Sant Dnyāneshwar (or Sant Jñāneshwar) (Marathi: संत ज्ञानेश्वर) is also known as Jñanadeva (Marathi: ज्ञानदेव).

He was a 13th century Maharashtrian Hindu saint (Sant - a title by which he is often referred), poet, philosopher and yogi of the Nath tradition whose works Bhavartha Deepika (a commentary on Bhagavad Gita, popularly known as "Dnyaneshwari"), and Amrutanubhav are considered to be milestones in Marathi literature.

Traditional History

According to Nath tradition Sant Dnyaneshwar was the second of the four children of Vitthal Govind Kulkarni and Rukmini, a pious couple from Apegaon near Paithan on the banks of the river Godavari. Vitthal had studied Vedas and set out on pilgrimages at a young age. In Alandi, about 30 km from Pune, Sidhopant, a local Yajurveda brahmin, was very much impressed with him and Vitthal married his daughter Rukmini.

After some time, getting permission from Rukmini, Vitthal went to Kashi(Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, India), where he met Ramananda Swami and requested to be initiated into sannyas, lying about his marriage. But Ramananda Swami later went to Alandi and, convinced that his student Vitthal was the husband of Rukmini, he returned to Kashi and ordered Vitthal to return home to his family. The couple was excommunicated from the brahmin caste as Vitthal had broken with sannyas, the last of the four ashrams. Four children were born to them; Nivrutti in 1273, Dnyandev (Dnyaneshwar) in 1275, Sopan in 1277 and daughter Mukta in 1279. According to some scholars their birth years are 1268, 1271, 1274, 1277 respectively. It is believed that later Vitthal and Rukmini ended their lives by jumping into the waters at Prayag where the river Ganges meets Yamuna hoping that their children would be accepted into the society after their death.

The couple set out on a pilgrimage with their children to Tryambakeshwar, near Nashik, where their elder son Nivrutti (at the age of 10) was initiated in to the Nath tradition by Gahininath. The paternal great grandfather of Dnyaneshwar had been initiated into the Nath cult by Goraksha Nath (Gorakh Nath). The orphaned children grew up on alms. They approached the Brahmin community of Paithan to accept them but the Brahmins refused. According to the disputed "Shuddhi Patra" the children were purified by the Brahmins on condition of observing celibacy. Their argument with the Brahmins earned the children fame and respect due to their righteousness, virtue, intelligence, knowledge and politeness. Dnyaneshwar became the student of Nivruttinath along with his younger siblings Sopan and Mukta at the age of 8. He learnt and mastered the philosophy and various techniques of kundalini yoga.

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