Tukaram’s passionate poetry reflects the perfect union of spiritual and worldly life. One of the great poet-saints of 17th century India, he addressed the pitfalls and glories that a lover of God must face.
Tukarama (1608-1649), popularly known as “Tuka,” was India’s best known Marathi poet. He took up the life of a Hindu holy man at age 20 after famine and plague took the lives of his parents, one of his two wives, and devastated his business. In the twenty years that followed he wrote nearly 8000 poems; nearly half survive. The present edition reprints a selection of these poems from J. Nelson Fraser and K.B. Marathe’s 1913 translation, with selections from the 1869 “Life of Tukarama”.
Tuka used rural village imagery – of food, family and animals – to express his religious passion for the return to what he called “my mother’s house.” His poems give voice not only to his own longings but also those who oppose him, including the wife he abandoned to become a sanyasi. Tuka considered his life of renunciation to be a positive move toward “him who is surely my mother,” and it is in this search for God, a search which ultimately led to his disappearance at age 40, that Tuka became one of the most beloved ascetic teachers of his age.