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Pandharpur Vithoba Temple

Pandharpur, located in Maharashtra, is the most-visited pilgrim spot in the state. Dedicated to Vithoba, one of the forms of Lord Vishnu, this temple witnesses huge crowd, especially on the days of Kartiki Ekadashi and Aashadhi Ektadashi. During these two day, the Warkaris, who are the people belonging to Vaishnava community, come to Pandharpur all the way from their native towns by foot and offer their prayers to the Lord.  At least a million Hindu devotees come here every year during these events. Pandharpur is a scenic pilgrim city that is located on the shores of the Bhima River. This river is in the shape of a half-moon, which is why it is also known as Chandrabagha.

The main deity of Pandharpur, Vithoba is known by many names like Vitthal, Pandurang, Pandarinath etc. The temple also houses the idol of Rakhumai or Rukmani who is Vithoba’s consort. This temple is set on a sprawling area and has six huge gates leading into it. Every year, there are four important seasons that attract huge crowds to the temple. In order of the number of people visited, these seasons are Ashadh (from June to July), Kartik (from October to November), Magh (from January to February) and Shravan (from July to August).

About the Temple

Pundalik’s story plays a vital role behind the history of the temple. Pundalik, born to Janudev and Satyavati was a very obedient child who gave his parents utmost respect all through his growing up years. However, he transformed into a completely different person after his wedding. He and his wife started disrespecting and humiliating his parents to a great extent. Unable to stand the bad treatment, the elderly couple decided to go to Kashi to breathe their last there. As fate would have it, Pundalik and his wife also accompanied the elderly couple to Kashi.

Pundalik continued to treat his parents in a very disgusting way at Kashi. He and his wife took the comfortable horse ride in the pilgrim town, but he made his old parents walk. He asked them to all the work in the place where they stayed, so that he could lead a comfortable life with his wife.  In Kashi, the four of them come to the hermitage of a famous sage, Kukkutswami and decide to spend a few days there. During the first night of stay there, when the rest of them were in a deep slumber, Pundalik was awake and he saw something absolutely incredible.

Just before the break of day, few beautiful women wearing dirty clothes came into the hermitage, did all the work here, washed the sage’s clothes, entered the prayer room, came out with spotlessly clean clothes and then suddenly vanished into thin air. Pundalik was confused on seeing this and so the next night, he was awake again to know who those ladies were. When they come again just before the break of the next day, he spotted them and asked them for their identity. One of the ladies replied that they represent the Ganga, Yamuna and all the other sacred rivers of India. They also explain that their clothes are dirty because people come and take a holy dip in their waters to wash off all their sins. After explaining this, the women told Pundalik that he was the greatest sinner of all people because he had been continuously disrespecting and insulting his parents.

It was only then the realization dawned on Pundalik and he understood what kind of a blunder he was making. After this incident, he changed completely and became completely devoted to his parents. He gave them respect and did all kinds of services for them.  When Lord Vishnu knew about Pundalik’s devotion to his parents, He wanted to witness it personally and he came down personally to the ashram of Kukkutswami.

The Lord knocked the door of the ashram but Pundalik chose to ignore it because, he was serving food for his parents. He didn’t want anything to interrupt that task. However, he threw a brick outside, so that the person knocking could stand on it and wait for him till he opens the door. After finishing serving his parents, Pundalik opened the door and was shocked to see the Lord waiting on a brick for him.

He immediately apologized and asked the Lord to forgive him for making Him wait. However, Lord Vishnu expressed his happiness upon seeing Pundalik’s devotion and respect for his parents and hence offered to grant a boon for him. Pundalik asked that the Lord should remain on Earth and continue to bless his devotees. Lord Vishnu agreed and took the form of Vithoba, meaning, the Lord who stood on a brick at this very place. A magnificent temple was then built around this area which is known today as the Pandharpur Vithoba temple.

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