The transformation of Krishna into Vitthala, also known as Panduranga, is a legend rooted in Hindu folklore. The story revolves around the devotee Pundalik and his encounter with God Krishna.
According to the legend, Pundalik was a devoted Brahmin who lived with his elderly parents near the sacred town of Pandharpur. Pundalik’s unwavering dedication and selfless service to his parents deeply impressed God Krishna. Krishna, moved by Pundalik’s devotion, decided to visit him.
One day, as God Krishna appeared at Pundalik’s house, Pundalik was preoccupied with serving his ailing parents and did not immediately acknowledge the divine presence. Instead of directly attending to Krishna, Pundalik threw a brick towards him, asking him to wait there until he could find time to attend to him properly.
Realizing his mistake and overcome with remorse for not seizing the opportunity to serve the God, Pundalik pleaded for forgiveness. In response, Krishna agreed to remain on Earth in the form of Vitthala, standing on a brick, to bless and receive the devotion of future devotees who came to see him. It is believed that Vitthala has been standing in Pandharpur for countless eras, symbolizing Krishna’s eternal presence for his true devotees.
The legend of Vitthala Mauli, with Pundalik as a central figure, is deeply revered in Maharashtra, particularly in Pandharpur and Solapur. The Vitthala Rukmini Temple in Pandharpur holds great significance for pilgrims, and the annual festival of Ashadi Ekadashi is celebrated with immense fervor, drawing a large number of devotees.
The story of Vitthala Mauli reflects the devotion and humility of Pundalik, highlighting the divine grace and presence of God Krishna in response to genuine love and devotion. It serves as an inspiration for devotees to prioritize selfless service and unwavering dedication to the divine.