Wishing all, my dear Adbhut friends, a blessed Devashayani Ashadhi Ekadashi. Devshayani Ekadashi, also known as Maha Ekadashi, Padma Ekadashi, or Prathama Ekadashi, is one of the most important days for the Hindus. This Ekadashi is called Devashayani Ashadhi Ekadashi because it is believed that on this day, Bhagawan Vishnu goes to sleep and wakes up on Prabodhini Ekadashi. Ashadhi Ekadashi marks the beginning of Chaturmas, a holy period of four months in the Hindu calendar.
Like last year, I share another famous Abhang, Abeer Gulal Udhalit rang. This Abhang was one of my mother’s favorites, along with “Taal Bole Chipalila.” I shared it last year. Here is the link to that post-Devashayni Ashadhi Ekadashi 2021. Naturally, these hold a special place in my heart as I have many memories associated with these Abhangs. I hope you like this Abhang. https://fb.watch/e997CqZH1z/
“Abeer Gulal …” was written by Sant Chokhamela, who lived in the Mangalvedha village of Maharashtra in the 14 th century. Sant Chokhamela and his family belonged to the Mahar community, considered untouchable in those times. He used to tend and guard the farms of the upper cast people and do odd jobs for his survival. He and his family followed Warkari Sampradaya.
Being born in times when there was too much social caste-based discrimination, Chokhamela faced a lot of harassment while living in miserable poverty. He and his family were denied entry into the Panduranga temple many times. Overlooking all these adverse worldly situations, he immersed himself in Panduranga’s devotion. He channelized all his thoughts and energy toward Vithoo Namsmaran. And through this emerged Abhangs and Bhajans delicately woven with the simplest of words but seeped in deep devotion and wisdom. However, his frustration and anguish did show up now and then. Like in this Abhang “Abeer Gulal…”, he says
“Umbartyaasi Kaise Shivu Aamhi Jaati Heen Roop Tujhe Kaise Paahu Tyaat Aamhi Deen Paayarishi Hovu Dang Gaavuni Abhang “
Meaning, “How can we even think of just touching the temple’s threshold as we are the untouchables. We will be happy and drown in signing your glory from th steps.”
Finally, Sant Chokhamela did get darshan of his beloved Vithooraya when Bhagawan himself manifested in front of him, moved by his devotion. As the story goes, Sant Chokhamela met his end while building a temple wall in Pandharpur. When the collapsed wall was dug, his bones were heard echoing Vithala Vithala. Such was his love and devotion for the Bhagawan that made him a prolific writer of Abhang and Bhajan.
So when I decided to share “Abeer Gulal…” I must have scanned through at least 100 renditions from various famous artists, including the original by Pt Jitendra Abhisheki. But I decided to share this one as it portrays my feelings best. This rendition of the Abhang in Carnatic music with different instruments still has the same mesmerizing effect. The main thread connecting the devotees here is the Bhakti. Indeed, these are some instances where we can see Bhakti cutting across caste, creed, and regionalism barriers. A true celebration of our beloved Vithuraya’s all-encompassing love.
It would be good to talk about the Warkari Sampradaya a bit for those uninitiated. People of Warkari Sampradaya worship Panduranga and have to adhere to high moral behavior. Warkaris have a characteristic style of attire. Usually seen with a dhoti and uparane (a small piece of cloth worn loosely around the shoulders), with bukka on the forehead, a rosary of tulsi beads around the neck, tal (cymbals) in hand, a saffron flag hoisted on a wooden stick carried on the shoulder, continuously chanting ‘Ramakrishna Hari.’ Warkaris follow a strict vegetarian diet, and consumption of alcohol and tobacco is strictly prohibited. Fasting on all the Ekadashis and Namjapa of Deeksha Mantra at least 108 times a day is followed by all the devotee Warkaris. Warkari is an ardent devotee of Vithoba and takes an annual pilgrimage to Pandharpur to take Vithoba’s Darshan.
In addition to all these apparent traits, one can observe a sense of underlying duty-based approach toward life, emphasizing moral behavior, non-attachment, and compassion for all beings. All the reforms bought by the saints of Warkari Sampradaya have helped in imbibing the good qualities of sacrifice, forgiveness, simplicity, peaceful co-existence, compassion, non-violence, love, and humility in social life. This new description of Warkari in Marathi is apt and the need of the hour. “Jo jati bhedhanav var, var karito toch Khara Warkari,” meaning a person who destroys the differences between the Varna system (Caste system) and sees all humans as one is the one who is real Warkari).
I have never been to a Vari nor had the good fortune of having Vithuraya’s Darshan at Pandharpur Shree Kshetra. So Whatever I am sharing is what I have read and heard. But I have met some Warkaris, and I can vouch for their truthfulness, honesty, and simple worldview. One such was my helper Savita who was with us for a short while. Once I asked to get some veggies from a nearby market. I paid her and forgot about it. The next day she returned six rupees because I had miscalculated and overpaid her. When I asked to keep it, She said, “Even if it was one rupee, I do not want to keep it.” Such genuine goodness and innocence is a true trait of a Warkari, and we can see them walking the talk at every step. One more positive quality that amazes me is their ability to be happy in whatever they have and live without discrimination against any living being. This might sound cliched or even unbelievable, but genuine people are still there in every nook and corner of India, following the basic tenets of our Sanatana Dharma, “The Vasudev Kutumbam.” Hope this tribe of our Vasudeva Kutumbaam continues to grow and flourish.
On that note, I will take your leave and will be back with another aspect of Vithuraya.
Ram Krishna Hari
Pandarinath Maharaj Ki Jay 🙏
Kalyani Sreedhar Kakade
26, Ashadha Shukla Paksha, Ekadashi 2079 Rakshasa, Vikrama Samvata Singapore, 10 July 2022 Sunday