Dnyaneshwari is a commentary on Gita, written 700 years ago by Saint Dnyneshwar (Jnanesvara or Gnanadeva) (1274-1297). It brings Vedanta and other spiritual philosophies to common man. It explains the various paths a person can take for spiritual progress and ultimate liberation.
Apart from mythical stories, not much is known about the life of
Dnyaneshwar and his brothers. Judging purely by their writings, they lead a
hard life. In 1296 AD, Dnyaneshwara, aged 25, walked into a stone-walled
room in Alandi near Pune. He had it closed and passed away in samadhi (a
state of spiritual liberation). The room has not been opened since then and
Alandi has been a revered place. None of his siblings were to enjoy a long
worldly life either and passed away within months of Dnyaneshwar's
Dnyaneshwari is a commentary on the Gita written more than seven
centuries ago by Saint Dnyaneshwar in the contemporary Marathi language
in verse form using the ovi style. It brought the philosophy of the Gita, until
then the prerogative of Sanskrit pundits, to common man. It is written in
verse form as used to be custom of those days, An excellent spiritual
seekers guide, it discusses in detail four different paths viz. The path of
Knowledge, the path of action, the path of yoga and the path of devotion to
choose from depending upon the psychological make up of the seeker. It
presents the cream of Vedanta philosophy, Sankhya philosophy, Kundalini
yoga and the practice of devotion. While Gita is difficult to understand to a
common man, Saint Dnyaneshwar has written Dnyaneshwari (Original
name Bhavarthadeepika) specifically for common man and therefore the
text is easy to understand.
Saint Dnyaneshwar wrote this critique at the age of sixteen on the
instructions of his Guru and elder (only by two years) brother Nivruttinath.
Nivruttinath was a disciple of Gahininath, one of the nine gems or Navnaths
of the Nath sect. Dnyaneshwari written seven hundred years ago is still
vibrantly alive and is regularly read in many homes in Maharashtra.
Due to changes in the Marathi language over the last few centuries the text
is not easily understandable, but many prose translations are available.
While writing commentary on Gita Dnyaneshwar Maharaj has used a lot of
examples and similes from day to day life and from nature to make the
meaning very clear to a common reader. However, with today's educational
levels many of these are not necessary and often they distract the reader
from the smooth flow of the philosophical thought. In this translation
(2) Rather than presenting the translation sequentially it is
presented as a group of sequential verses (omitting of course
those having similes etc.) with a cogent meaning and are
This translation, thus truncated, is intended more for an intellectual reader
rather than the pious. It is the intellectuals who hold executive and
professional positions in today's socio-economic world and are the ones who
can influence the society positively or negatively. But their world is a world
of perpetual haste and cannot afford long winded texts of the old days.
Thus a shortened version of Dnyaneshwari is most suited for this class un
order to turn their influence on the positive side.
This translation of Dnyaneshwari contains only the philosophical part of the
text. When Dnyaneshwar Maharaj wroteBhavarthadeepika, now known
as Dnyaneshwari, seven hundred years ago for the common man, general
educational levels were not as comprehensive as today, there was no
printing press and books had to be transcribed by hand. Dnyaneshwar
Maharaj used many similes and examples from human society as well as
nature to explain the points made in the Gita. Dnyaneshwar Maharaj
belonged to Nath Sect where Guru is worshipped more than any deity and
Dnyaneshwari contains a lot of text dedicated to the praise of and
obeisances to his Guru Nivruttinath (who was also his elder brother, elder
by only two years), besides obeisances to several other deities as is
traditional in Hindu religious literature. These similes and examples are no
longer necessary for today's rader who is better read and informed and in
fact it is the experience that too many of these distract the reader from the
main flow of thought. In this translation, these parts are omitted except
where necessary. The text involving obeisances also has been omitted as it
is also extraneous to the philosophical part. The intention in adopting this
approach is to make an edited translation available to an intellectual reader.
The pious readers can always use the half a dozen verse by verse
translations available in bookshops.
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