Sant Dnyaneshwar



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Fast Facts
Sant Dnyaneshwar.jpg
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Jñāneshvar, Jnandev, Jnanesvar, Jñanadeva
Function: 
Saint
Traditions: 
Nath, Varkari, Hinduism
Main Countries of Activity: 
India
Date of Birth: 
1275
Place of Birth: 
Apegaon, Paithan, Banks of River Godavari, Maharashtra, India
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
No
Date Left His/Her Body: 
1296
Ancestor Gurus: 

Biography

Dnyāneshwar was a 13th-century Maharashtrian Hindu saint, poet, philosopher and yogi of the Nath tradition whose works Bhavartha Deepika (a commentary on Bhagavad Gita, popularly known as "Dnyaneshwari"), and Amrutanubhav are considered to be milestones in Marathi literature.

Dnyaneshwar entered into "Sanjeevan Samadhi", a yogic path to salvation at the age of 21 in Alandi, Maharashtra.

According to Nath tradition Sant Dnyaneshwar was the second of the four children of Vitthal Govind Kulkarni and Rukmini, a pious couple from Apegaon near Paithan on the banks of the river Godavari. Vitthal had studied Vedas and set out on pilgrimages at a young age. In Alandi, about 30km from Pune, Sidhopant, a local Yajurveda brahmin, was very much impressed with him and Vitthal married his daughter Rukmini.

After some time, getting permission from Rukmini, Vitthal went to Kashi(Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, India), where he met Ramananda Swami and requested to be initiated into sannyas, lying about his marriage. But Ramananda Swami later went to Alandi and, convinced that his student Vitthal was the husband of Rukmini, he returned to Kashi and ordered Vitthal to return home to his family. The couple was excommunicated from the brahmin caste as Vitthal had broken with sannyas, the last of the four ashrams. Four children were born to them; Nivrutti in 1273, Dnyandev (Dnyaneshwar) in 1275, Sopan in 1277 and daughter Mukta in 1279. According to some scholars their birth years are 1268, 1271, 1274, 1277 respectively. It is believed that later Vitthal and Rukmini ended their lives by jumping into the waters at Prayag where the river Ganges meets Yamuna hoping that their children would be accepted into the society after their death.

The couple set out on a pilgrimage with their children to Tryambakeshwar, near Nashik, where their elder son Nivrutti (at the age of 10) was initiated in to the Nath tradition by Gahininath. The paternal great grandfather of Dnyaneshwar had been initiated into the Nath cult by Goraksha Nath (Gorakh Nath). The orphaned children grew up on alms. They approached the Brahmin community of Paithan to accept them but the Brahmins refused. According to the disputed "Shuddhi Patra" the children were purified by the Brahmins on condition of observing celibacy. Their argument with the Brahmins earned the children fame and respect due to their righteousness, virtue, intelligence, knowledge and politeness. Dnyaneshwar became the student of Nivruttinath along with his younger siblings Sopan and Mukta at the age of 8. He learnt and mastered the philosophy and various techniques of kundalini yoga.

The child moved to Nevasa, a village in Ahmednagar district, where Dnyaneshwar began his literary work when Nivruttinath instructed him to write a commentary on Bhagavad Gita. The Dnyaneshwari or Bhavartha Deepika was written down by Sacchidananandbaba from discourses by Dnyaneshwar. By the time the commentary was complete Dnyaneshwar was only 15 years old.
Considered a masterpieces of Marathi literature, the 18 chapters of the Dnyaneshwari are composed in a metre called "ovi". Dnyaneshwar liberated the "divine knowledge" locked in the Sanskrit language to bring that knowledge into Prakrit (Marathi) and made it available to the common man. He was confident that he would write in marathi in as good or better manner than Sanskrit.

After having composed Amrutanubhava, Dnyaneshwar made a pilgrimage to northern India with Namdev and other saints. After completing this pilgrimage he expressed his intention to enter into a state of Samadhi because he felt that the mission of his life was complete. It is widely propagated that at the age of 21 on 13th day of the second half of Kartik in Shaka 1218, Dnyaneshwar entered into a permanent state of Sanjeevan Samadhi at Alandi in Pune in Maharashtra, India.

Teachings

Sant Dyaneshwar realized that the Gitas teaching could be read only by a small Sanskrit-knowing elite. Dyaneshwar, under the advise of his Guru, Ninrathinath, rendered a Marathi version of the Gita known as Dyaneshwari. It contains more than 9000 verses called ovies. So Sant Dyaneshwar brought teaching of the Gita within reach of the common man. Dyaneshwari was composed around the twelfth century, when Dyaneshwar was only 16 years old.

Dyaneshwar presented his work to his guru Nivruthinath and sought his blessing. He did this through a poem of just nine vereses called Pasaydan literally means a request, asking boons from god .In the Pasayandan Dyaneshwar asked nothing for himself but he prayed for the well being of entire mankind.

In the second verse Pasayandan Dyaneshwar requests the lord to grant him a boon which will remove all evils from wicked persons putting them on a righteous path. The evils in human beings are indulgence, anger greed, ride; Kama, krodh, Lobh, Matsar & Ahankar. He prayed that these evils be replaced by kindness, humility, tolerance, forgiveness and devotion and surrender to God. Dyaneshwar says let the people of the world be happy and let them do good deeds to make others happy. Dyaneshwar says that while lowing steams provide water needed for life, the banyan tree provides shade and shelter from the sun’s heat ,without any expectation. Being good and doing good to others without evils thoughts or expectations of rewards ,is the first step towards spiritual attainment.

Next Dyaneshwar requests God to remove ignorance from our lives and replace it with enlightenment and divine light to achieve our goal, to let everyone sticks to swadharma or his own scared duty towards others .If everyone sticks to swadharma there will be no conflict and happiness will prevail. Dyaneshwar requests God to fulfil the genuine desires and aspirations of all. All pious persons who perform their duty without any expectations or returns, will ultimately desire to became one with the Supreme.

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Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image

Dnyaneshwari in English

by shyamkant s. kulkarni, sant dnyaneshwar kulkarni

(Paperback)

This is an english translation of the treatise on Shrimat Bhagvat Geeta written in Marathi by Sant Dnyaneshwar in thirteenth century. It gives core ideology of hinduism. It brought for the first time religious knowledge from sanskrit into local language Marathi for common man. Sant Dnyanseshwar wrote it as poetry written in Owi format. It deals with self-realization and meditation.

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