Papaji’s Biography


I have just read the biography of Papaji which is on your website which I found by accident, and felt very fortunate about it because it is so profound and it made me understand much better. And I watched a lot of Papaji's Satsangs on YouTube and feel very much for him so I feel very blessed on my way to realize the truth to come in touch with Papaji, because he was the first one I saw who gave me an experience in my heart which is difficult to describe, and although he is no longer in his physical form, he is alive forever in my understanding.So thank you very very much and greetings from Germany.Pranams,

Earliest Memory

My earliest memory is of a striking experience which occurred when I was about eight years old. The year was 1919. The British, having recently triumphed in the First World War, had given all schoolchildren a one-month holiday so that they could join in the victory celebrations. They even gave us a little badge to wear to commemorate the victory. We were living in Faisalabad at the time, in a part of the Punjab that is now in Pakistan. My mother de­cided that this unscheduled vacation would be an ideal time to go and visit some of our relatives who lived in Lahore. The visit must have taken place in the summer of that year because I distinctly remember that mangoes were in season at the time.


One evening, while we were all sitting in my relative’s house in Lahore, someone started to prepare a mango, milk and almond drink for everyone. It should have been a mouth-watering treat for a boy of my age, but when a glassful of it was offered to me, I made no attempt to stretch out my hand to receive it. It was not that I didn’t want to drink it. The truth was, I had just been consumed and engulfed by an experience that made me so peaceful and happy, I was unable to respond to the offered glass. My mother and the other women present were both aston­ished and alarmed by my sudden inactivity. They all gathered around me, trying to decide what had happened and what to do


By this time my eyes were closed. Though I was unable to respond to their queries, I could hear the dis­cussion going on around me, and I was fully aware of all their attempts to bring me back to my usual state.They shook me, they gently slapped my face, they pinched my cheeks.


Someone even lifted me up in the air, but nothing elicited any kind of physical response from me. I was not being stubborn. The experience was so overwhelming it had effectively paralysed my ability to respond to any ex­ternal stimuli. For about an hour they tried everything they could think of to bring me back to a normal state of con­sciousness, but all their attempts failed.


I had not been sick, this had not happened to me before and, just prior to its commencement, I had not been exhib­iting any strange symptoms. Because of the suddenness of theevent, because it had never happened before, and be­cause no amount of shaking could wake me, my family came to the conclusion that a malevolent spirit had suddenly and mysteri­ously possessed me. In those days there were no doctors or psychiatrists to run to. When something like this happened, the standard response was to take the victim tothe local mosque so that the mulla could perform an exorcism. We even used to take our buf­faloes to him when they got sick or failed to give milk in the hope that his exorcisms and mantras would somehow remove the affliction.


So, even though I came from a Hindu family, I was car­ried to the local mosque and shown to the mulla. He chanted some words while simultaneously running some metal tongs over my body. That was the standard way of performing an exorcism. The mulla, with his usual opti­mism, said that I would soon recover, but his efforts, like those of my family before him, failed to bring me out of the state I was in. Still paralyzed, I was carried home and put to bed. For two full days, I stayed in this peaceful, blissful, happy state, unable to communicate with anyone, but still fully aware of the various things that were going on around me.


At the end of this two-day period I opened my eyes again. My mother, who was an ardent Krishna bhakta, came up to me and asked, ‘Did you see Krishna?’ Seeing how happy I was, she had abandoned her initial idea that I had been possessed and had substituted for it a theory that I had had some kind of mystical experience involving her own favourite deity.


‘No I replied, ‘all I can say about it is that I was very happy. As far as first causes were concerned, I was as much in ignorance as my family.


I did not know what I had been experiencing or what had precipitated this sudden immer­sion into intense and paralyzing happiness.


I told my mother when she pressed me further, ‘There was tremendous happiness, tremendous peace, tremen­dous beauty. More than that I cannot say.’ It had been, in fact, a direct experience of the Self, but I did not under­stand this at the time. It was to be many years before I fully appreciated what had happened to me.


My mother would not give up her theory. She went and fetched a picture which portrayed Krishna as a child, showed it to me and asked, ‘Did you see anyone like this?’
Again I told her, ‘No, I didn’t’.


My mother used to sing Krishna bhajans in our house. She had married when she was sixteen and given birth to me when she was eighteen. So, when all this happened, she was still a young woman. Since both her face and her voice were extremely beautiful, her bhajans attracted many people to our house.


Although it did not tally with my own direct experi­ence, my mother somehow convinced me that the happi­ness had been caused by coming into contact with Krishna. She encouraged me to become a devotee of Krishna, saying that, if I meditated on Krishna and repeated His name, the experience I had had of Him would sooner or later return. This was a powerful argument for me. Ever since I had opened my eyes, I had felt a great longing to have that ex­perience again. Since I could think of no other way of get­ting it back, I followed my mother’s advice and began to worship Krishna. My mother herself taught me how to per­form all the various rituals and practices associated with the Krishna cult. Once I began, it did not take me long to develop an intense and passionate love for the form of Krishna. I soon forgot that the purpose of my devotion was to get back to that state which I had experienced for two days. I became so fascinated with Krishna, so enamoured of His form, the love I felt for Him soon displaced my de­sire to get back to that original experience of happiness.


I was particularly attracted to one picture of the child Krishna, the same one that my mother had shown me on the last day of my experience. To me, the face was so inde­scribably beautiful, so magnetically attractive, I had little difficulty in pouring all my love and devotion into it. As a result of this intense bhakti, Krishna began to appear before me, taking the same form as the picture. He would regu­larly appear to me at night, play with me, and even try to sleep in my bed. I was very innocent at thetime. I didn’t realise that this manifestation was one of the great deities of Hinduism, and that some of His devotees spent whole lifetimes striving to get a single glimpse of Him. Naively, I thought that it was quite natural for Him to appear in my bedroom and play with me.


His physical form was as real as my own—I could feel it and touch it—but He could also appear to me in a more subtle form. If I put a blanket over my head, I could still see Him. Even when I closed my eyes, the image of Him was still there in front of me. This Krishna was full of playful energy. He always appeared after I had gone to bed and His childish and enthusiastic playing kept me awake and prevented me from going to sleep. When the novelty of His initial visits had worn off, I started to feel that His appear­ances were becoming a bit of a nuisance because He was preventing me from sleeping, even when I was very tired. As I was trying to think up some way of making Him go away, it occurred to me that it would be a good idea if I sent Him off to see my mother. I knew that, as an ardent Krishna bhakta, she would be delighted to see Him too.


Why don’t you go and sleep with my mother?’ I asked Him one night. ‘You are not allowing me to go to sleep. Go to my mother instead.’ Krishna seemed to have no interest in my mother’s company. He never went to see her, prefer­ring instead to spend all His time with me.


One night my mother overheard us talking and asked, ‘Who are you talking to?’


‘I am speaking with your Krishna,’ I replied, ingenu­ously. ‘He disturbs me at night and doesn’t let me sleep. If I close my eyes I still see Him, sometimes more clearly than when they are open. Sometimes I put a blanket over my head, but I still see Him. He always wants to sleep with me, but I cannot sleep while He is here.’


She came into the room to investigate, but she didn’t see Him. In all the times that Krishna came to our house, she never saw Him once.


When He wasn’t there I always felt a desire to see Him. I really did want to see Him and play with Him. The only problem was that I was often so tired when He came I felt that He should, after a decent interval, leave me in peace so that I could lie down and get some sleep.


He didn’t come every night. Sometimes I would see Him and sometimes I wouldn’t. I never doubted His real­ity; I never had the idea it was some kind of vision. I even wrote a postcard to Him once, telling Him how much I loved Him. I posted it and wasn’t at all surprised when I got a reply from Him, properly stamped and franked and delivered by the postman. He was so real to me, it seemed quite natural to correspond with Him by post.


From the moment that Krishna first came into my life, I lost interest in my schoolwork. I would sit in class, appar­ently paying attention, but my mind and heart would be on the form of Krishna. Sometimes, when waves of bliss would surge up inside me, I would abandon myself to the experience and lose contact with the outside world.


From the time of my first experience a desire to search for God and a hunger in me for Him were always present. I was always, unconsciously, looking for an outlet for these feelings. When I was about eleven, for example, a group of sadhus passed by our house. I was immediately attracted to them and tried to join their group. ‘My parents are dead,’ I told them. ‘Will you look after me?’ They agreed and we walked off together to a place about twenty kilometres away from the town. I didn’t tell my parents, so they, of course, spent several days frantically looking for me. Then, following up a rumour that I had been seen with these sadhus, they tracked me down to our camp.

I remember my father exclaiming, after he had finally found me, ‘I thought you were lost! I thought you were lost!’


I wasn’t the least bit repentant about my adventures. I retorted, ‘How can I be lost? Am I a buffalo that I can get lost and not know where I am? I always knew where I was.’ I didn’t have any appreciation of the worry and the concern I had caused my parents. By joining the sadhus I had merely expressed my yearning and hunger for God. I even went so far as to tell my father, ‘Why have you come to look for me instead of leaving me with God?’ My father, naturally, would not allow me to stay there. He lectured the sadhus on what he thought was their irresponsible behaviour and then took me back to town.


During my childhood other boys would act out their fantasies by playing soldiers or pretending they were fa­mous sportsmen or rulers. I, on the contrary, had an urge to imitate sadhus. I knew nothing of the inner life of such people, but I was quite content merely to mimic the exter­nals. I particularly remember one day when I decided to play at being a naked sadhu and persuaded my sister to join in the game. We stripped off, smeared our bodies with wood ash to imitate vibhuti and sat cross-legged in front of a fire which we made in out garden. That was as far as we could go because we didn’t know anything about medita­tion or yoga. One of our neighbours who happened to look over the common garden wall was understandably shocked to see a naked girl there, covered with ash. We were so innocent it didn’t occur to us that it wasn’t proper for young girls to sit outside with no clothes on. The neighbour summoned our mother and the game came to an abrupt end.