|‘The Poetic Vision of Saint Tukaram’
Bharat R. Gugane,
Asst Professor in English,
Bhonsala Military College,
Tukaram has been considered across the world as one of the greatest poet saints of our country. He has been the source of inspiration to many students and researchers. There is ample literature discussing literary and other aspects of his poetry. His poetry has great political, economical, religious and cultural significance. He has used poetry for his poetic and spiritual vision of life. His life was evident to prove that his life and his poetry were not different. He acted as he spoke. I think, it is imperative to study and understand Tukaram’s poetic vision. Present Paper is an attempt to study and understand his poetic vision.
Key Terms- Abhanga, Varakari Sampradaya, Bhakti Movement, Bhagwat Dharma,Owi
‘The Poetic Vision of Saint Tukaram’
“Tukaram is a national poet.”
-Sir Alexander Grant
The great British Educationist and the former Vice Chancellor of Bombay University, Sir Alexander Grant described Tukarm as a national poet. I believe that he is not only national poet but an international poet, who have surpassed the boundaries of time and place. In his essay published in fortnightly review of 1867, Grant said,
“It is impossible to convince the superiority of Christianity to a person who is singing the verses of Tukaram.”
Grant tried to preach Tukaram to the west and also to Indians. Being a Christian he rated Tukaram’s poetry supreme over Christianity. It is the power of Tukarams Poetry that, a foreigner who had the special assignment to preach Christianity openly agreed the supremacy of Tukaram. However our own people made a big mistake of not understanding Tukaram in its true sense. Since Tukarama’s time we found, there was a tradition among his contemporaries to the present time to abolish and reject his poetry and also to magnify and preach his thoughts to the millions. Tukaram has been a subject of interest and discussion among many philosophers. It was the foreigners who put light on the poems of Tukaram.
When we think of poetic vision of a particular poet, we think of the views of concerned poet about the creative process. How he sees his own creation and the creation of others in general? To which extent he finds the worthiness and relevance of his creation and of poetry to the present society. The creativity of the poet does not exist in isolation; he takes inspiration from his predecessors and becomes inspiration to his successors. In this connection Nobel laureate poet T. S. Eliot rightly pointed out in his essay, ‘The Tradition and the Individual Talent’ in following words,
“No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead.”
He emphasized the role of historical sense of the past in creative process is important.
Saint Tukaram was also much aware of his predecessors and successors. As we all know he had the great poetic tradition from Saint Dnyneshwara to Saint Eknatha. All these great poet saints had been a major source of inspiration to Sant Tukaram along with the advice of his Guru Namdeva in his dream. Tukaram in his two Abhangas himself accounted his inspiration of composing such a divine poetry. In one Abhanga he said,
“Namdeve kele swapnamaji Jage I Save Pandurang yevoniya II 1 II
Sangitale Kam karave kavitva I Wauge nimitya bolo naye II 2 II
Namdev came along with Lord Panduranga in his dream and asked him to use his calibre to compose verse and not to waste it in irrelevant things. Tukaram in his one of the Abhangas described the function of a poem and poet in following way,
Dharmache palan I Karane Pashan khadan II
Hechi aamha karane kam I Beej vadhvave naam II
Tikshana uttare I Hati Gheuniya ban phire II
Nahi bheed bhar I Tuka mhane san thore II
In the above Abhanga Tukaram enlisted the responsibilities and assignments of the poet and poetry, saying that a poet has to safeguard righteousness and to strive to annihilate ills in the society. Moreover he has to execute his obligation preaching goodness among people, irrespective of all the odds.
In the next Abhanga he says, A Poet is a torch bearer who works for the well being of humanity by insisting truth in following words,
Ujalvaya aalo vata I Khra khota nivada II
In one of his Abhangas he says poet always beholds the truth, hard to sustain the same for him and he has to contribute virtuousness emitting dirt to ascertain sanctity as follows
Saty aamha mani I Naho gabalache dhani II
Aise jana re sakal I Bhara sudha taka mal II
Sant Tukaram knows how it is difficult to be a poet. And it is more difficult to live life as claimed in poems. It is evident in his following Abhanga,
Ratri divas aamha yudhacha prasanga I
Antarbahya jaga ani man II
Jiva hi aagoja padati aaghat I
Yeoniya nitya kari nitya kari II
A poet whose verse is like Prasada, a divine gift of the god, a poet who is able to experience his reader, a union with god he can be called a true poet according to Sant Tukaram. We know the great poets of west and also of east for world class classics. But if we see their personal lives, they all were unsuccessful and very eccentric in their personal lives. It is evident from Shakespeare to Ibsen that how these great artist failed to achieve equilibrium in their personal and creative life. It was not true with Sant Tukaram. He was a man who acted and lived life as he told others to follow through his Abhangas. In this respect Sant Tuaram as a poet and person was a unique and exemplary to all of us.
We find every aspect of personality in his Abhangas. His precepts are so relevant and evergreen. Anyone can find solution of his problem in his Abhangas. Sadanand More, famous researcher of Saint Literature describes,
“His experiences were so rich and he was a man of extraordinary personality, that he is ever ready to provide solutions to anyone. The speciality of him is that poetry was an important part of his very existence.”
Dilip Chitre, renowned translator of Tukaram said that he would not be a poet without Tukarm. He compared Naryan Surve to Tukaram for his ‘Aai’ poem and said that,
“Only Narayan Surve seems to me a complete poet after Tukaram in the history of modern Marathi literature.”
Another researcher Purushottam Deshpande said that,
“We can forget Tukaram as a saint but we can’t forget Tukaram as a poet.”
It is because of the impact of Sant Tukaram’s poetry is so massive that we can experience true humanity in his Anbhangas. He was so critical about the religious and spiritual notions.
He is unarguably the greatest poet of all age. His writings, though simple, are timeless. The message he has delivered through his Abhangs hold true even today. He has thrown light on various aspects of human life and the world around us, including nature.
In one of his Abhangas he has given the subject of poem in a following manner,
Naka dantakatha yethe sango koni I
Korde te mani bol kon II
Anubhav yethe vahva shishtachar I
Na chalati char aamhapudhe II
Nivadi wegale kshir ani pani I
Rajhansa doni vegalali II
Above lines discloses Sant Tukaram’s concept of poetry and a poet. Experience and the faculty of conscience are the criteria to be a poet according to him.
Tukaram’s status in Marathi literary history is equal to that of Shakespeare in English or Goethe in German. People find answers to their problems through his Abhanga. He could be called the classic poet reflecting the maturity of mind and language. He is so deep-rooted in Marathi language that his poetry is used even by millions of illiterates.
He categorically had chosen common rustic language for his expression. As Wordsworth considered suitable language for poetry was, “language really used by men.” He used the language of ordinary men such as farmer, trader, housewife, labourer, etc. His idioms and imagery is so simple. He used everyday experiences to express difficult spiritual and religious precepts. He was a humanist and that is why his writings touch every sensitive person's heart.
As Saint Dnyneshwar described poetry and the creative process as follows in his ‘Bhavarth Deepika’ through Owi,
Wache barave kavitva I Kavitvi barave rasikatva I
Rasikatvi paratatva I Sparshu Jaisa II 347 II
Here Sant Dnyneshwar explained the process of creation, where he said poetry results from voice, poetry generate taste of the reader and the well being of others and the exposition leads ultimately to the infinity. Here he estimated the worth of poetry comparing it to the infinity. Saint Tukaram’s poetry is of this nature which ultimately leads all of us to the infinity.
I conclude this paper by a fine Abhanga of Tukaram in which we can notice his revered feelings for poetry. Poetry in the form of words is all to him. Even he sees deity in the form of words and yearns to worship god through words.
Words are the only Jewels I possess
Words are the only Clothes that I wear
Words are the only food that sustains my life
Words are the only wealth I distribute among people
Says Tuka Witness the Word He is God
I worship Him with my words.
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