Monday, June 22, 2009


Tukaram was born to Balhoba and Kanakayi a righteous couple in Dehu near pune in Maharashtra. On the banks of the Indrayani river is situated Lord Pandarinath's ( Panduranga or also Vittoba) temple. It is said that he belonged to a family of successful grain sellers. Tukaram even at a very young age was instilled with virtues like devotion to God, generosity, simplicity and hospitality. Apart from being a virtuous person, he was also an efficient business man. Tukaram was married to Rakhumabai who was said to be a victim of Asthma. He was then married to Jijabai through whom he begot three sons, Santu or Mahadev, Vithoba and Narayana.

"It is extreme pain or marvelous joy that reminds one about a Master who is the controller of all actions in life". Tukaram was no exception to this fact as he was confronted with a series of miseries which made him count on Lord Vittoba as his anchor. As famine took over maharashtra, Tukaram was victimized in numerous ways . He lost his first wife Rakhumabai, his business and property. The family was reduced to starvation.
Once Jijabai with the help of her relatives managed to get a cartload of chillies to be sold in the neighbourhood village to feed the family. She hence sent Tukaram for the purpose. Tukaram, once a shrewd businessman was now totally immersed in devotion for Vittoba, sank into contemplation of the Lord in the market. His ascetic nature attracted people to cheat him, save for some good hearts who procured the amount for him. However on his way back he was deceived by a person who took his money in exchange for a brass bracelet to the utter dismay of Jijabai.

However Jijabai took another chance by sending Tukaram to the market, this time to sell salt. Tukaram made appreciative sales. However his tender heart went out to the suffering of a brahmin who was harassed by the bailiff for not repaying his debts. Tukaram unmindful of his own starvation and misery freed the brahmin off his debts and proceeded with his journey. However the remaining money was also lent to another brahmin who begged for the money for his son's Upanayana ceremony ( wearing of the sacred thread ). Tukaram then walked up to the Pandari hill and sat in contemplation of His beloved Vittoba.

Tukram's brother Kanhoji, discerning his brother's devotion, came forward to take care of the welfare of his family. Tukaram gave his brother his share of the remaining property and threw his own remaining share into the river of Indrayani and proceeded with his devotion to Vittoba on the hillock of Pandari. Jijabai set out to Phanderi to request her husband back home. On her way she was pricked by a deadly thorn which was pulled out with much concern by an old man. When she gratefully enquired his name and heard him utter 'Vittoo', she just walked away scornfully. Such was her aversion to Lord Vittoba whom she thought cared less for her husband who constantly remembered Him. Was the old man none other than Vittoba?

The vigorous search of Jijabai for her husband did not go in vain as she traced him in the direction of his voice that was sounding Panduranga's name. She then implored him to come back home. Tukaram went back home with his wife but her laborious search for him reminded him of the necessity of his own arduous search for the husband of his heart, Panduranga!
Tukaram's devotion to Panduranga was an authentic proof of Bakti yoga. Though misfortune and misery had taken a toll over his material life, he was enriched spiritually by his unparalleled love for Panduranga Vittala and his selfless philanthropic outlook further adorned his devotion. Thus he identified the Vittala of his heart with all others whom he encountered. His thoughts were tuned to Vittala and remained in consonance with Him.

After making a come back with his wife in response to her imploring, Tukaram set out to seek work the next day. As he walking down the street, he had to confront the derision of one Salomalo, a bard who sang the praise of God. Salomalo mocked Tukaram of his saintly nature as pretence; that he was incapable of taking care of his family and that he had to take up beggary as the ultimate resort. As the piercing words of Salomalo struck Tukaram's heart, Jnanoba, a noble man came to his rescue. He offered Tukatam to guard his corn field when he was away. Tukaram accepted the offer and went to Jnanoba's field to carry out the entrusted mission.
Tukaram's mind without any conscious effort to think of Vittala sunk into meditation when he saw the green fields ripe with corn ready to be harvested as the grace of Vittala. Salomalo who was a witness to it grabbed the opportunity to put Tukaram to shame and destroyed the crop. When Jnanoba returned he was filled with remorse at the sight of his devastated crop. Further he was also laden with the burden of providing a portion of the crop to the contentious Salomalo to whom he owed. Hence he gathered the remaining crop with a grief stricken heart as the play of Panduranga and threshed the crop. To his surprise the grain was heaped to more than his own requirement as well as the portion that he owed to Salomalo!

Jnanoba realizing the piety of Tukaram sent cartloads of grains to Tukaram's house. As one could anticipate, Tukaram saw no reason to accept the huge amount of grains. Hence Jnanoba offered the grains to Panduranga's temple leaving behind a bag of grains for Tukaram. The philanthropist in Tukaram in turn distributed the grains to the hungry and the suffering.

After this episode Tukaram's heart in constant hankering for solitude and seclusion for the devotion towards Panduranga retired to a cave where he came in touch with the devotional compositions of saints, Ekanath, Jnaneshwar, Namadev etc. This in turn triggered the outburst of his devotion to Panduranga in the form of numerous compositions. However his heart yearned for a Guru to guide him in his spiritual quest. That night Panduranga Himself appeared in Tukaram's dream and blessed him that he will be initiated by Baba Chaitanya. At the appropriate time Tukaram was thus initiated by Baba Chaitanya and henceforth it was customary of Tukaram's tongue to sing the praise of Lord thereby enriching the Marathi language.

No comments:

Post a Comment