Shri Jnaneshwar was a great poet-saint of Maharashtra, who lived in the 13th Century. He was born at Alandi, a town near Poona, in 1271 A.D. and took Sanjivant Samadhi when he was only twenty-two years old. As the sun sheds his light before he rises, he attained self-realisation in his young age. As stated by him his intelligence matured as a result of the austerity of truthfulness practised by him in his former births. He wrote such excellent works as Jnaneshwari, Amritanubhava, Changdeva-Pasashti and devotional songs (abhangas). His commentary Bhavarthadipika, popularly known as Jnaneshwari is a precious gem of the Marathi language. In this work he has explained an abstruse subject like the Vedanta in lucid words by the use of appropriate similes, metaphors and illustrations. But many changes have taken place in the vocabulary and the style of Marathi language since then, as a result of which this work has become unintelligible to even the Marathi speaking people. An attempt has been made to translate it in prose, which is easy to understand, without disturbing its character as a dialogue. A translation of Gita in Marathi in the same metre has been given so that those who do not know Sanskrit will also understand the doctrine and yoga of the Gita.

Even though Shri Jnaneshwar was born in Maharashtra, he had the conviction that he belonged to the whole world, he wishwa chi majhe ghara. In order that this work should be known everywhere, I have translated it in simple Hindi and English. It was my strong desire that these translations should be completed during this seventh centenary year of the composition of Jnaneshwari and this desire has been fulfilled by his grace.

The Jnaneshwari, like the Gita, is a superb philosophical poem. Shri Jnaneshwar declares that philosophical poem. Shri Jnaneshwar declares that by his words he will give form to the formless and make the senses enjoy what is beyond them. He says that his diction is such as will excel nectar with a wager. He states that he has used such words that they will lead to quarrels among the senses. The ears will have tongues to relish their savour. The tongue will say that the word is its object. The ears will wish to smell them. The eyes will say that the store of form has opened out for them. When a sentence becomes complete the mind will go forward to embrace it. The devotees of Jnaneshwar, therefore, while appreciating the beauties of his poetry, are likely to miss its import, but since Jnaneshwari is a religious text, only those who will become introspective and experience it even in a small way will achieve bliss. As Shri Namadeva has said, one should experience at least one ovi. But many of his devotees take pleasure in the literary merits of his work. It is, however, essential that after appreciating the poetry, one should try to understand his philosophy. One ought, therefore, to reflect over the thoughts expressed by Shri Jnaneshwar. It is hoped that this translation will make such reflection easy.

Critical Edition of Jnaneshwari

The last volume of the Critical Edition of the Mahabharata undertaken by the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute was published in 1968. But it is a pity that even in the year 1990 we do not have a critical edition of Jnaneshwari. The late Prof. S. N. Banahatti had made an Attempt to bring out such an edition and had collected many printed and hand-written manuscripts for that purpose.1 He published the critical edition of the twelfth chapter 1n 1967, giving the different readings. But this work could not be finished due to his premature death.

Prof. Banahatti had sought the views of his scholar friends as to how he should set about this work. While most of them accepted the need of such an edition, there were two divergent views as to how it should be prepared. One view was that the oldest manuscript should be taken as the vulgate and the divergent readings in the other manuscripts should be recorded in notes on the same page. The other view was that a critical edition should be prepared by comparing and examining the divergent readings and by adopting those readings which are determined as the oldest by the application of appropriate tests. The late Prof. V.S. Sukthankar, who was the. First to undertake the work of bringing out a critical edition of the Adiparva of Mahabharata has discussed what tests should be applied in his Prolegomena to that Parva. As regards the first method, both V.K. Rajawade and S.V. Dandekar who belonged to the Warkari sect claimed that the manuscripts secured by them were the oldest. There are two objections to adopting the first view. It is very difficult to decide which is the oldest manuscript as different opinions may be held on that matter. And even 1f it is possible to decide about the oldest manuscript, it will be a mistake to regard it as the original, unless one can settle that the author or his direct disciple wrote it.

[ 1. Prof. Banahatti. Shri Jananadevi (Adhyaya barava), (in Marathi) Pune. 1967. ]

Prof. Banhatti, after considering these two views, decided to bring out a critical edition and this was a proper decision. This is not the first time that such an attempt was made. The first critical editor of Jnaneshwari was Saint Eknath of Paithan (Aurangabad district). He says that he had determined the correct readings after collecting manuscripts and comparing them with one another. After him his contemporary Bhaskar, disciple of Raghunath, restored the Jnaneshwari, but his manuscript has not become available. It has a special importance as it was written within a period of thirty years after the death of Shri Eknath. After this in the seventeenth century, Shri Gopalashramaswami brought out his edition. He was a great devotee and had great veneration for Shri. Eknath. He states that he has chosen the most ancient readings. It seems that he had collected a number of manuscripts and determined the readings. But he has not mentioned how many books he had collated or the different readings, which he did not. Accept. So his edition too cannot be called a critical edition.

Prof. Banahatti has determined four traditions of Jnaneshwari,    l. Ekanatha, 2. Patangana, 3. Siddhanatha and 4. Barave. At the end of the manuscripts of Ekanathi tradition, there are three to five ovis, which state that it is the edition. Prepared by Saint Eknath. The manuscript. Patangana traditions do not contain any outward indication. Prof. Banahatti has given this name to 1t, as three out of four manuscripts wen recovered from the Patangana temple in Beed district. The Siddhanatha and Barave tradition: have been named so because these names are mentioned at the end of the manuscripts. Those manuscripts, which do not belong to any of these traditions, have been styled as independent.

It is not proper to classify the traditions on the basis of the names occurring at the end of the manuscripts; for Prof. Banahatti himself states that the readings in the Shaligram Ms. and Barave Ms. agree with those of the Mss. in the Ekanathi tradition. The readings in the Ashtekar Ms., Tanjavar Barve Ms. and Bhandarkar No.2 Ms. also agree mostly with the Mss. in the Ekanatha tradition. Therefore it would be reasonable to include the above three Mss. also in the Ekanathi tradition. Now there remain the Vipra Ms., Bharata Itihasa Saimshodhaka Mandala Kulkarni Ms. of the Siddhanath tradition, the Bhandarkar Ms. No. 1 and Jalgiri Ms. of the so-called independent tradition. About the Kulkarni Ms., Prof. Banahatti says that many of its readings tally with those of Bhandarkar Ms. No. 1 or the Patangana tradition. The Bhandarkar Ms. No. 1 contains a medley of readings from the Mss of Ekanathi tradition and other tradition. The readings in the Jalgiri Ms. agree with those of the Ekanatha tradition, but at many places they agree with the Patangana tradition also. So these four Mss. too cannot be categorised as an independent tradition.

Thus it appears that there were only two independent traditions: 1. The Ekanath tradition and 2. The Patangana tradition. By a strange coincidence, the second tradition also' was started by another Ekanath. As there was the famous Saint Ekanath at Paithan, at the same time there was a second Ekanathswami in Beed district in Marathawada. Saint Ekanatha of Paithan was a devotee of Shri Datta, while the Ekanathswami of Beed was a votary of Shri Ganesha. A second coincidence was that the name of Ekanathswami's Guru was also Jani Janardana. The place of Jani Janardanaswami in Beed is well known as Patangana. Ekanathaswami also took the pen name Eka Janardani and had authored many works. He had also written a commentary on the eleventh skandha of Bhagavata like Saint Ekanath of Paithan.2 Jani Janardanaswami belonged to the Natha Sampradaya and so it is natural that his disciples regarded Jnaneshwari as his own. The three Mss. out of four Mss. who belong to the Patangana tradition have internal similarity and its language looks more antiquated than that of Ekanath Mss. and seems to belong to the time of Jnaneshwar.

Thus there are two recessions of Jnaneshwari. In copying a Ms. there occur unintentional changes, which are due to inadvertence, inattention or misunderstanding. But some changes are deliberate because of the changes in the language, the tendency to simplification or to make the language flowery or more attractive. If the changes, which take place, are accidental, then it becomes possible to discover the genuine readings by applying scientific tests. But it would not be wrong to state that 1n the Ekanath Mss. attempts seem to have been made to bring about the simplification and modernisation of the original readings. The Ekanatha manuscripts can, therefore, be utilised to determine the Ms. as edited by Saint Ekanatha. For this purpose, one can use the Mss. belonging to the Paithan tradition, and all the Mss., which have a strong similarity to them such as the Shaligram Ms. the Barave Ms., No.2. It is necessary to determine the Ms. as edited by Saint Ekanatha as his Ms. is accepted by all and is easily comprehensible to all.

[ 2. G. D. Khanolkar. ed. Marathi Vanmayakosh. Vol. I, (Marathi) Bombay 1977.]

But it is possible to prepare a critical edition of the original Jnaneshwari by examining the four Mss. of the Patangana tradition. the Vipra Ms, the Bharata Itihasa Sanshodhaka Mandala Kulkarni Ms, Bhandarkar Ms. No. 1 and Jalgiri Ms. I fully endorse the wish which Bhaskara had expressed that the Maharashtrians should become disposed to undertake research into the original ovis of Jnaneshwari and make an attempt to reach the original ovis. I would suggest very humbly that the Jnanadeva Adhyasana set up by the Poona University should undertake this work.

The Life of Jnaneshwar

As we have not got a critical Edition of the Jnaneshwari, it is sad to state that a historical biography of Shri Jnaneshwar is also not available. All the accounts of his life have been written on the basis of the three chapters in the Namdeva Gatha (collection of Abhangas), entitled Adi, tirthavali and Samadhi. It is nature that the old biographers of Shri Jnaneshwara should take recourse to these chapters, which are imbued with his divine character. Mahipatabua, a biographer of saints in the times of the Peshwas and Niranjana Madhava, the author of Jnaneshwar – vijaya (Triumphs of Shri Jnaneshwar) have written their lives of Shri Jnaneshwar on the basis of these three chapters. The late Shri Pangarkar also has said in h1s introduction to his biography of Shri Jnaneshwar that he has made use of these three chapters. But the late Prof. S. V. Dandekar, though he belonged to the Warkari sect, has also given this traditional account without a cortical examination of its authenticity. Many scholars of Jnaneshwari such as Bhave, Pangarkar, Tulpule had suggested the possibility of interpolations in the Namdeva Gatha; but Shri R.C. Dhere, a well-known Marathi scholar, has established on the basis of the evidence collected by him that the Namdeva Gatha contains, 1n addition to the hymns (Abhangas) of Namadeva, the contemporary of Jnaneshwar, the hymns written by his other namesakes such as Vishnudas Nama 3. In the versified Shukakhyana, it is mentioned that this work was completed on the new moon day of the Pausha month in the sanvatsara named Manmatha. Although there is no mention of Shalivahanashaka in this, on the basis of the details given, Pandit Panduranga Shastri 4

[ 6. Ibid, p. 49 ]

formalities to one devoid of limiting condition, actions to the inactive, qualities to the qualityless and a location location to the all-pervasive. They attribute manifestation to the unmanifest and desires to the desireless and speak of him as agent and experiencer though he is not so. The Lord says.' They ascribe to Me caste though I am casteless and feet, hands. ears, eyes, lineage and habitation, though I do not possess any of these. Although I am self-existent, they make an idol of Me and consecrate it and although I pervade everything they invoke Me and dismiss Me. Thus making an idol of Me, they worship it and when it breaks they throw it away. In fact they ascribe to Me all the human qualities of Such is their false knowledge which comes in the way of true knowledge (Ovis 155- 170)". Thus the doctrine of Jnaneshwar 1s different from the qualified monism, dualism and pure non-dualism which held that the Supreme Self possesses auspicious attributes. In this regard the philosophy of Shri Jnaneshwar is close to the monism of Shri Shankara.

But even though Shri Shankara's doctrine of Brahman as the reality (Brahma Satyam) was acceptable to Shri Jnaneshwar, 1t is doubtful whether he accepted his doctrine of the unreality of the world {jagan mithya). While talking of the Supreme Self, Shri Jnaneshwar employs such terms as Omni-present (vishwarupa), having the form of the universe (vishvakara), soul of the universe (vishvatman), Lord of the universe (vishwesha), existing in all forms (vishuamurti), pervader of the universe (vishvavyapaka) and the Lord of the goddess of wealth in the form of the universe. By the will of this Supreme person, says Shri Jnaneshwar. the world comes into being (Ch. 6 Ovi 177). The Lord says, "The petals of the flower constitute the flower, and branches fruits, etc. constitute the tree and this whole universe 1s of the same form as Myself (Ch. 14, 177). So it is not that my devotee should realise Me after the world vanishes, but he should apprehend Me along with the world (14.380). Just as the rays of- the Sun are not different from the Sun, so there is unity between God and universe." The devotion, which is offered to Him with the knowledge of this unity, is known as non-dual bhakti. When a person attains full knowledge as a sthitaprajna or a jnani- bhakta, he does not experience that the world 1s unreal. On the other hand, the sthitaprajna becomes one with the world after he renounces egoism and all sense-objects (2.267). The Jnanibhakta becomes free from the notion of dualism and experiences that he has become one with the universe (12. 191).

Shri Jnaneshwar holds that even if the world is real, the world appearance 1s not real. Just as one has the false notion of a serpent in a necklace or of silver in the shell, so is this world appearance, and it comes in the way of true knowledge (15.46) But it does not last before knowledge and at the beginning of the sixteenth chapter Shri Jnaneshwar praises his preceptor as one who dispels this world appearance. But Shri Jnaneshwar did not accept the doctrine that this world is the play of the Supreme (chidvilasa) like Shri Ramanuja, who regards the visible world too as real, being the play of the Supreme Person.

The Shankara-bhashya and Jnaneshwari also differ in their view as to which yoga is considered more important in the Gita. Shri Shankara regards the yoga of knowledge as primary with both the yoga of. action and the yoga of devotion as subsidiary and supportive to it. He states that the seeker attains liberation in the following order: purification of the mind through karmayoga, renunciation, the way of knowledge, and self- realisation. In the opinion of Shri Jnaneshwar all the methods of yoga are equally valid and one has to adopt the yoga accordingly to his aptitude. Shri Jnaneshwar, while commenting on the yoga of meditation in the sixth chapter, has expounded the yoga of Kundalini and extolled it as pantharaja the best way. He has explained this yoga in other chapters also. This view may not have been acceptable to Shri Shankara. Further, Shri Jnaneshwar says that the performance of one's duty is tantamount to nitya yajna and if it 1s performed in a selfless spirit and with dedication to God, 1t leads to liberation independently. Further he says that in order to reach the lofty peak of liberation, devotion is an easy foot-path and that it is attained step by step (kramayoga) by performing one's duty, devotion to God. attainment of knowledge and non-dual devotion. In this way, the devotee becomes jnani-bhakta, who is most dear to God and becomes one with him. On the other hand, the other commentators of God hold that liberation is achieved through devotion to a personal God and even after attainment of liberation the devotee retains his individuality and lives in the presence of God. It is thus obvious that Shri Jnaneshwar consulted the Shankarabhashya and not the other commentators. But he did not follow it blindly, but formed his own views about the message of the Gita.

Natha Cult

Shri Jnaneshwar has mentioned briefly his cult (Sampradaya) at the end of Jnaneshwari (18.1750-61): In very ancient times, Shri Shankara, the slayer of demon Tripura, whispered in the ears of goddess Parvati the secret knowledge on the shore of the Milky Sea. Vishnu who was in the stomach of a fish heard it and attained knowledge and as Matsyendranath he imparted it to Goraksanath, who in turn bestowed it upon Gahininath and that knowledge came down from Gahininath to Nivrittinath and from Nivrittinath to me, fulfilling our desires". When this Natha cult arose, there were many Tantra cults such as Shakta, Kapalika. Bauddha Tantra. etc. All these cults arose out of the Shaiva scriptures (agamas) and claimed their origin from Lord Shiva, the Primal Guru (Adinatha). Massyendra-natha was the first human Guru of the Natha tradition and was a prophet of the Kaula sect. It is not possible to explain fully the nature of the philosophy of the Shaiva scriptures, what changes were wrought in it by the Kaula sect, and how the Natha Sampradaya originated from the latter. But we must take into account the permanent impressions, which the Natha sect left on the mind of Shri Jnaneshwar.

Shaivagama holds that the ultimate truth is Adinath Shiva. He is self-illuminated, known to himself only, infinite and imperishable and has Shakti as his mate. Like Sankhya's prakriti, this Shakti is the cause of the origination, continuance and dissolution of the world. She is ever active and she becomes manifest or remains in an unmanifest form. But unlike Sankhya's prakriti, she is not independent of God and is not unconscious, but has a conscious form. Prima facie, therefore, this Shaiva doctrine appears to be based on dualism. There is a mention in the Shantiparva of Mahabharata {337.59) that Sankhya, Yoga, Pancaratra, Veda and Pashupat hold differing view. While commenting upon the Brahma-sutra (II.2.37) Shri Shankara states that according to the Maheshwaras Pashupati Shiva is the instrumental cause of the world. If this is correct, we have to admit that the Shaiva doctrine is based on dualism. According to the Akulavira-Tantra, there are two classes of Kaulas, the Kritaka and Sahajas. Of these the Kritakas were duellists, while the Sahajas accepted the unity of God and the devotee. One may safely infer from this that the Shaivaites were originally duellists, but some of them were converted to monism after adopting the Kaula creed. In the Shaiva worship, the important elements are initiation through a mantra, worship of Shiva and Shakti and devotion to the preceptor. It ' 1s not possible to say what was the original form of this worship. Perhaps 1t consisted of the worship of Shiva in the form of the phallus (linga) and the worship of Shakti in the form of a mystical diagram on a copper plate (yantra). We do not have definite information whether this worship included the practice of yoga; but since the Hathayogapradipika of Svatmarama mentions both Matsyendranath and Gorakshanatha. 1t is possible that Matsyndranath included it in the Kaula sect. But it 1s certain that devotion to Lord Shiva and to the Guru formed two important elements in the Shaiva sects. In the Vedas and Brahmanas first Indra and then Vishnu held the preeminent position among the gods and the Lord Shiva came to be identified with Brahman only in the Shvetashvatara, which is a later Upanishad. They also insisted upon reverence and obedience to the Guru, but 1t is doubtful whether they included in this devotion the worship of the sandals of the Guru and rendering service to him as described by Shri Jnaneshwar 1n the thirteenth chapter of the Jnaneshwari (ovis 341-344).

As mentioned in the Mahabharata, Shaivagama and the Vedas held different doctrines. But later there was an attempt to bring about a reconciliation between the two. In the Shvetashvataropanishad it is stated that Shiva is the same as Brahman and Maya is his divine power devatmashakti. On the other hand Lord Shiva says in the Kularnavatantra (2.10) that he has churned the sea of the Agamas and the Vedas and brought out the Kuladharma. He further says that Shiva is essentially the Supreme Brahman (1.7) without qualities. the Existence-Consciousness- Bliss and the individual Selves are his parts like sparks of fire (1.8,9). It is further stated in the same Tantra (1.108) that Lord Shiva has proclaimed monism (advaita) and so the Kaulajnananirnaya holds that Shiva is non-different from his Shakti.

There is no Shiva without Shakti,
no Shakti without Shiva (1 7.8- 9).

As Shakti creates the whole world she is known as Kula; Shiva who is inactive and without family or lineage is akula. As Bhaskara, who is an adept in this Tantra, says, Shiva-Shakti-Samarasyam Kaulam 1.e, Kaula - is oneness between these two. So this Kaula Shastra is based on non-dualism and knowledge is said

[7. Sir John Woodroffe and M.P. Pandit, Kulamavatantra, Madras, 1965. ]
[8. P.C. Bagchi, ed. KaulaJnananimaya. Calcutta, 1934. ]

to be impossible for the ritualists who perform sacrifices or the ascetics who mortify their bodies to attain liberation. Further after declaring non- dualism, it states that liberation 1s attained only through knowledge, and this knowledge is acquired from the mouth of the Guru (1.108). It w111 thus be seen that there is great similarity now between Kaula and Vedanta.

Kaula and Yoga

In the Kaula sect there was greater emphasis on physical and mental discipline rather than on outward ritual practices. Their discipline included yoga and meditation. This subject is dealt with in the fourteenth Chapter of Kaulajnananirnaya. However, the exact method of yoga 1s not indicated; but still the experiences and the yogic powers (siddhis) acquired through the yoga are clearly mentioned. For instance, the yogi experiences tremours in his hands, feet and head and hears different sounds 1n the course of his yogic practice. He acquires such powers as rising above the ground, mastery in poetry, the knowledge of past and future, cheating of time, the power to assume different forms, absence of wrinkles and grey hair and power to roam 1n the sky. The Yoginitantra of Matsyendranath mentions many subtle powers, the power to see a distant thing and entry into another's body. But the ultimate aim of yoga was to attain the state of mindlessness (unmani avastha). The Kaulajnananiryana further states that the mind enters the Khechari centre (brahmarandra) and drinks nectar (verse 93). Moreover Svatmarama in his Hathayoga makes a prominent mention of Matsyendranath and Gorakshanatha as proficient in Hathayoga from which 1t appears that the Kundaliniyoga was already incorporated 1n the Kaula path. But it also included devotion, which it has inherited from Shaivogama. It is stated in the third chapter that one should discard images made of stone, wood or clay and mentally worship the shivalinga with flowers in the form of non-injury, sense-restraint, compassion, devotional love. forgiveness, absence of anger, mediation and knowledge. It is, therefore, incorrect to hold that Shri Jnaneshwar introduced devotion for the first time in Natha Sampradaya.

Kaula and the Five Ms

The Kularnavatantra mentions the Kaula sadhana thus: bhogayogatmakam kaulam (2.23). If one desists from sensual enjoyments, it causes disturbance of the mind. which results in the interruption of spiritual practice. The enjoyment of sensual pleasures with restraint does not disrupt the spiritual practices and facilitates yoga. bhogo yogayate sakshat (2.24). The KaulaJnananimaya discusses the so-called five Ms (madya, maccha, mamsa, mudra and maithuna) namely wine, fish, meat. mudra and sex, which formed an essential part of Kaula practice. But it is stipulated that one should make an offering of the meat and wine to Shakti before partaking of it. The sex is to be enjoyed with restraint for procreation after remembering Shakti. The Kaulas, therefore, believe that the enjoyment of these Ave Ms after making them pure and consecrated becomes an aid to yoga. But it was found that it is difficult to practise such restraint. Matsyendranath himself had become enamoured of a yogini and was living with her and there is a legend that he had to be rescued by Gorakshanath. The Kaula sect adopted by Matsyendranath was known as Yogini-Kaulamata. As this sect was dominated by the Yoginis, there were sexual excesses of which two incidents are mentioned in Leelacharitra of Chakradhara according to one. Kahnapada, a disciple of Jalandhara died after sexual intercourse with a yogini named Bahudi, in which he tried to demonstrate his full control over seminal discharge (urdhvaretavastha). In the other, a yogini by name Kamakhya is reported to have gone to Changdeva Raul after hearing his fame and demanded intercourse with him. As a result of her insistent demand, Changdeva was forced to commit suicide. Because of such excesses, Gorakshanath laid great emphasis on the observance of dispassion.

Gorakshanath and Natha Sampradaya

It thus appears that the Natha Sampradaya had inherited its philosophical tenets from the Kaula sect. Matsyendranath seems to have played a major role in the formulation of the Kaula doctrines. So his mention by Shri Jnaneshwar as the first human preceptor of Natha Sampradaya is proper. Gorakshanath. his disciple, has included in the spiritual discipline to be followed by a yogi the following items: purity of the body and the mind, distaste 'for all ostentatious rituals. dedication to knowledge along with disgust for the consumption of meat and wine and dispassion. Out of these the first four items formed part of the Kaula path, but Gorakshnath discarded the last two items and placed great emphasis on yoga and dispassion. It is for this reason that Shri Jnaneshwar has called him the lake of lotus-creeper in the form of yoga and the conquering hero of sense-objects. (Chapter XVIII 1755) Gorakshanath was a great organizer and

[9. R, C. Dhere: Shri Guru Gorakshanath, Nath Sampradayacha Itihasa. (in Marathi) Bombay, 1959. p. 27. ]

propagandist who spread the Natha Sarnpradaya all over India. He had Hindus as well as Muslims among his devotees. He had especial sympathy for the downtrodden and showed them the path of self-development. His work in this regard deserves special mention.

Jnaneshwar and the Gita

How did Jnaneshwar who had taken initiation in the Nath cult turn to the Gita? No definite view can be given on this. Shri Tagare says as follows: 'It is stated in the Mahabharata that Shri Krishna, who wished to propitiate Lord Shiva for a boon of a son to his wife Jambavati, had gone to Upamanyu and had learnt from him the Shaivite way of worship (Anushasanaparva, 14, 18). Thus Shri Krishna was a disciple of Upamanyu, intuited in the Pashupata sect, and this gave rise to the faith that the Bhagavadgita was a Shaiva text. Shaivites Vasugupta and Abhinavagupta had written commentaries on the Gita. But this legend has been added later on, and it is obvious that the theme of the Gita is upanishadic knowledge. Although the Bhagavadgita has brought about a synthesis of Vedanta with Sankhya, Yoga and Pancaratra, I did not find any such synthesis with Pashupat. Shri Jnaneshwar says in the tenth chapter (Ovi 19) that his Guru commanded him to explain the knowledge of Brahman in the form of the Gita in the Ovi form. He further adds that he wrote his commentary in order to destroy the poverty of thought and reveal the knowledge of Brahman. The Kaula worshipper gave equal respect to. Lord

[ 10. O. V. Tagare, Shiva Darshan, (in Marathi) Pune, 1987, p. 8. ]
[11. M. R. Yaardi, The Gita as a Synthesis, Pune, 1991, pp. 63-74. ]

Vishnu as to Lord Shiva and both Gahininath and Nivrittinatha were devotees of Lord Krishna. In the Kularnavatantra it is laid down that on the janmashtami ( the birthday of Lord Krishna) Kaulas should offer special worship to Lord Krishna (10.7). Perhaps the Shaivites were attracted to the Gita, as,: it dealt with devotion. Thus in turning to Gita Shri Jnaneshwar was following this tradition. Even after he imbibed the brahmavidya of the Gita, he carried over his interest in Kundaliniyoga and devotion to Guru, which find an abundant mention in the Jnaneshwari.

Jnaneshwari and Kundaliniyoga

The Natha Sampradaya holds that this non-dual Shiva principle has permeated the world and so whatever there is in the universe (brahmanda) is also in the body (pinda). The Shakti lies dormant in the form of Kundalini in the Muladhara centre in the human body and Shiva abides in the Sahasrara centre in the head. With the aid of the purification of the nadis, postures. bandhas and breathing exercises the Sushumna passage opens out and the Kundalini wakes up and rushes up to meet Shiva in the Brahmarandhra. When she embraces Shiva in the sahasrara centre, the yogi attains the state of emancipation. When this kundalini wakes up and goes up the sushumna nadi after piercing the centres, then the lake of moon's nectar becomes tilted and the nectar falls into the mouth of Kundalini. Shri Jnaneshwar has. given a very fascinating account of the changes which take place in the body of the yogi. In this way Shri Jnaneshwar has described with the intensity of his experience the knowledge of the traditional yogic process which he had received in the Natha Sampradaya. In the chapter VI. he has said very clearly that this is a secret of the Natha sect. He was, therefore, fully aware that this yoga was not taught in the Gita; for he states (ovis 291. 292) that Shri Krishna ' had made a casual reference to this secret of the Natha sect and that he has elaborated this before the audience. From this it is evident that Shri Jnaneshwar has not only written a commentary on the Gita but has also incorporated his own experiences in it. By including the Kundaliniyoga in the Jnaneshwari and extolling it as the great path (pantharaja), he has accorded to it the same status as that of the dhyanayoga in the Gita.

Devotion to Guru

In Kaulamata and Natha Sampradaya, devotion to Guru has special importance. The Kularnavatantra has devoted one full chapter as to how a disciple should worship his Guru. It is stated there that the sacred sandals (paduka) of the Guru form his ornaments; the remembrance of his name is his japa; to carry out his commands is his duty; and service to the Guru is his worship. The Gita mentions service to the Guru as one of the characteristics of a jnani by one word, acharyopasana, but Shri Jnaneshwar has explained it in as many as ninety ovis. Practically at the beginning of every chapter he has made obeisance to the Guru and has sung his praise. In the Natha Sampradaya special stress has been laid on initiation (diksha) and on transference of power (shaktipata) by the Guru to the disciple. It is said that no mantra becomes fruitful, unless the disciple hears it from the mouth of the Guru. Transference of power is specially important 1n the awakening of the Kundalini. The Kundalini becomes awakened very quickly by the touch of the Guru. This transference of power 1s mentioned in the Jnaneshwari. In the eighteenth chapter Shrl Jnaneshwar states, "I was experiencing the dream in the form of the universe in sleep in the form of ignorance. But the Guru patted my head and awakened me" (Ovi 403). He adds further, "In order to grant what the Lord could not give through words, the Lord hugged Arjuna, and then

'the two hearts mingled and what has in
the heart of the Guru was transferred to the
heart of the disciple'.

and so the Lord made Arjuna like himself without obliterating the duality between. the guru and the disciple.

This is not a mere imagination of a poet. In the life of Shri Ramakrishna (pp. 376-377), we And a description of the state of Narendra Oater Swami Vivekananda) when Shri Ramakrishna touched him with his foot. Narendra said: "Anyway, enquiring of many people, I reached Dakshineswar at last and went direct to the Master's room. I saw him sitting alone. merged in himself, on the small bedstead placed near the bigger one. There was no one with him. No sooner had he seen me than he called me joyfully to him and made me sit on one end of the bedstead. I sat down and found him in a strange mood. He spoke indistinctly something to himself, looked steadfastly at me and was slowly coming towards me. I thought another scene of lunacy was going to be enacted. Scarcely had I thought so when he came to me and placed his right foot on my body, and immediately I had a wonderful experience. I saw with my eyes open that all the things of the room together with the walls were rapidly whirling and receding into an unknown region and my I-ness together with the whole universe was, as it were, going to vanish in the all-devouring great Void. I was then overwhelmed with a terrible fear; I had known that the destruction of I-ness was death and that death was before me, very near at hand. Unable to control myself, I cried out loudly and said, ' Ah! What is it you have done to me? I have my parents, you know.' Giving out a hoarse laugh to hear those words of mine and touching my breast with his hand, he said, 'Let it then cease now; it need not be done all at once; it will come to pass in due course.' I was amazed to see that extraordinary experience of mine vanish as quickly as it had come when he touched me in that manner and said those words. I came to the normal state and saw things inside and outside the room standing still as before."12

Yoga and Knowledge

Then Shri Jnaneshwar must have soon realised like Shankaracharya that the yoga does not become complete without knowledge. While commenting on the Brahmasutra II. 1.3, Shankarcharya states that one does not enjoy the bliss of Brahman through Sankhya knowledge and the practice of yoga. In the Amritanubhava (727) Shri Jnaneshwar calls the yogi 'the moon in the day-time' i.e. the yogi becomes as lustreless as the moon before the sun of knowledge. One recollects here the legend of yogi Changdeva. Changdeva was a great yogi, who had taken initiation from yogini Muktabai, disciple of

[12. Swami Saradananda, Shri Ramakrishna Math, Madras,1952, p. 733. ]

Gorakshanath. He had practiced yoga over many years and had attained many miraculous powers, which had enhanced his ego. '' When Shri Jnaneshwar received a blank letter from him, his sister Muktabai aptly remarked that Changdeva had remained blank in respect of knowledge. It was, therefore, natural that Changdeva should shed his pride before the Lord of knowledge. But this is the upanishadic knowledge, not the knowledge acceptable to the Shaivites. Shri Jnaneshwar has disclosed only the knowledge of the Self in his three books, Jnaneshwari, Amritanubhava and Changadevapasashti.

The Prince among Jnanis

Shri Jnaneshwar had undoubtedly become sthitaprajna and jnani after practicing the path of knowledge. The Gita states that tranquillity abides 1n a sthitaprajna (chap- 2.70). Even if all the currents of the rivers become swollen and join the sea, the latter does not become disturbed and remains serene. Shri Jnaneshwar had attained such serenity to the fullest extent. Although the Brahmins persecuted the three brothers and sister as being offsprings of a monk, he has praised them as gods on earth, the fountainhead of all sacred lores and austerities incarnate. Among the characteristics of a man of wisdom in the thirteenth chapter, the first and the chief is amanitva, non-arrogance. Humility Shri Jnaneshwar says. 1f a person casts off all vanity of being great, forgets his learning and becomes humble, then know that he has attained knowledge of Brahman. Shri Jnaneshwar was fully conscious that he had written an excellent commentary on the Gita; but 1n all humility he gives all credit to his guru Nivrittinatha. All the

[13 S. V. Dandekar. op. cit. p. 122. ]

characteristics of a jnani mentioned in the Gita apply to him thoroughly. He who has attained knowledge does not see any distinction in all beings. As he has discarded egoism, he does not discriminate between a mosquito, an elephant, a cow and a dog (Gita V.18). But compared to an elephant, a cow or a dog, a he-buffalo is a brainless creature. But when Shri Jnaneshwar, along with his brothers and sister, had gone to Paithan to obtain a certificate of expiation, somebody had asked him mischievously whether the he-buffalo that was passing by the road had a soul, he had without a moment's thought asserted that the soul which abides in a human being is also in the he-buffalo. This seems to have given rise to the legend that he had made the he-buffalo chant the Vedic hymns. Shri Tukaram has, therefore, appropriately praised Jnaneshwar as the prince among jnanis.

Devotional Love

The devotion in the Gita is mostly based on meditation, but there is a reference to devotional love in it. The Lord states in the tenth chapter that he gives buddhiyoga to those who worship him with love (verse 10). Further in .the eleventh and the twelfth chapters, the Lord tells Arjuna to work for him (matkarmakrit, verse 55) or be devoted to work for him (matkarmaparama, verse 10). Shri Shankara interprets this as 'one should perform his works with dedication to God'. But Abhinavagupta takes matkarma as Bhagawata Dharma, consisting of worship, austerities, scriptural study, sacrificial rites etc. Madhusudana goes a step further and identifies matkarma as Bhagavata Dharma of ninefold devotion consisting of hearing, singing praise etc. But the word Bhagavata does not occur in the Critical Edition of Mahabharata. So the Bhagavata Dharma seems to have germinated from these sayings 1n the Gita and spread in North India before the second Century B.C. Shri Jnaneshwar, however, knew the Bhagavata Purana, to which, he refers in Chapter XVIII (Ovi 1132). According to some scholars he has taken more than half his illustrations from the Bhagavata. Many of the references to Pauranic stories in the Jnaneshwari belong to the Bhagavata Purana. Shri Jnaneshwar mentions nine-fold devotion in adhyaya VI (oui 127), where he says that Arjuna was the chief deity of the eighth kind of devotion named friendship.

Shri Jnaneshwar has given a marvellous description of the kirtana bhakti in the ninth chapter (Ovi 97-112). Such devotees, he says, sing songs of God's praise and dance with the joy of devotion. They have made all talk of atonement redundant, as there is not a trace of sin left in them. They take my name as Krishna, Vishnu, Hari, Govinda and spend their time in discussion over the nature of Self. By loudly singing the name of god, they have given a healing touch to the miseries of the world and filled it with the bliss of Self. Hardly, if ever, a soul reaches Vaikunth (the abode of Vishnu), but these devotees have turned this world itself into Vaikunth. The Lord says that he may not be found in Vaikunth or the region of the sun and he may even pass by the minds of yogis, but he is sure to be found where his devotees sing his praise aloud. To utter the name of God even once by mouth is the reward earned by rendering service to him in thousands of years; yet the same name ever dances on their tongue. One cannot compare them with the sun, the moon or the cloud, as the sun sets, the moon is full only at times and the cloud becomes empty after a while. But the knowledge of these devotees never sets, they are always full of devotion, and they flood this world with the knowledge of the Self.

Jnanadeva and – Namdeva

This will show that Shri Jnaneshwar was not unacquainted with devotional love. But he must have come to know its tender intensity only after he met Shri Namdeva. It is not known how and where they first met. Both of them were great in their own way. Shri Namdeva must have become dazzled by the knowledge and devotion of Shri Jnaneshwar based on non-dualism. while the latter must have been greatly impressed by the intense devotional love and the depth of feeling of Shri Namdeva for Vitthala. In chapter X, Shri Jnaneshwar has given a beautiful description of what two devotees do when they meet. They must have conversed with each other and danced with joy in the fullness of knowledge and devotion. They must have exchanged their experiences and shared their knowledge and devotion with each other. Just as when the water in two lakes shoots up. the waves of one mingle with the waves of the other, so the ripples of their mirth must have mingled together. They must have spent days and nights in singing the praise of God and in discussions on the Self. Their meeting bore two results. Namdeva realised that devotion remains incomplete without Self-knowledge and went to Visoba Khechar to take initiation. Shri Jnaneshwar on his part became a devotee of Vitthal and turned to devotional love (madhurabhakti).

Non-dual Devotion

The usual nature of devotion is such that the devotee ascribes the human attributes to God and worships God with form. Or else he attributes divine qualities to an extraordinary and remarkable person ' and worships him as an incarnation of God. The Gita says that some devotees worship God to obtain relief from misery or with the desire of wealth or with the desire of knowledge. But the devotee of the fourth kind worships God without entertaining any desire in his mind. It is generally believed that devotion is not possible unless there is duality between God and the devotee. The devotion in the school of Shri Madhwa is openly of dual form. But even though the schools of Shri Ramanuja or Shri Vallabha are non-dualistic in a sense, their devotion too is based on a distinction between God and the devotee, as they believe that a liberated soul does not become one with God, but retains his individuality and enjoys independent life in the proximity of God. But Shri Jnaneshwar regards such devotion based on distinction between God and the devotee as unchaste and parochial. He says in the fourteenth chapter that it is not that one should attain God-realisation after the dissolution of the world but that one should try to apprehend God along with the world. If God is worshipped with the knowledge that he has pervaded this whole universe, it becomes chaste, non-dual devotion (Ovis 379, 80). Even if there are waves in the sea, they are all water. So the jnani-bhakta sees God in the universe and worships him with the intensity of devotion, He says, whatever creature one meets, one should regard it as God; such is the nature of non-dual devotion. At the end of the twelfth chapter the Gita mentions the characteristics of a jnani-bhakta, starting with 'without hatred towards any being.' This characteristic exactly describes him. He did not even hate the wicked persons.

He has prayed to God in his last prayer (pasayadana) not to destroy them but to destroy their wickedness. Another characteristic of a jnanibhakta is that he is not troubled by the world nor does he trouble the world. In the thirteenth chapter, while commenting on non-violence, he has stated that a jnani takes great care that he does not trample any creature and cause harm to it as God is immanent in it. It can be shown that he possessed all the characteristics of a jnani-bhakta.

One may ask, how can one who had became one with God through devotion based on non-dualism turn to devotion of God with form? Shri Jnaneshwar has given a reply to this question in chapter XII. The Lord says, "even though a person, has become a yogi by practicing the means of Karmayoga externally and of dhyanayoga internally, he attains intense love for my form with attributes. O Arjuna, he alone is a devotee, a yogi and a liberated soul. I am so fond of him as though he is my beloved and I the husband. He is dearer to me than My own Self. This simile too is inadequate to express the relation between us. The account of my true devotee is a magical formula (mantra) which infatuates the mind. One should not say such things, but I had to say them because of my love for you. When the subject of my devotee is broached, my affection for him doubly increases (Ovis 155-60). Just as the devotee feels an attraction for Me, I too have a 'passion' for him" (Ch. XVIII, Ovi 1349)". What the nature of this love is, is seen in the Varuna hymn of sage Vasistha in Rgveda (VIII.86). Dr. R.N. Dandekar says that the devotee feels 'an irresistible urge to establish a personal communion with God' and 'an acute sense of alienation when he thinks that for some reason God has deserted him'.14 The devotee sometimes thinks that god has forsaken him and feels an acute agony of separation. This is known in western books of devotion as the 'night of darkness'. Shri Jnaneshwar has described the pangs of separation in his Abhangas on Gaulani (cowherdesses) and Virahini (a wife suffering the pangs of separation from her husband). If the erotic language of these songs shocks us it is entirely our fault, not of Shri Jnaneshwar. The devotional love (prema-bhakti) of Shri Jnaneshwar is flawless. The excesses which took place in the Pushtimarga of Shri Vallabha or the Chaitanya sarnpradaya did not take place in Maharashtra. This is because Shri Jnaneshwar laid the foundation of the Bhagavata Dharma on the secure basis of knowledge {Janna) and dispassion (vairagya).

Shri Ramanuja holds that no one can attain liberation without prapatti or complete self-surrender to god, without which one cannot gain the grace of God. It is not necessary for him to perform actions or yoga! Arbindo Ghosh also held the same view. Dr. Ranade has quoted a beautiful passage which succinctly explains his viewpoint 1n this regard.

"The Gita is not a book of ethics but of spiritual life. It teaches not human but divine action; not the disinterested performance of duties but the following of the divine Will; not a performance of social duties. but the abandonment of all standards of duty (sarvdharma), to take refuge in the Supreme alone; not social service but the action of the god-possessed, the Master-men and as a sacrifice to Him,. who stands

[14. R. N. Dandekar. Vedic Mythological Tracts. Dlhi 1979, pp.55, 341 ]

behind man and Nature (Essays on the Bhagavad-gita, p. 43)".15

I do not think this view would have been acceptable to Shri Jnaneshwar. On the contrary, he states in the eighteenth chapter that one should worship God through performance of one's duty. According to him one should place his actions like flowers at the feet of God. Later he says that his recital (kirtana) of Dharma has been a success. It must be remembered here that Shri Jnaneshwar take Dharma in the sense of duty which has fallen to one's lot on account of ones qualities and actions. In his last prayer also he prays to God to let the sense of duty dawn upon the world.

Jnaneshwar and the Warkari Order

After Shri Jnaneshwar met Namadeva, he came to know the other great Warkari saints also. In the pilgrimage which he had undertaken with Shri Namadeva, Warkari saints such as Sena Nhavi, Savata Mali, Narahari Sonar, Gora Kumbhar, Chokha Mahar and Warkaris must have accompanied him. These Warkari saints performed their duties with dedication and worshipped Lord Vitthala with devotional love according to the Bhagavata Dharma. How they found spiritual meaning in their every-day life will be evident from the following passages.

As a barber, I shall give a dressing
(lit. haircut) to men. I shall explain the purpose
of life (clean the armpits) and pare the nails of desire and anger

-Sena Nhavi

Onions, radish and vegetables, these are my Vithabai (Vitthal)

-Savata Mali

O God, I am your goldsmith and carry on
the business of your name; I blow the
bellows of Jiva and Shiva and beat the gold
(taking the name of God) day and night.

-Narhari Sonar

[15. R. D. Ranade. The Bhagavadgita as a philosophy of God-relisatlon,]

All these saints were impressed by Shri Jnaneshwar and took refuge at his feet. Shri Jnaneshwar, who had taken initiation of the Natha sect is not known as a Siddhayogi, but he became the Mauli (mother) of the Warkaris and all devotees. Even after the lapse of seven centuries, devotees of Shri Jnaneshwar swarm to Alandi at the time of Ashadhi Ekadashi, when the palanquim containing the padukas of Shri Jnaneshwar is taken to Pandharpur, two hundred seventy kms. from Alandi; warkaris and devotees in thousands tread this distance in rain and sun, singing the Haripatha. On the occasion of the Kartiki Ekadashi a fair is held at Alandi where his devotees flock in lakhs. I bow to that Jnaneshwar Mauli a hundred times and offer this flower-petal in the form of this work at his feet.


At the end, I have to acknowledge the assistance received in the printing and publication of the first edition of this work. I thank Shri V. L. Manjul, librarian of the Bhandarkar Research Institute for readily making books available to me. I thank Shri Vilas Pawgi and Kumari Deepa Shah of the Sadhana Typing Room for typing the manuscript carefully. I am grateful to Shri Sujit Patwardhan of the Mudra Press for completing the printing in a record time neatly. Last but not the least I thank Shri S. Ramakrishna, Executive Secretary of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan for agreeing to publish this work under the auspices of the Bhavan.

Pune, 3rd March 1991
M. R. Yardi

Preface to the Second Edition.

This second edition has been brought out at the pressing demand of devotees of Jnaneshvara. I thank Shri Y. A. Dhaigude for helping me in proof-reading and Shri Rajendra Palkar for preparing the picture of Shri Jnaneshwar on the frontispiece. I am grateful to Shri Vitthal Likhite of the Maharashtra Mudranshala Printing Press for a neat print of this book. It gives me great satisfaction that this second edition is being published in the seventh centenary year of the samadhi day of Shri Jnaneshwar.

Pune, 1995
M. R. Yardi


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