Panduranga - 18

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Thukkaram 2.

            Radhekrishna! In the last episode we saw that Viswambharar an ordinary business man of Dehu becoming a great devotee of Panduranga. He became so immersed in devotion that he felt it was impossible for him to be separated from his Lord. His heart melted with the grief of viraha. Bhagavan could not stand the suffering of His bhaktha. He appeared in the dream of His bhaktha and promised to stay with him forever. In the dream Viswambharar saw Vittal running towards a dense wood on the outskirts of Dehu and suddenly disappear. Viswambharar woke up excited and called everyone for searching the Lord. At last they found a heap of tulasi leaves on the ground. He believed that the Lord must be there only and so instructed to unearth that place. Then a voice was heard from the heavens - "  The Lord standing on the brick has come here attracted by the devotion of Viswambharar. Gently remove the sand with hands.Then you can see!"
        Viswambharar chanting "Vittal Vittal" gently started removing the sand with his hands. Suddenly his hand felt something hard. When he removed more sand he could see the crown of the Lord. He was over joyed and began to unearth excitedly. Slowly the forehead, the eyes, the nose the lotus lips came out in the order. On further search he could feel Rukumayi devi also standing near the Lord. The crowd became very excited and all began to chant "Panduranga Panduranga" with full devotion. Finally the deities came out. Immediately somebody brought some water milk, flowers etc. Abhisheka was done to the deities there and flowers offered. The people of Dehu were so happy to see the Lord has come to their place along with his consort. A temple was built in that place and the deities consecrated there. Even today we can see the Lord in the temple in Dehu on the banks of Indrayani river. 
      Viswambharar became more more devoted to the Lord because of him simplicity. His wife Amabhai and children Hari and Mukund were also very much devoted to the Lord. Viswambharar's mother was happy seeing this and prayed to the Lord to take her back. Her purpose was fulfilled. It is the duty of every mother to see that her children are devoted to the Lord. When that was fulfilled she decided to go back. The Lord very much pleased with her prayers merged her in Him. Viswambharar offered all the karmas he did to the Lord. Whatever we do must be to please the Lord only. Then our karmas reach the Lord directly. When the doership is not there then the results also do not affect us in anyway!
        Viswambharar led a life of a karmayogi. The Lord appeared before him and asked what he wanted. Viswambharar smiled, what more did he need. He had the Lord at his beck and call in his village itself. Still when the Lord insisted he said he would like to have a great devotee in his clan who could purify the world with his devotion. He will be remembered for generations to come. Hearing this Panduranga was more pleased with his demand. He did not ask for any wealth or riches. He has asked for a pure devotee! Immediately the Lord gave him the boon that a great devotee would be born in the family who would benefit 21 generations above and below! Viswambharar was over joyed at this. 
         Life was going on well like that. Viswambharar felt he had enough of this life and wanted to reach the Lord. With prayers he attained the lotus feet of the Lord. Radhekrishna! Radhekrishna! 


Panduranga - 17

Sunday, November 17, 2013

                      Thukkaram 1
                Chanting of bhagavannama is a sure way from the samsara - the sea of worldliness. Every jeeva is immersed in the sufferings of this world and wants to get out of the vicious cycle. An easy way tested and proved by great mahathmas of our country is namajapam. How the sweet names of the Lord should be chanted? Great bhakthas have shown us the way. Not only the sanyasins or the ascetics but the worldly people also can attain the Lord easily. In order to prove this many bhakthas have taken birth in this holy country. Thukkaram is such a great bhaktha who proved the power of chanting of the divine names of the Lord.
       Dehu is a beautiful village situated on the banks of river Indrayani. There was a merchant named Viswambharar. He did his business with honesty and sincerity. His business was doing very well. One day his mother called him aside and told him that he was alright in doing his business, looking after the family, loving his mother, giving alms etc. But she said that was not enough. He must do something for his athma also. Making money and running the family are for the body only. These are transient. The body might perish along with the wealth acquired. He must acquire a wealth which will never perish. It will support him not only in this birth but in all his births to be.  Viswambharar was surprised at her words and with folded hands asked her what it was.
       The great lady then instructed him to go to Pandharpur and take a bath in Chandrabhaga. She advised him to cry and pray to Pundalika for devotion. Then he should go to the temple. He must cry aloud 'Panduranga' and rush towards the Lord. He must take hold of the Lotus feet of Vittal who is standing on bricks. His blessings are the only unperishable wealth in this world, she said.Their ancestors did the same she said. It was because of their holy Pandhari yathra that he was doing fine now. Hearing this Viswambharar prostrated her and immediately started for Pandharpur singing bhajans from his heart.
        Viswambharar reached Pandharpur and went straight towards the river Chandrabhaga. He prayed to her sincerely to teach him devotion. Then he proceeded to the sanctum of Pundalika. He prayed to Pundalika to give him devotion to see Vittal. Then he went to the temple. He raised his hands over his head and cried aloud 'Panduranga'.  He rushed towards the deity and set his eyes for the first time on the Lord. The Lord standing with his hands on his hip, stood smiling at him. Viswambharar was simply captivated by the enchanting look. His eyes showered tears. He felt he had lost all these years without seeing Panduranga. Now he was happy that he had made it. He wished that he should stay back there seeing the beautiful form of the Lord daily. He prayed to the Lord that He should make him visit again for the divine darsan.
       At last he had to make up his mind to go back with a decision to visit Pandharpur frequently. Viswambharar came back home a changed man. He fell at his mother's feet and thanked her for the great gift she has given. He told her that he would like to go on Ekadasi days. The mother was overjoyed at this. She wanted her son to be devoted to the Lord. She said he was on the right path in his life now. Viswambharar was pained by the separation from the Lord. He cried and cried out his heart. He began to wait eagerly for Ekadasi days. He never missed a single Ekadasi day to visit Pandharpur. 
        It was during one Ekadasi he felt very sad to leave Pandharpur. He cried to the Lord and Bhagavan gave darsan to him. He consoled him saying He is present everywhere. Viswambharar pleaded the Lord to give a place at those lotus feet. Bhagavan promised to give him darsan when he wanted and instructed him to go back to his home. Viswambharar returned home reluctantly. His mother was pleased with his viraha bhava. That night bhagavan came in his dream. He called with great love "Viswambharaa! Dont cry! I will be with you always!" saying this the Lord began to run away. Viswambharar followed him running. Bhagavan reached inside a deep wood. Suddenly Bhagavan disappeared and Viswambharar opened his eyes. He kept thinking of the dream again and again. He remembered the wood was very familiar to him and then recognised it. It was on the border of Dehu. 
         Then he knew that the Lord had come in truth. He called everybody and said the Lord had come to Dehu. "Come! Come! Lets all go and receive the Lord" he cried. The people thought that he had gone out of his mind. Still they wanted to see what was happening. So everybody rushed towards the wood. They could't see anything first but there was fragrance of tulasi leaves in the atmosphere. Viswambharar felt the smell and searched frantically. He found some tulasi leaves lying on the ground. He followed the leaves and found a heap of tulasi leaves at a place. He shouted "the Lord is here! the Lord is here!". 
         Could Viswambharar find the Lord inside? Wait and see in the next issue. Radhkrishna! Radhekrishna!

Panduranga - 16

Thursday, October 17, 2013

       Radhekrishna!  Bhagavan takes over the responsibilities of those devotees who have offered their lives to Him. The little child who lies in bed near its parents has no worry about anything. It will ask his mother for water and call the father to take him to the toilet. The parents attend to its call without any hesitation. The child puts forward its demand without fear. Because it has full faith in its parents. The parents also oblige since they know it is fully dependent on them.  The same parents when the child has grown up and demands for water, the mother will ask him to go and take for himself.  If we surrender to the Lord like the child He will take care of our lives.
           Once some devotees of Lord Vital gathered together and were singing bhajans. It was late night. It was suggested that some sweet drink be made with jaggery (panakam) and offered to the bhakthas. One of them ran to a shop to buy the needed things. The shop keeper had put off the light and was on the process of closing the shop. The bhaktha requested him to give him the things. The shop keeper agreed and hurriedly gave the things the man demanded and closed the shop. The drink was prepared with jaggery, dried ginger etc. and distributed to the devotees. Whole night the bhajan was going on without any hindrance. They all sang with full devotion.
            It is only due to the Lord's grace that we are able to sing. But we  think that it is our inert talent in our. It is only the Lord who is making us sing and talk. Even a dumb one is able to make sounds, but cannot talk. Unless God gives us the power we cannot do anything. The bhakthas sang without any trace of ego and didn't even know the time was running. Well it dawned ! The shop keeper as usual went to open his shop uttering the Lord's name. He tried to arrange the things and suddenly his eyes fell on a box kept over the table. It contained rat poison. Wondering how he had left it there he suddenly remembered last night's incident. He was shocked to find that he has parcelled the poison instead of jaggery by mistake. Since it was dark inside and he had kept the two sacks side by side this mistake had happened. 
       He cried out 'Panduranga' loudly fearing he has done a grave mistake. His body was shivering. He has given poison to all the bhakthas who were singing the Lord's name ! What a great sin he has done! All of them would be dead by now. He has fallen into the hell for many births to come ! He collected himself and ran towards the house crying out Panduranga Panduranga! When he neared he could hear the bhajan still going on. He felt relieved. Oh by god's grace they have not used the thing he thought. Anyway he hurried inside the caught the man who had come last night. He asked him where he has the kept the things he bought last night. He innocently replied that they were used last night itself. They had made the drink, offered it to the Lord and have taken it.
       The shop keeper was stunt. He couldn't utter a word. How come they are all still alive even without a mark of illness! He stared at the deity of the Lord. Suddenly he noticed that the deity had turned blue in colour below the neck. He broke down and cried aloud. The devotees seeing his strange behaviour asked him what has gone wrong. Then he narrated everything and said the Lord had saved them all from the poison. The Lord had accepted even the poison he had offered ! All of them were speechless. They all did bhajans for their sake only. They sang bhajans to forget their problems, to purify themselves and to attain moksha. But the Lord has protected them in spite of that. So now thankfully they started singing bhajans again. 
       Put all your worries at His feet and sing His songs. His karunyam is seamless. You chant the nama while doing all your works. It is not necessary that you sit in a group and sing bhajans. It is not at all necessary that you should be able to sing. If you chant the Lord's name sitting alone in your home the Lord will listen to it with pleasure. You offer your mind and heart to Him. He needs only that. Radhekrishna! Radhekrishna!

Panduranga - 15

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

      Radhekrishna! A staunch devotee of Lord Siva and a severe rival of Lord Panduranga Naraharisonar was faced with a strange problem in his life. First he was forced to make an exquisite jewellary for the one whom he despised most! Then he was forced to enter the temple also and touch the deity with his own hand. Now he was staring face to face with the one whom he never wanted to see in his life! What more punishment he needed in this life! Naraharisonar stood bewildered. Whenever he closed his eyes and felt with his hands he could clearly feel the form of his favourite Lord Siva. But when he opened his eyes he saw Lord Vittal. He was confused and defeated. He couldn't understand what was happening. His ego would never allow him to accept the power of Vittal.
              He was sure he felt the kapaala haaram, the smooth and cool snakes that ornamented his Lord, the trident in his hand, the matted hair with Ganga matha in it, the axe in one hand, everything when he
searched with his hands keeping the eyes closed. But as soon as he opened them he could see the beautiful form of Lord Vittal only. He was puzzled. Each time he looked at the form he was being attracted to that beauty. Slowly he was tempted to look at the form again and again. He fought in his mind but failed miserably. The Lord was looking  at him as if to say 'where else will you go my dear. You will have to come to me ultimately'. Slowly it dawned in him that all the gods are present in Him only. Slowly he was being defeated by this enchanting form of Vittal. He understood that all the other Gods are chanting His name only. He now saw the form of Lord Siva inside Vittal and the form of Vittal inside the form of Lord Siva. How could he separate the forms, he realised. 
       Suddenly he broke down and cried at the feet of the Lord. All his inhibitions were washed out completely. 'Oh Lord how I have wasted my whole life so far!' People around were stunned to see the change in him. The place was filled with the cries of 'Jai bolo Pandurang ki' and Jai jai Vittal'. Naraharisonar welcomed the cries to his heartful. Now he realised the grace of the Lord. What a leela he has played to bring him towards the Lord. He washed the feet of the Lord with his tears. The bhaktha who was watching all this too was moved with emotions. He cried 'hey Panduranga! Karunasagara! Please accept my humble offering also Vittala!'. Hearing his heart rending cries the Pujari full of pity for him casually tried to put the jewel on the deity. Wonder of wonders the jewel was just right for the Lord. It shone like the bright sun on his hip. The Lord had accepted the bhaktha's offering whole heartedly!
         If somebody like Narahari who had been hating the Lord was pulled towards Him then what to say if we hold on to the lotus feet and do continuous namajapam! Will not the Lord take us on His lap? Do hold onto him bhakthas and do namajapam continuously. You will realise the power of the Lord. Radhekrishna! Radhekrishna!

Panduranga - 14

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Naraharisonar 2
      Radhekrishna! In the last issue we saw that the ornament made by Naraharisonar for Panduranga did not fit to the Lord. The bhaktha's disappointment was great. He was worried that Panduranga did not accept his offering. His anger turned towards Naraharisonar. He came running to Naraharisonar's shop with the golden belt. He shouted at him 'Do you know your work?'. Naraharisonar became red faced and asked him why he was blaming him. The bhaktha then told him that the jewel did not fit the Lord since it was a bit smaller. Narahari took the jewel from his hand and checked with the measure string. He was surprised to see that the bhaktha was right. It was a bit smaller than the mark in the string. He couldn't understand how it happened. He was sure he did the work with utmost care and concentration. It is now proved that the mistake was on his part. He was puzzled. Anyway he admitted his mistake and promised to remake it to fit the size.  
        So Narahari cursing himself started and work again. He finished it and handed the jewel to the bhaktha's hand. He said it was the last time that he would venture into such project and said not to disturb him anymore with this. The bhaktha took the jewel and with his heart full of prayers entered the temple. He hoped that this time it should be the right fit and the Lord should accept the offering. He apologised to the Lord if he had ego in his mind. The Pujari took the jewel from him and tried it on Panduranga. This time it slid down the hip easily as it was a bit loose. The Pujari tried again and again to fix it somehow. But it would fall down again and again. The bhaktha was again defeated. 
         With tears in his eyes he went to Narahari's shop. Seeing him Narahari guessed that something was wrong again. When he was told that the jewel did not fit again he got very angry. He said that he would not do anything now. Those people were testing his patience he said. But the bhaktha also was not prepared to leave the matter. He said Narahari had promised to make the jewel perfectly as he wished. Now he has not fulfilled his words. It was not his falt. He had supplied the necessary gold, precious stones etc as Narahari demanded. Inspite of that he has disappointed him. By now people hearing about the strange story gathered around the shop. Now they all supported the bhaktha. What was the use of a jewel which did not fit to the lord?  Hot words crossed and finally it was decided that Narahari himself should take the measure and finish the jewel.  He tried to oppose it saying throughout out his life time he has never entered that temple and how could they expect him to come there. But he was alone on his side.
         Narahari felt he was trapped well. He could not get out of this situation. He had to do away with the work once for all. Now he has no other way but to measure the hip of Vittal himself. Hating himself for agreeing to such a nasty work he mutely agreed to come to the temple of his worst enemy. But he put forward one condition. He would tie his eyes and then only enter the temple. He would take the measurement with his hands. Everybody agreed to him. His eyes were tied and was led into the temple. Lord Siva danced with joy that one of his bhakthas was pulled by Sri Vittal. Narahari went inside chanting Namasivaya, Namasivaya loudly. The Lord smiled ' aha at last you have come here. Now let me see how you escape from here'!
           Narahari asked somebody to take his hands to the hip. The Pujari place his hands on the hip. He searched around with his hands. He felt his hands were touching tiger skin. He could even feel a snake. He was surprised. 'What is this! Is it not my Lord Siva? Are these foolish people calling my Lord only as Vittal?' he thought.  Excited he slowly led his hands downwards. He could feel ash on the body and also snake anklets on the feet. He was sure it was his Lord Siva himself. Encouraged he felt his way upwards towards the hands. He could feel the trident of the Lord very clearly. He couldnt control himself anymore. He just tore open the cloth covering his eyes and lo, before him was standing his enemy smiling mischievously. 
         Narahari was baffled to see Vittal. How could he have been mistaken? He hurriedly closed his eyes again. He felt very much embarassed. How he was fooled so easily ! He felt sorry for himself. Chii ! What a fool he has been! He would finish the measuring and leave the place immediately he  thought. He hurriedly took his hands to the deity. By mistake his hand touched the shoulders. He could clearly feel the smooth and cool serpant now. He felt upwards and felt the matted hair with Ganga on it. Hurriedly he half opened his eyes only to see the naughty smile of Vittala. 'Hey here you are caught' was the expression in His face.  Narahari couldn't accept his defeat. Again with closed eyes he searched now purposefully. He wanted to know what has tricked him to believe it was Lord Siva.  Now we will leave him like that for sometime. Let the Lord play with him as He wishes. See you all at the next issue. Till then Radhekrishna! Radhekrishna!

Panduranga - 13

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

          Radhekrishna!  Panduranga is the form of simplicity, sowlabhya. Pandarpur is the only place where we are forced to surrender. The pandits will push our head to the lotus feet of the Lord.The man behind us in the queue will only push us forward towards the Lord. Inspite of Panduranga's simplicity and love a man despised Him very much. He even did not want to hear His name like Ghantakarna. We will now see the story of Naraharisonar - one who hated Panduranga but ultimately turned to be a great devotee.
       Naraharisonar was an expert goldsmith living in Pandarpur. He was a pure saivite - a devotee of Lord Siva. Somehow he did not like Panduranga and hated people going to the temple chanting aloud. But since he was in Pandarpur he had to see loads of devotees, singing aloud abhangs, dancing on the streets. Daily he had to pass the temple to go to his shop. Unknowingly he did circumbulation of the  temple daily. The antharyami knowing Narahari's hatred for Him kept him very near and would interfere in his path someway or other daily. That is His leela! Panduranga is so possessive that He cannot stand anybody turning his face away from Him. He decided to win over Narahari. It is only His karunyam with which He defeats us and pulls us closer to Him. Whoever tries to run away from Him ultimately land up in His lotus feet. That is the greatness of the Lord. 
        According to the divine leela a rich man from another village came to see Lord Panduranga. For a long period in his marriage life he was childless and was blessed with a child by the grace of Lord Panduranga. He wanted to offer something for the limitless grace he received from the Lord. The Lord always snatches whatever they have from His bhakthas first. Then He will snatch the devotee himself in the end. This is openly stated in Srimad Bhagavatham too. The Lord as antharyami inspired him. He stood in front of the Lord and stared at the fascinating form for a long time. The charming form from toe to top looted his mind completely. Lotus feet and hands, slender hip and neck, broad shoulders, coral lips, long nose, shining cheeks, wide eyes, curly hair, everything was capturing him. Watching His hip he was reminded of Yasoda matha tying Him onto a stone mortar. The mark of the rope was left on His hip forever. 
         Suddenly he thought wasn't it a good idea to make a golden belt for the Lord. 'At least I can also tie Him this way like Yasoda matha' he thought. He immediately enquired at the temple whether his offering would be accepted. They were ready to accept. The Lord is waiting to accept whatever we offer so that He can shower grace for that! Well the rich man enquired whether there was anybody who was good at making the belt. Immediately they referred Naraharisonar who was a staunch opposer of Lord Vittala! But of course he was a wonderful goldsmith. What a strange leela!
       The man went to Naraharisonar. He welcomed the rich man and enquired what he wanted to make. He replied that he wanted Narahari to make a golden belt for His personal God. It should be the best with precious stones studded in it. Narahari happily agreed to do that. He was sure he could make the most woderful golden belt for the rich man's personal God. Next he asked the rich man the measure of the hip of the Lord. He said he preferred to measure it himself because he did not want to take any chances. The rich man was happy and said he would take Narahari to the temple.
Narahari: Ok. I will come with you. Where is your temple?
Bhaktha: Oh in this village only. 
Narahari: Wonderful! Then I promise you I can make the perfect one which will please you. Which is the temple? Come on tell me.
Bhaktha: Oh it is the main temple in this village. Dont you know? Lord Panduranga's temple.
Narahari closed his ears. He was shocked to hear his enemy's name. He was a totally changed person now. He shouted angrily at the bhaktha 'Hey get out of here! How dare you come to my shop and ask this to me?
Bhaktha: Well what happened? What is wrong with you? I clearly told you that I want a golden belt studded with precious stones for my Lord and you agreed to that a moment before. Now why are you shouting like this. Are you insulting me? 
Narahari: You dont talk to me. I cant take your order. You may go to somebody else.
Bhaktha: But why? You must tell me the reason for the sudden change in attitude.
Narahari: I wont do for your Lord. I hate Him.
Bhaktha: But why?
Narahari: I am always meditating Lord Siva only. 
The bhaktha laughed. 'Dont you know that your Lord Himself is immersed in my Lord's meditation? He has clearly told 'ahameva achyutha priyah'.
Narahari sonar was irritated to the core to hear this. 'I dont want to hear such silly stories. I dont believe He is god at all. How can He be greater than my God.
Bhaktha: Ok. let it be. But dont u make jewels for many ladies and children.
Narahari: Yes of course.
Bhaktha: If you dont consider my Lord as God then what objection have you to make this jewel. You may consider that you are making for an ordinary person. Does that harm you?
But Narahari did not agree to that. He was very reluctant to accept the offer. The Bhaktha tempted him with  a lot of remuneration since he was the only goldsmith who was expert in this art. By this time hearing the raised voices a small crowd had gathered around his shop. Now the public also interefered in their quarrel. Most of them supported the Bhaktha. Many who were jealous of Narahari were happy to see that he was defeated. The argument was going on and on. Finally the pujaris of the temple also interfered and talked with Narahari. Ultimately a compromise was formed and Narahari accepted to do the work for a huge fee ignoring the fact that it was for Lord Vittala. The Lord has His own way of winning over people. Narahari agreed to make the ornament on the condition that the bhaktha would bring the exact measurement of the Lord's hip. 
        The bhaktha happily took the measurement of the hip with a string and marked on it. Narahari took the measure and asked the bhaktha to come back after about a week. The antharyami in Narahari confused him totally and made him work for the Lord. With full concentration Narahari worked out the jewel in a unique design. He felt proud that even his enemy wanted him to make a jewel. When the bhaktha came after a week he showed him the jewel. The bhaktha was taken back at the exquisite design he had made. He was very very pleased with the jewel. Carrying the jewel he went to the temple to check the fitting. The eyes of all who saw the piece bloated with wonder at the beauty of it. When he tried to tie the belt around the Lord's hip he was dismayed to see that it was a bit short. However much he tried it would fit in to His hips. The man was shattered. Nobody have ever seen such a beautiful ornament before. But unfortunately it does not fit Him. 
      We can very well guess the disappointment of the bhaktha. What happened next? Wait and see. Till then Radhekrishna! Radhekrishna!

Panduranga -12

Monday, June 17, 2013

Kooba kumbhar 3
Mauli chandraka bhooshanaa marakatha 
Sthambhaapiraamam vapum
Vakthram chithravimugdha haasa madhuram
Baale vilole driso
Vaacha shaishava sheethalaa madagaja 
Shlaaghyaa vilaasasthithir
Mandam mandamaye! ka esha
Madhuraaveethimitho gaahathe. 
         Akroora brings Lord Krishna from Brindavan to Mathura. People hearing about His arrival gather to have a look at Him. A girl asks her friend who this might be. 'Hey friend, look! His  hair is decorated with peacock feathers. His body looks like an emerald pillar. His face is sweet with attractive smile. His eyes keep moving about. He walks like a wild elephant. He moves slowly along the streets of Mathura. My sakhi, can you tell me who this might be?' Sri Leela suka depicts this scene vividly in his Krishna karnamritam. 
         Radhekrishna! In the last issue we saw that Kooba kumbhar was caved in the well he was digging. His wife never lost her faith in the Lord and waited patiently with the full hope that her husband was still alive inside the mud. Everybody tried to advise her that she should be brave to accept the loss of her husband. But she didnt believe them. Days were rolling on. Nothing happened. The shop owner daily started singing bhajans near the well taking it to be the samadhi of a divine bhaktha. There was water coming out of a corner of the well. People considered it as divine. Kooba kumbhar's wife pulled on her life making pots as much as she could and waited for her husband's return. 
          One day a bhajan group was passing by the village. They decided to take a break and so stayed back. During night the members could clearly hear somebody singing bhajans. They followed the sound and found it was coming from the well. They were very much surprised to hear the sound. Next day they reported the matter to the king.The king also came there and ordered men to get down and check. They checked around very carefully. By leaning their ears to the earth they also could hear the sound of somebody singing 'Vittala, Vittala'. They removed some mud from that surface and found a passage leading inwards. Now the sound of the singing was clearer. They followed the sound and found Kooba kumbhar sitting inside a cave like space singing bhajans with closed eyes. He was totally unscathed. Nobody could believe his eyes. He was still alive even after so many days. 
        Kooba kumbhar was carefully brought out of the cave. The village rejoiced at his come back. His wife was very happy that Panduranga has succeeded. She never claimed her devotion or faith brought her husband back. It was the Lord who ultimately won! Everybody asked him how he survived under the soil. He replied that he didnt know anything except that the earth fell over him. He remembered crying out 'Panduranga'. He woke up now only when these people came he said. Everybody praised him but he never paid any attention to that. The shop keeper apologised to him for making him dig the well. Kooba kumbhar said he was not at all sorry for what had happened. He was only happy that he could be of use to him.
       Kooba kumbhar and his wife spent the rest of their life more devoted to Panduranga and ultimately attained His abode. Devotion can make anything happen. Absolute faith in the almighty compels the Lord to take care of His devotees! Surrender to the Lord without any expectations. Enjoy His blessings. Radhekrishna! Radhekrishna!

Panduranga - 11

Friday, May 17, 2013

Kooba kumbhar 2
     Kimiva srunuma kasya brooma katham krithamaasaya
Kathayatha kathaam dhanya manyaamahe hridayesah
Madhura madhura smeraakaare mano nayanotsave
Kripana kripana krishne thrishnaa chiram batha lambathe.

       Sri Leela Suka asks in his Krishna Karnamritham that what else is there in the world to do, but enjoy Krishna. What is there to hear? What is there to talk? What is there to do? The Lord resides in our heart. So instead of talking about useless worldly things talk about the leelas of Krishna which will increase the devotion in your heart. He is sweeter than sweetness. His form is pleasing for the eyes. I am so fascinated by Him like the attachment of a miser to his wealth.
      Radhekrishna! Kooba Kumbhar was very much happy to do the service devotees. The devotees were very pleased with his sincerity and devotion. They wondered how he could manage food for so much people. Kooba Kumbhar humbly replied that everything was managed by Panduranga Himself. This is the truth. But people seldom realise it. Usually we tend to say that  we approached this person, convinced him to agree to help etc etc. But who are we to convince? Isn't it the Lord who as antharyami makes us do everything? We conveniently forget that part and claim the credit of everything. Once a neighbour of a mahan kept complaining about a tree which curved into his compound. The mahan daily used to chant Vishnusahasranama and pray to the tree to curve to his side since it was disturbing his neighbour. In course of time the tree slowly reversed its course of growth. It is the Lord as antharyami in the tree who has done it. We must realise the truth. 
         Kooba Kumbhar had staunch faith and believed it was the Lord who has arranged everything. Kooba Kumbhar's wife was very much pleased when she heard how everything was arranged. She too was happy with the Lord's decision. He has given them an opportunity to serve the bhakthas as well as the shop keeper. She considered everything as Vittal's blessing. She was confident that they can finish the work since namajapam was with them. They never thought that they did things. Both of them started digging the well after the bhakthas left. 
         Both of them chanted Panduranga while working. Kooba Kumbhar was digging and his wife kept removing the sand. They didnt even feel tired as they were very much enjoying the chanting. By evening surprisingly they had reached a long depth. Suddenly Kooba Kumbhar felt a rock and broke it. Water gushed out from under. They were very happy and cried out Panduranga! Panduranga! We might wonder whether it is possible at all. But with the Lord's grace anything is possible. Kooba Kumbhar realised the Lord's grace and told his wife that their service to the Panduranga bhakthas has earned them this grace. Both of them danced with happiness. 
       Suddenly the earth from one side began to slide in and fall on Kooba Kumbhar. As people were watching from outside Kooba Kumbhar was completely caved inside the earth. All of them were shocked. Kooba Kumbhar's wife cried out Panduranga! Immediately rescue operation was started by people. But how much ever they dug they couldn't find out Kooba Kumbhar inside. Kooba Kumbhar's wife didnt lose her faith. She said he was definitely inside somewhere and would come out. They searched in the mud for a long time and lost hope. They tried to convince her that everything was over and there is nothing more to be done now. The shop keeper was very much sorry for the accident. He felt guilty that it was because of him it had happened.
           Kooba Kumbhar's wife was hopeful and waited for her husband chanting. The devas didn't know that the Lord would come as a fish, tortoise?  Hirnayakasipu never dreamt that the Lord would appear as Narasimha from a pillar. Nobody imagined that the Lord would do so much leelas in Krishnavatara. Our imaginations, and expectations are limited. But the Lord is beyond and above our intelligence. He is sarveswara! She was fully aware of the Lord's power and patiently waited doing namajapam. Let us also wait till next month doing namajapam like her. Radhekrishna! Radhekrishna!

Panduranga - 10

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Kooba Kumbhar
Naaham vande thava charanayor dvandam advantha hetho
Kumbhipaakam gurumapi hare naarakam napanethum
Ramyaam ramaam mridu thanu latham nandane naapiranthum
Bhave bhave hrudaya bhavane bhaavayeyam bhavantham!
      Radhekrishna! The above sloka is taken from Sri Kulasekhara Alwar's Mukuntamala! Always cries out to the Lord that he is worshiping the Lord not with a definite purpose. He says he does not want to reach non duality. Nor does he worship the Lord to avoid getting hell or naraka of kumbhipakam! He is also not interested in enjoying the pleasures of heaven like roaming in beautiful gardens with pretty damsels. He worships the Lord because he enjoys worshiping Him. Devotion for the sake of the Lord only and not for anything else!
      But usually it is the other way round among many devotees. They worship the Lord with a definite purpose of getting some desire fulfilled. Kulasekhara Alwar loves the Lord so much that he enjoys worshiping Him! Real bhakthas love the Lord for the Lord's sake only! The Lord is playing with the jeevas each and every minute to create drida visvasam or firm faith in them. Devotion is not imagination, or blind faith but experience! If we have firm faith we can definitely experience the Lord's mercy! Bhagavan's karunyam is seamless. We must try to lead the life according to His wish! We are going to see the story of a real bhaktha of Panduranga from this issue!
      There was a potter named Kooba Kumbhar in a village. They were very old very much devoted to Lord Panduranga! They did their karma, duties without any sort of attachment or likes and dislikes. They never had any sort of expectations in their life, not even worldly or spiritual! They made pots out of mud, sold them and earned their livelihood. They were happy with what they got from this which was enough for their hands to mouth existence. The local ruler of that area was a greedy man and imposed tax on the people. He ordered them to give a certain number of pots as tax to the King. 
        Kooba Kumbhar and his wife found it very difficult to meet his demand. Since they were old they could make only a few pots. But they with firm faith left everything to Panduranga and were free or worries. With full faith in the Lord and full acceptance of what was due to them they chanted the Lord's name. They kept the raw pots they made in the furnace for baking.  Every time they took pots after baking, there would be enough pots to be given to the king as tax. With tears in their eyes they accepted the Lord's mercy quietly. They never expected that a miracle could happen or never imagined that the Lord would play some leela. They never boasted this to anybody else also. They just did their duties perfectly for the sake of the Lord, and the Lord took care of their life. 
        When one chants the Lord's name He feels indebted to them and keeps showering His grace. When the Lord is showering His grace the devotee chants His name in return for the grace received. But Bhagavan gets pleased with that and is ready with His blessings again. Thus the cycle goes on and on! It is our duty to do chanting continuously. That is the only thing we can do. Chanting will cleanse our hearts completely. Bhagavan will watch our chanting keenly. At times he will test our maturity. He will watch what our attitude is during certain situations. 
       Kooba Kumbhar and his wife were enjoying various Bhagavan's leelas. But they kept it to themselves.  Once a group of devotees going to Pandarpur happened to pass through this village. Kooba Kumbhar was overjoyed to see this group of devotees and offered his service to them. He had no money at all with him but he wanted to serve them food. He approached a shop owner and requested his help for this. He said that he wanted to feed the big group of above hundred people who were on their way to Pandarpur. He had no money with him right at the moment but promised to pay the money back in small instalments as and when he could. 
        The shop keeper said that he was definitely in a position to give him the provisions now. But he was  very dubious of the repayment. He said Kooba Kumbhar was totally inefficient to repay the money. He knew Kooba Kumbhar was struggling to make two ends meet. But he had an alternate suggestion. He had bought a new land. But there was no well in it. He Kooba Kumbhar to dig a well for him in the land as repayment. Kooba Kumbhar was very happy to hear this. He thanked Panduranga for keeping a helping person as the shop keeper near him. He wanted to do service to the devotees. Though he had no money at all he could now feed them all. Isn't it all due to Lord Panduranga's grace? Not only that now he had the chance of doing another service - digging a well for the shop keeper!
         He brought the necessary provisions for the feast, and prepared enough food for the group. Looking at him the devotees wondered how he could do that. He didnt look rich enough to be able to provide food for the whole group. Kooba Kumbhar replied that it was Lord Panduranga who has provided with all the necessary provisions. He served the devotees with the food he had brought and they had their stomach full. Kooba Kumbhar was immensely happy that he could do at least this small kainkaryam (service) to the devotees who were on the pilgrimage to Pandarpur! We will be back with the rest of the story in the next issue. Radhekrishna! Radhekrishna!

Panduranga - 9

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sakkubai - 5
Aabhyam vilochanabhyam 
Ambuja dala lalitha lochanam baalam
Dwaabhyam api parirabdhum
Doore mama hantha daiva saamagri! 
         Radhekrishna! 'Krishna's eyes resemble the petals of a pink lotus. How I wish to hug  Him with both my hands! But the grace of God is still far away from me to do that' says saint Leela Sukar in his Krishna Karnamritham. Sakkubai who could hug the Lord directly now did not want to lose the fortune from her hands. She stuck to Pandarpur doing small small services in the temple. She was enjoying her life. But mother Rukmini was worried of her husband. What fate has the Lord to do all the house hold chores for a human family! He has promised Sakkubai that He would remain there till she returned. So the Lord had to remain there till she came. 
      The great devotee Sakkubai's longing for the Lord became so intense that she left her body and was dead. The people there took her body and did the last rituals. It so happened that a brahmin from Sakkubai's village was there in Pandarpur who witnessed everything. He felt sorry for Sakkubai and thought he would inform her people about her demise. He returned to the village and headed straight for Sakkubai's home. 
        Meanwhile mother Rukmini could no longer bear the separation of her Lord and she forced back Sakkubai's athma in to a new body by her divine sankalpa. She ordered Sakkubai to go back to her home and spend the rest of her life doing service to her husband and in laws.Wasn't it her duty to relieve the maya Sakkubai who had come to help her? When the mother reminded Sakkubai of this she immediately agreed to go and started towards her village. 
       When the brahmin from Sakkubai's village reached her home the maya Sakkubai had gone to the pond for washing clothes. He started consoling them saying athma thathva. Sakkubai's husband was puzzled when the brahmin said he met Sakkubai in Pandarpur and that she was no more. He also said he himself attended her funeral ceremonies. Sakkubai's husband began to laugh thinking that the brahmin had gone out of his mind. Now the brahmin looked puzzled and asked why he was laughing. Sakkubai's husband replied that she was very much there and how could the brahmin have met her in Pandarpur? It was all his imagination or a mistaken idendity. But the brahmin was sure it was Sakkubai herself that he had met in Pandarpur. He had talked to her personally. 
     The argument was going on when original Sakkubai from Pandarpur entered the house. She was feeling slightly hesitant since she had gone out of the house without their knowledge. She has to somehow get into the house and relieve the other lady who had helped her. She must apologise to her first for taking such a long time. Seeing Sakkubai her husband pointed her to the brahmin jubilantly. "Didn't I tell you my wife is here?" The brahmin was totally taken aback. He couldnt believe  his eyes. He has seen Sakkubai's dead body and the cremation with his own eyes. How could this be he wondered. 
      Seeing the brahmin Sakkubai was also startled. Oh Vitala! He would have told everything to them she wondered. Her mother in law approached her and asked her lovingly whether she has finished washing so quickly? Sakkubai didnt understand a thing and stared blankly. Her husband turned towards her and told that the brahmin had mistaken somebody else for Sakkubai in Pandarpur. Then Sakkubai interrupted him saying that the brahmin was absolutely right. Suddenly there was a silence in the room. 
"What are you blabbering my dear?" asked her husband. 
"The truth my swamy! I must apologise to you now for what I have done!" replied Sakkubai.
"But you have done nothing wrong! You were only serving us the most appropriate way my dear! Why should you apologise?"
"I am sorry to say that it was not me who was here! It was another woman who resembled me!"
Nobody could believe her. They all stared at her in surprise. Then Sakkubai narrated everything that had happened till now and said she wanted to apologise to them all and also to the lady who had volunteered to take over her duty. The neighbours had all gathered there hearing the commotion and somebody rushed to the pond to see the other Sakkubai. But she had disappeared miraculously. Sakkubai could now guess who that other lady was. She remembered how mother Rukmini took interest in her case and sent her back with a new body. Immediately she cried out Vital! Vital! with tears flowing over her cheeks. 
     The story was now clear to everyone and everybody started chanting Vital! Vital! thrilled to the core. What fortune they had to have the Lord Himself with them all these days! Sakkubai's in laws recognised her devotion and accepted her whole heartedly. They were changed completely. The whole village was moved with the grace of the Lord. Sakkubai now entered into a new life of devotion along with her husband and in laws. The whole village changed itself and devotion spread among them. 
      A single devotee could bring about devotion to a whole village! Panduranga's grace and simplicity to stoop to such a low level conquered their minds. He is bhaktha vatsala!  We have to give our mind to Him like Sakkubai to enjoy the grace! Radhekrishna! Sakkubai's story has been an inspiration for many people. We will meet with the story of another bhaktha of Panduranga in our next issue! Radhekrishna! Radhekrishna!   


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