By Vijay Phanshikar
Nama mhane granth shrestha Dnyaneshwari
(Nama -- Namdev -- says, iconic book is Dnyaneshwari)
Ek tari owee anubhavavi
(Experience -- not just read -- at least one verse)
- Saint Namdev,
describing greatness of ‘Dnyaneshwari’,
the great spiritual treatise written
by Saint Dnyaneshwar
in Marathi 700 years ago.
THIS is the quintessence of learning! And experiencing is the key word, the core thought, the sum and substance of learning. As he described the iconic quality of one of the finest Marathi books ever written (by teenage Saint Dnyaneshwar), Saint Namdev insists that one cannot understand the spiritually-loaded wisdom unless one delves the deepest into its meaning and actually experiences its essence. They were contemporary saints -- Dnyaneshwar and Namdev.
The former was very young in his teens, and the latter a veteran. Both were spiritually-elevated souls whose verses -- Abhangas -- have earned critical appreciation from both literary as well as spiritual points of view. No matter the difference in their ages, both the men were true cohorts on their spiritual journeys. They also toured the country together for some time, enjoyed mutual company, and gained from each other’s knowledge plus spiritual elevation. The greatness of both of them was beyond question -- something that is still acclaimed by one and all seven hundred years later.
Their closeness apart, Saint Namdev often adored the young cohort beyond words, and often emoted about Dnyaneshwar’s spiritual greatness. And at one such moment, he said, if anybody wished to understand what Dnyaneshawri stood for, one had to “experience” at least one verse -- so that one could get into the core thought. Any verse! Really, any verse. In educational thought, the word “experience” has an immense value. But Saint Namdev goes much beyond just the word. He delves the deepest into the idea of learning. He insists, “experience” the verse -- just any one verse (Owee) -- and you will realise how deep is the spiritual root of the process of learning. There is a clear universality to the suggestion. For, what does one do when one learns? One hears, then listens, then ponders over, then analyses, then accepts -- or rejects, then assimilates, then absorbs -- and then is ready to “experience”. This is the journey of learning. This happens everywhere, in each case.
Or speaking ideally, this must happen in each case, but actually happens only in just a few cases. For most of us, learning stops only at the verbal meaning of an expression. Very few of us travel to the point of “experiencing”. And the moment one reaches that stage of “experiencing”, one reaches the final stage of learning -- knowledge and thence wisdom. So, Ek tari owee anubhavavi ...! But this process calls for delving beyond verbal meaning. It calls for getting into the expression, submerging into its potion, absorbing the purpose -- and then get to the high ground of “experience”. Is this not what all good teachers -- Gurus -- insist upon? Therefore, Ek tari owee anubhavavi! This is complex, to say the least. This is nearly impossible in normal, ordinary level of existence.
This is extra-ordinary in every sense of the term: “experiencing”. But once that stage is attained -- of experiencing -- learning is just as natural as the flow of a river, or the feel of the wind on the cheek, or the smooth, natural pulsation of a child’s heart. In other words, “experiencing” is internalising the thought, weaving it into the being’s core, and getting lost into its elevated, sublime feel. Every learning arrives at this point. That is the point of realisation -- of rising to the level of the Divine.