The news of Tukaram’s bodily departure for Vaikunth greatly surprised Shivaji. He made enquiries with Janoji Bhosale of Dehu about the saint’s family and directed Tukaram’s eldest son, Mahadev, to go and call on him. Janoji Bhosale then went along with Mahadev to meet the great ruler. Shivaji announced an endowment, to be paid annually, for Tukaram’s family. It consisted of food-grains and a sovereign for clothing. This was continued later even by Shivaji’s son, Sambhaji.
Narayan (1650-1723) was the posthumous son of Tukaram. Because he was a reincarnation of Jnanadev, both his elder brothers deferred to him. They all lived together till the demise of their mother. Both Vitthal and Narayan set out on a great pilgrimage after her demise to consign her mortal remains. Mahadev looked after the daily rituals of the temple. Mahadev has written Tukaram’s abhangs. Narayan then began living in a royal manner. Once Santaji Pawar came to meet him and berated him for it. He then gave away all his domestic belonging to Brahmins, undertook penance and later, built an impressive temple of Lord Vithoba.
‘Tukaram had already left for Vaikunth. Neelkanth renounced his all after many days. People then sought Narayan, the son of Tukaram, for his darshan and his association.’
Thus Niloba Gosavi Pimpalnerkar came for his darshan. Narayan narrated the whole biography of Tukaram and went on a pilgrimage with him. Niloba was determined for a glimpse of the great saint and was obliged after forty-two days by Tukaram.
Niloba was then inspired to write verses. He has written a number of abhangs. Mention of Narayan being a great spiritual personage is found in many historical documents. Many people began coming to meet him. The Tukaram Beej Festival was begun by him. He offered food to all on the occasion. Therefore, King Rajaram bequeathed village Yelwadi to him in 1691. Later on, the villages of Dehu and Kinhai were also similarly bequeathed to him by Kings Shivaji II and Shahu. King Shahu and Queen Sarvarbai greatly revered Narayan. It was Narayan who began taking Tukaram’s palkhi (palanquin) to Pandharpur during each Ashadh wari (pilgrimage). He brought fame to the Dehu temple and enlarged the sect. He prevented the exploitation of those going to Pandharpur and Shingnapur when the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb was in Maharashtra. His demise came about in the month of Shravan. Abaji, son of Mahadev, consigned his mortal remains to the Ganga following a pilgrimage to Varanasi.
Abaji came back to Dehu bearing the water of the holy Ganga. Meanwhile, Uddhav, son of Vitthal, who was with King Shahu, came back to Dehu and began looking after the affairs of the temple. He refused to hand over the reigns to Abaji, himself a great devotee of the Lord. After Abaji his son, Mahadev, also fought for the control of the temple. It was a quarrel over seniority. The ruler of the day did not pay much attention to it. Therefore, Mahadev left Dehu and went to Pandharpur for the sake of the sect. He undertook the important task of collating all the abhangs of Tukaram and made a compendium (gaatha) of them. He enriched the Dehukar tradition. His son, Vasudev Dehukar, also made noteworthy contribution to the warkari tradition, which, by now, had expanded till Karnataka.
Tukaram’s great grandson, Gopal, was also a spiritual authority. His great contribution was writing the biography of Tukaram. The Dehu Sansthan has kept alive the family’s great tradition of the “wari palkhi” (pilgrimage with palanquin). The people of Dehu have made an enormous contribution to the warkari community by performing keertans in village after village. They offered precious service to protect the clan’s deity and the warkari tradition. They are fulfilling the promise made by Tukaram :
Fruit of nectar, vine of nectar, the same tradition is carried forward by the seeds too.