Since I was a kid, I read about Saint Dnyaneshwara. I saw movies based on him. I knew that he was born in 1200 something. As a kid I marveled at the miracles he did in those movies. I sang Aarati (a type of prayer) written on him.I didn’t really understand most of it, but I sang it with crowd anyway.
For the readers who don’t know who Dnyaneshwara is, a brief introduction. Dnyaneshwara was born 1275 AD in a village called Alandi, near Pune in Western India. Here is a wikipedia link to page on him. He and his family belonged to Nath sampradaya (faction) of Vaishnav sect in Hindu religion. Right from the early age, people knew that he was a prodigal child. By the time he was 18, he had finished two seminal works, Bhavartha Deepika aka Dnyaneshwari (which is translation of Bhagwad Geeta from Sanskrit to Marathi) and Amrutanubhav, which is on description of the experience of enlightenment.
At some point in childhood every kid in Maharashtra hears the “Pasaydana” written by him. Literally “Pasaydana” means a donation of basket full of grains. It’s written as if Dnyaneshwara is asking God for a simple gift/blessing. In reality it’s the biggest thing anyone could ever ask God, happiness for entire mankind.
I didn’t think much about it except that it was something divine and holy and I should be doing more of holy stuff to get in heaven somehow. In every picture of Dnyaneshwara there was always that hallow behind his head, sending a strong message of divinity and worship. That hallow told me that the books written by him belonged at altar and not in libraries.
Years later I heard it again during one of my long travels, downloaded from Internet on an MP3 player. Here is a nice youtube video, thanks to SJisBack. At that time I saw it in totally different light. It was so much calming and soothing. The words are simple. Yet the message is so profound and powerful. It was no wonder it captivated masses for centuries.
Dnyaneshwara asks light of guidance for all, and fulfillment of wishes for all. He asks legions of good people to descend on earth and spread goodness around. Those good people have characters without blemish, and force without anger. He asks god to remove bad qualities of bad people and make them interested in good deeds. He asks all living beings to be friends of each other and be happy.
In a few words he describes his vision of a happy world. This vision does not have any religious rituals. There are no debates on ethics and morality. There are no commandments. There is no metaphysical discussion. No soul or Bramha or Maya relationships. All he thinks about is happiness and love, unconditional.
There is no stress on wisdom, or intellect, or discipline. There is no hell or heaven. No good and evil dichotomy, no gods defeating demons, and thus no need to take sides. In fact there is no conflict at all. If there were bad people, Dnyaneshwara sought their transformation. It’s pure compassion, plain and simple. It’s something humanitarian, very down to earth. Happiness and fulfillment to all.
This vision of world started a revolution in India that is similar to the one started in Europe by leading thinkers like Rousseau and Voltaire. These Western philosophers advocated civil liberties. They advocated same law for all. In today’s world we have hard time appreciating the notion that law should be same for all, because that’s how it is since we were born. But there was a time not too far in history when the law for common man was different than the law for kings and noble families. In that world, the “same law for all” notion was a radical one.
The same way to appreciate Dnyaneshwara’s work, we have to dial our minds back to 12th century. The religious knowledge was kept in tight locks by self appointed guardians of divinity. Religion was something to be afraid of. Gods were the ones who constantly needed to be pleased. Caste system was running amok. You had to belong to an exclusive club to be worthy of knowledge and enlightenment. Shortcuts and bypasses were available if you had enough power. You had to learn a language other than yours. And if you did not comprehend it well, it was your problem.
Not to mention there was tremendous fragmentation in religious thought. There were lots of sects, lots of saints, lots of books. And they fought with each other. On one hand there were people exploiting religion for their personal agenda. On the other hand there were monks who had entirely given up on this world. The common man was confused and discouraged. The religion seemed like walking in minefield and nothing pleasant was in sight.
Then came Dnyaneshwara and asked God for a simple blessing. Happiness for all.
Unfortunately, as a society, we overly focused on his miracles. Because those miracles appealed to some insecurity inside us. Our saints, our gods, can beat laws of physics, so there is hope for us. That’s what we thought. Instead, had we focused on the Dnyaneshwara’s vision, we would indeed be far happier today. Divinity is not about bending laws of physics. Perhaps divinity is more about breaking down blocks in mind.
Filed under: Community, Hinduism, History, India, Indian History, Inspirational Stories, Life, Maharashtra, Marathi, Mumbai, Philosophy, Religion, Self Improvement, Thoughts Tagged: | advaita, dnyaneshwara, dnyaneshwari, Hinduism, humanity, pasaydana, Religion