#3 | Arrival in Pandharpur
Following the Master | Maharashtra Adventure 2020
13 January 2020
Today, we set off in the morning to Pandharpur to go see Lord Vitthala.
As is often the case when travelling with Guruji, there was a slight change enroute, as it was decided to stop off in Aarangaon, Sohlapur, at the jiva-samadhi of Saint Savata Mali who lived in the 12th century. Today he is survived by his 16th descendant, Ramesh Maharaj, who greeted Guruji and the rest of us on arrival.
After taking darshan and arati, we were given a short history of Savata Mali, his legacy and how close he was to Saint Dnyanweshwar and Naam Dev.
Although living a simple life as a farmer, He was a great devotee of Lord Vitthala. He was far ahead of his time as he opposed certain practices, including balidhan: animal sacrifices that were offered to the Lord in the hope of cure and cleansing. He encouraged his vicinity to live cleanly by keeping the house clean, the roads clean, using cow dung in the garden and fields because of its many healing properties, and boiling water before using it. He preached karma-yoga, which means that your working life is itself a sadhana when offered to the Lord.
Lord Vitthala Himself visited Saint Savata Mali when He was tired of His devotees in Pandharpur and wanted to hide. It is believed that Savata Mali, in order to hide the Lord, cut his own stomach and hid him inside his body. This is why Saint Savata Mali is also considered an incarnation of Hanuman. His local devotees explained that even though everybody goes to visit the Lord in Pandharpur, Lord Vitthala Himself visits Saint Savata Mali in Aarangaon.
Saint Savata Mali took samadhi precisely two years after Saint Dnyaneshwar. In the time leading up to this, a sapta was held for seven days where kirtan, chanting and satsangs were delivered. Any impending work which was left by these two saints was passed on to Namdev who spent the next fifty years travelling across India as far as Punjab, spreading bhakti.
On the way from Aarangaon to Pandharpur, we also had a stop in a small temple of Swami Samarth. Devotees there welcomed Guruji with so open hearts that it seemed as if Gurudev didn't want to leave, even though we were in a hurry to reach Pandharpur before the temple closed.
When we finally left for Pandharpur, it became a race against time as the temple was due to close in the next hour. Guruji encouraged us to look into the eyes and touch the feet of Panduranga. There was an incredible atmosphere as everyone was chanting and singing the name of Vittobha with many people having a blessed darshan. Afterwards, there was a gathering to the side of the Rukmini temple which is part of the main temple where many local people had the darshan of Guruji and His Giridhari. It was a beautiful moment when pilgrims sang and danced in the name of the Lord.
After the blissful experience in the temple of Lord Panduranga, we had a darshan of the samadhi of Saint Namdev - another great devotee of Lord Vitthala.
During the journey, Guruji spent His time with the devotees on the bus, and even after the late visit to the Panduranga temple, He was still sharing stories of the saints during the drive. Everybody was in a blissful mood.
Stay tuned for more posts as we ‘Follow the Master’ on an adventure to the Divine!