Sant Tukaram (1608 - 1650 / Dehu, Pune / India)
Biography of Sant Tukaram
Sant Tukaram (Hindi: संत तुकाराम) was a prominent Varkari Sant (Saint) and spiritual poet during a Bhakti movement in India.
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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- Abhangs (A Short Collection)
- All Blest Are They
- All men to me are god-like Gods!
- Alone At Your Feet
- Argue no more about it
- Can water drink itself?
- Children Dressed In Tatters
- First He looked confused
- How Could a Lover Fall?
- I speak yet am I silent
- If Men
- If Only you would
- In Me Thou Livest
- Mother God
If you treat the opposite sex with reverence
will you pay a price?
If you stop your fault-finding and covetous ways
will your earnings not suffice?
If you sit in prayer and meditation
will it cost a living wage?
If you trust the words of realized souls
will your boss forget your pay?