Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar sang abhangs (devotional poetry in praise of Lord Vitthal) of Sant Tukaram while in jail during India’s freedom struggle.
“While in jail, Veer Savarkar used his handcuffs like the chipli (a musical instrument) of Sant Tukaram and sang his abhangs,” Modi said.
He was addressing a gathering of warkaris (devotees undertaking the pilgrimage to Lord Vitthal temple at Pandharpur), after inaugurating a shila (rock) temple at the Sant Tukaram Maharaj Mandir dedicated to the 17th-century saint at Dehu near Pune.
Modi also interacted with the warkaris during his visit, which comes ahead of the annual ‘wari’ pilgrimage which will commence on June 20 from Dehu.
The Prime Minister was also presented with a special headgear, the Tukaram pagdi, on the occasion.
Lauding Sant Tukaram, a prominent figure in the Bhakti movement, Modi said he played an important role in the life of a ‘Rashtra Nayak’ like Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Built with a special type of Rajasthani stone, the Shila temple is a temple dedicated to a slab of stone on which Sant Tukaram had meditated for 13 days. Warkaris offer prayers at the Shila temple before starting their pilgrimage to Pandharpur.
A new idol of Sant Tukaram has also been installed in the temple near the ‘Shila Mandir’.
Sant Tukaram was famous for his devotional poetry known as abhang and spiritual songs known as kirtan. His works are central to the warkari sect in Maharashtra. Dehu, on the banks of the Indrayani river, is the birthplace of the poet saint.
Modi said the construction of Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj and Sant Tukaram Maharaj palkhi marg will be completed in five phases and Rs 11,000 crore will be spent to construct the 350-km (Alandi-Dehu-Pandharpur) highway.
Modi said Sant Tukaram had meditated for 13 days by sitting on the shila (rock) to bring the Vedas back. ”It is not just a shila but is the foundation stone of bhakti (devotion) and dnyan (realisation),” he said.
We are proud that India is one of the oldest living civilizations in the world and the credit goes to sants and sages, he said.
”India is a land of sants and in every period, some great souls came to give directions to the society. Today when the country is going ahead based on our cultural values, the ‘abhangs’ are showing us the path and inspiring us,” he added.
The PM said Sant Tukaram used to say that discrimination among humans is a big sin. ”This message is not only important for Bhagwat bhakti, but also Rastra bhakti (patriotism) and Samaj bhakti (service to society). With these messages, our ‘warkari’ brothers and sisters set on the journey to Pandharpur every year,” he said referring to ‘Wari’.
With this message, the country is moving forward with the concept of ‘sabka sath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas and sabka prayas’.
The PM said that along the lines of ‘warkaris’, the country is also progressing with the empowerment of women. ”The wari has been a symbol of equal opportunities as women warkaris also walk side by side with their male counterparts with the same zeal and zest. Similarly, the government is also providing the benefits of welfare schemes to everyone without discrimination,” he said.
He added the welfare of Dalits, backwards, tribals, and the poor is the priority of the country.
Modi said a true saint’s identity is that he strives for the welfare of the last person and this is the resolve of our ‘antyoday’ yojana.
The PM said various yatras in the country are the sources of power for the social and spiritual progress.
”With these yatras, we keep the concept of ‘Ek Bharat Shresth Bharat’ alive. These yatras connect the diversity of our country. To strengthen the unity of our country, we should keep our ancient identity alive,” he added.
The PM also said technology and infrastructure are becoming synonymous with India’s progress, ”we are ensuring that heritage and development go hand in hand”. Referring to scriptures, he said ‘satsang’ of sants is the rarest privilege in human life. ”If the grace of sants is felt, then the realisation of God automatically takes place. Coming to this holy pilgrimage land of Dehu today, I am feeling the same,” he said.
He also said a pledge should be taken to keep cleanliness in every sphere of life. ”These national pledges should become part of spiritual pledges,” the PM added even as he demanded a push for natural farming and the popularisation of Yoga and Yoga Day.