Monsoon is one of my favorite seasons of the year. Just like the first showers of the rain awaken the spirit of the heart, or like the trees turn green, or how the face glows brightly on seeing one’s beloved. Similarly, this month is when all the Spiritual beings celebrate the most significant day known as ‘Guru Purnima’ is a festival devoted for the disciples/devotees to celebrate their Spiritual Master and pay respects and express gratitude to the Guru.
This year before the celebration of Guru Purnima, we decided to go on a pilgrimage to Gnangapur to pay our respects to the Param Guru (Supreme Master) – Dattatreya who had incarnated in the Avatar of Sri Narasimha Saraswati. Along the way, we visited few other places of spiritual significance, and one such was Pandharpur. I will now narrate a beautiful soul-stirring experience of the fulfillment of one of my Master‘s disciple’s deepest desire of witnessing the Pandharpur Wari or Vari.
Let me first explain what Pandharpur Vari is? It is an annual pilgrimage made to Pandharpur in honor of the presiding deity Lord Vithoba. The Palakhis (palanquin) processions carry the Padukas (Footprints) of the great saints – most notably Jnaneshwar (incarnation of Lord Krsna) and Tukaram (incarnation of Saint Narada) from the Varkari, one who performs the Vari (sect) which venerates Lord Vithoba, are taken from their respective shrines to Pandharpur.
This tradition is carried forward by the Varkaris whose patron deity is Lord Vithoba. Jnaneshwar – 13th century and Tukaram – 17th century started this pilgrimage. They used to journey on barefoot to Pandharpur for 15 days, reaching Vithoba’s temple on the Ashadhi Ekadashi (11th day of the lunar month). This tradition is more than 700 to 800 years according to Wikipedia, and the ardent devotees of Lord Vithoba follow it even today.
Jnaneshwar’s palakhi leaves from Alandi, while Tukaram’s begins from Dehu; in Pune district of Maharashtra. These palakhis are accompanied by thousands of Varkaris who march barefoot from various locations in Maharastra to Vithoba Temple, a journey of 21 days and the Vari culminates at the Vithoba Temple on the Ashadi Ekadashi at Pandharpur.
We left for Pandharpur on July 4th on the auspicious day of Ashadha Ekadashi, totally unaware of the Vari. As we were approaching the temple, we hit a slow moving traffic and saw thousands of people swarming like bees irrespective of age, caste, creed, class, or community, walking barefoot singing the glories & praises of the Lord Vithoba and commemorating the great saints and their Mauli (Vithoba is called Mauli meaning Mother).
The devotees believe that Lord Vithoba is their Mother and very lovingly address Vithoba as ‘Mauli.’ Along with our Master, we walked to the temple barefoot with millions of devotees experiencing their unfathomable and unconditional Love and devotion for their Mauli. The fervor with which they sang the bhajans and were standing in the queue for more than 8 to 10 hours without food and water, just to get that one glimpse of their ‘Mauli’ is something which I cannot ever pen to words. The bhakti (devotion) which I am trying to express through words doesn’t do justice to what we have experienced. Tears of love flow profusely trying to describe that priceless moment which we witnessed, the Love for Mauli.
We were left speechless walking with our Master whose Lotus Feet gracing this holy land bestowing blessings to his millions of devotees for their single pointed devotion and selflessly serving the Varkaris throughout their journey of this pilgrimage. People were providing food, water, shelter, medical assistance, and especially making sure there are no stampede, accidents, thefts, and any disturbances or obstacles on their path. We were extremely impressed, how the traffic was controlled by the police officials while ensuring full protection and safety to the Varkaris.
I personally, for the first time experienced a strict traffic discipline on the road, while the same isn’t the case with the educated citizens or the high-class people living in the metros, who in fact behave and act in an uncivilized manner. My head automatically bowed in reverence for these millions of devotees who live and follow Krsna‘s Way of Life. I took with me some of the most precious and priceless lessons from these beautiful beings and thanked my KrsnaGuru – Lord of the Universe with all humility, humbleness, and deep reverence.
The women devotees dressed up gorgeously adorning jewelry, bangles, anklets, and flowers as though they were going to get married or meet their beloved. The pilgrims throughout their journey played various musical instruments and performed a folk dance called ‘Fugdi’ with full gusto and enthusiasm and carrying saffron color flags in their hands and Tulsi plants on their heads presented a perfect picture of their unreserved, uninterrupted and favorable devotional and loving service for their Lord Vithobha.
Even though everyone couldn’t go into the temple shrine due to the unimaginably long queues, we were blessed to get one person to enter the temple through the VVIP entrance. In this way, my Master fulfilled his disciple’s desire of experiencing the Vari and blessed him to meet the Lord Vithoba along with his millions of devotees.
It took us six long hours to get out of the traffic, and this time was the most memorable one where we witnessed and enjoyed the nectarine bliss of the devotion for the divine Lord, which was graced even by the Gods/Saints/Sages of this Universe. Shree is incredibly grateful and offers sincere and heartfelt obeisance to our Mauli – KrnaGuru, for giving us this profound experience and taking us deeper into the Spiritual realm.
With the Grace of my Master-KrsnaGuru, I have been able to pen this most wonderful experience in a string of words. Thank you for reading and do watch out for my next write-up soon.