Teertha Vitthala Kshetra Vitthala

NamdevI am very short sighted. In my world, there are no edges to objects. Things which glow invade the objects beside them. Outlines merge until I never know where one thing starts and the other ends. Objects lose their individuality, my eyes see no boundaries. How odd that what my eyes saw from childhood was not understood by my brain for years! I attest to myself today once more; boundaries are but illusions.

Take your skin, for example. That which was your skin one minute ago was quite different from what it is this moment, for you have lost 30,000-40,000 cells already. What happens to them? They are dust at your feet, literally! Dust mites gobble up these dead skin cells. What was you one minute ago, changes identity and becomes a dust mite a couple of minutes later. Same matter, but identities have changed.

Identities are but more illusions, a play of maya. Isn’t more than 70% of the human body just water? I take a glass from the tap, and in no time, I call that water me. I go for a walk and that very me evaporates from my skin. It rises into the air, joins a cloud, comes down as rain and is drunk by that dog of yours. We are but two manifestations of the same, the dog and I. But of course, it is not the same molecule. The hydrogen and oxygen atoms which make up one molecule of water remain together only for some fractional time. They jump from one molecule to another, sometimes remaining as water, sometimes transforming into something else. Nothing is constant. Everything has fuzzy edges.

If even the physical cannot be contained in boundaries, how can we imagine that God can be contained in a form, be it Shiva, Vishnu, Jesus or Buddha? The wise ones, the mystics, the sages and the visionaries have told us from time immemorial, God is everywhere and in everything. Take away the edges and let God spill over. Namdev too was one amongst these wise ones. He is ecstatic in his vision of Vitthala, his ishta-devata, in everything. In this hypnotic abhanga, he says ‘Vithtala is God and Vitthala is His worship. Vitthala is my mother and Vitthala is my father.  Vitthala is my friend and Vitthala is my clan’. For lyrics and translation see footnote.

To present this song, I have a video of that astounding master of music, Bhimsen Joshi. The video has a short disturbance early on but what a pleasure to watch these old videos!

There is another short version from an old LP which I like as well.

Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Poetry : Namdev
Language : Marathi

Note: I do not speak Marathi but the words are mostly simple and derived from Sanskrit. I am dependent on web resources for the lyrics (aurally verified) and translation below.

तीर्थ विठ्ठल, क्षेत्र विठ्ठल ।
देव विठ्ठल, देवपूजा विठ्ठल ॥१॥
माता विठ्ठल, पिता विठ्ठल ।
बंधु विठ्ठल, गोत्र विठ्ठल ॥२॥
गुरू विठ्ठल, गुरुदेवता विठ्ठल ।
निधान विठ्ठल, निरंतर विठ्ठल ॥३॥
नामा म्हणे मज विठ्ठल सापडला ।
म्हणूनी (alt: म्हणोनी) कळिकाळा पाड नाही ॥४॥

tIrtha viTHTHala kshEtra viTHTHala
dEva viTHTHala dEva pUjA viTHTHala
mAtA viTHTHala pitA viTHTHala
bandhu viTHTHala gOtra viTHTHala
guru viTHTHala guru dEvatA viTHTHala
nidhAna viThala nirantara viThala
nAmA mhaNE maja viTHTHala sApaDalA
mhaNUnI (alt: mhaNOnI) kaLikALA pADa nAhI


Vitthala is a holy body of water, Vitthala is a holy land.
Vithtala is God and Vitthala is His worship.
Vitthala is my mother and Vitthala is my father.
Vitthala is my friend and Vitthala is my clan.
Vitthala is my teacher, Vitthala is the teacher of Gods.
Vitthala is tranquility, Vitthala is everlasting.
Namdev says ‘I have found sanctuary in Vitthala’.
‘Even in this Kali yuga, I can come to no harm!’


Filed under Abhanga, Bhimsen Joshi, Namdev

25 responses to “Teertha Vitthala Kshetra Vitthala

  1. Narasimharaj

    ‘”God is everywhere and in everything!”
    Suja, I feel great joy – on your selecting this Abhanga by Namdeva.and rendered by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. Thank you..
    Your inimitable ‘preface-to-the-Abhanga’ is – as always – interesting & absorbing!
    I have a sizable collection of Abhangas – sung by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi – in my Media Player and THIS is one of them. I never tire of listening to the Abhangas while I work on my computer. The voice/tone of Panditji reverberates through the body and rejuvenates if physically and mentally!
    Keep ’em coming!
    Best Wishes.

    • Hello Raj, Abhangas sung by Panditji sends me almost into a trance! He has a wonderful voice, an exceptional vidwat and an inimitable style which renders his music into an experience one cherishes. I have had the pleasure of listening to his music live; I treasure that memory. I am glad you enjoyed it too.
      Cheers. Suja

  2. Ramesh

    Wow. What an introduction to the Abhanga. Your prefaces have started to become even better than the music – I must watch out to read your posts from the end to the beginning !!

    On a tangent – would love to hear from you on the music form of Abhangas. I know zilch about this. You have briefly touched upon this in earlier posts, but would really be interested in your inimitable exposition to a layman.

    • Thank you Ramesh, aren’t you so good for my ego? 🙂 Sure, the next time I choose to feature an abhanga, I will do a write-up on this form of music..there is much of interest here.
      Cheers. Suja

  3. i am very sure you have heard another favourite JO BHAJE HARI KO SADA SO HI PARAM PAD PAAVEGA BY joshiji that is also one of my all time favourites

    • Welcome to my blog Murali! Yes, of course I know Jo Bhaje! In fact, when panditji passed away, it was this song I posted in this blog in January 2011 to represent his life and music! Wonderful soon fact I love the whole cd. Cheers. Suja

  4. Dear Suja: I liked your abhang of Sant Namdev immensely. Abhangs are unique in the history of religious literature. My late father, Shri N.N. Subramanian, dedicated most of his time post-retirement to studying the works of the saint-poets of Maharashtra. I would like to share with you another abhang of Sant Namdev also beautifully sung by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXFHFJUZ2p0):

    Pandhari nivasa sakhya Panduranga
    O Panduranga, my companion you live in Pandharpur.
    Kari ang sanga bhaktachiya
    You are always close to your devotee.
    Bhakt kaivariya hosi Narayana
    For the sake of your devotee, you are always ready to protect him.
    Bolata vachan kai laj
    Therefore why should I be ashamed of what I am about to say?
    Mage bahutanche fediyale run
    In the past you repaid the debt for so many.
    Amasathi kon aali dhad
    Then for me, why are you giving me this excuse of a difficulty?
    Varamvar tuj laj nahi deva
    Again and again (you did not come to my rescue) oh god, are you not ashamed of this?
    Bol re Keshava mahne nam
    Speak to me, Keshava, so says Nam(dev).

    Hope you enjoy listening to this abhang.

    Chandramouli Subramanian

    • Thank you Chandramouli, I have heard this abhanga before, its quite lovely!! Did your father write a book or journal from his studies? It would be interesting to read it..
      cheers. Suja

      • Dear Suja: My father has translated the abhangs of the saint-poets of Maharashtra. His book, “The Saint-Poets of Maharashtra” was released just three months before he passed away at the age of 91 in 2012. You can get in touch with me on my email address cmouli2004@gmail.com for further details.


  5. Narasimharaj

    “Pandhari nivasa sakhya Panduranga
    Kari ang sanga bhaktachiya . . ”

    I am glad to share with you – Suja, Chandrmouli & others – that my grand daughter danced to this delightful Abhanga as the end/Mangalam item of her Bharatanatyam Aarangetrum on August 18, 2012 in Houston-TX. Her ‘ecstasy’ was very visible – as she danced withe great devotion to Lord Vitthala.
    – Raj

  6. Poorni

    Absolutely wonderful Suja. I agree with Ramesh. What an introduction. Fantastic!! I do not understand Marathi but loved this Abhang. Now that I have read the meaning and the understood it, I just cannot stop listening to it.

  7. Capt T.Rajkumar Retd

    Chaturmas now running. Abhangs and Bolava Vitthala Rings-Thanks your Blog post on this great Abhang- every word of Sant Namadeva is packed with Truth, in the simplest form.
    In particular I like the Nidhana Vitthala -Nirantara Vitthal -which may be reasonably translated as Steadily and Continuous Rememberance in Chanting Nama ” Vitthala” .the easiest route i.e. Nama-smarana

  8. Vinnie F.

    Suja may God Bless you with Health Wealth and Success in Mind Body and Soul – Forever !!!!!!

    i used to always hear this song play on the streets – festivals, restaurants. neighbors, and many places etc etc -born and raised in Bombay /Bandra – Roman Christian – ( and this is THE VERY SAME VERSION that i used to hear) right from when i was a kid as my neighborhood was a mix of all Hindus/Muslims/Christians – all – you name it – so i would hear different types of music playing in the air ) – BUT i could not understand what he said in this song – or what he’s singing about ? – BUT THE TUNE AND LYRICS stuck in my head forever and i know every word – and i used to always hum and sing this song without knowing what it meant – now fast forward 50 years later (in Canada )and i desperately wanted to know what these lyrics meant – translated to English – and FINALLY…. I FOUND IT ON YOUR WEBSITE – the meaning is so Sublime and Transcendental –
    thank you for making and posting this . Much appreciated !!!!!

    India is indeed a land of Untold Treasures –
    when i was in the east i looked to the west……and …
    now when in the west – oh 😦 how i miss the east…
    i now – wonder if indeed…… is that what Shakespeare really meant ???
    To be or not to be…LOL

    • Thank you Vinnie for your kind wishes. I read them the first thing this morning – it feels so good to wake up to such wishes for blessings! I too am am far from our spiritual land of India so I understand what you mean about looking eastwards 🙂 Maybe that is why I started this blog…my means to connect with the India of my soul. We Indians are very lucky in that we grown in a multi-cultural, multi-faith, multi-ethnic community and have the opportunity to absorb so much from each other. I am glad the lyrics were helpful to you in connecting with your experiences from another era.
      Cheers. Suja


    I was searching for some devotional songs to learn when i accidentally bumped into your blog/article. Brilliant! Thanks for putting it into words.

  10. The discourse above on how demarcations blur and
    Become boundless and all of creation becomes
    One seamless whole , is a vision that leads to enlightenment there is a short film on this done very well on Saint Kabir “Adh -Anahadh’ – from limits
    To Boundlessness!
    The Mystics vision transcends and echoes the same
    Experience across time and culture. Those who have pursued the existential quests and trodden
    The path with singular determination have realised
    And experienced this.


    Firstly thanks for putting the lyrics and meaning of this great song on the net. As mentioned by you, most of the works are Sanskrit based. However, in the last line, what is the exact meaning of the word ” pada” in ” pada nahi ” ? Have you verified it with a Marathi speaker ?

    • Sorry for the really late reply, this got missed while I was inactive on the blog. This post is from 6 years back and I do remember doing verifications then but I honestly don’t remember now! Please do suggest corrections if this was wrong.
      Cheers. Suja

  12. jay ambekar

    Thank you for creating this post

  13. meteorik

    At a abhang concert and heard this… Suddenly wanted to know the raga and found your post… Extremely insightful… And an apt adjective for the song – hypnotic!

    • Isn’t it just wonderful! Mystical music for the soul… Thanks for reminding me of this old post and the pleasure from listening to Bhimsen Joshi!
      Cheers. Suja

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s