Divine and devotional, this classic tale depicts the extraordinary life of Gora Kumbhar, a potter whose devotion for Lord Vittal was so strong that he accepted everything is God's Will, including the death of his son. How will Vittal test his devotee and how will Gora Kumbhar be rewarded for his complete love and surrender?
This biographical tale delves into the life of Gora Kumbhar, a pious man who lived with his wife Santi and young son, Hari. He was a potter by profession, and would attend to his business of manufacturing earthen pots from mud; but even while attending to his work physically his mind would all the time be meditating on his favourite god Vithoba or Pandurang. He would also be chanting the name of God when his hands would be busy in work.
One day, Shanti left little Hari in the care of Goroba, who was very busy in his usual work. Goroba was working in the ditch. He was pounding and mixing the earth in the ditch with his feet for preparing the mud. The child, that was kept nearby by Santi, crept slowly and fell into the ditch. Goroba, who was as usual busy in chanting the name of god, was almost in a trance and he never noticed the child and trampled it to death under his feet!
On her return Santi started looking about for the child here and there, but when she could not find the child anywhere she peeped into the ditch and finding the mud fully red with blood, understood what had happened and started crying bitterly. In her sad bereavement she started putting all the blame of the loss of her child on Vithoba, in whose 'bhajan' Goroba was spending most of his time. As Goroba had strong faith in god Vithoba, he got angry at the words of his wife and ran at her to thrash her. Seeing the wrath of Goroba Santi got frightened and requested on Vithoba's oath not to touch her.
Goroba accepted the word of his wife regarding the oath and threw away the stick in his hand and again got fully engrossed in the bhajan of Vithoba, forgetting totally the incident about his son. Santi, who was a devoted Hindu wife, got reconciled after some days and one night when Goroba was lying down, she went near him, to rub his legs. On seeing his wife near him, Goroba reminded her about her own oath not to touch her and did not allow her to touch him.
Knowing Goroba's faith in God Vithoba fully well, Santi had no argument with her. However remembering the death of her only son, she thought that their family would come to an end, if Goroba would continue to behave in this fashion and refuse to touch her under the pretext of the oath, which she once proclaimed in her sad bereavement.
With deep yearning for a child, Santi went to her father for help. She told her father the incident that took place on that day and the adverse effect that her oath had on her husband. She suggested to her father that rather than seeing the end of the family in this way, her younger sister Kami may be given to Goroba in marriage so that the family will have a successor. This suggestion was accepted by Santi's father and he accordingly approached his son-in-law and requested him to accept Kami, his second daughter, as his wife. Goroba agreed to the proposal and the marriage took place.
After the marriage was over the father-in-law requested to treat both his daughters alike Goroba acceded to his father-in-law's request and started behaving towards his younger wife also in the same way as he was behaving towards the elder one. He interpreted the request in such a way that the second wife should be treated in the same way as the first one was being treated. He therefore avoided both his wives and did not touch either of them. When this was learnt by Santi from Kami, the latter started lamenting her lot and both again thought that in spite of all their efforts the family would come to an end due to want of an offspring – despair overtook both the sisters.
Desperate to break Goroba's vow they went to him while he was asleep one night and laid down on either of his sides and kept his hands on their breasts. Goroba very soon woke up and found that the oath of Vithoba has been broken and that his hands are instrumental in doing this.
He was a staunch devotee of Vithoba and was not therefore able to tolerate this disorderly behaviour of his hands. In order therefore to punish his hands he hit them on a sharp instrument and chopped off both his hands. Both the wives of Goroba saw this and felt very sorry to find that their remedy has proved worse than the original problem. However when both of them started lamenting for what had happened, Goroba consoled them saying that God Pandurang (Vithoba) was their protector and well wisher and that he knew what was good or bad for them. He further told them to wait and chant the name of Pandurang, so that he would do a way with all their calamities.
Goroba was a devotee of Vithoba from the bottom of his heart. He did not advise his wives outwardly. He really meant what he spoke. He was passing his days in that condition in perfect contentment. After a few days came Ashadhi Ekadashi. This is a unique day for all the devotees of Pandurang belonging to the Warkari sect. Hence like a true Warkari, Goroba started for Pandharpur and reached that place on the Ekadashi day. He took with him both his wives. No sooner they reached Pandharpur, they took a bath in the sacred Chandrabhaga river and according to the custom paid a visit to the Pundaleek's temple. Thereafter they came to Vithoba's temple and bowed down to him from the main gate thereof.
While they were thus busy in paying homage to Pandurang they heared a song and at once recognised the voice of Saint Namdeo. Yes. It was the voice of Namdeo.
Goroba, like a true devotee, forgot that his hands were chopped off and began clapping with the stumps of his hands, as he was fully immersed in blissful devotion. Then, to everyone's awe, his hands miraculously grew back. After witnessing this miraculous event, everyone was convinced of the true devotion of Goroba for God Pandurang.
Looking at this miracle, Santi repented for blaming god Pandurang on the former occasion when she was sorrow-stricken. She then prayed Pandurang, begged his pardon and requested him to give her child back to her and what a wonder! The child rushed towards Santi, creeping as usual and laughing gaily. Santi hurried to meet the child, lifted it, embraced it and kissed it with emotion. This union of mother and the child was an occasion of joy for everybody and the whole atmosphere became gay.
On this happy occasion, Rukmini the wife of Pandurang, reminded Goroba of the oath of his wife and said that the oath was now over and that he should accept both his wives and live happily with them.
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