Pandhapur, Vitala and ISKCON Temple
Pandharpur is known as Bhu-Vaikuntha, the spiritual world on earth. It is also called Dakshina Dwarka, the Dwarka of the south. It is located on the western bank of the Bhima River, locally called the Chandrabhaga (crescent moon).
Sri Vitthala is a form of Lord Krishna. The Deity is also called Vithobha or Panduranga. The Deity is a 5,000-year-old self-manifest Deity. Parts of the temple date to the 12th and 13th century, but most of the temple was built in the 17th century and later.
According to Maharashtrian tradition, when Lord Krishna was performing his Dwarka pastimes, he came to Maharashtra upon the request of his devotee Pundalika. When the Lord arrived, Pundalika was so busily engaged serving his parents that he asked the Lord to wait on the top of a brick platform. Thus the Lord is named Vitthala, “one who stands on a brick” (in a waiting posture). Deity Story The Padma Purana and Skanda Purana explain why Lord Krishna went to Pandharpur and why he stays there in this form. Once, Srimati Radharani, Lord Krishna’s consort in Vrindavan, visited Dwarka. At that time, Rukmini Devi, Lord Krishna’s queen, noticed that Krishna was dealing more intimately with Radharani than he had ever been with her. Upset, she departed for the forest of Dindirvana, near Pandharpur.
Lord Krishna followed Rukmini to apologize, but his apology left her unmoved. Then the Lord moved on to Pandharpur to visit one of his devotees, Bhakta Pundarika (also known as Pundalika). When the Lord reached Pundarika’s ashram, Pundarika was serving his elderly parents. Pundarika presented the Lord with a brick upon which to stand and asked the Lord to please wait. The Lord did as he was requested. He stood, hands on his hips, waiting for Pundarika to return.
While he was waiting, Rukmini, having forgotten her distress, came from Dindirvana and rejoined him. Both of them stayed in Pandharpur in Deity forms. To this day the Lord stands on that brick. Pundalika Temple The Pundalika Temple is about half a km from the Vitthala Temple. This temple marks the spot where Pundalika, the Lord’s devotee, spent the last years of his life. It is on the riverbank.