A question about kumbhAr caste

Christian Novetzke cln4 at COLUMBIA.EDU
Wed Jun 24 18:38:27 UTC 1998

At 06:00 PM 6/23/98 EDT, you wrote:
>In a message dated 98-06-21 12:30:06 EDT, narayana at HD1.VSNL.NET.IN writes:
><< The most famous of them is 'Gora Kumbhar'
> a devotee of Lord Panduranga Vithal who tested Namdev. >>
>I would appreciate getting more details of this story or at least a reference.
>Thanks in advance.
>S. Palaniappan

The story goes:

Gora the Potter had various kirtanwalas over for supper, among them
Muktabai, Jnanadev, Nivritti, Sopan, and Namdev.  All were sitting in a row
waiting for their food when Jnanadev whispered in Gora's ear, "Gora, you're
a potter.  See these pots placed before you?  Can you tell me which is baked
and which is unbaked?"  Gora got the idea and he took a spoon from the
kitchen.  He walked down the row hitting these holy people on the head with
his spoon.  No one reacted until he came to the end of the line, to Namdev.
"Ouch!" Namdev said.  Everyone began to laugh at poor Namdev.  Gora said to
Jnanadev, "This is the one unbaked pot."  In humiliation, Namdev went to
visit Vitthal at his temple in Pandharpur.  He related his story to Vitthal
and Vitthal replied, "They are correct Namya.  You are unbaked because you
do not have a guru."  Namdev realized the need for a guru and went to Visoba
Khechar, a Shaiva, for initiation.

The story takes some interesting turns from here.  You can read Mahipati's
account in _Bhaktavijaya_, chapter XVIII

But there is another very interesting story about Namdev and Gora that you
might like to hear.  Briefly:

Gora was entirely devoted to Vitthal and would repeat Vitthal's name in his
mind while being oblivious to everything else.  Gora and his wife had a baby
girl.  While Gora's wife was distracted, the baby girl wondered out into the
garden where Gora was ecstatically dancing and reciting Vitthal's name.
Engrossed in his dancing, Gora trampled his child to death under his feet.
His wife came out and saw what Gora had done.  She yelled at him, but he
told her not to disturb his repetition of God's name.  She told him to swear
never to touch her again with his hands.  He swore he wouldn't.  Gora's wife
then arranged for Gora to marry her younger sister so that she might get
away from him.  One night as the three slept together, Gora's two wives put
his hands on their breasts.  When he woke up and discovered that he had
touched them both, he fastened a sword to a tree and cut off both his hands.
Later, Gora and his wives were attending a kirtan of Namdev's at Pandharpur.
Namdev had incited the crowd to wave their hands back and forth in the air
in praise of Vitthal.  Gora the Handless Potter now, couldn't join in and
cried to Vitthal.  Suddenly hands sprouted from the stumps at the end of his
arms.  And to top it all off his infant daughter came crawling out of the
crowd toward him, alive and untrampled.

So Gora and Namdev have a history.

Hope this was helpful.

Christian Novetzke

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