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This hymn in nine verses in the Bhujangaprayaata metre in on paanduranga, the form of Vishnu in the shrine at Pandaripura (modern Pandarpur) in the Maharashtra State. There is an interesting anecdote relating to this deity and to a devotee of that deity, namely, Pundarika.
Pundarika was born to Janüdev and Muktaabai. After his marriage he began to consider his own parents as hindrance to his prosperity and happiness. He felt it a sheer waste to spend anything for their well-being. There was no limit to his unkind attitude. He had decided to drive them out of the house and had asked them to go. Luckily at that time, there came a group of devotees on pilgrimage to Kaasi. They invited Pundarika, parents to accompany them. They gladly accepted the invitation.
After they had left, Pundarika, proud of his wealth, also had the desire to go to Kaashi. He engaged two horses to carry him and his wife to Kaashi. On their way to Kaashi he had to cross the party with his parents and took no notice of them. Soon the two reached the outskirts of a hermitage. Even before they entered it they had a strange sight. Rohidas, a dutiful cobbler was attending upon his parents. To their enquiry about the distance to Kaashi, he could not give and reply. All that he knew was the service he rendered to his parents.
They were spending the night there. Pundarika heard some jingling noise and could not sleep. He saw some ugly female figures who were frightful to look at. They bathed in the nearby waters and came out in fascinating divine forms. He begged them to disclose their identity. They all despised him as the worst sinner and asked him to get away from there.
After being beseeched by him they told him that they were the three sacred rivers Gangaa, Yamunaa and Sarasvati who regained their original forms after they were freed from the sins which had clung to them because of the sinful bathers in those rivers. They moreover told him on enquiry, that the sacredness of that place is due to the steadfast devotion of Rohidas to his parents. Pundarika then realised the great harm he had done to his parents and, immediately repaired to his parents and arranged for their comfortable pilgrimage to Kaashi.
After returning to his place, he was constantly attending upon his parents. Once Lord Krushna came to bless him along with Rukmini and was at his doorstep. Then Pundarika was engaged in doing his service to his parents. Without even turning his head, Pundarika threw a brick for the lord to stand upon till he had finished his service to his parents. The lord then granted Pundarika, request to stay permanently on the brick in order to bless the humanity.
The hymn given below opens with a reference to this episode. We find this story in the Paandurangamaahaatmya assigned to the Bhavishyottarapuaana. The place also was known as Pundarikapura, on account of this incident having taken place there. The name of Paanduranga is a Sanskritized form of Pandarga (Pandarge) which was the old name of Pandharpur.
The other term Vitthobaa is a contracted form of the Marathi expression 'vitkar ubaa rahaa' meaning 'be standing on the brick'. The term 'Vitthala' is derived as vidaa = jòaanena (by knowledge), thaan = shünyaan (dispirited, ignorant), laati = rakshati (protects). He receives those without knowledge to bestow His grace on them.
महायोगपीठे तटे भीमरथ्या
वरं पुण्डरीकाय दातुं मुनीन्द्रैः ।
परब्रह्मलिङ्गं भजे पाण्डुरङ्गम् ॥ १॥
mahaayogapithe tate bhimartathyaa
varam pundarikaya daatum munindraih
samaagatya tishth antamaanandakandam
parabrahmalingam, bhaje paandurangam(1)
I worship that Panduranga, who has the characteristics of the Supreme Brahman and who is the source of happiness. He has come to his spot on the bank of the river Bhimarathi which is a great seat of yogic prowess, and is standing here along with great seers in order to confer boon on Pundarika.
रमामंदिरं सुंदरं चित्प्रकाशम् ।
वरं त्विष्टकायां समन्यस्तपादं
परब्रह्मलिङ्गं भजे पाण्डुरङ्गम् ॥ २॥
ramaamandiram sundaram citprakaasham
param tvishtikaayaam samanyastapaadam
parabrahmalingam bhaje paanduraògam(2)
I bow to that Paanduranga, who has the characteristics of the Supreme Brahman. He has dress brilliant like the lightning, and has the colour of the blue clouds. He is the abode of Goddess Ramaa (Lakshmi). He is handsome and is (verily) the effulgence of consciousness. He is the Highest who has firmly placed His feet on the brick.
The reading 'param' has been instead of 'varam' as it is more appropriate.
प्रमाणं भवाब्धेरिदं मामकानां
नितम्बः कराभ्यां धृतो येन तस्मात् ।
विधातुर्वसत्यै धृतो नाभिकोशः
परब्रह्मलिङ्गं भजे पाण्डुरङ्गम् ॥ ३॥
pramaanam bhavaabdheridam maamakaanaam
nitambah karaabhyam dhruto yena tasmaat
vidhaaturvasatyai dhruto naabhikoshah
parabrahmanlingam bhaje paandurangam(3)
I salute that Paanduranga, who has the characteristics of the Supreme Brahman. Since He has held His waist with His two, hands, He seems to declare, `For my devotees, the ocean of worldly life is this measure (depth) alone'. In order to provide an abode for (lord) Brahmaa He has produced the flower in his navel.
Often people suffering in the worldly life feel that they are completely lost. But God seems to assure that the worldly life is only waist deep by standing in that pose placing his hands on the waist
श्रिया जुष्टकेयूरकं श्रीनिवासम् ।
शिवं शांतमीड्यं वरं लोकपालं
परब्रह्मलिङ्गं भजे पाण्डुरङ्गम् ॥ ४॥
shriyaa jushtakeyürakam shrinivaasam
shivam shaantamidyam varam lokapaalam
parabrahmalingam bhaje paandurangam
I adore that Paanduranga, who has the characteristics of the Supreme Brahman. He is adorned by the sparkling gem kaustubha around the neck and by the armlets of rare charm. He is the abode of the Goddess Sri. He is benevolent, calm and worthy of adoration. He is the excellent protector of the world.
Kaustubha is the name of a clebrated gem obtained with thirteen other jewels at the churning of the ocean and worn by lord Vishn.
परब्रह्मलिङ्गं भजे पाण्डुरङ्गम्॥ ५॥
parabrahmalingam bhaje paandurangam (5)
I worship that Paanduranga, who possesses the characteristics of the Supreme Brahman. His face resembles the autumnal moon and His is a captivating smile. His cheeks are covered by shining ear-rings. His lips are red like the bimba (fruit) and hibiscus flower. His eyes are like lotuses.
The autumnal moon shines bright without any impediment. The lord with His captivating smile is compared to the autumnal moon. The bimba fruit on account of its red colour is often used as a simile for the lips.
सुरैरर्चितं दिव्यरत्नैरनर्घैः ।
परब्रह्मलिङ्गं भजे पाण्डुरङ्गम्॥ ६॥
parabrahmalingam bhaje paandurangam(6)
I salute that Paanduranga, who has the characteristics of the Supreme Brahman. His crown illumines all quarters and He is worshipped by the celestials with invaluable divine gems. He stands in the three-bend posture and He wears peacock feathers and garlands.
The reading `anargha' has been taken instead of `anarghya' because of the popular usage, although the two words means the same.
विभुं वेणुनादं चरंतं दुरंतं
स्वयं लीलया गोपवेषं दधानम् ।
गवां बृन्दकानन्ददं चारुहासं
परब्रह्मलिङ्गं भजे पाण्डुरङ्गम् ॥ ७॥
vibhum venunaadam carantam durantam
svayam li;aya gopavesham dadhaanam
gavaam vrundukaanandanam caaruhaanam
parabrahmalingam bhaje paandurangam (7)
I adore that paanduranga, who has the characteristics of the Supreme Brahman. He is the all pervasive one, sporting in the sound of lute. He spells the end to the wicked. He wears the dress of a cowherd and brings great delight to herds of cows. He has an attractive smile.
The bewitching smile and the luring sound of His lute and the simple attire of a cowherd are assuring that he may be approached by anyone without any reservations.
अजं रुक्मिणीप्राणसञ्जीवनं तं
परं धाम कैवल्यमेकं तुरीयम् ।
प्रसन्नं प्रपन्नार्तिहं देवदेवं
परब्रह्मलिङ्गं भजे पाण्डुरङ्गम् ॥ ८॥
ajam rukminipraanasaòjivanam tam
param dhaama kaivalyamekam turiyam
prasannam prapannaartiham devadevam
parabrahmalingam bhaje paandurangam(8)
I praise that paanduranga, who has the characteristics of the Supreme Brahman. He is unborn one who has revived as it were, the life of Rukmini. He is the supreme effulgence and He is the one ultimate and fourth state and beatitude. He is gracious, removing the distress of those seeking refuge under Him. He is the lord of lords.
स्तवं पाण्डुरंगस्य वै पुण्यदं ये
पठन्त्येकचित्तेन भक्त्या च नित्यम् ।
भवांभोनिधिं ते वितीर्त्वान्तकाले
हरेरालयं शाश्वतं प्राप्नुवन्ति ॥
svayam paandurangasya vai punyadam ye
pathantyekacittena bhaktyaa ca nityam
bhaavaambhonidhim te' pi tirvaantakaale
jareraalayam shaashvatam praapnuvanti(9)
Those who steadfastly and wit devotion always read (this hymn) on Paanduranga which dowers merits, cross the vast ocean of mundane existence and at the end reach the eternal abode of lord Hari.
॥ इति श्रीमच्छङ्करभगवतः कृतौ पाण्डुरङ्गाष्टकं सम्पूर्णम् ॥