Jnaneshwar : The Union of Shiva and Shakti

Jnaneshar, also known as Jnandev, (1275-1296 CE) was one of four children of a father who had initially left his wife to become an ascetic sadhu, but who, in an unusual reversal of custom, was sent back to resume his marriage by his guru. Jnneshwarr´s life was short but he left four great poetic works, including a translation and commentary of the Bhagavad Gita, which have had a profound effect on the spiritual development of the Maratha region. This excerpt is from his “Amritanubhav”; Shiva and Shakti are sometimes explained as referring to consciousness and cosmic energy.

I offer obeisance to the God and Goddess,
The limitless primal parents of the universe.

They are not entirely the same,
Nor are they not the same.
We cannot say exactly what they are.

How sweet is their union!
The whole world is too small to contain them,
Yet they live happily in the smallest particle.

These two are the only ones
Who dwell in this home called the universe.
When the Master of the house sleeps,
The Mistress stays awake,
And performs the functions of both.

When He awakes, the whole house disappears,
And nothing at all is left.

Two lutes: one note.
Two flowers: one fragrance.
Two lamps: one light.

Two lips: one word.
Two eyes: one sight.
These two: one universe.

In unity there is little to behold;
So She, the mother of abundance,
Brought forth the world as play.

He takes the role of Witness
Out of love of watching Her.
But when Her appearance is withdrawn,
The role of Witness is abandoned as well.

Translation by Swami Abhyayananda

2 Replies to “Jnaneshwar : The Union of Shiva and Shakti”

  1. Howard Olivier

    What lively imagery! It is fun to imagine the beauty of the pre-translated poem. Thank you, Nawab.


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