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13th century, Maharashtra.

The society was divided into different castes. The teachings of Vedas and Upanishads were in Sanskrit language. It did not reach the common man. At a very young age, (15?, 19?) Dnyaneshwar translated Gita into Marathi, the language of the common man.

The impact of Dnyaneshwar and his siblings on Marathi language and the people of Maharashtra cannot be overemphasized.

Source: 'Indrayani Kathi' by Ravindra Bhat



Vitthalpant of Apegaon (near Paithan) was married to Rukminibai of Alandi. After the death of his parents, he moved to Alandi with Rukminibai. Disinterested in material things, Vitthalpant went to Benaras and became a disciple of Swami Ramanand. Though married, he took Sanyas. When Swami Ramanand came to know that Vitthalpant was married, he asked Vitthalpant to return and resume married life.

Vitthalpant returned to Alandi. The orthodox Brahmin community in Alandi did not accept a Sanyasi’s return to married life. The couple led a secluded life in Alandi. Vitthalpant and Rukminibai bore four children: Nivrutti, Dnyaneshwar, Sopan and Mukti.

When Nivrutti was about 8 years old, it was time for his Mounjibandhan (thread ceremony). The conservative Brahmins did not permit this. Around this time, the family went to Traimbakeshwar (near Nasik). Where a tiger attacked them. Nivrutti separated from the family, wandered into a cave. There he met Gahininath. Gahininath initiated him into Nath sect giving him the mantra "Ramakrishna Hari".

Vitthalpant started teaching Vedas to his children at home (Schools in the village would not accept "Sanyasi’s children".) He continued his efforts to get the children into the Brahmin community. Atlast he was told, only death would be atonement for his sin. One night, Vitthalpant and Rukminibai left their children and proceeded to Prayag, where they jumped into the currents of Ganga.

The orphan children started living on dry alms. Few years later, they went to Paithan to seek blessings of the Brahmins there and to be accepted as Brahmins. Impressed by the intelligent and pious children they allowed them to live in the community, only if they were not to produce any progeny. The children (aged: 14, 12, 10 and 8 years) returned to Alandi. With the certificate from Paithan, the Brahmins performed mounjibandhan on all three boys, and gladly accepted them in their community.

Around this time, Nivruttinath initiated Dnyandeo into the Nath sect. He instructed Dnyandeo to write a commentary on Gita in the language of the common man, Marathi. At Nevase (near Nagar) Dnyaneshwar started giving discourses on Gita. A local, Sachidanand, wrote down the commentary. This was named Bhawartha Dipika.

Muktabai was a great a philosopher as her brothers. Her popular works include verses of advice to Dnyaneshwar.

Probably influenced by Naamdev, Dnyaneshwar realized that the Yoga, stressed by the Nath sect was very difficult for a common person to lead. Thus he joined the Varkari sect, which stresses on NamasanKirtan. Later he went on a pilgrimage with varakari people like Naamdeo and Sawata Mali.

After returning to Alandi, he declared that his work had been accomplished and wished to take samadhi. Barely 21 years old Dnyaneshwar took samadhi at Alandi. About a year later Sopandeo also took samadhi at Saswad. Muktabai disappeared in bolt of lighting few months later. About a year and half after Dnyaneshwar had taken samadhi, Nivrutti took samadhi at Traimbakeshwar.



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