The Saint Jñāneśvar has became famous all over India as one of the greatest saints of the Maharashtra State, and as one of the most illustrious yogis of the Natha Sampradaya. His life was full of the dramatic events, and there exist a lot stories about the miraculous deeds he has performed. His brother Nivṛtti Nāth, became widely known mostly as being his Guru, who initiated him into the yoga practices and the Natha Sampradaya. In his famous composition, known as Jñāneśvari (commentary on Bhagavat Gita in Marathi), Jñāneśvar praises his Guru Nivṛtti (Nivrutti) Nath and says, "Your grace has given me the ability to compose in verse this commentary on Bhagavad Gita, which is supreme among all branches of spiritual knowledge, and in which all essence of the holy scriptures harmoniously included. By your grace I have completed the commentary on the first part of Bhagvad Gita." (from chapter 18 of Jnaneshwari).
The boy, who later has became famous as the Saint Jñāneśvar, was born at about 1275 A.D. in the Brahmin family at a village Apegaon, near Paithan (old Pratishthan) in Maharashtra. He completed his commentary on the Bhagavat Gitā, Bhavartha-dipika, popularly known as ‘Jñāneśvari’ at age 16 years in year 1290 A.D., at the place called Alandi, situated near from modern Poona. Only six years after this, he has taken living (jinda) samādhi (was buried in the ground, while he still was alive), by his own will at the age of 21 years in year 1296 A.D.
In the thirteenth century, the social life was much different from what it is nowadays, being regulated by many old customs and restrictions, and the life story of parents of the Saint Jñāneśvar was tragic one, and full of sorrow. Name of his father was Vithalpant, and mother’s name was Rukminibai Kulkarni. In the time he was born, they were living in village called Apegaon situated on the bank of the river Godavri in Maharashtra. His father Vittalpanth was the only one son of a village-accountant Govindapanth by name. In accordance with tradition existing in the Brahmin families, he was taught Sanskrit and holly scriptures from very young age, and has acquired the good knowledge of both. From his childhood he was not much interested in world matters, but rather inclined towards the religious and ascetic life. He was liking to spent lot of time in the company of sadhus and wondering yogis, and he was much found of the pilgrimages to the holly places.
Once when Vittalpanth was on pilgrimage, he stopped for rest at Hanuman temple in village called Alandi. There he met a Brahman Sidhopant by name, who after making enquiries about his caste and family, found him to be suitable candidate for the marriage of his young daughter Rukminibai. He made proposal to the Vittalpanth’s family, but Vittalapanth declaimed it, by saying that he is not ready for it, and have no intention to be married yet. However later he expressed his agreement for the marriage, after he saw in a dream, that Deity has ordered him to do it.
After marriage was conducted, he settled with his new wife in his parental house in Apegaon. Very soon after it, both of his parents has died, and he has became the head of the family. Vittalapanth was not ready for such development of situation at all, because he was not taking interest in the practical matters, and very soon the young couple has became unable even to get enough food to feed themselves. After they spent some time in such pitiable conditions, and the situation does not improved, they have to move to the Rukminibai father’s house at Alandi. To live in the house of wife’s parents traditionally was considered as the matter of disgrace in India, and this step was not easy for Vithalpant. From now, he has became even more upset with his family life, but he saw no way to improve the situation. They still were childless, so he decided that it was not to much late for him to renounce the family life for which he has realized, he was unfit, and to start the life of Sanyasi. One day he said to his wife that he was going to take bath in the nearby river, but afterwards he did not returned back to the house. Instead he has escaped to Varanasi intending to become sadhu there. There he has became the disciple of the saint Ramananda Swami and was given the new name Chaitanya-ashram. He didn’t informed his Guru that he was already married person, being scared that if he will come to know this, he would never accept him as his disciple. In accordance with the established tradition, the person who has unresolved family responsibilities can’t take Sanyasa. As a consequence of the done by Vithalpant, his wife Rukminibai was predestined to suffer for life long, because in accordance with the social norms of that time, she neither could have children, nor she could enter into the new marriage. She actually has become condemned to live the life of a widow, but she was unable to do anything about this.
After some time, it happened that Ramanandswami started for the pilgrimage to Rameshwaram, the place situated in the Southern India and having one of the famous twelve Jyoti Shiva-Lingas. On his way, he was passing through Alandi, and he has stopped there for rest. Traveling sadhus were always desired guests everywhere in India, and soon all villagers came one by one to have sight of this distinguished saint. When Rukminibai has approached him, he blessed her by saying that she should have many children. After listening his blessing, she couldn’t stop her cry, unable to say anything. After Ramananda Swami has learned about her situation, he has realized that the person to whom he has made his disciple, was no one else, but the husband of this poor woman. He has become greatly distressed about the mistake he has made by accepting Vithalpanth as his disciple. Yogis believe that in accordance with the laws of karma, person whose social responsibilities are not accomplished, and who tries to escape them, becomes the reason of troubles for those people who affected by this. As such he never can achieve the success in his sadhana, because his new bad karma continuously created by the pain and sorrows of those whom he betrayed. Being guru of such person also brings the bad fate, because guru has to accept the complete responsibility for the misdeeds done by his disciple, and as result of it, he also becomes bound by his bad karmas. After Ramananda Swami has realized all the gravity of the situation, he immediately canceled his journey to Rameshwaram on its half way, and returned back to Varanasi. There he accused Vithalpanth for deceiving him in order to become his disciple, and told him that his taking Sanyasa have no effect duty this reason. He ordered him to return back immediately to his wife and responsibilities he has left. Vithalpanth has to obey order given him by his guru, so he returned back to Alandi to his wife’s house.
Soon after he has come back, he realized that his ‘return’ was not welcomed by the orthodox Brahmin community of that village. By his becoming ascetic he has stepped out of the four casts division existing in the Indian society, and after his return, he along with his wife, were excommunicated from the social life of the village and declared as ‘outcast’, as punishment for done by him. Since there was not the precedents for the such situation in the scriptures, the Brahmans of the village were scared that if they would pardon him, it may create the precedent for the future, and their old traditions and customs would be corrupted by these.
Since that moment the pair was obliged to carry on the pitiable existence. The blessing given by the Guru to turned to be true, and after few years they has became parents of four children, three of which were boys and one was girl. The oldest of them was Nivrutti who was born in 1273 A.D., Dnyandeo (who later became famous as Jñāneśvar) was the second son born in 1275 A.D., and Sopan, who was the youngest from brothers, was born in 1277 A.D. In 1279 A.D., the last of all, a girl was born, who was named Muktabai. When the oldest of boys, Nivrutti, has reached the age of seven years, Vithalpanth has attempted to perform the ceremony of wearing him a sacred thread, as it was customary for the children of Brahmin caste. He has approached the heads of the Brahmin community of Alandi with petition to allow him to do this ceremony, in which he argued that the children are not responsible for the misdeeds done by their parents, so they should be accepted as the members of the Brahmin society, and should be allowed to learn Vedas. His petition was rejected, and he was told that his children wouldn’t be recognized as Brahmins, because their father is an outcast and there no exist any established rule for doing changing this.
Seeing the trouble they have created for their children, Vithalpanth and his wife, became even more disheartened, their hope to see their children being pardoned and have the better life then they were living came to its end. Some time after this, Vittalpanth along with his children went for pilgrimage to the holly place Tryambakeshvar, where situated one of the twelve Jyoti Lingas, and from where the most holly river of the Maharashtra State, Godavari is starting. The road leading there, was passing through the hill area, which was covered with the dense jungles, inhabited by the wild animals. When they were going around of the Brahmagiri Mountain, they saw a tiger approaching them from a distance. In those times it was not much unusual practice that the wild animals were attacking weaponless people and killing them, so in panics they scattered away on all sides, trying to escape this dangerous situation. In the process, Nivṛtti has become separated from them, till finally he got lost in the jungle. After searching for him long time, and unable to find him, they returned back home without him.
Nivṛtti who has found himself left alone in jungle, wondering around for some time trying to find the road back, till he met a Nath yogi living in the cave situated on the Anjani Mountain. In accordance with the legend, that yogi was no one else but the Siddha Gahini Nath, the direct disciple of the Guru Goraksh Nāth. He warmly welcomed the boy, who decided to stay at his cave for some time. Gahini Nāth liked the boy’s charakter, and after some time, being asked by him, he has accepted him as his disciple and initiated him into the Natha Tradition. The young Nivṛtti got his new name, and since that time he was called Nivṛtti Nāth, to denote his membership in the Natha Sect. After some time, Yogi Nivṛtti Nāth has returned to his family to comfort his parents and to complete his studies. Although the boys were not allowed to wear janeo (the sacred tread of Brahmins), and to sturdy with the other children of Brahmins, they were study the Vedas and Sanskrit on their own, with their father who was familiar with them from his childhood.
Since long time ago, in India there was existing believe and tradition that the people who were leaving their bodies at the place known as Prayag (modern Illahabad), situated at the meeting point of the three rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati, were becoming purified by doing these from all sins they have committed in their lives, and were entering into Heavens directly. Vittalpanth and Rukminibai, who have lost their last powers and hopes, went there and drowned themselves at the place of meeting of the three rivers. They last hope was that because of this acts, their children at last would be pardoned, because they did not committed any sins on their own, and were suffering duty them only. When this tragically event has happened, Nivritti Nath was ten years old, Jnanadev was eight years old, and Sopan and Muktabai were six and four years old. From now, the four young children have becomes orphans, and were growing up uncared by any one. They were sustaining their lives by begging food from here and there. The tragedy of the innocent children was touching the hearts of people around them, and many were trying to ‘unofficially’ support them, but still they were obligated to remain excommunicated from Brahmin society, and were looked upon as outcasts.
When Jnandeo has became twelve years old, he approached the Brahmins community of Alandi once more, with petition to pardon himself and his family to be accepted as Brahmins and to allowed to wear janeu. He was advised to go to the city Paitan, where the most educated Brahmins of their area were living, and present his matter to their expertise. He was told that if he would bring from them a written letter allowing him to be pardoned, he would be pardoned. When he went to Paitan, and has presented his matter there, he got the categorical refuse and was unable to secure the favorable answer. However, he was told that in accordance with the sacred scriptures, there exists the only one way for them to be pardoned and live the respectful life amongst the Brahmins community of Paitan. For this they should accept the vow to remain Brachmacharis life long and never enter into marriage and have children.
In accordance with the legend, when the children have approached the Brahmin authorities in Paitan, in order to prove that they were the real Brahmins, they started to recite the sacred hymns of Vedas, which they knew by their heart. While doing this, they were interrupted by Brahmins, who told them that they have not right to repeat these sacred chants, because they were not proper Brahmins, on what Jnanadev replied that ‘anyone may recite the Vedas, this not the privilege of Brahmins only, but even buffalo can do it’. After saying this, he placed his hand on the back of the buffalo, which was standing near by, and the buffalo started correctly pronounce the Vedas, from the place where Jnanadev had left. After seeing this happening, the Brahmins presented here have realized that the boys, who could perform such miracles, were not ordinary persons, but even then they were not ready to accept them as the members of the local Brahmin community, and allow them to properly to perform the ceremony of wearing the sacred thread. Since then, that buffalo was declared sacred, and there still exist his samadhi at the place called Ale near Pune where it died.
For some time the boys were staying at Paithan were they were teaching the Gita to the simple people. Shortly after, when Jnanadev was still twelve years old and Nivruti Nāth who was in his fourteen, Jnanadev was formally initiated into the Natha Order by his brother, who then ordered him to write the commentary on Bhagavat Gita in Marathi language. The legends didn’t preserved his ‘Nātha’ name, given to him by his Guru, but by the analogy with other similar situation we can guess that his new name has became Jñāneśvar Nāth. At that time, the monopoly on the spiritual knowledge was in the Brahmin’s community hands, which was not accessible to the simple uneducated people, because of the simple reason that the sacred books were written in Sanskrit, the language known only to the members of the Brahman’s caste. Therefore the brothers decided to make this knowledge accessible to the wider categories of people, in the local Marathi language, which was known to everyone in Maharashtra.
Now, the two bigger brothers were the formal members of the Natha Sect, and soon after, they moved to Nevasa, a small town in Nagar (modern Ahmednagar) district, to start new chapter in their life. At the same day when the boys were entering into Nevasa, some hours before it, the man called Sacchitananda has died, and his funeral ceremony on the cremation ground was about to start. His wife Soudamini wanted to commit Sati i.e. burn herself alive on the funeral fire of her husband. When she before doing this came to take her last blessings from the young yogis, who just came to the village, first to whom she came was Jnanadev. He being not aware of her situation, blessed her with words "Akhand Saubhagyavati Bhava", what means ‘may you never became widow’. When he was informed about what just has happened, he brought back her husband to life, by the power of his prayer and the yogic powers. That man later became his faithful devotee known under the name Sacchitananda-Baba. There Jnanadev began to write his book, which later has become famous as ‘Jñāneśvari Gita’, with commentary on it called Bhavarthadeepika. He completed this task in the year 1290 A.D., after passing the period of two and half years. The some legends say that he did not actually wrote it down, but it was the man brought by him back to life, Sacchinanand Pava, who actually put his sayings on paper. Daily, Jñāneśvar used to give the discourses on the few verses from Gita, with his commentary to the group of devotees, one of which was which Sacchinanand Pava, who faithfully has written down word by word what he was teaching.
Saint Jñāneśvar Nāth and Namdev
At that time, the mutual friendship has developed between Jñāneśvar and the other prominent Saint of Maharashtra Namdev, who was the member of the Varkari movement. Varkari Sampradaya also called Vari to Pandharpur, was the religious movement of the followers of the presiding deity of Pandharpur Vithoba, who is considered to be the manifestation of Bhagavan Krishna. His peculiarity is that he wears the crown with form of Shiva Linga on it, in such way making the Shaiva and the Vaishnava traditions united into one.The followers of this movement were taking the life-long vow to visit Pandharpur at least once in a year, at the time of one of two Ekadashis (11th day by lunar calendar) in Ashadh lunar month (which falls somewhere in July-August) and Kartik (which falls somewhere in October-November) takes place, better if on both of these ocasions. The Saint Namdev was the well-known member of this movement, who became widely famous while he was still a young boy, after he has performed the miracle, when the Lord Vithoba himself had took the food offered by him. It was under his influence that the Saint Jñāneśvar has joined to the Varkari Sampradaya, and soon after this, has become its prominent member. He was ordered by his Guru Nivritti Nath, to wrote one more book for the sake of devotees, which is presently known as Amrita-anubhava (the experience of the Nectar of immortality), the work in Marathi, consisting from 800 verses and based on his personal spiritual experience. The Varkari Sampradaya is still widely popular in Maharashtra, and there the both books composed by the Saint Jñāneśvar are recognized as the holy texts of the tradition.
Saint Jnaneshvar and Chang Dev
There exist few legends related to this period of his life. In accordance with one of them, at the place called Vateshwar, there was living a famous saint Chang Dev by name, who by using his yogic powers was able to extend his live for a thousand and four hundred years. Being a yogi, he was very powerful in comparison with the ordinary people, and duty this reason he was behavior as an arrogant person, trying to demonstrate everywhere his magical powers. He used to travel with great ‘stage show’, sitting on a tiger and using a serpent as his whip, and being accompanied by the big crowd of his followers. Soon, the news about the presence of other powerful yogi (Jñāneśvar) in near by area has reached to him, so he decided to pay a visit to Jñāneśvar, to test his powers. He has reached to the place where the children were staying, as usually riding on a tiger with a serpent in his hand. When he has approached them, Jñāneśvar by his yoga powers moved the wall on which he was sitting, as if it was his horse, to welcome Chang Dev. Chang Dev has limited powers, being able to control the living beings only, but now he saw that Jñāneśvar had much greater powers than he has, and was able to control even the material objects. Prior to this moment, he used to humiliate others, and for first time in his long life, he saw in front of him the more powerful yogi than he was. Besides, at the place of Jñāneśvar, all the magical powers of Chang Dev have stopped to work, and he was even unable to pick up his snake from the place he placed it. He has become to such extend humiliated by happened that he have to accept his defeat. The legend says that he quietly stepped down from his tiger, made prostrations to Jñāneśvar and accepted him as his Guru.
Mukta, a mere girl of fourteen, gave instructions to Chang Dev, an old man of a thousand and four hundred years. She said, "O Chang Dev! Listen. If you want to attain salvation, the first step is the sincere devotion (bhakti). Devotion will bring detachment (vairagya). And detachment will lead you to the Spiritual knowledge (jnana). Therefore the Spiritual knowledge (jnana) should be your aim, but your first step must start from devotion".
In accordance with other legend, Jñāneśvar has acquired the full control over the elements. When there was no vessel to prepare food, his sister used to prepare bread (rooti) on his back.
One time Nivritti Nath, Jnanadev, Sopan and Muktabai, accompanied by Namdev and few other devotes like Narhari Sonar, Chokha-Mela, Savata Mali, went on a pilgrimage to the holy places of India. They have visited Pandharpur, Prabhasa, Prayag, Dwaraka, Girnar, Ayodhya, Mathura, Vrindavan, Hardwar, Varanasi, Kanchi, Ujjain, Tirupathi, Rameswaram, Madurai, Gokaran, and few more places. At completing their travel, when they arrived at Alandi, Jnanadev who was 21 one years old at that time, has declared his will to leave his body by taking sanjivani or jinda Samadhi, and enter into tomb while he was still alive. This was not much unusual practice amongst the Natha yogis at that time, so soon all the necessary arrangements were made for it, under the guidance of Nivritti Nath. Final day was chosen which fell on thirteenth day of the dark half of Kartik month, which happened about the end of October of the year 1296 A.D. For the last time Jñāneśvar has embraced those whom he loved, preparing to live them forever, and entered into the cave he was about to be buried in. He sat in the yogic posture and was watching as the door of his tomb was sealed by the stone wall, till it was completely closed. Some people say that he has left his physical body, through the opening of the skull (brachma-randha), but there exists the popular believe that he is still sitting alive in his samadhi not being touched by time. His tomb presently has became the famous place of pilgrimage in Maharashtra, and visited through the year by the crowds of people. It is widely believed that if one reads the Bhagavat Gita written by him, while sitting near of his Samadhi, all his doubts become cleared. The influence of the Saint Jñāneśvar on the spiritual life of Maharashtra is very strong even today, he and Mukund Rai, who lived about a hundred years earlier then him, considered to be the founders of the Bhakti movement of the Maharashtra State.
Within a year and a half after Jñāneśvar has left them, his brothers and sister also departed from this material world. Sopandev took his samadhi on the bank of the river Karha at the place called Sasvad situated near Pune. When Nivrutti Nath with Muktabai were on the pilgrimage along the Tapi river, they were caught there by the terrible storm in which his sister has perished. Soon after this happened, Nivrutti Nath, who was left alone of the four children, took his samadhi at the source of holy river Godavri at Triambakeshwar.
At the end of his main work, Jñāneśvari, the Saint Jñāneśvar has mentioned the lineage of his Gurus, which shows him as the proper member of the Natha Sampradaya: "In very ancient times, Shri Shankara, the slayer of demon Tripura, whispered in the ears of goddess Parvati the secret knowledge on the shore of the Milky Sea. Vishnu who was in the stomach of a fish, heard it and attained knowledge. As Matsyendra Nath he imparted it to Goraksh Nath, who in turn bestowed it upon Gahini Nath and that knowledge fulfilling our desires came down from Gahini Nath to Nivritti Nath and from Nivritti Nath to me. " Jñāneśvari (18.1750-61)
Advices on the Kundalini Yoga from Jñāneśvari
(the commentary on Bhagavat Gita by the Saint Jnaneshwar the part of the chapter 6 on Meditation)
"What I am going to tell you now is about that Yoga path which is the king among all yoga paths, therefore listen carefully. By this path one gains innumerable fruits of detachment through deliberate actions. Lord Shiva is even now a follower of this path. Some Yogis tried other ways to attain Brahman, but getting wiser by their experience they had to turn to this straight path of Self-realization after which they made rapid progress. A person who has discovered this path forgets his hunger and thirst and is not aware about when the day comes or when the night falls. Every step in this path opens towards the mine of liberation. Whether you go eastward or westward the progress on this path occurs quietly and definitely. (6:152-159). Now I shall tell you the details, but they are useful only if you experience them. (6:163).
First of all a suitable place should be selected for the practice. One should get a feeling of happiness on sitting there and a feeling that he should not leave the place. One's sense of dispassion should increase while sitting there. Saints should have occupied that place earlier, the effects of which are still felt by getting a feeling of satisfaction, courage and zeal. The practice of yoga should occur naturally by sitting there and the beauty of the surroundings should give one the experience of the bliss of the Self. Even an atheist should feel like doing tapas there. (6:163-167)
That place should be beautiful and pure. It should be inhabited only by seekers and be away from the crowds of ordinary people. Plenty of roots and fruit-laden trees should be available throughout the year and water, especially from natural fountains, should be available even in dry season. It should enjoy mild sun and cool breeze. It should be so thickly wooded that not only wild animals but even bees and parrots cannot enter. But there may be a few water birds around and perhaps a cuckoo and occasional peacock may also be there. Arjuna, one should carefully search for such a place looking for a secret cave or a temple of Lord Shiva. (6:171-179).
Preparation of the seat
After selecting one of the two places (cave or temple), one should sit there alone for a long time and check whether or not the mind becomes calm. If it becomes calm then one should prepare a seat there. The seat should be made of Darbha grass over which one should put a deerskin and cover it further by a clean washed cloth. The seat should be level and not too high or too low from the ground. If the seat is too high it will make the body unstable and if too low then the body will touch the ground. In short the seat should be steady and comfortable. (6: 180-185).
Stabilizing the mind
Then one should sit there concentrating the mind while remembering one's Guru. The Guru must be remembered until the mind is filled with Sattvik (pure) feelings so that one's ego gets blunted, mind is rid of thoughts of sense-objects and the organs do not stir. One should remain in this state until one experience that the mind has merged with the heart. In this state one experience that body automatically becomes steady and airs in the body are coming together. After remaining in this state the mind stabilizes, interest in worldly affairs gets inhibited and he attains the state of deep trance (Samadhi) effortlessly as soon as he sits on the seat. (6: 186-191).
Yogic posture and Chakras
Now listen carefully the details about the yogic posture. First sit with the calves of the legs pressed against the thighs and keeping the left leg on the other leg at a slight angle, press the right sole steadily on the anus, keeping the sole of the left foot naturally pressed on the right foot. Pressing the heel tightly at the centre of the space between the anus and the base of the generating organ, one should balance the body on it. Keeping the two ankles straight he should lift the base of the spinal column. This will make the whole body to be supported and balanced on the heel. This is the characteristic of the Mula Bandha posture (the knot at the root or base) also known as Vajrasana. Once this posture is successful then the downward path of the Apana, part of the vital breath (or life force) gets blocked and it starts receding inside. (6:192-200). Then let both palms held in cupped shape rest on the left leg which will make the shoulders rise. The head automatically gets in between them. The eyes then remain in half-closed state and the sight turns inwards. Even if it turns outwards it can look only up to the tip of the nose. The desire to look around vanishes. Then the neck gets contracted and the chin presses against the chest hiding the throat. This posture of the neck and chest is called the Jalandhar Bandha or knot. (6:201-208).
Then the belly becomes flat and the navel gets raised. The posture of the part of the body between the navel and the anus is called Udhiyana Bandha knot. (6:209-210).
Thus the Yoga practice starts with the external parts of the body while the thoughts, desires and other affairs of the mind vanish. He is not aware anymore of hunger and sleep. (6:211-213).
On the Awakening of Kundalini
The Apana breath then hits the Muladhara Chakra situated at between the anus and the generating organ and removes all the impurities accumulated there since childhood. (See the note on the Chakras at the end of chapter). Then the Apana breath raises to the Manipura Chakra situated just below the navel and starts hitting against it. Thus the confined breath stirs the body from inside and removes the impurities accumulated since childhood. Then the powerful breath enters the abdomen and eliminates the phlegm and bile. Then it reaches the centers of the seven essential elements (viz. flesh, blood, muscles, bones, marrow, chyle and semen), gets rid of the fat, and drives the marrow out from the bones. It cleans the blood vessels and relaxes the organs which may frighten the seeker but he should not get frightened. By creating these ailments it throws the diseases out from the body. Then the Apana breath brings the solid flesh and bones and the liquid blood together. (6:214-220).
While this goes on the Kundalini force awakens by virtue of the heat created by the yogic posture. It was sleeping like a baby cobra coiled in three and half coils near the navel with its mouth facing down, (6:221-223) but now gets awakened due to the constriction by the Mula Bandha. (6:225).
Kundalini reaches other Chakras and purifies the body when it wakes up it opens its mouth and swallows the Apana, which has occupied the space in the region of the heart. It then swallows the fat and excess flesh from the region of the heart and wherever else it can find flesh. (6:229-231). Then it searches for the palms and soles, tears open the upper parts and searches every joint and organ. It extracts the vitality from the nails, purifies the skin and makes it touch the bones. Then it cleans the insides of the bones and scrapes the interior of the blood vessels with the result that the roots of the hair are burnt. It then drinks off the seven essential elements and makes the body hot and dry. (6:232-235).
It then draws back the Prana coming out of the nose and the Apana, which is inside and when they meet only the curtains of the six Chakras separate them. They would have met except that Kundalini asks them, "What business have you here? Get aside!" The principle is that the Kundalini eats off the Earth principle (solid part) and also completely licks off the Water principle (liquid part) from the body and feeling satiated becomes mild and rests at the Sushumna (central) nerve in the spine. (6:236-240). In this satisfied mood it vomits the saliva which becomes the nectar which guards the body. At this stage the heat leaves the body which now becomes cool from inside as well as from outside because of which the lost strength returns. The flow in the Sushumna nerve stops and the functions of the remaining nine Pranas also stop. Because of this the body is without action and becomes still. The Ida and Pingala nerves in the spine meet and the three knots get loosened and the curtains of the six Chakras open. Then the vital airs passing through the right and left nostrils (which are designated Sun and Moon respectively) fade to the extent that even a flame will not flicker by them. (6:241-245). At this time, the intellect gets stilled and the remaining fragrance in the Pranaenters the Sushumnanerve along with the Kundalini. Then the spiritual nectar (Ambrosia or Amrit) situated at the crown of the head spills into the mouth of the Kundalini and then gets absorbed throughout the body including the ten Pranas. (6:246-248).
Body gets rejuvenated, the skin which veils the lustre of this nectar, but is brightened by it is shed and all the organs show their bright aura. (6:250, 252-253). Now even Death is afraid of it (the body) and the aging process gets reversed. The yogi gets back his lost childhood and he looks like a boy. (6:259-261). He gets bright new nails. He gets new teeth also but they are tiny like a row of pearls. Tiny hairs grow on the body. The palms and soles become red and the eyes become so clean that his vision cannot get confined within the eyelids and even with half-closed eyes the range of his vision reaches the sky. (6:262, 265-267). Though the color of his skin becomes golden, his body becomes light as air because now there is no earth and water principles in it. He is able to see beyond the seas and understand what is going on in heaven. He is able to understand what is in an ant's mind and he can ride the wind. Even if he walks on water his feet do not get wet. Thus he attains such occult powers (Siddhis). (6:268-270).
Now listen to what happens further. The Kundalini, with the help of Prana rises up to the heart through the Sushumna nerve. (6:271). This Kundalini now may be considered as the basis of this universe and of AUM which is the expression of Supreme Soul. (6:272-273). The yogi then starts hearing the divine Anahat sound. (6:274). The intellect which is near the Kundalini power becomes active and is now able to hear some of this Anahat sound. (6:275). There are ten types of Anahat sound and he hears the first type of sound called Ghoshaand in this basin of Ghosha itself sound pictures are then generated which one sees through one's imagination but when the person is not himself where is the imagination? Actually it is impossible to explain where the sound is coming from. (6:276-277). I forgot to tell you one thing that is the Anahat sound reverberations near the heart persist as long as Air principle is not destroyed. The reverberations in the Sky principle (space) open the window of the Brahmarandhra (or Sahasrara) easily. There is another space above the Sahasrara (lotus of thousand petals) where the consciousness (Chaitanya) resides without any support. (6:278-280). There the Kundalini flashes its energy and by giving an offering of it to the intellect, it makes the duality disappear. Now the Kundalini drops its brilliance and merges with the Prana. At that time it looks like a golden robe shed by a statue of air or like a tongue of lightening. (6:281-284). Thus when it reaches up to the Sahasrara, it looks like a golden chain or a stream of shining water. Then it suddenly vanishes in the space of the spiritual heart and its power dissolves into itself. We should really call it power but it is really the life-force, which is no longer aware now of any material aspect of the world. In this state things like conquering the mind, holding the breath or meditating do not remain. Having desires or giving them up also stop. Therefore this Kundalini may be considered as the melting pot of all the five principles. (6:286-290). Jñāneśvar Maharaj says, "Using the body itself to devour the idea about the body is the principle of the Nath Panth. Shri Krishna has merely mentioned it in the Gita, but I have put the details before the audience." (6:291-292)
When the lustre of the power vanishes, the appearance of the body also changes and eyes of common people cannot see the real form of the yogi. Actually the gross body continues to possess the limbs and other organs but it is now made of air principle. (6:293-294). His body can become so light that he is called Khechar i.e. one who can travel through space. Once he reaches this stage his body performs miracles because now he has gained Siddhis. (6:296). One need not go into the details about these Siddhis, main point here is that the three principles Earth, Water and Fire have disappeared from within his body. Of the five principles, the Water principle has destroyed the Earth principle, and the Air principle has destroyed the Water principle, while in the spiritual heart, the Air principle has destroyed the Fire principle. What remains is the Air principle in the shape of the body. But after some time that too vanishes in the space of the spiritual heart. At this time the Kundalini changes its name to Marut i.e. wind or air. But until it merges into Brahman its form as power persists. (6:297-301).
Then it breaks the Jalandhar knot and surges through the throat to the Brahmarandhra. With the help of recitation of the basic sound AUM, it rises to the Pashyanti stage of the sound and enters the Brahmarandhra up to the half of Tanmatra. By steadying itself in the Brahmarandhra, it embraces the Brahman. The ‘curtains’ of the five principles are withdrawn, and the power meets the Supreme Brahman and evaporates into it along with the Sky principle. (6:302-306).
Thus the soul which was separated from the Brahman by virtue of acquiring the body reenters the Brahman. At that time thoughts about whether the soul is different from me (i.e. the Brahman) does not survive in the mind. (6:307-309). The person now experiences the merging of what is described as Sky (akasha) principle with the sky. This cannot be described in words, but has only to be experienced within Self. (6:310-311). Arjuna, understand that this phenomenon is not something explicit, which can be understood by listening its description. There is nothing more left for him to know. I can only say that if one is enough fortunate, then he could experience it, and be one with the Brahman. (6:316-318). But it is meaningless to talk about that, which is the Root of the Universe, the Fruit of the Yoga, and the Energy of the Bliss, that form where all forms are dissolved. It is the place of the liberation where the beginning and the end are both disappear forever. It is the Seed of the Five Principles and the brightness of the Great Effulgence. When the non-believers tortured my devotees, I had to assume my beautiful four-armed form out of it (the Brahman). The great bliss of this state is beyond description. Persons who have realized Self by steadily striving for it, have become pure and reached my status. (6:321-326).
The Ending of the Dyaneshwari
Jñāneśvar ends his holy dialogue with the following words:
'Now may the Lord of the Universe be pleased by this devotional speech and thus bestow his blessing. May all people have good will towards each other. May those, who are sinful, end their evil ways and grow up in the righteousness and the love of each other. May the darkness of evil in this world be dispelled by the Sun of virtuousness. May the people obtain what they desire for, may they always be in the blessed communities of the lord's worshipers. Like the garden of living wish-gratifying trees, like the villages of the living wish-giving gems, like the speaking ocean of everlasting life, like the blemish-less moon and the sun without the burning heat, if the people would have the kinship of these saints abiding in truth, what else could be asked for? May the Three Worlds be filled with rapture, worship the primal lord uninterruptedly. those who cherish this scripture as their very life force, may be they victorious over seen and unseen karma'!
Then the Lord of the Universe, the brother and Guru Nivruti Nath has said “your offering is blessed." And with this blessed Jñāneśvar has attained the eternal bliss and concluded with the following verse: "Mogara Phulala" “The Buds of Mogara flower have blossomed” (I have attained enlightenment), I planted a seedling and the vine has grown high in the sky. With the threads of the mind, I have woven this cloth (the Jñāneśvari) as an offering to the Lord Vitthala.
Amr̥tānubhava or Testimony of the experience of immortality
The another book of Saint Jñāneśvar, known as Amr̥tānubhava (the experience of immortality), was written in following the advise of his Guru Nivritti Nath. Dnyaneshwar created an original work to state his experiences in Yoga and Philosophy. Although this work did not achieve as much fame as Jñāneśvari, it is still considered as one of the most important in the Marathi literature. This work was the last work of Jñāneśvar, and soon after it was completed, he has announced his intention to take Sanjeevan Samadhi, which he did.
Extracts from Amritaanubhava in English translation by Swami Abhayananda.