Glossary II of  IV ( Says Tuka) - Dilip Chitre


Brick, the:
this has been used as a proper noun because it refers to "the Brick" on which the image of Vitthal at Pandharpur stands and is an integral part of the iconography of Vitthal; the Marathi word for brick is "veet", and some folk-etymologists would derive the word Vitthal itself from it; the mythological significance of "the Brick" , is the following story: Pundalik, a resident of Pandharpur and a devotee of Vishnu-Vitthal was visited by God Himself, who had heard of Pundalik's total dedication; Pundalik was so absorbed in his own work that he threw a brick that was handy in the direction of his divine visitor, asking him to stand; after that, Pundalik forgot all about God whom he had kept waiting, while he remained absorbed in his own work; God would not leave without Pundalik's permission; he has remained standing on the brick ever since; twenty-eight eons are said to have elapsed since Pundalik asked God to wait on the brick; this is how God is found in Pandharpur where his devotees can visit Him; "the Brick" may mean Vitthal Himself in Tukaram's poetry; Tukaram worships Vitthal's feet, which are placed on "the Brick", in humility; because God stands on it "the Brick" itself is sacred. "the Brick" is also the "base" or "foundation" of God in this world, and as such it is a symbol of Bhakti itself, which is the foundation of the Whole Being or Brahman for the Bhakta; "the Brick" is also a symbol of God's patient, obedient, and respectful attitude towards a true Bhakta,epitomized by the story of Pundalik; the Varkari Bhakta-poets consider Pundalik as the arch-Bhakta and founder of the sacred site and image at Pandharpur.

another term designating a low-caste, a Shudra; originally, a mixed caste of illegitimate progeny of Shudra male and Brahmin female parents; as such, bastards born of prohibited intercaste liasons; a derogatory term used for the lowest born, for the unscrupulous, the sinful, the wicked, the corrupt, and the criminal-minded.

the colour of Vishnu is dark blue, the colour of the sky itself, which is the colour of his avatara, Krishna; Krishna literally means "the dark one" or even "the black one"; sometimes, in poetry, the colour of Krishna is compared to "a dark blue rain cloud", a monsoonal association with its evocative effect on the Indian mind and its pastoral significance for herdsmen; Krishna was a herdsman, too; the colour of the image of Vitthal is black; the dhotar or loin-garment of Vitthal is yellow silk; the name Pandurang, used for Vithoba or Vitthal was first used in 1270 according to Deleury: its origin is obscure; but Pandurang is close to the Sanskrit word "pandura", which means "yellowish-white" or "fawn-coloured"; in both Sanskrit and Marathi, "anga" means body, Another significance of colour needs to be pointed out in the context of Tukaram's visual imagery, especially when he is describing his experience of beatitude: when Tukaram meditates on Vitthal's form, the image becomes a formless expanse of luminous blue that turns into an intense incandescence; but when he describes the effect of his initiation into the state of beatitude induced by his Guru Babaji, Tukaram describes a state of ecstasy in which he begins to see luminous ripples in five colours: red, yellow, blue, white, and black: these colours vibrate, pulsate, and keep changing from one into the other in a rhythmic manner.
        One more thing to remember is that in Marathi the verb "rangane" which means "to be coloured" also refers to the experience of being absorbed in any activity in such a way that one's very appearance is "coloured" by it; this applies to devotion, worship, the act of singing and dancing, the act of chanting the names of God, and in Tukaram's case, the act of creating poetry or "speaking" in that special sense; in all these, "one is coloured by what one thinks of and does" or "one's very being is coloured by one's awareness"; any performance that becomes increasingly exciting or absorbing is described in Marathi, literally, as something "that is becoming more and more colourful" or "is gaining colour"; "getting coloured by Bhakti- rasa" is another typical expression.

Tukaram's native village; this is situated on the banks of the river Indrayani; it is part of the earliest or one of the earliest-known agricultural belts in Maharashtra, it is accessible by rail from Bombay or Pune via the Dehu Road Railway Station; by road, it is just an hour's drive from Pune; Tukaram's ancestral house with its shrine is still here and his descendants live there; it also has another temple of Vithoba and several smaller shrines; "the pool" in the river Indrayani where Tukaram's manuscripts were sunk and then miraculously restored is one of the landmarks; another landmark is the place at which Vishnu's chariot of light is believed to have descended to lift Tukaram bodily off to heaven; Dehu, along with Pandharpur and Alandi, is one of the three sacred places Varkari pilgrims regularly visit; the Bhamachandra hill, where Tukaram meditated for fifteen days and received enlightenment, is also near Dehu and so is the Bhandara Hill where Tukaram wrote his poems; the landscape and the people Tukaram has described belong to Dehu, which still retains recognizable traces of its features as they must have been in Tukaram's time.

also "dev" in Marathi; God; also god or gods; Tukaram employs this word in different senses; often, it is a form of address to the image of Vitthal, but to Tukaram Vitthal not only contains the specific form in which Vishnu visited Pandharpur and stood on "the Brick" at Pundalik's instance but also Vishnu in all his avataras, including that of the Buddha to whom Tukaram makes a reference in a poem not translated here; the mythology of Vishnu and the lore of Krishna are both included in Tukaram's frame of  reference; but Tukaram's God is also the Supreme Being in a monotheistic sense, the Creator and the Ruler, not dissimilar from the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic "Father"; but Tukaram uses all three genders for God; at the highest level, he conceives God as a form of total being, the Whole Being or the Cosmic Self of which the human individual is a part; Tukaram's mysticism had both native Marathi and traditional Hindu origins but it was also influenced "by Sufi thought, and Buddhism; the traces of these influences are subtly diffused over his work; one has found an existentialist current in Tukaram's thought that is constant and growing; though he obviously began as 'a simple devotee, he evolved into a monotheistic mystic, and finally into a mystic who went beyond theism itself; in some poems, Tukaram has described his whole relationship with God as a game of "make-believe" or as "play-acting", assigning roles that are mutually reversible. In each poem, God has a specific image and role; there are no fixed rules or definitions that Tukaram follows; it is worth bearing in mind that in many poems, Tukaram sees himself as an irreverent atheist or as one making fun of an anthropomorphic idea of God.

literally, "the eleventh (day)"; Maharashtra follows the Hindu lunar calendar in which one half of the month is the part of the waxing moon and the other is the phase of the waning moon; thus the month is divided into "the bright fortnight" and "the dark fortnight"; Ekadashi is the eleventh day of the bright fortnight of the month; the Varkaris regard this as Vitthal's day, and fast on it; the Ekadashi days in the months of Ashadha and Kartika are the days of the festival of Vitthal in Pandharpur and a Varkari has to make a pilgrimage to the sacred city on these days; of the two, Ashadhi Ekadashi is the bigger festival; hundreds of thousands of Varkaris march to Pandharpur from allover Maharashtra to take part in the festival; many of them carry their own rumba-like string instruments and cymbals made of brass, and chiplyas or veenas; singing and dancing all the way to Pandharpur; they chant bhajans or witness keel1an performances and play games or perform dances which are all "enactments of devotion"; this is a form of a "total theatre" in a ritual event in which everybody participates and the poetry of saints is sung from memory as a part of the performance; Ekadashi, even in months other than Ashadha and Kartika, is a holy day; Tukaram refers to his own performance of keel1an on every Ekadashi in his own shrine of Vitthal in Dehu; he also makes a pointed reference in another poem to his fasting and keeping awake when he was facing a total financial disaster after the famine, thus serving Vitthal even in times of personal adversity.

was born in 1533 and died in 1599; he lived in Paithan; he is one of the "Great Quartet" of Vithoba's Poets-Jnanadev, Namdeo, Eknath and Tukaram; to paraphrase Bahinabai, a younger poetess and contemporary of Tukaram, the temple of the Varkari Bhakti movement was founded by Jnanadev, its walls were built by Namdeo, Eknath built its pillars, and Tukaram was its spire; a prolific poet, Eknath produced work in many genres; he also produced a carefully researched and corrected edition of the Jnaneshwari.

"the devourer", "the bird of fire", or "the bird of the sun"; Vishnu's vehicle; this could be the "chariot of fire" or "chariot of light" in which Vishnu carried Tukaram away to Vaikuntha, his heavenly residence, according to the Varkari tradition.

"cow-raiser" or "cow-protector", a name of Krishna used for Vitthal by Tukaram in many poems; the name is also used for Krishna's boyhood playmates who were herdsmen like him; the self that protects them; likewise, the "cows" are the milkmaids or "gopis" with whom Krishna flirted and had clandestine affairs; Tukaram's allegorical sequences of poems "in the manner of an adulteress" and "Krishna and his playmates playing hide-and-seek using black blankets" are based on these aspects of Krishna lore.

white clay used in traditional medicine and also in rites and rituals in the form of a paste applied to parts of the body; the Vaishnav Varkaris of Maharashtra wear this as a mark of their cult, sect or faith especially on ceremonial occasions or during the rites of worship.

literally, "cow-finder" or "cow-gatherer"; another name for Krishna; like the name "Gopala", Tukaram uses this name too for Vitthal, making similar allegorical use of the lore of Krishna.


Glossary III of  IV