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 the immanent possibility of his own death, he knew himself to be that which cannot die. Shortly afterwards he journeyed to Tiruvannamalai, where he spent the rest of his life in the presence of the holy mountain, Arunachala, said to be an incarnation of Shiva.
After keeping silent for a number of years, Ramana began to speak of his realization. Many came to him, and he answered their questions. An ashram grew up around him. Today many people still visit his cave on the slopes of Arunachala to drink in his silent presence. The name Ramana, which was given to him by 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 was 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 he 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 to him 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.