Tukaram’s Abhangs.

Abhang is form of devotional poetry sung in praise of the Hindu god Krishna, also known as Vithala and Vithoba. Abhangs were first sung by Tukaram in his native language, Marathi. Tukaram was a seventeenth century poet, who lived in a town named Dehu, which is located near modern day Pune. He was a popular poet and was a leading figure in the Bhakti Movement of the time, that sought to put the emphasis back on devotion and love towards god, in contrast to blind obedience of rituals and arcane religious practices.

He used to write a particular verse form called the Abhanga a run on couplet with three and a half feet with the first three rhyming. In the use of this poetic device he was unrivalled, and others have practically left it alone after him in tacit acknowledgment there is nothing more that can be done with it. As was the tradition, he also used to add his signature Tuka Mhane (or “Tuka Says” at the end of each verse.

Words are the only Jewels I possess
Words are the only Clothes that I wear
Words are the only food That sustains my life
Words are the only wealth I distribute among people
Says Tuka Witness the Word He is God
I worship Him With my words

Abhang -Translation by(c) Dilip Chitre


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