Sant Tukaram


Sant Tukaram
Sant Tukaram

Sant Tukaram was the reincarnation of Sant Namdev. Tukaram was born in a village called Dehu which is about 20kms from Pune. River Indrayani flows through this village. Tukaram was a family man and was running a provision stores which was his hereditary business. He was very pious, he would always chant the name of Vitthal and his heart was always filled with love for Vitthal. He sang all 18 adhyayams (Chapters) of Bhagavad Gita as Abhangs. He would be forever singing the praise of god, having a tambura in his hand. He would open his shop and start singing his abhangs. When ever some one came to the shop and greeted him by saying “Ram Krishna Hari”, he would not take money from them and give them whatever they came to buy for free. He would do this because he felt that who ever chanted “Ram Krishna Hari” was a sadhu and it would not be correct on his part to collect money from them. If some pilgrims passed through his shop singing abhangs, he would leave the shop, start singing and dancing with them and go to Pandhari with them. Thieves and criminals would then get in to his shop and take away all the money and provisions in the store before some neighboring shopkeepers come to the rescue. Tuka was leading his life with full of love and devotion for Vitthal in his heart. Everyone in Dehu knew about him and held him in high esteem.

There was a beautiful lady in Dehu was attracted towards Tukaram. Tuka would usually be singing abhangs with out looking around who is watching him and would sing till dawn. One day, this lady came to the place where Tuka was singing just before dawn and sat down in front of him. When he finished his abhangs, he got up he saw this lady. He looked at her as Rukmani and immediately prostrated to her and asked why she had come without Vitthal. Hearing this, the lady felt ashamed and realized her mistakes. Also just because a saint like Tukaram called her Rakumai, she became a virtuous lady.

Sant Samartha Ramadass and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj were his contemporaries. Sant Ramdass had also herd about him and had asked Shivaji to meet Tukaram if he happens to visit Dehu. As his guru had asked him to meet Tukaram, Shivaji then decided to met Tukaram. Once he met him he understood the greatness of Tukaram and frequently started visiting Tukaram. Shivaji considered Ramadass and Tukaram as his two eyes and would do every move only after consulting and taking blessing from them. One day Shivaji wanted to give some gifts to Tukaram. He took some gold coins in a plate and went to meet Tukaram. Shivaji kept the plate in front of Tukaram and prostrated to him. Immediately Tukaram started shivering, he then got up and ran away. Shivaji could not understand this reaction of Tukaram and he asked the other sishyas sitting there why Tukaram Maharaj did this. They then told him that all these days he has been coming alone and meeting him but now he had brought some gold for him which he dint like and that is why he ran away. Shivaji then said that he had brought it as there were so many sadhus who eat in Tukaram’s house everyday and was worried how he would be able to feed them without money. The sishyas then asked him to go and console Tukaram and bring him back. Shivaji then went to him and apologized for what he did, but again told him that he knew that Tuka was a sadhu and doesn’t go after money but then he said that he was a family man and there were so many sadhus eating with him every day after the bhajans & kirtans and thought this money would be of help to feed the sadhus. Tuka then told Shivaji that if he was worried about him having known him only for a few months now, wouldn’t Vitthal be worried about him as he knew him from the day he was born and for so many births. Shivaji then requested Tukaram to accept his offerings for his happiness. Tuka replied to him that he would not eat cow’s meat to please someone and said that gold was equivalent to cow’s meat for him.

Tuka used to sing abhangs everyday and a lot of Sadhus and baghavathas would come to listen and participate in this. Whoever came for the kirtans went back with heart filled with love and affection towards Vitthobha. There was a person by name Rameshwara Bhatt in Dehu. He was well versed in the sastras and was preaching about Dharma sastras. No one came to his preaching’s but everyone went to Tukaram’s kirtans. Seeing this he was angry and said that Tuka was a Vysya and that he has not read the sastras and was blabbering something in the local language Marathi and was spoiling all residents in the city with his abhangs. Bhatt also said that he was a Brahman and had read all the sastras and knew more than what Tuka knew about the sastras. He then said that in his discourse he was saying what the rishis had written earlier, but Tuka was writing his own poems and singing that to the public. When Tukaram came to know what Rameshwara Bhatt was feeling about him, he felt that Bhatt may be correct as he is a very learned person. He never even got angry with him but went to him prostrated to him and asked him if he had done some mistakes in his abhangs. Bhatt then asked him who he was to advice others and asked him if he had studied the sastras and puranas and why he was saying something on his own. Bhatt then told him that Tuka was doing a great sin by doing all this and said that he was also making others commit sin by listening to it. Tuka then told Bhatt with tears that he dint know that he was committing a sin by doing all this and told him that he would do whatever Bhatt asks him to do as he was the most learned man in the city. Bhatt then asked him not to compose or sing any more abhangs and also asked him to throw all his compositions. Tuka then came back to his house took all his compositions tied it in a silk cloth and was thinking what mistake he had done in those compositions and his eyes were filled with tears. He then felt that Bhatt who was a scholar would not lie and that he should immediately destroy it. He then took the bundle to river Indrayani and again had a look at his compositions; he saw that he had written only about the beauty of Vitthal, Nama mahima, Guru mahima, Ekadasi mahima, Prahalada, Dhruva and other bhakthas. He then felt that Vitthal was living in every abhang composed by him and how he would throw him in the river Indrayani. He was sitting under a tree near the banks of Indrayani and looking at his compositions with tears. These were his only proud possessions. He then felt that having promised Bhatt that he would destroy it he threw his compositions that were tied in a cloth in to the river. The abhangs which were his only possession had now gone with the flood in the river. He now couldn’t sing any more abhangs as Bhatt had asked him not to sing and he knew nothing other than singing the praise of Pandurang. He was crying and sitting under the tree. His wife and children came in search of him and asked him to come back home. He would only say “Panduranga Panduranga” with his eyes full of tears. He felt like he has lost everything in his life as he now could not sing the praise of Vitthal. The next morning when the priest went to open Vitthobha’s temple in Dehu, he saw a bundle on Vitthal’s head. The priest rushed in to remove it and the bundle was wet. He opened it to see what was inside and it had all the songs that Tuka had thrown in to the river. They took the bag and came running to Tuka to show it to him. Tuka was chanting the name of Vitthal and still sitting in the bank of the river.  They then gave it to him and Tuka asked why they had taken it from the river. The priest then told him that when they opened the temple for suprabatham, they found this in Vitthal’s head. Hearing this Tuka was happy and understood that Vitthal has recognized his poems and that there were no mistakes in it. Rameshwar Bhatt on hearing this leela of Vitthal, came running to Tuka, and asked him to forgive him and also praised him that he was a mahatma. Tuka then said that Bhatt was a Brahman and had also learnt the sastras and that he should not ask him to forgive him. Tuka also said that this was Panduranga’s leela to show to the world that he is happy with my abhangs and that there was no fault with Bhatt. After this incident Tukaram’s abhangs became very famous and many people started singing his songs and his collection of abhangs came to be known a Vaishnava Veda.

One day as usual his shop was looted by miscreants as he had left it open and left with a group of pilgrims to Pandharpur. His wife then gave him some jewels and asked him to mortgage the same to get stocks for his provision stores. He mortgaged the jewels collected the money and was returning home. On the way he saw some group of beggars singing about Vitthal and distributed the money to them and returned home. He would never bother about running his business and family and did not understand this materialistic world. He would forever be chanting, singing and dancing with tears in his eyes and Vitthobha in his heart. His wife knew about his character and knew he would not be able to bring money to run the family. The next day his wife Jijabai left home in the morning as she had agreed to do some household job in her locality. Tuka seeing her going out in morning asked her where she was going. She then told him that there was no money left at home and that she had to feed the children and had agreed to do some household work to feed them. Hearing this Tuka felt bad and asked her to stay at home and said that he would now go for some work and get her money to run the family. He then set out to ask for a job. Whenever he would enter any house the head of the house would prostrate to him, welcome him, ask him to be seated and ask him how they could be of service to him. This was because everyone knew that Tukaram was a great saint and had very high regards for him. When he asked them for a job they would ask him to take whatever he wants for free and not embarrass them by working for them as they considered him as Pandurang himself. This was not agreeable with Tuka and would not take anything from anyone for free. Tuka now understood that it would be difficult for him to get a job in Dehu and decided to go to some other neighboring village in search of a job. He came across an old man who had a big field and asked him for a job. The man on seeing Tuka liked him and asked him what work he would be able to do. Tuka said that he would do any work that he wanted him to do. The old man then asked him to take care of his field for the next two months from birds and other animals from destroying the crops. There was an elevated area in the middle of the field for him to be seated and asked Tuka to sit there and take care of the field. Tuka then said that he had to go home and give some money or grains to his family for them to take care of themselves. The old man then gave him some grains and asked him to give it to his family and return for work. Tuka promptly delivered the same in his house and came back to the field and sat there. Whenever a sparrow or a cow came to destroy the field Tuka would look at it as Pandurangan and not a sparrow or a cow. He did not realize that he had to scare them away and protect the corn field. He would forever be lost in singing abhangs. The old man was happy that he had kept an honest person to take care of his farm and was busy with other work. After two months the old man came to see the farm but was very angry when he found that all his crops have been destroyed. He saw that Tuka was still standing on the elevated floor and dancing and singing the praise of Vitthal not knowing what was happening in the field. The old man asked him why he did this when he was asked to take care of the farm and said that this act of him has resulted in a very big loss for him. Tuka then told him that he dint know what happened and apologized to the old man. The old man told him that he had lost about Rs.2000 because of his carelessness and asked him to repay the same. Tuka then told him that he dint have that kind of money and would not have come for a job if he had the same. The old man then said that if he doesn’t pay this money he would take him to the king for justice. Tuka then begged him not to take him to the king but punish him directly and would agree to whatever punishment the old man gives. This was because the king was Shivaji who was his disciple and Tuka dint want to go there as Shivaji would pay the old man on his behalf. The old man then told him that it is of no use for him to punish him and that he only wants his money back. Tuka dint know what to do and said “Panduranga” with tears filled in his eyes. Hearing this, the old man got wild and asked him why he was saying Panduranga as if he was Tukaram Maharaj. Tuka then told him that he was only Tukaram. Hearing this the old man prostrated to him and apologized to him for scolding him and told him that his farm was now blessed with the dust from his feet and that was enough for him to get a better yield next time. Tuka on hearing this started crying and chanted the name of Vitthal. The old man then gave him a load of sugarcane and asked him to take it with him. He asked him to sell the sugarcane and take home the money. Tuka took the sugarcane and was returning home. Jijabai heard about this and was happy that her husband had finally earned something and is returning home. She then asked him to go to the market directly, sell the same and also gave him a list of provisions to be bought. On the way when he saw the temple he got down to have a darshan of Vitthal. There were some children playing there and every kid in Dehu knew him. When they saw him with a load of sugarcane they went to him and asked him if they could take one. Seeing the kids asking for the sugarcane he distributed all the sugarcane to the kids and started singing and dancing with them. All the children were now chanting “Panduranga Hari, Vasudeva Hari, Rama Krishna Hari” Tuka then went in to the temple had a darshan of Vitthal and then came back to realize that he dint have anything with him now and that Jija would be angry with him now. He then went home empty handed. Jija on seeing him back home asked him if he had sold the sugarcane and got the money. He then told her that he had distributed it to the children near the temple. Jija was very angry and asked him why he dint think about his children and started scolding him. He then said that there was one last sugarcane left in the cart and gave it to her. On hearing this Jija became very angry and took the sugarcane and beat him on his back. The sugarcane broke in to two. Tuka then smiled and told Jija that Vitthal had broken the sugarcane in to two equal halves using her hands and his back so that both get an equal share. Hearing this Jija dint know how to react and stood still for a moment. Jija then thought the whole of Dehu considers him to be a saint, Shivaji Maharaj comes for advice, Pandurang speaks to him directly, but in spite of she being his wife why did I not understand him and think only about worldly affairs. She then apologized to him and prostrated to him.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

One Ekadasi day, Tuka was performing kirtans and Shivaji was listening to it with love. In the meantime Muslim soldiers heard about the whereabouts of Shivaji and a big troop of 2000 soldiers came to arrest him. They surrounded the house in which bhajans were performed and dint let anyone go in or come out of the house. Shivajis informers came and whispered about the situation to him. Hearing this Shivaji was worried and one of his bodyguards asked Tukaram if they could leave now. Tukaram then told him that no one should leave till the kirtan is over. Hearing this Shivaji sat down and continued to listen to the abhangs. He thought to himself that none other than Vitthal can save him now and if he doesn’t, he would be fortunate to die on an ekadasi day listening to abhangs and in the company of sadhus and saints. One of the Muslim spies came into the house to check if Shivaji was there and couldn’t find him. He went back to his commander and told him that he couldn’t recognize which one of them was Shivaji. On hearing this, the commander told him to get in and kill as many people as possible and that way they would definitely kill Shivaji. Vitthal immediately took the form of Shivaji and came out of the house on a horse. He then started riding his horse. The soldiers who saw this started chasing him but no one was able to catch him. The army was chasing him for several hours and finally they had travelled to a jungle about 40 miles trying to catch Vitthal who looked like Shivaji. Vitthal suddenly disappeared and the soldiers blamed one another for not being able to catch Shivaji. The commander just could not understand how an army of 2000 soldiers could not catch one person. Vitthal then came and whispered to Tuka on what had happened and asked him to continue his abhangs without any fear.

There was a village called Chinchwadi near Pune. (It is now called Chinchwad) People from that village would very often invite Tukaram to perform his sankirtans and he would go there and sing his abhangs. Often his bhajans used to go on till dawn. One day when Tukaram was in Chinchwadi a Brahman who gives discourses on Ramayan came to that village seeing if he could have his discourse there. He was doing this to collect money for his daughter’s marriage. When the Brahman entered the village he saw that everyone went to have their bath only by around 8am, he thought that this may not be a good place as they were all very lazy and went to have a bath only by 8am. When he enquired with the villagers they told him that Tukaram was here and that he would perform kirtans till about 4 or 5 in the morning and they would then return home and sleep for some time and then go for their usual work. They also told him that his bhajans have been happening for about a month. Hearing this, the old man knew that no one would be interested in his discourse and left the village. One of the villagers then came and informed about this to Tukaram. Hearing this Tuka went to the Brahman and prostrated to him and said that he should stay in this village and say Ramayan and that he would also sit with the villagers and listen to him. The Brahman was happy and came with Tukaram. Once the villagers knew that Tukaram was going to listen to his discourse all the villagers came for the same. The Brahman agreed to give a detailed discourse of Ramayan for forty five days. There was a miser in that village and he alone would not come for the discourse, he also asked his wife not to go for the discourse but she wouldn’t listen. This was because the miser knew that the villagers would come to him asking contributions for the discourse when it gets completed. Knowing this he left the village a few days before it got over to avoid them. On the last day the organizers started collecting money and went to the miser’s house for collection. When they went there his wife said that he had gone to a nearby village on some work. They then asked her for some contribution and she said that he had locked every thing and gone. As the organizers wouldn’t leave without collecting some thing from them, she gave them an old leaking vessel that was used to wash their legs. That evening there was a big function and all the donations were being given to the Brahman through Tukaram. After giving the entire gifts the organizers who wanted to make fun of the miser, said that the miser had given a golden vessel and handed it over to Tukaram. The miser’s wife who was listening to this felt bad and was thinking that she would definitely have given a golden vessel to the Brahman if her husband had permited her. When Tukaram received it the vessel really turned in to a golden vessel. Tuka knew what was in her heart and made this change. The lady was very happy on seeing this. The Brahman happily collected all the gifts from the villagers and went back to complete his daughters marriage. Tukaram also returned to Dehu.

One day when Tuka came home Jija was performing Lakshmi Pooja at home. He asked her what she was doing and she replied that she was doing pooja for Rukmani. He then asked her what the occasion today was and why she was suddenly doing this. Jija then told him that some astrologer had told her that if she does this pooja, she would get more wealth. Tuka then told her that whatever wealth is needed for their family, Vitthal would give it to them and she need not do all this for gaining wealth. Jija then told him that he was praying Vitthal and that she was praying Rukmani his wife and there is nothing wrong with it. Tuka then told her that what she was doing was kamyartha bhakthi (praying god and expecting something in return) and that one should not do that. She dint listen to him and continued with her poojas. After a few weeks she suddenly got some money. She bought new clothes for the kids and herself, got back the jewels that were mortgaged. That day when Tuka came for lunch he saw the changes at home and asked her what had happened. She then told him that she had reaped the benefits of doing Lakshmi Pooja and went in to bring food for him. On hearing this Tuka went out without even having his food. Jija thought that he would be angry and return in the night. It was 3 days and he still dint return. She knew that he would go to Pandharpur very often without informing her and thought that he would have gone there. She waited for a few weeks and then it was more than a month now and Jija really started worrying. She then decided to go to Pandhari and started her journey. Pandharpur is almost about 300kms from Dehu. She searched for him there and couldn’t find him. She then asked the other sadhus there if they had seen him. They said that they have not seen him in Pandhari for more than a month now. Jijabai was really worried now and dint know what to do. She then went inside the temple prayed to Vitthal and spend the night in the temple and go back to Dehu the next morning. That night Vitthal came in her dream and told her that Tukaram was in Dehu and also showed her the hill where he was sitting and singing his abhangs. He also told her that he has not been having food from the time he left home. The next day morning Jija left for Dehu, climbed up the hill to the place where Tukaram was seated. (We can even today see this place in Dehu) She found him seated on the stone, and found that he was very weak with beard grown over his face. His voice still had the same energy and was loudly singing the praise of god. She folded her hands and stood in front of him with tears in her eyes. When Tuka finished his abhang, he saw Jija standing there and asked her why she had come there. He also said that he now wanted to be isolated from the world and wanted to sing about Vitthal. Jija asked him how she and her children would live. Tuka then told her that, now that she does Lakshmi Pooja, she has the money to run the family and does not need him any more. Jija then burst in to tears and told him that it was Tuka who was more important for her than the jewels and the money. Tuka then asked her to distribute all the wealth to the poor and asked her to come back to him as earlier. She then went back home did the same and came back to Tuka. Tuka then sang some abhangs to advice her. He then came back with her to their house.

Thuka Vaikundarohan
Thuka Vaikundarohan

One day Tukaram called all his disciples and told them that he will be going to vaikuntam on a particular day and asked them to meet him on that day. That day all his disciples had assembled on the banks of Indrayani and were singing bhajans. Vitthal had sent his Garudaviman and Tukaram boarded the same with his body and the whole village saw him going to vaikuntam.

56 thoughts on “Sant Tukaram”

  1. Their dedication to lord vitthal can not express in word.I ASSURE THAT TUKARAM WILL COME BACK TO EARTH FOR ME TO SPRED BHAKTI ALL OVER INDIA

  2. Deva ata uralo fakt upkara purata.ase sangnara , Bhagavantalahi jyala ghenysathi yavavas vatal . ashya saint TUKARAMALA Pranam/.

  3. CHARAN VANDNA TO SUCH TYPE OF SAINT AND PRAY TO THEM TO KEEP ME ALSO TO THE HOLY FEET OF SHRI KRISHNA AND I MAY OBEY THE INSTRUCTIONS OF MY SADGURU/SAINTS

  4. MAZYA MAYBAPA TUKARAMA KHUP KHUP DEVUN GELAT TUMHI AAMCHYASATHI. DEV KASHALA MHANTAT TE MALA TUMCHYAMULECH TAR KALALE. BOLA PUNDLIKA VARDE HARI VITTHAL SHRI DNYANDEV TUKARAM PANHARINATH MAHARAJ KI JAY. RAM KRUSHNA HAI, VASUDEV HARI, PANDURANG HARI.

  5. Blessed to hear about sant Tukaram & be touched. Lucky have been those people who were part to all this. I wish I was one of them too………………………….

  6. Very interesting to know the stories of Indian Saints.pl.register me to receive new stories of Indian Saints.I am interested to read “Bhaktmal of Nabhaji” .If possible, pl. Send me the same by Email.
    Thanks.

    Vipin D. SHAH

  7. I am very much blessed to read this story. It is very useful to present
    generation to know true devotion towards god. Jai Panduranga.

  8. Thank you very much for this very interesting story of tukaram maharaj. Glory of this saint is still in the hearts of devotees. Jai pandu ranga vittala. B.veerabhadriah. Chennai.

  9. 3 weeks before i went to the DEHU village.i saw that place where sant TUKARAM goes to the vaikuntha, i saw his home where he stay.And i mate his 10th genration family,total is therteen genration,her age is now 70+ may.SHE WAS SAYING about SANT TUKARAM.i was very happy to talk with her and i took one photo .I was feel so happy went went in dehu village.THNAK MERE ISHWAR APNE MUJHE YE MAUKA DIYA.

  10. Sant Tukaram, always have been my role model in spiritual life, how I wish could leave wordly pleasure, and live like Tukaram Maharaj, surrender to Vittala everything. Always thinking of Bhagawan. Can this happen to mortal like me. Jaigurunath!

  11. AAJ CHA GENERATIONLA HI KHARI SADU SANTANCHI GARJ AHE….
    BOLA PUNDLIKA VARDE HARI VITTHAL SHRI DNYANDEV TUKARAM PANDHARINATH MAHARAJ KI JAY….

  12. Tukaram Maharaj was born in the Shaka year 1530 (1608 CE) at Dehu village which is twenty miles from Pune. Dehu is a small village, even now. During Tukaram’s period the population of this village was too less. So to say, Tukaram was born in a well-to-do family; he had two brothers, one was elder and the other was younger to him. The elder brother, Savaji (सावजी) was completely detached (विरक्त) and Tukaram had to look after his family too. When Tukaram turned seventeen years old, his father died and the following year his brother, Savaji left home never to return. These turn of events made Tukaram extremely dejected and sad. But in spite of all these events, he took courage and as a competent head of the family, took care of his family, fields, moneylending business as well as shop. The people around him started to respect him as a competent person, since he had earned their trust due to his fair deals and good conduct.
    In the Shaka year 1552 (1630 CE), there was an unprecedented famine which led the financial arrears (money taken by people) from his shop to be given up; all the earnings from the previous dealings simply sunk. There was no money to buy the goods afresh to continue running his business. There was no standing crop in the fields due to famine, since it was a terrible form of famine.Suddenly, he had to face this calamity, so got confused, although he was just a young lad of twenty two years old. He was a bright and youthful man. He had an experience of running his family for seven to eight years. By this time, his parents, his elder sister-in-law were dead and elder brother had left home permanently. He bore these calamities and the sorrow with great courage. Since, there was no elderly person at home, whom should he look up to for the advice? It is said that whenever God wants a devotee to come near Him, the bombards the devotee with calamities one after the other. Exactly same thing happened about Tukaram Maharaj.

  13. While facing these hardships and difficult days, Tukaram could really comprehend the nature of a human being. He understood what the family life was all about. He realized that the world around us considered only wealthy people as “lucky.” But he did not stop doing his best to run his family. He could not understand that the fact that, in spite of his best efforts, he was unable to run his family successfully. He wondered and contemplated as to what might have gone wrong. Since several generations, two holy treatises, namely, Shri Bhagavat and Shrimad Bhagavadgita were available in his home. He slowly turned to them for guidance, started to read and comprehend them. He continuously meditated on these two treatises. Since there was nothing to eat at home, apart from their family business of moneylending, he was wondering as to how to come out of the trying situation. He could not bear to watch poor people from Dehu dying of starvation, silently. His family members were facing starvation too. Just then, a calamity fell on him. His first wife and son died due to famine and he was drowned in sorrow. But who would come forward to console him, as every house was facing similar situation? At that point of time, he realized that, in spite of the best efforts, certain things were not in his hands. He realized that his best efforts were being defeated by some unknown force but he could not understand which force it was. At this stage he strongly realized that he was dependent on some Unknown Power, which dictated the events in his life. At that time, he thought that, the only way to become happy was to search and fathom the Supreme Power that dictated his life (and that of others too) and whose glory was being sung by all the narrators of Bhagavatam. He clearly realized that the human competence that everyone hailed, was a mere facade. Human being might make a mountainous effort to achieve his/her goal, but success in his/her endeavour was never guaranteed. After he comprehended the limitations of human efforts, he developed a total detachment about family life, worldly ties and sensual enjoyment. His mind was running in search of the Super Power, which regulated the whole universe.

  14. In those days a number of spiritual austerities were available to reach God. The society then was under the strong influence of Scriptures (शास्त्रे). Everything in society was being labeled good or bad using the yardstick of Scriptures. Since only a select group of brahmins had the right to learn the Scriptures, Shudras did not even have any right to fathom the meaning of Scriptures, leave alone learning! Obviously, the entire society was under the power of brahmins. The society was under the sway of the concepts like Moksha (मोक्ष ), Paap (sin), Punya (merits) and Prayaschitta (प्रायश्चित्त: atonement of sins). Since Tukaram was a man of fierce and keen intellect, he thought that there was something wrong somewhere, which was the cause of the social upheaval . He could not accept the existing traditional way of getting initiated from a spiritual authority, take a rosary in hand and keep turning its beads. His intellect did not accept these practices.

  15. He started to study ShrimadBhagavat and ShrimadBhagavatgita in greater details. He realized that attaining God is not dependent on others, but oneself totally and every Jivatma (जीवात्मा) had the right to reach Him. Since, he was around twenty two years old, he had the strength and stamina to endure the hardships which he had to face while performing the strict spiritual austerities. This is how his spiritual life began to take shape. He realized that to attain God, one needs have intense yearning for Him as well as willingness to sacrifice everything. He had realized that it was not necessary to observe various religious vows (व्रत), turning the beads of japmala (जपमाला, rosary), observance of strict ritual purity and Yogasadhana (योगसाधना) for reaching God. He started to visit the nearby Bhandara (भंडारा) hill for solitude and started to spend his maximum time there in meditation. There were several names of God, he wondered as to which one should he chant, as all the names were sweeter to him. By now he had studied Gnaneshwari (ज्ञानेश्वरी), Amrutanubhava (अमृतानुभव) and Eknathi Bhagavat (एकनाथी भागवत, the critique written by saint Eknath Maharaj on Bhagavata) with an open mind. There is a saying that, “Family life cannot be led properly without speaking lies and God cannot be attained without ever taking the shelter of falsehood.” He decided to choose the latter and lead the family life, even if it meant suffering the losses. His second wife, Jijai or Jijabai (जिजाई or जिजाबाई) was a very competent woman. Since she hailed from a rich and prestigious family, she thought that she should not lack anything to conduct herself with vainglory. Although, she had a great respect for Tukaram Maharaj, she used to think that he was falsely obsessed with religious or spiritual wellbeing (परमार्थ). Therefore, she always rallied behind him and tried bring him back into the fold of family life, throughout her life. There was not an iota of blemish in her love and faith in Tukaram Maharaj. In spite of his spiritual leaning and observance of spiritual practices in solitude, Tukaram Maharaj never turned his back on his family life as well as family members. While he meditated on the holy name of Lord Panduranga, his mind started to run behind the events in the past or the events in the future. Piteously, he prayed Panduranga, “Deva! Human mind is very fickle, it runs helter-skelter like wind. It does not remain stable even for a moment. It is becoming difficult for me to control my mind and get rid of my desires (वासना). Please tell me, what should I do? It is written in all the holy books that without the stability of the mind, one does not get Your darshan. I am waiting to get my mind stabilized and have Your darshan. Will You give me Your darshan in this very birth, won’t You? I am fumbling like a blind person. I am intensely yearning for Your darshan. Which path should I take, that would take me to You? Kindly tell me.” Lord Panduranga was touched by his intense devotion and prayer. The same night Panduranga appeared in his dream in the form of his Sadguru. His mind transformed completely from the very same moment. While waking he started to chant, “RamKrishnaHari (रामकृष्णहरि),” His wife asked him, “What is this new fad?” Tukoba (तुकोबा in short and with love) said, “I got a dream early in the morning. While I was going for my bath towards river Indrayani (इंद्रायणी), I met a person who asked me for quarter kilo ghee, but I could not give it to him. He told me his name to be Babaji and his Sadguru’s name to be Keshavachaitanya (केशवचैतन्य). He further said to me that if I desired to have darshan of God, I should chant RamaKrishnaHari continuously, placed his hand over my head and disappeared thereafter. At that moment the gloom in my mind vanished, I cherish the moment really. Jijai could not understand a word of what Tukoba said and she looked puzzled. The day Tukoba got this dream was the tenth day of bright fortnight of Magha month which fell on Thursday (माघ शुद्ध दशमी).

  16. After receiving initiation (दीक्षा ro गुरूपदेश), Tukoba became axiomatic. All the fears and the feeling of inferiority vanished from his mind altogether. Now he started to spend most of his time on Bhandara hill in solitude to chant the holy name, Ramakrishna Hari continuously. Day by day, his mind attained stability, peace and tranquility. He started to experience the joy and happiness, which do not depend on external objects. In fact, he used to feel very unhappy to leave his spiritual austerity and go home. In his absence, Jijai used to feel the pinch of running the entire household on her own. Sometimes, there would neither be grains at home, nor the firewood to light the earthen stove. She would be wild with anger and scold Tukoba fiercely. Later she used to feel repentant about her actions. On knowing her state of mind, Tukoba used to talk to her quietly and try to turn her mind God wards. But Jijai was a really faithful wife (पतिव्रता), therefore, she never used to have even a morsel of food without first offering it to Tukoba. Since, he always used to be in solitude on Bhandara hill, she used to trudge the hill strewn with thorns and offer him food. The great saint Namdev Maharaj was born almost more than 200 years before saint Tukoba. During his lifetime, Namdev had expressed his wish to Panduranga that he wanted to compose 100 crore (शतकोटि) Abhangas. However, Panduranga said, “Your wish of compositing 100 crore Abhangas will not be fulfilled in this birth.” Even then, Namdev tried to complete about 94.5 crore Abhangas by taking help from his family members. Thereafter, he left his mortal coil.

  17. In order to fulfill his volition, Namdev along with Lord Panduranga appeared in Tukoba’s dream and said, “I had vowed to compose 100 crore Abhangas, but I could not complete my volition. Now you complete my work.” Panduranga too supported Namdev’s opinion. Thus, Tukoba started to compose Abhangas. Thus, since he composed 5 crore 1 lakh 34 thousand Abhangas to fulfil Namdev’s vow, he is considered as reincarnation of Namdev Maharaj. When Tukoba started to have the vision of Panduranga day and night, he reached a Godlike position. Now he reached a position where he started to think of enjoying Brhmananda (ब्रह्मानंद) and wanted others too to enjoy the same. Now He started to feel blessed because, he had received the grace of his Sadguru, without whom, one cannot achieve Gnana (ज्ञान ) and without Gnana there was no Self Realization (आत्मानुभूति or आत्मानुभव) as well as escape from the repeated cycles of birth and death. Now after the God or Self Realization, Tukoba became joyous (आनंदमय), unfeigned and completely free of egotism (निरहंकारी). His compositions turned out to be unique, meaningful, full of wisdom and simple to comprehend. He expressed the meaning of BhagavadGita, Ved and Upanishadas in his compositions lucidly. Thus, common people started to understand the meaning of complex Vedas through his simple and meaningful Abhangas composed in Marathi. Although, the common public was highly benefited due to his extraordinary effort to uplift them spiritually, the brahmin class was adversely affected, since they started to loose their importance slowly.

  18. The people from poor and working class, who were already fed up of several religious sanctions, stopped offering money or alms to brahmins for performing various religious rituals, on account of the clear, logical and meaningful advice of Tukoba. Obviously the brahmin class was outraged due to loss of importance and monetary benefits; the brahmins were looking for an opportunity to strike Tukoba, which they got very soon. When Tukoba presented his Abhanga compositions on BhagavadGita in the form of MantraGita (मंत्रगीता), these brahmins came together and charged him with an offence of crossing his limits. They actually slapped him with a case in civil court that he had transgressed his limit by commenting on holy Vedas being a Shudra. Rameshwarshastri (रामेश्वरशास्त्री) from Wagholi (वाघोली near Pune) an expert in religious scriptures was appointed as the judge. The prosecutor presented his case with detailed allegations. Tukoba, in his reply, firmly but humbly said, “It is not my nature to conduct anything which is unjustifiable and sinful. The devotion to God is the sole way to reach Him and everybody has the right to attain God. The holy words which have come out of my mouth are not mine. It is the Almighty, who speaks through my mouth. Am I a great scholar to talk about Vedas and Upanishadas? When this the case, how can I control His words? Now there is nothing in my hand.” Rameshwarshastri was perplexed on listening to the arguments of Tukoba. However, as per the existing shastras, he ordered drowning of entire literature composed by Tukoba in Indrayani river. It is impossible to imagine, what Tukoba might have gone through while drowning his holy literature, which he had composed based on his rich spiritual experiences and grace of Sadguru. Was God testing him to find out whether Tukoba started to hate brahmins, knowing the fact that, the brahmins were responsible for destroying his literature?

  19. Thereafter Tukoba bowed down to the judgement of Rameshwarshastri, which was based on the Scriptures and drowned his entire literature in river Indrayani. He recalled that, he had composed a couplet as follows: “ज्याचा सखा हरि | त्यावर विश्व कृपा करी॥: meaning: The whole world graces the person, whose friend is ShriHari)” How could God allow a calamity to fall over him, who Himself had made him to compose the above couplet? His struggle started then and there. He started to wail chanting the name of Narayana continuously without food and water for 14 days on the bank of Indrayani. He did not want to fight Scriptures, he wanted to fight Narayana. He thought, if Narayana did not like his compositions, why should he compose? When Narayana Himself was not supportive of him, why should he live at all? He made a resolve that until he got the realization that Narayana was supportive of him, he would not touch food and water. Apart from Tukoba, his family members as well as well-wishers too arrived there and camped along with Tukoba on the bank of Indrayani. Except for a few sadists, the entire population of Dehu village was supportive of Tukoba. Thirteen days passed in this manner. On the fourteenth day, a miracle happened. The notebooks of Tukoba, which contained the entire gist of Vedas and Upanishads were found to be floating on the waters of Indrayani. Soon the news spread like wildfire, entire people of Dehu and nearby villages flocked there to watch this rare miracle. People happily jumped into the river water, swam and brought all the notebooks of Tukoba with great fanfare. Tukoba wept bitterly to know that Panduranga had kept His word, He had not abandoned Tukoba. The same night Shri Hari appeared to Tukoba in the form of BalaKrishna (बालकृष्ण) and said, “I appeared here on finding out that you have the same faith as that of Prahlad.” Thereafter, whatever little desire of leading the family life that had remained in his mind, too vanished completely. He became completely desireless.

  20. After giving judgement in the civil court against Tukoba, Rameshwarbhatt (Rameshwarshastri was also known as रामेश्वरभट्ट) left for visiting the famous Lord Shiva temple of Nagnath (which is a famous Jyotirlinga at Aundha Nagnath (औंढा नागनाथ ) in district Hingoli (हिंगोली) of Maharashtra). He had deep faith in Nagnath. On the way to Pune there was a muslim saint, Anagadh Shaha (अनगड शहा), who was a great spiritual leader. He had a farm with a well. It was a hot afternoon, Rameshwarbhatt took bath in the well, which was not liked by Angad Shaha. He cursed Rameshwarbhatt saying, “You will suffer from burning sensation.” Accordingly, Rameshwarbhatt started to suffer from burning sensation throughout his body; since the burning became unbearable, he came to Alandi and started to serve at the samadhi of Shri Gnaneshwar Maharaj. Gnaneswar Maharaj appeared in his dream and said, “Go to Dehu and surrender to Tukoba, your burning sensation will stop.” After this vision of Gnaneshwar Maharaj, Rameshwarbhatt truly repented . By then the miraculous floating of Tukoba’s entire literature on the waters of Indrayani had already spread everywhere. Rameshwarbhatt realized that, certainly Tukoba was a supreme devotee of Panduranga. He wrote a letter to Tukoba giving details of the curse, his suffering due to burning sensation and the vision he had got at Alandi. Tukoba promptly wrote an Abhanga in reply to his letter. On reading that Abhanga, the burning sensation of Rameshwarbhatt stopped instantly. At that instant, his egotism was destroyed and he became one of the best disciples of Tukoba. At that moment, Rameshwarbhatt composed an Abhanga in praise of Tukoba as follows:
    “उच्चनीच वर्ण न म्हणावा कोणी । जे का नारायणी प्रिय झाले ॥
    ब्रह्मानंदे तुके तुळें आला तुका । तो हा विश्वसखा क्रीडे जनी ॥”
    Meaning: Nobody should not address those as superior or inferior (based on their caste), who were loved by Narayana. Tukoba, who is equal to Brahmananda, plays with all people as he is a friend of the entire universe.
    Presently, the Aarati sung in praise of Tukoba is composed by none other than Rameshwarbhatt, where he has written,
    “तुकिता तुळणेसी ब्रह्म तुकासि आले ।”
    Meaning: If one has to compare Tukoba, one would have to put Supreme Brahman (ब्रह्म) in one dish of the weighing scale,because of Tukoba had the power to balance the Supreme Brahman veritably. Such was the spiritual prowess of Tukaram Maharaj.

  21. Thereafter Tukoba started spend more and more time in the meditating of Lord Panduranga. While he chanted the holy name of RamKrishna Hari, he was running his shop too. But he started to suffer the losses, the loan amount with the moneylender started to increase. Consequently, the moneylenders started to pressurize him for payment by picketing at his home. Taking pity for his children, Tukoba’s friends arrived there and got assurance from the moneylenders that they would not confiscate Tukoba’s household articles. Tukoba’s financial condition worsened further. When Avali (अवली alias Jijai) learnt that some merchants from Dehu were planning to tour other places for trading, she took a load of rupees 200 from a moneylender with the help of her brother, purchased goods and sent Tukoba too along with other merchants. While the merchants discussed their plans to increase the profit, Tukoba used immerse himself in singing bhajans and chanting holy name and follow the merchants. In this manner the group of merchants came to a town along with Tukoba. Tukoba found a brahmin with a grown beard was begging for alms. When Tukoba asked him, why he begged for alms, the latter said, “It is a sad story. I was a hereditary headman of a village. One of my enemies, spread lies about me in the court of a king and the latter took away all my rights as a headman. Apart from this, the cruel person falsely accused me, thereby, making me to pay a fine of rupees 300. I have just paid rupees 50 and wandering for collecting remaining 250 rupees.” Tukoba took pity on him, he collected all the money he had earned so far and donated to the brahmin. Although, Tukoba was penniless now, he had immense satisfaction for saving a brahmin from calamity. Other traders thought that he was a fool. Thus, Tukoba returned to Dehu empty-handed. Lord Panduranga thought that on reaching home, Tukoba will have to face the wrath of Avali. Therefore, for saving his devotee from distress, Panduranga Himself assumed the form of Tukoba, went to the moneylender, paid the principal and interest and gave him some money to be given to Avali and disappeared. The moneylender gave Avali the receipt for the repaied loan amount and some money. Two days after this event, Tukoba returned along with the group of merchants to Dehu. The merchants went to Avali and narrated how Tukoba gave away his earnings to a brahmin and came empty-handed along with them. The whole population of Dehu was wondering, as to the fact that who repaid the load of Tukoba two days before? Everyone realized that, it was none other than Lord Panduranga who came to the rescue of Tukoba. Thereafter, while Tukoba’s social standing and creditworthiness took a beating, he became more and more detached from the worldly affairs. His family life was completely ruined.

  22. Tukoba had already made it a practice to climb Bhandara hill and sit there for meditation. However, after having gone there, he would not come back home. Jijai had made it a practice to offer food to him first before having hers. She used to take his food in a basket, climb the hill, feed him and then have her lunch. Once, while climbing Bhandara, she got tired and large thorn pricked her. She fell down with pain and started to weep. Lord Panduranga took pity on her, He arrived there in Sagun form as a shepherd, removed the thorn from her foot, helped her to get up and then left. After having met Tukoba, she narrated the event to him, Tukoba realized that, Panduranga had taken trouble for him. Therefore, thereafter, he started to come home for lunch, so as not to trouble Panduranga.
    Now Tukoba had come to a firm conclusion that the only way to liberation was ShriHari namasmarana (नामस्मरण, continuously chanting the holy name of ShriHari). His fame had spread far and wide, however, he was neither bothered nor aware of it. A brahmin from a distant place came to meet Tukoba. Although, he had studied scriptures in details, he had not got Self Realization and therefore, he was not contented. He had brought a treatise namely, Vivek Sindhu (विवेकसिंधु ) written by मुकुंदराज (around 1128 – 1200 CE, who was the follower of Adi Shankaracharya’s Advaita philosophy and is considered to be the first poet in Marathi literature). He said to Tukoba, “Maharaj, I have read this treatise over and over again, but still I have not got Self Realization. Could you please explain the meaning of this treatise to me?” Tukoba said, “Hey, I am not a great scholar myself. Other than Haribhakti, I know nothing. What should I do for you?” The brahmin said, “I will read the treatise in front of you, please explain its meaning to me.” Tukoba agreed, lay near him and pulled a rug over his head and entire body. The brahmin started to read, he went on reading page after page, but there was no response from Tukoba. The brahmin wondered and just pulled out the rug from Tukoba’s body. He was shocked to see Tukoba immersed in Namasmarana, with his fingers in his ears! Highly disappointed, the brahmin said, “Maharaj, I came to you to know a suitable way to liberation. However, you have closed your ears, while I read the treatise. What does it mean?” Tukoba sat, smiled and said, “Bhudev (भूदेव , brahmins were addressed so, in earlier days), God is everywhere and without achieving Him there is no liberation. One should not presume that a specific path alone would take him/her to God, which is akin to Dwaita Bhav (व्दैतभाव)(sense or feeling of व्दैत). You have faith, therefore you can attain God. When someone does not attain God through his/her spiritual practice, it does not mean that the particular practice is inadequate to attain God; it is just that the amount of spiritual practice (साधना) is inadequate. You must have faith in whatever spiritual practice you adopt for yourself. I have faith in Namasmarana. This is the only path I know. You came to me all along from a distant place, but I am not sure whether my answer would satisfy you. What more may I do?” After listening to Tukoba’s clear and honest words, the brahmin was extremely pleased. It was a kind of Guroopadesha (गुरूपदेश) for him. He placed his head in Tukoba’s holy feet with great faith and devotion and returned to his native place after profusely thanking Tukoba. Before approaching Tukoba, he was filled with various doubts, but while returning he was filled with Bhakti. He had received the true path to liberation from Tukoba.

  23. Lohagaon (लोहगाव), a small village, is 13 km away from Pune. Lohagaon happened to be Tukoba’s maternal grandfather’s hometown. Therefore, Tukoba used to frequently visit Lohagaon and deliver religious discourses there. A sizable number of residents of Lohagaon were his disciples. On one such occasion, while Tukoba was delivering a religious discourse, a miracle took place. There was a resident of Lohagaon, who used to regularly attend the discourse without fail. On that particular day, his son was critically ill, even then he came to attend the discourse with complete faith in God. While he was leaving his home, his wife repeatedly requested him not to leave the critically ill child and go for the discourse. But he left saying that the God was the real caretaker of all the beings. Just a short time thereafter, his son died and his wife became inconsolable. She was enraged with the thought that in spite of knowing the ill-health of their child, her husband had left for discourse. She could not control her anger, lifted the dead body of her son and arrived at the venue of the discourse directly. She laid her dead son’s body in front of Tukoba and said, “While our son was on deathbed, his father said that we should have complete faith in God and that we should do nothing and left for discourse. Now you tell me, where is your Narayana?” On listening to her fierce words, the audience were stunned, nobody spoke a word. Tukoba realized the gravity of the situation, he felt extremely sorry for the plight of the mother. He started to invoke Panduranga with deep anguish in his mind. He said, “O Panduranga, we have read Your supremacy in Puranas, we are merely Your servants. Only You can perform the pastime of bringing lifeless creatures to life! It is Your motto to avert the calamity of Your devotee. Hey Panduranga, kindly take pity on us and show Your prowess to us by bringing this dead boy to life.” At that moment, he uttered a couplet as follows:
    “अशक्य ते तुम्हा नाही नारायणा” meaning: There is nothing impossible for You, O, Narayana.
    After his fervent prayer, he asked all the assembled devotees to chant the name of Panduranga loudly in unison. All the devotees, with their eyes closed, got immersed in chanting the name of Panduranga. When they opened their eyes, they found that the boy had already got up and was chanting the name of ShriHari along with them! Thus, the sainthood of Tukoba became evident to everyone. The entire towns and villages were abuzz with the news of this miracle. Tukoba was being hailed as a supreme saint.

  24. Several miracles were experienced by people in and around Dehu. Tukoba’s devotion transformed him completely. He felt the entire universe was joyous (आनंदमय). He experienced unity with every being, sentient as well as insentient. In one of his couplets he had written, “देव पहाया गेलो आणि देवचि होऊनी ठेलो ॥” (meaning: I went to see God and became God myself, that is, I became one with God). He knew he had crossed the boundaries of birth and death. It was the Phalgun (फाल्गुन ) month of the Hindu calendar. His eagerness to merge with Lord Panduranga became evident in his following couplets:
    “आता देवा ऐसा । करी उपकार ॥
    देहाचा विसर । पडो माझ्या ॥
    तरीच हा जीव । पावलो हे सुख ॥
    ऐसे केशीराजा । कळो आले ॥
    आता दिसो नये जना । ऐसे करा नारायणा ॥”
    (meaning: O Panduranga, please do me a favour now. I should forget my body (loose total body consciousness). I have realized that only then, will I be able to get true happiness, O Keshiraja (केशीराजा : Lord Panduranga). Now, O Narayana, please do a favour, let people not see me hereafter).
    In this manner, Phalgun Paurnima (full moon day) too passed. He started to feel that Panduranga was seeking him. Accordingly, he started to say, “Now I would go to Vaikuntha (वैकुंठ). Look there, Lord ShriHari is calling out to me.” Thereafter, there was Holi (होळी in Marathi) festival, after celebrating Holi, Tukoba started to take leave of all from the first day of the dark fortnight. He had lost body consciousness. On the night of the first day of the dark fortnight, Tukarama Maharaj started his final Kirtan (कीर्तन: religious discourse). After the rest of 2-3 hours, Tukoba started his Kirtan again in the early morning. Tukoba had reached the ultimate point of perfection and there was nothing to achieve further. He said,
    “बीज भाजुनी केली लाही ।
    आम्हा जन्ममरण नाही ॥
    आकारासी कैसा ठाव ।
    देह प्रत्यक्ष झाला देव ॥
    साखरेचा नव्हे ऊस ।
    आम्हा कैसा गर्भवास ॥”
    (meanging: Just like the popcorn prepared from a grain cannot transform again back to grain, I have no birth and death. My body has turned itself into God, Who is formless. Just as sugar crystals cannot transform back to sugarcane, how can I have birth again?).
    Kirtan was in progress, the audience were listening with rapt attention on the day of Phalgun Dwitiya (फाल्गुन व्दितिया ). Tukaram Maharaj said, “Look there, ShriHari is arriving with enticing conch and discus in His hands, sitting on Garuda. Even sun appears pale in front of the brilliance of ShriHari’s face. Lord Hari is appearing to be extremely beautiful with four hands and He is embellished with Vyjayantimala (वैजयंती माळ). His Pitambar is shining, truly today, the Vaikunth has arrived right here. ” And with these final words, Tukaram Maharaj disappeared with his body, in a flash of a split second. There was a flash of brilliant light for a moment, dazzling the people around! When they opened their eyes, Tukamram Maharaj was not to be seen. He had reached Vaikuntha, the abode of ShriHari, never to take birth again in this mortal world.

  25. The first mention of sudden disappearance of Tukaram Maharaj is found in the charter of Dehugaon as, “Tukoba Gosavi (गोसावी or Sadhu) disappeared while giving a discourse on Bhagavata,” in 1704. This charter or the historical narrative (known in Marathi as (बखर) was prepared by Shri Ramachandra Nilakantha (श्री रामचंद्र नीळकंठ), who was a minister in the court of Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The mention of his Sadeha Vaikunthagaman (सदेह वैकुंठगमन) is also found in the notebook prepared by Baloji Teli Jaganade (बाळोजी तेली जगनाडे) the son of Santaji Teli Jaganade (संताजी तेली जगनाडे ), who was a close friend and constant companion of Tukoba. Santaji mentioned, “Tukoba Gosavi ascended to Vaikuntha. He ascended bodily.” (page 216, copy of Baloji Teli Jaganade, prepared from the original record of Santaji Teli Jaganade).
    The whole population of Dehu drowned in unending sorrow. Tukoba’s children, his followers and other close companions sat down there in grief. On the Panchami (पंचमी, fifth day of the fortnight), Tukoba’s Taal (टाळ, cymbals), Maala (माळ) and his literature came down from skies. Rameshwarashastri concluded that Tukoba had ascended to Vaikuntha directly and conveyed his view to all. Everybody took bath. Tukoba’s children and his brother Kanhoba (कान्होबा ) fought with Panduranga. Kanhoba said, “Deva, please bring my brother back, do not take him away to Vaikuntha!” But Lord Panduranga convinced and pacified him.

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