras for four years so he could visit Ramana's ashram on weekends. After Ramana died in 1950, Poonja worked for a mining company in southern India. After his retirement in 1965, he moved to Lucknow in northern India, where his wife and children had lived since 1947.
Even before his retirement he had begun to develop a reputation as a self-realized man and guru. In 1966 he began to travel in India, Europe, and North America, and his reputation grew.
Poonja's devotees called him "Papaji".
In the late 1980s, several prominent American meditation teachers visited him including Ram Dass, Jack Kornfield, and Joseph Goldstein. ( Andrew Cohen is not mentioned. The latter two, Kornfield and Goldstein, do teach Buddhist Insight meditation. Andrew Cohen practiced this method before having a quarrel with his own teacher and then storming off to Lucknow where he met Poonja--according to Luna Tarlo C)
In 1990, Osho died and many of his followers began to visit Poonja instead. The number of visitors grew so large that a satsang hall had to be built near Poonja's house.
Just before he died in 1997, he asked the people in his hospital room, "Where is Buddha?" When he saw that they understood he was asking a rhetorical question as a teacher for their benefit, he said, "Bring him in, bring him in." These were his last words.(note: Hinduism and Buddhism are quite different. Buddhism denies there is any such thing as inherantly separate eternal essence (Atman). But making Buddhism and Hinduism seem similar just because meditation is taught in both makes it easy for Hindus to recruit Buddhist students. Crabby commentary from C)
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/07/2008 10:43PM by corboy.