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GLORY OF PANDHARPUR

Age - Old Pandharpur

Glory of 'Shri Vitthal' The idol of Shri Vitthal
Entrances The Temple of
Shri  Vitthal - Rukmini
Regular Worships
Daily Worships
Darshan The details of regular Worships How to Reach

 

 

 

 


Article Composed by
Maharashtra Abhang Ratna
Sri. K. Ganesh Kumar

  Pandharpur is situated on the banks of River Bhima. This river is also called Bhivara. This river, at this place flows in the crescent shape hence is called 'Chandrabhaga'.

A tale about the place goes as follows: Moon when cursed came here and bathed in the holy waters at this place and got freed from the curse hence the river started flowing in crescent shape and people started calling it 'Chandrabhaga'.

Age - Old Pandharpur

In Skanda Puram there is a separate topic called 'Pandari Mahatmiya' or glory of Pandari a voluminous literature explaining the glory of Pandarpur.  There we find the explanation of Pandarpur as "Poundarikimiti Kyatam Theertara Kshetra Ka Pujitam Panduranga Tatmaste
Mitritiman Deavatathama!! ''
meaning (on the bank of Bhima river) there is a holy pilgrimage place Poundarik. At that place is the Greatest Lord Panduranga in the form of idol.

Glory of "Shri Vitthal"

The dark complexioned Parabrahama of Pandhari is being worshipped in different periods with different names.  It is found Pandrinath, Panduranga, Pandhairiraya, Vithai, Vithoba, Vithu-mauli, Vitthalgururao and many more names were given by the devotees; but today well-known and commonly known names are Pandurang Shri Vitthal.  Many historians and researchers have studied to find the root of the word Vitthal.  Many believe that from Vishnu Vitthal word has been brought in store scripts in Kannada language used the words "Vittarasu"  or Votta which can be well-connected with Vishnu.  Saint Tukaram in one of his Abhangs explains in very simple term the meaning of Vithoba.  It goes as Vi means knowledge and  'Thoba"means shape.  So shape of knowledge or Idol of knowledge is Vithoba i.e. Vishnu.  He is standing on the  brick keeping his hands on the waist.  Shri Krishna, Shri Vishnu, and Shri Vithoba are all one.  Lord Shri Krishna incarnated at the end of Dwapar Yug on Wednesday i.e. the month of Shravan on the 8th day of dark fortnight (according to the Hindu calendar).  Vithoba is Shrikrishna.  So the day in dedication of Vithoba is also considered Wednesday.   Even today the Varkaris do not leave Pandharpur on Wednesday. 

The idol of Shri Vitthal

The idol of Vithuraya who is compassionate to sufferers, the wish-fulfilling tree for devotees and very difficult to seek for yogis is made of sand-stone.  Standing on the small stone-platform the idol is 3-1/2 ft tall.   Below the stone - platform is inverted lotus.  Till 1873 the devotees could embrace the feet of the Lord and have Darshan but as the time passed the need for giving support to the idol from behind was felt with the result that now devotees can only touch the lotus feet of the Lord by forehead.  There is a tall, pointed cap on the head of the Lord which appears as ShivaLinga.  The face of the lord is vertical oval-shaped, cheeks are chubby and eyes are half-open turned towards feet. In the ears fish shaped ornaments wearing a necklace of Koustubh jewels, on the back is a jute bag and the chest the symbol of the footmark.  There are double-armlets on both the arms and wrist-lets on both the arms and wrist-lets on wrists.  As described beautifully & aptly by Adi Sankracharya in Pandurangashtakam (click here) Lord Vitthal holds his both hands on waist, in the right hand inverted lotus with thumb downwards.  On the waist there is ornament with three chains called Mekhala. A cloth around waist with one end unfurling on the feet.

At the time of Maha-pooja having bathed with pure water and milk -curds -honey-Ghee and sugar the priest shows to the devotee all auspicious signs & ornaments and allows to see the Lord from near in the light of the lamp. The idol bathed with the above mentioned materials and with butter in the mouth looks very attractive, beautiful, with smiling face and devotees make the Lord a permanent abode of their mind.  Devotees feel pure, content and enjoy the bliss.  Only at this place they are fortunate to touch the feet of the Lord or bow their heads at the feet of the Lord.

The Temple of Shri Vitthal - Rukmini

Amidst the plains of Pandhari, on the Vitthal hill is the temple of Shri Vitthal- Rukmini.  What glorious and beautiful temple we see today was a miniature one during Yadav period.  It appears, 13th century onwards along with the spread of devotion to Vitthala the boundaries of the temple must have widened.  It is difficult to decide the exact period of temple architecture due to lack of reliable proof.  It appears that different parts of the temple such as:

Ganesh-Mandap,
Sabha Mandap (Assembly Hall),
Solakhambi Mandap (Hall with sixteen Pillars),
Choukambi Mandap (Hall with Four Pillars),
Garbhagriha (the exact place where the idols are placed)

must have been built by different people at differnet times, because if we see the planning of the temple in entirety each part is different from the other.

Previously the paths along with the temple were narrow, made in stone slabs and there were many lanes & sublanes around the temple, which caused lot of crowd during the holy period of pilgrimage. Hence with the co-operation of Government / City Development plan was chalked out.  The paths around the temple were widened. 

The ways for Pradakshina /  Parikrama (Going in a circular way around the shrine) & Palakhi (way for palanquin) are being widened.  The road leading to the temple from the S. T. stand 'SW. Sawarkar Path ' has also been considerably widened.

The temple of Shri Vitthal is facing Eastwards.  The temple measures east -west 350 ft South North 170 ft and the height is approximately 25 to 32 feet.  The temple top is decorated by artistic carvings of the idols of Gods & Goddesses.  They are painted beautifully and focused with blue yellow lights.  During Navratri & other festivals (Navratri - Nine Night festival) the temple, its peak is brightly lit up with electrical bulbs because of which the Temple and its Gopuram shines and looks beautiful. 

There are entrances to the temple from all the four sides.  These gates are used for different purposes.  Eastward ' of the temple has three gates -

(1) The first and Main gate or Namdev Gate is called as Mahadvar.  The beloved devotee Lord of Vitthal, Saint Namadeva along with his fourteen family members attained Mahasamadhi (Ashadi, dark fortnight 13, 1272) according to Hindu calendar and in 1350 according to Christian calendar. Namdev wanted to be blessed constantly by the Padha Dhuli  - dust of the feet - of all the varkaris (devotees) of the Lord Vittal. 

This place is called the 'Namdev Payri'.  Every year the 'Samadhi Utsav" - Aniversary is celebrated here. An image of Namdev is fitted on this step.  The devotees visting the temple first take darshan of Namdev and cross this step without being touched by feet.  On the right side of the Namdev step is the public drinking water place named 'Vrindavan  Dham'. 

Ahead of this step is the samadhi of "Choka Mela" ( also known as Choka) another celebrated saint and devotee of Lord Vittala.  It is believed that Saint Namdev brought the mortal remains of Choka and placed here and built the samadhi.  The King of Phalatan renewed the samadhi and built the majestic umbrella over it. In 1987 the road adjacent to Mahadwar (Main Gate) & West Gate (Paschim Dwar) were widened.  Before that there were idols of Khalbhairav & Ganpathi- Saraswati and two Veergalas next to Chokha Mela Samadhi.  These idols were shifted to nearby place. 

(2) To the left of Namdev step is a big banyan tree.  Next to it is the temple for the Gods thirty-three crore deities ( 'thetisa Koti Deva Nayaka' ).  Through the new Darshan hall adjacent to the temple is the eastward facing gate to go to the temple.  

Darshan Hall and the temple are joined by constructing a small pond.  Third gate on eastward is known as the 'Tarati Gate'.  If one enters through this gate there are the temples of  Kanhopatra,  Laxmi and Vyankatesh.  There are two gates to the south side of the temple- (1) Seperatte arrangement for ladies to have darshan and (2) other joining Bajirao.

To the West of the temple is only one Main Gate.  This is called "Paschim Dwar".  Vehicles coming from ST stand and the chowk halt here only at the backside of the temple.  There is a parking arrangement.  During pilgrimage this gate is used as the exit for the devotees who have taken Darshan. 

To the North of the temple mainly there are three gates. (1) Rukmini  Gate  (2) Rukmini Gopur Gate - having entered through this gate one is ushered to the Rukmini assembly Hall built with red stone.  The religious programs like katha, lectures and kirtans etc. take place during Navratri.  (3) Leading to the lane of Bodhale Buva.  Thus, in all there are nine gates.

Having entered through the Main Gate (Mahadwara) and the darshan of Namdev step a few steps are to be climbed up to enter the temple where one finds stone built hall supported by 4 to 5 curvatures.  To the other end of the hall in the big inbuilt shelf of the wall is the idol of Shri- SiddhiVinayak.  Some people say in olden days at this very place was the idol of Vittala facing east.  Now on the top of this hall is the place where all musical instruments are kept.  At dawn and dusk the auspicious instruments are played and drums are beaten.  To the right of this hall is space for physical exercise.  Now this is used to cook prasad and there is a flourmill of the Samiti.

Daily worships of Shri Vitthal & Mother Rukmini-
 

Head-dress-like crown of the hand, the fish-shaped ear-tops- the necklace bedecked with Kaustubh-Mani, the letters carved on two sides of chest ShriNiketan - abode of Goddess Laxmi and Shri Vastalanchan the symbol of the heel of the Brahmin Sage Bhrugu: the armlets and bangle like ornaments, Mekhala- chain ornament to wear around waist.  Pooja with all these ornaments is performed on our National festivals and other religious festivals.  Many kings, Rich, Landlords have offered their riches at the feet of the Lord Vitthal.

The entire arrangement of the Vitthal-Rukmini temples is looked after by 'Shri Vitthal-Rukmini Mandir Samiti' as per the directions of the Government.  So the Samiti takes care of all ornaments, & silver vessels required for pooja.  The ornaments in Shri Vitthal temple are around 300 and in Rukmini- Mandir around 350.  All these are made in precious stones &
gold. 

On the 1st day of Chaitra month, 1st day of  Karthik month, last day of Diwali-Bhaubij, Dasara, Navratra Festival , Gokul Ashtami, Ram-navmi and national festival day the idols of the Lord and rukmini are beautifully decorated.  Even today many people offer ornaments lots of gold-ornaments are lying in the treasury.

Regular Worships

There are two types of worships - one is regular and the other occasional. In regular worships early morning prayer (Kakad - Aarti), bathing, afternoon worship, pre-evening worship, aarati at dusk and night at sleeping time worship are performed.  On the Ekadashi day only few and particular dishes are performed to offer as naivedya.  On the Ekashi day there is no night-worship.  During Ashadh Karthik major pilgrimages and Chaitra- magh minor pilgrimages the regular-worships are not performed (except bathing & Naivedya).  During these periods the temple is open for darshan day & night.  After the pilgrimage on an auspicious day purifying Pooja is performed.  The entire temple is washedand cleaned, Maha-Naivaidya is made and then the regular rites are performed.

During occasional worships Navratra, Dasara, 1st day of diwali, New year day (Padava),  Gokulashtami festivals are celebrated.  During the month of Dhanu every day the rice-moong dal khichadi is cooked and offered to the Lord.  On the 16th day of Ashadha Kartik they perform 'Mahadwara Kala' in the temple.  On this day the sandals of the lord are tied up on the head of  the successor of Kanhaiya Haridasa and taken in procession all along the temple the person carrying the sandals of the Lord is not conscious during this time.  Then they break the mud-pot in which beaten rice & curds are kept.

Daily Worships

The daily worships in the Shri Vitthal temple are according to the Vaidic system.  All worships are performed with Vaidik Sanskrit chanting - mainly Poorushsukta Rudra, Brahma-Nitya Karma & Shreesukta.  Every worship is performed as directed by the appropriate Mantra.
The schedule of regular Worships:

4.00 A.M.                Main Gate opens
4.30-6.00A.M.         Early morning (Kakad Aarati) & regular Pooja
7.00-8.00A.M.         Maha-Pooja (jointly daily 5)
11.00-11.15 A.M.    Maha- Naivedya.
2.00-3.00 P.M.        Pooja with offering of Tulsi
4.30-5.00 P.M.        Dressing and adorning
7.00-7.30 P.M.        Evening Prayer
10.00-10.30 P.M.    Pooja of the Lotus Feet of the Lord
11.00-11.30 P.M.    Bedtime Pooja

Timings for Darshan

Morning 6 to 7, 8 to 11, 11.15 to 4.30
Evening, 5.00 to 7.00 pm & 7.30 to 10.00 p.m & 10.30 to 11.00 p.m.

The details of regular Worships

1) Kakad -Aarti-  At the early morning 4.00 O'Clock in the peaceful, serene, auspicious and pleasant atmosphere the instrument called Choughada and Sanai start playing.  The devotees gather near the entrance gate of the temple.  

The gates of the temple are opened.  The priest chants the mantras in loud tone to wake up the Lord.  "OM uttish Brahmanaspate Devenyantstvemahe!  .. 
Uttishtthottistitha Govind Uttishttha Garuddhvaja/ Uttishttha Kamalakantam 
Tyaga Nidra Jagatpate/ Uttishtthottishttha Govind Trailokyam Mangalam
Kuru!!"


After this prayer the priest offers water to the Lord to wash the face.  After that the cotton-wicks dipped in cow ghee are lit in the silver lamp and along with prayer " Jaya Deva Panduranga, Anand Kamala the Aarti and nivedia of butter and sugar are offered to the Lord.  After singing a few artis the Mantrpushpanjali is chanted.  The garlands and flowers from the idol of the Lord are removed. The feet are washed with milk.  The clothes are removed.  

After Ganpati, Kalash, bell, conch, earth poojas with proper intentions for regular Maharaja are expressed.  Then starts the mahapooja of the Lord.  The bathing rites are performed serially hot water bath, curds, milk, five-nectars (milk, curd, ghee, honey, sugar) bath in the middle of it they offer after butter-sugar with Tulasi leaf to the Lord and perform aarti.  Then honey and sugar are applied on the body of the Lord and once again hot-water bath is given.

While offering water through conch and other things the Poorushsukta and other Vaidic Mantras are chanted. After this morning bath, the Lord is dressed up with gold - zari bedecked costumes.  On the forehead Chandan, Kasturi  tilak are applied.  After putting all the ornaments the mirror is held in front of the Lord.  Then dhoop, lamp (deep) naivedya are offered. The auspicious pure water with which the Lord was bathed is sprinkled on all the devotees.  After Naivedya again Aarti- "Sharanagata Tav Charama Majwari Kari Karma! Asharan Sharana Dei Maj Nij Padi Charana!!" 
And the Mantrapushpanjali.  Thus every morning - Pooja Rite is performed in a very devotional way. The Darshan of the Lord at Mahapooja is very very pleasant and appealing which cannot be described in words but everybody must experience the same.

2) After-Noon Pooja:-  Everyday during 11.00 to 11.15 A.M. the afternoon Pooja is offered to the Lord .  Except of Ekadashi Day on all other days the Lord is offered with five -sweets lunch and then aarti is performed.

3) Aparahna Pooja- Pre-evening Pooja - This Pooja is performed at 4.30 P.M. 
The feet of the Lord are washed, clothes changed and offered with Laddu &
water with saffron and beetle leaf 'Govind vida'.

How to Reach

Closest International Airport - Mumbai
Mumbai Pandharpur By Road : Distance by Road 400 k.m.
Mumbai To Pandharpur by train : 
Direct train from Mumbai to Pandarpur & return Or get down at Solapur / Kurudwadi on Mumbai - Chennai route and take State Transport Bus.
By bus:
daily bus from Mumbai at 9 p.m. from 'Yogi' Chembur.
By Car:
Mumbai - Pune Exp. Highway and then proceed towards Hadapsar on Pune Sholapur Road and turn right before Kuruduwadi.

Arrangement for stay: Birla cottages, Sarada Bhavan, Maheswari Dharashala, and other Dharma Shalas.

For Puja and other details : Shri Anirudh Gopal Badve (Chief Priest - Shri Kshetra Pandharpur)

For any assistance or help: Please contact Ms. Latika mobile 9821122823. (Ms. Ganesh Kumar)

Tips for traveling : be light, take clothes for river bathing, be careful with money / Jewellery as one has to move through large crowds for darshan and Carry cash donation at the time of darshan..

Pandarpur is an old village still in the 15th Century

Main events : Ashadi Ekadashi / Karthick Ekadashi (Please avoid visits during this time as lakhs and lakhs of Varkaris (devotees) converge on Pandarpur from all over Maharashtra and  it will be impossible to have darshan during these days.

DEVOTEES CAN ALSO JOIN MAHARASHTRA ABHANG RATNA SRI GANESH KUMAR (click here) WHEN HE IS INVITED TO PERFORM 'NAMSANKIRTAN' EVERY YEAR AT THE SABHA MANDAP - THE EXPERIENCE IS ONE OF ITS KIND AS THIS IS THE ONLY PROGRAMME HELD AT THE SANNANDHI DURING THE ENTIRE YEAR.

DEVOTEES VISITING SOUTH INDIA MAY VISIT "VITHAL -RUKMAYEE" TEMPLE AT THENANGUR ( NEAR KANCHEEPURAM) BUILT BY SWAMI HARIDHOSGIRI WITH AN IMPRESSIVE NAMSANKIRTANA MANDAPAM. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE DETAILS.

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