Shri Jnaneshwar, the well-known saint of Maharashtra, was not only a realised soul but a gifted poet. At a very early age, he wrote his masterpiece, the Jnaneshwari, a commentary on the Gita in Marathi in exquisite poetry. He has explained the Gita not by recourse to rational arguments but by the profuse use of similes, metaphors and illustrations. Initiated into the Natha Sampradaya by his elder brother Nivrittinatha, disciple of Gahininatha, he assimilated, in his later life, the non-dual jnana of Vedanta and the pure bhakti of the Bhagawata Dharma. In his Jnaneshwari, he calls the Gita the literary image of Lord Krishna. Indeed one can say that his Jnaneshwari is the literary image of his knowledge and experience.
Like Sri Shankaracharya, he was an advaita-vadin, a non-duellist. He explains verse IX. 12 of the Gita as follows:
"The Lord says, although I am formless, without limiting conditions, inactive, beyond the qualities, changeless and all-pervasive, ignorant people ascribe to Me form, limitations, actions, qualities, and a definite place. Although I am - unmanifest. desireless and devoid of action and enjoyment, they think of Me as manifest, full of desires, agent and enjoyer. They impute to Me hands and feet, eyes and ears, caste and family, although I do not possess them. Even though I am self-existent, they make idols of Me and instal them with proper rites of consecration, and though I am all-pervading, they invite Me with an innovation and bid farewell to Me with an immersion. They worship an idol as a form of divinity and later throw away the broken idol as worthless. They thus impute to Me human attributes."
Sri Jnaneshwar says that true knowledge consists in knowing God in the non-dual form and that devotion should culminate in Advaita bhakti. The devotee should realise God as all-pervasive; and wherever he casts his eyes, he should see God therein. This shows that Sri Jnaneshwar had become a Jnani-Bhakta of the highest order as described in the Gita (Verse.VII. 17).
Although he was born in a village, Alandi, about 20 Kms. from Pune, he is worshipped all over Maharashtra as Mauli (Mother) by a large number of devotees. The members of the Warkari Sampradaya have kept the lamp of devotion burning in Maharashtra. Shree Jnaneshwar says that every-one should perform his duty as a yajna and offer his or her actions as flowers at the feet of God. This message is as relevant today as seven hundred years ago, and deserves to be known not only in this country but also all over the world. In the meantime, the Marathi Language has undergone changes and even the Marathi -speaking people today find the Jnaneshwari unintelligible. So, a translation of Jnaneshwari in modern Marathi was also a need of the time. I am sure that the lucid translation of Shri Yardi, in modern Marathi, Hindi, and English will supply this long-felt want. This is a fitting tribute to a saint who regarded the whole world as his home he visiwachi majhe ghara. I congratulate the Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan for bringing out these books in the seventh centenary year of the Jnaneshwar. Ramkrishna Math Hyderabad 500029 ' Swami Ranganathananda 9 February, 1991.