Topic:- Maharashtra before the time of Shivaji Maharaj
Subtopic:- Sant Dnyneshwar
Sant Eknath (संत एकनाथ)
Sant Eknath (1533–1599) was a prominent Marathi Saint, scholar and religious poet. In the development of Marathi literature, Sant Eknath is seen as a bridge between the towering predecessors Dnyaneshwar and Naamdev and the equally noble successors Tukaram and Ramdas.
Eknath was born sometime around 1530 AD in an illustrious Brahmin family of Pratisthan (Paithan today). They were said to be the Kulkarnis of the village, his real name is Eknath Suryajipant Kulkarni. Sant Bhanudas, who brought back the sacred image of Lord Pandurang, from Vijaynagar to Pandharpur, was Eknath’s great grandfather.
Eknath was born under the star sign of ‘Mula’ in the Sagittarius(धनु) constellation, traditionally considered a bad omen(शकुन) for the parents of the child. The omen was borne out for Eknath’s father Suryanarayan and mother Rukmini, who died shortly after his birth and Eknath was brought up by his grandparents, Chakrapani and Saraswatibai. As an orphan, Eknath had to suffer the taunts of other children. He began avoiding their company and found refuge as a child in prayer and other devotional practices.
Tutelage by Janardanswami(देखरेख)
When about twelve years old, Eknath heard about Janardanswamy. This great scholar lived in Devgiri renamed as Daulatabad by the Muslim rulers of the time. Eager to become his disciple, Eknath trudged all the way to Devgiri. Janardanswamy was amazed by this extraordinarily gifted boy and readily accepted him as his disciple. He taught Eknath Vedanta, Nyaya, Meemansa, Yoga etc. and most importantly, Sant Dnyaneshwar’s works. Janardanswamy was a devotee of Lord Dattatreya, and this meant that Eknath’s social and religious outlook consisted of tolerance and kindness toward all fellow beings.
The Guru asked Eknath to go on a pilgrimage(तीर्थयात्रा). He himself accompanied Eknath up to Nasik-Tryambakeshwar. there, Eknath wrote his famous treatise on the Chatushloki Bhagavat. In this Marathi commentary, he explained the significance of four sacred shlokas of the Bhagavat in 1036 specially metered verses known as Ovee(ओवी).
After completing his pilgrimage, consisting of various holy places of west and north India, Eknath returned to Paithan. His grandparents were extremely delighted to see him again and implored him to marry. Eknath and his wife Girija were truly made for each other and established an ideal examples of ethical living. In time, the couple was blessed with two daughters, Godavari and Ganga and a son Hari.
Revival of the Dnyaneshwari
Eknath was responsible for the rediscovery of the great work of Dnyaneshwar, the first bard of Marathi literature, the epic poem the Dnyaneshwari, which had been forgotten like many Hindu epics after the grinding Muslim invasions. About 230 years before the birth of Eknath, Dnyaneshwar had written an important commentary in Marathi in verse form on the great sacred text in Sanskrit Bhagawad Geeta. It was called the Bhawarth-Deepika and it had come to be known as the Dnyaneshwari.
Eknath devoted himself to bringing about the epic poem’s revival. His first task was to locate the “samadhi” of Dnyaneshwar to show to the people that Dnyaneshwar was not a mythological being, but a real man, one of their own. He then devoted a few, hard years in compiling an undistorted version of the Dnyaneshwari.
Almost all of Eknath’s writings were in verse form in Marathi. Eknath wrote a scholarly and lucid commentary, Eknathi Bhagawat, on the Bhagavata Purana. The commentary involved 18,800 ovees. He wrote the first 25,000ovees of his another major work, the Bhawartha-Ramayana. A disciple called Gavba added 15,000 ovees to complete this work. Eknath wrote Rukmini Swayamwar it was based on 144 verses from the Bhagawat Purana. His work, Hastamalak, which was based on a 14-shlok Sanskrit hymn with the same name by Shankaracharya.
His other works were the Shukashtak (447 owees), the Swatma-Sukha (510 owees), the Ananda-Lahari (154 owees), the Chiranjeewa-Pad (42 owees), the Geeta-Sar, and the Prahlad-Wijaya. He introduced a new form of Marathi the religious song called Bharood, writing 300 of them. He also wrote 300 religious songs in the Abhang form. He was also a preacher, and gave many public discourses.
Eknath initiated in Maharashtra a movement called Wasudewa Sanstha. It involved house-to-house visitations by individuals known as Wasudewa, who, standing in front of peoples’ houses, spread religious messages through bhajans (balla
Certain religious poets had dealt with the question of their own death by resorting to a “samadhi”. Here the poet took his own life by immersing himself in a body of water, such as a lake or a river. Following the example of his idol, Dnyaneshwar, Eknath embraced “jalsamadhi” (water samadhi) in the sacred Godavari on Krishna Shasthi day of Phalguna in the year 1599AD.