Sant Tukaram (1608? – 1649 CE) was a low caste Hindu born in Maharashtra, and a follower of the Bhakt movement, devoted to Vithoba who was considered to be a manifestation of Vishnu or Krishna. Tukaram is best known for his devotional songs, and it is said that he composed some 5,000 of these. His personal life was very difficult; he was orphaned at the age of 13 and had to care for his family; his first wife and son died in a famine; and his second wife had no respect for his devotion. His spiritual initiation came not from a guru in human form but from a dream of Lord Hari. At the end of his life, Tukaram is said to have stepped into a river and disappeared; no body was found and his devotees believe that he was taken bodily to heaven. The poem posted here was translated from Marathi by Mahatma Gandhi while he was imprisoned by the British for non-violent protest.
Saintliness is not to be purchased in shops
nor is it to be had for wandering
nor in cupboards
nor in deserts
nor in forests.
It is not obtainable for a heap of riches.
It is not in the heavens above
nor in the entrails of the earth below.
Tuka says: It is a life’s bargain
and if you will not give your life to possess it
better be silent.
Translation Mahatma Gandhi