Nisargadatta Maharaj was a contemporary master of Advaita (Non-duality). He was born in Bombay (Mumbai) in March 1897 and grew up with the given name of Maruti, with little or no formal education. After a brief stint as a clerk, he opened a shop selling Beedies (leaf-rolled cigarettes). Maruti married in 1924 and, soon after, had three children – a son and three daughters. When he was 34, a friend introduced him to the spiritual master Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj, who was head of the Inchegeri branch of the Navanath Sampradaya. Maruti followed his guru Siddharameshwar Maharaj’s instructions and within three years attained Self-realisation. He then took on the new name of ‘Nisargadatta’.
Nisargadatta Maharaj gave talks and answered questions at his humble dwelling in Khetwadi. In 1973, the publication of I Am That, an English translation of his talks in Marathi by Maurice Frydman, brought him worldwide recognition. The success of this book brought many devotees, Western as well as Indian, to his dwelling where he gave satsangs. I Am That is considered one of the greatest spiritual books of the 20th century. At the time of his death in 1981, he was his guru’s successor as the head of the Inchegari branch of the Navanath Sampradaya.