A short biography of Nisargadatta's Guru
Shri Samartha Siddharameshwar Maharaj, a contemporary of Sri Ramana Maharshi, is one of the greatest unknown saints of the age. He was born in the month of August 1888 A.D. in a small village called "Pathri" in the district Sholapur of India.
On the sixth day of his birth, his grandmother had a dream in which great Saint Siddheshwar appeared before her and told her that the boy who is born, is his incarnation and asked her to name him Siddheshwar. He also said that one day the boy will become a great Saint. And hence his name was kept Siddharamappa. Later on he was known as "Siddharameshwar Maharaj."
Even in his childhood he was very much sharp, active and had the capacity to imbibe things very quickly. He did not study much at the school level but he was very intelligent, clever and smart in all his behaviour. He was always very straight forward and spoke with a thoughtful idea. He retorted his answers to every question with full meaning. At the age of 16, even though he was premature to work, he took up a job of an accountant in a Marwadi firm at Bijapur. He did his work with earnestness and settled down in Bijapur. Here he met his Master Shri Bhausaheb Maharaj, who has built a monastery in the small village called Inchgiri in Karnataka State of India which started in the year 1885.
Shri Bhausaheb Maharaj, understanding the mental capacity and lifestyle of the people then, started teaching "Meditation" to his disciples at this monastery. The main aim or goal of teaching meditation was to attain Final Reality. The meditation method he used was known as Pipilika Marg or the ant's way, a slow process of attaining Final Reality.
Shri Siddharameshwar Maharaj, after passing away of his Master Bhausaheb Maharaj in the year 1914, was meditating on the teachings of his Master. In 1918, he renounced the world and joined his four brother disciples to popularize his Master's teachings. In the year 1920, when he was on tour popularizing his Master's teachings, he got the idea that one should go beyond meditation because meditation is an initial stage to attain Final Reality. Brother disciples disagreed with Shri Siddharameshwar Maharaj, saying that their Master Shri Bhausaheb Maharaj has not told them so. He agreed with them, but reiterated, "Okay! Can one not go beyond that?"
He decided to set out on that arduous path on his own, left his brother disciples, and returned to his home in Bijapur. He started his meditation in Bijapur on the raised platform like a minaret (upli buruj) sitting over an old gun and he meditated for nine months without a break. Since his Master had taught him only meditation, there was no alternative for him to find out the way to attain the Final Reality, that is, Enlightenment, without meditation. He made the ceaseless efforts to achieve this Final Reality. He said "I will attain the Final Reality even at the cost of my life." By the grace of Master Bhausaheb Maharaj he attained the goal of Final Reality.
His efforts were finally rewarded as total and Full Realization blessed him. He then explained that one can achieve the Final Reality via Vihangam Marg (the birds' way), that is, by realizing through thought processes that Ignorance has come by hearing it over and over for generations. Only by practising and hearing otherwise, the truth, from the teachings of the Master(s) and thinking over it, just like the bird flies from one tree to another, one can attain Final Reality very fast. This is the shortest way to achieve the Final Reality.
In conjunction he taught that the path to Final Reality is reached by slipping easily through the gate of Laya, which is a clear sign of one's progress --- the danger being in mistaking it for the final goal of spiritual practice --- thus being deceived. Ignorance and thoughts are hand maidens. If the thoughts are absorbed in reality, one can go on to ultimate reality. See Stages of Mindfulness and Aborsption. He then started preaching his disciples to attain Final Reality via Vihangam Marg (the bird's way). First he gave the Knowledge of Final Reality to his disciples and then asked them to renounce and then told them to renounce even the act of renunciation. Finally he gave the knowledge of Vignana -- the Thoughtless Reality.
He preached in a very simple, lucid and sane language, by giving examples from daily life. He was of the opinion that Parmarth -- understanding of Final Reality should be taught in a very simple language without using high sounding or bombastic words, to make the people understand the Ultimate Reality. This he did from year 1925 to 1936. It was sometime during the first half of those mid-late 1920s a nearly disguised young American traveler on a spiritual quest toward Enlightenment, that gained fame anonymously some years later in a novel by the famous British playwright W. Somerset Maugham titled The Razor's Edge, visited Siddharemeshwar, one of the first Americans to do so. It has been written that from his stay in India he gained peace of mind.
The Maharaj passed away on 9th November, 1936, in Bombay, giving full understanding of the Final Reality to his disciples, especially so to two of the most accomplished followers Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj and Sri Ranjit Maharaj.