Saint Dnyaneshwar and Social Harmony

Saint Dnyaneshwar was a great saint and poet as well as promoter of the Bhagwat Sect in 13th Century Maharashtra. He was a yogi and a philosopher too. His poetic literature includes Bhavarthdeepika (Dnyaneshwari), Amrutanubhav, Changdevpasashti and HaripathacheAbhanga. Through his literature, he created confidence in common people that spiritual and philosophical thoughts could be expressed in Marathi language also and they have rightful share in the Cosmic Democracy. Saint Dnyaneshwar was born in Alandi in the year 1275AD(Bhadrapad Krishna Paksha Ashtami, 1332 Vikram Samvat)to Vitthalpant Kulkarni andRukminibai. Vitthalpant had four children: Nivrutti, Dnyanadev, Sopandev and Muktabai.  Ancestors of Vitthalpant were known to be very holy and righteous. Saint Dnyaneshwar’s great-grandfather Tryambakpant had obtained a spiritual-initiation at the hands of Gorakshanathand Dnyaneshwar’s grandfather Govindpant and grandmother Neerabai had obtained a spiritual-initiation at the hands of Gahininath. In his young age, Vitthalpant went to Varanasiand started living life of a Sanyasi (an ascetic). Later, his Guru sent him back to the house holder’s lifeto Alandi. Vitthalpant had four children in twelve years of Grihasthashram. Vitthalpant’s lineage formed the foundation stone of the spiritual way which promised spiritual liberation of the entire human race Dnyaneshwar has elaborated about this lineage in the last Chapter (Adhyay) of Dnyaneshwari (Chapter 19). The lineage goes like this:  Adinath, Matsyendranath, Chauranginath, Gorakshanath, Gahininath, Nivruttinath and Dnyananath (Dnyaneshwar himself). This lineage is clearly a Guru-Shishya Parampara, a pure lineage of the teacher and disciple.

After the death of their parents, Dnyaneshwar and his three siblings went from village to village spreading the message of Bhaktimarga(the path of Bhakti),throughKeertans and Pravachans (discourses). During this period, while at Mhalsapur (Nevase) which is about 2 km from Godavari, Dnyaneshwar completed Dnyanadevi or Dnyaneshwari in 1290 AD which was his commentary on the Bhagavad Geeta. He also composed Amrutanubhav or Anubhavamrutafter instructions from his Guru, Nivruttinath. Then he set out for a nation-wide pilgrimage with Saint Namdev spreading Bhagwat Dharma – Varkari Sampradaya. The devotees and believers of Varkari Sampradaya and others too call Saint Dnyaneshwar as “Mauli” (a respectful cupellationfor one’s mother) who cared for everyone and expected aspirations of all living beings to be fulfilled (‘जो जे वांछील, तो ते लाहो’). He laid the foundation stone of Bhagwat Dharma and the Varkari sect. Saint Dnyaneshwar performed an unparalleled task of bringing unity in the spiritual realm by informally leading such great saints as Saint Namdev, Saint GoraKumbhar, Saint Savtamali, Saint Narahari Sonar, and SaintChokhamela,etc. In Dnyaneshwari he has written


वरिदेहाचेनिनांवें।पशूचेंहीलाभो।।  (अ. ९ : ४४१)


परिमजसींतुकितांतुका।तुटीनाहीं।।  (अ. ९ : ४४९)


एथअर्जुनामाझेपण।सार्थकएक।।  (अ. ९ : ४५६)


मगहोऊनिठाकतीकेवळ।गंगारूप।।  (अ. ९ : ४५८)


जंवनघापतीएकवटें।अग्नीमाजीं।।  (अ. ९ : ४५९)


जातीतंवचिवेगळालिया।जंवनपवतीमातें।।  (अ. ९ : ४६०)


Meaning: Until the water from a drain or river doesn’t merge into the Ganges, it is referred to as the water of a drain or river. However, once that same water merges into the Ganges, it is known as the Ganges river. Similarly, whether it’s the wood of the khair tree, sandalwood tree, or any other tree, this distinction remains until they are not thrown into a fire together. As soon as they enter the fire, all the wood becomes the same. In the same way, the distinctions of Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Shudras, Antyajas, and women remain separate until they don’t unite with the supreme divine. Hence, the notions of superior castes, lineages, and classes are all futile. The word “Samras” is the favorite term of SaintDnyaneshwa. What is experienced with joy is called Samras. The foundation of harmony is laid in culture, which awakens the divinity within humans, so that they may recognize the divine in others. The primary goal of all saints, including SaintDnyaneshwa, was to awaken the divinity in humans. The path to coexistence is through spirituality. Saint Dnyaneshwar initiated the work of spiritual awakening. They have more faith in harmony than in opposition. Their ideology is not sectarian but integrated and comprehensive.  In 1296AD, Saint Dnyaneshwar took ‘Samadhi’ at the young age of 21 at Alandion the shores of Indrayani river. After his Samadhi within a year’s time his brothers Nivruttinath and Sopandev and sister Muktabai also left this mortal world.

Saint Dnyaneshwar’s first biography can be found in Saint Namdev’s Gatha, which is called “Adi, Teerthavali and Samadhi Abhangas”.

full article                Saint Dnyaneshwar Eng

Author: Dhananjay Sapre , Social Studies Foundation, Pune

(The original article is in Marathi. Translated into English by Sandeep Lele)       



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