Potter and clay image is often used in scriptures and literature
to describe God's creation of man. Just as potter creates various
shapes and sizes of pots from the raw material clay, God creates
various shapes and sizes of creatures out of Himself. The potter
Gora Kumbhar learnt this aspect through his routine work. He attained
great lessons of wisdom by comparing his heart to the raw material
clay and himself to the pot.
There is a village called Terdoki in Maharastra. There lived a
potter called Gora. His wife's name was Gangabai. They had a one
year old boy named 'Vittu'. Gora was a staunch devotee of Panduranga
Vittala.For ever he used to chant the name of Pandurnga(Vittobha).
He dedicated all his mundane work to the lotus feet of the lord.
All his five indriyas were directed to Him. He felt he was speaking
through the pranavanada of God for instance.
He carried on his livelihood of pottery but he did that as a yagna
when he was mixing the clay he thought about his heart. He felt
that just as the clay was hard, his hearts too was hardened with
feelings of hatred , jealousy etc. When water was poured on the
hard clay , it softened . The same way the water of Panduranga
namam softened his hardened heart. When that clay was kept in
the middle of the wheel and was rotated, it symbolised the inner
conflict of the heart. As the wheel rotated, the clay expanded.
Accordingly the heart developed a broader outlook in the presence
of God. As the clay was moulded into a shape, the heart was moulded
into a purified one. The pot would be given a final touch after
it was removed from the wheel. His heart too was given a final
touch from any trace of ill feelings. When the pot was heated
he could feel the burning away of all petty jealousies within.
The pot then was a finished product. He was then a perfect man
with a clear understanding of the self.
That day was Gora's son's first birthday. Gangabai wanted to celebrate
it on a grand gala state. She made all the preparations. She dressed
up the tiny tot. She had to fetch a pile of water. She made Vittu
sit at the doorstep before him. Gora was crushing the clay with
his feet, chanting the name of Panduranga all the while. His wife's
instructions to take care of the baby did not reach his ears.
Gora was in his own sweet world. Externally he was crushing the
clay, but his excited voice his hands raised towards God, his
engrossed eyes and the rhythmic movements of the feet made one
feel he was dancing a celestial song in accordance with a divine
music. This is not an ordinary dance. It depicts the union of
jeevathma with Paramatma.
Gora was thus lost in his dance. His baby crawled to him and raised
his hands to hold him in his hands. He made sounds but they did
not reach the ears of otherwise busy father. The boy wanted to
touch his father's feet and got into the clay but stepped at once
into it. Gora who was not looking down or who was not aware of
what was happening, saw neither the son nor felt his body under
his feet. He was still dancing in ecstasy, crushing his son all
the while under his feet. Vittu struggled for life but ultimately
proving the statement 'Dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return'
, his dust got blended with the dust around. The bones couldn't
see the tragic scene and so they protruded out. The entire clay
turned into red colour as if a colour was added to it. Is his
ecstasy praiseworthy ? Should he crush his child to pieces when
he has to cajole him ? Should he perform his funeral rites, when
he is supposed to celebrate his birthday?
Poor Gangabai returned home after the tragic incident. She was
totally unaware of it. So she searched all over the house for
petty unmovements of the tiny tot ! Unable to find him, she came
to her husband to enquire about her child, but he was still in
his celestrial dance. Her tensionor her words did not reach him.
She gave a jerk to his body and stopped him forcefully.
Gora came back to his senses slowly. He was removing his feet
slowly from the clay and Gangabai happened to look down.My God
she saw the blood smeared clay! Tears flooded down her cheeks
uncontrolled 'Oh my God! what a terrific act ! you drove our only
son to death! You made his birthday his deathday. When he should
eat all delicious food you made him savour sand. How could you
do such a thing?’
The neighbourhood rushed to the spot. They were totally aghast
at the untoward incident. They all cursed Gora. They felt there
should be limits to his bhakti. He can't drive his only son to
death thus ! They treated him as a savage.
Gora pleaded to them with tears, ‘Why will I kill my son?
Please try to understand me. I must have done a severe bad deed
in my previous janmaa and so, I am facing the consequence of it.
Please forgive me.
Still nobody had a soft corner for Gora. They called him a hard
hearted stone. He caused misery to his wife, but he had no repentence.
Gora looked around. He looked at his wife who had become mad with
grief. He again pleaded 'Why don’t you understand me ! Will
any father kill his own progeny ? Will he bring an end to the
clan of his family ? I didn't know that he had fallen under my
feet. I was lost in my prayer of the lord. I lost the sense of
touch. So this misery took place. Our son is named Vittu since
he is a blessing of the lord Vittala. Why will I drive him to
death ? Why do you curse me thus ? Why don't you sympathise with
They couldn't sympathise with him still , but mutely left the
place. Gora was left alone with his wife. He was about to touch
her to console her. But she raised her voice against him and said,
‘Don't touch me. You are a hard hearted person. You separated
me from my son.
‘Your son ! Isn't he my son too? Don't I have sorrow on
‘I don't know all that. I bore him in my womb for nine months.
I cannot be as composed as you are.
Gora tried to philosophise. 'Gangabai, please try to understand.
We are reaping the consequences of our previous janma's actions.
Panduranga provides the fruits of our actions. Our attachment
with our son is destined only for a year. He has to be taken away
from us and I am made a tool for that. The lord gave us the boy
and he took him back. Who are we to question his leela?’
Philosophy never soothes a perturbed soul. She raged against her
husband. ‘Hum God ! Never raise His name before me. There
is no God as such . It is just a man's creation. It is to seek
solace in an external force. Some lazy, irresponsible people talk
about janma and karma to hide their inefficiency. God is just
a feeling. It is created out of polluted mind.’
Gora couldn't bear her foolish words. He didn't mind being scolded
but he couldn't bear the challenge to the very existence of his
God. He raised his hand against her to control her. Gangabai,
unable to face him cried, ‘Don't touch me ! If you touch
me it is as good as punishing your Lord Panduranga.’
That was the ultimatum for him. He could not touch her not only
that cursed movement but forever. He took it as a serious matter
and so did not touch her even afterwards. Gangabai’s angry
words boomeranged on her. Her position was pitiable. Already she
was feeling miserable having lost her only son. She could not
feel solace in her husband's hand due to her hasty words.
She knew for certain Gora wouldn't go against it. There was no
hope of their begetting another child. Their family could come
to an end. Days were rolling by into weeks and weeks into months
but their condition remained the same.
Gangabai was taken to her mother's place to get over her grief.
In the peaceful environment there she hit upon a clever idea.
She wanted her younger sister to marry her husband to beget a
son for their family. The parents had no objection to it.
Gangabai went back to her husband and expressed her desire. Gora
tried to convince her against it. ‘Gangabai, take it as
a positive side. Lord Panduranga has relieved us of the earthly
bonds. He wanted us to enjoy only platonic love. He has given
us ample time to be lost in his prayer. Why do you want to pull
me down into the mundane world again?’
Gangabai was adament. Gora had to yield. He wanted to give her
solace. Gora and Vimala were united in wedlock. If Gangabai sealed
her fate by her hasty words, poor father sealed his second daughter's
fate by his innocent words. He told his son-in-law. You are a
gentleman. Seeing your good nature, we have given away our second
daughter too, to you. I don't have to remind you of your duties.
But I only pray this of you. You take care of my second daughter
as you take care of my eldest one.
Gora took it as a message of God. He didnot touch Gangabai, so
shouldn't touch Vimalabai too!
Gangabai couldn't understand her husband's strange behaviour.
Why should he be so indifferent to his new wife? She couldn't
bear it anylonger. So one day she questioned her husband. He explained
the situation clearly. Gangabai was taken aback. What an irony
? She wanted to undo the wrong done to her through another angle
but she had with her own hands driven her sister too into a miserable
life. How unforgivable of her. She knew for certain her husband
wouldn't go against his promise come what may. He was such a disciplined
She thought and thought over it and finally hit upon a plan. When
Gora was sleeping on the mat one night, both the sisters would
sleep on either side of him and put his hands on their chest.
When he got up from sleep he would think he had done it unknowingly
and would resign to married life.
Any man might be tempted towards a woman, but not Gora though
they were his wives. In the midst of the night, when Gora woke
up and saw his hands over his wives he was terribly grieved. A
crime is a crime whether it is done knowingly or unknowingly.
He wanted to face a punishment for it. So he brought a sword tied
it to a pillar and cut both his hands with it. Blood oozed down
like a stream, but Gora coolly prayed to God.
The wives were filled with a sense of remorse for the husband.
Gangabai's feelings were beyond expression. Whatever she did or
said had a terrific counter action. That was the be all and end
all of peaceful moments in their life.
Gora alone remained calm. Life on the spiritual path is not a
smooth sail. ‘If I lost my hands, it is due to some sins
I would have done in my previous janma. You are not to be blamed
for that please don't feel bad about it. Don't worry about our
financial position. I have only two hands and I lost them, but
our God has infinite hands and he will take care of us. He has
his own ways and means of helping us. Have faith in him. Put your
heart and soul in God. Chant His name’ he consoled his wives.
Will God fail any devotee who surrenders totally to Him ? One
day Panduranga came to the door step of Gora as a worker. I am
a potter. I belong to Pandharpur. I came in search of a job. Please
give me some work. I don't require money. You just give me food
Gora was more than delighted 'You look like the lord? Pray to.
You have come to extend a timely help to us. I lost my hands.
You prepare pots out of my instruments and sell them. We will
live with the money we get. We will treat that as God's prasad.
Panduranga used Gora's raw material and prepared pots out of that.
How lucky they were to be touched and moulded by God. He sold
them in Pandharpur. Sanku Chakra were vividly seen on the pots.
People bought them crazily.
It was Kartika Suddha Ekadasi day. Jnanadev and Namadev came to
Pandharpur to pray to the Lord. They were shocked. There was no
life in the face of the lord. They could guess at once, God was
not there. He had left Pandharpur to help a devotee of his. They
went in search of Him. They saw people carrying home from market
brand new pots. They all had Sankhu, Chakra marks on them. They
could at once guess what had happened. They went in search of
Gora gladly invited Jnanadev and Namadev. Jnanadev said they had
come to talk to the potter in his house. Gora spoke smilingly
. He is a selfless man. He is pure at heart. He just went inside.
Wait here. I'll call him. But where is He? The minute He saw Jnanadev
and Namadev, God disappeared to his temple.
Gora came back and expressed his surprise. He couldn't understand
how He could disappear in so short a time.
Namadev expressed with tears of joy, 'Gora, why will He be here
? How will He limit himself to one place ?
Gor couldn't understand. Then Jnanadev explained. ‘Gora,
the man who served you, is no other than our lord Vittala. He
couldn't bear to see your suffeing . So he came down to your house.
I can't explain in words how lucky you are. You appointed the
Lord Almighty as your servant. He mixed clay for you. He made
pots. He carried them all the way and sold them. How lucky are
those who bought them.’
Gora was moved to tears. He couldn't express a simple word. The
three of them remained as statues thinking of the ocean of mercy
of the lord.
Jnanadev invited Gora to Pandharpur with his family. Accordingly
they followed them. They had a bath in the Chandrabhaga river
and visited the shrine. Panduranga welcomed them with smile. Namadeva's
joy knew no bounds. He danced in ecstasy. All the bhaktas joined
hands with him. Gora too was excited. He too started dancing and
unknowingly he wanted to join his hands to clap. Lo! he got back
his hands. People around were surprised at the act of mercy of
The next day Panduranga manifested Himself before Gora. Rukmini
Devi presented Gangabai with her son. Namadev shed tears of joy
at such a blessed scene.
Panduranga approached Gora and said, Gora for those who reach
to me with a pure heart a marital state is an ideal state. You
accept both your wives. You put your heart and soul in prayer
you will be blessed. Then he disappeared. Gora as per the message
of God, led the life of Grihasta and prayed to God. Finally when
the time was ripe joined Paramathma.
everybody was watching, he got from the sky shining anklets,
Tambura tala and pitambara. He accepted them with utmost devotion.
The sadhus wondered at his bhakti. They praised him for the blessings
showered on him by God.
Then Giridharlal wore the silk dhoti tied the anklets to his feet,
held the tambura in his hand and sang and danced rasaleela. The
sadhus were watching with deep interest. Giridharlal also sang
the rasaleela and was engrossed in it. Then the Lord saw to it
that the people gathered there witnessed his Rasaleela in this
Krishnavatar time. The sadhus and Giridharlal were filled with
joy. Then God put an end to his leela and vanished.
The sadhus were so thrilled there prayed to him in many ways and
then prayed to the Lord too. Oh God Nobody can praise your leela.
Not even Adisesha or Saraswathi or Brahma. In such a case how
can we afterall ordinary human beings praise you ? You should
bless us with your great kindness. Then Giridharlal took them
to his math, offered them food and ate after them and spent time
in listening to stories of God.
One day, a viragi came there. Giridharlal gave him a warm welcome
offered pranams to him and washed his feet and drank that tirdha.
The people in the town objected to it. They said Giridharlal could
not be a true brahmin since he serve a Viragi from a cemetery.
Giridharlal said that Sanyasi was a devotee of the Lord Vishnu.
Moreover it doesn't befit them to insult a great man. Then they
challenged Giridharlal, If you have powers to identify him as
a great man, then you provide life to a dead body. Giridharlal
accepted the challenge.
One day they took him to a dead body, Giridharlal prayed to Krishna
in various ways and then looked at the deadbody. He woke up as
if from deep sleep and went round Giridharlal. Then the people
pleaded to Giridharlal to forgive them. He took as the leela of
The people prostrated before God and asked him to teach them how
to be blessed, by God and how to be liberated from life. Giridharlal
taught them Krishnamantra and asked them to recite it. He said,
treat everything as a manifestation of God, develop jnana, bhakti
and vairagya control your indriyas use your indriyas for the good
of others do your duty sincerely and leave the result to God.
Pray to sadhus and accept that tirdhaprasadam. Then you will be
liberated from life and you will experience satchitananda! They
prayed to him and left.
Giridharlal continued his prayer of God and transformed many people
into bhaktas, visited many holy places and finally attained moksha.
His disciples too attained moksha.
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