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Sant Gora Kumbhar

Gora Kumbhar was a potter by profession. He used to make his living by making toys and selling them in the market. He would always think about Vitthal and perform his duties. His heart was filled with love for Pandurang. Gorobha would be chanting and singing the praise of god even when he is stamping and pounding the clay for making toys. He would always forget himself and transcend to a different world while singing about god. He used make toys like Vitthal, Rukmani, Rama, Krishna; color them and take them to the market place. He was so immersed in the love for god that even in his profession he would only make pottery items that reminded him of god. In the market he would not say a price for the toys. He would take whatever money is given to him for these and would return home happily. His wife was Tulasi Bai and they had a son by name Hari.

One day Tulasi Bai was carrying Hari and feeding him and telling him stories. Hari refused to eat the food as there was no ghee in it. Tulasi then left him down and gave him the push cart and went out to get some ghee so that he would eat. Gorobha was at time stamping and pounding clay in the pit. There were dark clouds in the sky and a crow flew bye. Hari on seeing this said crow and showed it to Gorobha. As soon as Gorobha saw the crow and the dark clouds, his heart was filled with the thoughts of Vitthal as he too was a dark complexioned one. He then started singing about him and soon he transcended in to a different state as usual. He was chanting “VitthalVitthal” and dancing in the pit with his arms up. In few moments rain started pouring in and the kid came running to Gorobha asking him to carry him as he was afraid of the thunders. As Hari came to his dad, he fell in to the clay pit and Gorobhawith out noticing him continued his dancing and stamping and pounding the clay while Hari was stuck in the pit. Hari got deep in to the pit because of Gorobha’s stamping and pounding and died. Tulasi Bai returned once the rain had stopped and asked Gorobha where Hari was. Gorobha was still chanting and dancing “VitthalVitthal” and Tulasi Bai had to stop him and then ask him what happened to Hari. Gorobha then replied to her saying Hari is every where; he was still in a different state of mind and thought that she was asking about God. She then told him that she was asking about their son Hari and not the almighty Hari. Only then he came back to normalcy and said that he was playing here a while ago. He then searched everywhere and found his little leg sticking out of the clay pit. Seeing this he removed the kid from the pit and realized that he was dead. Tulasi Bai started crying and shouting at him and also blamed him for the death of her son. Gorobha told her that Vitthal had given them a son and now that he wanted him back and so has taken him back. He also said that even though he had lived only for a few years he had chanted and sang the name of god and so he will attain moksha and asked her not to worry. Tulasi Bai was now furious and said that she had lost her son only because of Vitthal and that she would break the Vitthal statue at home and went to take the axe. As soon as Gorobha heard this he started chasing Tulasi Bai with the axe. When she saw this she shouted that “Promise on Vitthal, do not touch me” On hearing this Gorobha put the axe down and said that he would not touch her any more. They then arranged for the cremation of Hari and finished the other ceremonies.

A year passed by and still Gorobha would not touch Tulasi due to the promise she made on Vitthal. Tulasi was very sad with the demise of her kid and wanted to have another kid but now that was not possible because of the promise on Vitthal. Tulasi now knew that there was no way she would have a kid and then decided that get her sister, Shanthu Bai married to Gorobha in order to have a kid at home. She then made arrangements for the same and the marriage took place in Tulasi Bai’s parent’s house. When Gorobha was leaving after the marriage with Tulasi and Shanthu, their father who knew nothing about the promise came to Gorobha and said that, he should treat Shanthu the same way he treats Tulasi. Gorobha was hesitant as he heard this and seeing his hesitation his father in-law said “Promise on Vitthal, you should treat Shanthu Bai the way you treat Tulasi Bai”. Listening to this he said Gorobha agreed and returned home. Gorobha then started treating both equally and wouldn’t touch any of them. Days passed by and one day the sisters discussed with in themselves and went in to his bedroom while he was asleep. They sat on either side and touched his hands. He immediately woke up and asked Tulasi Bai, how she could touch him after having put a promise on Vitthal. He then wanted to punish himself for this deed and got his both hands cut in a saw that is used to cut trees. Gorobha now could not do any work and so both Tulasi and Shanthu would make some pottery, sell them and managed to get just enough money for them to eat. Gorobha had earlier taken some loans and now all of them wanted him to pay it back as they knew he could not make toys any more. They got his house and other properties to be auctioned to recover their money. During the auction a young boy came there and bought Gorobha’s house, cattle and vessels. The officials then said that the money they got from the sale of these properties was just enough to close the loan and that there was nothing left to give him. Gorobha was happy that he had now cleared his debts. Tulasi Bai now asked Gorobha what they would do now. He then told her that we will go to Pandharpur and Vitthal will take care of us. (Even today in places like Pandharpur, Puri free food is provided to the poor and needy) As they started from the house, the young boy who took this property in the auction came to them prostrated to them and said father and mother you should not leave now. They were surprised at this and asked him why he was saying so and who he was. He then told Gorobha that he is also a potter and that his name was Rangan and he has seen him in the market where he used to sell toys. He also said that he bought this house in the auction only for him as knew that his house was being auctioned and that he dint want him to suffer. Gorobha was moved and said this is also Vitthal’s wish and went back inside the house. Rangan and his wife Rukma Bai also stayed with them as Gorobha’s son and daughter in law. From then on Gorobha would sit and perform his chanting and singing happily and Rangan would take care of making the toys and Rukma Bai would help Tulasi and Shanthu on the household activities. Seeing Rangan doing all the work by himself Gorobha offered to help Rangan in stamping and pounding the clay as his legs were fine. Rangan then said that if there is some thing he wants from Gorobha, it listening to those chantings and bhajans. Gorobha then started singing and Rangan kept his hands in his hips and started stamping and pounding the clay. On seeing this, Gorobha suddenly stopped and asked Rangan if he was really Rangan or his Pandurangan. Rangan, then told him that he sees every one as Pandurang and that is why he is thinking like this and that he was Rangan only.

Now that Vitthal and Rukmani were here in Gorobha’s house, sadhus like Namdev and others in Pandhari who used to speak to Vitthal realized that Vitthobha was not in the temple for quiet some time now. A group of saints and sadhus headed by Namdev started searching village by village, singing his praise. These groups of sadhus were today reaching the village where Gorobha lived. The village people had prepared for their welcome with banners and flags. Seeing this Gorobha asked what was happening and they told him that a group of sadhus from Pandharpur along with Namdev, were coming here today. Hearing this Gorobha was elated and started walking towards the group of sadhus. Nama and Gorobha know each other well as they have earlier met in the Vitthal Rukmani temple several times during ekadasi. Both of them did their namaskars to each other and the bhajans continued. As soon as Nama saw him, he understood that Vitthobha was definitely with him. After the bhajans Nama asked him where was Rangan? Gorobha thought that he was asking about the Rangan at home and told him that he is at home. Hearing this Nama ran to Gorobha’s house, but Vitthal and Rakumai had disappeared from there already. Gorobha then came running behind him and called Rangan. He then asked Tulasi Bai where Rangan was and both started shouting “RangaRanga”. Nama then told him that it was Vitthal and Rukmani who had come to his house and served him like his son. Listening to this Gorobha felt bad that he could not recognize him when he was here and that he had committed a sin by asking Vitthobha to do all household work. He then started crying and longing for Vitthal. Nama then consoled him and asked Gorobha to come to Pandhari along with his family to see Vitthal. Once they reached Pandhari, they sat down at Vitthal Rukmani temple for singing the praise of god. The tradition in this temple is that, one of the main bhaktha would distribute jalra to all the bhakthas present there. Today Namdev was distributing the jalras and when he came to Gorobha he tried to give one to him too. As soon as he did this Gorobha’s hands came back like how a leaf springs up from a tree. Tulasi Bai was exited to see this and she ran to Vitthal, held his feet and asked him to give her back her son Hari. She then started telling him that if you can give back hands to your bhaktha why cant you give me back my son, Hari. She also asked him that during Krishna avatar he gave life to his guru’s son who died 12 years earlier, and if you could do that then why don’t you do it now for your bhaktha. Lot of bhakthas had gathered there to see this and suddenly there was a child crying for his mother. They asked him who he was and when Tulasi Bai saw him, she realized that it was her son, Hari. She ran and embraced him and thanked Vitthal for giving Hari back to her. They then returned back to their village happily.

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