Sri Muralidhara Swamy – Veedu Thedi Varuvan Vitthalan show in Star Vijay , in 2009 or 2010 (not very sure about the year ) introduced me to Vitthal/Vithoba/Panduranga and to the world of Namasankeertanam !!!
This topic is an ocean 🙂 One can go on and on about it , I have tried to highlight few incidents and stories of few saints who were very fond of Vithoba of Pandharpur !
Story of Pundalik : Pundalik was the only son to his parents..Let’s read on more about his life :
Pundalik used to torture his parents along with his wife. Unable to bear the torture given by them, the old parents decided to go to Kashi for a pilgrimage tour, knowing this plan Pundalik and his wife also joined them . On reaching there they stayed in the ashram of Saint Kukkutswamy. One night Pundalik woke up and saw 3 women going inside the saint’s hut with soiled clothes but when they came out their dress turned out to be neat and clean and they suddenly vanished out of the sight. Pundalik could not understand what was happening so he stayed awake the next night to see if they would come again , as expected 3 of them came in ,Pundalik gathered courage and spoke to them. The women introduced themselves as the Holy Ganga,Yamuna and Saraswati and their clothes become dirty because of the sins which is washed away by the devotees taking bath in the river but after they clean the hut of the Saint Kukkutswamy , the dirt in their clothes is also cleaned.
They further added that , Pundalik was the biggest sinner of all , as he was torturing his parents , which was not the right thing to do. Pundalik realised his mistake and was a transformed person from that minute. He understood ‘Mata’ and ‘Pita’ are gods in the form of humans . Pundalik and his wife apologised to his parents and requested them to return back to Dandirvan.
Conversation between Sage Narada & Sri Krishna :
Once Sage Narada visited Dwaraka to meet Lord Krishna. He found Lord Krishna looking sad and dull. Narada was worried , Paramatma who is always happy and keeps the world happy with his leelas is now sad?! On enquiring , Sri Krishna replied saying , though he had a really good time in his childhood at Vrindavan with – Mother Yashoda and Father Nanda , he felt bad for not having got an opportunity to play , tease and love his parents Devaki and Vasudeva. Narada understood Lord Krishna’s feelings and asked him what would quench his thirst of having missed his childhood with his parents Devaki and Vasudeva , who were jailed because of the Lord. Krishna thought for a while and said if on this earth there is a son who sincerely takes care of his parents like humans worshipping god, then that sight would give him solace! Narada smiled and replied Yes there is one such person , name being Pundalik. Lord immediately started from Dwaraka to Dandirvan,his consort Rukmini also joined them.
Krishna meets Pundalik :
When Lord Krishna and Rukmini reached Pundalik’s hut , he was busy attending his parents. Though he knew Lord Krishna, the king of Dwaraka had come to meet him, he did not leave his parents abruptly, Pundalik threw a brick for the Lord to stand on and continued serving his dear parents. This part is described beautifully by Sri. Muralidhara Swamy in one of his discourse, like how when humans observe someone very keenly , it becomes an involuntary action to take both hand and place them on their hip, same way Lord Krishna was so engrossed with the sight of Pundalik serving his parents that he took his hand and put them on his hip, this being the exact posture of Pandhuranga !!
Sri Krishna staying there forever as Vitthal :
Pundalik after attending to his parents , came out running prostrated before the Lord and offered his apologies. Lord Krishna was so ecstatic and happy seeing such a devoted son, he hugged Pundalik and offered him a boon. Pundalik requested the Lord to stay there with him forever. As an act of granting this wish , a divya murthy(divine idol) came out of Lord Krishna and Rukmini , which is now the presiding deity at Pandharpur 🙂 no sculpture , sculpted the idol 🙂
Pundalik is referred to as “Uttama(best)-Bhakt(devotee)” – as Lord personally came to Dandirvan to meet him.
Vitthal , Vithoba of Pandharipur :
“Vit” means brick in Marathi , hence Lord Krishna was named as “Vitthal” or “Vithoba”
Lord is referred to be of someone who has the qualities of –
- Saulabhyam(one who can be attained easily) and Saundaryam- (Beauty personified).
- Chaitanya (one who shines or radiates) and Chinmayam (one with vast knowledge)
Paramatma can be seen in different postures in this world :
- Reclining posture – Arthasayanam , Yogasayanam , Virayasayanam, Bhogasayanam
- Standing posture
- Dancing posture , like Kaliya Narthanam Krishna and so many other !
In Pandharpur , the posture of Lord Krishna is described as “Samacharana Sarojam” meaning–Both his feet are placed equally (Sama) signifying that for Lord everyone is equal , lord does not differentiate between :
- rich or poor
- educated or uneducated
- intelligent or foolish
- human or any other living species.
Mahan or Great Saints of Pandharpur :
Pandharpur situated at the banks of Chandrabhaga River is a reservoir of Saints !!! Again Sri Muralidhara Swamy explains beautifully that “Each grain of sand in Pandharpur is considered sacred and he also says – “One can count the number of grains of sand in Pandharpur but we cannot get the total count of the number of Saints/Mahan/Devotees who have stayed there and immersed themselves in the pure devotion of Vithoba by singing and dancing with his name – Vitthal , Vitthal , Vitthal on their lips !!
Vitthal is one god who played , danced, washed utensils, became a barber , cobbler for the sake of his devotees.It is not possible to cover all the saints in one blog 🙂 there are so many ! Dyanehswar, Nivritti, Sopana , Muktabai , Eknath , Namadev , Tukaram …..list goes on !!
I have written about a few 🙂 Most of the saints lived in the 13th century !
Saint Dyaneshwar :Dynaeshwar Maharaj was born in the auspicious day of Krishna Janmashtami 🙂 he is supposed to be the one who established the Bhakti Marg. Saints-Nivritti , Nyanadev , Sopana , Mukta Bai were the siblings of Dyaneshwar. Many miracles did happen in his life . Some of which are :
- Seeing the cruelty imposed upon a buffalo by a man and being ridiculed on trying to stop it , he made the buffalo recite vedas by keeping his hand on the buffalo’s forehead stunning everyone present there and giving a message that all living beings have to be respected !
- In another episode , he was challenged by Changdev who could ride on tigers using his mystical powers , Dyaneshwar Maharaj made a wall fly and rode on it, thus vanquishing the pride of Changdev, who later became a great disciple of Dyaneshwar Maharaj.. He spread Vitthal nama and bhakti through out his life.
Sant Namdev : Namadev was born in a very pious family , from his childood he had no interest in anything other than thinking about Vitthal and chanting his name. When he was young he used to love going to temple of Vithoba with his mother. Once his mother prepared a delicacy and sent it as an offering for Lord Vitthal through Namdev , Namdev went to the temple and offered it to the Lord, on seeing no signs of the Lord having it , he started crying very badly , Lord who could not see his devotee crying came out in a human form and consumed the food. Namdev’s joy knew no bounds, he ran and narrated the incident to his mother who was shocked. The next day again she sent some food to be offered to the Lord through Namdev but this time she followed him stealthily and when she saw the Lord coming out and having food from her son , her joy knew no bounds !!!! Namdev also had the opportunity to meet Sant Nyanadev and both became close friends because of their common love and devotion towards Vithoba of Pandharpur , they even went out for pilgrimage together !
Sant Tukaram : Tukaram was an ardent devotee of Vitthal and has contributed various works in literature , it is believed Lord Vitthal himself came in his dreams and initiated him with the words ” Rama Krishna Hari”. Namasankeertanam now is full of abhangs by Sant Tukaram ! Tukaram remains as one of the greatest saints in the history of Pandharpur.
Narhari Sonar : Narhari Sonar was a goldsmith and was a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva and stayed in Pandharpur, he never visited Vitthal temple as he was so devoted to Lord Rudra and did not want to worhip any other god. Once a rich merchant wanted to make a waistband in gold for Lord Vitthal as an offering , he ordered for the same to Narhari Sonar, being a staunch Shiva bhakt he refused to go to the temple to take the measurements , the merchant got him the exact measurement and a beautiful waistband with gold and other precious gems was made by Narhari Sonar , when the merchant offered it to Lord, it was found to be very tight so he took it back to Narhari Sonar to lengthen it, after it was lengthened and offered to Lord Vithoba again , it was found to be loose, the merchant suggested Narhari Sonar to be blindfolded and come inside the temple premises to take the exact measurements so as to avoid any more confusions! Narhari touched Vitthal and to his shock he felt it as a shiva lingam ! In his disbelief he opened his blindfold but saw Vitthal standing there and smiling at him 🙂 he blindfolded his eyes again and touched Vitthal , again felt Lord Shiva , but standing infront of him was Vithoba of Pandharpur !! Narhari Sonar understood Lord Shiva and Lord Vitthal were one and the same 🙂 he embraced Vitthal’s legs tightly and started shedding happy tears !! He has written numerous bhajans on Vitthal and glorified the Lord !
Mastaka Linga – If we see Lord Vithoba his head has a shape of Shiva Lingam , hence he is also called as Mastaka Linga 🙂 Swarupa Linga 🙂
Janabai : Janabai was the maid servant of Sant Namdev and had unadulterated love towards Vitthal, she was also the closest follower of Sant Namadev, it is said that Lord Vitthal used to help Janabai in her household chores and through her selfless service she attained god 🙂
Ashada Ekadesi :
On ashada ekadasi the annual procession takes place in Pandharpur.
Pandharpur Wari – where the procession of devotees in huge numbers , carrying the “Paduka” (footwear) of deity and saints in palanquin happens. The two most admired palanquins are of Saint Dnyaneshwar which comes from Alandi and the second one is of Sant Tukaram which is from Dehu. This is carried out as a tradition for the past many years and is celeberated with great pomp and splendour !!
In Pandharpur Lord is made happy very easily just by chanting of his name !! Nama Japa or Nama-Sankeerthanam 🙂
As how it is mentioned in Srimad Bhagvatam Canto 12, Chapter 03, Text 52
kṛte yad dhyāyato viṣṇuṁ
tretāyāṁ yajato makhaiḥ
kalau tad dhari-kīrtanāt
In Satya Yugam – meditation was the means to attain God.
In Treta Yugam – performing holy sacrifices was the means to attain God.
In Dwapara Yuga – worshipping the lord’s lotus feet (archana) was the means to attain God.
In Kali Yuga – chanting of god’s name or Nama Sankeertanam is the only way to attain God 🙂
Nama Cha Bajar Pandhari – ‘Bajar’ means market , Pandharpur is a bajar where you get hari naam in abundace!!
I have not visited Pandharpur .. but few Vithoba temples which I have visited are :
- Sri Vitthal Temple – Govindapuram , Thanjavur district, Tamil Nadu.
- Sri Panduranga Perumal Temple – Thennangur , Tamil Nadu.
- Panduranga Swamy Temple – Triplicane (this is very close to Parthasarathy Swamy temple )
- Sri Panduranga Ashramam – Kodambakkam
Today being Ashada Ekadesi 🙂 I hope you all had a good time reading this blog and spending few minutes thinking only about Vitthal and his bhaktas 🙂 While I was typing, I kept listening to an Abhang [on loop] leaving the link here , do listen if interested 🙂
Lets meditate on the form of Vitthal ! Samacharana Saroja – Mastaka Linga, Kasturi Thilakam , Makara Kundalam Panduranga !!! Jai Jai Vitthala , Jai Hari Vitthala !!
As already mentioned one blog is not sufficient to cover about Pandharpur & Vithoba !! Signing off half heartedly 😦 but yes do let me know if you wish to see a part 2 of this and also please post your comments on this blog 🙂
Link of Abhang :
Source of the pics : Pintrest 🙂
First image is by my favourite artist Kesav , instagram page – @krishnafortoday