Saint Tukaram

Tukaram was one of the greatest poet saints ever born in India. It is quite renowned for his contribution to the Bhakti Movement of Maharashtra. He was part of the egalitarian, personalized Varkari devotionalism tradition. Tukaram is known for his 'Abhanga' devotional poetry and community-oriented worship with spiritual songs known as kirtans. His poetry was devoted to Vitthala or Vithoba, an avatar of Hindu god Vishnu.

Birth and Early Life

Tukaram was born in the small village of Dehu in the West Indian state of Maharashtra to Bolhoba and Kanakai a couple belonging to the lower Sudra class. His real name is Tukaram Vhilhoba Aambe. Rather, in accord with another tradition in India of assigning the epithet "sant" to persons regarded as thoroughly saintly, Tukaram is commonly known in Maharashtra as Sant Tukaram. He is known as Bhakta Tukaram to southern Indian people. He had two other brothers. Despite their lower class status the family was well to do and enjoyed good social standing in the village. Tukaram's troubles started with the illness of his father, due to which he had to start supporting his family at the tender age of thirteen. Shortly thereafter, both his parents died. Tukaram's problems only mounted; death of his family members and economic hardship seemed to plague him.[1]

Scholars assign various birth years to Sant Tukaram: 1577, 1598, 1608 and 1609 CE. The year of Sant Tukaram's death -1650 CE - is much more certain.

Family Life

Tukaram was married twice, his first wife Rakhumabai died in 1602 in her early youthdue to starvation during a famine, his second wife Jijabai or Avali as she was called, was much younger than his first had been and had little patience with his devotion and for God and she nagged him continuously. Sant Tukaram and his second wife, Jijabai had three sons: Santu or Mahadev, Vithobā, and Narayan.


It is uncertain how many poems Tukaram composed, but the standard and most frequently used Marathi edition of his poetry, which first appeared in 1873 from the Indu Prakash Press with funding by the Bombay Government, and has often been reprinted, brings together 4,607 poems. Several manuscripts in Marathi exist of his poems, but some poems are found in only one manuscript version; often poems found in several manuscripts show variations; and there is no single mansucript in Tukaram’s own handwriting with all the poems that are attributed to him. Though Tukaram’s place in the history of the development of Marathi is deemed to be inestimable, and he has been credited with being the single most influential figure in the history of Marathi literature, the body of scholarship on Tukaram outside Marathi is rather small, and translations of his work are woefully inadequate. The only nearly complete translation of Tukaram into English, entitled The Collected Tukaram, was attempted by J. Nelson Fraser and K. B. Marathe, and published in Madras by the Christian Literature Society (1909-1915). A more recent translation of a selection of Tukaram’s poetry by Dilip Chitre has been published as 'Says Tuka'.[2].[3]

Films and Popular Literature

  • Sant Tukaram (1936) - this movie on Tukaram was screened open-air for a year, to packed audiences in Mumbai, and numerous rural people would walk very long distances to see it.
  • Santa Tukaram (1963), in Kannada
  • Sant Tukaram (1965), in Hindi
  • Bhakta Tukaram (1973), in Telugu
  • Tukaram (2012), in Marathi

Tukaram's life was the subject of 68th issue of 'Amar Chitra Katha', India's largest comic book series.


  1. Biography of Sant Tukaram (English) poemhunter.com। Retrieved : 30 April, 2016।
  2. Delhi: Penguin, 1991
  3. Tukaram (English) sscnet.ucla.edu। Retrieved : 30 April, 2016।

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