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For the 1936 Marathi film, see Sant Tukaram (film). For the 2012 Marathi film, see Tukaram (film).
Sant Tukaram
Tukaram 1832.jpg
Sant Tukaram
Born 1608
Dehu, near Pune, India
Sect associated Varkari
Literary works Abhanga devotional poetry, Tukaram Gatha,namasmaram

Sant Tukaram (1608–1649) 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 Bolhoba Ambile was born in the year 1608 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 —1649 CE— is much more certain.[4]

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

Contribution To The Bhakti Movement[edit]

Sant Tukaram is considered as one of the most important saints of the Bhakti Movement. The Bhakti Movement spread across India and many other saints of his generation were active in the social reforms as well.

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[citation needed]. 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 Moksha were limited to the upper castes only.[citation needed].

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 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, many of which are popular among musicians, students and listeners today.[5]

His Abhang 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.

Sant Dnyaneshwar set up the tradition of Vaari (annual trip to Lord Vitthal in Pandharpur ) which in Tukaram's period reached its peak.

( ज्ञानदेवे रचिला पाया तुका झालासे कळस। )

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 Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (18 February 1486 – 14 June 1534). Saint Tukäräma, after initiation by the Lord, over-flooded the whole of the Maharashtra Province with the sankirtana movement, and the transcendental flow is still rolling on in the southwestern part of the great Indian peninsula. This event is recorded by Śrila A.C.Bhaktivedānta Swāmi Prabhupāda in his introduction to Srīmad-Bhägavatam Canto 1: "Creation". This is mentioned in the following Abhang:

Satygururaye Krupa maj keli,
Pari Nahi Ghadli seva kahi ||1||
Sapadvile vate jaata gangasnana,
Mastaki to jana thevila kar||2||
Bhojana maagti tup pavsher,
Padila visar swapnamaji||3||
Kaahi kale upajala antaray,
Mhanoniya kaay tvara zali||4||
Raghav Chaitanya Keshav Chaitanya,
Sangitali khun malikechi||5||
Babaji apale sangitale naam,
Mantra dila Ram Krishna Hari||6||
Maagh shuddha Dashami pahuni Guruvar,
Kela angikar Tuka mhane||7||

Film depictions[edit]

Books on Sant Tukaram[edit]

Mahipati, a prominent biographer of many Bhakti saints, is said to have received a command in his dream 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 the 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 many other languages.[6]

In 2015, Chandrakant Kaluram Mhatre has translated selected poems of Tukaram, published as One Hundred Poems of Tukaram.

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. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jqF5K33C7c
  6. ^ 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]