It was yet another blissful Friday satsang, which everyone truly enjoyed. About 11 satsang families dialed in. The Boston namadwar team lead the nama kirtan. After a quick round of introductions, Narayananji from Boston, gave a satsang talk about the Stala Purana of Pandarpur on account of Kaisika Ekadasi. He started off with the dyana slokas – “
Namo Nama SadGuruByo SadGuruByo Namo Nama |
Kalaye sundarAkAram sadaika priyadarshanam |
AgnAna nAshakam dEvam sadgurum muraLidharam ||
MuraLi mandita karakamalam munijana mOhanam
Vyatyasta pAdam vanamAlA dhAriNam |
PrEma bhakta maNdala nitya kIrthitam
PrEmika varadam AsRayeham ||
NAma sankIrtanam yasya sarva pApa praNAshanam |
PraNAmo dukha shamana: tam namAmi harim param ||
SadgurunAtha maharaja ki! jai! “
The most unique aspect of Sanatana Dharma is that there are many deities and lots of ways of worship. Even though the final destination is the same – The ultimate Brahman, the paths to attain the destination is different.
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa says ‘Yatho math tatho path’ (as many beliefs, so many ways).
Every deity is associated with an unique way of worship. Lord Ganesha, the child like god, when prostrated with Modaks and different kinds of foods, is extremely pleased. Lord Karthikeya is very happy when one undertakes fasting(Vratha) to worship him. Lord Shiva is called Abhisheka Priya. He is in joyous mood when he is bathed with water all the time. In northern part of India, it is a common sight in the temples to see water dripping on the Shivalinga all the time.
Akin to these deities, there are different ways of worship for Lord Vishnu deities as well.
Lord Vishnu (Aalankara Priya), loves to be dressed very well. Our Guru Maharaj often says that Lord Guruvayyorappan is best worshipped with Srimad Bhagavatam. He, being the idol of Uddava, likes to hear Bhagavata parayam always. Lord Venkatachalapthi in Tirupathi is revered with wealth. Likewise, Lord Suryanarayana in Trichur is happy to hear the sound of fireworks. It is also known as “Vetu Vazhi Padu” in tamil. Lord Badrinarayana in badrinath is “Nara Barayana” and he is worshipped with pure tapas. Lord Jagannathar in Puri, is offered with different kinds of Prasad during the day. There is continuous cooking of food round the clock and Puri Prasad is considered to be “Brahman” itself. Srinathji in Dwaraka is offered only the richest of the richest and the best of the best.
Just like how these gods are worshipped in their own way, Lord Panduranga of Pandarpur loves Nama Sankirtan. Lord Krishna, is usually perceived as “Vyatyasta Pada” – criss crossed legs with a flute(murali) in his hand. But in Pandarpur, the same Lord, who is the Dwarakadeesha, is depicted to be in “Sama Charana” – the lord standing on his still legs instead of criss cross legs. It is said that no sooner do the devotees of the lord start to tune their ‘tambura’ than the Lord is ready to jump and move around. So the Lord Vittala is usually portrayed with his feet on the ground and his arms around his hips.
There are a couple of things that makes a holy place (kshetra) very popular. Firstly, it is the historic story (stala purana) of that particular place and deity. Secondly, the devotees extol the glory of the place and sing beautiful songs on that deity.
Bhaktas from Pandarpur, have decorated the Lord Panduranga with beautiful Kirtans also known as Abhangs (Marati Kirtans). There are two things – Nama sankirtanam and Guru Bhakti that are very common to all these bhaktas of Pandarpur. The grace and glory of a guru is clearly outlined in all these Bhaktas life history. Their main advocacy was Nama Sankirtan, which is very transparent in their abhangs and their lives have been filled with Guru Bhakthi and Guru Mahima, be it the life of Namadev, Tukkaram, Jnaneshwar, or Ekanath.
In fact, the very ‘Sthala Purana’ of Pandharpur talks about Guru Krupa.
There was a devotee by name Pundalika who hailed from south. He intuitively listened to lot of discourses. One day when he was listening to a Katha, the lecturer (Pouranika), mentioned that a visit to Kasi (Varanasi) would accrue a lot of punya. The moment he heard this, he held a desire to visit Varanasi. He left for Varanasi along with his family. Since there was no transportation available then, the whole of the journey had to be covered by foot.
It is said that when someone is in the quest of God, a Guru comes right on the way and shows him the way. That was exactly the case with Pundalika. When he was crossing the Bheema river, he came across the ashram of a maharishi called Kookoda Maharishi. He rested there to refresh for a while. Pundalika expressed his desire to visit Varanasi to the Maharishi. The Maharishi advised him that his foremost responsibility was to take care of his parents and by doing so, he told him that all the deities will come right to his house.
A path that a guru shows is always in accordance to Vedas and Shastras. The shastras say “Matru Devo Bhava Pitru Devo Bhava” – All the deities are equivalent to the act of serving one’s parents. The guru showed him the way and Pundalika immediately accepted his guru’s words.
Pundalika took excellent care of his parents from dawn to dusk and diligently performed chores to his parents. He took very good care of his parents, not for any desire for punya, but for his guru’s words.
The Lord was so pleased with Pundalika and wanted to grace him. The lord who was none other than Dwarakadeesha, decided to played a prank. He asked Narada if he knew anyone who was very truthfully serving his parents. Narada immediately mentioned about Pundalika on the banks of Bheema river. So the Lord along with Rukmini Devi set out for Pundalika’s house. They knocked his door and Pundalika opened the door. He was very sincerely taking care of his parents’ morning tasks and asked the Lord to wait in a brick till he finished serving his parents.
The lord patiently waited as well. Once he finished his work, Pundalika came to the Lord and firstly thanked them for waiting very patiently. The Lord being so pleased with him told Pundalika that he wished to grant him a boon. Pundalika denying that boon, said that he was very happy that his guru’s words came true. But the lord insisted that he ask for a boon. He then asked him to stay in his house forever, to prove the very fact that the Lord himself came to his house to take care of a devotee who took care of his parents. So the Lord immediately granted him that boon and that is how our Lord Dwarakadeeshan settled in Pandarpur as Lord Panduranga along with Rukmini as Vittobha and Rakumai.
Adi Shankara has mentioned Panduranga as verily Parabrahma (‘Parabrahma lingam bhaje Pandurangam’)– a culmination of all the deities.
Our Guru Maharaj spoke this beautifully in a kirtan in Tamil, mentioning the Sthala purana of Pandarpur. and also clearly elucidating the characteristics (amsa) of different deities.
The kirtan is as mentioned below – “
Pundalikanuku Andru Vandu Ninran
Chandra Samana Mukha Azhagan
IndiradiSevitha rajadhi rajan
Keerthanai Aadai Aanindhu,
Sadhukalai Bhushanamai Kondu
Our Guru Maharaj expounded Lord Panduranga, who stood in front of Pundalika. He says that the lord’s face is like the moon on the banks of the river, Chandrabaga, which is itself named so because it is cresent-shaped.
Speaking about the qualities of the Lord, He says that He is the king of the Kings – who has subdued Lord Indra’s ego, as we see in Bhagavatam.
He then talks about the characteristics (amsa) of the different deities that the Lord Pandurangan possessed. He says that the lord takes bath in the ocean of bhakti/devotion, similar to Lord Shiva, the abhishekha priya. He compares him with Lord Vishnu (aalankara priyan), by saying that the abhangs and kirtans are his garments and his jewels are his Bhaktas. He keeps relishing food always, akin to Puri Jagannatha Swami. But the food here is the Nectarine Name of the Lord.
May that Panduranga bless all of us.
Sri Aravindji from Florida shared his joyful experiences of Srimad Bhagavata Sapthaham in Houston. The Satsang was wrapped up with Nama Sankirtan. We also prayed for the Mumbai victims who were killed during the terror attack.