Jnanadev, born in 1275, is considered one of the greatest saints of Maharashtra. At fifteen, Jnanadev wrote Jnaneshwari, a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, considered the most significant after Shankara, a classic of Hindu thought. He was a close friend and companion of Namdev and they traveled throughout India together. He died as the age of twenty-one in 1296. It is said that he sat meditating on God as he gave up his physical body.

Jnanadev's Poetry

   Translated by S. Abhyayananda

The Nectar of Mystical Experience

I offer obeisance to the God and Goddess, The limitless primal parents of the universe. They are not entirely the same, Nor are they not the same. We cannot say exactly what they are. How sweet is their union! The whole world is too small to contain them, Yet they live happily in the smallest particle. These two are the only ones Who dwell in this home called the universe. When the Master of the house sleeps, The Mistress stays awake, And performs the functions of both. When He awakes, the whole house disappears, And nothing at all is left. Two lutes: one note. Two flowers: one fragrance. Two lamps: one light. Two lips: one word. Two eyes: one sight. These two: one universe. In unity there is little to behold; So She, the mother of abundance, Brought forth the world as play. He takes the role of Witness Out of love of watching Her. But when Her appearance is withdrawn, The role of Witness is abandoned as well. Through Her, He assumes the form of the universe; Without Her, He is left naked. If night and day were to approach the Sun, Both would disappear. In the same way, their duality would vanish If their essential Unity were seen. In fact, the duality of Shiva and Shakti Cannot exist in that primal unitive state From which AUM emanates. They are like a stream of knowledge From which a knower cannot drink Unless he gives up himself. Is the sound of AUM divided into three Simple because it contains three letters? Or is the letter 'N' divided into three Because of the three lines by which it is formed? So long as Unity is undisturbed, And a graceful pleasure is thereby derived, Why should not the water find delight In the floral fragrance of its own rippled surface? It is in this manner I bow To the inseparable Shiva and Shakti. A man returns to himself When he awakens from sleep; Likewise, I have perceived the God and Goddess By waking from my ego. When salt dissolves, It becomes one with the ocean; When my ego dissolved, I became one with Shiva and Shakti.

This material is edited by Jerry Katz - http://nonduality.com/jnan.htm - The book from which these excerpts are taken, is entitled "Jnaneshvar: The Life and Works of the Celebrated Thirteenth Century Indian Mystic-Poet," by S. Abhyayananda. It is published by Atma Books, Olympia, Washington, ISBN 0-914557-02-5. $11.95 U.S.,260pp. I encourage you to buy this book at your community bookstore or through an online bookstore.Nearly half the book details Jnaneshvar's life and times. There are also translations of works unavailable elsewhere. If you like what you read here, you will find yourself much more immersed in the expressiveness of the full work.
home page