Vithal temple is the main centre of worship for the Hindu deity lord vitthal in pandarpur, believed to be a local form of god Krishna or Vishnu and his main consort Rakhumai. It is the most visited temple in Maharashtra.
One evening lord Vishnu was moving in the gardens of his mansion when the beautiful wife of lord Indra, sachi approached him as she found his charms irresistible. She was a good and loyal wife, she found it difficult to stop herself from being carried away. But lord Vishnu rejected her advances and told her that her desire would be fulfilled in the next birth.
Subsequently, in the next birth radha (sachi) and Krishna (Vishnu) became lovers and to meet each other in Dwarka. But Krishna’s wife, Rukmini, could not stand their love and decided to punish Krishna. Without saying a word to anybody, she left Dwarka and undertook a penance in dindirvana and her objective of winning Krishna back.
Her absence turned Krishna into a repentant husband and going to search for her. He went to various places but could not trace for her. But he finally spotted rukmini mediating in the jungles of dindirvana. When Krishna went near her and tried to her back, she didn’t recognize him and then god launched a counter-tapa and stood before her. He stood there for 28 ‘yugas’.
Both Krishna and Rukmini would have stood there for longer but were intentionally intervened by one pundalik or the great devotee. There pundalik was undertaking a long journey for which he had hired two excellent horses for himself and his wife. During his trip, he lost his way and took refuge in a kukkut rishi’s Ashram.
In the Ashram, pundalik ask the sage directions for Varanasi but the sage told him that he didn’t know the way nor had he ever been there. On hearing this, pundalik ridiculed the sage but the later held his peace. The matter rested there and everybody went to sleep. Pundalik was distributed from his sleep around midnight on hearing some female voices.
He came out of his room and saw three ladies sprinkling water in the courtyard to purify the ashram. The three ladies transformed the whole ashram and everything looked divine, fresh and beautiful. The three of them were Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati and used to come to kukkut ashram every morning to repurify them.
And pundalik was a sinful soul, he now stood absolved of his sins because of his having met them but curiosity of pundalik grew and he asked them about the secret of kukkut power and then the three ladies told them that the sage had served and nursed his parents most faithfully and devoted his all life to that one aim. He had thus accumulated punya.
Pundalik, who is in early years was a self –centered man given to the pursuit of pleasure was enlightened and neglected his duties towards his parents, both who were old and took all his attention on his attractive wife.
Once they asked pundalik to take them to kasha for a pilgrimage and helping them. From the sage’s ashram, he wants to back his parents. He put them on horseback and them took to kashi and brought them back most respectably.
Lord Krishna was greatly pleased to see the great change that he had come about in pundalik and decided to meet him.
Once, pundalik was massaging his father’s feet at his pandarpur home, lord Krishna appeared on the door of the ashram. Pundalik was very pleased to see that god himself had come to meet him and offered a brick to him which known as veet in Marathi as an asana to the divine guest to sit that the brick forms the asana of the god.
Pundalik asked for lord’s presence at the spot where he was standing and he is, the vithal or Vishnu or Krishna, still standing on the brick pundalik offered him! The lord vitthal statue portrays him in a waiting position at the bhatavatsal, ready to wait forever for the love of his devotees.