Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Story of Saint Tukaram

Courtesy : Sri.Gopalakrishnan
Tukaram was a great saint who lived only for his God vittala. He faced lot of
difficulties with astonishing patience. He refused diamonds and opals offered by
Shivaji Maharaj himself. His devotional songs are an invaluable contribution to
Marathi spiritual literature.
2. Parents and family
The temple of Pandharinath is situated in the village Dehu on the banks of the
river Indrayani flowing through Hillock Bhandari Hillocks near Pune.
Vishwambhara Buva and his wife Amoobai were in charge of worship at that temple.
In their dynasty Balhoba and Kanakayi were an ideal couple. Kindness, pity and
compassion found a home in their heart. The long-standing family business was
going on briskly. But this couple had no children. They were more worried about
At last the wish of the couple was fulfilled. A male child was born to them. His
name was Shahaji. Thereafter in 1608 another son was born. They named him
Tukaram. After that a girl and a boy Kanhoji were bor.

3.Devotee-Clever In Business
Tukaram was a very sharp and shred boy. By his various activities he was keeping
his parents happy and was hospitable to people visiting the house. Bringing
guests and invitees and serving them made him eager and happy.
Tukaram's radiant eyes, long nose, serene face and courteous talk attracted
everybody. When prayers were sung in the house, boy Tukaram was joined them. He
had a good voice and sang melodiously. People used to be pleased with this.
Tukaram, although engrossed in thoughts of God, he knew the ways of living. He
had great respect for the parents. Balhoba, not willing to burden the earlier
born Shahaji or the still young Kalhaji, thrust it on the clever Tukaram's
shoulder and became a carefree man.
Tukaram's generosity, simplicity and other virtues were inherited from his
parents. He was kind to the poor. Tukaram, by his efficiency and hard work,
improved the business and came to be liked by the customers. From boyhood he
secured a place in the ranks of the big businessmen.
4. Tukaram- family
When Tukaram was thirteen years old his marriage to a girl called Rakhamayi was
celebrated with great pomp. As Rakhamayi was suffering from asthma, sometime
later, a second marriage was performed with Jeejabai belonging to a rich family.
Tukaram had come to know of the conditions of people's life. Looking at the hard
life of the ordinary people, he was grieved. He was thinking of devoting his
life for setting rights the defects and drawbacks in the people's life.
4.Series Of Difficulties
Beautiful wife, handsome income, constant work, beloved of the people-thus,
there was no shortcoming in Tukaram'' life. But amidst his busy life, never did
he overlook remembering God.
Shortly there was a big storm in the life of Tukaram. The parents unexpectedly
passed away. At the same time brother Shahaji became an ascetic and went on
pilgrimage. After some time the sister-in-law died
There was a terrible famine also in the same year. On that account business and
industry became dull. The amounts due to him were not received. There was
intense pressure to pay his debts. On account of this the few articles in the
house were sold. At that time the first wife Rakhamayi and her child died for
want of food.
Numerous difficulties and losses followed one another and fell on him. On
account of this his mind became unbalanced. He lost interest in his family. He
surrendered himself to his venerable God Vittala.
5.Bracelet Received At The House
Jeejabai who had grown up in immense wealth and comfort became dismayed by this
misfortune. However, she made up her mind and got the help and cop-operation of
near relations. She inspired Tukaram, who was clever in business, to resume
Once Jeejabai herself bought some chilies, put them on an ox and sent Tukaram to
the neighbouring village for selling it. Tukaram put down the consignment in the
market, tied the ox to nearby tree and became immersed in contemplation of
Panduranga. Meanwhile, the customers appeared and sought the price of chilies.
"You are sure to know the prevailing price in the town, take the chilies at that
price." On knowing this opinion of the ascetic they fought with one another,
everyone wishing to purchase it. They weighed as they pleased and began taking
away the chilies. Of those who took the chilies, some paid for it, some failed
to pay. On hearing this a few good people of the village came forward, recovered
the amount and paid it
6.The ascetic businessman getting cheated.
When he was returning from the market, on the way, a few unscrupulous persons,
on coming to know that he had money, gave him a brass bracelet describing it as
made of gold and plundered the available money.
Looking at the husband who brought home a brass bracelet, Jeejabai became sad.
She began sobbing with grief. The debt remained unpaid. There was no money for
the next day's business. She began worrying. What next?
7.Dis satisfied Jeejabai
Even then, Tukaram was unperturbed and continued praying. Jeejabai spoke to him
harshly: "Yesterday I got money with great difficulty and gave it to you. You
wasted it all. In future you cannot turn out any work. Let us go begging. You
are already having a tamboora. I will clap in concert. Let Kashi and Mahadeva
accompany us." Tukaram was never losing his patience under any circumstances.
Even now, "what are you saying? What has happened to us to make us beg? Wait a
little. God will set right everything", he said.
"It is the same god who is deceiving you. It is your Vittala who is setting fire
to your business proficiency, cleverness and your wisdom capable of earning
handsome money. How wrongly you are acting! Think it over once. The hunger of
the children is unsatisfied. Stand firmly on earth and pray to God. If you work
hard there will be no dearth of food, clothes, prayer, worship and service to
the guests. If you wanted to be roaming about singing the raise of God, then why
did you marry me?"
"When marrying I was not aware of this. If I were aware, I would not have
married. Your father did not give you in marriage looking at me. He has
considered my wealth and given. Now I have lost my wealth. You may go," said
"My father might have given me considering your wealth. I am not sorry for the
loss of that wealth. You never keep this in your mind and, everything will be
set right," said Jeejabai.
8.Tukaram changes attention to God
Jeejabai again borrowed money from the lender. She purchased salt out of that
money and sent her husband in the company of efficient businessmen. In the
company of businessmen. Tukaram put the salt on an ox and went out to seek
business. Business was brisk that day. A large amount of money was received.
After concluding business in the market place he was on his way home. On the way
he saw a poor Brahmin who, unable to repay his debts, had been arrested by the
bailiff and was struggling. This struck Tukaram with intense pity. He paid off
the amounts due to the bailiff, spoke words of comfort, pacified and sent the
Brahmin home.
In the same road another Brahmin met Tukaram and humbly asked: "You venerable
saint, my son's "Upanayana' (sacred thread-ceremony) is being celebrated at
home. Please help me for this celebration." Instantly Tukaram gave the balance
of amount available with him and said: "Celebrate your son's thread- ceremony."
Jeejabai came to know of the occurrence. Furiously she was waiting for her
husband's return.
Tukaram, instead of returning home, sat on the Bhamanata hillock in
contemplation of God.
9. Knahoji understand change of Tukaram
Kanhoji heard of his brothers' have given as gift to the Brahmin the money he
earned and hiding in fear of the sister- in- law, and was greatly distressed.
"Truly, my brother, the great man, was not born to run a family. He is a great
man born to cleanse earthly life. We are unnecessarily harassing him. If we
continue to trouble him, it would amount to our troubling the righteousness of
Bhagavatas." "Thinking thus, he went in search of his brother. He was overjoyed
at finding his brother a little further on the Bhamanata hillock, sitting in
contemplation of God.
10 Kanhoji return from ascetic life and look after family
"Dear brother, the righteousness of Bhagavata has to prosper by your service.
You are born only for righteous work. In future, you must work for
righteousness. I will look after the household work to the best of my ability.
Give me my part of the accounts and records of the business. I will look after
the disposition of the part of the money coming to your share." Thus he
expressed his opinion.
The brother took his part of property. Tukaram tied well the documents relating
to his property, threw them into the Indrayani River and went to the hillock

11 Tukaram return home
"It was wrong on my part to have behaved so harshly with my husband by talking
sarcastically. I hurt his feelings," Jeejabai began to feel. That day,
remembering the husband, she cooked food. She made a food packet for her
husband, and went on her way to Bhandari hillock. Stones and thorns did not
deter her in her eagerness to see Tukaram.
While she was thinking about her future life and how it would shape, a thorn
broke in Jeejabai's foot. The thorn stuck in the sole of the foot. More than he
pain caused by the thorn, the likely hunger of her husband distressed her.
Somehow, dragging her feet, she began to work. On the way an old man came from
the opposite direction. Looking at the sad-faced and limping Jeejabai he said:
"Madam, has a thorn entered your foot?" "Yes, a thorn has stuck", said she.
Instantly, like a person acquainted with her for a long time, the stranger put
Jeejabai's foot on his thigh saying "The thorn has struck deeply", held the
thorn and pulled it out. She was eager to get along. "Mahatma, what is your
name?" she asked. That old man said: "Vittoo". As soon as she heard the sound
"Vittoo" Jeejabai became angry. Without waiting further she left the place. She
went through a slope in the mountain from where the sound "Panduranga,
Panduranga" was heard and there saw her husband.
"You, godly man, is it right for you're to abandon us and live in this hillock?"
asked Jeejabai humbly. TuKkaram, who was immersed in meditation, woke up.' "How
did you come her?" he asked in surprise to her.
"You are my God. You have not eaten food for four or five days. Wash yourself. I
have brought food. Please eat." She opened the food packet, served food to her
husband and herself. Together they both ate to their satisfaction. Both happily
reached home.
12. TuKkaram search for job
That day saint TuKkaram woke up early in the morning bathed and completed
worship and singing in praise of God. "Today I will seek work somewhere," said
he. Hearing such gracious words from her husband, Jeejabai was overjoyed.
While he was walking along the street, Salomala, a bard singing songs in Praise
of God, saw him and said mockingly: "what Tukaji, you wrecked your family and
became a person seeking alms. You destroyed your happy family you did not take
note of the misery of your children. You neglected Jeejabai who contracted debts
neglected Jeejabai who contracted debts running your family. You know nothing of
your own family, who can employ you? Go begging; beggary is the only suitable
employment for you."
When he heard the word `beg', Tukaram suddenly lost his temper. At once his eyes
were filled with teats. "Panduranga, Panduranga," he said and closed his ears.
A man named Jnanoba, on hearing these words said: "Come, Tukaram. There is a
great God who looks after everybody. Tomorrow I am proceeding to Alandi village.
Look after my field till my return." He then showed him the field.
Simultaneously he plucked a juicy sugarcane and said, "Give it to the children,
return in the afternoon to guard the field,' and sent him.
13. Tukaram fail to guard the field
That evening Tukaram came to guard the field of Jnanoba. He looked across the
whole field once. Throughout the field the corns was ripe and ready for
harvesting. Looking at this Tukaram said: "All these are award of Panduranga.
Out of one seed, how much corn has grown! Everything is filled by Panduranga.
Everything is his gracious gift." Saying so he became absorbed in meditation.
Salomalo saw the saint Tukaram, who was absorbed in meditation. Thinking that it
was the proper time for putting him to trouble, he drove the stray cattle of the
town to the field and bolted. Saint Tukaram did not regain consciousness. The
field was mostly destroyed. In fact he too had a share in the crop.
14. Tukkaram getting punished
Jnanoba returned from the village. On hearing that his field had been destroyed
he became grief-stricken. He became angry with Tukaram.
At that time Salomalo came and said: "What, Jnanoba, did you go to the field and
have a look. I told you in advance no to entrust guarding the field to such a
careless fellow. Eat the fruit of your action and questioned his share.
Salomalo abused Tukaram and dragged him to the village headman to seek justice.
For the offence of having spoiled Jnanoba's field Tukaram was directed to make
over his house to Jnanoba. Necessary documents were prepared for the purpose.
15.Corn heap grows by the divinity of Vitala
An uncommon incident occurred at that time. Jnanoba gathered the remaining
stalks left in the field and ears of corn shedding tears. "Every thing is the
play of Panduranga; he himself is our saviour," said he and consoled himself.
Jnaoba cut the stalks, bundled them, prepardet a field and threshed the bundle.
Thinking of Panduranga he made a heap. There was no limit to jnanoba's joy. It
started growing. Setting apart the quantity due to Salomalo, keeping his
portion, he carted the rest to Tukaram's house. Touching Tukaram's feet out of
respect, he humbly said: "Your greatness is immense. Not knowing your helpful
attitude, I a stupid person forced you to make over your house. Pardon me. This
heap of corn, which is more than anticipated, rightly belongs to you."
"Jnanoba, God Vittala, pleased by your devotion, has granted a suitable return,
according to your effort. I have no part in this. Turn round the carts and take
the grain to your home. "The grain in excess of expectation is not mine as it is
not yours," said Tukaram.
Instantly an idea struck Jnanoba. Reserving the heap for the restoration of the
Panduranga temple, which had been built eight generations earlier, keeping one
bag in Tukaram's house, he transported the remaining bags to the temple.
Tukaram gave away as charity the grain kept in his house without leaving even a
grain behind. Poor people, destitute, blind people and lame persons got the
grain and began shouting: "pundarika Varada, Hari Vittala", in praise of God.
16 Again Tukkaram go as Saint
Tukaram now again felt that he should not live in the midst or people. He went
to a cave situated west of the hillock Bhandari and began contemplation. He
began to study the songs composed by Jnaneshwar, Namadeva, and Ekanatha and such
greater saints. Songs began to dance on his tongue. Still he had not obtained
the grace of any Guru. Tukaram felt for it.
17. Tukkaram get blessed by Baba Chaithanya
One night he went to sleep. While sleeping Pandharinnatha himself appeared,
caressed him and said: "Tukaram, do not grieve. You will be initiated by Baba
Chaitanya." Accordingly Baba Chaitanya blessed saint Tukaram at an auspicious
moment on Thursday, tenth day of the month of Magha.

18. Spark of Jealousy from other ascetics
Tow ascetics Salomo and Mumbaji did not like the fame of Tukkaram. Both these jointly approached Dharmadhikari Rameshwara Bhat and complained. Early next morning Innocent Rameshwara Bhat came to the village. He told village head man " I have come here to enquire about Tukaram." "About what?" the village headman asked.
"What, headman, is it not forbidden non-Brahmins read the Vedas, compose prayers songs and preach morality? If the activities of Tukaram continue like this, it will be the end of virtue. I have come here to restore morality. Get that non-Brahmin Tukaram.
The headman got Tukaram. Tukaram made obeisance to Dharmadhikari Rameswara Bhat and waited.
Dharmadhikari said-Is there any place where non-Brahmins read Vedas, compose songs of prayer and preach to people? I am pardoning you for having committed mistakes so far in ignorance. Don't do such things in future."
"Panduranga himself has ordered me to complete some incomplete songs composed by saint Namadeva. If you do not approve I will stop it." Said submissive Tukkaram.
"Stop it, stop it."
If so, what should I do with the poems completed so far?"
"Bundle them up and throw them into Indravani river,' was the harsh order of Rameshwara Bhat. Following Dharmadhikari's order, Tukaram bundled the palm leaf manuscripts of the songs composed by him and immersed it in the Indrayani River.
19. Palm leaf scripts get returned
An extraordinary incident again occurred during the period. After twelve days, Lord Panduranga appeared in a dream before Tukaram and said: "At dawn tomorrow the songs you have drowned in the Indrayani river will come floating. Collect it back. Don't worry." On the thirteenth day at sunrise, copies of the songs came floating one over the other.
20Jijabai get rejoiced on Chatrpati Shivaji invitation
Chatrpati Shivaji Maharaj came to know that in his kingdom there was a famous saint, a person free from all worldly desires. Immediately he sent some ministers, public men and royal entourage to bring him in a procession with umbrella and fans and seated on a chariot.
The town was filled with joy. Jeejabai was overjoyed. " What more are we likely to need in future! We have the patronage of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Goddess Sarvamangala did not let us down finally. "So saying, she went inside the house, lit the lamp and prostrated.
As the retinue of the Maharaj approached his house Tukaram was surprised. "How highly Chatrapati honour me by sending his retinue to ascetic like me! The maharaja's magnanimity, piety and aid are noble." The ministers arrived, place excellent clothing at these feet and invited him to the place.
21Tukaram refuse gifts from Maharaj Shivaji
The ascetic smiled and said: "Why does an ascetic need all these clothes? Please take them and return them to the Maharaja."
"Wait, wait; you should not reject wealth which come to your doorstep. Honourable ministers are giving those clothes," said Jeejabai coming forward.
"By gifts from the people our poverty will not end. Only if Lord Vittala himself grants it, will we be satisfied. Don't aspire for this," said Tukaram to his wife. The ascetic blessed and said: "Gentlemen, return these gifts and my books of songs to the Maharaja and convey my thanks."
Shivaji Maharaj read the songs sent with Tukaram's blessings, and was overjoyed. He kept them on his head and danced with joy. "Today I am blessed my country is blessed," so saying, he himself went to meet that great saint.
22. Shivaji Maharaj calls on Tukaram and gain inspiration
Without any previous intimation Chatrapti Shivaji Maharaj came to meet the saint. He prostrated at the feet of the great sage Tukaram and requested: "By accepting the small gift of this devotee, you must please bless him."
In view of the diamonds, opals, pearls, gems, numerous types of clothing put in gold vessels and offered to him, and Jeejabai's mind began to be excited. She felt like running forward and grabbing them. Meanwhile Tukaram said: "O! Maharaj, of what use are these diamonds and opals to a poor ascetic? If they are held in the Maharaja's treasury, the poor will benefit. The kingdom will prosper. People will become righteous."
With great respect Shivaji Maharaja Prayed: "For your worshipping God at least take four villages as a present. This is my humble offering."
Maharaj, do not worry about me. Decaying Hindu morality, the growth of India and salvation has to be your concern. This is the wish of Lord Vittala also. Achieve it. This is the gift I seek."
On hearing these words of Tukaram the Maharaja's inner renunciation glowed. The affairs of state were unwanted. He wished to attain his object by serving the ascetic.
On hearing shivaji Maharaj's intention, Tukaram said: " Duty is better than penance. Failure to do one's duty results in loss of what life stands for now or after death. Therefore continue your rule of the kingdom more actively," said the solemnly.
Shivaji Maharaj bowed and said, "Let me have your kind blessings. I will go to my palace to day not as a king but as a servant of the people
23 Last Journey of Tukaram
Saint Tukaram by his immoral voice sowed the seeds of devotion in the people's heart, simplified the foundation of morality and conveyed it to the people. A number of people were moved by the pious songs composed by him and became his disciples. His songs were on the lips of the learned and the ordinary people. They became a valuable heritage of the disciples.
Tukaram wished to end his mortal activities. Sri Hari also granted his wish. One day Tukaram told his disciples: "My mortal activities have come to an end. I am leaving. Live happily. Serve others. Take care of innocent Jeejabai," and blessed them.
He came home and asked Jeejabai: " I am on my way to heaven. I will take you. Will you come along?" She said: "How can I leave behind the children and family members and cattle can calves and come with you?'
Tukaram went into the Indrayani River as if he was about to take a bath and went forward. Once he entered the river he was not visible again. They say that within a few minutes his rug, the cymbals in his hand and the tamboora fell down. The citizens bowed in reverence saying that Tukaram bodily went to heaven. Tukaram died in about 1650. He was then 42 years old.
This posting has inputs from an article by A K Rameswar in Hindu books universe.

If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.
Happy moments, praise God.
Difficult moments, seek God.
Quiet moments, worship God.
Painful moments, trust God.

  Every moment, thank God