04 May 2020

Bhu-vaikuntha Pandharpur!

We will sing one of the abhangas of Tukarama Maharaja. It is a famous abhanga and is especially sung on every Ekadasi all over Maharashtra. It is not an exaggeration that it is the most favourite of all. In this abhanga Panduranga, who has many names is described. There is Vitthala Sahasranama like Visnu SahasranamaIt can also be called a Pandurangastakam. I have mentioned all these things in my book Bhu-vaikuntha Pandharpur, which I have written many years back. This is like an advertisement. The first chapter is about the glories of Pandharpur dhama. This book has become very popular. It has been reprinted eight times already, 5000 copies each time. It has been translated now in Telugu, Kannada, Hindi and English. Whichever language you know you can read it in. In this also Vitthala Sahasranama has been mentioned. Tukarama Maharaja mentions the sweetness and beauty of the transcendental form of Lord Vitthala.

sundar the dhyana ubhe vitevari

Translation
The Lord is very beautiful, and He is standing on a veet ( brick) . Because He stands on a veet, He is named Vitthala.

There is a history of this also as to why He stands on a brick and how He stands?

Kar katavari thevoniya

Translation
He has kept His hands on His waist.

This signifies that He is waiting for somebody. That somebody can be you also.

Tulasi har gala kase pitambar

Translation
He is wearing a garland of fresh Tulasi and pitambar, bright yellow ( dhoti).

The Lord wears a garland of Tulsi and manjaris around his neck. There are a lot of glories of Tulasi offerings in Pandharpur. So many Tulasi leaves and garlands and manjaris are offered to Lord Vitthala over here. Hardly anywhere else so much Tulasi gets offered to the Lord. Tulasi Krsna preyasi namo namaha. Lord likes Tulasi so much that He wears her around His neck and also on His lotus feet. The devotees over there dress Him in pitambar when they decorate the Lord.

makar kundale talapati sravani kanthi kaustubh mani virajit

He wears fish shaped earrings – makar. When the Lord moves around, the shine of these effulgent kundal spreads on His face and enhances the beauty of His face.

kanthi kaustubh mani virajit

Lord wears a Kaustubh Mani around His neck.

In 1984 while on Padayatra we came from Dvaraka to Pandharpur. I have started a story again. Do you all like stories? Lord Vitthala also came from Dvaraka in His chariot. We arrived here walking, doing padayatra. When we reached here, we were a group of around 200 – 300 devotees, including many foreign devotees. At that time the pujari welcomed all of us in Pandharpur Dhama and we were blessed to do not only pad-praksalan, but sarvanga maha-abhishek of Vitthala, All of us participated, including some African Negros. Here nobody is differentiated on the basis of country – foreigner, black or white. Here everyone is allowed in the temple, unlike temples of South India, where only Hindus are allowed. Everyone is welcomed here. All of us did maha abhishek.

That time the head priest gave us darsana of all the details on the sarvanga vigraha of the Lord. They showed us the sign of Bhrugu Muni’s feet on the Lord’s chest. Once Bhrugu Muni was testing Brahma, Shiva and Visnu to see who was the most tolerant and forgiving as that would mean that one would be supreme. He came and kicked the Lord on His chest. Lord Visnu or Krsna passed the examination and Shiva and Brahma failed. Then he broadcasted the result of his examination to the other sages on earth. Lord Visnu had passed the test. Devotees of the Lord kick the Lord with their feet on His chest, not on His back. The Lord’s chest gets imprinted with the sign of Bhrugu Muni’s feet. The Lord preserved it, as He thought that His form was purified due to the touch of the feet of His devotee. The Lord could have removed the sign of that kick by doing some plastic surgery. It was easy fro Him to remove it, but He preserved it forever, till today. We viewed that on the Vitthala Deity that time.

tuka mhane maze hechi sarva sukha
pahina sri mukha aavadine

Sant Siromani Tukarama Maharaja ki Jay! Tukarama Maharaja explained that his happiness lies only in one thing. pahin sri mukh aavadine, Pahin – I will see the face and nabhi and chest and lotus feet of the Lord. I want to keep seeing this. All my happiness lies in this. He mentions that he desires to keep taking darsana forever. Such teachings have been given to us by our acaryas. All glories to Sant Tukarama! He has composed 4000 abhangas. When he was filled with bhava for Lord Vitthala, these abhangas used to sprout in his heart, and someone else wrote them after listening to them. While moving around, he composed Abhangas spontaneously.

cakṣu-dān dilo jei, janme janme prabhu sei,
divya jñān hṛde prokāśito
prema-bhakti jāhā hoite, avidyā vināśa jāte,
vede gāy jāhāra carito

Translation
He opens my darkened eyes and fills my heart with transcendental knowledge. He is my Lord birth after birth. From him ecstatic prema emanates; by him ignorance is destroyed. The Vedic scriptures sing of his character. (Guru-Vandana , verse 3 , from Prem-Bhakti Chandrika by Narottam Das Thakur)

This famous abhanga is specially sung on Ekadasi. Tukarama Maharaj’s abhangas have reached all over. Sarvatra prachar hoibe more nama. During my childhood. they would sing the abhangas of Tukarama Maharaja whole night long in all the villages. I attended such kirtanas. Someone played the harmonium which I liked. From that time I started liking the harmonium and then slowly became addicted to it. We have a Vitthala Deity over here. Tukarama Maharaja writes,

Govind Govind Mana lagaluya Chand
Govind the Kaya Bhed nahi Deva taya

For Tukarama Maharaja and for everyone, Vitthala is Govind or Krsna. He is Dvarakadhish over here in one sense as He arrived here from Dwaraka. He is Dvarakadhish as well as Govinda, Kanhaiya Lal ki Jaya! Pandharpur is here and Gopalpur is also there. Lord of Pandharpur is Dvarakadish Vitthala, Krsna, Govind! He is makhanchor also. Abhishek is offered to Him. You did kirtan and now are doing sravana. You can’t do kirtana if you haven’t done sravana. For doing kirtana, first you need to do sravana.

Vitthala Deity is the Lord. That way all Deities are the Lord appearing in the form of the Deity. Radha-Pandharinath ki Jaya! Radha-Pandharinath appeared, This Deity was carved in Jaipur and then installation Pran-prathistha was done. So many great devotees had arrived. In presence of all pran-prathistha was done. Radhanath Maharaja, Deena-Bandu Prabhu, Radharaman Maharaja, Yasodadulal Prabhu from New Zealand had come. Pran-prathistha mahotsav was celebrated in the presence of all these Vaisnavas. When Pran-prathistha is done ‘prana’ appears in the vigraha. The Lord enters in the Deity. Acaryas request the Lord to kindly appear in that Deity. After that is done worship starts. But such a thing didn’t happen in the case of the Vitthala Deity. There was no Pran-prathistha needed. When the Lord’s manifest pastimes were taking place in Dvaraka He had to come to Pandharpur. The Lord came to Dindirvan on the banks of River Chandrabhaga. Manini Rukmini maiya had reached there. Radharani is also famous for her Maan-Lila. Rukmini can also exhibit maan. Sita or Kaikeyi would also get angry. When queens got angry , they went into in krodhbhavan. That was the indication that there is some problem.

Rukmini also got angry. Radharani and the Gopis had reached Dvaraka. The Lord had said that He would come soon, but He didn’t return. Instead of returning to Vrindavan from Mathura He went ahead to Dvaraka. Nearly 80 years had passed by but He didn’t return. He had said He will return soon. Anyway, I have started with other story.

Here there is Gopi-talav where the Lord enjoyed His pastime with the Gopis like in Vrindavan. He didn’t remain Dvarakadhish but became Vrindavan Krsna. Purna Purushottam! Dvaraka Krsna is Purna, in Mathura He is Purnatara and in Vrindavan purnatam. It’s a matter of good, better, best. Dvaraka Krsna becoming Purnatam with the Gopis, in Rasa Lila etc.

Parakiya bhave jaha vrajete prachar

He exhibited parakiya bhava. Rukmini and the others queens saw such deep loving exchanges between the Gopis and Krsna. Which wife can tolerate this? “Look at my husband! How He is exchanging love with them. Who knows from where these ladies have come. He never showed this kind of love to us, never have been so close to us. Never lets us sleep in His lap. But with these ladies He is having all such exchanges.” Rukmini got very angry and without going to krodhbhavan she came to her Father’s house. Dvaraka is sasural of Rukmini. If there is some spouse abuse or strain in the relation with husbands, wives go to their fathers’ house. For Rukmini Maharashtra is her father’s place. Rukmini came to Pandharpur. She should have gone to Kaundinyapur in between Amravati and Vardha, where she was born. The Lord came in search of her the way Rama was searching for Sita. Rukmini! Rukmini! Then He came to Pandharpur and Dindirvan on the banks of Chandrabhaga. Chandrabhaga is non different from Ganga. This is also the glory of this place.

bhima aani chandrabhaga tyzya charanichya ganga

This river is also known as Bhima. On the top of Sahyandri at a place called Bhimashankar is the origin of Chandrabhaga. In Himalaya, Shiva held Ganga in his matted hair. That same pastime took place here also. From the matted hair of Shiva Chandrabhaga appeared here again.

mahayog pithe tate bhim rathya

When Sankaracarya arrived here he composed the Pandurangastakam. In the first line he called this Dhama Yoga-pith. In Mayapur also there is one Yoga-pith . In Vrindavan also there is a Yoga-pith Radha-Govind temple is Yoga-pith of Vrindavan. Vitthala-Rukmini temple is Yoga-pith of Pandharpur. Sankaracarya wrote, mahayoga pihe tate bhimrathya

One more name of River Chandrabhaga is mentioned here as Bhimarathi. At many places in the Bhagavatam pious rivers are mentioned, in which Bhimarathi is mentioned. Godavari is also mentioned.

Rukmini met Dvarakadhish over here. He tried to console her. In the first round of talks some things were resolved.Then He left from there.

Then He went to give darsana to Pundalik. He had promised Pundarik in his previous birth to give him darsana. The Lord went to give him darsana. Pundalik said that he was busy serving his parents and threw a veet ( brick) towards the Lord to stand on it. This was not an ordinary brick from a factory. Once Indra was cursed to be a brick. Indra keeps getting such curses in the same way Ahalya had become a stone as we heard yesterday. When the Lord stood on this veet, Indra was delivered. Pundalik met Vitthala and then offered prayers and his special request was, ‘I am blessed to have Your darsana.’ aham anugrahitosmi.’ as is expressed in Sanskrit. Pundalik said, “You have given me darsana, but in future many devotees will come here.” As this Dhama is not new. It was not created, it is Bhu-vaikuntha. I have named my book also Bhu-vaikuntha – Vaikuntha on the Earth. Is Vaikuntha created anytime? Is there any time when Vaikuntha doesn’t exist? It is eternal. When the earth was not existing, Maharashtra was also not existing and Sangli district was also not existing. Jevaha navate charachar (when nothing moving or non moving was existing) When the whole of this world was not there, at that time Pandharpur was there and it will remain even after the annihilation of the universe.

Pandharpur is an eternal dhama, beyond creation and annihilation of these material universes. “If you stay here, then in future devotees who will come here will be benefited. You have showered your mercy on me, but there will be devotees, varkaris, pilgrims coming from all over world.. From Uttar Pradesh, from which place are you? Chattisgad, Karnatak.Haryana, etc. Hari came there and so we get the name Harayana. The Lord gave a benediction Tathastu! Tatha astu. ‘Let that happen which is your desire’. And it happened also. What happened? The Lord who had come from Dvaraka stayed here only.

Kar katavari thevoniya

Earlier He was waiting for Pundalik to become free. “When he will come to greet Me? When will he come and touch My feet?” Here devotees were not satisfied by only touching the feet of the Lord. 150 years back when pilgrims came, He gave darsana to each person one at a time. Not that 1000 people at a time and then the next batch. One at a time , face to face. He is so personal. They would embrace the Deity of Vitthala.

Tuka mhane aali na urechi vegali

Tukarama Maharaja has experienced this and then expressed it in his abhangas –
“When will You embrace Your devotee deeply” then, na urechi vegali – “What more does that devotee need?” Embrace means you have given yourself to the Lord. Darsana can be done from a distance also. Oh! Keep your distance. Even the Lord doesn’t like to give darsana from a distance. No! Let them come! Other places you may get to touch the feet of the Lord. Other places there is only darsana of the feet of the Lord once a year. Last week on the day of Akshay-Tritiya we got Caran darsana of Banke-bihari which happens once a year. But here , you not only get darsana of the feet, or touch the feet, but one gets to embrace and touch the whole body of the Lord. This was a custom at one time over here. But times have changed. Kaliyuga has arrived. Now people have changed. One can’t say who will come with what intensions. There was some such experience, and so they stopped this embracing of the Deity by pilgrims. Now no one can do that. Point to note is that the Vitthala Deity was not carved by someone in Jaipur or by local artists of Pandharpur who carved deities. Vitthala Deity was never carved by someone. There was no Pran-prathistha. He came from Dvaraka and stayed here in this form. In one form He returned to Dvaraka. But in another form He appeared here.

That is what Tukarama Maharaja says in many of his abhangas. If someone even thinks that someone carved this Deity with carving instruments ( chinni and hathoda) and then did pran-prathistha, beware! One who holds such an understanding, his mouth will get filled not with Rasgulla but with worms from the gutter. It is a big offence at the feet of Vitthala Bhagavan. Such are the special glories and fame of Pandharinatha, Vitthala Bhagavan.This is advitiya glories! The one and only like it. No one else could have that.

What can I say about the glories of this Dhama in a few minutes. There are innumerable glories of this Dhama. I have mentioned all the glories of this Dhama in my book. Do read it sometime.

In this dhama Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu came and stayed here for long. Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Vitthala. 5000 years back, His form as Panduranga is described. Why was He called Panduranga? You must have heard. He went herding the cows as Gopala. When the cows moved around, the soft, light dust of Vrindavan spread in the atmosphere and after sometime it fell on the trees, stones and even on Krsna’s face, head and cloths. If you look at Kanhaiya, then you will have to say what? Panduranga! Pandu means light or yellow. The Colour of the dust of Vrindavan is yellowish whitish. Kanhaiya is dark or blue like Ujjwal nilamani. But that Ghanasyama form gets covered with the whitish dust of Vrindavan and then He doesn’t remain Ghanasyama, but becomes Panduranga. Then have you understood how not only Dvarakadhish, but Vrindavan Krsna is Panduranga. In the morning after Abhishek He is offered arati. Then the Lord is reminded of the butter stealing pastime in the morning. In the middle of the arati He needs butter. Maiya mohe makhan bhave. O mother! Feed me butter. zunaka bhakar or puranpoli. Mohe makhan bhave. What all things you keep feeding me! I like butter. Everyday during the arati He is given a big ball of butter. Who is the Lord who eats butter? Dvarakadhish doesn’t eat ? He does eat, but not that much. May be little bit on the chapati. Dvarakadhish also eats butter. Rama must also be eating, but not like Kanhaiya, who steals and eats it. Lord Panduranga who eats butter is Krsna. There is also Rukmini and Radha along with Him. Then He becomes Radha-Syamasundara and also Rukmini-Dvarakadhish.

That same Panduranga becomes Gaura. During the South India yatra Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to Pandharpur. Devotees of Jagannatha Puri were not allowing Him to leave from there. He said, “I must go. I have to search for my elder brother Vishwarupa.” Vishwarupa was the elder brother of Mahaprabhu who had taken sannyasa at a very young age. Have you ever thought of taking renunciation? Oh! We can think about it in old age. ( laughs) When the fruit is fresh, then it should be offered to the Lord. When the body starts rotting and dwindling, then what will you offer? When you are fresh, young, you should offer yourself to the Lord.

Kaumaram aacharo pradnye In young age we should do such work.

Caitanya Mahaprabhu has said that He wanted to search for Vishwarupa. But Krsna Das Kaviraj Goswami had mentioned in his book, before starting from Jagannatha Puri Mahaprabhu knew that Vishwarupa has left his body and has left this world, but He wanted to have a reason to leave Jagannatha Puri.

When Caitanya Mahaprabhu reached Pandharpur, His search ended as He received confirmation from Sriranga Puri. You, all those of you who are sitting here and listening from all over read Caitanya-caritamrta chapter 9 from 281 sloka onwards about Mahaprabhu’s pilgrimage. In many slokas Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s Pandharpur yatra has been described. Before coming to Pandharpur He went to Kolhapur and then He must have gone to Aravade where Radha-Gopal temple has been established.

tathā haite pāṇḍarapure āilā gauracandra
viṭhṭhala-ṭhākura dekhi’ pāilā ānanda

Translation
From there Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to Pandarapura, where He happily saw the temple of Viththala Thakura. (CC Madhya 9.282)

Tatha means from there, Kolhapur and other towns villages around, passing from there He, pāṇḍarapure āilā gauracandra. It must be the name of Pandharpur at that time. There are many names of Pandharpur. People from Karnataka utter the name in their way and from Andhra Pradesh they utter it is their own way. As time passes there could be some changes and vikruti in the name. He took darsana and embraced Lord Vitthala and was immersed in bliss. He wanted to do the same in Jagannatha Puri, but it was not possible there so He did it here. He embraced Vitthala. They are both the Lord. One form of the Lord is embracing the other form. Gaur Bhagavan’ is in the role of a devotee. Pandharpur is on the banks of River Bhima. It is said that He initiated Tukarama Maharaja in Pandharpur. Not at that time as at that time Tukarama was not there. Tukarama appeared later. But when he appeared and wherever he was Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave him initiation. Tukarama has said , “Raghav-Caitanya, Keshav -Caitanya gave me initiation.” Who is Raghav Caitanya or Keshav Caitanya?

Krsna Kesava Krsna Kesava pahi mam
Rama Raghava rama Raghava rama Raghava raksha mam.

This way Tukarama acarya became the disciple of Mahaprabhu and became famous in Maharashtra. He spread the Sankirtana movement in all the places around.

Today also Tukarama Kirtana groups are famous in Mumbai. His abhanga book is famous. Their Sankirtana party is like the Gaudiya Vaisnava kirtana parties. They also do kirtana with Karatala and Mridanga.

premāveśe kaila bahuta kīrtana-nartana
tāhāṅ eka vipra tāṅre kaila nimantraṇa

Translation
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu chanted and danced in various ways as usual. A brahmana, seeing Him in ecstatic love, was very pleased and invited the Lord to his home for lunch. ( CC , Madhya 9.283)

In those days the appearance of Pandharpur was different and the houses were also different, unlike the jungle of concrete houses today. That time ISKCON was non-existent. Caitanya Mahaprabhu came here so ISKCON was established. While taking bath Caitanya Mahaprabhu may have glanced at this land thinking in future, there will be Hare Krishna dhama of Gaudiya Vaisnava over here. The Lord is Trikalagyana ( knower of past present and future). He is sarvagya. The Lord doesn’t see things after they are constructed. He views it even before construction. There was a lot of ecstatic kirtana and dancing by Mahaprabhu.

One of the Brahmins called him for Bhiksha one day where He received the good news that Sriranga Puri had also arrived in Pandharpur. Sriranga Puri was the direct disciple of Madhavendra Puri from whom our Gaudiya Sampradaya begins. He is the pratham acarya of our sampradaya. This way there is a Gaudiya connection of Pandharpur. Isvara Puri was a disciple of Madhavendra Puri and Caitanya Mahaprabhu was a disciple of Isvara Puri.

Sriranga Puri was the god-brother of Isvara Puri. In ISKCON also we talk that way. Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Sriranga Puri did a 7 day Katha over here. In the whole of the South Indian yatra Caitanya Mahaprabhu stayed for this long only in three places. One is at Kovur on the bank of River Godavari where there was a dialogue with Ramananda Roy which continued for many days. I think 10 days. Then when he reached Srirangam He stayed there for 4 months in Caturmasa. Pandharpur is the third place where He stayed for 7 days. At other places He just stayed for a night. Sometimes He never even stayed for the whole night. At midnight He would start for the next destination. This is also the glory of this Dhama. Caitanya Mahaprabhu increased the glory of this Dhama by His auspicious stay over here.

Then when he met Sriranga Puri who informed him that Shankar Aranya Swami had come here and left this mortal world. Mahaprabhu explained, “He was my brother.” This that was a big event. Caitanya Mahaprabhu stayed here for so long. He did kirtana and katha for so many days over here. His brother Vishwarupa who was a partial expansion of Balarama left his body in Pandharpur. Nityananda Prabhu also came here and was initiated in Pandharpur. All glories to Nityananda Prabhu. The way so many devotees get initiation here in Pandharpur. The initiation of Nityananda Prabhu in Pandharpur is not a small event. Nityananda Prabhu who is Adi guru accepted a guru over here. He took initiation from Laxmipati Titrtha, who is from Madhvacarya sampradaya . This way so many acaryas came here, even from Ramanuja Sampradaya, Nimbarka and Visnu Swami. Nityananda Prabhu took initiation from Laxmipati Titrtha. Some also understand that Nityananda Prabhu took initiation from Madhavendra Puri. In Bhakti Ratnakar, it is mentioned clearly that He displayed His pastimes over here.

Vitthala Bhagavan ki Jay!
Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu ki jay!
Pandharpur dhama ki Jay! Radha-Pandharinatha ki jay!
Ekadasi mahotsava ki Jay!
Gaur Premanande Hari Haribol!