When asked about the date of his birth Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj replied blandly that he was never born! Not only the exact date of his birth is unknown, but no verified facts concerning the early years of his life are available. However, according to his elderly relatives, he was born in the month of March 1897 on a full moon day, which coincided with the festival of Hanuman Jayanti, when Hindus pay their homage to Hanuman, also named Maruti, the monkey-god of Ramayana fame. And to associate his birth with this auspicious day his parents named him Maruti. Available information about his boyhood and early youth is patchy and disconnected. His father, Shivrampant, was a poor man, who worked for some time as a domestic servant in Bombay and, later, eked out his livelihood as a petty farmer in a small village in the State of Maharashtra (India). Maruti grew up almost without education. As a boy he assisted his father in such labors as lay within his power -- tended cattle, drove oxen, worked in the fields and ran errands. His pleasures were simple, as his labors, but he was gifted with an inquisitive mind, bubbling over with questions of all sorts. When Maruti attained the age of eighteen his father died, leaving behind his widow, four sons and two daughters. The meager income from the small farm dwindled further after the old man s death and was not sufficient to feed so many mouths. Maruti s elder brother left the village for Bombay in search of work and he followed shortly after. In Bombay he worked for a few months as a low-paid junior clerk in an office, but resigned the job in disgust. He then took petty trading as a haberdasher and started a shop for selling children s clothes, tobacco, and hand-rolled country cigarettes (bidis). This business flourished in course of time, giving him some sort of financial security. During this period he got married and had a son and three daughters. Childhood, youth, marriage, progeny -- Maruti lived the usual humdrum and eventless life of a common man till his middle age, with no inkling at all of the sainthood that was to follow. Through a friend he met with his future guru Sri Siddharameshwar Maharaj, a spiritual teacher of the Navanath Sampradaya, a sect of Hinduism. That meeting proved to be the turning point in his life. The guru gave him a mantra and instructions in meditation. Early in his practice he started having visions and occasionally even fell into trances. Something exploded within him, as it were, giving birth to a cosmic consciousness, a sense of eternal life. The identity of Maruti, the petty shopkeeper, dissolved and the illuminating personality of Sri Nisargadatta emerged. Later, abandoning his family and business he became a mendicant, a pilgrim over the vastness and variety of the Indian religious scene. He walked barefooted on his way to the Himalayas where he planned to pass the rest of his years in quest of an eternal life. But he soon retraced his steps and came back home, comprehending the futility of such a quest. Eternal life, he perceived, was not to be sought for; he already had it. Having gone beyond the I-am-the-body idea, he had acquired a mental state so joyful, peaceful, and glorious that everything appeared to be worthless compared to it. He had attained self-realization. Uneducated though the Master is, his conversation is enlightened to an extraordinary degree. He is warm-hearted and tender, shrewdly humorous, absolutely fearless and absolutely true -- inspiring, guiding, and supporting all who come to him. Maharaj died on September 8, 1981 at the age of 84.