Countless are the legends that have grown around Sant Tukaram, the simple-minded, pure-hearted, great-souled, poet-saint of Maharashtra.
Rukmani, the consort of Lord Vithal wished to see for herself Tuka’s kindness to the humble and lowly. Assuming the form of a poor woman, she came to Tuka’s door and begged for a sari, for she had only rags to wear. His heart melting at the tears of the poor woman, Tuka promptly gave her a sari belonging to his wife, Avali.
Avali, who was returning home from the river, saw the stranger walking away with her sari. Reaching home she demanded suspiciously of her husband, “Who was that woman at our door?”
“My dear Avali,” began Tuka. “You should have seen the condition of that poor sister! She had no decent clothes to wear! My heart was touched – so would yours, Avali, had you been here at the time!”
“Never mind that!” said Avali sharply. “Just tell me, did you or did you not give her my green sari?”
“As a matter of fact I did,” agreed Tuka. “It was for the love of Vithal, He who regards the poor as His own...”
“You and your Vithal!” said Avali with gritted teeth. “I’ve had enough of Him! And I intend to let Him know what I think of Him, too!”
In her wrath and frustration, she picked up a heavy stone pestle – a grinding stone – from her kitchen and made her way to the temple at Pandarpur. Her intention was to break the image of Lord Vithobha, whom she blamed for reducing her husband to folly and indigence.
Lo and behold! When she reached the temple she was stunned to see Goddess Rukmani clad in her favourite green sari! The pestle fell from her hands and she bowed down with tear-filled eyes at the feet of the Divine Couple who had made her play a part in their leela! She shed tears of bitter repentance, begging the Lord’s forgiveness – and when she raised her eyes, she found herself sparkling with gold and silver, clad in a silk sari!
The Lord gives, gives and ever gives – though we are apt to imagine that He takes away from us!
(Dada J.P. Vaswani is humanitarian, philosopher, educator, acclaimed writer, powerful orator, messiah of ahimsa, and non-sectarian spiritual leader.)
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