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For the 1936 Marathi film, see Sant Tukaram (film), the 2012 Marathi film, and Tukaram (film).
Tukaram 1832.jpg
Sant Tukaram
Born 1577
Dehu, near Pune, India
Sect associated Varkari
Literary works Abhanga devotional poetry, Tukaram Gatha,namasmaram

Sant Tukaram (1577–1650) was a prominent Varkari Sant and spiritual poet of the Bhakti. He is often referred to with an honorific, Sant Tukaram. Sant Tukaram was a devotee of Vitthala or Vithoba, a form of God Vishnu.

Life and Works[edit]

Tukaram was born in the year 1577 and lived most of his life in Dehu, a town close to Pune in Mahārāshtra, India. Kumar,[1] Munshi,[2] Kincaid and Parasanisa,[3] consider him to be of the Kunbi Maratha or agricultural tillage caste or vaani. In accordance with an Indian tradition, Tukaram's family name is rarely used in identifying him. His real name is Tukaram Bolhoba Aambile. Rather, in accord with another tradition in India of assigning the epithet "Sant" (Marathi: संत) to persons regarded as saintly, Tukaram Maharaj is commonly known in Maharashtra as Sant Tukaram (Marathi: संत तुकाराम). He is known as Bhakta Tukaram to southern Indian people.

Scholars assign various birth years to Tukaram: 1602, 1608, 1618 and 1639 CE. The year of Sant Tukaram's departure —1650 CE— is much more certain.[4]

Sant Tukaram's first wife, Rakhumābāi, died in her early youth. Sant Tukaram and his second wife, Jijiābāi (also known as Āvali), had three sons: Santu or Mahādev, Vithobā, and Nārāyan.

Contribution To The Bhakti Movement[edit]

Sant Tukaram is considered as one of the most important saints of the Bhakti Movement. The Bhakti Movement which spread across India and many other saints of his generation were active in challenging this set-up.

The Indian subcontinent had prospered culturally for many centuries, with the most prominent eras being 500 BC to 1000 AD. The Indian subcontinent enjoyed an upsurge in education, scientific and philosophical introspection. Not only this, every aspect of the society prospered including, establishing trade relations with countries like Greece, Iran and China. But after 1000 AD, the society went downhill, there was widespread disparity, "caste practices" and other social evils began in this era. Brahmins made education inaccessible to other classes of the society. Orthodox practices and rituals were used as tools for dominating others. Since caste system placed "Brahmins" in position of teaching, all rights towards education and ultimately towards "finding God" were owned by Brahmins. This led to "untouchability"

Circumstances reached a climactic point were the society was facing evils due to Brahmin domination as well as there were many foreign invasions that were changing and challenging the known worldview for the contemporary people. It is during this time that, what constitutes the Bhakti Movement began to take shape across the many parts of the country.

One of the prominent saint of the Bhakti Movement is Sant Tukaram. He had a great understanding of Hindu philosophy and wrote many songs in praise of God Vitthal, revered as an incarnation of Vishnu. The Brahmins of his village Dehu were deeply offended by this act of pursuing God by a non-Brahmin. They challenged his interpretation of the Vedas and Puranas and tried to destroy the abhang songs written by him. According to Sant Tukaram, there is no reference of any caste hierarchy mentioned in the Vedas. This opinion became very popular.He sang it in the form of abhangs.

His abhangs had themes varying from humility, equality, concern for ecology and God's Grace, were sung and recorded in his name.

Dilip Purushottam Chitre, a well known Marathi Scholar, identifies Tukaram as the first modern poet of Marathi. Chitre believes that Tukaram was the successor to Dnyaneshwar who denied caste hierarchy in Hindu religion and attacked rituals present in Hinduism. Tukaram has attacked almost every form of myth existing in Hindu society during his time. He opposed the existing system of humans by misunderstanding chaturvarna in the Vedas as untouchability or divisions of politics.

Spiritual life and poetry[edit]

Tukaram leaves for Vaikuntha, Supreme Abode of God Vishnu.

Tukaram was a devotee of Vitthala or Vithoba, a form of God Vishnu.

Tukaram is considered to be the climactic point of the (वारकरी) [clarification needed] tradition, which is thought to have begun in Maharashtra with Namdev. Dnyaneshwar, Janabai, Eknath, and Tukaram are revered especially in the (वारकरी) Dharma in Maharashtra. Most information about the lives of the above saints of Maharashtra comes from the works Bhakti-Wijay and Bhakti-Leelāmrut of Mahipati. Mahipati was born 65 years after the death of Tukaram, (Tukaram having died 50 years, 300 years, and 353 years after the deaths of Ekanath, Namdev, and Dnyaneshwar, respectively.) Thus, Mahipati undoubtedly based his life sketches of all the above "sants" primarily on hearsay.

Namdev as Guru[edit]

Tukaram accepted 'Namdev maharaj as his Guru. One of his abhanga is proof for this.[नामदेवे केले स्वप्नामाजी जागे....सवे पांडुरंगे येवूनिया.] Namdev woke me from a dream, and prepared me for the service of Lord Vitthal. Sant Tukaram has also mentioned in one of his abhanga that his sadguru's name is 'Babaji Chaitanya'. [बाबाजी चैतन्य सांगितले नाम, मंत्र दिला राम कृष्ण हरी]

Films on Tukaram[edit]

Tukaram was also the subject of a biopic, title Sant Tukaram, made in 1936 by V. Damle and S. Fattelal of the Prabhat Film Company, starring Vishnupant Pagnis as the lead, and released on 12 December 1936 at the Central Cinema in Mumbai. The film was a big hit, and broke all previous records by running continuously for 57 weeks.[5] It also had won an award at the 5th Venice International Film Festival in 1937, and still remains a part of film appreciation courses.[6][7][8] It is preserved at the National Film Archive of India.[5]

A Hindi film entitled "Sant Tukaram" starring Shreepadraj Amle and Anagha Kulkarni was released in 1965. This film was very well made, and featured hit songs sung by Rafi such as "ab to bata de avgun mere paav pada hoon shyam" etc. Both Shreepadraj Amle and Anagha Kulkarni have given outstanding performances in this film.

More recently, in 2012, a Marathi language film titled "Sant Tukaram" has been released. For 2012 Marathi film, see Tukaram.

The story of Tukaram was also made in Telugu as Bhakta Tukaram in 1973 by Anjali Pictures. Akkineni Nageswara Rao played the title role with great devotion.[9] The Telugu film features melodious songs sung by Ghantasala among others, and music by Adinarayana Rao. Madhusudana Rao has provided exemplary direction and versatile actor Akkineni Nageswara Rao has given one of the best acting performances of his career. Well known Telugu actress Anjali Devi plays the role of Tukaram's second wife Jijabai in this film and is also the film's producer. The songs in this movie fill one's heart with devotion and are melodious to the ears even to this day, so much so that one wants to hear them again and again.

Dr. Raj Kumar played the role of 'Santa Tukarama' in the Kannada language.

All the films that have been made thus far on Tukaram's life have been excellent, and very moving. They feature many of the miracles observed by the people of Dehu village involving Sant Tukaram, who had Lord Panduranga Vitthal's name on his lips all the time. These miracles show God's love for, and support to His devotees who chant His name without selfishness day and night. Tukaram believed that one should chant God's name (Panduranga Vitthal) with love, and not for earning something in exchange for the chant. He urged people to look beyond the transience of worldly affairs, and realise that it is only the unselfish chant of God's name that delivers a person from the misery and suffering of this earthly existence. Tukaram himself realised this after his mother, wife and son died and he experienced one suffering after another. When Tukaram became disgusted after all this, God appeared in his dream and suggested that his suffering would end if he chants God's name with love. After this incident, Tukaram began chanting God's name and singing poems called "abhangs", which are loaded with meaning and messages about love for God and the transience of worldly affairs. These messages are conveyed by all the films mentioned above very well, and one gets emotional after seeing any of the above films. The essence of Tukaram's abhangs have also been captured well enough in the music of all the films about Tukaram that have been made to date.

Books on Sant Tukaram[edit]

Mahipati received one night in his dream a command from the departed spirit of Sant Tukaram to write the life stories of past prominent religious figures in Maharashtra. Accordingly, Mahipati put together his biographical book Bhaktavijaya in Marathi. Mahipati wrote two books titled Bhaktivijay and Bhakti-Leelāmrut, whatever information about the life of Tukaram is known today is mostly from works of Mahipati.

Dilip Chitre (18 September 1938 – 10 December 2009) has translated writings of Sant Tukaram into English in the book titled Says Tuka for which he was awarded the Sahitya Akademi award in 1994. Says Tuka was later translated into other languages.[10]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Raj Kumar (1 January 2003). Essays on medieval India. Discovery Publishing House. pp. 204–. ISBN 978-81-7141-683-7. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  2. ^ Kanaiyalal Maneklal Munshi (1956). Indian inheritance. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  3. ^ Charles Augustus Kincaid; Dattātraya Baḷavanta Pārasanīsa (1925). A history of the Maratha people. H. Milford, Oxford university press. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  4. ^ A Social History of the Deccan, 1300–1761: Eight Indian Lives By Richard M. Eaton ISBN 0-521-71627-6, ISBN 978-0-521-71627-7
  5. ^ a b "Citation". National Film Archive of India. 
  6. ^ 'Saint Tukaram' film still a topic of interest Anurag Basu – Televisionpoint.com, 26 December 2007.
  7. ^ Lost & found: A piece of classic cinema history Indian Express, 26 March 2004.
  8. ^ Gokulsing, K.; Wimal Dissanayake (2004). Indian popular cinema: a narrative of cultural change. Trentham Books. p. 24. ISBN 1-85856-329-1. 
  9. ^ Retrospect : Bhakta Tukaram
  10. ^ Times of India 11 December 2009


  • Ayyappapanicker, K.; Akademi, Sahitya (1997). Medieval Indian Literature: An Anthology. Sahitya Akademi. ISBN 81-260-0365-0. 
  • Starr, Chester G. (1991). A history of the ancient world. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-506629-4. 
  • Ranade, Ramchandra D. (1994). Tukaram. New York: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-2092-2. 
  • Multiple Essays on Sant Tukaram and his work in books of M. V. Dhond
  • "Shakti Saushthava शक्ती सौष्ठव" by D. G. Godse
  • "Vinoba Saraswat" by Vinoba Bhave (edited by Ram Shewalkar)
  • "Tryambak Shankar Shejwalkar Nivadak Lekhsangrah" by T S Shejwalkar (collection- H V Mote, Introduction- G D Khanolkar)

External links[edit]