Born in Texas in 1942, Gangaji grew up in Mississippi. After graduating from the University of Mississippi in 1964, she married and had a daughter. In 1972, she moved to San Francisco where she began exploring deeper levels of her being. She took Bodhisattva vows, practiced Zen and Vipassana meditation, helped run a Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Center, and had a career as an acupuncturist in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Despite her successes, Gangaji continued to experience a deep and persistent longing for fulfillment. She pursued many paths to change her life including relationship, motherhood, political activism, career, and spiritual practice, but even the greatest of her successes ultimately came up short. In the wake of her disillusionment, she made a final prayer for true help.
In 1990 the answer to her prayer came unexpectedly, taking her to India and to the meeting that would change everything. There, on the banks of the river Ganga, she met Sri H.W.L. Poonja, also known as Papaji, who opened the floodgates of her self-recognition. In this meeting, Gangaji’s personal story of suffering ended and the promise of a true life began to flower and unfold. Today, Gangaji travels the world speaking to seekers from all walks of life. A teacher and author, she shares her direct experience of the essential message she received from Papaji and offers it to all who want to discover a true and lasting fulfillment. Through her life and words, she powerfully articulates how it is really possible to discover the truth of who you are and be true to that discovery. See Photos
Sri Ramana Maharshi
Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi was one of the 20th Century’s most celebrated saints. Born in India in 1879, he spontaneously awakened to his eternal nature at the age of 16. Confronted by his father’s recent death, and overcome with fear for his own, he felt compelled to experience death directly. In his full and profound inquiry into death, he discovered himself to be that life which cannot die.
“What is got afresh will also be lost. What is not permanent is not worth striving for. You are the Self. You are already That!”
– Ramana Maharshi
After keeping silent for 11 years, Ramana began to answer questions from the people who had come to sit in silence with him. The name Ramana, which was given to him by one of his disciples, means, “that which resides in the heart of all being.”
Sri H.W.L. Poonja
Sri Harilal W. Poonja, or Papaji, as he is affectionately known, was born in the Western Punjab in 1910. His mother was the sister of Swami Rama Tirta, a well known sage and poet. Poonjaji was eight years old when he first experienced the unstoppable bliss of his own infinite nature. As a young man Poonja served in the Indian army. After resigning his commission he began a spiritual quest in search of God, which took him all over India. Everywhere he went he was disappointed, finding only “businessmen disguised as sadhus.”
Finally, when he was in his early 30s, Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi appeared in a vision and directed him to go to Tiruvannamalai. There, in the presence of Bhagavan, his Master, he ended his search.
After the partition of India, Papaji settled his family in Lucknow. It was there, towards the end of his life, that he began to be discovered by Western devotees. When Gangaji met Papaji in 1990, he was 80 years old. He welcomed her as he welcomed all who came to his door, with eyes that were flashing with truth. Papaji died in 1997. More About Papaji
Visit The Avadhuta Foundation to access Papaji’s free library of videos, audio, and photos.
This is a sample of the correspondence between Gangaji and Papaji, which began shortly after their first meeting in April 1990, and lasted until Papaji’s death in 1997.
“May they be recognized as both my love for my guru and the overflowing intimate mystery of self meeting itself.” —Gangaji