Sant Jnaneshwar, a famous poet saint of Maharashtra was born in the year 1275, in a small village near the Godavari river. His poems were the result of the perfect blending of spirituality and poetry, with bhakti, jnana and yoga.
Jnaneshwar’s father’s name was Vithalpant and mother’s name Rukmini. Vithalpant found married life unbearable and took refuge in Benares as an ascetic, leaving his wife. His Guru, who initiated him, explicitly instructed him to go back and continue his life as a householder. After going back to his village, four children were born to him, Jnaneshwar’s, Nivrittinath, Sopana and Muktha Bai, who were all spiritually evolved souls. Unfortunately, the parents met with an early death, leaving the children orphaned at a very young age.
Jnaneshwar and his siblings were ostracized from society, because of the fact that the father had been a Sanyasi turned householder. Although Vithalpant had resorted to family on clear instructions of his guru, society considered the children untouchables. This continued, till Jnaneshwar displayed his spiritual strength – when he made a buffalo recite Vedic hymns. This subdued and silenced the arrogant pundits.
Sant Jnaneshwar was initiated by his elder brother Nivrittinath. During a journey, Jnaneshwar, when just fifteen years of age, delivered an extempore presentation of the Bhagavad Gita. This was written down by his disciple, Satchidanand Baba, and came to be known as “Jnaneshwari” or “Bhavartha Deepika”. The exposition of the Great Sanskrit Text, into Marathi, was a great boon to the common man, who was now able to comprehend it. Apart from “Jnaneshwari “he also composed a treatise called “Amritanubhava”
Jnaneshwar once visited the famous pilgrim centre, Pandharpur, where he met the great saint Namadeva. They travelled together and became great friends. Returning to Alandi, Jnaneshwar’s birthplace, he declared that he was going to enter into Mahasamadhi. He was only twenty one years of age. The Samadhi took place on the 13th day of the dark half month of Kartik in 1296. This day is still sacred to the pilgrims there.
“May the evil minded drop their wickedness and may they nurture a spirit of love and friendliness to all! May the rising sun of Truth dispel the darkness of sin and
May all the people find fulfillment in their religious duties and in their own lives!
May each receive what he yearns for, from within his heart and
May the saints forever bless and visit all the creatures of this world”.
Although he lived only twenty-two years, Jnaneshwar left a profound impact on Hindu spirituality. In his writings, Shiva is the formless, unmanifest Absolute, and Shakti is manifest form. Shiva is “That”, and Shakti is “This” — all that arises in and as That. But the most precious gift of Jnaneshwar is his communication in words of the inexpressible truth that Shiva and Shakti are One. Shakti is merely unmanifest, objectless, unmoving Shiva, moving into and as form. Jnaneshwar brilliantly communicates this inexpressible truth through poetry, in which “He” is Shiva, and “She” is Shakti.