Panduranga - 6

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sakkubai - 2

  Vyaamoha prasamaushadham muni mano vrithi pravruthyaushadham
Daithyendraarthi karaushadham thrijagatham sanjeevanaikaushadham
Bhakthaathyantha hithaushadham bhavabhaya pradhvamsanaika aushadham
Shreya praapthi karaushadham piba mana Sri Krishna divyaushadham!
       Radhekrishna! The great devotee Sri Kulasekhara Alwar in his Mukuntamala claims that the name of the Lord is a powerful medicine - aushadham! This medicine cures all sorts of diseases, like giving clarity to an enchanted mind, leading the minds of saints in the right path. It saves us from the troubles and difficulties caused by asuras. It  is the best medicine which revives the three worlds. This medicine is comforting for the bhakthas. This is the best remedy for worldly fears. It brings only good for mankind. So oh men! You please take the medicine of Sri Krishna nama! What more can anything else give than this? Great people have repeatedly highlighted the greatness of bhagavannama. We have to follow their advice and attain immortal happiness. 
       Such a valuable thing as nama is not easily attained. Only the merits of crores of births and the mercy of a sadguru will bring the nama to a person. Sadguru in his limitless mercy imparts the truth to a deserving disciple. Sakkubai was very fortunate to have met with a sadguru who gave her the precious mantra deeksha which is a remedy for all worldly and spiritual ailments. By the will of the Lord the little girl had full faith in what the mahan had told her. The mahan left her after giving her upadesa. From that moment the girl started chanting it with full faith. She never for a moment doubted the mahan's words.  As her mind was without any blemish it automatically caught on to the nama. Naturally she started enjoying the chanting.
        The gopis did chanting like that. They could never take Krishna off their mind. So chanting came to them spontaneously.  Even when they were doing their work like cleaning the house, churning the curd, cooking, bathing the babies, etc they chanted Krishna. They called out Govinda, Damodara, Madhava even when they went in the streets to sell butter and curd. Bhakthi should be like that. The mind must be attached to Krishna only and nothing else. By divine grace Sakkubai attained the same state of the gopis. She gradually lost interest in all other things. Most of the times she preferred to be aloof from others enjoying her chanting, meditating on the form of the Lord.
      Naturally the parents became worried as her devotion grew. Her devotion also developed in to madhurya bhavam or nayika bhavam. For her Vital became her lover, her everything. She kept this secret to herself. She envisioned Panduranga in various forms in her heart. As her love deepened it led to pangs of separation - viraha bhava! She flowered in to a beautiful damsel. 
       Now many marriage proposals came up for her hand. Many came to see her. But she looked lost somewhere in thoughts unmindful of the world around her. This made them hesitate to accept her. People talked that she was not normal. Nobody is normal in this world. Some are crazy about money, some for women, some for power etc etc. But the people think they are the only normal people. Sakkubai was crazy about her Lord. The parents became really worried now. Sakkubai was unmindful of everything.
          Can anybody change divine plans? We will have to accept whatever happens. Lord is only doing what is good for us! At last by divine will a boy came to see Sakkubai and was enchanted by her looks. The parents of the boy also liked her very much. So the marriage took place in her village. Sakkubai just accepted everything as Vital's wish and obeyed. She went to her husband's village with her in laws. For the first few days all was well. They all showed love to her and were very friendly. But as the days went on the mother in law noticed that Sakkubai had no interest in worldly gossips or such things. She did all her duties as the daughter in law of the house in a pleasant manner. But never indulged in wasteful talks with them. Even while doing her duties she kept quiet with her mind occupied with her Vital. 
      When her work was over she used to sit alone with closed eyes and do chanting. She was always happy with the thoughts of her Lord in her mind. She used to sing the Lord's glories while drawing water from the well or washing clothes. Sometimes she will laugh to herself thinking about Krishna's bala leelas while cleaning the vessels. Her mind was completely occupied with the Lord. This was very much misinterpreted by the family. Neighbours also talked ill of her. Her mother in law blamed that she was thinking of her paramour and has no interest in this family. Sakkubai did not mind their complaints at all. Her faith did not falter an inch. She did not try to prove herself. 
        Her patience only fired their hatred towards her. Her husband also started ill treating her. She considered everything as the leela of Vital only. Vital is playing with her in the form of her mother in law, father in law and husband, she thought. So she never felt sorry. She had heard about the stories of gopis. Whenever they get a new dress they would go to Krishna wearing it to ask about His opinion. Krishna would spray some mud over the dress and say now the design was good. The gopis enjoyed that too. Sakkubai was a gopi in the heart of her hearts. So she enjoyed whatever happened. Her family began to torture her now. What happened then? We will see in the next issue!
Radhekrishna! Radhekrishna!

Panduranga - 5

Saturday, November 17, 2012

     Radhekrishna! Sakkubai is a great devotee of Panduranga. She was a simple woman who did intense bhakthi while attending to her household chores sincerely. Stories like such bhaktha's are a real inspiration for us who are immersed in  worldly matters. The whole mankind is in search of endless bliss. To attain 'paramananda' all are running madly after everything in vain. Bhakthi is a sure way to attain that 'paramananda' or ultimate bliss! But we are totally ignorant of how we should be in devotion. Hearing stories of great bhakthas who have lived an ordinary life like us will show and inspire us in the path of devotion. 
      Once a mahathma was going with a thampura in his hand singing the glories of the Lord. So occupied was his mind in the Lord that he did not notice a small sand fort in his path. It was a river bed and children were playing there. A little girl had built a sand fort and the mahan stepped over it by mistake. Immediately the girl cried out angrily 'hey nana'! He stood in his tracks and came to his senses. He asked the girl why she called him. The girl angrily replied that he had stepped on her sand fort. Only then did he notice what he had done and apologised to her that he had done unknowingly. The girl replied that whether he did it knowingly or unknowingly he has spoiled her fort. 
       The mahan totally agreed that she was absolutely right and said he forgot himself and made the mistake. The girl asked what was that made him forget himself. He was fascinated by her timidness and replied that he was singing the glory of the Lord which made him forget everything. The girl's name was Sakkubai. Now she began to attack the mahan with her questions.
Sakkubai:- "oh! Will the singing of the glories of the Lord make us forget everything?'
Mahan:- "Yes! It will make us forget the world itself!"  
Sakkubai:- "But you must find some solution for the mistake    
                you have done" 
Mahan:- "Tell me what should I do?"
Sakkubai:- You give me the tambura you are holding in your hand. 
The Mahan laughed at that and asked her whether his tambura and her sand fort are equal things. She smartly replied that for her the sand fort was as important as the tambura for him. Enchanted by her smart answer the mahan handed the tambura over to her. She tried to play it but couldn't do it properly. The mahan asked her what she was doing with it. The girl replied that she was trying do what he was doing. He had told her that singing the names of the Lord will give immense happiness. The mahan seemed very happy and content. She wanted to experience the same happiness so was trying to imitate him. 
            Immensely pleased with her reply the mahan touched her head with his hands. The girl now asked him whether she can also attain the same happiness by chanting the Lord's name. The mahan was taken aback by her straight forward approach. He could see a great devotee in her. He wondered at the strange leela of Panduranga. Only the Lord had directed him to come that way to meet this child. He gave the Lord's nama as upadesa to the girl in her ears!
Sakkubai:- Nana! What will I get by chanting this nama?
Mahan:- My child! You will get everything in your life.
Sakkubai:- Nana! Where are you going now?
Mahan:-  Pandarpur! To see my Lord there. 
Sakkubai:- Oh! How does he look?
Mahan:- He stands on a brick keeping His hands on His hip for     balancing Himself. He wears a peetambaram on His hip. His feet and hands resemble the lotus. His anklets are very  attractive. He wears a tulasi garland on his wide chest. His smile is very enchanting. His eyes are long and wide like a lotus petal. He wears an unique gopi mark on His forehead. The golden crown shines over His head.
      From toe to top the mahan described the lord. The form entered the innocent girl's heart. He told her that if she chanted the nama continuously she can see the form directly. He asked her to be devoted to the Lord to enjoy unlimited happiness. Sakkubai asked him when she can see him again. He replied that when she really wants to see him he will come. She returned the tambura to him saying that since she can get anything now by chanting the nama she did not need the mahan's tambura. The mahan was taken aback by the simple faith of this little girl. He blessed her with all his heart and moved away. Keep chanting until we meet in the next issue to know what happened to Sakkubai. Radhekrishna!

Panduranga - 4

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


      Radhekrishna! We will continue from the last issue's story of Panduranga! Thus the Brahmin brought back the Lord whom we are now able to see in Pandarpur.The brahmin was none other than the great devotee Bhanudasa!  To this day all who enter the premises can go and touch the Lord. There is no discrimination of caste, creed, rich or poor, educated or illiterate. He stands there showering His grace on all without any reservation.
       Sri Namadeva was the rebirth of Sri Uddhava, Bhagavan Krishna’s minister and friend. He had a blemishless devotion to Lord Pandarinatha. He has sung innumerous abhangs on the Lord. His abhangs are sung by many till today. Even today we can see his house in Pandarpur. The sound of singing abhangs will be coming out of the house always. The devotion of the people of Maharashtra for Panduranga is unequalled. The chanting of Vitala, vitala fills the atmosphere. Nobody feels ashamed of chanting bhagavannaama. Those devotees have enchanted Him with their devotional chanting. 
        Once Namadeva happened to meet a girl in the street who was orphaned. He took her to his home and brought up her in the family. She was called Janabai! The whole family was immersed in devotion. Janabai did house hold chores chanting Vital nama. Nama deva used to sing bhajans till late hours of the night. Janabai enjoyed the bhajan. She too developed immense bhakthi in her heart. One night it was raining outside. Namadeva was unconscious of the world, singing abhangs. The house had mud walls. Slowly the mud walls began to be soaked by the heavy rains and started melting.  Namadeva was blissfully unaware of everything immersed in his bhajan. Panduranga rushed to Namadeva’s house and stood leaning on the mud wall supporting it. After finishing his bhajan Namadeva came out to have a look at the temple. He was totally surprised to see Panduranga himself standing outside supporting the wall. His peethambaram was soiled totally.
        Namadeva was very much moved by the mercy of the Lord. He invited the Lord inside his house. Together they put some wooden planks as support to the mud wall and entered the house. The members were overwhelmed with happiness seeing Panduranga in their house and welcomed Him. It was past midnight. Namadeva enquired whether the Lord would have food. Panduranga was only delighted to have. So Janabai hurriedly started making rotis for Panduranga. Meanwhile Namadeva requested Him to change His wet and soiled dress. Panduranga refused Namadeva’s dress saying it was small for Him. Immediately Janabai offered her long sari. Panduranga happily accepted and wore it. Janabai took the discarded peethambara inside for washing. In her intense love for the Lord she hugged the dress, smelt it kissed it and danced around holding it in her hand.
       Namadeva seated Panduranga and served the prepared rotis. Panduranga enjoyed the devotion with which the rotis were soaked in. All the members were given His left overs as prasadam also. Janabai was in the kitchen eagerly watching all these. Suddenly she felt sorry that she was deprived of Panduranga’s prasadam. Her heart ached much for it. After the untimely dinner Panduranga showed signs of sleepiness. So a comfortable bed was arranged for Him and He was put to sleep. All the members lay around the floor near Him.
     Inside Janabai was awake with a throbbing heart. How much she wanted to be with her Lord! How much she wished to touch Him! He is so near but still so away from her, she felt! All were fast asleep. The Lord got up slowly without making any sound at all and entered the kitchen. Janabai was sitting there longing for the Lord. Suddenly seeing the Lord in front of her she was totally surprised and cried out Panduranga. The Lord immediately pulled her towards her in a tight hug mumbling her cry to a soft sound. Tears were rolling down her eyes. She couldn’t stand the mercy of the Lord. He caressed her lovingly and dried her eyes. The Lord who had hugged Radhika Rani, Kuchela and others, hugged Janabai too. She was overwhelmed and kept crying. Panduranga asked her “why are you crying now?”
When I think of my guru Namadeva’s kripa tears keep coming” she replied. They kept talking with each other, singing, and dancing for a long time. Janabai’s devotion earned her these solitary moments with the Lord. The sounds of their laughter, and mumbled whisperings woke Namadeva’s mother. Thinking it was some third person who has entered Janabai’s room she came with a long stick and gave a blow to Panduranga. Panduranga cried out ‘Namadeva’ in pain. Seeing that Namadeva dissuaded his mother saying it was Panduranga blessing Janabai.
      Day dawned. Panduranga left Janabai  and hurried to His temple. The pujaris chanting mantras opened the sanctum door. They were astonished to see Panduranga wearing a worn out sari instead of His peethambara. They enquired within themselves how it has happened. Namadeva came in and with tears in his eyes told everyone that it was Janabai’s dress. He narrated everything that happened last night. People were stunned to know about Janabai’s devotion who never showed it to anyone. Thus the Lord through is divine leela proved the bhakthi of His devotee to the world. Panduranga is the form of simplicity, sowlabhya. For His devotees’ sake He would go to any extent. Numerous are the experiences of His devotees. Sakkubai was a simple woman who worshiped Him with great fervor. For her sake He once assumed her own form.We will see her story in the next issue. Radhekrishna!

Panduranga - 3

Monday, September 17, 2012

      Radhekrishna! We saw that the king realised the greatness of the Guru. He now approached the Lord and fell at His feet.The king held on to the feet of the deity and cried. He was moved by the Lord's mercy and beauty. He was reluctant to be separated from Him. He pleaded with Panduranga to come with him. Panduranga was moved by his devotion and agreed to go with him to Vidyaranyanagaram. The king took the Lord with him back to his country. 
      Now this was something the people of Pandarpur never expected. They were shocked at the The whole town of Pandarpur cried. We have become orphans now. What mistake have we done to dessert us like this, they cried. Many devotees went to Vidyaranyanagaram trying to bring back Panduranga. But the king firmly held the Lord with his devotion. So they had to settle down there for His sake. At last a great mahan happened to come to Pandarpur. To his surprise there was no presence of the Lord in the temple. He enquired and the people told him everything. Pandarpur with out Panduranga looked deserted and empty. All of them were living with a hope that He will be back here some day. Seeing their plight the mahan started for Vidyaranyanagaram.

         He saw that the King had kept the Lord in his palace itself. He was doing all services to the deity with great love. The mahan understood that it would be very difficult to move Panduranga from this place. He began to chant continuously in his heart. With great fervor he began to chant Panduranga. At night he reached in front of the temple. He found that the doors were kept open. He walked straight inside and stood in front of Panduranga. Panduranga smiled at him as if to say ‘ah have you come at last?’ The mahan burst out to the Lord. ‘You are not fair in asking that question having left your place. What have you done to the poor devotees who were so much attached to you?  Don’t you know they have nobody else but you? How much faith they had in you? Is it fair on your part o have deserted them like this? Even a grass blade there is feeling your absence very much. Now You start immediately to Pandarpur.’ He was firm in his demand.  Panduranga replied that the king’s devotion has tied Him up here. The Brahmin retorted that he knew Bhagavan’s tricks. “You only give devotion, You only make somebody do something and finally You put the blame on poor devotees. Enough of your pranks! Now behave yourselves and come back!’
    The Lord revealed His helplessness. He had promised the king that He would leave the country if the king did any sin. Until then He would remain there only. The king was very careful and never did any mistake at all! The Lord gave the Brahmin a diamond necklace He was wearing and asked him to go back. The mahan started non stop chanting of the nama and went away to a dark corner in the town. Dawn came. The king walked in, removed the nirmalya flowers from the deity. Suddenly he noticed that a diamond necklace was missing from the Lord’s chest. He was very much upset and immediately started enquiry. Someone informed him that a Brahmin had come here very late the previous night. The king immediately ordered for a search around to bring the Brahmin in. The Brahmin was found out and brought before the king. The king saw the Brahmin was wearing the diamond necklace on his chest. Enraged the king immediately ordered him to be killed. There was no enquiry on the matter.
       The culprit would be made to sit on a sharp wooden sword. The weight of the body would pull down the sword inch by inch, until the body is cut into two. The most terrible way to die was sentenced for the Brahmin. The Brahmin was locked up in the jail. Before he was hanged the sentry asked him if he had some last wishes. The Brahmin said he wanted to meet the one who was behind pushing him into the jail. Surprised by his answer the man asked who that person was. The Brahmin replied that it was only Panduranga in the King’s palace who was responsible for pushing him into jail. According to his last wish he was taken into the temple. He stood in front of Panduranga and said “Panduranga! I cant understand this leela of yours. Whatever be it I pray only that Your form should be in my eyes till I close them. I shouldn’t forget this divine form at the time of terrible pain. I don’t feel sorry that I am being punished for wearing Your diamond necklace. I am only happy to be a part of your divine leela”
        So saying he prostrated before the deity.  Pandurangan could feel tears welling up in His eyes. The Brahmin was brought to the gallows and made to sit on the sharp wooden sword. He kept on chanting the nama. To the utter surprise of everybody the wooden sword started growing leaves and branches holding the body of the Brahmin up. Bewildered the guards ran to the king and informed him. He rushed to the spot and released the Brahmin from his ties. He enquired who he was. The Brahmin replied the same Panduranga who had come with him had brought him to this place. He only gifted his necklace to him. Otherwise the Brahmin had no need for a diamond necklace in his life. Seeing the brahmin’s face the king realised he had made some mistake. He took the Brahmin to Panduranga. The Lord smiled at them and told the king that He was now leaving. Bewildered the king asked why He wanted to leave him. The Lord replied that the king had promised to Him that if he made some mistake the Lord can go back. The king understood His trick and pleaded why He enacted the whole drama. The Lord replied that though the King’s devotion tied Him down here, the people of Pandarpur were very much upset over His long absence. Moreover Rukmini devi too was praying repeatedly to come back. Unless the king made some mistake He couldn’t leave this country as promised. So He planned this divine leela. He blessed the king to spend the rest of his life in His divine memories.Radhekrishna! Radhekrishna!

Panduranga - 2

Friday, August 17, 2012

       Radhekrishna! In the last issue we saw that for the sake of his bhaktha, Pundalika, Bhagavan stayed in Pandarpur in all His ‘sowlabhya’ meaning simplicity. Anybody who goes there can go near Him and touch. The place where the Lord asked the gopas to wait is now known as Gopalpuri now.
We can enjoy Panduranga with all our five senses in Pandarpur. We can see Him, we can hear Him everywhere around, we can taste Him in the form of prasadam, we can smell Him in the flowers offered to Him, and we can touch Him with our hands too. The only place where we can enjoy the Lord by touch! His form is very much bewitching for the eyes.
        His lotus feet seem as if pearls and corals are set around the fingers. The ankles are beautiful with the golden anklets. The golden peetambara slightly covers the knee and below. Both His hands are kept on the hip. Some say that His peetambaram has loosened and He is holding it with both His hands! The wide chest is decorated with a variety of gold and diamond chains. Tulasi and other garlands also rest over there in pride. He has a beautiful slender neck. The lips give out a secret smile. The nose is very long. The lotus eyes look half closed, half open. The forehead is adorned with a wide gopi tilak which looks inverted.  The golden crown spreads great luster around. Whoever sets his eye on Him will fall in love at the first sight itself. Such a fascinating deity!
      Once a Brahmin from Paithan was very much devoted to Panduranga. He always kept changing the name of Panduranga. He once wanted to conduct a yaga. The sasthras say that a Brahmin should conduct yagas.  This Brahmin roamed around to collect money for the yaga. He reached Vidyaranyanagaram. He approached the king of the place and asked for help. The king enquired the Brahmin about Pandaripuram. The Brahmin was very happy to talk about his Lord. With closed eyes he told the king that Panduranga is a powerful deity. He has a golden crown with gems studded.  The cow Kamadhenu is giving milk for the Lord. All the thirty three crores devas are doing service (kainkaryam) there. The temple pillars are made of pure gold. The flooring is of coral. The doors are made of prescious pearls etc etc. The houses in the street resemble palaces. It is almost like Vaikunta only. There is no sorrow, hunger or pain.
        The king laughed and said he couldn’t believe a word of what the Brahmin was telling. He said the golden pillars, coral flooring, pearl doors, golden peeta, palace like houses etc etc., were all his imagination only and it can never be true. The Brahmin made a promise that what he said was all true. He was prepared to show the king the truth now itself. So the king and the Brahmin started for Pandarpur immediately. Nearing the town the king teased the Brahmin again telling him if he cannot show the golden temple and palaces he will be beheaded. The Brahmin silently prayed to Lord Panduranga. “Oh Lord you, as antharyami have showed me the golden city of Pandarpur and prompted me to tell about it. Now it is your duty to prove it.”  The king believed that there is no chance of such a place to be present in the earth.
       They neared the Chandrabhaga. The king enquired the Brahmin how far they had to go yet. The Brahmin said that they have neared. The king got down from the chariot and looked forward. He was stunned by what he saw. The city was bright like the sun even from a distance. It was shining with a blinding luster. As he neared he could see the palaces made of gold. He could see the coral streets also. There was no need for sunrise at all. He couldn’t take off his eyes. All around it was full of divinity. The chanting of nama filled the atmosphere. As he neared the temple he could see what the Brahmin told was true. In the golden temple he saw the Lord Vital smiling mischievously at him. The king cried out aloud ‘Vital’! The brahmin’s implicit faith showed the king the true form of the place.
Next moment everything became very normal. It was an ordinary river with villagers bathing their cows in it. The streets were strewn with cowdung and other junks. The king realised that it was the greatness of the Brahmin that gave this great vision. He realised the power of Pandarinath. He fell down on the feet of the Brahmin.Without this guru could he have dreamt of seeing the glorious Pandarpur?!?! Radhekrishna!

Panduranga - 1

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Kaduvinai kalayalakum kamanai payantha kalai
Itavagai kontathu enbar ezhil ani ananthapuram
Patam udai aravil palli payindravan padam kana
Natamino namarkal ulleer nam Makarios chonnom.

       Radhekrishna!  Here in Thiruvananthapuram, it is Lord Krishna who is present in a lying posture.  It is our little Krishna but in a big form.  He is holding a lotus flower in His left hand playfully.  Kama was burnt down to ashes by Lord Siva.  Krishna gave him a form and was born as Pradyumna, Krishna’s son.  Nammazhvar says that we can throw away all our sins as trash, if we enter Thiruvananthapuram.  It is a very beautiful place, he says as Bhuvanasundara, is lying here on Adi Sesha. Adi Sesha has raised five of his hoods as an umbrella for Bhagavan – ‘patam udai aravil’. Adi Sesha is enjoying Bhagavan happily.  If we surrender to those lotus feet of Pathmanabha then all our sins would be washed away easily.  Nammazhvar says if we start walking towards Thiruvananthapuram then with each step we take, our sins get burnt down.
        Once Sri Alavanthar visited Thiruvananthapuram. He saw the lotus feet, and thirunabhi through the two doors. He refused to look at the face because he felt he was not qualified for that! Pathmanabha is premaswaroopa. Alavanthar said only gopis had the right to look at His face. This premaswaroopa, standing with both hands on His hips is Panduranga! In Thiruvananthapuram one has to look at the Lord through three doors. The same Krishna, whom you are not able to see properly in Thiruvananthapuram, stands in Pandarpur beckoning us to touch His feet. This is the only place where one can enjoy the Lord by touch. Panduranga is wonderful. He poses as Rajadhiraja spreading a charming smile, welcoming the bhakthas, giving assylum to all who touch the holy feet.
Pundalika sarika bhaktha nahi, Pandari sarika kshethra nahi
Vitoba sarika daiva nahi, Thukkaram sarika sadguru nahi
There is no bhaktha to equal Pundalika for whose sake bhagavan came to this place.  Pandarpur is also a place unequalled since bhagavan Himself came there. Vitoba or Panduranga too is unique, since He is sowlabhya moorthy.  It was Lord Dwarakanatha who came here to see Pundalika. In this temple bhajan goes on and on by devotees. For their sake Krishna has taken his abode here. Here rituals or customs are not given much importance. Only devotion is needed. Anybody can go and touch His lotus feet. Nowhere else is this grace available! And there is no sadguru to equal Thukkaram.
        Bhagavan says “Naa ham vasaami Vaikunte, na yogi hrudaye ravau, mad bhaktha yathra gaayanthi thathra thishtami Narada”  “Hey Narada I am not present in Vaikunta, or in the heart of great Yogis. I am present where my devotees sing about me.” Numerous stories are there about the origin of this Kshethra. One of them goes as follows. Once while in Dwaraka Bhagavan was very much pained in viraham or separation from Radhika Rani. Radhika Rani immediately rushed to His presence. Both of them moved to a secluded place. Rukmini devi happened to see them together accidentally. She became upset by what she saw. She felt sorry that she has not yet attained the divine bhakthi of Radhika Rani. Immediately she left Dwaraka and went away to do penance to attain the state of Radhika Rani.
        Bhagavan, as also others in Dwaraka felt her absence very much. Bhagavan took some yadavas with Him and they all set out in search of her. They roamed around villages, towns, hills everywhere. At last they reached a forest. Suddenly the gopas could feel the mother’s presence there. Krishna asked them to wait there and Himself went deep inside the forest. At last He reached where Rukmini was doing penance. Bhagavan stood in front of her with both His hands on His hip. He teasingly said “hey Rukmini do you think only you can do penance? I can also do penance do you know?” Seeing His posture Rukmini couldn’t control herself and laughed aloud. His form was fascinating for her. Both of them stood there staring at each other for a long time lost in themselves.
        Pundalika was the only son of his parents. He ill treated his parents at their old age. He used to hurt them with harsh words. The blow from tongue is more fatal than the blow from a knife, it is said. Elders should never be hurt by harsh words. It is a great sin. Youngsters should take great care in using proper words. They should never use improper words. Fed up with their son’s behaviour they decided to leave the house and go to Kashi to leave their lives there. Hearing this, the son also wanted to go to Kashi with his wife. Both of them climbed on a horse and followed the old couple. With great difficulty they walked the distance. They would stop their journey in the evening and spend the nights in some villages. Pundalika tortured them by asking them to wash the horse, feed it etc. They bore everything patiently.
        One night they stayed near a Rishi’s ashram. In the late hours of night Pundalika happened to notice some ugly looking women getting into the ashram. Entering the ashram they began to do chores like cleaning the surroundings, drawing water from the well, making rangoli in the front courtyard, cleaning vessels etc. Pundalika saw that as they were doing these chores their looks also kept changing. When they came out of the ashram they had gained wonderful forms and they left. Pundalika couldn’t make out what was happening. He doubted he was dreaming. But he knew that he was awake. His mind kept thinking of the strange phenomenon again and again. He wanted to find out the truth and so stayed there next day also. At night he saw the same women coming as ugly as earlier and leaving in divine forms. He rushed to the women and asked them who they were and why their forms changed like this. They answered him that they were the great rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati.
          Taken aback by this revelation he asked why their form was so ugly when they entered the ashram. They replied that since numerous sinners throw away their sins in the rivers they become very ugly. All the sins of the world make them ugly. To relieve themselves off the sins and to regain their good looks they are daily coming and doing service to Kukkuda Rishi who was in the ashram. Hearing this, a great change came over Pundalika. He knew he too was a sinner and felt ashamed of himself. When the day dawned Pundalika entered Kukkuda Rishi’s ashram. He fell at the Rishi’s feet. The Rishi smiled and enquired why he had come there. Pundalika replied that he happened to see the deities of the three rivers come there and get purified by doing service.
        The Rishi said to him that it was people like him who spoil the rivers by their sins. Pundalika was thoroughly taken aback. He asked the Rishi why he was calling Pundalika a sinner. The Rishi told him that he knew that Pundalika was ill-treating his parents which was a great sin. His mother had carried him in her womb for 9 months. Can he ever repay her love? He also reminded him that old age was imminent for him also. At lease Pundalika’s parents had one son. But he had no issues at all. Who will look after him? Pundalika felt as if a great blow was given to him. He realised the truth and repented very much. He rushed to his parents and fell at their feet. He seeked their apologies. The old couple could not make out what was happening. They felt sorry that their son was crying. They caressed his head and consoled him.
          Pundalika and his wife now changed completely started a new life serving the parents with great care and love. He dropped the idea of visiting Kashi. Instead he found satisfaction in serving his parents. He never thought that he was doing a great service to his parents. That humility made him win in his life. Life was going on like that for them. Bhagavan Krishna who was also in the same area happened to hear about Pundalika’s service to his parents. He wanted to meet Pundalika in person and so one day came to his hut. Pundalika was doing some service to his parents. He saw that somebody has come at his door but since he was busy he asked Him to wait outside. As there was no proper furniture to offer he threw two bricks towards Krishna and asked Him to be seated on that. It is said that Lord Indira due to some curse had come as a brick and so had the fortune of carrying the Lord in his body. Krishna accepted Pundalika’s offer and stood over the bricks with both His hands on His hips.
        After finishing his duties Pundalika along with his family came outside to see who had come. He saw Lord Dwarakadeesa waiting patiently on a brick for him. He shone like a precious stone full of luster. Pundalika shed tears of joy. He prostrated before him. The Lord’s mercy was unbearable for him.
“Prabho! How could you think of me a mean creature who has sinned a lot?” he asked. Bhagavan replied “I am very much pleased by your devoted service to your parents! I wish to give you something. Tell me what would you want from me?”
Pundalika replied “Please stay here forever for the sake of innumerable sinners like me!”
Bhagavan readily agreed and became a deity. Rukmini also joined Him. “Vittu” in Marathi means brick. ‘Ba’ means father. Since He is standing on the Vittu Bhagavan came to be called as ‘Vittoba’.  Vittu also means Vishnu. The Bhima river was flowing in the place. She curved herself like a half moon for the temple to be built. She became famous as Chandrabhaga from then onwards. Lakhs of devotees visit this place throughout the year. On Ekadasi days the crowds surges like high tide. We will see the greatness of Panduranga and Pandarpur in the coming issues. Radhekrishna! Radhekrishna!


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