indian cinema heritage foundation

Sant Gyaneshwar (1964)

  • LanguageHindi

About 600 years ago in the little hamlet of Alandi in Maharashtra, a storm was raging in the heart of Vithalpant, a young, married man for the supremacy of the joys of spirit over the pleasures of the flesh. Finally, sticking to the resolve of devoting his life to the attainment of spiritual bliss, he went to Benares and became a Sanyasi under a Guru. Later, when the Guru, along with Vithalpant, visited the latter's hamlet, Rukmini, Vithalpant's wife, met his Guru and related her woe. The Guru commanded his chela to break his vow of celibacy and put on the shackles of married life. Back in his hamlet, Vithalpant became the butt end of ridicule of gossip-mongers. Orthodoxy ostracised the couple, and also turned their wrath on the innocent children as by now Vithalpant had three sons and a daughter—Nivritti, Dnyan, Sopan and Mukta. 

Their chief opponent was one Vissoba, an orthodox stalwart who would not allow his daughter Ganga, even to give alms to poor Dnyan begging for food. Vithalpant could not stand this persecution any longer. He approached the orthodox elders and beseeched them to pronounce their judgment on him so that at least his off-springs might be spared from public scorn. 'Death' shouted the custodians of religion. With perfect resignation, Vithalpant and his wife committed suicide. His parting message to Dnyaneshwar was to spread the gospel of equality among men; in carrying out the noble mission, Dnyaneshwar in turn became the victim of religious persecution. Ganga, his youthful companion came to his rescue; she prevailed upon the village Shastri Gangadhar to give a letter of recommendation to Vidyadhar Shastri of Paithan, so that the boy's yearning for purification could be satisfied. But old Vidyadhar Shastri, a crusty puritan, would not listen to the boy's entreaties; when Dnyaneshwar, in his arguments, made even a buffalo chant the Vedas, the old man gave in and knelt down before the boy and gave him the paper certifying his purification. Back in his village he started preaching the Gita. Orthodoxy, revolted once again, enlisted the help of Mahatma Changdev, a great authority. With all his pomp he came riding on a tiger to see the "Upstart" Dnyaneshwar when another miracle happened—the wall on which Dnyaneshwar was sitting, started moving towards Changdev. Changdev, who went to scoff, remained to pray at the feet of "Dnyaneshwar". And then the boy established the doctrine of equality among men; and completing his noble work, he voluntarily took "Samadhi" and thus ended his life at the tender age of twenty-one.

(From the official press booklet)