Achintya Bheda Abheda
Achintya Bheda Abheda
Shastras and Sutras
Other Indian philosophies
Dnyaneshwar (IAST: Jñāneśvar), also known as Dnyandev or Mauli
(1275–1296) was a 13th-century Marathi saint, poet, philosopher
and yogi of the
Nath tradition whose
Dnyaneshwari (a commentary on the
Bhagavad Gita) and
Amrutanubhav are considered to be milestones in
1.2 Early life
1.5 Travel and samadhi
2.1 Ontology and epistemology
3 Reception and legacy
5 Drushtanta and First Picture
6 See also
8 External links
"Like a good farmer giving up his old business and beginning something
new every day, the man overpowered by ignorance installs images of
gods, often and again and worships them with the same intensity. He
becomes the disciple of the guru who is surrounded by worldly pomp,
gets initiated by him and is unwilling to see any other person who has
got real spiritual dignity. He is cruel to every being, worships
various stone images and has no consistency of heart."
Dnyaneshwar was born in 1275 (on the auspicious day of Krishna
Janmashtami) in Apegaon village on the bank of
Godavari river near
Maharashtra during the reign of the
Ramadevarava., The kingdom enjoyed peace and stability until
invasions from the
Delhi Sultanate started in 1296 CE. Arts and
sciences flourished under the patronage of the
Yadava kings and
Maharashtra attracted scholars from all over India. However, this
period also witnessed religious degeneration, sectarianism,
superstition and ritualism which involved animal sacrifices to many
Dnyaneshwar would later criticise the religious
degeneration of the day in his magnum opus Dnyaneshwari. According
to B. P. Bahirat,
Dnyaneshwar emerged as the first original
philosopher who wrote in the Marathi language, in this era.
Biographical details of Dnyaneshwar's life are preserved in the
writings of his contemporary
Namdev and his disciples Satyamalanath
and Sachchidanand. The various traditions give conflicting
accounts of details of Dnyaneshwar's life. The date of composition of
Dnyaneshwari (1290 CE), however is undisputed.
According to the more accepted tradition on Dnyaneshwar's life, he was
born in 1275 CE and he attained Sanjeewan(alive) samadhi in 1296
Dnyaneshwar's father Vitthalapant was the kulkarni (hereditary
accountant, usually Brahmin, who maintained land and tax records in
villages) of a village called Apegaon on the banks of the Godavari
River in Maharashtra, a profession he had inherited from his
ancestors. He married Rakhumabai, the daughter of the kulkarni of
Alandi. Even as a householder, Vitthalapant longed for spiritual
learning. His disillusionment with life grew as a result of the
death of his father and because he had no children from his marriage.
Eventually, with his wife's consent, he renounced worldly life and
Varanasi to become a sannyasin (renunciate).
Vitthalapant was initiated as a sannyasin by his spiritual teacher,
Ramashrama, who is also called Ramananda, Nrisimhashrama,
Ramadvaya and Shripad in various sources. (He was not Ramananda, the
founder of the Ramanandi Sampradaya.) When Ramashrama discovered
that Vitthalapant had left his family behind to become a monk, he
instructed Vitthalapant to go back to his wife and perform his duties
as a householder. After Vitthalapant returned to his wife and settled
down in Alandi, Rakhumabai gave birth to four children—Nivruttinath
Dnyaneshwar (1275 CE),
Sopan (1277 CE) and
Orthodox Brahmins of the day saw a renunciate returning to his life as
a householder as heresy; Vitthalapant and his family were persecuted
because of this.
Dnyaneshwar and his brothers were denied the
right to have the sacred thread ceremony, which in Hinduism
symbolises the right to read the Vedas.
Vitthalapant eventually left the town for
Nashik with his family. One
day while performing his daily rituals, Vitthalapant came face to face
with a tiger. Vitthalapant and three of his four children escaped, but
Nivruttinath became separated from the family and hid in a cave. While
hiding in the cave he met Gahaninath, who initiated
the wisdom of the
Nath yogis. Later, Vitthalapant returned to
Alandi and asked the Brahmins to suggest a means of atonement for his
sins; they suggested giving up his life as penance. Vitthalapant and
his wife gave up their lives, within a year of each other by jumping
Ganges in the hope their children might be able to lead lives
free of persecution. Other sources and local folk tradition claim
that the parents committed suicide by jumping in the Indrayani
River. However, orthodox Brahmins of the town still refused to
accept the children as pure and suggested that they obtain a
certification of atonement (śuddhi) from the pandits of Paithana,
which was a centre of orthodox learning.
The Pandits of Paithana were struck by the spiritual learning and
intellect of the four siblings and awarded them the certificate of
purification. While returning to
Alandi from the journey, the
children halted at Nevase, where
the year 1290, a commentary on
Bhagavad Gita which later
became a fundamental text of the
Varkari sect. His words were
recorded by Sacchidananda, who agreed to become Dnyaneshwar's
Dnyaneshwari was written using the Ovi; a metre, which
was first used to compose women's songs in Maharashtra, of four lines
where the first three or the first and third lines rhyme and the
fourth line has a sharp and short ending. According to W. B.
Patwardhan, a scholar on Dnyaneshwar, with
Dnyaneshwar the ovi "trips,
it gallops, it dances, it whirls, it ambles, it trots, it runs, it
takes long leaps or short jumps, it halts or sweeps along, it evolves
a hundred and one graces at the master's command".
Having experienced the rigidity of the caste system and the dogmatism
of scriptural learning,
Dnyaneshwar was sympathetic towards issues of
the common people. He chose the new vernacular Marathi language,
as opposed to the classical Sanskrit language, as a means of
expression so that spiritual learning could reach the masses who
weren't well versed in Sanskrit. In the 13th century, his works
presented a departure from the prevailing socio–cultural ethos of
high–caste Hinduism, a trend which continued with other bhakti poets
According to tradition,
Nivruttinath was not satisfied with the
commentary and asked
Dnyaneshwar to write an independent philosophical
work. This work later came to be known as Amrutanubhava.
Scholars differ on the chronology of the
Amrutanubhav. Patwardhan has argued that
Amrutanubhav is an earlier
Dnyaneshwari because the latter is richer in use of
metaphors and imagery, and displays greater familiarity with many
different philosophical systems, such as
Samkhya and Yoga.
However, both Bahirat and Ranade disagree with this view pointing out
that in Amrutanubhava, author displays familiarity with involved
philosophical concepts such as Mayavada and Shunyavada, and while the
text has simpler language, it reveals Dnyaneshwar's "philosophical
Dnyaneshwar's devotional compositions called Abhangas are believed to
have been formulated during his pilgrimage to
Pandharpur and other
holy places when he got initiated in to the
Mahanubhava sect and the
Yogi tradition were two prominent
movements during Dnyaneshwar's time that influenced his works.
Mahanubhavas were devotees of Krishna who disregarded the caste
Vedas and the worship of the deity Vitthala.
Dnyaneshwar differed significantly from Mahanubhava’s religious
precepts. His thought was founded on the philososphy of the later
Vedic texts such as the
Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, and
devotion to Vitthala formed the cornerstone of the egalitarian Varkari
sect founded by Dnyaneshwar. However, the literary style
Mahanubhava writers influenced Dnyaneshwar’s works.
According to R. D. Ranade,
Dnyaneshwar "stands to Mahanubhavas just in
the same relation which Shakespeare stood to Elizabethan writers".
Dnyaneshwar was initiated into the
Yogi tradition by his brother
Nivruttinath,sometime after the death of their parents; Sopana
Muktabai were initiated into the tradition by Dnyaneshwar
himself. Founded by Gorakshanath,[a] the
Yogi sect had
introduced the system of Hatha Yoga, which emphasised on yogic poses
and physical fitness. Gahaninath, a disciple of Gorakshanath, had
Nivruttinath into the
Yogi tradition. Dnyaneshwar's
non-dualistic philosophy, usage of a vernacular language in his
writing and an emphasis on yoga and oneness of
his inheritances from the
The values of Universal brotherhood and compassion espoused in his
works came from his interactions with the devotional Vitthala sect, a
tradition which was already in existence during Dnyaneshwar's
J. N. Farquhar
J. N. Farquhar also notes the influence of Bhagavata Purana
on Dnyaneshwar's poetry.
Travel and samadhi
Dnyaneshwar had written Amrutanubhav, the siblings visited
Pandharpur where they met Namdev, who became a close friend of
Dnyaneshwar and Namadev embarked on a pilgrimage to
various holy centres across India where they initiated many people
Varkari sect; Dnyaneshwar's devotional compositions
called Abhangas are believed to have been formulated during this
period. On their return to Pandharpur,
Dnyaneshwar and Namadev
were honoured with a feast in which, according to Bahirat, many
contemporary saints such as "Goroba the potter, Sanvata the gardener,
Chokhoba the untouchable and Parisa Bhagwat the Brahmin"
participated. Some scholars accept the traditional view that
Dnyaneshwar were contemporaries; however, others such as W.
B. Patwardhan, R. G. Bhandarkar and R. Bharadvaj disagree with this
view and date
Namdev to the late 14th century instead.
After the feast,
Dnyaneshwar desired to enter into sanjeevan
samadhi, a practice to sum up the life after entering into a deep
meditative state. Preparations for the Sanjeevan
Samadhi were made
by Namdev's sons. Regarding Sanjeevan Samadhi,
has emphatically talked about relation between higher awareness and
light or pure energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation. On
the 13th day of the dark half of the Kartik month of the Hindu
Calendar, in Alandi, Dnyaneshwar, then was twenty one year old entered
into sanjeevan samadhi. His samadhi lies in the Siddhesvara Temple
complex in Alandi.
Namdev and other bystanders grieved his
passing. According to tradition,
Dnyaneshwar was brought back to life
Namdev when the latter prayed to
Vithoba for his return.
Dallmayr writes that this testifies to "the immortality of genuine
friendship and companionship of noble and loving hearts". Many
Varkari devotees believe that
Dnyaneshwar is still alive. They
opposed a plan by archaeologists to insert a thin fiber optic camera
into the chamber more than forty years ago.
The siblings Muktabai, Sopan,
Nivruttinath seated on
the flying wall greet
Changdev seated on a tiger. In the centre,
Changdev bows to Dnyaneshwar.
Many miracles came to be associated with Dnyaneshwar's life, one
of which was the revival of his disciple Sachchidanand's corpse.
During Dnyaneshwar's visit to Paithan, to obtain a certificate of
purification, he was confronted with a man who violently lashed at an
old buffalo. When
Dnyaneshwar expressed concern for the animal he was
ridiculed by Brahmins for being more concerned about a beast than the
teachings of the Vedas.
Dnyaneshwar retorted that the
held all life to be sacred and a manifestation of the brahman.[b] The
outraged priests pointed out that his logic implied that beasts should
be able to learn the
Vedas as well. An undeterred
placed his hand on the buffalo's forehead and it started reciting a
Vedic song. According to Fred Dallmayr, the story signifies that
"divine is not a property of the learned elite; rather, it is a spread
out gift, a largesse, over all creation".
Dnyaneshwar was challenged by Changdev, an accomplished yogi who rode
on a tiger with his magical powers, to replicate this feat.
Changdev by riding on a moving wall.[c]
Dnyaneshwar's advice to
Changdev was given in 65 verses called the
Changdev became a disciple of Dnyaneshwar's
Ontology and epistemology
"The absolute does not prove or disprove itself with the help of any
norems or methods of knowledge... The lamp light up at midday neither
dispels darkness not spreads light."
"It is the pure knowledge itself that is not enlightened by any other
knowledge or darkened by ignorance. But can the pure consciousness be
conscious of itself? Can the eye–ball perceive itself? Can the sky
enter into itself? Can the fire burn itself... Therefore, that which
is pure consciousness itself, without the quality of being conscious
is not conscious of itself.
Dnyaneshwar takes up the examination of being or brahman[d] in
Amrutanubhava. He considers being to be the substratum of thought
which enables thought and cognition. Since being is prior to thought
and concepts, it is distinct from Kantian categories, and methods of
thought such as epistemological analysis cannot be applied to it.
Dnyaneshwar believes that reality is self–evident and does not
require any proof. It antedates dualistic divisions into knower
and known, existence and nonexistence, subject and object, knowledge
Dnyaneshwar highlights the limitations of the traditional
epistemological methods (pramanas) used in Indian philosophy.[e] He
points out that any perception is validated only by another deeper
understanding, while in establishing the rationality of reason, reason
itself is transcended.
Dnyaneshwar even cautions against reliance on
scriptural testimony, which is accepted as a valid source of knowledge
by philosophers of
Mīmāṃsā schools of philosophy.
Scriptural validity, to him, stems from its congruence with
experiential truth and not vice versa.
Dnyaneshwar's moral philosophy comes out in his exposition of the 13th
of Bhagavad Gita, in his commentary on the book Dnyaneshwari. He
considers humility; non–injury in action, thought and words;
forbearance in the face of adversity; dispassion towards sensory
pleasures; purity of heart and mind; love of solitude and devotion
towards one's Guru and God as virtues; and their corresponding moral
opposites as vices. A pessimistic view of one's life is considered
as a necessary condition for spiritual growth in Dnyaneshwari.
Dnyaneshwar writes that saints do not perceive distinctions and are
humble because they identify all objects, animate or inanimate, with
their own Self.
Devotion to Guru occupies an important place throughout the
commentary. Many of its chapters begin with an invocation to his Guru
Nivruttinath, who is eulogised by
Dnyaneshwar as the person who helped
him "cross the ocean of existence". The discussion on virtue and
vices continues in his elucidation of the 16th chapter of Bhagavad
Gita, where virtues and vices are called divine heritages and demonic
heritages respectively. Divine heritage comprises fearlessness,
which comes from a belief in unity of all objects; charity;
sacrifice,[f] which comes from performing one's duties and compassion
in addition to virtues already enumerated; while demonic heritage
consists of six vices— ignorance, anger, arrogance, hypocrisy,
harshness and pride.
The doctrine of Karma
Yoga in the
Bhagavad Gita is resurrected in
Dnyaneshwari and its utility as a means of achieving actionlessness
through action and in establishing a harmony between the two is
examined. In the fourth chapter, the ideal karma yogi's actions
are compared to the apparent movement of the Sun, which while
appearing to rise and set is actually stationary;[g] similarly, a
karma yogi, though appears to act, doesn't really act. Performance
of one's duties, acting without egoism, renunciation of the fruits of
one's actions and offering one's actions to God are four ways which,
according to Dnyaneshwar, result in actionlessness and
Self–realisation. Dnyaneshwar's metaphysical conclusion that the
world is a manifestation of the divine, and not an illusion, also
creates an ethical framework which rejects renunciation and recommends
performing one's duties and actions in the spirit of worship.
Traditional Indian scriptures see Ṛta, a Hindu theological term
similar to dharma, as a natural law that governs both the cosmos and
human society. Performance of one's duties to uphold social
institutions, such as marriage and family, thus becomes imperative,
and duty overrides individual freedom.
Dnyaneshwar is in agreement
with tradition; he believes that divine order and moral order are one
and the same and are inherent in the universe itself. He, therefore,
recommends that all social institutions be protected and preserved in
their totality. However, when it comes to the institution of caste,
his approach becomes more humanitarian and he advocates spiritual
Reception and legacy
Dnyaneshwar's palkhi (palanquin), carrying the sandals of the saint,
in silver cart pulled by Oxen on a journey from
Alandi to Pandharpur.
Elements of Dnyaneshwar's life and writings, such as his criticism of
parochialism of the priestly elite, celebration of the family life and
spiritual egalitarianism, would shape the culture of the Varkari
movement. According to Dallmayr, Dnyaneshwar's life and
writings have "developed into primary examplars of genuine religiosity
Varkari movement, as well as crucial sources and focal points
of bhakti devotion". Devotees of the
Varkari sect in the Hindu
Shaka month of
Ashadh join an annual pilgrimage called the Wari with
symbolic Sandals (called Paduka in Marathi) of Dynaneshwar carried in
a palkhi, ' from Dnyaneshwar's shrine in
Alandi to the Vitthala temple
Pandharpur . The Padukas (sandals) of
Dnyaneshwar are carried
Palkhi (palanquin) for the
Dnyaneshwar inspired works of later
poet saints of the
Varkari movement. His philosophy of chidvilas was
Varkari writers, such as
Namdev and Eknath, to their own
works. Amrutanubhava's influence is visible in Eknath's Hastamalak and
Swatmsukha. Tukaram's works imbibe and explain Dnyaneshwar's
philosophical concepts such as the refutation of Mayavada. Many
writers, beginning with Eknath, wrote commentaries were written on
Amrutanubhava. However, prominent historians of Indian philosophy
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and
Surendranath Dasgupta who were
primarily focused on Sanskrit texts, ignored
Dnyaneshwar because his
works were in Marathi.
Dnyaneshwari or Bhavarthdipika (1290 CE)
Amrutanubhava or Anubhavamrita (1292 CE)
Changdev Pasashti (1294 CE)
Works attributed to Dnyaneshwar
Drushtanta and First Picture
Dnyaneshwar Maharaj has given Drushtant to Sant Gulabrao
Gulabrao Maharaj when he was just 19 years old and given him
mantra of his own name (Swanaam). After that Drushtant, the first ever
photo picture of Sant
Dnyaneshwar Maharaj has been drawn by an artist
based on the directions of Gulabrao Maharaj. Even today one can see
the same photo-frame at
Samadhi Temple Alandi, Maharashtra. Sant
Gulabrao Maharaj is also known as Pradnyachakshu Madhuradwaitacharya
Pandharpur Wari – the largest annual pilgrimage in
includes a ceremonial
Tukaram and Dnyaneshwar.
Sant Gulabrao Maharaj
Matsyendranath is often called the founder of the
However, his historicity is uncertain.
^ According to Jeaneane D. Fowler, former Head of Philosophy and
Religious Studies at the University of Wales, brahman is the "ultimate
Reality, the Source from which all emanates, the unchanging
^ The story of the holy man riding a tiger /lion and the other
encountering him on a moving wall has been found in many other
religions including Buddhism, islam and Sikhism
Amrutanubhav doesn’t explicitly use the word brahman.
^ Sense–perception (pratyaksha), inference (anumana), scriptural
testimony (shabda), ananlogy (upamana), presumption (arthapatti) and
non–apprehension (anupaladbdhi) are the six sources of knowledge
accepted to varying degrees in various schools of Indian
^ According to Dnyaneshwar, true sacrifice is one in which there is no
yearning for results of one's actions and in which the sattva
^ Ranade is struck by the reference to the heliocentric model in
Dnyaneshwari. He writes that, "It is a matter of great astronomic
interest that this mystic philosopher should have put forth a
heliocentric theory at a time when heliocentrism was hardly recognised
in Europe. This is, however, by the bye.".
^ Berntsen 1988, p. 143.
^ Mokashi 1987, p. 39.
^ Dallmayr 2007, p. 46.
^ a b Bahirat 2006, p. 1.
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^ Bahirat 2006, p. 8.
^ Ranade 1933, p. 31.
^ Ranade 1933, p. 31–2.
^ Attwood 1992, p. 333.
^ a b Ranade 1933, p. 30.
^ Bahirat 2006, p. 9.
^ Bahirat 2006, p. 11.
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^ a b Sundararajan & Mukerji 2003, p. 33.
^ Bahirat 2006, p. 12.
^ a b c Pawar 1997, p. 352.
^ De Smet & Malkovsky 2000, p. 123.
^ a b c Bahirat 2006, p. 13.
^ a b c d Ranade 1933, p. 33.
^ Glushkova 2014, p. 110-120.
^ a b c Bobde 1987, p. xxii.
^ Shri Jnāneshvar, (Writer, in Marathi); Pradhān, V.G.(translator);
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^ Schomer & McLeod 1987, p. 4.
^ Claus, Diamond & Mills 2003, pp. 454–5.
^ Ranade 1933, p. 36.
^ Balasubramanian 2000, p. 545.
^ Devy 2002, p. 74.
^ Bahirat 2006, p. 14.
^ a b c Ranade 1933, p. 34.
^ Bahirat 2006, p. 23–4.
^ Bahirat 2006, p. 24–6.
^ a b c Ranade 1933, p. 28.
^ Ganesh & Thakkar 2005, p. 168.
^ Dhongde & Wali 2009, p. 3.
^ Ranade 1933, p. 27.
^ a b Bahirat 2006, p. 6.
^ Kohn 2008, p. 18.
^ Bahirat 2006, pp. 5–6.
^ Pawar 1997, pp. 350–2.
^ Farquhar 1984, p. 235.
^ a b c d Dallmayr 2007, pp. 46–7.
^ Schomer & McLeod 1987, p. 218.
^ Sharma 1979, p. 13.
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^ Novetzke 2009, p. 218.
^ Glushkova 2014, p. 116.
^ Harrisson 1976, p. 39.
^ Sundararajan & Mukerji 2003, p. 34.
^ Fowler 2002, p. 49.
^ a b Dallmayr 2007, p. 44.
^ Mokashi-Punekar 2005, p. 72.
^ Grover 1990, p. 220.
^ Callewaert, Winand M.(Editor); Digby, Simon(Author) (Author) (1994).
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^ O'Connell 1999, pp. 260–1.
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^ a b Dallmayr 2007, pp. 49–50.
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^ Ranade 1933, p. 91.
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^ a b Ranade 1933, p. 98.
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^ Bahirat 2006, pp. 143–4.
^ Prasad 2009, pp. 376–7.
^ Prasad 2009, pp. 377–8.
^ Glushkova, Irina. "6 Object of worship as a free choice." Objects of
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dnyaneshwar.
Extracts from Amritanubhav
Dnyaneshwar by V.V. Shirvaikar
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Sant Dnaneshwar on Hindupedia, the online Hindu Encyclopedia
Pasayadan in Marathi
Marathi language as per location
East indians of Mumbai
Marathi as per Boli
Southern Indian Marathi Boli
Balbodh style of Devanagari
Marathi people (List)
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Sahitya Akademi Award
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