Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Genius of Dnyaneshwari

I have always been impressed by doctors who do not limit themselves to practising 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 life time 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.

"Dnyaneshwari (or J├▒aneshwari) 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 which had a lasting effect on the history of Maharashtra. 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."

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.

This English translation is now available online free at - please do check it out . I promise you it will be worth your while !

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  1. Anonymous6:19 PM

    Dear Dr,

    Thank you very much for this post and for uploading Dr. Ravin Thatte’s wonderful work. I never thought I would read Bhagavad Geeta or any other religious literature with so much interest! Whenever I tried to read Bhagavad Geeta, in my native language, I found it very difficult. I thought it is something which is beyond my capacity or knowledge to understand what is actually said in it. Hats off to Dr. Thatte for making a religious literature so simple, so beautiful, and so lucid-no wonder this book is a bestseller in Bombay. I am happy that I also got a chance to know Dnyaneshwar.

    Actually, if I am not going through this IVF struggle I wouldn’t have bothered to read it at all. When I think of my next ET I am really scared beyond belief. I wish the day never comes and I do not want to enter that 2WW. I just needed some words of comfort. I did try to gain some inspiration from what I read and I would love to quote some prose from the book which I linked to my IVF journey. It did help me to have a peaceful mind (I do not know how long but… :). I know I am not mature enough to be balanced and unaffected by the outcome but what I read did reduce my pain and fear a bit.

    This is your life
    This your war
    This the only way
    Fight you must
    Keeping your
    Emotions at bay

    When you act
    Forget the rewards
    And banish those
    Unwanted thoughts
    Yoke your mind
    To this decreed act
    And with a noble heart
    Go and act

    For some reason if you fail,
    There is no reason for you to wail
    If you succeed
    Well and good
    If you fail
    Also good
    Whatever you do
    Give it to ‘that’
    Done your bit
    That is what

    What for others is good
    Might not be good for you
    In fact it may do
    More harm to you

    When you happen to carry
    Other people’s load
    You are tired and sorry
    As you traverse the road

    Work or karma
    Come to happen
    The fool avers
    ‘I’ made it happen

    Too much pleasure is bad
    To deny all pleasure
    Too is bad
    Eat what you need
    Neither too little nor too much
    That advice you must heed

  2. Anonymous6:20 PM

    I think I should learn to keep my emotions at bay in order to live through my IVF journey - which is my only way to see my offspring. I should do what is needed to be done without panicking about the outcome. Even if I fail I should be happy that I have done my best (as you always say!). I should not be vexed by thinking, ‘why it happens only to me when most women are having their babies in the blink of an eye’. Who knows, whatever happened, happened only for my good and whatever appears to be good for others can actually have caused me more harm! I should have the wisdom not to carry others worries in my mind because I myself have a huge load to carry. I need enormous strength to carry on with my journey and I should not become tired and quit it without any valid reason. Even if I reach my destination I should never be proud that ‘I’ made it happen because when I try to take sole credit for my victory I should also learn to bear the pains of my failure alone (which is almost impossible!). And above all I should have a balanced mind and take a middle path so that I could lead a peaceful, happy life now and ever after!


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