Why is Lord Krishna also referred to as Vitthala?

Why is Lord Krishna also referred to as Vitthala?


FIGHT! O King of the Gods! O Indra, take up your weapon and strike as the great and courageous hero you are! Why are you morose? This is no time for lamentation! Your enemy stands before you! LOOK AT ME!

The great and mighty demon Vrtasura chastised Indra. During their fierce battle, Indra had received a stunning blow from Vrtasura, which caught him off-guard and weakened his martial spirit.

Vrtasura continued to encourage Indra

I am already defeated by the will of Providence. Vishnu has already sided with, and empowered you. Therefore, your victory and glory is assured, of this there is no doubt. It is that special thunderbolt of yours — Śataparvan, fashioned from the bones and spiritual merit of the selfless sage Dadhici Muni, that will be the cause of my demise. Do not give up hope, O King of the Heavens! Fight!

Thus encouraged by Vrtasura, Indra fought the great saintly demon, whose ferocious roar was enough to send a shiver down the spine of the great Gods of the universe. A fierce battle ensued and Indra entered the mouth of the great Vrtasura, which covered the sky and seemed like it would devour the entire universe.

With all his strength, dexterity and heroism, Indra then split open Vrtasura from inside out, and immediately cut off the demon’s head, which collapsed like a mountain top that had lost its place at the peak.

All the denizens of the heavens cheered at the sight, and showered flowers upon Indra, beating their kettledrums in jubilation.

Indra, however was unhappy, for he’d killed a saintly being. Regardless of Vrtasura’s external appearance and birth, the demon was a devotee of the Supreme Lord Vishnu, and this would bring grave repercussions …


Get up O coward! Fight and go with honour to the regions of Your ancestors. I shall dispatch You to death’s abode. You cannot evade me anymore. Do not give in to infamy Krsna! Do not spoil the name and tradition of the mighty Yadus. Do not hide like a rabbit covering its head on seeing a jackal approach. Surely, Your days are numbered, for You lie down in the dark, cowering like a man who has lost all potency!

Kalayavana kicked the sleeping King, thinking Him to be Krsna. As soon as he was kicked, the King woke up. He looked all around, and on seeing Kalayavana, his anger surged. He looked at Kalayavana with great rage, unhappy at being woken up, and a scorching flame emanated from his eyes that burnt the Greek King to ashes and dust!

Krsna was standing behind in the shadows of the cave, and had witnessed the entire scene unfold. In fact, it was Krsna who’d arranged for Kalayavana’s fiery end! The King immediately calmed down, and became aware of Krsna’s presence. The effulgence emanating from the Lord, lit up the dark cave. The beauty of the Lord struck his heart, and an overwhelming sense of awe and reverence permeated his being.

Krsna, aware of the King’s thoughts and plight, addressed him

O King Mucukunda, descendent of King Iksvaku’s glorious lineage, in whose line Lord Ramacandra appeared, rise from your slumber! O mighty hero, recall that your great effort in tirelessly helping the Gods overcome their enemies, earned you the boon to sleep for a long time, across ages. Everybody you’ve known or loved — your family, wife, children, parents, friends and subjects, have long passed away, due to the influence of time.

King Mucukunda, recognising Krsna as the Supreme Lord prayed

It is certainly my great fortune to have You bestow Your mercy on me, and grace me with Your presence, dear Mukunda, O bestower of liberation. You have been kind to have taken away from Me, everything! It is certainly Your supreme mercy, that one finds himself without possession, shunned and no longer relevant to the world. When the doors of this world close shut on an individual, You open the doors to bliss for him. You have certainly blessed me with this supreme benediction.

Krsna, pleased with King Mucukunda’s prayers, replied

O illustrious King, it is true what you say! However, because you have indulged in the hunting and killing of animals as a Kshatriya, you’ll have to atone for this deed. Listen carefully to Me O King — always absorb your mind in Me, think of Me, and worship Me. Gradually, you will be purified of all sin. In this way, you shall give up this current body, and take birth as a first-class brahmana in your next life, ever engaged in My transcendental service.


Once upon a time, Mother Rukmini became upset with Lord Krsna. To express Her distress She left for the Dindirvana forest, near Pandharpur, in present day Maharashtra. On hearing of this, Krsna followed Rukmini in order to pacify and bring Her back to Dwaraka.

While traveling as such, the Lord decided to stop by Pandharpur, where His devotee Pundalik resided. On reaching Pundalik’s home, the Lord entered the doorway to see Pundalik busy serving his aged parents with love and dedication.

He was pleased with Pundalik. Pundalik meanwhile, unable to immediately leave the care of his aged parents, handed the Lord a brick on which to stand and wait for him. The Lord did as was told by His pure devotee Pundalik.

The Lord placed His beautiful lotus feet, that serve as the boat with which one can crossover this endless ocean of material existence, on the brick that Pundalik handed over to Him. He raised His broad forearms and soft lotus hands that resemble the thick body and raised hood of a king cobra, and placed them on His raised hips that are big and broad like those of a woman, and resemble a soft cushion covered with cloth.

And so, the Lord stood, waiting for Pundalik to return and attend to Him. In this duration, Mother Rukmini, forgetting Her distress and unable to keep Herself away from Her Lord, came to Pandharpur and took Her place beside Krsna. And to this day, both Lord and Lady, are ever-present in Pandharpur in Their deity form, waiting for Their devotees to come and take darsana, and be blessed!

In this simple yet sublime pose, the Lord is reassuring the devotees

Do not worry, my dear devotees — for one who has surrendered unto Me, this vast endless expanse that is the ocean of material existence, is reduced to mere shallow waters that can be idly strolled along. Behold — it is only this deep!


It should be noted that Pundalik in his previous life was none other than King Mucukunda, who had burnt the Greek King Kalyavana to ash! He was blessed by Krsna to become a brahmana in His next life, and finally attain liberation, going back home, back to Krsna!

Also, the brick that Pundalik handed to Krsna to stand on and wait for him, is none other than Indra himself, King of the Heavens. When Indra killed the saintly demon Vrtasura, he was cursed to become a brick. However, because Vrtasura was a Vaisnava or a devotee of Vishnu, and since devotees never think ill of other living beings — friends and enemies alike, this curse proved to be a boon for Indra, who received the supreme benediction of having the Lord place His soft lotus feet on him, in the backyard of Pundalik’s home.

This form of the Lord, waiting for His devotees in Pandharpur is called Vitthala.

Vit = Brick, and Thala = Standing.

This is a very sacred place, and the form of the Lord as Vitthala is most beautiful and sublime. Everyone who can, must visit and drench their eyes on the transcendental form of Vitthala-Rukumai ki Jaya!

The beautiful Lord in Pandharpur is forever standing on a brick, eagerly waiting to reciprocate loving exchanges with His devotees …