Jnaneshwar Maharaj (1275-1297)
(Jnaneshwar, Jnanadev, Jnanadeva)
Jnaneshwar is a great poetic genius and mystic saint of Maharashtra, South-Western India.
"Goddess of Wisdom" [ also called Bhava-Artha-Dipika ("Light on the meaning of Being")].
teaching was non-dualist, saying that the mainifest world is a "sport"
(vilasa) of the Absolute; the Love of the singular Reality, and regarded
bhakti (devotion), the means to liberation.
commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, penned at the age of fifteen, is the
most elaborate ever written. His Amritanubhav - or the Nectar of
Self-Awareness - is one of the most beautiful odes to non-duality,
surpassing even the Vedantic conception of Reality in its insistence on
unqualified Unity. In the world-conception attributed to Shankaracharya
and other representatives of Vedanta philosophy, the perception of the
existence of the world is attributed to ignorance, or ajnana. Once this
ignorance is removed, one is able to see that there is nothing but the
unembodied Absolute, the one undifferentiated pure Consciousness. Often
the analogy of a rope appearing to be a snake is used: the appearance is
unreal; it is caused by ignorance. But once this ignorance is
dispelled, the true Reality is seen, and it is perceived that there
never was a snake at all, but only the rope all along. Jnaneshwar takes
issue with this line of thinking, and states emphatically that there is
no such thing as ignorance; that even the multitude of sense-objects in
the world is only that Being, the one Self. The perception of it, far
from being caused by ignorance of its true nature, is caused by the
Self's (or Lord Shiva's) delight in perceiving itself (Himself). In
short, there is no room for anything other than the one unitary Self in
Jnaneshwar's philosophy. There is no place for Maya, or illusion, for he
dissolves the barriers which separate the world and 'God', and his
vision refuses to allow any disruption to the Unity that he sees
spreading everywhere, whether with his eyes closed in meditation, or
awake and active in the manifested world.
The Nectar of
Self-Awareness is an expression of the philosophy that came to be known
as 'Kashmir Shaivism'. It is a clear exposition of that unparalleled
wisdom which sees nothing but God and which cultivates the conscious
awareness that everything before one's eyes is the delightful play of
Jnaneshwar was just 22 years old when he took
mahasamadhi; he requested his friends to bury him alive in the tomb in
which he remains to this day. His childhood was marked with suffering,
namely persecution by the rigid and overly orthodox Brahmins of his
home, which contributed to the early demise of his parents. He was left
orphaned along with his older brother Nivrittinath (who became his
beloved Guru), his younger brother Sopan, and his young sister Muktabai.
Together, they embodied true religious spirit and courage and
determined to overcome their adversity.
Their story is
highlighted by various miracles Jnaneshwar performed which served to
remove any taint on their social standing. Jnaneshwar soon became
revered as a saint and drew large audiences to listen to his teachings
on the Bhagavad Gita and the singing of his abhangas. He became a leader
in a powerful resurgence of devotional expression in Maharashtra.
wrote many famous works, including his most famous, the Jnaneshwari.
This wonderful treatment of the Bhagavad Gita was drawn from the
lectures he gave in Alandi. The Jnaneshwari is a rich embellishment of
Krishna’s message to Arjuna. It is adorned by colorful, often humorous
similes that elucidate the original text with warmth and deep
His Amritanubhav, or Anubhavamrit (the Nectar of
Self-Awareness), is a beautiful poetic and philosophical treatise,
containing his exposition of the oneness of Shiva and Shakti. From his
own experience, Jnaneshwar describes the state of a living liberated
soul (jivanmukta) - the state that transcends words and speech - the
meaning of Sat-Chit-Ananda (truth, consciousness, bliss).
Pashashthi” is Jnaneshwar’s 65-verse response to a 1400-year-old yoga
adept named Changdev, who had heard of Jnaneshwar‘s spiritual prowess
and wished to meet him. Changdev sent a blank letter to Jnaneshwar and
his siblings, not knowing how to address them, so young in age yet so
complete in spiritual knowledge. Upon seeing the blank page, Muktabai
said, “After 1400 years, Changdev is still blank.”
response lovingly and deftly welcomes Changdev, but states that their
meeting will occur without the existence of “otherness” because such a
duality is truly unreal. In the few verses contained in Changdev
Pashashthi, he poetically describes how Reality, Consciousness, or Shiva
manifests as the entire universe; the seer, seeing and the seen are
created from one and the same consciousness; hence there can be no
Jnaneshwar remains one of India’s most
beloved saints and his Samadhi Shrine in Alandi (in which he was
voluntarily entombed in Nirvikalpa Samadhi while alive) is visited by
thousands of people yearly. He is widely revered as an incarnation of
Krishna. Centuries later, Sant Eknath entered the tomb and saw a radiant
youth seated in meditation. Jnaneshwar is still believed to be alive,
anchoring his light body as a crystal of enlightened energy radiating
from Alandi to the entire world.
Alandi: The Marathi word Alandi is a corruption of the Sanskrit Alankapuri.
the physical plane, Alandi is a village located 25 kilometers from
Pune, on the banks of the Indrayani River. Since ancient times, the
village has been a shrine of Shiva as Siddheshwar, Lord of Spiritual
Attainment. Today, the Alandi Jnanshewar temple is a major pilgrimage
center, drawing hundreds of thousands of devotees on festival days.
the spiritual plane, Alankapuri is the location of the Blue Pearl, ten
fingerbreaths above the crown of the head, embodying the supreme level
of consciousness, attainable by human beings—absolute, pristine
awareness imbued with love and devotion.