Santa Tukaram Maharaj

Vedic Om
5 min readMar 16, 2023
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SANTA TUKARAM: An enlightened soul.

Santa Tukaram composed Abhanga poetry, a metrical literature genre that is simple and direct. It was written in the 1600 era in the Marathi language. I genuinely apologize for my shortcomings as I try to unveil this most beautiful Abhanga. I humbly request Tukaram Maharaj to forgive me. It unfolded in my heart and came alive as I read and translated this Abhanga.

अणुरेणुयां थोकडा । तुका आकाशाएवढा ॥१॥
गिळुनि सांडिलें कलेवर । भव भ्रमाचा आकार ॥ध्रु.॥
सांडिली त्रिपुटी । दीप उजळला घटीं ॥२॥
तुका म्हणे आतां । उरलों उपकारापुरता ॥३॥

Let’s unfold this most poetic and divine abhanga.

अणुरेणुयां थोकडा । तुका आकाशाएवढा ॥१॥
Anuraniya Thokada । Tuka Akasha Evadha ॥1॥

Tukaram Maharaj states, “I am smaller than atoms or molecules and simultaneously as vast as Akasha (sky).

Akasha can be taken as a vast sky for a general idea, but the true meaning of Akash here is as follows. Directly from the divine Swami Vivekananda: “Akasha is the element often translated as ether from which the other elements emerge. The whole of this universe can be resolved into one material, Âkâsha. Everything we see, feel, touch, and taste is a differentiated manifestation of this Akasha.”

To make it simpler, in Lalita Sahasranama, it is noted as Prakash, or the most familiar one for all is “the Shiva,” who is the consort of “Shakti,” the Divine Mother (also known as Prana or Vimarsh — विमर्श)

Note the beautiful subtle message he is giving us here.

How can one be as small as an atom and as vast as the universe? Know that one is all, and all is one. There is only one subtle truth (or element) in the universe. We are not a different entity from the universe; we are the universe. Not only are we connected, but we are the source, just like heat to the fire or coolness to the breeze, as sun rays are no different from the Sun. Imagine a small sun ray the size of an atom from the Sun. If you can erase all the sun’s rays, there won’t be any sun. When that atom size sun ray merges with the sun, we call it the Sun, and when it reflects out of the sun, we can it the ray of the sun. The fact remains the same; it is the Sun.

Tukaram’s first line in this abhanga, reflects one of the Kathopanishad Sutra from Upanishad (Verse 20):

अणोरणीयान्महतो महीयानात्मास्य जन्तोर्निहितो गुहायाम्‌।
तमक्रतुः पश्यति वीतशोको धातुप्रसादान्महिमानमात्मनः ॥

aṇoraṇīyānmahato mahīyānātmāsya jantornihito guhāyām |
tamakratuḥ paśyati vītaśoko dhātuprasādānmahimānamātmanaḥ ||

Meaning: Finer than an atom, enormous than every extensive known existence, the Self (atman) vails like a secret in the heart’s cave. When we peel ourselves off desires and weaned completely from sorrow (pain is inevitable, grief or suffering is a choice), we see our true selves, the transcendent reality.

Santa Tukaram now has understood that he is indeed the Akasha, the infinite, absolute, and omnipresent; the entire universe is nothing but the one and only soul principle, which seems smaller than an atom on its own in a human body. There is no duality in reality. When we start perceiving the Divine in everything around us, we only see and feel the oneness.

गिळुनि सांडिलें कलेवर ।
Giluni Sandile Kalevar ।

Here Tukaram Maharaj says, “I have swallowed or dissolved all the tendencies of the human body.” Our negative mind tendencies cover our transcendent reality. But with the help of three guans (Sattva, Rajas, Tamas), one can eliminate the mind’s tendencies to achieve purity.

Purify the tendencies of:

Kama — Lust or Desires
Krodha — Anger or Resentment
Lobha — Greed or misplaced ambition
Moha — Attachment or Obsession
Ahamkara — Ego or Conceit
Raga — Passion or attachment to pleasure
Dvesha — Jealousy or Envy
Bhaya — Fear or Phobias
Ghrina — Hate or Contempt
Lajja — Shame or Taboo
We see the greatness of the Self-being (the atman).
There is a beautiful virtual retreat on OS.ME Feel free to explore the option.

भव भ्रमाचा आकार ॥ध्रु.॥
Bhav Bhramacha Aakaar ॥ध्रु.॥

“I have surrendered my ego; there is no more confusion about the obsession with worldly desires and body.”

We must let go of our I-ness. When we are engrossed with our I-ness, we are in a state of delusion and deep ignorance dominated by our egos (I-ness). This leads us to perceive ourselves as different and separate from others. We fail to realize our true selves and oneness in the universe.

सांडिली त्रिपुटी । दीप उजळला घटीं ॥२॥
Sandili Thriputi । Dheep Ujalala Ghati ॥2॥

I have let go of all the triplets and gone beyond the triples (triads). Only the light of self-realization illuminates in me.

What are triples (त्रिपुटी)?

दर्शन, दृष्टा, दृश्य — Vision, Seer, Vision
ध्यान, ध्याता, ध्येय — Meditation, Meditator, Goal of Meditation
कारण, कर्ता, कार्य — Cause, Doer, Action
साध्य, साधक, साधन — Achieve, Achiever, Resource

When the seeker is at the basic level of spirituality, the triples help the seeker to evolve from the connections of body, mind, and soul. Eventually, there comes a state where all the triples fade away, and the seeker goes beyond the state of Maya. Now that the seeker is no longer seeking but becomes the seek.

तुका म्हणे आतां । उरलों उपकारापुरता ॥३॥
Thukaa Mhane Aathaa । Uralo Upakara Purataa ॥3॥

Santa Tukaram says he is only here to serve and offer his services to others. That would be the sole reason to be in this body form. Even for the enlightened ones, the process of purification continues.

Why offers service (seva)?

1 — It makes us humble
2 — It shows humility, kindness, and care for others
3 — It is a reminder that we are no better than others.
4 — It validates the equanimity
5 — It brings out the pure bliss we can spread to others.

I hope you liked this article. Please feel free to comment. Have a blissful day! Love and peace to all.

Enjoy this melodious Abhanga by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi.

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