Tukārām

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Tukaram, TukArAm, Tukaaraam


Tukārām lived in A. D. 1598-1649. He is one of the greatest mystic saint-poets of Maharashtra whose abhaṅgas[1] are popular even now. He was born at Dehu, a village 22 kms.[2] away from the city of Pune. He belonged to the Marāṭha caste which is considered by many as belonging to the śudra group.

He was married at an early age but lost his wife, son and parents when a terrible famine ravaged the village. He was married again, Avaji[3] was the name of his second wife. Basically he was inclined towards a spiritual life through the path of bhakti or devotion. Repeated failures in life intensified this bent of mind. Hence he started studying religious works and spend the time singing devotional songs. He received a mantra[4] in dream from one Bābāji Caitanya which he started repeating as much as possible. In another dream experience, Nāmdev,<re>He lived in A. D. 1270-1320.</ref> another great saint of Maharashtra, entrusted him with the task of composing abhangas, to complete his own unfinished task.

From now onwards, new abhangas containing gems of spiritual truths, started flowing from his mouth. More and more number of common people started taking part in his congregations of devotional music and discourses. This roused the jealousy and anger of the orthodox brāhmaṇas who tried their best to harm him but were soon chastened and converted to become his ardent followers.

However, these detractors once succeeded in forcing Tukārām to drown the manuscripts of his abhangas in the Indrāyaṇī river. But Lord Pāṇduraṅga Viṭṭhala[5] restored them to their true owner. On another occasion, Tukārām miraculously saved the king Śivājī[6] from being captured by the Moghuls. On the last day of his life, Tukārām is said to have bodily ascended to heaven in a divine chariot.

The teachings he has delivered, primarily through his abhangas, stress the importance of the following topics:

  1. Devotion to Pāṇḍurañga Viṭṭhala
  2. Power of the divine name
  3. Irrelevance of caste in spiritual life
  4. Futility of religious rituals


References

  1. Abhaṅgas are the devotional songs in Marāṭhī.
  2. It is approximately 14 miles.
  3. She is also Jījābāi.
  4. Mantra refers as holy name here.
  5. He is a form of Kṛṣṇa, popular in Maharashtra.
  6. He lived in A. D. 1627-1680.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore