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H. W. L. Poonja was persuaded by his mother that he could regain this experience by devotion to the Hindu God Krishna, and so he gave himself over to this and began to have visions of Krishna.
As an adult he led a normal life: he married, raised two children and joined the British army, while secretly his love for Krishna and his visions continued. He became obsessed with a longing to have the experience of seeing God all the time. He continuously repeated Krishna's name (japa) and traveled throughout India asking sages if they could deliver the ability to produce the darshan of God at will. After all his attempts had failed he returned to his family in Lyallpur. Poonjaji travelled to Tiruvannamalai to meet the sage Ramana Maharshi at Ramanashramam at Arunachala.
He found that he could no longer bring his mind to think of God, do japa or any other spiritual practice. He asked Ramana for help and was told that this was not a problem, that all his practice had carried him to this moment and it could be left behind now because it had served its purpose. When telling Ramana about the story of his search of the Self;
After his transformation he stayed in southern India until 1947, when during the partition of India, despite Poonjaji's fierce longing to stay with his master, Ramana sent him to his old home in the Punjab (then in the new country of Pakistan) to bring his family to the safety of Lucknow, India. Ramana's last words to him were: “I am with you wherever you go.”
In the following years Poonja earned money to support his family, meeting with seekers and sharing satsangs. In 1953 he met his first Western disciple, Henri Le Saux, also known as Swami Abhishiktananda, who wrote many books on Advaita Vedanta and Christianity. In 1966 he retired and spent a lot of time in the Himalayan foothills.David Godman moved to Lucknow in 1992, and stayed with him till 1997, and soon became his biographer, in the following years edited and published a number of books on him, including, Papaji Interviews, an anthology of interviews, and Nothing Ever Happened, a three volume 1,200-page biography.
His teaching emphasizes that words can only point to ultimate truth, but never are ultimate truth, and that intellectual understanding without directly realizing the truth through one's own investigation is not enough. Like Sri Ramana he stressed that teaching through silence was more important than teaching through words.