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Vishnu Mayam Jagat
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Temples Of India
Lord Siva To Be Adored The Devalayas Of Karnataka
Palani Dhandhayudhapani The Kovils Of Kerala
The Temples of North-West India Temples For The Triple Sects
Mata Kanakadurga of Vijayawada The Legend Of Mata Kanyaka Parameswari
The Temples Of North-East India Mantralya Mahakshetra
The Aalayas of Andhra Pradesh The Mandirs Of Maharastra
Mighty Atoms For Tiny Tots Lord Siva Of Sri Kalahasthi
Bhagawan Vithoba Of Pandharpur Bizarre Beliefs And Odd Traditions
Asoka Priyadarsin The Mother Of Melmaruvathur And Her Miracles
Vishnu Mayam Jagat Sarvam Sakti Mayam
The Temples Of Tamilnadu Hindu Ethos In Capsules - Vol I

Hindu Ethos In Capsules - Vol II

Hullo Tirupathi !
Uthuthshta Govinda Cum Jo Jo Mukunda The Miracles Of Gods For The Debacles Of Humans
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Pandarpur - Panduranga Vittal Mandir 

This temple of Panduranga Vittal, among all in the state of Maharastra is holding the greatest sway over the clays and mass of the Marathi theistic community. It is to this temple Varakari Sampradaya started and spread far and wide; it is to this temple several palanquins of great saints come yearly once; it is here in this temple casteless, classless oneness emerged and is receiving full honours; and it is into this deity many illustrious saints, like Jnaneswar, Tukaram, Namadev merged; it is thin archamurthi revealing himself in the form of Omkar; it is this deity standing on the brick is awaiting his devout bhakta Pundarik to came and receive boons; it is this deity deemed to be the typical symbol of Marathi religious life; it is this deity that was carried away to Vijayanagar by Sri Krishna Devaraya; it is to this deity, rulers from Karnataka made lavish endowments; it is this deity kept hidden by one Raghoji during the Muslim invasion and returned it to the temple authorities after receiving a large consideration; and it is this deity that was held in ransom for sometime by some unscrupulous men; it is this deity considered as the embodiment of the three Vedas; it is this deity advocating catholicity as evidenced by emancipating the Muslims even; it is on the glory of this Lord, thousands of abhangas were sung by devotees in their exotic raptures and it is this deity adored as Kamadhenu by the pious bhaktas.

The Temple

It is fairly a big temple built in the heart of the town, on the bank of Chandrabagha, a tributary of river Krishna. It is surrounded by a wall with eight entrances, adorned with towers. It stands on a high plinth occupying 370 feet east-west and 170 feet north-west. The chief entrance - Mahadwara with a flight of twelve steps faces east and is called the Namadev ghat, named after a great thirteenth century saint, a close friend of the illustrious Jnaneswar. The front part of the first and second steps are covered with brass plates carved with fourteen human figures representing the members of Namadev's family. The first figure holding tambourine in hand is that of Namadev.

The story goes that Namadev attained samadhi here, and soon after hearing this news, all the 14 members of the family drowned themselves in the river. Ah! affection thou knoweth no bounds! Could imagination ever aide by the marks of demarcation? Visitors offer prayers to the samadhi first. Odd it sounds that Namadev prayed to Vittal to permit him to be at the bottom step to be sanctified by the dust of bhaktas, while entering the temple. Another object of worship at the gate is a niche, housing a two by one and a half foot broad stone, representing Chokha Mela, an outcaste devotee. Before the temple entry act for Harijans was passed, all the forbidden communities were offering prayers at this niche only. And beyond this point, they were not allowed.

Crossing the Namadev gate, we enter a roofed passage with Nagarkhana on it. It has three rooms on either side, housing images like Ganesh etc. This is called Mukti Mandap. Ascending half a dozen steps again, we enter a spacious quadrangle with utensils used for cooking. It contains two samadhis of great saints besides the images of Hanuman and Garuda. Next comes the big mandap with well decorated gates. One either side of the middle gate lie the dwarapalakas - Jaya-Vijaya. There are two images - one of Ganesh and the other is that of Saraswati, holding the lotus, akshamala, parasu and book in hands. The central gate opens into Solakhamba mantap - a big hall with 16 pillars. The ceiling is beautified with scenes from the scriptures, like Krishnalila etc. There are a number of cells containing the images of Kasi Viswanath, Kalabhairav, Rama-Lakshman, Dattatreya etc. There is a holy pillar called Garuda Stambha here, and pilgrims embrace it after making money offerings. Next to it lies Choukamba with elephant gate leading to the garbha griha. The archamurthi lies on a four feet high pedestal. The exterior of garbha griha is decorated with Maratha motifs of niches and minarets with stucco figures in the niches. The image of Narasimha, Radhakrishna, Vishnu adorn the niches in the walls and they are grand.

The Archamurti 

The archamurti is called by many names, such as Vithoba, Panduranga, Vittal, Krishna etc, and each has its story. Vithoba means the father of Vittala, Vittala is derived from Kannada word Vita, standing for Krishna. It means also one who receives for giving grace to those without (tha), knowledge (vit), by splitting it into three component parts, like Vit + tha + la. Pandurang is the sanskritised form of Pandarga, the old name of Pandarpur, reminiscent of Pundalik, whose association made this kshkra Pundarikapura. The image of this august Panduranga is about three and a half feet in height and is installed on a four foot high pedestal. The image has two arms adorned with sankh in left hand and lotus stem in the right hand, but resting on the hips. It is beautified with Kaustubhamala around the neck, Vastalanchan on the chest, Makarakundalas in the ears and a head-gear ornamented with a Sivalinga in the middle. It is standing on a square block offered to him by Pundalik as asana. It is exceedingly enchanting with colourful garlands and the characteristic akimbo pose. A single darsan elevates and it remains for ever, locked up in mind. And lo! here every visitor is allowed Padasparsa bhagya-touching the holy feet of the Lord. A great boon! And a unique opportunity.

Pujas And Festivals

The routine worship is offered five times a day. It begins with Khakadarati followed panchamruta puja. Afternoon worship consists of Naivedya, Deepaarati is the next pooja and the last one is Shejarati. Elaborate rituals with hymns and songs to the accompaniment of music are observed with great fervour. Besides, there are several periodical and Occasional festivals, like Panchamrita abhisheka on Wednesday and Saturday. Every Eakadasi is a special occasion; Gokulashtami, the birth day of Krishna is celebrated with great pomp, when huge crowds overflow the banks and streets of this holy town. Ashada and Karthika masas also have great pull. The worship is carried on according to agamic injunctions by competent graded officials consisting of Badavas, Utpats, Pujaris, Benaris - hymnists, Paricharikas - bathmen, Haridasas - singers, Dingers barbers, Danges - mase bearers, and Divetis - light men. The Badavas command great respect and occupy first place in the main temple and Utpats likewise in the Rukmini temple. A harmonious blend of Marathi and Kannada traditions are followed, and they are being practiced with great devotion.

It lies on the bank of Chandrabagha river in Pandarpur town, accessible by bus from Sholpaur or Kuradwada and it is a railhead also.


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