Category Archives: Pandharpur

Pandharpur – The Land Of Lord Vitthal

H.H Lokanath Maharaj say “ Throughout the provinces of India, the Supreme Lord is worshiped in various forms. In Andhra Pradesh He appears as Tirupati Balaji, in Kerala as Guruvayurappan, in Karnataka as the beautiful Udupi Krishna, in Gujarat as Dvarakadhisa and Ranacora Raya. And in Pandharpur, the spiritual capital of Maharashtra, the Lord is worshipped as Sri Vitthala. His devotees also fondly call Him Vithobha or Panduranga.”

 
Pandharpur Dhama is located about four hundred kilometers southeast of Mumbai.
Some call it Bhu-vaikuntha, “the spiritual world on earth.”
Others call it Daksina Dvaraka, the Dvaraka of the South.
The town is located on the western bank of the river Bhisma. Because of the way the river bends as it reaches Pandharpur, it is known there as the Candrabhaga (“crescent moon”). For the devotees of Vitthala, this river is as holy as the Ganges.
 
Pandharpur Dhama
 
 
Amhi jatoh amchya gava ( I am returning back to my own village)
Tukaram maharaj went to vaikhunta in self same body. Everyone thought that he will come back. But he never returned.then all of them came to know that amchya gava refers to vaikhunta. Tukaram always refered pandharpur as bhu-vaikhunta. 
Tukaram maharaj went to vaikhunta
 
 
Pandharpur is also refered ad nadabhrama – The place of musical kirtan.
 
Pandharpur is a place of musical kirtan

 

Most of the references are from pages of H.H Lokanath Maharja’s book about Pandharpur “Bhu-Vaikuntha Pandharpur”.

 

Bhu-Vaikuntha Pandharpur Lokanath Maharja

 

Vitthal Rakhumai
Vitthal Rakhumai

Story of Lord Coming Here to Meet Pundalik

 
The Padma Purana and the Skanda Purana briefly describe why the Lord journeyed to Pandharpur and why He stays there in this form.
Once Srimati Radharani, Lord Krishna's consort in the village of Vrindavana, visited Dvaraka, where Lord Krishna lived as a king. At that time, Rukmini Devi, Lord Krishna's queen, noticed that Krishna was dealing more intimately with Radharani than He had ever done with her. Upset, she departed for the forest of Dindirvana, near Pandharpur.
 
Lord Krishna followed Rukmini to apologize, but His apology left her unmoved. So the Lord moved on to Pandharpur to visit one of His devotees, Bhakta Pundarika, now popularly known in Maharashtra as
Pundalika.
 
Lokanath Maharaj mentions in his book that  Pundalik  in his young age never looked after the needs of his father Janudev and his mother Satyavati. Both Janudev and Satyavati were great devotees of lord Krishna.  when Pundalik got married he started ill treating them all the more. Tired of his tyranny, the parents decided to head for Kashi / Varanasi. It is said that those who die in Kashi attain salvation and liberation from the cycle of birth and death. This is still believed today and many people travel there when they feel their end is near. Hearing his parents plans, Pundalik and his wife decided to join them. His treachery continued so much that he made his old parents walk throughout the journey while he and his young wife rode on a horse.
 
 On the way, they came across the hermitage of the great sage, Kakkut muni. Tired of the long journey, the group decided to spend some days there. That night, Pundalik lay awake and witnessed something remarkable. Just before dawn, he saw a group of beautiful, young women dressed in dirty clothes, enter the Sage's hermitage. They did chores like cleaning the floor, fetching water and washing the Sage's clothes. After that, they went to the prayer room. When they came out, their clothes were spotlessly clean and they disappeared. Pundalik wasn't alarmed seeing this but rather he felt at peace. He kept thinking about the incident the following day. He wanted to be sure that he was not dreaming but had truly witnessed such a glorious incident. So he remained awake again. But this time, he got closer and decided to speak to the women.
 
"Who are you all?" "We are Ganga, Yamuna and all the holy rivers of India. People take a dip and bathe in us to wipe away their sins. The impurity of their mind, body and souls make us dirty. That's why you see our clothes in such filthy condition." Pundalik was amazed with their answer.
"But you are the biggest sinner of all because of the way you treat your devotee parents."
 
This was a rude awakening for Pundalik. He realized his mistake and changed his ways. He served his parents well and looked after all their needs and comforts.  Seeing Pundalik's sincere devotion and service towards his parents, Lord Krishna  was extremely pleased.
 
When the Lord reached Pundarika’s asrama , Pundarika was serving his elderly parents. So Pundarika gave the Lord a seat of brick and asked the Lord to wait. The Lord did as told. He stood, lotus hands on His hips, waiting for Pundarika to return.
While He was waiting, Rukmini, having forgotten her distress, came from Dindirvana and rejoined Him. Both of Them stayed in Pandharpur in Deity form. To this day the Lord stands on the same brick, but now He’s waiting for all His devotees to come see Him.
 
While waiting, the Lord seems to tell the devotees, “Do not fear. For those who have surrendered unto Me, I have reduced the depth of the ocean of material suffering. See, it is only this deep.”
 
He indicates the shallowness of the ocean by placing His hands on His hips.
 
Elegantly dressed in yellow and other colors, Lord Vitthala wears around His neck a vaijayanti garland and tulasi, whose aroma permeates the darsana hall and the surrounding area. His right hand holds a lotus flower and His left a conchshell. On His chest He bears the mark of Bhrgu’s foot. His ears are decorated with shark-shaped earrings, and on His forehead beneath His crown is a broad mark of tilaka. The Lord’s smile irresistibly enchants His devotees. Each pilgrim who approaches Him gets a glimpse of His peaceful smiling face and considers this the perfection of life.
 

Lord Krishna comes in  search for Rukmini in Dindirvan


 

 

Pundalika offers Lord Krishna  a brick to wait upon.


Pundalika offers Lord Krishna a brick

 

Pundalika Temple:
The Pundalika Temple is about half a km from the Vitthala Temple. This temple marks the spot where Pundalika, the Lord’s devotee, spent the last years of his life and also is place of his Samadhi. It is on the riverbank of Chandrabhaga.

Pundalika Temple
Pundalika Temple

 

Who was Pundalika in his Last Life ?

Lokanath Maharaj writes in his book that in his Last Life Pundalika was the Famous king Mucukunda who is mentioned in Srimad bhagavtam to be blessed to sleep for long in a secluded cave. The story illustrates further how Lord Krishna very expertly arranged the killing of Kalayauvana and also blessed Mucukunda . The same mucukunda was reborn again as Pundalika. (Bhu-Vaikuntha pandharpur, page 46).
For more details of Pundalika’s last life as King Mucukundas read here… 
 

 

Pundalika
Above is deity of Pundalik at his temple

Morning Worship – Kakad Arati

The worship of Lord Vitthala begins with the mangala-arati ceremony at four o’clock in the morning. After arati the Lord is offered pancabhiseka, a bath with milk, yogurt, ghee, honey, and sugar water. At some point the bathing is interrupted so that the Lord may be fed butter mixed with sugar candy. A big lump of butter is literally put into His mouth. Then a short arati is offered, and the bathing resumes. After the bath, the Lord is meticulously dressed and profusely garlanded. Finally, He is offered a mirror in which to view His appearance.
 
As a token of His merciful nature, Lord Vitthala allows everyone to watch His bathing ceremony. After this the crowds, till then restrained along the walls of the darsana hall, are let into the sanctum sanctorum.
 
Daily, thousands of devoted pilgrims take darsana (seeing of the Lord). It is also the unique tradition in Pandharpur that everyone can go up to the altar and touch the lotus feet of the Deity. Some pilgrims even rest their heads upon His feet. But one has to move on quickly.
 
After taking darsana, pilgrims re-enter the darsana hall. Looking back, they get a last glimpse of the Lord’s attractive form. In the buzzing atmosphere of the darsana hall they fall flat on the floor, offering obeisances. Then, holding each ear with the hand across from it, they turn about, springing up and down on the same spot, begging the Lord to forgive any offenses they may have committed at His lotus feet.
 
Video of :

Temple of Lord Vitthala

One of the pillars of the hall the Garuda Stambha represents Garuda, the eagle who serves as the carrier of Lord Visnu. Pilgrims embrace the pillar, with the prayer that toward the end of life Garuda will carry them back to Vaikuntha.
 

 
On the way out of the darsana hall, one sees hanging from the ceiling the famous eight prayers known as Pandurangastakam, composed by the acarya Sankara during his visit to Pandharpur in the eighth century. Each verse glorifies the beauty, qualities, and devotees of the Lord and ends with the refrain para-brahma-lingam bhaje pandurangam, meaning “I worship the supreme spiritual form of Lord Panduranga.”
 
In the same temple compound, behind Lord Vitthala’s shrine, stands the shrine of Srimati Rukmini Devi, the Lord’s beautiful consort.
 
 
Darsana, offerings, and aratis go on all day, except for a short break in the afternoon when the Deities rest. After the last arati, at eleven o’clock, the pujaris change the Lord’s dress and chant special hymns asking Him to rest for the night.
 
Just as the Lord played the role of father and grandfather in Dvaraka, here too He reciprocates affectionately with His devotees. A famous painting depicts Him in a fatherly mood, carrying several devotees, some on His shoulders, some around His waist, and others holding His finger as they walk beside Him.
The "Vi" in Lord Vithoba's name denotes knowledge and "Thoba" denotes shape. He is the shape of knowledge or the deity of knowledge.
Another meaning  is that the word "Vitthala" is said to be derived from the Marathi word "Vit", meaning brick. The reason behind the brick will be explained later in this article. "Ba" is used to denote "father" in Marathi.
 
Lord Vithal/ Vitthal/ Vithoba is none other than Lord Vishnu, Lord Narayana or Lord Krishna. It is believed that Lord Krishna had incarnated at the end of Dwarpa Yuga on the eighth day of the dark fortnight in the holy month of Shravan (As per the Hindu calendar). He is lovingly called names like Pandrinath, Panduranga, Pandhairiraya, Vithai, Vithoba, Vithu-mauli, Vitthalgururao by his devotees. But the well-known and commonly used names are Pandurang / Panduranga and Shri Vitthal / Vithal.
 
Panduranga
 
 
The story of brick – vitt
Lord Shankar told parvati “the brick thrown by pundalik to pandurang is not an ordinary brick, but lord Indra himself. Long ago there was a demon named Vritrasur who was killed by indra by trick. While dying the demon cursed him to become a brick. However he was told that he will be expelled from this curse when Lord Vishnu will stand on the brick. So Indra was forced to accept the brick body. As a brick Indra had got good fortune of being in the house of pundalik. It was this brick which pundalik threw for Lord to stand on. As a result indra was free from the curse.