Evening at Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, May 2015
and so does everything around... the situation, the people, the perspective, the needs.... and we too change.... the wise and courageous seek change.. because only change is constant!

Friday, November 14, 2008

12. Tukaram

I started reading Tukaram Gatha on 1st of May; finished it on 31st of October. For exactly six months, I was with Tukaram. It was my choice.

I confess that I am bit disappointed with this association.

Nope. I am not arguing about Tukaram’s greatness or his unique contribution in shaping Marathi mind and culture. Whether I accept it or not, he is great.

What I am saying is just this: I did not enjoy reading Gatha as much as I had expected or as much as I would have liked. I am in a way (as always!) talking about ME (or is it I? I am always confused about this grammar) and not about Tukaram. So, please, don’t treat this as an attack on Tukaram. I generally do not attack anyone.

Why this happened? Process evaluation brought out these, you may please add:

1. Gatha consists of more than 4000 abhangas. This poetry style is sweet and effective when you have one or two. But on large scale, it becomes monotonous. It does not leave any space for you to explore and interpret – a good poetry always has this space.

2. Actually, it was an overdose of Bhakti for me. I appreciate Bhakti as a mood, as an emotion – but frankly speaking too much of it irritates and spoils me. Beyond certain limits, it shows weakness of human nature. Bhaktas always are asking something to God – either material or spiritual – but asking they are! My rational mind cannot value stories like Ajamila – by calling his son, he makes God feel that Ajamila remembered God. My God is not so foolish and is not craving for stupid calls from human beings. I believe God has better things to attend to.

3. There is nothing proud to be of being a woman or a man – it is a fact one has to live with. But the language Tukaram uses about women, did hurt me. Here is a guy, who with all his experience of Godhood is all the time using derogatory language about women. Tukaram’s portrayal, generalization of women is not at all acceptable. I know every person is product of her/his time and culture. But is not greatness all about ‘reaching beyond the boundaries’? Tukaram unfortunately has all the myths, misconceptions, stereotypes about women – which his society had. For example, if the son is not good enough the mother is called ‘rand’ i.e. prostitute – which is a derogatory term during his time. Why should the mother be guilty if her grown up son does not behave properly? Why the father is not similarly guilty of not bringing his son well?

4. Tukaram’s views on caste and hierarchy of the castes are also below par.

Hmm….. Better I stop writing this. I need to overcome this feeling of despondency. May be I should take a fresh guard, and without any bias read Tukaram again. I am sure he has a lot to teach me. Hope one day I will enjoy his poetry and get the feeling of oneness with the universe he calls Vitthala


  1. Tukaram, I guess, will be quite pleased with himself, if his failings challenge and wake up the TUKARAM sleeping in you. The 'eternal lover' in you, one day wakes up, transcends all concepts, discovers that 'lover', 'loved' and 'love' itself- all three were always ONE. Then, you too will break out spontaneously in a song..

    But alas, the words you will have to borrow from intellect, not 'love'..

    (These are random comments: ownership is highly debatable!!)

  2. Oh.. I forgot one very important thing.. (blame it on my age!)..
    The post was thoroughly enjoyable! Every word coming at you straight from the heart!

  3. The overdose of Tukaram is your own making. You ought to read only one or two abhangs in a week or so, give yourself the time and space to mull over them, digest them, throw away the chaff and absorb only the essence. Then probably the experience will be different.

  4. Yes, you are probably right. Most of the things I have is my own making. So,naturally, I can always correct it. Will follow your suggestion and see what happens.

  5. I have never read Tuakram's Gatha except for few Abhangs. After reading your critique, I guess I'll have to read it.

  6. Sanket, did you get chance to read?


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