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Chidvilasavada Concept Of Saint Jnaneshwara – Play Of The Supreme Being

Chitta variously means the animating principle of life, the supreme spiritual being, or Supreme Intelligence or conscious self. Vilasa means sport, play, elegance. The word Chivilasa means the sport or elegance of the Supreme Being. It is a way of looking at the world. It is associated with Saint Jnaneshwara of Maharashtra (13th century AD), especially his description of the world in his famous Marathi work Anubhav Amrita. He was also the author of Marathi commentary of the Bhagavad Gita, called Jnaneshwari and Cangadeva Pasati, containing his exposition of Cidvilasavada to the famous adept of hatha yoga, Cangadeva, in sixty five verses. Jnanadeva was initiated into the Natha tradition by his elder brother, Nivruttinath. He liked Cidvilasavada, and explained it in all his works, especially in Anubhav Smrita and Cangadeva Pasasti.

Jnanadeva himself did not use the term cidvilasa anywhere in his works, but he also did not use the word citta and vilasa separately. After he took Samadhi at the age of twenty two, the word cidvilasa was coined and it came to be associated with name of Saint Jnaneshwara.  

Jnanadeva composed five shlokas in Sanskrit at the beginning of his work Anubhava Smrta. They contain the gist of the point of view of the Natha cult. According to this, Lord Shiva is the sole reality underlying the whole universe and the multitude of objects of experience which go together to make it. We are aware of the objects only when, and so long as we are unaware of the basic reality of Lord Shiva. When he is seen and understood, realized the world ceases to exist. The world has no existence, separate from, or independent of, the basic reality, which is also called Chitta, Samvitti, Vasti and Bhuteshu.

Gorakhnath was one of the most important preceptors of the Natha sect. One fundamental saying ascribed to him is : “Inherent in Lord Shiva is Shakti, while inherent in Shakti is Shiva.” Thus, Shiva and Shakti are neither completely united, nor completely separate. This principle is clearly stated in the preliminary five verses in the beginning of Anubhav Smrta.

Jnaneshwara has used words like Bhuteshu Bhavani, Avala-Kanta, Devo-Devi, to mean the divine couple of Chitta and Shakti. Without Shakti the chitta is totally inactive and inconsequential. The whole manifest world is the product of Shakti. However, it cannot be produced by her alone, without the support of Chitta. She has no existence apart from the Chitta.

The outlook of Cidvilasavada differs from Vedanta in an important respect. It assumes only two kinds of satta (existence), namely, pratibhasika and paramarthika. It does not recognize any vyavaharika satta. Thus, the whole and its objects and the events are only unreal (abhasika). They appear only so long as ‘chit’ is understood. Their existence is only an appearance, a vilasa, play, sport of the chitta. The chitta lone exists. Yet, there inheres in the chitta the prakriti or maya, which produces the appearance, the vilasa, but prakriti itself has no existence apart from the chitta. Vilasa is co-existent with ignorance and unawareness of the real nature of the chitta.

Soure – 
The philosophy of Jnanadeva (1956) B P Bahirat – Pandharpur Research Society Pandharpur.
Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume III page 183 - IHRF