Lord Vishnu has incarnated many times to save the world from the hands of demons and wicked ones. But his ten incarnations are spoken most often because they were more prominent than others. These incarnations also indicate the evolution of man. This Lord Vishnu is worshipped in different forms of Krishna as well. If he is worshipped as Vishnu in Tirupati, he is also worshipped as Guruvayurappan in Kerala, Krishna in Udupi, Rancora Raya and Dvarakadhisha in Gujarat. He is known as Lord Vittobha, Panduranga, and Sri Vittala in Pandharpur in Maharashtra.
The whole of Maharashtra adore Lord Krishna in the form of Panduranga. The complexion of Panduranga is black and he stands three feet tall with hands on the hip. There is an interesting story behind this posture. But the significance of this posture is philosophical. The lord is telling his devotees that the ocean of samsara or the ocean of the material world is not really deep but only hip high. One can sail through it effortlessly if he holds on to the feet of the Lord. Vittobha has a half smile on his face enticing his devotees to try and cross this ocean which is perceived as a dangerous one by devotees.
Pandharpura is known as ‘Dakshin Dwaraka’ as it is as popular as Dwaraka. Some even call this place ‘Bhuvaikunta’ , the spiritual destination on earth. Jaya and Vijaya, the door keepers of Lord Vishnu in Vaikunta are seen here guarding the temple doors. Pandharpur has many temples near the main Vittobha temple. The ritual practice here is very different from most of the other temples of India. The devotees can go up to the sanctum sanctorum to have the ‘pada darshan’. There is no caste or creed discrimination in this temple. This practice is significant because it indicates that all devotees have an equal right to the Lord. In fact Panduranga here is waiting patiently for all his devotees to come and visit him.