At the age of 16, Maharshi had a death-experience where he became aware of a current or force which he recognised as his true I or Self. He attracted devotees who regarded him as an avatar and came to him for darshan (the sight of God). An ashram grew up around him, where visitors received spiritual instructions by sitting silently in his company and raising their concerns and questions.
Maharshi never felt moved to formulate his teaching of his own will, either verbally or in writing. The few writings he is credited with came into being as answers to questions asked by his disciples or through their urging. I Am That is a compilation of talks on Nondualism philosophy.
Maharshi approved a number of paths and practices, but recommended self-enquiry as the principal means to remove ignorance and abide in Self-Awareness, together with devotion or surrender to the Self. Since the 1930’s his teachings have been popularised in the West, resulting in his worldwide recognition as an enlightened being.