How Vithoba came to Pandharpur

Pundalik lived with his father Janudeva and mother Satyavati in a thick forest called Dandirvan.

Pundalik was a devoted son but soon after his marriage he began to mistreat his parents. To escape from their misery, the parents decided to go on a pilgrimage to Kashi.

When Pundalik’s wife learned about this, she also decided to go. She and her husband joined the same group of pilgrims on horseback. While the son and his wife rode on horseback, the old couple walked. Every evening when the party camped for the night, the son forced his parents to groom the horses and do other jobs. The poor parents cursed the day they decided to go on a pilgrimage.

Soon the party reached the hermitage of the great sage Kukkutswami. There they decided to spend a couple of days. They were all tired and soon fell asleep ­except Pundalik who could not sleep. Just before daybreak he saw a group of beautiful, young women, dressed in dirty clothes, enter the ashrama, clean the floor, fetch water and wash the swami’s clothes. As they came out they were having beautifully clean clothes, they passed by Pundalik and vanished.

The next night he saw the same sight again. Pundalik threw himself at their feet and begged them to tell who they were. They said they were Ganga, Yamuna and other holy rivers of India in which the Pilgrims bathed and washed their sins. Their clothes were dirtied by the sins of the bathing pilgrims.

“And with the way you mistreat your parents,” they said, “you are the greatest sinner!”

This brought about a complete change in him and he became the most devoted of sons. Now the parents’ rode the horses while the son and his wife walked by their side. By their love and affection, the son and his wife urged the parents to give up the pilgrimage and return to Dandirvan.

Pleased with his devotion, Deity Vishnu decided to bless Pundalik. So Vishnu in the form of ShriKrushna accompanied with Rukmini came to Pundalik’s home. But at that time Pundalik was busy attending to his parents. Though he knew ShriKrushna had come to see him, he refused to pay his respect to the God before his duty towards his parents was done. He, however, threw a brick outside for ShriKrushna to stand upon.

Impressed by Pundalik’s devotion to his parents, ShriKrushna did not mind the delay. Standing on the brick he waited for Pundalik.

When Pundalik came out and begged God’s pardon, ShriKrushna replied that far from being displeased, he was pleased with his love for his parents. He blessed Pundalik and promised to stay there in the form of Vithoba, or ‘God who stood upon a brick’. An imposing temple was built at the place where ShriKrushna and Pundalik had met.

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