Biography of Sant Tukaram
Birth and Early Life
Tukaram was born in the small village of Dehu in the West Indian state of Maharashtra to Bolhoba and Kanakai a couple belonging to the lower Sudra class. His real name is Tukaram Vhilhoba Aambe. Rather, in accord with another tradition in India of assigning the epithet “sant” (संत) to persons regarded as thoroughly saintly, Tukaram is commonly known in Maharashtra as Sant Tukaram (संत तुकाराम). He is known as Bhakta Tukaram to southern Indian people. He had two other brothers. Despite their lower class status the family was well to do and enjoyed good social standing in the village. Tukaram’s troubles started with the illness of his father, due to which he had to start supporting his family at the tender age of thirteen. Shortly thereafter, both his parents died. Tukaram’s problems only mounted; death of his family members and economic hardship seemed to plague him.
Scholars assign various birth years to Sant Tukaram: 1577, 1598, 1608 and 1609 CE. The year of Sant Tukaram’s death —1650 CE— is much more certain.
Tukaram was married twice, his first wife Rakhumabai died in 1602 in her early youthdue to starvation during a famine, his second wife Jijabai or Avali as she was called, was much younger than his first had been and had little patience with his devotion and for God and she nagged him continuously. Sant Tukaram and his second wife, Jijabai had three sons: Santu or Mahādev, Vithobā, and Nārāyan.
Spiritual Life and Poetry
Sant Tukaram was initiated without any intermediaries as the other saints usually were. He dreamt that he was initiated by the Lord Hari himself dressed as a Brahman.
Tukaram continuously sang the praises of the Lord, he sang it in the form of abhangs which he wrote. These were in his mother tongue Marathi. The abhangs express his feelings and philosophical outlook. During his 41 years, Tukaram composed over 5,000 abhangs. Many of them speak of events in his life, which make them somewhat autobiographical. Yet, they are focused on God, Pandurang, and not Tukaram. His abhangs became very popular with the masses of common people. It was this very popularity that caused the religious establishment (the high caste Brahmins) to hate and persecute Tukaram. as, he was causing them to lose their power over the people.
There are many miracles attributed to Tukaram.
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Sant Tukaram Poems
- Abhangs (A Short Collection)
I was sleeping when Namdeo and Vitthal Stepped into my dream. ‘Your job is to make poems. Stop wasting time,’ Namdeo said. Vitthal gave me the measure and gently aroused me from a dream inside a dream. Namdeo vowed to write one billion poems.
- Thou art more kind than mother dear
Thou art more kind than mother dear, More soothing than the rays of moon Thy love an ever flowing tide,
- None See Me Off
None see me off. Let those go home who will Receive this blessing from a loosing heart Let righteous deed secure you all good weal
- Can water drink itself?
Can water drink itself? Can a tree taste its own fruit? The worshiper of God must remain distinct from Him.
- Smaller than the smallest atom
Smaller than the smallest atom, All embracing as the heavens, Tuka views the world objective –
- All Blest Are They
All blest are they whose heart with pity grows. Who left Vaikuntha.their home,to serve mankind; Who slight their person’s needs ( it is not myth)
- All men to me are god-like Gods!
All men to me are god-like Gods! My eyes no longer see vice or fault.
- The Price?
If you treat the opposite sex with reverence will you pay a price? If you stop your fault-finding and covetous ways
- Name of God
He who utters the Name of God while walking gets the merit of a sacrifice at every step His body becomes a place of pilgrimage.
- First He looked confused
I could not lie anymore so I started to call my dog ‘God.’ First he looked confused,
- How Could a Lover Fall?
What could have caused your grip to weaken that allowed creation to be? How could a lover fall to his death from the arms of infinite
- Mother God
Mother-God, Set me within the safe defences of Thy pity: In ignorance and folly I have wasted all my days, My soul is base:
- If Only you would
If Only you would Give me refuge O Lord To stay at your feet In a line of saints.
- Alone At Your Feet
Consider me yours; for I worship You, Lord. In the company of saints, my spirit soared.