Ashadhi Ekadashi is one of the most important religious festivals that is celebrated with grandness in Maharashtra and other parts of India. This ceremony is generally held at Pandharpur where a huge number of devotees gather to celebrate the festival. It is a religious procession festival which is held every year during the Aashaadh Shukla paksha. Generally Ekadashi is considered to be coming on each month of the year but the eleventh day of Ashadh is said to be the great Ekadashi which is also called by the name Shayani Ekadashi. During this day the devotees keep fast the whole day and they go walking in huge processions to Pandharpur. People sing chanting hymns of Saint Dyaneshwar and Saint Tukaram to pay their tribute to their God Vitthal. This procession starts in Allandi and ends on Guru Poornima at Pandharpur. This day is considered very pious and people join the yatra not only from Maharashtra but also from other parts of the country.
The Story of VITHOBA of Pandharpur
Once a devotee named Pundalik was traveling to Kashi and reached the Ashram of Saint Kukkut.
He asked the sage the way to Kashi. Kukkut Rishi said that he did not know the way to Kashi and he had never been there.
Pundalik made fun of Kukkut Rishi for not knowing the way to Kashi and said that a holy man like him should have already visited Kashi.
Kukkut Rishi kept quiet and did not bother to answer Pundalik.
During the course of the night Pundalik heard the voice of women in the ashram.
He came out to look what was happening and saw that three women were sprinkling water and cleaning the Ashram.
On enquiry, Pundalik found out that the three women were Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswathi and
they had come to clean the Ashram of Kukkut Rishi.
Pundalik wondered how a saint like Kukkut who had not visited Kashi was such holy and powerful that the three holy rivers came down to purify his ashram.
The three women told Pundalik that
piety, spirituality and devotion does not depend on visiting holy places or doing costly rituals but in performing one’s karma.
The three women told him that Sage Kukkut had served and nursed his parents most faithfully and devoted all his life to that one aim.
He had thus accumulated Punya enough to earn Moksha and bring us down to earth to serve him.
Pundalik had left his old parents at home and was visiting Kashi to gain moksha and blessing.
He did not bother to entertain the request of his parents to take them also to Kashi.
Pundalik now understood his mistake and rushed back home and took his parents to Kashi and on return started looking after them.
From then onwards the care of his old mother and father came before everything else.
Lord Krishna was moved by the sincere devotion of Pundalik towards his parents.
He decided to visit Pundalik’s home.
When Lord Krishna visited Pundalik’s home, he was serving food to his old parents.
Pundalik saw the Lord at his door but his devotion to his parents was so intense that he wanted to finish his duties first and then attend to his guest.
Pundalik had reached such a stage that it didn’t matter to him whether the guest was a mere mortal or God.
All that mattered was service to his parents.
Pundalik gave Lord Krishna a brick to stand on and asked Him to wait until his duty was completed.
Lord Krishna was moved by the devotion of Pundalik to his parents and waited for him patiently._
Later when Pundalik came out, he asked the Lord forgiveness for making Him wait.
Lord Krishna blessed him and asked him to ask a boon.
Pundalik said what more can I ask when the Lord himself waits for me.
When Lord Krishna insisted that, he ask a boon
Pundalik asked that the Lord should remain on earth and bless and take care of His devotees.
Lord Krishna agreed to stay there and is known as Vithoba or the Lord who stands on a brick.
This form of the Lord Vithoba is Swayambhu which means that His idol has not been carved or etched but it came into existence on its own.
This mystery, happened in Pandharpur of Maharashtra hence Vithoba is also called as Panduranga or Pandharinatha.
Why are Lord Vitthal and Goddess Rukmini Ji separated from each other in the Pandharpur Temple?
Smt. Rukmani Devi’s story is narrated below;
Rukmini pleaded with Krishna to invite Radha home; her request is fueled by her own curiosity and those of other wives of Sri Krishna.
After few days, Rukmini reminds; Krishna indicates he has conveyed her invite; more silence; Rukmini triggered by other wives provokes Sri Krishna.
Rukmini points out Radha’s disrespect to Krishna; Krishna shrugs it off; Rukmini keeps pushing.
Do you really want to meet Radha or is it just curiosity? asks Krishna; because if it is curiosity, it is disrespectful to her (Radha).
Rukmini gets annoyed. She decides to spy on Sri Krishna.
One late night, Krishna sets off towards Vrindavan. Rukmini follows him.
Rukmini reaches Vrindavan and spots Krishna from a distance; he appears fair-skinned and there is a glow around him.
Krishna? Pandurang? (Is Krishna Fair complexioned?) utters Rukmini in surprise. Krishna turns around. Rukmini sees Radha in his embrace.(Pandu denotes yellow or fair color)
Krishna in his embrace with Radha, has momentarily taken on her colour and complexion. The glow is from their divinity of their togetherness.
Rukmini is shocked, furious, boiling. She walks off with anger in opposite direction. Krishna follows Rukmini.
Trying to get as far away as she can from Krishna, Rukmini reaches Pandharpur; Krishna catches up with her; Rukmini turns her face away.
Sri Krishna: The secret of Radha lies in the form I’ve taken today; you’ve christened me Pandurang; if you look at me, I’ll enlighten you.
Sri Krishna: You wished to meet Radha; I’m standing here in her form; if you look at me now, you’ll understand everything about Radha.
Rukmani Devi: My Lord, please leave before I say or do something that I will deeply regret; I do not wish to look at you; this is not my Krishna.
Sri Krishna: Very well then; there’s a devotee of mine in Pandharpur; I shall go & see him instead. (Krishna leaves).
After a while Rukmini turns around; disappointed to see Krishna has really left; she’s afraid to lose him; she searches for him.
Rukmini reaches devotee Pundalik’s house; spots Krishna from far; Krishna senses Rukmini; but she has missed her moment of enlightenment.
Sri Krishna has frozen into the form of Vitthal, (black stone, standing on a brick, hands on hips, smile on lips). Rukmini dare not face him.
Standing many paces behind him, she wills herself to turn into stone as well. Pandharpur, Vitthoba and Rukhmai Devi
This is the wonderful story of divine love and affection of Supreme Lord Krishna, Rukmani ji and Radha ji at Pandharpur.
Jai Pandu Ranga Hari!
Vithal Vithal Vithal
It is also proved that just calling Vithal Vithal all diseases go away and specifically lung related desease is controlled scientifically when we do visit His temple on foot with devotional chantings.
Lord Vithal with his hands on waist @ Pandaripur signify two important things:
1. It’s a waiting posture, where Lord Vithal is waiting for His devotee Pundalik, standing on the vit (equivalent to brick in Marathi).
2. Sri Vithal indicates that if anyone takes my refuge, then this whole material ocean of Samsara just comes to one’s waist level, so that one can easily cross this material world and go back to Spiritual world.
Genuinely True devotees are great people who are very humble by nature and possess generosity beyond imagination. Their quality of mind as described in the Bhagavad-gita is given below:
Freedom from superiority complex, absence of self worshipfulness, absence of pretence, steadiness and mastery over mind takes the person to divinity.