Once near the holy dham Pandharipur lived a daasi by name Shyama in the town of Mangalvedha .This place is about fourteen miles from Pandharipur. Shyama had a beautiful daughter by name Kanhopatra. She was so beautiful that there was no match to her beauty in this world. While she was young she learned the art of singing and dancing. Shyama, asked her daughter to come with her to see the king so that he would give some money and ornaments to her.
Kanhopatra then said that she would not come to the kings durbar to praise a human being .She was always in the mood of KRISHNA BHAKTHI .One day a group of pilgrims who were going to Pandhari were passing by singing the praise of LORD KRISHNA . When Kanhopatra saw them she made a namskar to them and asked them where they were going, the pilgrims then replied to her that they were going to Pandhari to have darshan of Lord Vitthal. She was excited and pleaded her parents to join the sant group. Taking a vina in her hand, she joined the pilgrims in singing the praise of Lord and reached Pandhari. She had the darshan of Vitthal and decided to be in Pandhari. She would always remain in the great door of the temple and sing his praise always swooning into LORDS KRISHNA LEELA. One man who had come from Bedar saw her and went and told the king about her and her beauty. On hearing this, the Mohamedian king sent his guards to go get Kanhopatra from the temple of Pandharpur.
The guards arrived at the temple gates and told Kanhopatra the king’s orders and that if she failed to listen to them, they would have to take her forcefully. She then told them that she would visit Vitthal for one last time and come back with them to the king. She went in and prayed to Lord Vitthal and told him that if he abandons her now the whole world will blame him for this. she cried profusely with abhang meaning ..
O Narayana, you call yourself savior of the fallen…
My caste is impure I lack loving faith
my nature and actions are vile.Fallen Kanhopatra
offers herself to your feet, a challenge to your claims of mercy
If you call yourself the Lord of the fallen, why do O Lord not lift me up?
When I say I am yours alone, who is to blame but yourself
if I am taken by another man. When a jackal takes the share of the lion,
it is the great, who is put to shame.Kanhopatra says, I offer my body at your feet, protect it, at least for your title.
As she pleaded with Vitthal, lord accepted her soul and united it with him. He took Kanhopatra in his lap and she left her body on his lap. Vitthal then asked the priest to bury her body at the southern gate of the temple. As soon as they buried her a tarati tree sprang up immediately in that place and everyone were surprised. We can till date see this tree in Vitthal Rukmani temple in Pandharpur. Meanwhile the king’s guards who were sitting in the main gate of the temple asked the priest what happened to Kanhopatra. They told them that she now got united with Vitthal and is no more. The guards then asked them to show her corpse to which the priest told them that it has changed in to a tree. The guards did not believe what they said and arrested the priest and took him to king. The priest then offered coconut and bukka from the temple to the king as Prasad and told him what happened. When the king took the coconut he saw a hair in the coconut and asked the priest how this came in the coconut offered to god. The priest was afraid and confused how it had come. He then decided to tell the king that it was Vitthal’s hair. The king dint believe this and asked him if it was true. The priest then told him to come to Pandhari and see it for himself and also gave it in writing. The king then decided to come to Pandharpur and visit the god to check if what they described about him was true. He entered the temple paid his respects to the god and went to god’s bed chamber and looked at the god. He then saw god’s brilliant crown, beautiful curly hair, his lotus eyes, his crocodile ear rings and the kaustubh around his neck. The moment the king saw this he became repentant and told the priest that he had seen the lord just the way they had described him. He then prostrated before the god and embraced his feet and said that Kanhopatra’s fortune is supreme in getting united with Vitthal…Kanhopatra wrote Marathi abhanga poetry telling of her devotion to Vithoba and her struggle to balance her piety with her profession. In her poetry, she implores Vithoba to be her saviour and release her from the clutches of her profession. About thirty of her abhangas have survived, and continue to be sung today. She is the only female Varkari saint to have attained sainthood based solely on her devotion
All glories to Kanhopatra
All glories to the sants of Maharashtra
All glories to LORD VITTALA
Please check our Travel diary to Pandharapur
Adapted from Bhaktha Vijayam