Tukaram: a visit to His village; Dehu

Tukaram’s village is
called Dehu [Maharashtra] , and it spreads out
along the banks of a beautiful graceful river called the Indrayani. The
banks of the river are bright, lush, green and behind it is a hill covered
with trees, where Tukaram used to go to write his abhangas. On one side
of the village is the house of Tukaram’s mother, where his sandals are
kept, placed casually under a small altar, sprinkled with kumkum and flowers.
This casual feeling is characteristic of the whole scene in this village.
In the central square, opposite the tiny shrine with Tukaram’s statue in
it, women are decorating a tree with flowers and kumkum, sprinkling water
and reciting mantras, as if this ritual were simply a part of their daily

In another house nearby is kept a pile of manuscripts—the
which Tukaram once threw into the river Indrayani, and which
the river herself returned to him. Across the highway is the main square,
with the tiny temple of Vitthal, the
house where Tukaram lived, the tree under which he was sitting when an
aerial chariot came from Vaikuntha to take him away, thus ending his time
on earth. It is said that Tukaram’s body simply disappeared, the five elements
of his body merging into the five primal elements. There is a strong, definite
Shakti around that tree—indeed, all around this little square, which has
the same sun-dappled feeling as Ganeshpuri. A group of village ladies sit
around on the edge of the square, cleaning grain, and they hardly look
up as our hoard descends on the little square. Our pilgrims begin doing
things according to their inclinations—some sitting with closed eyes around
the tree, others filing through the temple and the house, others immediately
walking down to the river. The square and the people in it look as they
must have looked in Tukaram’s time—the men in red and orange turbans,
like the men in the paintings one sees of scenes from Tukaram’s life, and
the women in the gold-bordered Maharashtrian peasant saris. One of the
village ladies begins reciting the stories from Tukaram’s life—how the
celestial chariot came to take him from this spot under the tree, how his
poems were given back to him by the river, how Lord Vitthal appeared to
him on the spot marked by another little shrine. We walk through Tukaram’s
house—two small rooms containing statues of him and of his wife, Jijibai.
It is clear that Tukaram belongs to these villagers, that he is part of
their lives, the saint of their village.


the above is excerpted from

“On Pilgrimage with Baba in Maharashtra: 1978”

by Swami Durgananda in

The Poet-Saints of Maharashtra

special issue of Darshan magazine

#80 (November, 1993), p.23

SYDA Foundation

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