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Sant Tukaram

17th century, Maharashtra.

Tukaram was a Vani by caste. The Brahmins of Dehu, could not accept him as a devotee of Lord Vitthala. Initially, Tukaram had to face resistance from the higher classes. Though, later many Brahmins acknowledged his stature, and became his followers. In his life time, most of his followers were Brahmnis.

It would not be incorrect to say that Tukaram was the finest gem of the varkari sect, started by Dnyaneshwar. He wrote about 5,000 abhanga, and is one of the greatest poets in Marathi literature.



Tukaram was born in Dehu. Like his father, he became a Vani, and ran his father's shop. He was married at a very young age and soon his wife died. He then married Awali.

During an epidemic, he lost his parents and some children. This was a great shock for Tukaram. He lost interest in material world. His shop ran into losses and had to close it too.

Tukaram had now turned inward. He would go on hills and meditate. He considered Babaji Raghavachaitanya as his Guru. He started writing abhangas and preaching the common people.

Many of the Brahmins could not accept these activities of Tukaram. They threw all the abhangas written by Tukaram in the river. Tukaram faced their anger and hatered. Soon he was able to influence them into the path of devotion. He found many followers: men and women from high and low castes.

When his fame reached far and wide, Shivaji Maharaj went to see him. When Shivaji Maharaj offered riches, and gold, Tukaram declined it.

The above event must have hurt Awali, as she was a simple woman, with simple expectations from life. She puts the woes of the families of such great saints, who had to suffer because of their selflessness.

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