While everyone was busy celebrating Christmas and to figure out their new year celebration plans, I took a bus for Pandharpur. Pandharpur is a small pilgrimage town located on the banks of Chandrabhaga river in Solapur district, Maharashtra. This place is very famous for it’s Vitthal-Rukmini temple. Vitthal is one of the forms of Lord Krishna and Rukmini is his wife. And the main reason for existence of this temple is the hero of our story i.e. Pundalik. Pundalik is one of those rare devotees who is having their own temple. Even god had to wait to meet him because of his devotion.
Pandharpur is also very famous for the Warkari Sampraday (One of the devotional communities) of Maharashtra. The Warkari tradition has been part of Hindu culture in Maharashtra since the thirteenth-century. Warkari people undertake an annual pilgrimage called, Wari. Palakhi(palanquin) which carry the Paduka(foot prints) of the various saints, most notably Dhyaneshwar and Tukaram are taken from their respective shrines to Pandharpur. This pilgrimage is also known as Dindi.
Since last couple of months I was getting some spiritual vibes for visiting this place and to know about the stories behind this place, most importantly about Pundalik. I took a bus from Mumbai which had the last stop for Pandharpur. One can travel by train as well.
After Pundalik got married, his attitude towards his parents got changed. He started treating them very badly and disrespecting them. He imposed all the household chores on his parents and himself got insane and busy behind his wife.
One day he decide to go on pilgrimage to Kashi with his parents and his wife. During that pilgrimage, he had a conversation with three rivers i.e. Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. And from their conversation he realized his mistakes that how badly he was treating to his parents. He immediately went to the ashram of Kakkut muni to perform his austerities. And after that, Pundalik was a changed man. He started taking care of his parents like no one ever did.
By looking on his devotion towards his parents, lord Krishna decided to go and meet him. One day, lord Krishna came to his house and knocked on the door. Pundalik was in the middle of massaging his father’s feet.
“Who is it?”, asked the Pundalik from inside and continued massaging his father’s feet.
“I am Vitthal, I came to meet you, May I come in?”, said lord Krishna.
Pundalik could see from the opening door that it was indeed a lord Krishna in the form of Vitthala, young lad, dark hued, with beautiful sandal Tilak on his forehead, dressed in magnificent yellow silk, standing outside. But Pundalik was only half done with his duty to his father and could not receive lord Krishna. He threw a brick outside and said, “Please stand on it my lord while I finish my duty to my father and come.”
Vitthal, with a smile on his lips and hand on his hips, stood on a brick waiting for Pundalik to come and receive him. When Pundalik comes to him and apologize for keeping him on wait, Lord said, “Your parents are your first god, and your services to your parents in your prayers reached me.” And lord asked him for a boon. And Pundalik said, “Lord, please stay here for the benefit of mankind. And to bless those people who come here”.
From that day onward, Vitthal with his wife Rukmini has stayed there and the place known as Pandharpur.
After knowing the story of Pundalik, I felt very proud that we have such a great devotees in our country. Who adorned our culture with their unique devotion. Who taught us that parents are the first GOD and taking care of them is our primary responsibility. And he let us inspire to live our life in such a way which can be loved by the creator of this world, by the GOD.