The Bhakti Movement in Maharashtra, Part 2


A Miracle Performed near Poona by Janesvara
Poona, c. 1800

Feb 10, 2012 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial presentation of the Bhakti Movement's development in India.

As a child, Janesvara (Dnyaneshwar) moved to the village of Nevasa, in Ahmednagar district. Under the instruction of his guru, Nivruttinath, he began to study the Bhagavad-gita. His discourses on the Gita were written down by Sacchidananandbaba, and eventually published as the Bhavartha Deepika Teeka, more commonly known as the Janesvari.

The Bhavartha Deepika Teeka commentary, completed when Janesvara was only 15 years old, is considered a masterpiece of Marathi literature. The commentary's 18 chapters are composed in a metre called ovi. Janesvara presented his purports to this Sanskrit epic in the local Marathi language, thus making it available to the common man.

His Amrutanubhav, written some time after the Janesvari, is not as widely read, and the material is generally found to be more difficult to approach. Composed of 10 chapters and 806 ovi, the text forms the basis of Janesvara's bhasya on non-dualism, or Advaita siddhanta.

Sant Janesvara

The nath-influenced branch of the Vaishnava Sampradaya Janesvara belonged to is known as the Vitthala Sampradaya, after Sri Krsna Vitthala of Pandharpur, and the local Bhakti cult is known as the Varkari movement. The Varkaris accepted Janesvara as their spiritual leader, and his prominence grew as he initiated devotees associated with the Dvaita school of dualism, converting them to his Advaita (non-dualism) Bhakti movement.

Janesvara strongly preached jnana yukta bhakti, or devotion service guided by knowledge. He believed that one cannot be liberated unless he attains the true and divine knowledge of Brahman.

Another of his famous literary works is the Changdev Paasashti, a collection of 65 ovi which comprise Sant Janesvara's discourse with a yogi named Changdev Maharaj, who was said to be 1,400 years of age at the time.

Many stories have been handed down about the pastimes of Janesvara, whose life is said to have been full of miracles and phenomenal events. In one miracle no doubt associated with his kundali practice, Janesvara is said to have baked roti (mande bread) on his heated back.

Janesvara is said to have once caused an entire wall to move. This pastime is depicted in the painting above. The event took place in Poona. It shows him seated on the flying wall in the company of his guru and siblings (from left) Muktabai, Sopan, Dnyaneshwar (Janesvara) and Nivrittinath. In the center, Janesvara greets the ancient yogi Changdev, who approaches on a tiger, then offers his obeisances to Janesvara.


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