The revered saint and philosopher -poet Tukaram (1608-49), is possibly the only saint whose importance and popularity has not diminished through the centuries. In fact, his relevance keeps growing. His unmatched genius is lauded by both the intellectual and the common man. Tukaram impressed upon the community that one can seek and attain spiritual knowledge even as one carries out worldly duties. His Abhangs (devotional lyrics) are filled with knowledge and wisdom about life and living.
Tukaram was born in 1608 in Dehu, a village near Pune in a family who were devoted followers of the deity Vitthal or Vithoba (a form of Lord Vishnu, the Preserver in the Hindu Trinity). The family belonged to the Kunbi caste and they were moneylenders and traders by profession.
Tukaram had a very normal childhood. He is fascinated with Lord Vitthal who he says is his dear friend. He is a very innocent and generous kid and is not touchy to part with his toys or personal belongings with his friends. As he grows up he takes up the family responsibility as his elder brother is not interested in the material world and is drawn completely towards spiritual pursuits. When his first wife Rakhma is unable to bear a child, he bows to his family’s wishes and marries Aavli. We see that Tuka is trying to become a good son and husband. But the arrival of a major famine destroys this beautiful picture. He loses both his parents, his sister-in-law (brother’s wife) dies and his elder brother Savji leaves home. His first wife and son die too; during this hopeless atmosphere of a terrible three-year-long famine, Tukaram realizes that the perennial treasure of God’s grace is far more valuable than ephemeral worldly riches and he shifts his focus to divine worship. He does not choose to quit his responsibilities and follow a solitary path. Instead, he feels it is more important to try and reduce the sorrows of the people around him. For him, being ‘a good human being’ is as vital as being a good son, friend or husband. And while striving to be a good human being, he automatically turns into a saint.
This film traces the journey of a common man to sainthood. It is a journey that gives us immense confidence. Tukaram’s era comprises of the period when the people of Maharashtra were being exploited by the Adilshahi and Nizamshahi rule. This great saint-poet awakened the self-esteem of these common people. He instilled in them the emotion that their lives were valuable too. In doing so, he helped to gather soldiers for the establishment of the Maratha empire. He brought verve and confidence to a frustrated, depressed society. What better miracle could there be?