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Author Topic: SAINT DNYANESHWAR 1  (Read 25544 times)

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Offline JR

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« on: February 19, 2007, 05:22:13 AM »
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  • By—Dr. S. D. Parchure, M. A. Ph. D.
    In the thirteenth century of the Christian era, the knowledge of the Sanskrit language was getting scarce in Maharashtra, A very minor percentage of the society knew the Sanskrit language and followed the religious and other books written in that language. The majority of the people of the society were therefore denied the key to religious books or to knowledge. At such a stage in the history of Maharashtra, there arose a very bright star on the horizon of knowledge, who pledged himself to writing in the language of the people, the Marathi Language. This star was none else but the Saint Dnyaneshwar who was bold enough to go against the tradi¬tions of his times of writing in the Sanskrit language and to use Marathi as the vehicle of his preaching. Dnyaneshwar was so very sure about the power of the Marathi language that he writes in Dnyaneshwari that, his highly appreciative readers will surely say that Marathi Language is even sweeter than nectar.

    Family Traditions

    Dnyaneshwari is the most revered book of the " Warkari" Sect. Every member of that sect regards that book as the base of the " Warkari " sect; but it is a great pity that fully authentic account of the life of the writer of Dnyaneshwari is not known. A few frag¬ments of his life are available in ' Dnyaneshawar Vijay ' by Satchita-nand Baba and a few Abhangas composed by Namdeo. The complete life account of Dnyaneshwar is more or less legendary and has got to be constructed from the fragments of facts selected from the aforesaid books.

    On the North bank of the Godawari river and at a distance of about eight miles on the East side of Paithan, there is a village known as Apegaon.   The forefathers of Saint Dnyaneshwar were holding the ' watan ' of Kulkarni in this village.   This office was hereditary in that family.   From the information available it can be said that in Shaka 1060 (1138 A. D.), one of the ancestors of Saint Dnyane¬shwar, Haripant by name, held this office.   After Haripant, Rama-chandrapant, his son, came to the office.   After the death of Rama-chandrapant, his son Gopalpant followed him in the office of 'Kul¬karni.' Ramachandrapant, the son of Gopalpant, next came   to Office.    Gopalpant's son Trimbakpant followed him.   At that time Jaitrapal was the ruler of the country.   He deputed Trimbakpant's, son Haripant on a mission to subjugate one rebellious Deshmukh in the country.   In the battle that followed, however through mis¬fortune, Haripant was slain.   Because of the sad demise of his son. Trimbakpant lost all his interest in the worldly affairs and dedicated his life to God.   Later on the great ascetic Gorakhanath, while on pilgrimage, happened to visit Apegaon.    He initiated Trimbakpant and accepted him as his disciple.   Trimbakpant, who was the great-grand-father of Dnyaneshwar, was the first person in the family of Dnyaneshwar to have a philosophical and religious bent of mind

    Trimbakpant's son Govindpant and Vithalpant the son of Govindpant were respectively the grandfather and father of Dnyane¬shwar. The thread ceremony of Vithalpant took place at the age of seven. Thereafter, he very soon completed his study of the Vedas and Shastras and with the permission of his father, he started on a pilgrimage of the holy places. From his childhood Vithalpant was of religious nature. After visiting Dwarka, Prabhas, Sapta-shringi, Trimbakeshwar, Bhimashankar and such other holy places, Vithalpant came to Alandi. Here one Shri Sidhopant, who thought that Vithalpant was a suitable match for his daughter, gave his daughter to Vithalpant in marriage. After the marriage, Vithalpant went to Shri Shaila, Vyankatgiri, Rameshwar, Gokarna and such other holy places in the South and returned to Alandi. From here he went to Apegaon along with his wife and his in-laws. There he bowed down to his parents and stayed with them. After the death of his- father and mother, the responsibility of the whole house fell on Vithalpant; but because of his religious and philosophical bent of mind he could never take keen interest in the household duties and therefore remained aloof from them. When his wife Rukminibai noted this, she informed her parents about it, so they came to Apegaon from Alandi and returned to Alandi along with their daughter and son-in-law.

    Vithalpant was often telling his wife Rukminibai that he had a strong desire to go to Kashi and become a Sanyasi. He was there¬fore, often requesting his wife to grant him permission for the same; but the wife would not give it to him. One morning, however, he saught permission of his wife to go to the river for a bath and after getting out of the house he straight-away went to Kashi (Benaras). There he became a disciple of Shri Ramanandswami and observed celibacy. By and by he told Swamiji that he was all alone and that he had no bondage of the wife or children. He entreated Swamiji to give him Mantra and to initiate him as a Sanyasi. Ramananda-swami took the words of Vithalpant as authentic and after initiating him as a Sanyasi gave him his new name " Chaitanyashram."

    Somehow the news about Vithalpant's Sanyasa fell on the ears of Rukminibai; but she did not get disheartened. Her devotion to God was firm. She continued her worship of the God as if nothing abnormal had happened. Twelve years rolled on in this fashion. One evening she went to the Maruti temple as usual. There she saw one Swami of outstanding brilliance. As a matter of course she bowed down to the Swamiji, who blessed her that she may get a son. When Rukminibai heard the blessing she could not help laughing. Looking to the smile on the face of Rukminibai, Swamiji enquired what was the matter, when Rukminibai told her whole story pointing out how it was now not possible for her to have a child. After listening to the whole story, the Swamiji took pity on Rukminibai and it at once flashed upon his mind that Chaitanvashram, who took Sanyasa at his hand, must be Vithalpant. Swamiji also felt very sorry that because of the belief, which he blindly kept in the words of Vithalpant, a poor lady had to suffer and has been deprived of the pleasures of a married life. The Swamiji immediately decided to abandon his Southward journey and started for Kashi along with Sidhopant and Rukminibai.

    After reaching Kashi Ramanandaswami called his disciple Chaitanyashram and placed all the facts before him, when he con¬fessed everything and expressed his sorrow for having given a false account. Thereupon Swamiji reprimanded and ordered him to cast away his " Sanyasa " and begin his family life (Grihastha-shram) again. Vithalpant had no other go but to obey the orders of his Guru and he returned along with his wife and father-in-law to Alandi immediately after taking the orders of his Guru.

    Vithalpant's Children

    In course of time Vithalpant got the first son in Shaka 1195. He was named Nivrittinath. Rukminibai gave birth to three more children after that and they were named as follows : Dnyaneshwar (Shaka 1197) Sopan (Shaka 1199) and Muktabai (Shaka 1201). Vithal¬pant was already a pious person conversant with the traditions of Indian Philosophy. He was more or less averse to worldly life. He, therefore, appears to have named his children according to the maxims of the Indian philosophy. When one gets out of this worldly life (Nivritti) he obtains real knowledge (Dynana), when real knowledge is obtained, he finds the bridge (Sopan) leading to the liberation or Mukti (Muktabai). These steps of obtaining Moksha were as if suggested by Vithalpant by the names of his children.

    The children were thus growing in Alandi under the care of Vithalpant and Rukminibai, who were both extremely religious and devoted to God. According to the traditions of the time, when Nivrittinath became due for the thread ceremony, Vithalpant re¬quested the Brahmins to perform the same; but they were all against performing any ceremony, as they said vehemently that it was against the orders of the Shastras, to start a family life after once taking Sanyasa. Vithalpant entreated the Brahmins in various ways and requested them to suggest something for atoning the sin committed by him; but the orthodox element in the Brahmins was not prepared to budge an inch and to give permission for the thread ceremony-Ultimately, they referred to all the religious books and said that, if Vithalpant has got to be free from the great sin committed by him, he and his wife Rukminibai should sacrifice their lives at the con¬ference of Ganga and Yamuna. Vithalpant who was really a God¬fearing person, accepted the unanimous decision of the Brahmins and with his wife jumped in the holy waters of the Ganga and Yamuna at Prayag.
    The four children were thus rendered destitute at a very young age due to the orthodoxy and uncompromising attitude of the Brahmins of Alandi. At that time Nivrittinath might hardly be about 10 years of age, and the others still younger. We can hardly picture the youngsters plungeed deeply in the sorrow of the loss of their parents; but it is a wonder how all the Brahmins of that time could afford to be so merciless !


    Time teaches a person to gather strength. The eldest of Vithalpant's children, Nivrithtnath, had therefore, to rise to the occa¬sion. He bravely bore the massive grief due the loss of his parents, consoled his two younger brothers and the sister and went to Apegaon to get some support at least from the other relatives of his father; but in the absence of Vithalpant all his relatives at Apegaon shut their doors for these homeless and desolate orphans.

    Nirvttinath and Dnyaneshwar therefore started begging alms and -they somehow kept their bodies and souls together.

    Completely baffled in this fashion and getting no support from their relatives, all the four children left Apegaon and came to Alandi; but as they were being treated as outcast their minds were not at rest. Paithan was in those days a great seat of learning and a stronghold of the Brahmins. Hence Dnyaneshwar had a feeling that they may try to get a certificate of purity from the learned Brahmins of Paithan. Because of the request of Dnyane¬shwar, Nivrittinath along with his brethren came to Paithan all the way on foot, with standing many dangers and fighting with diffi¬culties. All the brahmins of Paithan were looking upon them with scorn. Hence when Dnyaneshwar said that the God was alike in all the living beings, he was asked to make the passing he-buffalo to recite Vedas and it is said that no sooner Dnyaneshwar placed his hand on the head of the animal, than the he-buffalo started re¬citing Vedas as well as the Brahmins did. The animal continued to recite Vedas for hours together and all the Brahmins collected on the Bank of Godavari to see this miracle. The performance of this miracle made the Brahmins nowhere and they had to accept the greatness and supernatural power of Dnyaneshwar. The result was that ultimately the certificate of purity was granted to the child¬ren by the Brahmins of Paithan; but the Thread ceremonies of Nivritti and Dnyaneshwar were never performed ! !

    After performing one miracle Dnyaneshwar went to Newase where another miracle was waiting for him. The mention of Newase is found in Dnyaneshwari, where this exquisite book was written. As these children were entering Newase, they found that one person was lying dead and his wife was lamenting bitterly by the side of his corpse. Dnyaneshwar asked as to what was the name of the person and on being told that it was Sat-chit-ananda, he said that a person bearing that name could never be lifeless. He therefore touched that lifeless body with his nectar like hand and asked the person to get up, when Sat-Chit-Anandababa at once got up as if from sleep. This same Sat-Chit-Anandbaba later on worked as the scribe of Dnyaneshwari, when Dnyaneshwar dictated his great book.

    It is reported that this same Sat-chit-Anandbaba had written a book in verse form under the caption of " Dnyaneshwar Vijay "; but unfortunately that book is swallowed by time and is not available. If this book would have been available, we could have had some authentic information about this great personality as written by his contemporary; but the will of God is otherwise and we have to construt the life of Dnyaneshwar by collecting the fragments from various other sources as already said.

    सबका मालिक एक - Sabka Malik Ek

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