RashtraSant Tukadoji Maharaj
He successfully sought to create a beautiful balance between the Bhakti philosophy in spirituality and the concept of self-governance in the villages in India.
Through his oratory, writing, strength and devotion, RashtraSant Tukadoji Maharaj strived ceaselessly towards social awakening and development. He worked towards awakening the stagnant villages and improving the dismal state of village life caused by ignorance, misinformation, and social inactivity, and strived to bring enthusiasm and hope into the lives of the people. He was perennially disturbed that a country blessed by such a rich cultural heritage should be backward in the areas of education, health and food grain production.
Tukadoji Maharaj was born in the Yawli village in Amravati district and named Manik Namdev Ingle. Still a child, he became a disciple of Saint Adkoji Maharaj and spent a few years of his life in spiritual education. He was given the name Tukadoji by his Guru. He started giving spiritual sermons while still a disciple. Initially his stress was on singing the praise of god through bhajan (devotional songs) during the sermons. But after the emergence of Mahatma Gandhi on the scene, he added social reform to his sermons. He used the media of bhajan for the overall development of mankind.
Mani naahi Bhav, mhane Deva mala paav;
Dev bajaracha bhajipala nahi re.
(You do not have Him in your heart, but ask for His blessings!
God is not some vegetable to be bought in the market)
Singing bhanjans like these, he developed a style of group Bhajan singing. He used the Khanjeeri (a percussion instrument) to great effect. It’s because of him that this instrument gained acceptance and respect amongst the people.
He did not stop at visiting villages singing bhajans but also started and successfully ran a monthly magazine called Shrigurudev for several years, to propagate and spread his ideologies amongst the people. He started the Gurukunj ashram in the Mozari village in Varhad, the north eastern part of Maharashtra. Today there are many branches and sub-branches of this ashram spread throughout this region with many devoted followers. He participated in the freedom movement too. He led the uprising of Ashti-Chimur and was imprisoned for 100 days for the 1942 uprising.
He ingrained an aptitude for discipline and social service in the villages through indoctrination of village hygiene, encouraging Khadi, helping establish roads, dispensaries and schools, prayer meetings, and other media. He sacrificed almost twenty years of his life for this purpose. During this period, though suffering from ill health, he went to Japan for the World Religion Conference and expressed his thoughts on humanitarianism. Being amazed at the range and extent of his work, Rajendra Prasad, the then President of India, gave him the honourable title of RashtraSant!
Though not educated in the conventional way, he has yet written books in Hindi and Marathi. He wrote the reference book called GramGeeta to express his principles on the Indian village.
This modern Geeta has 41 chapters, covering all aspects of a village life towards a complete development of a village. This book is divided into eight different Panchak (a collection of 5 points) based on the important aspects of a village life, and they are as follows:
- Sadharma Manthan (manifestation of God through all religions) panchak
- Lokwashikaran (attracting people through rendering honest service) panchak
- Gramnirman (village development) panchak
- Drushtiparivartan (change in perspective) panchak
- Sanskar sanshodhan (seeking of good upbringing) panchak
- Prem dharma sthapan (establishing the religion of love) panchak
- Devatwasadhan (practice of devotion) panchak
- Adarsh Jeevan (ideal lifestyle) panchak
This book has principles on the life of a village person from birth, education, married life and social life in the village. His main reason of writing this book was to permeate the new thought of Navyugdharma-premdharma (contemporary thought-the thought of love) amongst the people. He made a major contribution in the development of villages with this book. This book and Saint Tukadoji’s work would definitely contribute in making villages self-sufficient and make India into a prosperous country.
The tomb of Saint Tukadoji, who energized the dormant positive attitudes in the people through social service, is situated near the Gurukunj ashram at Mozari in Amravati district.