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