Reflecting upon the Dnyaneshwari…

We inaugurate a new series – Chintan- with an absorbing piece by Sudhapachi Kodikal on Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj’s immortal commentary on the Bhagawad Gita…    (December 2023)

Dnyaneshwar Maharaj was born to Vithalpant and Rukminibai of Alandi, a tiny hamlet near Pune. Vithalpant was a very learned man, well-versed in the shastra-s. He had actually taken sannyas in Kashi, but was ordered by his Guru to return to grihastaashram, which he did. The couple had four children – Nivrutti, Dnyaneshwar, Sopan and Muktabai. All of them were taught the shastra-s by their father.

A problem arose when the time came for performing the thread ceremony of the three sons. The Brahmins of Alandi refused to take the family into their caste, only because Vithalpant had been a sannyasi before returning to the life of a householder. They demanded that the parents will have to do penance by giving up their lives, which the devout couple actually did by drowning themselves in the river!

But even after this, the children were ordered to go to Paithan’s University of Shastric Studies and obtain certification. When the children went to Paithan, they put the scholars there in a quandary,  for the term ‘children of a sannyasi’ was nowhere in the shastra-s. That was when Dnyaneshwar told them that Paramatma does not discriminate and is present as the Atman in all of creation. Prove it, he was told. With his spiritual prowess Dnyaneshwar awakened the Atmic power of a buffalo and made him chant Vedic mantra-s. That was when people acknowledged the greatness of Dnyaneshwar Maharaj.

While they were returning to Alandi, at a place called Nevasa, a weeping woman came and bowed down before Dnyaneshwar. Upon questioning, she replied that her husband had just died and she was on her way to commit ‘Sati’ by sitting on his funeral pyre. Dnyaneshwar went with her and called out to the body laid on the pyre to get up and come to him. The dead man came alive! Later,he became well-known as Satchitananda Baba whose notes on Dnyaneshwar’s talks on the Gita were compiled into a book called Bhavaartha Deepika or Dnyaneshwari.

Dnyaneshwar felt that the wisdom contained in the Gita should be known to all, but this was not possible, as it was in Sanskrit. So, he took up the challenge of explaining it in the local, colloquial language- Marathi.

माझा मराठाचि बोलु कौतुकें। परि अमृतातेंही पैजा जिंके।ऐसीं अक्षरें रसिकें मेळवीन ।।14।।

(I will gladly speak in Marathi because it can be sweeter than nectar and I will use words that will impress even the lovers of music…”)

The main purpose of the Gita is to convey that Paramatma is the cause of the entire Universe and that He exists in every particle of creation as its Atma and is hence, ever-accessible to all.

Human life is a mix of happiness and sorrow. Lord Krishna says that the only way man can overcome the continuous cycles of birth and death that he is caught in, is by realising the truth of the Atma, the identity of his true self. “When he concentrates on the Atma, which is Me and worships Me , at the end of his life he becomes one with Me. Then, he does not have to go through the never-ending cycle of birth and death, for he attains permanent peace.”

Krishna also says every person, regardless of where he takes birth, is entitled to reach Me, provided he has single-minded, unwavering bhakti. Even a sinner can come to me if he repents sincerely and then, with a Guru’s Guidance develops one-pointed devotion like Valmiki did. Even those who are totally against me, like Kamsa or Shishupala for example, come to me in the end because that very hatred makes them think of me day and night, incessantly…

A real bhakta of Krishna sees Him in all beings and therefore, treats everyone equally.

A deep study of Dnyaneshwari opens a wide spectrum of knowledge and that too, in simple Marathi. Dnyaneshwar Maharaj uses plenty of similes drawn from day-to-day life, thus making it so much easier for the common man to understand the deep, spiritual significance of His teachings.

To stress upon how important it is to have control over the mind and senses to undertake serious sadhana, He uses the example of a tortoise…

कां कूर्माचियापरी। उवाईला अवेव पसरी। ना तरी इच्छावशें आवरीआपुले आपण ।।१।।

Again --

तैसीं इंद्रियें आपैतीं होती। जयाचें म्हणितलें करिती।तयाची प्रज्ञा जाण स्थिति। पातली असे।।२।।

He who has his senses under control and can withdraw them whenever he wants, is called a stithapragnya. Such a person is compared to a tortoise which can withdraw its limbs at will and become still…

To point out how a sadhaka should be totally unaffected or unperturbed by circumstance, or in any situation, He gives the appropriate illustration of a lotus which does not get drenched even though it is in water!

जो कामना मात्रें न झेपे, मोहमळें न घेये

जैसें जळीं जळें न लींपे, पद्मपत्र

One more befitting example He gives is of the firefly. The firefly perishes when it goes towards and embraces the candle flame. Similarly, a human being who is a slave to his senses, perishes…

पतंगा दीपीं आलिंगन। तेथ त्यासी अचुक मरण। तेवीं विषयाचरण।आत्मघाता ।।१।।

After writing Dnyaneshwari and Amrutaanubhava Dnyaneshwar Maharaj opted to take samadhi when He was just 21 ! That sacred samadhi is by the side of Siddheshwar Temple at Alandi, near Pune.


Sant Dnyaneshwar started elucidating about Dnyaneshwari with a   prayer to the All-pervading Vishwaatmaka- the very Divine. After He had completed the mammoth work, He prayed to the Lord once more, stating “This great venture of mine is over. I hope You are happy and I seek Your Blessing in the form of a boon…

The prayer – “Let all the evil tendencies in people disappear and let them develop the desire to indulge in good actions alone…Let people feel only love and goodwill towards each other”…
“May all the clouds of sorrow and troubles vanish and may the Sun of righteousness arise! May the wishes of everyone be fulfilled”…

“May the world be full of God-loving people, for such persons are extremely beneficial in guiding others to walk on the path of righteousness. Their presence is as soothing as the moon. Even the moon has ‘stains’, but these saintly human beings are without blemish. They are forever brimming with unconditional love!”

Dnyaneshwar Maharaj thus prays to the Vishwaatma that the world should be full of people who share only love and goodwill towards each other.
Nivruttinath, the Guru of Sant Dnyaneshwar, assures Him on behalf of the Vishwaatma that His boon will be granted…

Benefits of Nityapaath

If we read Dnyaneshwari everyday, our mind will dwell only upon the beauty and wisdom contained in it and hence be far away from all the unnecessary and troublesome thoughts that preoccupy us in everyday-living.