Art Gallery
Tukaram and Gujarat


Mahatma Gandhi translated sixteen abhangs of Tukaram while in Yerwada Central Jail in January, 1930.Abhang generally consists of four couplets, of which the second couplet contains the central theme of the poem. He had a special affinity for Tukaram's abhang "Papachi wasana nako" as he discovered the three wise monkeys in it. It was his favourite abhang; he called it "My Heartfelt Prayer". His translation runs thus:

O God, let me not be witness to desire for sin, better make me blind;
Let me not hear ill of anyone, better make me deaf;
Let not a sinful word escape my lips, better make me dumb;
Let me not lust after another's wife, better that I disappear from this earth.
Tuka says: I am tired of everything worldly, Thee alone I like, O Gopal.

Tukaram finds frequent mention in his letters, speeches and notes. In his letter to Maganlal Gandhi, his dear nephew he writes, "The abhangs of Tukaram admit ample scope for manly striving." Maganlal looked after the Ashram press and the publication "Indian Opinion".

Sanskrit scholar Dattatray Parchure Shastri, a leprosy patient, asked to be admitted to Sevagram ashram. Some members objected as they feared infection. Gandhi not only admitted him; he gave him massage. In his letter to Shashtri he writes, " Shastriji, 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 abhangs. Blessings from BAPU."

In 1945 a revised edition of "Tukaram ki Rashtragatha" was published. The selection and arrangement of Rasthtragatha was done with a purpose and intended to introduce Tukaram to the modern reader to understand properly his views on different problems, which confronted the humanity for ages. In his foreword Gandhi wrote, "Tukaram is very dear to me. My knowledge of Marathi is very slight. But I could read only a few of his abhangs 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. I requested Shri Nandalal Bose, the renowned Shanti Niketan artist to draw pictures of Tukaram. I hope this edition will command the respect of people."

Gandhi was being modest about his knowledge of Marathi; Dr.Sadanand More recipient of Sahitya Akademi Award for his work on Tukaram says, "The translations done by Gandhi are excellent."

Kishorilal Mushrawala translated 120 abhangs of Tukaram while in Yerwada Jail in 1930-31. He seems to have been inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. These translations were later published by the name "Sant Tukaramni Vaani" in 1956 by Gujarat University.It has a foreword by Kedarnath and introduction by Mukul Kalarthi.

In the 1990's Suresh Dalal translated 40 abhangs of Tukaram which were published as "Tuka Kahe Tuka Mhane"