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Notes  on  Tukaram - Mahatma Gandhi

October 20, 1917.
These three great speakers have acquired this power of eloquence not from their knowledge of English but from the love of their own language. Swami Dayanand did great service to Hindi not because he knew English but because he loved the Hindi language.English had nothing to do with Tukaram shedding lustre on Marathi. Premananda and Shamal Bhatt and recently, Dalpatram, have greatly enriched Gujarati literature; their glorious success is not to be attributed to their knowledge of English.The above examples prove beyond doubt that, for the enrichment of the mother tongue, what is needed is not knowledge of English but love for one’s own language and faith in it.

Thursday,July 25, 1918.
The love taught bySwaminarayana and Vallabh is all sentimentalism. It cannot make one a man of true love. Swaminarayana and Vallabh simply did not reflect over the true nature of non-violence. Non-violence consists in holding in check all impulses in the chitta It comes into play especially in men's relations with one another. There is not even a suggestion of this idea in their writings. Having been born in this degenerate age of ours, they could not remain unaffected by its atmosphere and had, in consequence, quite an undesirable effect on Gujarat. Tukaram had no such effect. The abhangas of Tukaram admit ample scope for manly striving. Tukaram was a Vaishnava. Do not mix up the Vaishnava tradition with the teaching of Vallabh and Swaminarayana. Vaishnavism is an age-old truth.
Blessings from BAPU

June 17, 1932
Personal experience is more important than the influence of external circums-tances. The latter should have no effect on a votary of truth. He ought to see beyond them. We often see that opinions formed on the basis of external circumstances are afterwards discovered to be wrong. The connection between the atman and the body is a well-known instance of this. Because the atman is intimately connected with the body in this life, we cannot easily think of it as distinct from the body. No one has equalled the power
of vision of the person who saw beyond this outward fact and first uttered: "Not this". You will be able to think of any number of such instances. It is not at all proper to take literally the utterances of Tukaram and other saints. Recently I read one such utterance of Tukaram. I quote it for your benefit.
An image of Lord Pashupati is made out of clay: what, then, would clay called?
The worship of the Lord reaches unto Him, the clay remains clay.
An image of Vishnu is carved out of stone, yet the stone does not become Vishnu.
The devotion is offered to Vishnu, the stone remains a stone.
From this, I draw the lesson that we should pay attention only to the idea
behind the words of such saints. They may describe personal God and yet
worship the formless. We ordinary human beings cannot do that and,
therefore, we would come to grief if we do not try to understand their real
meaning and guide ourselves by it.

January 10, 1945
Dr. Indubhushan Bhingare had published earlier the first edition of Sant Tukaram ki Rashtragatha. The present edition is the revised one. My knowledge of Marathi is very slight. I like Tukaram very much. But I could read only a few of his abhangas without effort.I therefore passed on Dr. Bhingare's selection to Kundarji Diwan who took great pains to go through the whole thing. The Gatha needed a fitting picture. Dr. Bhingare had selected a cheap one. It hurt me very much. I sent it to Shri Nandalal Bose, the renowned Santiniketan artist. He has been kind enough to send me pictures of Tukaram to go with the abhangas. I sent the one that I thought the best among them to Bhingare and it will be published in this edition. I hope this edition will command the respect of people.

Tukaram on Bhandara - Nandlal Bose

Tukaram and wife Jeejai  - Nandlal  Bose

April 15, 1945.
You have fallen ill! It is not good if it is from worry. But if it is death calling, there is no harm. "You must go with a smile on your lips." And that too from a Lepers' House . Whatever it may be, remain calm and sing Tukaram's abhangas .
Blessings from BAPU
From a photostat of the Hindi: G.N. 10668.
Pyarelal Papers. Courtesy:Pyarelal.

I co-operated for 30 years but, today, I have embarked upon non-co-operation. Why? Only because, as our Shastras say, we may co- operate with a man while there is some little measure of goodness in him, but when a man is obstinately determined to forget his humanity, it becomes everyone's duty to turn his back on such a one. Tukaram taught this same thing, that there can be no co-operation between a god and a monster, between Rama and Ravana. Rama and Lakshmana were mere boys, but they fought the ten-headed Ravana.This British Government of ours has thrust a sharp dagger into the Muslims' heart, has slighted Islam. Cruel things have been done to men and women and to students in the Punjab. To prevent things from happening again, non-co-operation with the Government is the only way.

A visit to the province in which Lokamanya Tilak Maharaj was born, the province which has produced heroes in the modern age, which gave Shivaji and in which Tukaram flourished, is for me nothing less than a pilgrimage. . I have always believed that Maharashtra, if it wills, can do anything.

The Gita is one of the greatest scriptures, if not the greatest of all. A religion which has given such a treatise and which has produced great saints like Jnaneshwar and Tukaram is certainly not destined to perish. We must realize that it is meant to live for ever, that is is imperishable. Few of us here may know the name of Tiruvalluvar. People in the North are innocent even of the great saint's name. Few saints have given us treasures of knowledge contained in pithy epigrams as he has done. In this context, I can at this moment recall the name only of Tukaram.

The following is taken from a letter from Bengal.
Fortunately the vast majority of people do have a living faith in a living God. They cannot, will not, argue about it. For them "it is". Are all the scriptures of the world old women's tales of superstition? Is the testimony of the rishis, the prophets, to be rejected? Is the testimony of Tukaram, Dnyandeva, Nanak, Kabir, of no value?

With the growth of village mentality the leaders will find it necessary to tour in the villages and establish a living touch with them. Moreover, the companionship of the great and the good is available to all through the works of saints like Kabir, Nanak, Dadu, Tukaram, Tiruvalluvar, and others too numerous to mention though equally known and pious. The difficulty is to get the mind tuned to the reception of permanent values. If it is modern thought-political, social, economical, scientific-that is meant, it is possible to procure literature that will satisfy curiosity. I admit, however, that one does not find such as easily as one finds religious literature. Saints wrote and spoke for the masses. The vogue for translating modern thought to the masses in an acceptable manner has not yer quite set in. But it must come in time. I would, therefore, advise young men like my correspondent not to give in but persist in their effort and by their presence make the villages more livable and lovable.

We wondered where we should perform the cremation rites-at the Sevagram hillock, the public cremation ground or Gopuri. And it was decided to perform the rites at Gopuri where Jamnalalji had finally settled and for which work he had finally dedicated himself by renouncing his all. I was neutral in the matter but I welcomed the decision. Thousands of people converged on Gopuri to bid farewell to the body. After the cremationI asked Vinobato recite recite an abhanga.He recited one from Tukaram. Lastly I requested him to sing 'Vaishnavajana'. He then sang this bhajan too.

Commenting on the Marathi bhajan sung by Shri Balasaheb Kher, the Premier of Bombay, Gandhiji said that like Shri Thakkar Bapa, Kher Saheb had been a servant of the Harijans and Adivasis ever since he had known him. Now he had put on the crown of thorns and become the Premier of Bombay. For Gandhiji his service to Harijans and Adivasis was more important than anything else. In the bhajan Tukaram makes the devotee say that he would prefer blindness to vision which could enable him to harbour evil thoughts. Similarly, he would prefer deafness to hearing evil speech. He liked only one thing, namely, the name of God.
The Hindustan Times, 23-10-1946