Friday, August 10, 2007
How Vithoba of Pandharpur came to Earth can be attributed to adevotee called Pundalik. Pundalik was a devoted son to his parentsJanudev and Satyavati. They lived in a forest called Dandirvan. Butafter Pundalik's marriage he began to ill-treat his parents. Tiredwith their son's misbehaviour and ill treatment, they decided tostart for a pilgrimage to Kashi. In those days, Kashi was the primeplace to go for pilgrimage.But they were not to escape the sufferings so soon. After hearing ofthe pilgrimage plans, Pundalik's wife decided to join them. Pundalikand she then joined the same group of pilgrims on horseback. The illtreatment of the old couple continued in hands of Pundalik, whilethe son and his wife rode on horseback, the frail old couple walkedin bad weather. Pundalik even made his old parents work towardsmaking his own journey comfortable. Every evening when the partycamped for the night, the son forced his parents to groom the horsesand do other jobs.On the way to Kashi, the group reached the ashram of a pious sageKukkutswami. Being tired from the journey, they decided to spend afew days there. In the night, when all were asleep, Pundalik wasawake, just before dawn, he saw a group of beautiful, young women,dressed in dirty clothes, enter the ashram, clean the floor, fetchwater and wash the sage's clothes. Then they entered the inner roomof the ashram and appeared in clean , spotless clothes anddisappeared.He was very disturbed with what he saw and it remained on his mindfor the whole day. He decided to observe again the next night. Hesaw the same scene again. This time however, Pundalik was verycurious. He approached the beautiful women and asked him them on whothey were.They said, they were Ganga, Yamuna and other holy rivers of India inwhich were revered for their holiness and pilgrims thronged to havea dip in their holy waters to wash away their sins. The holy riversexplained that their clothes were dirty and unclean due to the sinsof the bathing pilgrims. "But O Pundalik, you, with your ill-treatment of your parents, are the greatest sinner of them all! "This incident completely shocked Pundalik and got a transformationin him. He realized his mis- deeds and became devoted to hisparents. He made all efforts to make his parents comfortable. Andleft no stone unturned to make his parents happy, even at the costof his own comfort.They say, devotion in any form reaches God immediately. Seeing thisoutmost devotion of Pundalik to his parents , Lord Vishnu was verypleased. God was so happy with him that He wanted to bless Pundalikimmediately, so he left from Vaikuntha (Lord Vishnu's abode) forbhoolok (Earth)and Pundalik's ashram.Lord knocked Pundalik's door. At that time Pundalik was serving hisparents food and was busy. Pundalik heard the door knock andrealized it was God who had come to see him. But such was hisdevotion to his parents, he wanted to complete his duties and onlythen attend to the visitor, irrespective of whether it was even Godat his doorstep. Pundalik threw a brick outside for God to stand onand wait for him till he finishes attending to his parents.Seeing this devotion & commitment to his parents he was extremelyimpressed. And the ever-loving God waited for his devotee. WhenPundalik came out and begged God's pardon, Lord Vishnu replied thatfar from being displeased, he was pleased with his love for hisparents and granted a boon to him. Pundalik requested God to stayback on Earth and bless all his numerous devotees. Lord agreed tostay back as Vithoba, or God who stood upon a brick. Along withVithoba, Rakhumai (Mother Rukmini) is also worshipped.