Jnaneshwar was a Marathi saint, poet and mystic born in 1275. He is the author of two major works of Marathi spiritual literature. The first was written when he was only sixteen, and is a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita called ‘Jnaneshwari’. The second is called ‘Amritanubhava’, ‘The Nectar of Wisdom’, and is indeed the fruit of his own understanding and realisation. Jnaneshwar lived an intensely spiritual life and was a precocious writer. He was able, through his first-hand experience of truth, to reject the formatted religious orthodoxy, and use the common language of vernacular Marathi for his expression. He is deeply loved and appreciated to this day in Marathi culture and can be compared to Adi Shankara. His life is mythical, travelling with his equally religious brothers and sisters, and punctuated by extraordinary events and meetings. In 1296, he voluntary ended his short life in what is called ‘sanjivan-samadhi’. He was only 21. The text presented here is made of various portions of his writings, the bigger part being excerpted from a poem called ‘The Union of Shiva And Shakti’. With beautiful poetic accents and images, we are invited to see again and again how the world is not just an illusion to be pushed away in favour of a pure abiding in consciousness, but is the dance of consciousness itself, the Divine Play:
It cannot be spoken of or spoken to;
by no means may It be comprehended by the intellect.
It is that one pure Consciousness who becomes everything,
From the gods above to the earth below.
Objects may be regarded as high or low,
But the ocean of Consciousness, ever-pure,
Is all that ever is.
Though the shadows on the wall are ever changing,
The wall itself remains steady and unmoved.
Likewise, the forms of the universe take shape from Consciousness,
The eternal, primordial One.
Sugar is only sugar,
Even though it may be made into many forms.
Likewise, the ocean of Consciousness is always the same,
Though it becomes all the forms of the universe.
Various articles of clothing are made from the same cotton cloth;
Likewise, the varied forms of the universe are creatively fashioned
Of the one Consciousness,
Which remains forever pure.
Whatever form appears,
Appears because of Him.
There is nothing else here but the Self.
It is the gold itself which shines
In the form of a necklace or a coin;
They are made of nothing but gold.
In the current of the river or in the waves of the sea,
There is nothing but water.
Similarly, in the universe, there is nothing which exists
Or is brought into existence
Other than the Self.
Whether appearing as the seen,
Or perceiving as the seer,
Nothing else exists besides the Self.