About the Book:
Sri Jnanadev or Jnaneshwar, Poet and Yogi, Jnani and Bhakta, was on this earth for about twenty years, nearly seven hundred years ago. His brief life was a divine event.
The Bhagavad Gita embodies the essence of the Vedic Religion within a short compass and in the most popular form. That glorious dialogue between Nara and Narayana, Arjuna and Sri Krishna, is aptly described as Jnanamaya maya Pradipa-the Light of Knowledge.
Jnaneshwar Maharaj had, at a very young age, a vision of that Light and he gave discourses on the Gita which came to be known as Bhavartha Dipika or Jnaneshwari, bringing to light the deeper meaning and hidden significance of the dialogue between the Blessed Lord and Arjuna.
This very original Commentary, long confined to Marathi and a few other Indian languages in translation, was made available for the first time to the world at large by Sri Ramchandra Keshav Bhagwat in a complete English translation, published in two volumes in 1952 and 1954.
Jnanadev departs from tradition and views the Gita as a book of two parts, PURVA KHANDA or the first part consisting of the first nine chapters and UTTARA KHANDA or the second part consisting of the last nine chapters. His commentary on VI. 12 and other verses reveals for the first time the process and reality of Yoga fully justifying the triple description of the Gita not only as UPANISHAD and BRAHMA VIDYA but also as YOGA SASTRA.
The Gita may be said to begin, in a sense, with Arjuna's aspiration and surrender to Sri Krishna in a state of perplexity. The Blessed Lord imparts to Arjuna the Great Word of the Supreme Secret UTTAMAM RAHASYAM. And the Gita concludes with Arjuna's declaration in the greatest self-knowledge Karishye Vachanam Tava I shall fulfil your Word. May Jnaneshwari invoke the grace of the Divine and lead its readers to that Realization.
Long out of print and very much in demand, this spiritual classic is now issued in a new revised edition incorporating the text of the Bhagavad Gita in Devanagari along with Prof. S. K. Belvalkar's English translation.
About the Author:
Born on 16 August 1879, Sri Ramchandra Keshav Bhagwat qualified for Government service by passing the Entrance examination of the University of Bombay, but he could not proceed to Collegiate education, owing to the limited means of his parents. Entering service in his teens, by dint of honest and diligent work, he rose from the clerical level to a position of high responsibility in the Revenue Department of the then Bombay Presidency. He held various posts carrying heavy administrative and executive responsibilities, and retired in 1935 as Deputy Collector after a meritorious career extending over 35 years.
Before long he was persuaded to be Diwan of JAMKHANDI, a Princely State, in view of his rich experience. Here too he maintained the reputation of being a true public servant, and in recognition of his eminent services both in British India and in the Princely State, the Government of India conferred upon him the title of Rao Bahadur in 1937 and of Diwan Bahadur in 1943. He retired as Diwan of Jamkhandi in 1943 and settled down in his home town of Pune.
How he came to know of Sant Jnaneshwar Maharaj and how the idea of translating his Bhavartha Dipika took shape in his mind, gathering strength over the years, has been explained by Sri Bhagwat in his introduction. After his retirement, he dedicated himself heart and soul to the noble task of translating Jnaneshwari into English. This labour of love engaged him for over five years, and he had the satisfaction of seeing the publication of his rendering-the first complete English translation of the great Marathi Classic-in two volumes in 1952 and 1954.
Known for his regular and simple way of life, Sri Bhagwat continued to be healthy and cheerful until he breathed his last suddenly on 26 January 1956, the Republic Day, at the age of 76.
Back of Book:
AMRITANUBHAVA- Ambrosial Experience by Sri Jnanadeva
AMRITANUBHAVA follows BHAVARTHADIPIKA (JNANESHWARI). It is a faithful narration of the experience of Self-realisation which he claims to be otherwise Self-evident; it puts in a nut-shell the philosophy of the Siddha's the Natha Sampraday, the Sivadvaita as well as the essence of the Upanishads. As the title of the work indicates, AMRITANUBHAVA narrates the ambrosial experience of the final state of liberation which any individual can attain in the present life, provided he undergoes rigorously the spiritual practices.
BUDDHIYOGA OF THE GITA AND OTHER ESSAYS- by
The present volume contains nine essays, the first on Buddhiyoga being the most considerable. In these essays Sri Anirvan covers a wide area and touches upon most of the salient points of Hindu spirituality, directly and indirectly. He roams through the vast territory of Hindu philosophical and theosophical thought with ease and familiarity. He combines scholarship with Sadhana supported by an intellect which is analytic as well as systhetic.
The Bhagavad Gita embodies the essence of the Vedic Religion within a short compass and in the most popular form. That glorious dialogue between Nara and Narayana, Arjuna and Sri Krishna, is aptly described as Jnanamaya Pradipa-the Light of Knowledge.
Jnaneshwar Maharaj had, at a very young age, a vision of that Light and he gave discourses on the Gita, which came to be known as Bhavartha Dipika or Jnaneshwari, bringing to light the deeper mean- ing and hidden significance of the dialogue between the Blessed Lord and Arjuna.
This very original Commentary, long confined to Marathi and a few other Indian languages in translation, was made available for the first time to the world at large by Sri Ramchandra Keshav Bhagwat in a complete English translation, published in two volumes (1952, 1954).
Some years ago when I called on Sri S. Duraiswami Aiyer of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, I found him reading this book. He spoke highly of it but added, that being no longer available, it was worth reprinting. I noted down the name and address of the translator and wrote to him on my return to Madras. His son, Sri Bhaskar Ramchandra Bhagwat, replied offering his co-operation, and added with a touch of sadness that his father had passed away in 1956. I left it at that until Prof. S. Suryaprakash lent me his copy of the book when we touched upon the subject in our conversation. I am now happy to offer a new edition of this English Jnaneshwari encouraged by the response to the new imprint, SAMATA BOOKS, and the two publications, THE BHAGA V AD GIT A with the Com- mentary of Sri Sankaracharya, and DAKSHINAMURTI STOTRA of Sri Sankaracharya.
I am grateful to Sri B. R. Bhagwat for his wholehearted co-opera- tion and for readily granting the necessary permission for the reprint and helping me with his personal copies of the book. He also secured the illustrations that adorn this great work.
While Sri R. K. Bhagwat’s translation was originally in progress, the "Dnyaneshwari English Rendering Publishing Association" was formed with Prof. N. K. Bhagwat as Chairman, Sri B. R. Patwardhan, Sri W. T. Apte, Sri S. A. Apte and Sri J. R. Kinikar as members; Sri S. R. Gurjar and Sri B. R. Bhagwat as Joint Secretaries; and Sri G. M. Vaidya and Sri B. B. Mahabal as advisers. Volume I was published on Gita Jayanti, 27 November 1952, and Volume II on Gita Jayanti, 6 December 1954.
The Association acknowledged its gratitude to Dr. R.D. Ranade for his Foreword; to Prof. S. V. Pandit, Prof. V. V. Dixit and Sri V. D. Kulkarni for their editorial work, to Dr. S. K. Belvalkar for permission to use his English translation of the Gita and to Sri V. A. Patwardhan, Shrimant Rajasaheb of Jamkhandi and the Rajasaheb of Miraj (Senior), and others for their generous help.
Sri R. K. Bhagwat, the translator, explained in his introduction how he first came to know of Sri Jnaneshwar Maharaj from a booklet published in Madras. It is perhaps more than a coincidence that Sri Bhagwat's translation of Jnaneshwari, first published from Pune, is now being issued in a Second Edition from Madras.
I thank Prof. K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar for his advice and suggestions and for his invaluable scholariy help at a critical time. I wish to piace on record my gratitude to the management and staff of All India Press, Pondicherry, for their fine work. And I thank him, who wishes to remain unnoticed, who has been an intimate friend and a brother for all that he has done for me and continues to do despite my failings.
My thanks are due to Sri B. R. Bhagwat, for the photograph of his father; to Sri Nana Maharaj Sakhare Math, Pune, for the photo- graph of the image by Sri. D. V. Talim, to Vijaya Art Studio, for the photograph of the Samadhi at Alandi, and to Prof N.S. Kullur, Nevase, for the photographs of the pillar and the Jnaneshwar Temple. The title DNYANESHWARI of the earlier edition was in con- formity with the Marathi spelling of the word. It has now been altered to JNANESHWARI conforming to the original Sanskrit spelling.
An important feature of this edition is the inclusion of the original verses of the Gita in Devanagari. The earlier numbering of every tenth OVI has been omitted. The number given in brackets, at the end of the last line of the English translation of the verses, indicates the number of the OVI with which the Commentary on the verse or, group of verses, begins.
The Gita has been studied traditionally as a book of three parts each of six chapters. Sri Jnaneshwar Maharaj deals with the Gita as of two parts, the first, Purvakhanda, consisting of the first nine chapters, and the second part Uttarakhanda, consisting of the re- maining nine chapters. This is novel but very meaningful. The reader may also find the commentary on VI. 12 and the following verses very much out of the ordinary and the yogic Kriya exemplified for the first time at such length.
The Gita may be said to begin, in a sense, with Arjuna's aspiration and surrender to Sri Krishna in a state of perplexity II. 7. The Blessed Lord imparts to Arjuna the Great Word of the Supreme Secret Uttamam Rahasyam XVIII.S6. And the Gita concludes with Arjuna's declaration in this greatest self-knowledge: Karishye Vachanam Tava XVII.73. I shall fulfil your Word. May Jnaneshwari invoke the grace of the Divine and lead its readers to that Realization.
I have great pleasure in writing this foreword to the translation of the Jnaneshwari by Diwan Bahadur R. K. Bhagwat. The translation was shown to me about three years ago, and since then it has passed through revision and re-writing, especially at the hands of my former student Prof. S. V. Pandit, M.A., Professor of Philosophy, Elphin- stone College, Bombay, who has just retired. I may state that the labour spent upon the revision of the book by Prof. Pandit is very well deserved. The Jnaneshwari is one of the greatest of works, if not the greatest, in the whole of Marathi literature and especially spiritual literature. It may also be one of the greatest spiritual books in the world. It is unfortunate that a full English translation of this work was not available till now. Is it not a matter of great wonder that a Retired Deputy Collector like R. K. Bhagwat, who had spent his life in hard official work for about forty years, should immediately after his retirement apply himself to such a difficult task as the transla- tion of the Jnaneshwari? He has told us how his mind was first attracted towards the Jnaneshwari about forty years ago, and later how he got an idea of translating it from a small booklet on the life of Jnaneshwar published in Madras. It is to the great credit of R. K. Bhagwat that he should have finished the work in such a short time as four years and eight months. Anyone, who has had the experience of writing such a book, can know that the time is indeed too short for the completion of such a work. I give, therefore, hearty compliments to R. K. Bhagwat for finishing the work in such a short time. Of course, putting such a difficult work as the Jnaneshwari in a new garb, especially in the garb of a foreign language would be rewarded in course of time by happy comments and suggestions which may be offered by eminent critics. In any case the work will present to the English readers a novel commentary on the Bhagwat- Gita, which is altogether different from the general run of commen- taries either in Sanskrit or in any other Indian language. We only wish that Diwan Bahadur's efforts in the service of the Jnaneshwari would be rewarded by his getting an insight into the teaching of the great Saint, what he stood for, what his spiritual ideal was, and how it was to be accomplished. It is not only to the English speaking people, wherever they may be, that the book might make an appeal, but also to all those who take interest in English expositions in the various parts of India, and these latter may well compare the book to the great works on spiritual literature in their own language. Finally, I have to thank Diwan Bahadur R. K. Bhagwat heartily, not merely for writing the book, but also for arranging that it sees the light of day. His patience and labour are beyond all praise.
It is a matter of supreme gratification to me that the service, I was inspired to render at the feet of Shri Jnaneshwar Maharaj-the very God of knowledge,-in the form of an attempt at rendering into English his unique and invaluable composition, the Bhavartha- Dipika (the lamp, illuminating the import of the Glta Teachings), has, by his own grace, reached the stage of completion. All homage to (the sacred memory of) that Great Preceptor-the greatest of the Great. Some of my friends, who knew of my attempt and had seen some of my notes. suggested to me that it would only be in the fitness of things, were I to place on record, how I got the inspiration to under- take this work. I, therefore, simply carry out that suggestion in the following lines, since I see nothing unreasonable in it.
My first acquaintance with the A. B. Cs. of Jnaneshwari
The first time I heard of Jnaneshwari was about the year 1895 A. D., when I was a student attending a Secondary School. I had taken Marathi as my second language and in connection with that subject, we were coached up in our School in some selections from Jnaneshwari (Chapter XII, verses 144 onwards, commencing with "One who never bears any hatred for any living being etc. "). contained in 'Na- vanit' (i.e., butter in the form of selections from Marathi poets.) About ten years later, I happened to be working in a touring District Office, where I had, as my brother employee, a venerable looking old gentleman, a great admirer of Jnaneshwari (later on known in Maharashtra as 'Govind-suta'). He used to read regularly every evening, before retiring to rest, some portion of Jnaneshwari. I sometimes used to be his hearer at such readings. This is how I first became acquainted with Jnaneshwari and how I began to feel a regard for it. In future years of my service-life I could hardly get any leisure to attend to such things: yet, off and on, I used to read some literature on religious matters.
How I conceived the idea of rendering Jnaneshwari into English
Messrs. G.A.Natesan & Co., of Madras published a series of the life-sketches of Indian Saints and other great souls. While going over the pages of the life-sketch of Shri Jnaneshwar of this series, I found a reference made in it to Jnaneshwari, with a footnote as under by the author:
"Jnaneshwari is not, though it deserves to be translated into English, so translated, etc. etc."
This note caught my imagination and I wondered as to why I should not try at it, if and when I found leisure. I could not, however, seriously think about it while in active service. When I was about to retire, the question arose before me as to how I should utilize my leisure after retirement, and then I was put in mind of my former idea of attempting a translation into English of Jnaneshwari, and I began seriously to think about it when I actually retired.
How I started the work
When I actually collected the material and was about to start with the work, I began to feel how far I was qualified to undertake it, quite a layman as I was. Frankly speaking, I was not quite a re- ligiously-inclined person, nor do I belong to any particular school of religious thought. Besides, I have had not the benefit of any higher collegiate education, nor had I secured any literary attainments through any other means. I thus began to feel quite diffident in regard to my capacity to undertake a work, which involved this background as also such literary abilities. But there arose in me an inner urge and I thought that there was positively nothing wrong in making an attempt in that direction. At the most, I might have to abandon the attempt, should I, in course of time, find myself quite unequal to it. Even Shri Jnaneshwar Maharaj-the very God incarnate of knowledge-expressed a sort of diffidence while starting the work of composing Jnaneshwari, as will be seen from the following verses:
" ... I have committed one more fault and it is of venturing to make clear the meaning of Gita ... I have, of my own accord, made myself overbold, without weighing in my mind how difficult it is to carry this work to its successful completion. Could there stand any comparison between the brilliance of the Sun and that of the glow-worm! or that I, an ignorant person should embark upon the doing of such a thing is like a lapwing attempting to empty the ocean with its beak .... How could such an insigni- ficant, a diminutive, and a very dull being as myself, compare before such a vast and limitless task, wherein even the Vedas lost themselves completely, etc. etc." (Jnaneshwari, Chapter I, Verses 65-78).
I repeated the same thing to myself in regard to the work, I was venturing to undertake, the only difference being that Shri Jnaneshwar Maharaj said as above out of sheer modesty, while, in the case of an insignificant person like myself, it painted me as I was. However I entered upon the venture and made an actual start in April 1943.
The progress and completion of the work
As I started the work, someone remarked that mine would merely be a duplication of work, since Jnaneshwari was already rendered into English by Professor Manu Subedar, B. A., B. sc. (Lond.), Bar-at-Iaw, the well-known Economist of Bombay. In order to make myself certain on this point, I secured a copy of "Gita explained by Jnaneshwar Maharaj", edited by Prof. Subedar and went through it. I found it to be unquestionably a specimen of brilliant scholarship. It was not, however, a regular translation, stanza by stanza, of Jnanesh- wari, the thing chiefly aimed at by me, but appeared a condensation more or less of the Marathi version by Pandit Moghe of Sion, Bombay. I did not thus think that mine would be a duplication of work and so I resumed my work. I started my work with the help of the versified Marathi version by the late Pandit Govind Ramchandra Moghe of Sion, Bombay. It took me over two years and a half to complete the translation work with the help of that version. About that time, however, I happened to see another Marathi version of Jnaneshwari by the late Shri. Balkrishna Anant Bhide; and when I began just to compare the translation I made with that version, I found great divergence between the two. Then I began to compare Shri. Moghe's version, with that of Shri. Bhide, and found great divergence between these two. It seemed to me that Shri. Moghe's version, which was in a versified form, was not strictly literal, but was, more or less, a free version, while that of Shri. Bhide was strictly literal, as far as this became possible to be done. At this I found myself in a fix. I had thus to entirely revise the work already done and to have al- together a fresh copy made of the revised version. Simultaneously with this revision work, I thought of having the revised portions typed in order to make available a couple of extra copies. Luckily, as I was on the look out for some one who could help me in this direc- tion, I met a young graduate, who had some liking for the subject matter contained in the Jnaneshwari and he volunteered to do this typing work as a labour of love during his leisure hours. Thus the work of revision, as also of typing went on hand in hand and both these were completed in the month of December 1947. It thus took for me four years and eight months from the very start to complete the translation.
I cannot say anything as regards the rendering itself. I am, however, painfully aware that it is by no means perfect and such as it should be. It is bound to contain many flaws and drawbacks. It is, in fact, simply an attempt at rendering and not a perfect rendering. It has neither any style nor rhythm nor grace in point of language, nor has it got much value from a literary point of view. It is after all some "crude material" that might be useful for anyone, who might, later on, at some distant date, think of utilizing it for turning out an au- thenticated and an authoritative English version of Jnaneshwari. Personally, I have no desire to proceed further in this matter. But, in my opinion, some sort of crudeness is bound to be there in any rendering, if it is to claim as being faithful to the original and to bear identity with the order, arrangement, and set-up of the original composition. To take an example, the expression "in that way", or "similarly" has occurred almost in every alternate verse in this rendering and that became inevitable to maintain integrity of the original in its rendering. No further apology, I believe, is needed. The present attempt at rendering, however, made it imperative on me to do critical reading of Jnaneshwari to be able to proceed with the work. I would not otherwise have taken the trouble of doing so, and in this, I feel I am amply rewarded for any labour that may have been involved in this work, since my role in this affair is that of "one eager to know the third class of doers, as mentioned in stanza 16 of Chapter VII of Shri Bhagavad-gita.
I cannot conclude this narration without giving expression to the sense of my deep gratitude towards Rao Bahadur G. M. Vaidya, M. B. E., retired Controller of Military Accounts. It was his good fortune to come in contact with the late Shri Keshavrao Maharaj Deshmukh, B. A., of established reputation as an authority on Jnanesh- wari in Poona and through his good offices R. B. Vaidya has been handling Jnaneshwari for some time past. I got R. B. Vaidya's most valuable guidance during the revision and typing of my rendering of the Jnaneshwari into English. I also owe a debt of gratitude to my young friend Mr. S. R. Gurjar, B. A., who, out of great regard for Jnaneshwari, voluntarily and most cheerfully did the typing (work) purely as a labour of love.
I have made free use of the following publications:
1. Marathi version of Jnaneshwari, by Pandit G. R. Moghe.
2. Similar version, by Shri. Balkrishna Anant Bhide, B. A.
3. English translation of Bhagawadgita by Dr. S. K. Belwalkar.
M. A., ph. D.
and I feel sincerely grateful for the valuable and great help I received from these and other Reference Books.
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