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The famous English translation of Dnyaneshwari, the commentary on the Gita, by Dr. Thatte
I have always been impressed by doctors who do not limit themselves to practicing medicine and look for new horizons to conquer. Being a doctor gives you insights into life which few other people get to see. Unlike judges, who usually see the seamier side of life and tend to have a prejudiced view of mankind (because they have to deal with disputes day in and day out), doctors are usually much more optimistic and upbeat, because they deal with inspiring patients, who fight their disease bravely and live their lives courageously. Unfortunately, few doctors are blessed with the ability to write well - and even fewer have the desire to share their lifetime of accumulated wisdom with others. Fortunately, there are exceptions, and one of my heroes is Dr. Ravin Thatte, a senior plastic surgeon from Bombay, who has just released his new book today, called Discovering a Galaxy - En Route to Dervan.
In this post, however, I want to talk about his earlier book, The Genius of Dnyaneshwari, which has become a surprise bestseller in Bombay and has sold many thousands of copies, even though it is a huge expensive tome. Why has this book done so well?
One reason is the fact that the Dnyaneshwari is a masterpiece. Unfortunately, few people outside Maharashtra know much about this spiritual guide. I have re-produced the Wikipedia entry below, to put it in context.
You can read the famous English translation of Dnyaneshwari, the commentary on the Gita, by Dr. Thatte, online at
If you want to read the original Marathi text, you can do so at http://www.sajinfotech.com/articles/1162.sampoorna-dnyaneshwari.html
I have reproduced the Wikipedia entry about the Dnyaneshwari below.
The Dnyaaneshwari (or Jnaneshwari) is the commentary on Bhagavad Gita written by Marathi saint and poet Dnyaneshwar during the 13th century at age 16. This commentary has been praised not only for its scholarly but also for its aesthetic value.
The Dnyaaneshwari provides the philosophical basis for the Bhagawata Dharma, a Bhakti sect that had a lasting effect on the history of Maharashtra. It became one of the sacred books (i.e. the Prasthanatrai of Bhagawata Dharma) along with Ekanathi Bhagawata and Tukaram Gaathaa. It is one of the foundations of the Marathi language and literature, and continues to be widely read in Maharashtra. The Pasayadan or the nine ending verses of the Dnyaaneshwari are also popular with the masses.
According to Hindu belief, the Bhagavad Gita is the ultimate statement of spiritual knowledge since it was professed by Lord Krishna who was an avatar of the supreme God. Dnyaneshwari is considered to be more than a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita because it was professed by Dnyaneshwar, who is considered to be a saint.
Dnyaneshwar expanded the Bhagavad Gita, which consisted of 700 shlokas (Sanskrit verses), into around 9999 Marathi verses (ovis). The first line of each ovi rhymes with the next two, rendering a lyrical quality to the entire work.
The first ovi of the Dnyaneshwari follows a rhyme scheme, where the first three lines end in ā. This ovi is an invocation to OM, and is followed by an elaborate explanation of Lord Ganesha's form as the embodiment of the Vedas and Puranas, and the complete representation of OM:
Om Namojee Ādyā | Vedapratipādyā | Jaya Jaya Swasaṃvedyā | Ātmarūpā ||1|| ॐ नमोजी आद्या | वेद प्रतिपाद्या | जय जय स्वसंवेद्या | आत्मरुपा
The second ovi and all the ovis after it follows the same rhyme scheme:
Devā Tūchi Gaṇeshū | Sakalārthamatiprakāshū | Mhaṇe Nivṛtti Dāsū | Avadhārijojē ||2|| देवा तूंचि गणेशु | सकलमति प्रकाशु | म्हणे निवृत्ति दासु | अवधारिजो जी
The content of Dnyaneshwari reflects a detailed knowledge of kundalini, metaphysics and astrology. The commentary lays importance on God as energy. It emphasizes that although there may be many different living forms, they all breathe oxygen (even fishes under water and reptiles deep inside the earth) and have the same life force within them, which is a part of God, who is energy and intelligence. It states that people can use energy and intelligence to connect with the supreme and provides methodologies to achieve the same.
Dnyaneshwar made the Gita more accessible to the ordinary man, allowing him to lead his life according to its timeless principles. Dr Thatte has done the same for the 21st-century man who is confused and is looking for guidance. This is a very modern and philosophical book, and is eminently readable because it is full of Dr. Thatte's personal insights and modern idioms so that it's much easier to relate to.
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