Arti of Shri Vitthal

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An arti is sung during ritualistic worship (puja) or after offering naivedya (offering of food). Then a prayer and a Holy verse with offering of flowers amidst recitation of a mantra in cupped hands (mantrapushanjali) is recited. An arti includes a description of glory of a Deity and a prayer to receive Its grace. In the Path of Devotion (Bhaktiyoga) an arti plays an important role. Shri Vitthal is the Deity of worship in Maharashtra. On both ekadashis (eleventh days of a fortnight in the Hindu lunar calendar) Ashadhi and Kartiki, lakhs of Varkaris (pilgrims) and devotees visit Pandharpur to pay obeisance to Shri Vitthal.

My prayer at the Holy feet of Shri Vitthal is ‘May each one sing the arti understanding its meaning and may spiritual emotion be evoked in him’.

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Arti of Vithoba

युगे अठ्ठावीस विटेवरी उभा ।
वामांगी रखुमाई दिसे दिव्य शोभा ।
पुंडलिकाचे भेटी परब्रह्म आले गा ।
चरणी वाहे भीमा उद्धरी जगा ।। १ ।।

जय देव जय देव जय पांडुरंगा ।
रखुमाईवल्लभा, राईच्या वल्लभा पावे जिवलगा ।।

जय देव जय देव ।। धृ० ।।

तुळसीमाळा गळा कर ठेवुनी कटी ।
कासे पीतांबर कस्तुरी लल्लाटी ।
देव सुरवर नित्य येती भेटी ।
गरुड हनुमंत पुढे उभे रहाती ।। २ ।।

धन्य वेणूनाद अनुक्षेत्रपाळा ।
सुवर्णाची कमळे वनमाळा गळा ।
राई रखुमाबाई राणीया सकळा ।
ओवाळिती राजा विठोबा सावळा ।। ३ ।।

ओवाळू आरत्या कुर्वंड्या येती ।
चंद्रभागेमाजी सोडुनिया देती ।
दिंड्या पताका वैष्णव नाचती ।
पंढरीचा महिमा वर्णावा किती ।। ४ ।।

आषाढी कार्तिकी भक्तजन येती ।
चंद्रभागेमध्ये स्नान जे करिती ।
दर्शनहेळामात्रे तया होय मुक्ति ।
केशवासी नामदेव भावे ओवाळिती ।। ५ ।।

– Saint Namdev

Analysis, meaning and implied meaning

For the past 28 eras (yugs) Shri Vitthal is in Pandharpur standing on a brick (Note 1). The scene with Rakhumai standing to His left is indeed a Divine sight.

The Supreme God (Parabrahman) has come to Pandhari for His devotee Pundalik (rather on the pretext of Pundalik, for all His devotees)
River Chandrabhaga flowing at His Holy feet is also uplifting devotees.

Hail O Deity Pandurang
O Master of Mother Rukmini and Rai (consorts of Deity Vitthal), O beloved one (dearer to me than life) please help me (please shower Your grace on me is my prayer at Your Holy feet)

(consorts of Deities are Their energies, which are of two types saviour (tarak) and destroyer (marak). As Deity Vitthal is the Deity of sustenance in the functions of creation, sustenance and dissolution, both His energies are associated with creation and sustenance.) -1

A necklace of tulsi (Holy basil) seeds adorns the neck of Shri Vitthal and both His hands are placed on the waist.

He is dressed in a yellow dhoti and has an almond shaped tilak on His forehead. (Even superior Deities regularly come to pay obeisance to the Supreme God in the form of Vitthal. Garud (the vehicle of Deity Vishnu) and Hanumant (ardent devotee of Shrirama) remain standing in front of Him with hands held together, in obeisance.) – 2

O protector (Vitthal is the protector of the region of Pandharpur), the sounds of your flute are so great (they attract all devotees who become contented listening to them). Golden lotuses and a garland (made from Holy basil leaves and flowers) adorn the neck of Shri Vitthal

With Rai and Rakhumai (other queens too) (we offer arti to this dark complexioned King Vitthal who sits on the throne in the heart of devotees) – 3

To perform arti for Deity Pandurang devotees come with kurvandi (small bowls made from woven leaves in which oil lamps are lit). These lamps are then released into river Chandrabhaga. Vaishnavs (devotees of Deity Vishnu) dance with flags in a procession, forgetting their body consciousness. How much more to describe the greatness of Pandhari ? (Verbal description of Vitthal is next to impossible.) – 4

(O Pandurang), those devotees who come to pay obeisance to you on every Ashadhi and Kartiki ekadashi, bathe in the Chandrabhaga river are liberated merely with a vision of You. (So great is His prowess, His glory) O Keshav, Namdev is performing Your arti with spiritual emotion. (May Your grace always be showered upon me is my only prayer at Your Holy feet)  – 5

Note 1 – The four yugs Satya, Treta, Dwapar and Kali are believed to be made up of 12000 Divine years and Synonyms for it are Chaturyug, Mahayug and Divyayug.1000 chaturyugs comprise 1 day of Deity Brahma, also known as a kalpa. During that period there are in all 14 Manus, that is approximately during the regime of every Manu there are about 71 yugs. This called a manvantar. The lifespan of Deity Brahma is 100 Brahma years. Now 50 Brahma years have elapsed and the 51st is in progress with the first kalpa of Shwetavarah. At its beginning, from the time the universe restarted till date, 6 manvantars have been completed and the seventh manvantar called Vaivasvat is in progress. If all the yugs from Vaivasvat manvantar are considered then the present Kaliyug is the 28th one.When it is said that Shri Vitthal is there for 28 eras it implies that He is there from Vaivasvat manvantar.

Reference : Holy booklet on artis compiled by Sanatan

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