He was born on Vasant panchami Magh shuddha panchami- 5th day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu lunar calendar in the village of Dehu in Maharashtra to Bolhoba and Kanakai. He departed for Vaikunth when still embodied on Phalgun vadya dwitiya 2nd day of dark fortnight of Hindu lunar calendar. He showed people the easy path to God-realisation through abhangs devotional songs. During this era He became an important Saint imparting teachings to the people on the nation and Dharma through the medium of kirtan praise of God through poetry and stories. When preaching Tukaram Maharaj tells man that both worldly life and Spirituality are extremely essential for a living, that without a worldly life God-realisation does not occur and that worldly life is imperfect without Spirituality.
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He, who speaks sweet honeyed words, puts his body to good work and has a mind as pure as Ganga, relieves you of your sorrows and agony on casting a look at him.
He, who maintains equanimity of mind, instead of becoming miserable in the bad time of his life, learns lesson from there. Thus he transforms even bad time of his life into gold. There could be no good of a person who has a mind full of cravings. If the temperature of the body has gone up due to mental agony then there is no use of applying sandalwood to the body. He, who generates lot of false expectations from any of his actions, cannot perform effectively and efficiently.
His mind is always occupied with the thought as to what will he gain out of his work. Therefore he is not able to concentrate on his work.
As poison spoils the food, false expectations spoil the work. The best worship of God can be performed by the mind. There is no need of instruments and implements for performing a puja. The purpose of worship is to understand the mind, to understand the truth.
The final benefit or loss will be caused by the mind. Mind is the seed that gives birth to the tree of action. He, who performs the sacrifice in the fire, offers grains to the flames of the fire. He doesn't burn the aversions and cravings of his mind that he ought to have burnt. He is becoming tired unnecessarily instead of mediating on Panduranga. He who writes a lot of religious books for the sake of recognition in the society, forgets to meditate on the God. He who goes on the pilgrimage or undertakes penance raises his ego.
He who donates money, gives away the wealth but adds to his ego. Tukaram Maharaj is of the opinion that all these persons have missed the essence of worship and are doing something not conducive for the dharma. He who acts renouncing his ego, actually does a sacrifice. He who renounces his actions and keeps his ego is not doing a sacrifice in fact.
The position of the dharma is somewhat paradoxical. A wish that distances from the truth is a sin. The flaming of desires is absurd. One could benefit only from actions based on intelligent thinking. A mind shattered to pieces is very difficult to become good and healthy again. Tukaram Maharaj exhorts to keep patience.
Those who do not have patience have to run back from the battlefield. There is no need to renounce day-to-day affairs. There is no need to go to woods or to weld a stick in the hand. Tukaram Maharaj says there is no way other than meditating on the truth to realise God. A monkey puts its hand in a vessel containing peanuts.
After taking peanuts in its hand it cannot take out its hand as the mouth of the vessel is not big enough. The monkey for the sake of handful of peanuts does not go away and is caught. A parrot sits on a string laid by the hunter. The string inverts its position and so is the parrot.
Due to high voltage fear the parrot firmly grasps the string and forgets that it has two feathers to fly away. The parrot is caught ultimately. Tukaram Maharaj says that it is not surprising if creatures without brains behave like this. It is surprising to see human beings forgoing their greatest interest for a pittance. If someone, who is not from a good family or caste, makes a good point then we should listen to him.
One should not abstain from enjoying inner stuff of the coconut on seeing its hard outer wrapping. He, who speaks a lot without having courage to act on his words, is a useless fellow.
A lot of talking leads to false concepts. Who would like to be crucified on a cross of sandalwood? Similarly none would like to remain tied in the chain of gold. Similarly whatever knowledge one gains is a burden if that raises one's ego. God has a thirst for love. He eats with great delight the fruits earlier tasted by Shabri and offered to Him with love. Similarly he eats with great love food offered by Sudama and doesn't say that the food is dry or meager.
There are many who proclaim themselves as saints. How can we accept unless we see their behaviour. There appears a stream of water only for a while after it rains. Later not a drop of water is seen. A particle of snow appears like a diamond as long as it does not meet a hammer.
There is no happiness greater than the peace of mind. Everything else causes sorrow. Therefore make your mind peaceful to see the inner light. One with a mind agitated by anger and lust has to suffer ensuing restlessness. A peaceful mind is free from such sufferings.
The social respect does not have any relevance. The work can be effective if is based on the truth. It is more difficult to retain what has been acquired. A person who vomits has to take pains of vomiting and his pains of eating also become futile.
A person was chased by thief. He ran with his belongings up to the limit of his village but lost his life due to the strain. Of what use are his efforts of making to the limit of his village.
It is very easy to talk big but it is very difficult to show courage in the battlefield. He, who is a mine of vice, feels very angry if anyone points at his vice. But what will he do when the destiny will settle his account. He, who is lazy, interprets teachings of his Guru in a way suitable to him.
Now he does not have to abide by any code of conduct nor does he follow any ethics. Tukaram Maharaj says that such a person is a donkey in fact. A donkey that is made to have bath in a sacred river does not become a horse. He, who does not have a pure mind, does not listen to any good advice.
Even if a sweet juice is fed to a snake, there won't be any reduction in its poison. We can say that a person is ours if we could read his mind. He, who has an adamant mind, has to face a rough weather. If our mind does not ratify our action then that action won't be effective.
To take an extreme position is foolish. The nature has made a rule that anything gets recognition only at an appropriate time. Think a while and decide what will you opt for. A mother serves her child but does not show any signs of fatigue or seeking returns for having done so. Tukaram Maharaj says, don't make the show of your greatness to the world. Otherwise you will have to suffer badly.
Tukaram Maharaj prays to the God to grant him a boon of being small. A small ant gets a grain of sugar to eat. A giant elephant is made to bear pricking of the weapon by its controller. Tukaram Maharaj says, he who has a great ego undergoes great troubles.
He asks us to understand the benefit of not having an ego. Tukaram Maharaj says, it is better to be low profile. When a river is flooded even the mightiest of the trees falls by its force. But the humble grass on its shores remains intact.
If we bow before the mighty wave of an ocean it passes over our head without any harm. If we grasp the feet of a very mighty enemy then his might cannot work. He who speaks the truth comes nearer to the God. People do not pay heed to even such techniques of realising God that are free of cost.
Tukaram maharaj abhang
Sung by Lakshmi Joyce Wells. All rights reserved. Please do not copy, record or distribute. The recording of this abhanga is available in the Siddha Yoga Bookstore. Lakshmi began following the Siddha Yoga path in She currently works as a music teacher at the elementary school level and as a private singing teacher and vocal coach.
Marathi Abhangs of Tukaram Maharaj (Excerpts from Tukaram Gatha) with English Translation.
Tukaram was born in modern day Maharastra state of India. His complete name was Tukaram Bolhoba Ambiye. The year of birth and death of sant Tukaram has been a subject of research and dispute among 20th-century scholars. Sant Tukaram was born to Kanakar and Bolhoba More and scholars consider his family to belong to the Kunbi  caste. Tukaram's family owned a retailing and money-lending business as well as were engaged in agriculture and trade. Both his parents died when Tukaram was a teenager.
Saint Tukaram Maharaj
He, who speaks sweet honeyed words, puts his body to good work and has a mind as pure as Ganga, relieves you of your sorrows and agony on casting a look at him. He, who maintains equanimity of mind, instead of becoming miserable in the bad time of his life, learns lesson from there. Thus he transforms even bad time of his life into gold. There could be no good of a person who has a mind full of cravings. If the temperature of the body has gone up due to mental agony then there is no use of applying sandalwood to the body.