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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