Who is Dnyaneshwar and why his buffalo?
Dnyaneshwar was a thirteenth century saint and philosopher from India. He was a great proponent of Advaita, a very popular Hindu philosophy, which for in simple words professes that GOD is everything. Using a common metaphor, the GOD is the potter, the intelligence of making pots, the clay, the pottery wheel, the land on which the pottery making is occurring as well as the air inside and outside the pot.
In his very short life of 21 years Dnyaneshwar enlightened ordinary mass, and left behind profound philosophical works in form that could be understood by the lay masses. One of his books is Dnyaneshwari, which was a poetic translation of Bhagwat Geeta from Sanskrit into the local language of Marathi.
One day young Dnyaneshwar got into a debate with a local scholar who ridiculed him on the Advaita philosophy. Incidentally, there was a man leading a male buffalo (called reda in Marathi) walking down the street. The scholar asked Dnyaneshwar whether he and the male buffalo shared the same divinity. Dnyaneshwar affirmed. The scholar laughed and said that then the male buffalo should be able to recite the scriptures. As the locals gather around, Dnyaneshwar lays his hand on the buffalo’s head. Miraculously, the buffalo starts reciting scriptural mantras.
I have been associated with many such Dnyaneshwars in my life. Through their discourses, books, articles and informal talks they have laid their hands on my forehead, and whatever comes out of my keyboard (not pen any more) is through their grace. The metaphor of male buffalo is very apt that they are not very useful. The female gives milk. Sometimes the males are used to plow fields. Even this lowly animal shares the same divinity with all the creation. If we recognize the shared divinity, world peace will no longer be a fantasy only for idealists.