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The chief gate of Vithoba temple, Pandharpur. The small blue temple in front of the gate is saint Chokhamela's memorial (samadhi).

Chokhamela was a saint in Maharashtra, India in the 14th century. He belonged to the Mahar caste considered untouchable in India in that era. He was born at Mehuna raja, a village in Deulgaon Raja Taluka of Buldhana district. He lived at Mangalvedhe in Maharashtra. He wrote many Abhangas. He was one of the first Dalit poets in India. Chokhamela lived with his wife Soyara and son Karmamela in Mangalvedha. Chokhamela's hereditary task was to remove dead animals from people's homes and farms and to dispose of them beyond the town limits (this is task that has traditionally been performed by Mahars in Maharashtra). As a lower-caste person, Chokha was forced to live outside the town in a separate settlement for members of the untouchable caste.

He was initiated into bhakti spirituality by the poet-saint Namdev (1270?-1350?). Once when he visited Pandharpur, he listened to Sant Namdev's kirtan. Already a devotee of Vitthal alias Vithoba, Chokha was moved by Namdev's teachings.

Later, he moved to Pandharpur. The traditional story is that the upper castes here did not allow him to enter the temple, nor did they allow him to stand in the door of the temple. So he built a hut on the other side of the river Chandrabhaga.

While working on construction of a wall, the wall fell down, crushing some workers. Chokha was one of them. Chokha's samadhi in front of the Vitthal temple, Pandharpur where it can be seen to this day.

Books

On the Threshold Songs of Chokhamela/translated from the Marathi by Rohini Mokashi-Punekar

References

External links








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