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Glossary Part I of V (Says Tuka)


Literally, 1. Absolute; eternal, immutable, ceaseless, unbroken;impeccable, etc.
2. immortal, primordial; another name for Brahman; inviolable, etc.
3. a Marathi metre; also, any metrical composition in this metre.the abhang is the favourite metre of all Varkari poets since the thirteenth century and unlike classical Sanskrit-based metres it is native to Marathi speech and its colloquial forms. It is extremely flexible. It consists of four lines and each line contains three to eight syllables. It has a fluid symmetry maintained by internal or end-rhymes and is often designed to be sung. It originates most probably-
in oral folk-poetry. Poets such as Jnanadev, Namdev, and Tukaram have given it a classic status in Marathi poetry. Most of Tukaram's compositions are in this metre and even when they are not, in exceptional cases, the term abhang is popularly used for practically all of Tukaram's metrical compositions.originates most probably in oral folk-poetry. Poets such as Jnanadev, Namdev, and Tukaram


Avataras, (the ten)

"the Fish, the Tortoise, the Boar, the Man-Lion, the Dwarf Man, Parashu Rama, Rama, Krishna, the Buddha, and Kalki are the Ten Avataras" according to a verse in the Geeta. These, in the same order, are the incarnations (avataras) of Vishnu.
1. endless, infinite, boundless, etc.
2. name of Vishnu.
3. name of Shesha, the serpent upon whom Vishnu sleeps.
4. the sky; space, etc.
5. used for time, eternity, etc.
6. used for Brahman, or absolute and infinite being;infinity in any sense.

Tukaram uses Ananta as both a name and an attribute of Vitthal who, to the Varkaris, is synonymous with Vishnu and Narayana, both of whom are known by many other names. Since each of these names has a unique significance, Tukaram often uses a specific name in a specific context, literally, metaphorically, or suggestively.


Bahinabai Sioorkar :

(1629-1700) is remarkable among the Marathi poet-saints not just because she is a woman; so were Muktabai and Janabai long before her; Bahinabai is unique because she was an orthodox, married Brahmin and yet was attracted to Bhakti and particularly to the poetry of Tukaram about whom she heard in distant Kolhapur from a keertan-performer called Jayaramaswami; she was obsessed by the idea of meeting Tukaram in person and dreamt that Tukaram blessed her and became her guru; this resulted in her husband beating her up in jealous fury; he was horrified that his wife, a Brahmin, should want to make a Shudra who had no scriptural knowledge her guru; however, the husband changed his mind when persuaded by another Brahmin and accompanied Bahinabai to Dehu; there they saw Tukaram and attended his keertans; Bahinabai's vivid account of Dehu and Tukaram are like a poetic journal that vividly recreates scenes in evocative detail; this is the only contemporary eyewitness account of Tukaram available to us; Bahinabai's autobiography and verses are translated into English prose by Justin E.Abbott and have been recently republished with a perceptive foreword by Anne Feldhaus.



often also referred to in the abbreviated form "the Geeta"; "The Song of the Lord" depicting the celebrated dialogue between -Arjuna and Krishna during the Mahabharata war and a section of the Bheeshmapa1Va, a chapter of the Hindu epic, Mahabharata; regarded by many Hindus as the essence of all scriptures and the revelation by Lord Vishnu of his own nature and cosmic role that explains karma, man's duty in this world and the laws that govern his behaviour, the design of human destiny, and the divine, cyclic design by which Vishnu Himself!! assumes different avatar as or incarnations in the human world to remove the specific form of evil that afflicts each Age or Epoch; this is also seen as a dialogue
between the individual human ego and the Divine Self or the Whole Being of which the human individual is only a part; Jnanadev produced the first poetic transcreation of the I
Bhagawadgeeta in Marathi in the thirteenth century; these acts of translation into the language of the masses must have been viewed by the Brahmin orthodoxy as acts of heresy.


literally means a worshipper, a devotee, a votary, an adorer, etc.; it is useful to remember that the original Sanskrit word also means:
1. (a share) allotted, distributed, assigned; as such a Bhakta is given "his lot" or "his share of the Divine";
2. divided; applied to a Bhakta, this may assume a spiritual significance;
3. served, worshipped;
4. engaged in, attentive to;
5. attached or devoted to; loyal,faithful.



devotion, loyalty, faithfulness; engagement, commitment; dedication; reverence, service, homage; the condition of the whole being of a Bhakta whose mind and body are totally absorbed in the object of his worship and remain continually directed or oriented towards
it; the object of such worship can be an anthropomorphic deity, a symbol, a name, an image, a concept, an abstraction, or the non-discursive or inconceivable "Whole Being" itself.



derives from the above; literally, "the way of devotion" or "devotion as the path by which God is realized (by individuals or by a community of devotees)". In reading Tukaram, Bhakti should be usually read as the Bhakti of Vishnu by any of his one thousand names that are also his epithets but specifically in the form of Vitthal, or Vithoba; see Varkari, Vitthal, Pandharpur, "the Brick",etc.


Bhakti Rasa:

would literally mean "the juice of Bhakti" or "(the uninterrupted flow of) the feeling of devotion"; "rasa" in classical Sanskrit poetics is active feeling, emotion, something akin to "juice" in a physiological sense, thus a somatic action or effect; but the poetics itself is
diversely linked and interpreted in terms of religious esotericism, yoga, and mysticism; the cryptic precept, "Raso vai sah" means,"He is the very rasa" which, loosened by paraphrase would mean"God or the Whole Being is Himself that spontaneous flowing juice"; one is making this slight digression because the pioneer Marathi poet-saint Jnanadev was an initiate in the Kashmir Shaiva tradition, the same school of thought to which the great mystic philosopher and poetician, Abhinavagupta belonged; Jnanadev was a yogi of the Natha Sect; how he came to worship the deity Vithoba, seen as a form of Vishnu, and became a founder of the Varkari Bhakti movement is a perennial mystery; but the "rasa" or "feeling" part of Bhakti, the sensuous and palpable form of worshipping God as a devotee, focused on a specific image and a "name", begins with Jnanadev and his contemporaries; poetry and music, singing songs and chanting, were believed to produce a distinct "rasa" or "flow of feeling", of oneness with God; this is the "rasa" or "state of being in a continuous flow" that makes Varkaris sing, dance, chant the name of God, and create that "total theatre" where everybody is a part of the grand performance of worship; the pilgrimage to Pandharpur and the festival of Vithoba there have to be witnessed to get an idea of how" Bhakti-rasa" a distinct universe of feeling, envelops the "Bhaktas" with a sense of communion; Tukaram's poetry is described as a poetry of" Bhakti-rasa" which includes a wide range of emotions and different personae depicting the devotee's many-faceted relationship with God; it is useful to bear this in mind because the Varakari Bhakta may be viewing Tukaram's poetry as the poetry of Bhakti-rasa, which is not quite the same feeling that we experience ourselves in our normal life and assume that others experience; nor do we associate such a feeling with poetry and its impact.



the "Creator"; one of the gods in the Hindu pantheon; he is depicted in the Puranas as having sprung from a lotus rising out of the navel of Vishnu.



original Sanskrit form of the word which is Brahma in Marathi; neuter gender; often translated as "the Supreme Being" etc., and variously interpreted by Vedantic philosophers and commentators; it is at once the primordial as well as the ultimate condition of being, a concept of "being-in-itself' which is beyond determination, definition or description. As such, it is a paradoxical concept of the inconceivable, which is the source of all phenomena and all possible concepts thereof. It is used in the sense of "autonomous self' or "the principle of spontaneous creation, existence, and dissolution". In mystical thought, "Brahman" can be experienced as "bliss" or "beatitude" or "a sense of boundless being". It is "ecstasy" in terms of its outward signs and "ecstasy" in terms of "self- contained sense of bliss". During the last decade of his life, Tukaram unexpectedly met Babaji, a liberated yogi, who initiated him into an experience of such "beatitude". Tukaram's evolution
from being a Bhakta to becoming a mystic is clearly seen in his poems. There was never a contradiction between his worship of Vithoba and his yearning to experience beatitude or "oneness with All Being". There are people, in fact, who believe that Tukaram's body simply disintegrated and returned to the state of absolute, unconditioned being, leaving no trace of its material form and identity. I have no comment to offer on this except that if true, it would be real poetic justice.



the highest among the castes; considered pure and chaste; the "twice-born" priestly caste that has a privileged access to the scriptures and the sole right to recite, teach, and interpret them; they conduct religious ceremonies, perform rites, and adjudicate matters and disputes concerning dharma of all Hindus; in Tukaram's time, Brahmins in Maharashtra considered all the other castes as either "non-caste" or "outside the sacred circle" or as Shudras: causing pollution in varying degrees; Tukaram describes himself as a Shudra and a Yatiheen, which means Jatiheen, or low-born, and pointedly mentions that the Brahmins would not even concede him the right to read and write, let alone discuss spiritual matters; he also attacks depravity among Brahmins and holds them responsible for corruption of religion as well as ethics in personal and social life; Tukaram propounds that anyone who is pure in spirit is a true Brahmin and accidents of birth have nothing to do with it; in Tukaram's view any individual who is God-oriented or tuned to "the Whole Being" is a Brahmin or the Brahman-oriented person, because "caste" is a quality of mind determined by purity of awareness rather than by any physical or material property or criterion