...Previously I had watched Nisargadatta clean and anoint all the holy pictures in his room. He would put fresh kumkum on the pictures of the Navnath Sampradaya, Siddharameshwar and other holy personages. This was done with great deliberation. I hadn't thought of Maharaj as a devotionally oriented Guru 'til then. But to sit in his room and see the huge silvery altar to his Guru, one got the feeling that it came naturally to him. There were also occasions when he would be re-enacting the devotion between Vithoba and Tukaram.
(I think these were the Marathi Saints.)
Maharaj's face would light up, beatifically. 'I Am That' never portrayed Maharaj in this fashion and I think that it needs to be pointed out now. At Maharaj's place the chanting was loud, almost raucous.Maharaj himself, was in charge of a huge puja bell, looking like the Liberty Bell. He was ringing it vigorous. The sound was incredible. It shattered my head into a million pieces. In any other situation this would have been impossible, a real bummer, a migraine maker.
However it was utterly blissful and I felt that Maharaj was destroying "me". Were there two at that time? Was there a separate "one" being venerated. I think not! Maharaj showed me that devotion to the Guru, devotion to the One with out a second, was possible. He was the exemplar. My other favorite part of the evening was the chanting of " Jai Guru Jai" Everyone there (except me) was familiar with this chant and it was sung with alot of gusto. At the end of the chant, Jai's are given to Nisargadatta Maharaj, Siddharameshwar Maharaj, Bhausahib Maharaj (Siddharameshwar's guru), His Guru's Guru and maybe even further back. To acknowledge the lineage going back in time was very powerful. And very alive. In fact, I left the house with the sound of more rousing "Jai Guru, Jai" spilling out into the street and following us to Grant Road.
Did I believe that Maharaj saw any dualism in his devotional activies. Absolutely not!
Years later I saw a video of Maharaj with his disciples at this same
samadhi, doing puja, chanting. I believe it was either a death anniversary or so other important occassion. Having been there, I felt that I understood the experience more deeply. Of Maharaj's reverence for Siddharameshwar.
And in years after that, when I heard of Maharaj's own funeral, I could visualize it taking place. Supposedly, he was taken on the back of a truck, a brass band playing, the whole neighborhood turning out. Which was interesting because they acted like he was just an ordinary guy. Maharaj was cremated. But I think that is in keeping with the way he lived, like a common man, no fanfare.