Tukaram was married twice, his first wife Rakhumabai died due to starvation during a famine, his second wife Jijabai or Avali as she was called, was much younger than his first had been and had little patience with his devotion and for God and she nagged him continuously. He had three sons. Tukaram was initiated without any intermediaries as the other saints usually were. He dreamt that he was initiated by the Lord Hari himself dressed as a Brahman.
Tukaram continuously sang the praises of the Lord, he sang it in the form of abhangs which he wrote. These were in his mother tongue Marathi. The abhangs express his feelings and philosophical outlook. During his 41 years, Tukaram composed over 5,000 abhangs**. Many of them speak of events in his life, which make them somewhat autobiographical. Yet, they are focused on God, Pandurang, and not Tukaram. His abhangs became very popular with the masses of common people. It was this very popularity that caused the religious establishment (the high caste Brahmins) to hate and persecute Tukaram as, he was causing them to lose their power over the people.
There are many miracles attributed to Tukaram.
(~Biography from Oldpoetry.com)
*Tukaram’s family belonged to the Kshatriya (warrior) caste. His forefathers had embraced martyrdom while fighting the enemy on the battlefield. The family was also very cultured and religious. Worship of Lord Vithoba had been its hallmark for generations together and so was the annual pilgrimage to Pandharpur. The family also had the distinction of being mahajans (money-lenders). It owned farmland engaged in money-lending and trade. The family owned two wadas (houses) at Dehu: one for residence and the other, in the marketplace, for trade and business. It enjoyed the respect of the villagers and also of those living in the immediate environs. They were called kunbis (farming community), because they engaged in agriculture and vanis (trading community) because of trading. However, Tukaram abjured all these, because of which he came to called gosavi (someone like a fakir). Nevertheless, ‘Gosavi’ was never the surname of the family. It was ‘More’ and ‘Gosavi’ was an honorific.
The vaishya (trader) community had come to be included among the shudras (the lowest in the social scale) about the time of the Bhagawad-geeta and during Jnanadev’s time, the Kshatriyas were also being counted among the shudras. Only two castes (Varna) had remained: the Brahmins and the shudras. Thus Tukaram also came to be called a shudra.
**Abhang means 'indestructible'. A true Abhang is supposed to carry in its lyrics, the ageless truths of life and spirit that know no death. Not every devotional song in Marati is an Abhang either.
Inside cover story
The two Jain tales in this Amar Chitra Katha deal with Shrenik and Jinadatta whose stories teach the importance of bring astute and insightful without necessarily indulging in shrewdness or deceit.
Jain monks took a keen interest in the spiritual emancipation of the common people. To make their terse philosophy intelligible and interesting to any ordinary individual, they used the medium of stories. Thousands of such didactic stories in Sanskrit and Prakrit have come down to us.
‘Shrenik’ is retold from Harishena’s Bhrihat Katha Kosha (10th century) and ‘The Hidden Truth’ from Rajashekara’s Vinoda Katha Sangraha (14th century).