Santa Charana Raja
An Abhanga by Tukaram Maharaj

Sung by Viju Kulkarni

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Abhanga Santa Carana Raja

The recording of this abhanga is available in the Siddha Yoga Bookstore.

Introduction by Kunti Fanjul

Tukaram Maharaj was a prolific poet-saint who lived during the first half of the seventeenth century in the village of Dehu in Maharashtra, India. He composed several thousand abhangas, devotional poems set to music, and filled them with his deep longing and love for God.

In the Marathi language, abhanga means “unbroken, indestructible”—just like the unchanging love of God described by Tukaram and which he invites us to experience in our own hearts. These songs have the power to awaken bhakti, divine love and devotion, and to inspire us to become established in God’s presence within.

The Siddha Yoga Gurus honor the ancient wisdom of the poet-saints and their expressions of devotional love, bhakti. They encourage students to sing these abhangas and study the saints’ teachings as a means to develop their own devotion and worship of God.

In Santa Charana Raja, the abhanga on this page, Tukaram praises the power of the saints and describes how keeping their company awakens us to God’s love.

Tukaram himself, having endured terrible suffering and loss in the early part of his life, yearned for the companionship of the wise ones in order to cross over the ocean of worldly distress in which he had been adrift. Tukaram had no physical teacher to awaken and guide him, so he took refuge in the songs of the saints of his tradition—such as Jnaneshvar Maharaj, Eknath Maharaj, and Saint Namdev who lived centuries before him. Finally, Tukaram’s search bore fruit, and in a dream, an enlightened Guru from the world of the Siddhas imparted on him divine initiation. In the last verse of this song, Tukaram addresses the significance of the Guru: “…the company of a saint is rare. It takes great merit to meet one.” What a precious opportunity we Siddha Yogis have to pursue sadhana, our own search for the Divine, with our Guru’s grace and guidance.

What fascinates me about the poet-saints of India is that they share stories of their inner journeys in their compositions, inspiring us on our path through the evocative and musical language of poetry. Many of the poet-saints understood—and I personally experience—that the power of music affects the heart directly. This is why listening to and singing devotional music is considered the easiest and fastest way to experience God. The vibrations of devotional music release the exquisite love that flows unceasingly at the core of our being.

On the Siddha Yoga path, everyone is motivated to chant and sing with a full heart. Why is this so? Because when we make the effort to offer our voice in praise, a wondrous alchemy takes place. The wisdom carried in these songs washes away ignorance and reveals our own innate greatness.

Viju Kulkarni, or Viju tai as she is lovingly known, is an expert Siddha Yoga musician trained in Indian classical music. She has served Gurumayi Chidvilasananda and Baba Muktananda for decades with her musical offerings. On this recording, Viju tai sings a tender rendition of Tukaram Maharaj’s Santa Charana Raja. The melody is set in the Yaman raga, which carries the rasa, the “essence,” of happiness, devotion, and peace.

When you read the words and translation of this song, try reading them aloud and see what you experience. Hum along with the melody and reflect on what your heart feels. Sing along and see what happens to your state of being. By singing devotional songs with reverence, we pay homage to God and the Guru for the blessed life we have. As Tukaram says in this abhanga, “So powerful are the saints, that if you even touch the dust of their feet, the seeds of all your desires will be burnt to a crisp.”

To experience the company of the saints, we can follow Tukaram’s example and sing! Throughout almost three decades of offering seva as a Siddha Yoga musician, I have learned that whether or not I think I sing beautifully, what really matters is the sincerity of my offering. When I sing with a pure heart, God listens. And when I give a little bit of love to God, God gives love back a thousandfold.