tukarama

The Spiritual Journey According to Sant TukaRama of Maharashtra – Mystic Verses


Words Are the Only Clothes I Wear


“Words are the only jewels I possess.
Words are the only clothes 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.”


– Sant TukaRama


Tukaram Freed From Karma


“God is now my sanchit, prarabdh and kriyaman karmas;
They are of no consequence to me anymore;
I am freed from the effects of age and death.
In unity as in diversity, the Divine is all pervading.
The omnipresent Lord, O Tuka, is ever at play within me.”


– Sant TukaRama


Contemplating God In Meditation


“We must forget bodily consciousness like a deer which is infatuated by music.
We must look up to God, as the young ones of a tortoise look up to their mother.
As a fountain rises upwards, even so must one’s spirit rise to God.
One should entertain no idea whatsoever, except that of God.”


– Sant TukaRama


Chanting God’s Name as a Bhakti Practice


Simran: The art of remembering God by repeating his name verbally, or repeating it within as in Manas Jappa: a mental or internal repetition done “with the tongue of thought”.


“A single word said with an attentive mind is better than a thousand when the mind is far away.” (Evagrius)


The sole way to the realisation of God, according to Tukarama, is the constant repetition of God’s name:


“Sit silent,” says Tukarama, “compose thy mind and make it pure, and then happiness will know no bounds. God will certainly come and dwell in his heart. This will be the result of thy long effort. Meditate time after time on God’s name …… says Tuka, "that this will surely come to pass, if thou hast one-pointed devotion” (Abg.1132). “The uttering of the name of God is indeed an easy way for reaching Him. One need not go to a distant forest. God will Himself come to the house of a devotee. One should sit at a place, concentrate his mind, invoke God with love, and utter His name time after time. I swear by God’s name,” says Tuka, “that there is no other way for reaching God: indeed, this is the easiest of all ways” (Abg. 1698). “If we only utter the name of God, God will stand before us. In that way should we meditate on Him.” (Abg. 2021). There are always difficulties which intervene before God is reached. These are dispelled by the power of devotion. “The Name will lead to God if no obstacle intervenes. A fruit becomes ripe on a tree only if it is not plucked” (Abg. 695). “The ship of God’s name,” says Tuka, “will ultimately carry one across the ocean of life. It will save both the young and the old” (Abg. 2457). “The whole body feels cool when one meditates on the Name. The senses forget their movements… . By the sweet nectar-like love of God, one is full of energy and all kinds of sorrow depart immediately” (Abg. 1543).


– TukaRam, edited by R.D. Ranade, SUNY Press, NY


Repeat the Name of God


“He who utters the Name of God while walking,
gets the merit of a sacrifice at every step.
Blessed is his body. It is itself a place of
pilgrimage. He who says ‘God’ while doing his
work, is always merged in samadhi.
He who utters the Name of God
while eating, gets the merit of a fast
even though he may have taken his meals.
He who utters the Name of God without
intermission receives liberation while living
[jiva mukti, liberation of the soul].


"Can one be entangled in the mire of
Illusion
When the Name of the Lord is constantly
on his lips?
One who ceaselessly meditates on Him,
While walking, talking, eating or sleeping,
While engaged in worldly duties,
The Lord is with him at all times.


"Repeat constantly the Name of the Lord,
And know that devotion is indispensable
for deliverance.
Thus the devotee becomes the Lord
Himself,
And thus has the Lord become Tuka.”

(gatha 4161)


Third Eye – Inner Visions of Light


“The soul has been cast in the human body,
It reveals itself as the light of the eye.

To realize the Lord,
Saints and Masters denote landmarks;
Whoever turns attention inward,
Captures these inner signs.

He perceives the vast Parbrahm,
Intensely hard to cross.

I shut off outer communication,
And still myself at the eye center;
I gaze at the inner sky, O Tuka, and lo!
The Supreme Spirit comes to dwell within.”


Inner Sound and Light


“Tuka is absorbed in the surging wave
of Sound Divine;
Its resplendence spreads through his
innermost being.
The Lord has made His home in me,
The lamp of eternal Light has been
kindled.
The all-pervading Sound, O Tuka, is
the Lord Himself.”
(chhandbadh gatha)


“In contemplation of the Lord,
My body and mind are transformed;
What can I now say, what can
I convey?
For the 'I’ that was, has become
the Lord Himself.
My soul and the Lord are united;
The creation has become the Lord
Himself.
Tuka has nothing more to add; in
Divine bliss,
His soul has embraced the Lord.”

(gatha 4077)

– Sant TukaRama

The Soul of Tukarama: Saint of Maharashtra
By James Bean
Copyright March 2005

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading about Saint Tukarama ever since I learned of him a decade and a half ago. In fact, I’ve tried to collect all of the available books on the life, teachings, and poetry of Tukarama that are in English. I agree with the Indian scholar Dr. R.D. Ranade who said:

“Tukarama exhibits all the doubts and disbeliefs, the weaknesses and the sufferings, the anxieties and the uncertainties, through which every aspiring soul must pass, before he can come into the life of Light, Spirit and Harmony. There is no other instance in the whole galaxy of the Maratha Saints, barring perhaps Namadeva, which can be regarded as illustrative of this human element which we find in Tukarama.”

Tukarama does have many analogues in literature: the poetry of John Bunyan, the Thanksgiving Hymns of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Psalms of King David.

Saint Tukarama (1598 - 1649 AD) was born at Dehu near Poona in the State of Maharashtra, India. He is the most famous of Maratha poets, and one of the major voices of Bhakti Marg – the Way of Love and Devotion. His compositions of poetry, prayers and hymns (gathas and abhangas) are filled with human doubts and frailties. He also expresses words of ecstatic love and rapturous union with his Divine Beloved that filled his soul to overflowing. Tukarama was truly one of India’s greatest Sants (Saints).

I highly recommend his poetry to any mystically inclined soul who’s a connoisseur of the inspiring spiritual classics of the East. Think of Tukarama as another Rumi, Hafiz, or Kabir.

A Very Human Saint Who Tells God Just What He Thinks!

The largest translation of his poetry in English is, The Poems of Tukarama by J. Nelson Fraser, published in Delhi by Motilal Banarsidass Books. This is from a section titled, “Remonstrations With God:”

We are lost in a wood of anxiety: why do you still delay? Come, O Vitthala [God], our strength is spent in entreaties. Why do you not fear disgrace, thus abandoning your own children?

___

We are full of anxious longing: we have laid hold of God, but he seems far off.

___

I have not disobeyed any voice of authority: why has Narayana [God] left me? With undoubting mind I beseech him, for I have not found the peace that knows no care.

___

It is not right that you should forget your servants; for there is perfect justice at your feet. Tuka says, ‘You are not ashamed,though we are sinking in the gulf of anguish!

Tukarama’s Spiritual Practices/Sadhana

Tukarama wrote about several practices that transformed his life. He prayed for help in this way: “Take, Lord, my life Live thou thy life through me.” (Oxford Books of Prayer, Oxford University Press)

He taught the principle that we are influenced by the company we keep, that spiritual community or companionship (Satsang) can be nurturing and supportive to our efforts. He writes:

Let me meet people of my own kind,
so that I may be satisfied. My mind
pants to meet those who love God.
Mere contact with the sandalwood
tree, and plants all around emanate
the same aroma. Likewise have I
embraced the feet of Sants [Saints],
and my separateness is extinguished.

Like other Nirguna Bhakti Sants, he believed that God is within all living beings, so we can see God in those that we meet - as in Namaste’ ('the God in me bows to the God in you’). This realization changes everything in our consciousness, changes our universe into a place filled with living forms of God - all living things: “The Kingdom of God that is spread out upon the earth….” (Gospel of Thomas, Saying 113)

Another Important Spiritual Practice for Tukarama is the Chanting of Various Names of God (Simran), Remembering God by Repeating his Name

He who utters the Name of God while walking,
gets the merit of a sacrifice at every step.
Blessed in his body. It is itself a place of
pilgrimage. He who utters the Name of God
without ceasing receives liberation while
living.

The Devotee Becomes God By Repeating-Merging in God’s Name

Vitthala Naam Mukti

Can one be entangled in the mire of
Illusion
When the Name of the Lord is constantly
on his lips?

One who ceaselessly meditates on Him,
While walking, talking, eating or sleeping,
While engaged in worldly duties,
The Lord is with him at all times.

Repeat constantly the Name of the Lord,
And know that devotion is indispensable
for deliverance.
Thus the devotee becomes the Lord
Himself,
And thus has the Lord become Tuka.
(Tukaram - Saint of Maharashtra, RS Books)

The Bhajans of Sants

Another important ingredient for the spiritual life was kirtana or bhajans, the singing of hymns of praise. I do notice that a very large number of mystics have composed their own devotional songs or poems. This creative outpouring from the heart helps to stimulate something deep inside: the Cry of the Soul. Saint Tukarama’s explanation of this focuses upon the need for Bhakti, the need to engender love and devotion:

This God cannot be attained except through love.
What is required is pure devotion. That is the
way to liberation. In fact, God does not care
for anything except love. (Mysticism In India by R.D. Ranade, SUNY Press)

All these spiritual practices help to transform the body, emotions, thoughts, and one’s very existence into expressions of the soul, our true identity and spiritual essence. This makes it much easier to have enough peace of mind to be able to meditate – to enter the world of the soul during meditation.

Infinite bliss has filled my entire being,
the stream of love divine flows freely and
I sing the Lord’s Name unceasingly. I lead
a life eternal that cannot ever ebb. I
repeat ever and again the Name of the Lord;
to me, this shore of the ocean of life and
the other one [eternity], are truly one and
the same. (Tukaram - Saint of Maharashtra, RS Books)

Tukarama, Speaking from the Ecstasy of Mystic Contemplation

I have found a Sea of Love, an inexhaustible flood;
I have opened a treasure of spiritual knowledge,
it diffuses the lustre of a million suns,
arisen in thy worshipper’s souls.

The same Tuka, who earlier in life composed many candid and resentful prayers, lamenting over famine and misfortune, ended up being one of India’s greatest poet-mystics and Saints.

The book Tukaram - Saint of Maharashtra, published by RS Books, makes available many of his mystical compositions pertaining to the experience of Inner Light, the Sound Current and the Higher Planes.

DARKNESS FLEES BEFORE THE SUN

I penetrated the Eye Center and perceived
the Light within.
Darkness has vanished,
And the sun has burst forth
in full splendor.

So long as the soul knows not itself,
The brilliance of the sun cannot be seen.

Says Tuka, I see my true self and the Lord
Pervade the whole creation as one effulgence.

INNER EXPERIENCE - THE DOOR WITHIN

Through the Eye, my vision has risen to
Daswandwar,
And my soul has cast off its coverings.

Firmly established at the Tenth Door,
I adore my Master’s Radiant Form,
which I recognize by His grace.

The bubble of illusion has been pricked,
The Almighty, Merciful Lord has revealed
Himself.

In the blissful state of fulfillment,
Tuka, without hands, clings to His feet.

THE SOUND CURRENT OR MUSIC OF THE CREATOR

Tuka is absorbed in the surging wave
of Sound Divine;
Its resplendence spreads through his
innermost being.
The Lord has made His home in me,
The lamp of eternal Light has been
kindled.
The all-pervading Sound, O Tuka, is
the Lord Himself.

Simran

Can one be entangled in the mire of
Illusion
When the Name of the Lord is constantly
on his lips?

One who ceaselessly meditates on Him,
While walking, talking, eating or sleeping,
While engaged in worldly duties,
The Lord is with him at all times.
Repeat constantly the Name of the Lord,
And know that devotion is indispensable
for deliverance.
Thus the devotee becomes the Lord
Himself,
And thus has the Lord become Tuka.
Such is God’s Name
that it heals the disease of the world.
Whosoever repeats the Lord’s Name
while engaged in earthly duties,
remains ever in a blissful state of divine communion.
One absorbed in the Lord’s Name, O Tuka,
has truly attained liberation while living.

– Sant Tukarama