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Come! Embrace the Lord!
Mar 21, 2004 01:13 PM 18720 Views
(Updated Mar 21, 2004 01:13 PM)


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It is an early hour of the day: sometime around six ?and-forty-five. The sun has just some to the verandah of the sky before he begins his blazing journey; he has just crossed the threshold. You come out of your hotel's balcony facing the street below.

As you open the door to the balcony, resonant and random noises of symbals reach your ears and with them reach the sweet and euphoric voices of people who you call rustics singing with abandon to the glory of their Mother, the Father, their everything- Lord Vitthal.

As you come out of the door and look below to the street, your jaw drops forcefully before you know it. what lies beneath you is a huge, huge mass of people, all dressed in white and variants of it, walking in what seems like discipline, without stopping, without slowing down towards the south, towards the river, along the Solapur-Highway.

They are not of the same ages; some are unimagineably young, some so old you may think it's not possible for them to walk. But everyone- women, children, aged individuals- all walk with uncaring abandon towards their beloved without any malice in their mind.

It is faith and devotion as you have never seen before. It is complete surrender as you have never seen before. It is beyond the understanding of you and I- how can all these people, small children and wizened old men and women, walk miles and miles together and come to a small town where they may not find food or water to comfeort themselve or a six-by-three space for them to rest their bodies on? It is physical discomfort beyond our tolerance.

It is faith and devotion as you've never seen before.

You ask yourself; where am I? For a moment you forget yourself and find yourself envoleped in this thick smoke of love and devotion that ovepowers you: You are no longer in this world. You have elevated yourself and brought yourself to a platform where you find yourself equal with every man around you, every creature around you. The environment is infectious: everybody around there is like your maooli, your mother. You have embraced an ecstacy like you have never embraced before.

Just standing in your hotel's verandah.

Welcome, my friend, welcome to the eternal bliss of this town. Welcome to the thronging, uncountable crowd of this town, to the chaos and activity and the random disorder of this town. Forget yourself and loose yourself in this chaos. Welcome to the town whose disorder, whose chaos and randomness is the source of such peace as no place, no matter how remote and untouched it may be, can offer. Welcome to the household of God. My friend, welcome to Pandharpur!

The Town Of Pandharpur

Pandharpur is a town of a small size governed by a Gram Panchayat. The bulk of the people there live off agriculture and floriculture as well; for the devotees that throng the town in such mass buy those flowers to offer the God. There is not much industry here, nor much business. There is no material luxury for many here.

I have visited Pandharpur several times so far but not explored it as a town really. All I restricted myself was to the blissful temple and the hotel that I stayed in; just that much. Pandharpur has always been the favourite and most beloved place of all the saints of this region. Therefore one will observe a large number of ashramas there and so many dharmashalas.

Pandharpur is situated on the banks of the river Chandrabhaga. Chandrabhaga is actually a branch of the river Bhima which once flowed through the town but because of geological disturbance, shifted course and left her daughter to play in the yard of Lord Vitthal. It was a goodbye she never could forget.

You will of course not find too many comfortable hotels here. Given that you and I are urban individuals used to having a level of comfort much higher than an average lodging facility can provide here, it is an issue that you and I have to adress: Where shall I rest myself? But rest assured. There are two places that I have sampled here and had a good experience with. One was Hotel Kinara, located on the Solapur Highway slightly away from the town. It is a hotel that has designed itself particularly for people who come in groups to drown themselves in the chaotic and noisy bliss of Pandharpur.

The other is hotel Aishwarya, near the bus stand, again on the Solapur Highway. This hotel is decidedly nice. It has a large number of rooms that are very comfortable to live in.

The people in both hotels are very amiable and jovial men who will serve you with the rustic hospitality that you will fall in love with instantly. There is not much sophistication or class in their service. There is mirth and humility and rollicking pleasure in the manner in which they treat you here. It is a pleasure to have them around you, cleaning your room and serving you food: which is also very-very palatable, trust me.

If you are to visit the town, Kinara and Aishwarya are the hotels I would recommend you to lodge in. They are certainly not expensive.

The Real Town Of Pandharpur

Pandharpur is not a town that you visit for living comfortable or to relax and take a break from tensions by lying on a hammock with a cocktail as a very amiable sun smiles at you from behind trees and a Panama hat that you are wearing. This place is where you stand naked in front of God: not literaly. You come here throwing away all the designations that you have given yourself, strip yourself of all your ego and play like a baby in the lap of his mother. You come here to embrace God with abandon, to feel him hold you, kiss you, bless you and give you a nice reproach and even a slap for the wrong that you have been doing.

You come here to ask God for forgiveness and kindness. You come here to confess your guilt and to reveal your sorrows. You come here to declare your achievements and celebrate your joy. You come to your home away from the aweful world that is out to pull you down at the slightest chance that you give them. You come here like a bride comes to her father after long while to jump into his arms and feel those warm, loving arms and that tender, caring breath of her father once more and become daddy's little girl again.

But to feel that delight, that bliss, to actually stand before the Lord that he may assess you, advise you and scold you, you don't need to be very pious or holy. It is not necessary that you need a certain level of maturity or knowledge or holiness before you step into the town. Because you are entering the yard of your father's house, where you go when you wish, the way you are.

It is beyond my prowess to express the bliss of Pandharpur. It is beyond my abilities to imitate that into words. It is not my wish that I allow you to experience the pleasure through a review. I want you to come to this town once.

Drench in the pure devotion of the mass here. Forget yourself. Unrobe yourself of your ego and plunge into this sea.

It is faith as you have never experienced before. It is devotion as you've never felt before.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!

(To the major Glory of God)

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