2. Prevailing Political, Social and Religious Situation


            The Muslim reign was firmly entrenched in the south at that time. The Portuguese ruled Goa. The three main Muslim rulers – Adilshah of Bijapur, Nizamshah of Ahmednagar and Kutubshah of Golconda – were perpetually at loggerheads with each other, the upshot being that villages were being looted recklessly and rendered barren while the rulers themselves were enjoying to the hilt all the perquisites of royalty. The subjects were living in abject conditions. 

           ‘The Brahmins had given up their pious deportment, the Kshatriyas were bleeding the Vaishyas and forcible conversions were the rule of the day,’ noted Tukaram. Anarchy prevailed in every sphere. The undesirable had usurped the place of the desirable and the saints had been robbed of their place of honour. The society had become split at many levels. Religion held no attraction for anybody and ignorance ruled the roost. People were looking forward to a new sunrise and such a sunrise was witnessed at Dehu.

     Tukaram was born to a great devotee, Bolhoba, and his wife, Kanakai, in 1609. His childhood was spent in great comfort and luxury, because the family was prosperous. He was initiated into education by the pantoji (the non-formal village teacher). The alphabet was learnt with the help of pebbles that gave form to each letter.

      So far as his initiation into the temporal and spiritual life was concerned, Tukaram did so at the knee of his father, Bolhoba. When Savji refused to take up the family business and money-lending, Tukaram was asked by his father to take upon him the responsibility. He received lessons in business while working under the guidance of his father at the mahajan’s wada (shop) in the marketplace. Marriage came about at the age of 13 and soon Tukaram began looking after the family business independently. He became successful both in trade and money-lending. Plaudits came his way from the general public. Everyone praised him. He successfully transferred the atmosphere of piety prevailing at home to his workplace. Since Tukaram’s first wife was chronically afflicted by asthma, a second wedding was arranged with Jijabai (alias Awali), the daughter of Appaji Gulwe, a famous money-lender in Pune. It was an alliance between two affluent families that marked the pinnacle of prosperity for Tukaram’s family. The house was always well-stocked with grains, there were affectionate parents and brothers and Tukaram himself enjoyed good health. There was not a single thing to complain about. Days went by in a perpetual state of happiness and well-being. As they say, sorrow follows happiness in a cyclical manner. A demonstration of this was in store. 


3. Demise of Affectionate Parents