Tukaram an influence view. Was the subject of the talk I gave on this Ekadashi day i.e. on 10th April. Whole speech is to big but here are some excerpts.
The life and work of Tukaram makes an excellent watch tower for casting a glance at Marathi Literature and culture. His work and persona is lofty enough to offer good panoramic view.
The language Marathi might have been used perhaps as vocal language since 5th century but the earliest instances of literary contributions can be traced since 12th century onward i.e. about 700 years back. The time of Tukaram is 400 years back. Time wise he is little off centre towards present time. It would be interesting to note the development of Marathi literature before him and after him. How much influence he had taken from his predecessors and how much influence he has left on his followers. He has written about his predecessors like Sant Jnaneshwar, Sant Namdev, Sant Eknath and his disciples like Bahenabai, Rameshwar Bhat, Nilobarai too have written about him. An Abhang by one of his disciple Bahenabai somes it all in eloquent fashion by using metaphor of a temple construction. She compares Jnaneshwar with plinth, Namdev with expanse of superstructure, Eknath with columns and Tukaram with the dome. She takes upon herself the role of flag flying on top with many others.
Jnandeve rachila paya, ubharale devalaya
Nam tayacha kinkar, tyane rachile avaar.
Janardana Eknath , kham dila Bhagwat,
Tuka zalase kalas, bhajan karit savkash.
Baheni fadakati dhaja, nirupan kele voja.
Baheni, Rameshwar, Niloba were disciples and contemporary. People have written about Tukaram in every century thereafter. Right now probably dozens are writing about him. If being written about is a test then Tukaram will have few parallels from Shakespeare, The form of Abhangs is as much attributed to Tukaram as the sonnets is attributed to Shakespeare.
Sushloka wamanacha kinve Arya mayrpantachi
Ovi Jnaneshachi Abhang prasiddh Tukayacha.
Only greatest of the great are honored in such fashion. Dozens of Doctorates will fade in comparison.
Tukaram is so popular that many of his lines have come to pass as adverbs in contemporary Marathi language like Aliya bhogasi asave sadar, Gath padli thaka thaka . Many of his half liners have become titles contemporary Marathi plays like Tuze ahe tujpashi, Vaje paul apule, Knay saurasi jaye
Apart from Literature his work and persona has fascinated commoner and learned alike. More about it some time later.