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Author Topic: SAINT TUKARAM By Dr. S. D. Parchurc M. A., Ph. D. (Continued from August  (Read 14591 times)

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Offline JR

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Because of his obliging nature and his devotion to God, Tukaram was already known to many people in Dehu. He was honoured by many and was held by them in high esteem; but after he was initiated by his Guru, Shri Babaji Chaitanya and he got inspiration for composing Abhangas, he was revered more by all the people; but after all he belonged to a lower caste and in those days, when the caste system was observed very closely, some people belonging to the higher castes became jealous and started envying Tukaram for the position he held. Mambajibawa and Rameshwarbhat were the two prominent personalities whose men¬tion must be made here in this behalf.

Mambaji was a brahmin by caste. He was originally staying at Chinchwad; but later on he came to Dehu and built his "Math" there. He also had a good number of disciples and Mambaji was subsiting on the money that his discipjes used to give him. He was known as "Mambaji Gosavi" among his followers; but when he found that Tukaram was coming to the forefront and eclipsing him, he became jealous of him and was waiting to pick up a quarrel with him.

Though Mambaji was hating Tukaram inwardly, he used to attend his Keertan, for outward show, in the Vithoba temple. Behind this temple Mambaji had planted some trees and he used to water them and take care of them. One buffalo was given to Tukaram's wife, Jijai by her father Arnaji Gulve. Once this buffalo broke the fencing of Mambaji's garden and trampled over some of the trees in the garden. This excuse was enough for Mambaji to pick up a quarrel. He ran to Tukaram's bouse with a stick and thrashed him so much that he himself was completely exhausted.

In the night Tukaram as usual started his Keertan and when he noticed that Mambaji was not present, he sent for him. On knowing that his body was paining, Tukaram at once rushed to his house and started shampooing his body. He said, "Sir, you were troubled much in thrashing me. It is quite natural that your body might be paining because of the exhaustion."' Hearing this, Mambaji felt ashamed and attended the Keertan, but inspite of this incident he forever remained smiting in his mind and continued his hatred for Tukaram.

The hatred of Mambaji for Tukaram again manifested itself in the case of Bahinabai, a saintly lady from Kolhapur, who was initiated by saint Tukaram in her dream. Bahinabai belonged to a Brahmin family and that she should become a disciple of a "Shudra" (Tukaram) was not liked by Mambaji. He therefore tried to disuade Bahinabai from becoming a disciple of Tukaram, but when she was found to be adament, Mambaji complained to one Shri Appaji Gosavi, from Pune, about this affair stating that this sort of practice of Tukaram, who was not a brahmin, was lowering the status of brahmins at large and hence all the brahmins at Pune should raise their voice against this unlawful practice.

The aforesaid Bahinabai had brought along with her a cow from Kolhapur. Mamhaji stole this cow and tying her to a post, he kept her without food and water and went on thrashing her indiscriminately. When Tukaram was told that the cow had disappeared, he prayed God for her release and it was noticed that the marks of the blows on the body of the cow, were also seen on Tukaram's back. When this was communicated to Rameshwarbhat, he ran to the scene of action and took Tukaram's darshan and bowed down to him.

This Rameshwarbhat, who later on changed so much, as stated above, was also hating Tukaram in the beginning. When Rameshwarbhat, who was staying in a village known as Wagholi, came to know that Tukaram was performing Keertan and composing Abhangas and that even brahmins were bowing before him though he belonged to a lower caste, he was upset and he wrote a letter to the Patil at Dehu. In this letter he stated that as Tukaram belonged to a lower caste, he had no right to com¬pose Abhangas and because of that the base of religion is being shattered. He further added that this sort of Tukaram's behaviour is endangering religion and therefore, this dangerous person should be driven out of your village.
When the above letter was shown to Tukaram, he himself started for Wagholi to meet Rameshwarbhat in person and to take his advice. On going to Wagholi, Tukaram bowed down to Rameshwarbhat and started his Keertan in that village When Rameshwarbhat heard that Keertan, he told Tukaram, "You belong to the low caste. You have no right to explain the Vedas and Shruties. Your this behaviour is against the orders of the Shastras and hence you should desist from this practice "

Tukaram never liked to offend anyone. He was always humble before everybody. Hence after listening to the above advice from Rameshwarbhat, he said, "Sir, you are a Brahmin, who has studied Shastras. You must be knowing the correct orders of the Shastras. Because of the inspiration I got from God Pandurang, I started composing Abhangas; but when you say that it is against the orders of the Shastras, I am ready to accept your decision and I will not hereafter compose any more Abhangas. I have however so far composed a number of Abhangas and noted them down in my books, so what should I do with them?"
On hearing this question, Rameshwarbhat advised Tukaram to go back to Dehu and drown all those books of his Abhangas in the waters of the Indrayani River. Tukaram accepted the ver¬dict of Rameshwarbhat and on coming to Dehu he tied all his books along with stones in a piece of cloth and dipped them in the waters of the Indrayani river. In Dehu village there were mixed reactions of the people about this incident. Some, who were the devotees of Vittbal, were sorry for what had happened, because they appreciated Tukaram's   Abhangas and   were of opinion,   that these   Abhangas   were a  great   treasure.   Others who were hating him felt that this fellow of a low caste was properly punished for indulging into such practices of performing  Keertan and accepting^ as his disciples the persons from higher castes.   Brahmins are after all brahmins.   Their intelligence, purity and status is unquestionable. A shudra should never try to compete or excel them.

All these mixed reactions came on the ears of Tukaram, but he was calm and quiet. His full faith was on lord Vitthal and he was sure that He would guide him properly out of the crises. He therefore, decided to remain silent upto the time by which he would get further intuition from Pandurang (Vitthal). He accor¬dingly stopped eating food or drinking water and seated himself on a stone in front of the Vitthal Mandir. One ... two ... three ... like that the days were rolling on; but there was no indication from god whether the action taken by Tukaram was proper or not. Tukaram continued to lie in that position for thirteen days awaiting god's orders.

After Tukaram returned from Wagholi, Rameshwarbhat went j to Pune with the intention of visiting Nageshwar.   On his way it was time for his bath.   So he went into a garden by the way side and started taking bath.   That garden happened to belong to one | Fakir named Angadshah.   When he saw that one brahmin got in¬to his water meant for   Namaj and he had polluted it,   he cursed Rameshwarbhat that his whole body would get a burning sensation.

The curse had immediate effect and no sooner Rameshwar¬bhat came out of the water, than his body started getting a burning sensation and nothing could cool it down. The disciples, that accompanied Rameshwarbhat, suggested him that he may beg parden of Angadshah so that he will suggest a remedy to get rid of the trouble, but the ego of Rameshwarbhat was so strong that he being a person of a high caste, he was not ready to bow down before a "Yawan". He stayed at Pune for some days in that same condition and tried to pray god, but all his efforts were of no avail. The burning sensation persisted and his restlessness too. Finding that he was not able to get relief from any remedy, he ultimately decided to go to the samadhi of Dnyaneshwar at Alandi and wait for orders from that great saint.

At Dehu, on the bank of the Indrayani river,   Tukaram con¬tinued his ordeaj for   thirteen days.   On   that day,   Lord   Krishna appeared before him in the form of a child and Told   him that   his Abhangas were safe in the waters of the river   and that there was no cause for worry.    Similarly a number   of people   in   the Dehu village had a   dream that  Tukaram's   Abhangas have   been   saved from being drenched and the books of his Abhangas are floating on the water, which   may be   taken out   for the sake of safety.   The people who got the dream accordingly ran to the bank of Indrayani next day in the morning and to their utter surprise they found, that the books of the  Abhangas   were   actually   floating on the   water. Those that were   good   swimmers   immediately  got into the water and brought out the books and informed   Tukaram   about it.   On seeing his books intact, Tukaram   was overwhelmed   with   joy and tears started   flowing   from his   eyes.    He thanked god and at the same time begged his pardon for the  troubles He had to   take for him.   On this   occasion   Tukaram   composed seven Abhangas   and praised god for   coming to the   help of his devotees in the nick of the time.   These Abhangas show very clearly that this miracle did really happen and it is not a mere supposition or a concocted story.

At Alandi, Rameshwarbhat stayed near the Samadhi of Dnya¬neshwar but he got no relief. Ultimately Saint Dnyaneshwar came into his dream and informed him that this was the result of his disregard which he showed for the great saint Tukaram. So the only way out was to beg his pardon and to bow down before him. When saint Dnyaneshwar gave directions in this fashion, there was no other go for Rameshwarbhat but to request Tukaram for pardon. He accordingly sent one of his disciples to Dehu with a letter.    When   the letter   was   received by Tukaram, he felt pity for Rameshwarbhat and he immediately wrote an Abhanga and sent it to   Rameshwarbhat.     The   purport of the   Abhanga was that if the mind of a person   is neutral  and clear,   then he  will have no enemies, cruel beings like   Tiger or   serpent will do him no harm, even poison will act as nectar to him and flames of fire would cool to him.    When this   Abhanga   was   read by   Rameshwarbhat, his burning sensation immediately subsided and he realised the  greatness   of   Saint   Tukaram.    He   immediately ran to Dehu am bowed down to Tukaram.   When his ego was thus liquidated,   he became   humble   and   said   to   Tukaram,   "Sir,   you are really a incarnation   of  God   in   this   Kaliyug.     I did not recognise your greatness like a fool and gave you trouble in this fashion.    I would request you to excuse me for that ."

Listening to   this speech of   Rameshwarbhat   Tukaram   said "No!   No! You should   not   speak in   this fashion.   I am  belonging to a low caste.   You  are from the highest  caste and would request you to favour me all along throughout my life.'

Rameshwarbhat understood the purport of Tukaram's speech and said. "Sir, when you sent to me that Abhanga, my whole body lost the burning sensation. That Abhanga was my initiation at your sacred hands and I have become your disciple from that time. I request you to be my Guru and accept me as your disciple.”

Thus ended the episode of Rameshwarbhat in Tukaram's life. This brahmin of high caste, well-versed in Shastras became humble before Tukaram became his disciple and spent the rest of his life in the service of Saint Tukaram and never thought of returning back to Wagholi.
(to be continued)
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