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A Lady Playing the Tanpura, ca. 1735.jpg
A Lady Playing the Tanpura, ca. 1735 (Rajasthan)
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Abhang or abhanga (Marathi: अभंग) is a form of devotional poetry sung in praise of the Hindu god Vitthala, also known as Vithoba. The word "abhang" comes from a for "non-" and bhang for "ending" or "interrupting", in other words, a flawless, continuous process, in this case referring to a poem.[1] By contrast, the devotional songs known as Bhajans focus on the inward journey; abhangs are more exuberant expressions of the communitarian experience.[2]


Abhangs were first sung by the Varkari saints like Namdev, Dnyaneshwar, Eknath and Tukaram in their native language, Marathi. Tukaram was a seventeenth century poet who lived in the town of Dehu, which is located near modern day Pune. He was a popular poet and a leading figure in the Varkari Movement of the time, which sought to put the emphasis back on devotion and love towards God, in contrast to blind obedience of rituals and arcane religious practices. Abhangas written by Sant Tukaram can be found on the Internet. Many of them were devoted to the God Vitthal, but most criticized social injustices of the time. They were powerful sermons, useful even today.


  1. ^ Gowri Ramnarayan: Eclectic range at The Hindu, 8 November 2010
  2. ^ Serish Nanisetti, Gowri Ramnarayan: A mix of rhythm and melody at The Hindu, 7 November 2010

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