Rashtrasant Tukdoji Maharaj
He still has the hold of the villagers' mind through his most popular Khanjiri Bhajans.
“Mani Nahi Bhaav, Mhane Deva Mala Pav, Deo Bajarcha Bhaji pala Nahire”
“You have not made up your mind to give up your ego, and you want that God should bless you, why ? Do you think God is like vegetables available in any market.” This is one of the most popular bhajans (holy song) of Great saint Tukdoji Maharaj. He would compose the poetry instantly, and would sing in very melodious voice in large public gatherings. People would mix up their own voice and it would be greatest chorus song. Tukdoji Maharaj composed and sung thousands of bhajans composed only at the time of program. First President of India Dr. Rajendra Prasad himself went to meet him (1949) at the Gurukunj Ashram, Amravati. President was so impressed with Tukdoji’s earnest desire for the welfare of the villagers that he called the later “Rashtra Sant”. The national saint. Tukdoji was known thereafter as Rashtrasant. Almost forty years after the death of Rashtrasant (1967), one would see the popularity of his bhajans increasing day by day and also increasing are the followers of his doctrines. The similar songs in the similar tunes shall be heard in the Vidarbha and nearby regions in thousands of villages daily evening.

The name of this great man was Manik and father’s name Namdeo. He was born (1909) in Ingle family (surname). His father was a very poor tailor. He was never interested in taking the education, instead he would like to sit with the people in temples and sing the songs. He learned the art of playing “khanjiri” (an instrument of about 6 inches diameter with the diaphragm of thin animal skin, played by one of the palms and held in other). Manik accepted the great saint of Varkhed Shri Adkoji Maharaj as his Guru. Manik would amuse the people by singing his own instant compositions on the rhythm of khanjiri.

After a few years, Manik left the home and stayed in different dense forests for years to gather in search of the eternal knowledge. (Atmadnyan). After enlightenment he came back to public life. He came extremely popular due to his “easy to sing” kind of bhajans for the villagers.

Mahatma Gandhi used to call him for meeting and he would like his bhajans very much. Manik was named as “Tukdoji” by his Guru, the name which he very much like. Tukdoji Maharaj entered the independence movement at that time and instigated people to participate in the struggle for independence. He wrote the bhajans of patriotic meaning, that created awakening in the villagers. He wrote the volumes of “Gramgita” a book that became bible for the villagers. Rashtrasant Tukdoji maharaj participated in the Vishwadharma Parishad (International convention of religions) held in Japan in 1955 and received the applauding. He would help the people in distress at the time of national calamities.

Rashtrasant Tukdoji maharaj was great saint. He had made the progress of the villages and villagers to be his life mission. He attacked the bad conventions in public, like animal sacrifice. He taught the poor villagers about keeping the good character and to be dutiful. People going to liquor shops in the evening time, would prefer to sit in the bhajan group singing the bhajan that would give him more pleasures. May be the innocent villagers do not understand the hidden meaning in the words of Tukdoji, but one must appreciate that he could keep them engage creatively in the devotion of God. This affected crime level in the villages greatly and also the tendency of the villagers to run to the cities. Tukdoji created BHAJAN culture in the villagers of Vidarbha and major part of Marathwada.