Duty, Devotion, and Divinity

As Janmashtami approaches, I wanted to share a beautiful story about Lord Krishna, specifically about one of his names - Lord Vitthal or Panduranga Vittala. This story holds a powerful lesson that resonates with our daily lives.

Apr 30, 2024
In the mystic heart of Maharashtra, where devotion flows as freely as the sacred rivers, resides Lord Vitthal—also hailed lovingly as Panduranga Vittala.
He is not just an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, and the compassion in his heart knows no end. His home is the beautiful Pandharpur Rukmini Vitthal Temple in Pandharpur—a site that has reverberated with prayers, bhajans, and soul-stirring tales.
One such story envelops us in the life of Pundalik, a seeker on a pilgrimage to Kashi, the city of light. He found himself in the humble ashram of a sage.
“I don’t know the way to Kashi,” the sage said. “I’ve never been there.” On hearing this, Pundalik belittled the sage, asking him what kind of a sage he was if he never visited Kashi - the one place where everyone goes to seek moksha or salvation.
The sage remained calm in the face of Pundalik’s question and didn’t utter an answer.
But as the veil of night lifted, something miraculous unfolded.
Pundalik heard the soft murmur of feminine voices. Emerging, he witnessed Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati—yes, the celestial rivers themselves as three maidens—adorning the ashram with their purifying touch.
Astonished, Pundalik inquired, "How can this be? A sage who has never set foot in Kashi draws the divine rivers to his service?"
With grace, the holy rivers revealed, "True spirituality isn't measured in miles traveled in pilgrimage or kilos of gold offered. It's found in the act of dharma, in unwavering devotion to one's duties."
The rivers revealed that the sage was fulfilling his dharma - his duty of lifelong care for his aging parents. It was an act so sacred and selfless that it called the gods to descend from heaven themselves to serve him.
At that moment, a veil lifted from Pundalik’s eyes. He immediately thought of his own aging parents, whom he had abandoned back home.
He now saw the futility of going to Kashi after abandoning his dharma. With a heart heavy with newfound wisdom, he rushed back to his forsaken parents. And since that day, he dedicated himself to their service with the sincerity he had never shown before.
Then came the day of divine reckoning. Lord Krishna himself graced Pundalik's humble home. At that moment, Pundalik was pressing his parents’ feet as they were asleep. Pundalik recognized that the Lord had shown up at his door, and there was a time when he would have done anything to make that happen. There was a time when he would have dropped everything he was doing and fallen at the Lord’s feet.
But that was the old version of Pundalik. The man was wiser now, and even in the presence of the Supreme, Pundalik remained engrossed in serving his parents. His devotion had reached such an unshakable pinnacle that the lines between divine and earthly love had blurred.
Offering Lord Krishna nothing but a simple brick to stand on, Pundalik requested, "Dear Lord, please wait a moment. My first duty is to my parents." Such humility, such devotion moved Lord Krishna. He stood on the brick and patiently waited.
When Pundalik finally stood before the divine, his heart humbled and his spirit free, Lord Krishna blessed him. “Ask me for a boon, child,” Lord Krishna said. But Pundalik simply replied, "What greater gift could there be, than having the Lord himself wait for me?"
Yet, when Lord Krishna kept asking, Pundalik's request was simple: He asked for Lord Krishna to remain on Earth to guide and protect all seekers on their spiritual journey. The Lord agreed, and thus he remains in Pandharpur, known as Vithoba, the Lord who stands on a brick.
In this tale, we find not just a story but a living ethos, a testament to the transcendent power of duty, devotion, and love. It reminds us that divinity doesn't dwell in the distant heavens; it lives in the pure actions we perform, here and now.
Let's celebrate Janmashtami by immersing ourselves in the wisdom and beauty of Lord Krishna's divine names.
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Listen to the Vitthala Bhajan

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