The Jnaneshwari

Item Code: NAD053
Publisher: Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan
Author: M.R Yardi
Language: English
Edition: 2011
Pages: 408
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 11.5 Inch X 9.0 Inch
Weight 1.50 kg
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About the Book

The Bhavarthadipika of Shri Jnaneshwar popularly known as jnaneshwari is like the Bhagvat Gita a Superb Philosophical poem. It is a literary gem presented by him to the Marathi language. He lived in the thirteenth century A.D. and took living Samadhi at the tender age of twenty two. As he himself said this whole universe is my home he vishwa chi majhe ghara. His message is universal and is relevant even in the present time. The author has made an humble attempt to translate this work in lucid English so that the English speaking people will understand his philosophy and the spiritual discipline recommended by him.

In the view of Shri Jnaneshwara any of the three ways of knowledge action and devotion recommended in the Bhagvat-Gita of Svadharma in a spirit of dedication to God. In the eighteenth chapter he says one should worship God with actions. According to him this svadharma is the performance of one’s duty which has fallen to one’s lot as a result of ones natural aptitude and experience. This however does not mean that one should not receive reasonable and legitimate remuneration or profit but that one should not earn money through improper means. If men perform their duty with dedication as a worship of God they will strengthen the social fabric also attain god realization.


From the Jacket

Shri Madhukar Ramrao Yardi was born in Supe, a small village (now in North Karnataka) in 1916. He had his school education in the Hindu High school, Karwar and Carud High School, Dhulia and college education in the Ferguson college and Shri Parshuram Bhau college, Pune. He had the good fortune to study Sanskrit under the guidance of Shri V. i-I. Nijsure and Prof. R. N. Dandekar and Mathematics under the guidance of Prof. D. D. Koshambi, and Prof. D. W. Kerkar. He stood first in Sanskrit in the matriculation examination and secured the Jagannath Shankarshet Scholarship (1933). He stood first in the 13. A. and M. A. examination of the then Bombay University and was the Chancellors Gold Medalist (Mathematics, 1939). He topped the list of successful candidates in the Indian Civil Service (ICS) held at Delhi in 1940.

He served the erstwhile Bombay and Maharashtra State as Collector of Pune and Nasilc Development Commissioner, Bombay and as Finance Secretary in the State of Maharashtra. During his stay at Nasik, he had the privilege, along with his Friend Dr. C. B. Khadilkar, to read Shankara Bhashya on the Brahmasutra with his Holiness the late Dr. Kurtakoti, Shankaracharya of Karavira Peeth.

He went to the Government of India, Delhi in 1962 and worked as Advisor, Planning Commission; Additional Secretary Ministry of Home and later as Finance Secretary. He retired from the Government service in 1974.

During retirement, he worked in all for ten years as a Trustee and Chief Trustee of Shri Jnaneshwar Maharaja Sansthan at Alandi and was instrumental in starting an Institution for instruction of ‘kirtan’. He was also President of Sanskrit Pracharini Sabha, Pune.

He served the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institution, Pune, in various capacities over several decades. His works, “The yoga of Patanjali”, “The Mahabharata, its Genesis and Growth, a Statistical Study”, “The Ramayan, its Origin and Growth — a Statistical Study” and “The Bhagavad-Gita as a Synthesis” have been published by the Bhandarkar Institute.

He was the Founder-Chairman of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Pune Kendra from 1983 -2001.

His translations of the Jnaneshwari in Marathi, Hindi and English were published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, in February 1991.

A life-long scholar, with a distinguished career as an able and principled administrator, he served the above institutions with dedication, until the very end.

Shri MR. Yardi passed away on August 20, 2091, two days short of his 85th birthday.



Shri Jnaneshwar, the well-known saint of Maharashtra, was not only a realized soul but a gifted poet At a very early age, he wrote his masterpiece, the Jnaneshwari, a commentary on the Gita in Marathi in exquisite poetry. He has explained the Gita not by recourse to rational arguments but by the profuse use of similes, metaphors and illustrations. Initiated into the Natha Sampradaya elder brother Nivrittinatha, disciple of Gahininatha, he assimilated, in his later life, the non- dual jnana of Vedanta and the pure bhakti of the Bhagvata Dharma. In his Jnaneshwari he calls the gita the literary image of lord Krishna. Indeed one can say that his Jnaneshwari is the literary image of his knowledge and experience.

Like Sri Shankaracharya he was an advaita vadin a non duelist he explains verse 9.12 of the gita as follows.

The Lord says although I am formless without limiting conditions inactive beyond the qualities changeless and all pervasive ignorant people ascribe to me form limitations actions, qualities and a definite place. Although I am umanifest desire less and devoid of action and enjoyment they think of me as manifest full of desires agent and enjoyer. They impute to me hands and feet eyes and ears caste and family although I do not possess them. Even though I am self existent they make idols of me and install them with proper rites of consecration and though I am all pervading they invocation and bid farewell to me with an immersion. They worship an idols as a from of divinity and later throw away the broken idol as worthless. They thus impute to me human attributes.

Shri Jnaneshwar says that true knowledge consists in knowing god in the non dual form and that devotion should culminate in Advaita bhakti. The devote should realize god as all pervasive and wherever he casts his eyes he should see god therein. This shows that Shri Jnaneshwar had become a Jnani Bhakta of the highest order as described in the Gita.

Although he was born in a village Alandi about 20 Kms. From Pune he is worshipped all over Maharashtra as Mauli (mother) by a large number of devotees. The members of the warkari Sampradaya have kept the lamp of devotion burning in Maharashtra. Shri Jnaneshwar says that every one should perform his duty as a yajna and offer his or her actions as flowers at the feet of God. This message is as relevant today as seven hundred years ago an deserves to be known not only in this country but also all over the world. In the meantime the marathi language has undergone changes and even the Marathi Speaking people today find the Jnaneshwari unintelligible so a translation of Jnaneshwari in modern Marathi was also a need of the time. I am sure that the lucid translation of Shri Yardi in Modern Marathi Hindi and English will supply this long felt want. This is a fitting tribute to a saint who regarded the whole world as his home he viswachi majhe ghara. I congratulate the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan for bringing out these books in the seventh centenary year of Shri Jnaneshwar.



Shri Jnaneshwar was a great poet saint of Maharashtra who lived in the thirteenth century. He was born at Alandi a town near Poona in 1271 A.D. and took Sanjivani Samadhi when he was only twenty two years old. As the sun sheds its light before it rises he attained self realization in his young age. As stated by him his intelligence matured as a result of the austerity of truthfulness practiced by him in his births. He wrote such excellent works as Jnaneshwari Amritanubhava, Changedeva Pasashti and devotional songs (abhangas). His commentary Bhavarthadipika popularly known as Jnaneshwari is a precious gem of the Marathi language. In this work he has explained an abstruse subject like the Vedanta in lucid words by the use of appropriate similes metaphors and illustrations. But many changes have tanked place in the vocabulary and the style of Marathi language since then as a result of which this work has become unintelligible to even the Marathi speaking people. An attempt has been made to translate it in prose which is easy to understand without disturbing its character as a dialogue. A translation of the Gita in Marathi in the same meter has been given so those who do not known Sanskrit will also understand the doctrine and Yoga of the Gita.

Even though Shri Jnaneshwar was born in Maharashtra he had the conviction that the belonged to the whole world he vishwachi majhe ghara. In order that this work should be known everywhere I have translated it in simple Hindi and English. It was my strong desire that these translations should be completed during this seventh centenary year of the composition of Jnaneshwari and this desire has been fulfilled by his grace.

The Jnaneshwari like the Gita is a superb philosophical poem. Shri Jnaneshwar declares that by his words he will give form to the formless and make the senses enjoy what is beyond them. He says that his diction is such as will excel nectar with a wager. He states that he has used such savour. The tongue will say that the word is its object. The ears will wish to smell them. The eyes will say that the store of form has opened out for them. When a sentence becomes complete the mind will go forward to embrace it. The devotees of Jnaneshwar therefore is a religious text only those who will become introspective and experience it even in a small way will achieve bliss as Srhi Namdeva has said one should experience at least one ovi. But many of his devotees take pleasure in the literary merits of his work. It is however essential that after appreciating the poetry pleasure in the literary merits of his work. It is however essential that after appreciating the poetry one should try to understand his philosophy. One ought therefore to reflect over the thoughts expressed by Srhi Jnaneshwar. It is hoped that this translation will make such reflection easy.

The last volume of the critical edition of the Mahabharata undertaken by the Bhandarkar oriental research institute was published in 1968. but it is a pity that even in the year 1990 we do not have a critical edition of the Jnaneshwari. The late Prof. S.N. Banahatti had made an attempt to bring out such an edition and had collected many printed and hand written manuscripts for the purpose. He published the critical edition of the twelfth chapter in 1967 giving the different readings. But this work could not be finished due to his premature death.

Prof. Banahatti had sought the views of his scholar friends as to how he should set about this work. While most of them accepted the need of such an edition, there were two divergent views as to how it should be prepared. One view was that the oldest manuscript should be taken as the vulgate and the divergent readings in the other manuscripts should be recorded in notes on the same page. The other view was that a critical edition should be prepared by comparing and examining the divergent readings and by adopting those readings which are determined as the oldest, by the application of appropriate tests. The late Prof. V.S. Sukthankar, who was the first to undertake the work of bringing out a critical edition of the Adiparva of Mahabharata, has discussed what tests should be applied in his prolegomena to that Parva. As regards the first method, both V.K. Rajawade and S.V. Dandekar who belonged to the Warkari sect, claimed that the manuscripts secured by them were the oldest. There are two objections to adopting the first view. It is very difficult to decide which is the oldest manuscript as different opinions may be held on that matter. And even if it is possible to decide about the oldest manuscript, it will be a mistake to regard it as the original, unless one can settle that the author or his direct disciple wrote it.

Prof. Banahatti, after considering these two views, decided to bring out a critical edition and this was a proper decision. This is not the first time that such an attempt was made. The first critical editor of Jnaneshwari was Saint Eknath of Paithan (Aurangabad district). He says that he had determined the correct readings after collecting manuscripts and comparing them with one another. After him his contemporary Bhaskar, disciple of Raghunath, restored the Jnaneshwari, but his manuscript has not become available. It has a special importance as it was written within a period of thirty years after the death of Shri Eknath. After this in the seventeenth century, Shri Gopalashramaswami brought out his edition. He was a great devotee and had great veneration for Shri Eknath. He states that he has chosen the most ancient readings. It seems that he had collected a number of manuscripts and determined the readings. But he has not mentioned how many books he had collated or the different readings which he did not accept. So his edition too, cannot be called a critical edition.

Prof. Banahatti has determined four traditions of Jnaneshzvari, 1. Ekanatha, 2. Patangana, 3. Sidclhanatha and 4. Barave. At the end of the manuscripts of Ekanathi tradition, there are three to five ovis, which state that it is the edition prepared by Saint Eknath. The manuscript of Patangana traditions do not contain any outward indication. Prof. Banahatti has given this name to it, as three out of four manuscripts were recovered from the Patangana temple in Beed district. The Siddhanatha and Barave traditions have been named so, because these names are mentioned at the end of the manuscripts. Those manuscripts, which do not belong to any of these traditions, have been styled as independent.

It is not proper to classify the traditions on the basis of the names occurring at the end of the manuscripts (Ms.); for Prof. Banahatti himself states that the readings in the Shaligram Ms. and Barave Ms. agree with those of the Mss. in the Ekanathi tradition, The readings in the Ashtekar Ms., Tan javar Barve Ms. and Bhandarkar No.2 Ms. also agree mostly with the Mss. in the Ekanatha tradition. Therefore it would be reasonable to include the above three Ms. also in the Ekanathi tradition. Now there remain the Vipra Ms., Bharata itihasa Sanshodhaka Mandala Kulkarni Ms. of the Siddhanath tradition, the Bhandarkar Ms. No. I and Jalgiri Ms. of the so-called independent tradition. About the Kulkarni Ms., Prof. Banahatti says that many of its readings tally with those of Bhandarkar Ms. No. 1 or the Patangana tradition. The Bhandarkar Ms. No. 1 contains a medley of reading from the Mss of Ekanathi tradition and other tradition. The readings in the Jalgiri Ms. Agree with those of the Ekanatha tradition but at many places they agree with the Patangana tradition also. So these four Mss. Too cannot be categorized as an independent tradition.



We at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Pune Kendara Deem it a great privilege to bring out a new edition of the Jnaneshwari by the late Shri M.R. Yardi who was the first chairman of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Pune Kendra. He was a distinguished member of the Indian Civil Service and served ably in high positions in the administration of the state and union governments and rendered yeoman service in every position he held. But his heart was not in the mundane matters of administration but in Sanskrit language and literature and India’s philosophical heritage and on retirement he devoted himself to studies and writings in these subjects of his various contributions his English rendering of the Jnaneshwari must find a place of pride.

As Shri Yardi had observed in his preface to the first edition the Jnaneshwari is a precious gem of the Marathi language. It is rightly acknowledge as the first and the greatest work in Maraathi of Marathi people have been nourished and nurtured by the Jnaneshwari. Millions of ordinary and even illiterate people who cannot read or understand the Jnaneshwari know about the great life work and the message of Shri Jnaneshwar with great devotion each year in the month of Ashadh, hundreds of thousands of these devotees walk to Pandharpur the abode of lord vitthal the deity whom Marathi people revere with names of Shri Jnaneshwar and Sant tukaram on their lips. Often many devotees from other parts of India and even from foreign countries join the wari rare would be a soul who would not be touched by this ocean of devotion.

Jnaneshwari is called by Shri Jnaneshwar himself as Bhavarth Dipika i.e. light on the inner meaning of Shrimad bhagvat-gita the great philosophical poem which has guided many Indians about the basic purpose of life and served as a guide to one’s performance of duty with detachment but also with devotion concentration and efficiency. The Gita itself is terse and even austere in its composition. The Jnaneshwari is not just a literal translation of the Gita. It greatly amplifies and enriches the meaning of gita with literary embellishments like Upama and Utpreksha and Drishtant (illustration) as Shri Yardi has pointed out in the preface. In doing his work with his own original contributions which do not exist in the gita text. To mention only two the wonderful prayer Om Namoji Adya at the commencement of the jnaneshwari and concluding Pasaydan with benediction and blessings for the entire living world asking nothing for himself despite all the suffering in this own life.

When it is realized that Shri Jnaneshwar wrote his work before the young age of twenty one when he took sanjeevan Samadhi at Alandi one recognizes it as little short of a miracle. Such great literary feat has no parallel in world literature. Rightly did tukaram and all those who followed him called him Dnaniyancha Raja guru maharaj a( kings amongst the learned and the great teacher). How did Shri Jnaneshwar at a very young age acquire all this knowledge and articulate it with such clarity through his two great works namely, Jnaneshwari and Amritanubhav? The only answer in the words of Shri Jnaneshwar himself Balpanichi Sarvadnyata Vari Tayate in childhood itself he was blessed with comprehensive knowledge. In the entire annals of humanity rarely has such a person been born or existed.

In spite of the great philosophical and literary heights which the Jnaneshwari has reached and the genius of the Young Immortal who authored it, it is somewhat surprising that Shri Jnaneshwar and the Jnaneshwari are not known to many especially the so called elite in other conveyed by the term Vishwa Swadharma and his words he Vishwachi Majhe Ghara echoing India’s ancient concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam should reach every continent of the world and should be written in letters of gold on the walls of United nations a world organization established for world peace. Far too long has the scourge of hatred and violen tarnished the world.




  Introduction 1
  Forward 3
  Preface 5
  Acknowledgements 20
Chapter 1 Despondency of Arjuna 23
Chapter 2 Sankhya and yoga 34
Chapter 3 Karmayoga 51
Chapter 4 Sankhyayoga 63
Chapter 5 Renunciation 73
Chapter 6 Dhyanayoga 81
Chapter 7 Wisdom and knowledge 100
Chapter 8 The Imperishable Brahman 109
Chapter 9 The Esoteric Knowledge 120
Chapter 10 The Divine Manifestation 139
Chapter 11 The Universal Form 154
Chapter 12 Bhaktiyoga 183
Chapter 13 The Field and the knower of the field 192
Chapter 14 The Three Qualities 230
Chapter 15 The Supreme Person 245
Chapter 16 The Divine and demoniacal natures 266
Chapter 17 Three Kinds of faith 283
Chapter 18 Release 299
Appendix 1 Glossary of Names 363
Appendix 2 Technical Terms in jnaneshwari 376
Appendix 3 Legends referred to in Jnaneshwari 386
Appendix 4 Subject Index 397


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