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Numerous are the pathways to God. The Bakti marga or the path of devotion churns one's emotions to form an impeccable love for Him, channelizing and directing them to merge with his/her beloved Lord. Music serves as the instrument to expose the explosion of those explicit emotions of the devotees towards God to finally become one with Him. Such a saint poet who worshipped the Lord through music was Tukaram.
Tukaram was born to Balhoba and Kanakayi a righteous couple in Dehu near Pune in Maharashtra. On the banks of the Indrayani river is situated Lord Pandarinath's ( Panduranga or also Vittoba) temple. It is said that he belonged to a family of successful grain sellers. Tukaram even at a very young age was instilled with virtues like devotion to God, generosity, simplicity and hospitality. Apart from being a virtuous person, he was also an efficient business man. Tukaram was married to Rakhumabai who was said to be a victim of Asthma. He was then married to Jijabai through whom he begot three sons, Santu or Mahadev, Vithoba and Narayana.
"It is extreme pain or marvelous joy that reminds one about a Master who is the controller of all actions in life". Tukaram was no exception to this fact as he was confronted with a series of miseries which made him count on Lord Vittoba as his anchor. As famine took over Maharashtra, Tukaram was victimized in numerous ways . He lost his first wife Rakhumabai, his business and property. The family was reduced to starvation.
Once Jijabai with the help of her relatives managed to get a cartload of chillies to be sold in the neighbourhood village to feed the family. She hence sent Tukaram for the purpose. Tukaram, once a shrewd businessman was now totally immersed in devotion for Vittoba, sank into contemplation of the Lord in the market. His ascetic nature attracted people to cheat him, save for some good hearts who procured the amount for him. However on his way back he was deceived by a person who took his money in exchange for a brass bracelet to the utter dismay of Jijabai.
However Jijabai took another chance by sending Tukaram to the market, this time to sell salt. Tukaram made appreciative sales. However his tender heart went out to the suffering of a brahmin who was harassed by the bailiff for not repaying his debts. Tukaram unmindful of his own starvation and misery freed the brahmin off his debts and proceeded with his journey. However the remaining money was also lent to another brahmin who begged for the money for his son's Upanayana ceremony ( wearing of the sacred thread ). Tukaram then walked up to the Pandari hill and sat in contemplation of His beloved Vittoba.
Tukram's brother Kanhoji, discerning his brother's devotion, came forward to take care of the welfare of his family. Tukaram gave his brother his share of the remaining property and threw his own remaining share into the river of Indrayani and proceeded with his devotion to Vittoba on the hillock of Pandari. Jijabai set out to Phanderi to request her husband back home. On her way she was pricked by a deadly thorn which was pulled out with much concern by an old man. When she gratefully enquired his name and heard him utter 'Vittoo', she just walked away scornfully. Such was her aversion to Lord Vittoba whom she thought cared less for her husband who constantly remembered Him. Was the old man none other than Vittoba?
The vigorous search of Jijabai for her husband did not go in vain as she traced him in the direction of his voice that was sounding Panduranga's name. She then implored him to come back home. Tukaram went back home with his wife but her laborious search for him reminded him of the necessity of his own arduous search for the husband of his heart, Panduranga!