David Godman has lived in India since 1976, mostly in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. He spent his time there studying and practising the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi. His anthology of Ramana Maharshi’s teachings, Be As You Are, is probably the most widely read book on Sri Ramana’s teachings. During his fourteen-year stay at Ramanasramam (1978-92) he managed the ashram’s library, catalogued its archives, and recorded the stories and experiences of devotees who had had direct contact with Sri Ramana.
David is the authorized biographer of two devotees of Sri Ramana Maharshi (Lakshmana Swamy and Papaji) who realized the Self in Sri Ramana’s presence and who later went on to become gurus themselves.
He has written and published several other books that contain first-person accounts of devotees who moved closely with Sri Ramana Maharshi and who were transformed by his power and presence.
In collaboration with two Tamil scholars, T. V. Venkatasubramanian and Robert Butler, he translated and edited several Tamil texts including two authoritative collections of Ramana Maharshi’s teachings that were originally recorded in Tamil verse. The three of them also joined forces to bring out Sorupa Saram, a translation of a text in which a 15th century Tamil saint and Guru, Sorupananda, speaks authoritatively of his experience of the Self. Earlier this year David and T. V. Venkatasubramanian completed a new book that will be entitled The Shining of my Lord. It will contain translations of Tamil verses by Muruganar, an enlightened devotee of Ramana Maharshi who wrote thousands of verses in which he praised his Guru, spoke of his own liberated state and thanked Sri Ramana for bestowing it on him. It will be published later this year.
In the 1970s David frequented Nisargadatta Maharaj’s satsangs in Mumbai. In the 1980s he was a regular visitor to the ashram of Lakshmana Swamy and Saradamma in Andhra Pradesh. When they moved to Tiruvannamalai in the early 1990s, he helped them to establish and landscape their new property at the foot of Arunachala, the holy mountain where Sri Ramana Maharshi spent all his adult life. For four years in the 1990s he lived with Papaji in Lucknow and ended up writing or editing five books about him.
Last year David released a series twenty-seven films on Youtube in which he spoke about Ramana Maharshi, the places where he stayed, his devotees and his teachings. The series contains about fifteen hours of talks about Sri Ramana and can be found here:
- Be as You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi (Compass)
- No mind, I am the self: The lives and teachings of Sri Lakshmana Swamy and Mathru Sri Sarada
- Living By the Words of Bhagavan: a biography of Annamalai Swami, a close devotee of Sri Ramana Maharshi
- Papaji Interviews: an anthology of interviews that Papaji gave to foreign visitors in the early 1990s
- Nothing Ever Happened(three volumes): a 1,200-page biography of H. W. L. Poonja, also known as ‘Papaji’.
- Final Talks – Annamalai Swami– teaching dialogues between Annamalai Swami and visitors to his ashram, recorded in the last six months of his life.
- The Power of the Presence (Part One)(three volumes): chapter-long accounts by devotees of Sri Ramana Maharshi that record their experiences of living with and being transformed him.
- The Power of the Presence (Part Two)
- The Power of the Presence (Part Three)
- Padamalai: Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi: Recorded by Muruganar
- Ramana Puranam– an edited and annotated 540-line poem that was jointly composed by Ramana Maharshi and Muruganar.
- The Fire of Freedom, Satsang with Papaji (The Fire of Freedom, Volume 1)– dialogues between Papaji and visitors that took place in his Lucknow home in 1991.
- Guru Vachaka Kovai (The Garland of Guru’s Sayings)– a translation of 1,254 verses, recorded in Tamil by Muruganar, that record Ramana Maharshi’s teachings.
Interview recorded 6/26/2016
Discussion of this interview in the Batgap Community Facebook Group
Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.