There is a temple in this state, Maharashtra. It is a temple of Krishna, and a strange story is connected with the temple because the statue of Krishna -- in Maharashtra he is called Bitthal -- is standing on a brick. Strange, because nowhere in any temple is any god standing on a brick.
The story is that one beautiful man, enjoying life, every bit in its totality, was so contented and so fulfilled that Krishna decided to appear before him. Ordinarily there are people who are singing and dancing their whole life, "Hare Krishna, Hare Rama" and neither Rama appears nor Krishna appears -- nobody appears. And this man was not bothering about Krishna or Rama or anybody. He was simply living his life, but living it the way it should be lived -- with love, with heart, with beauty, with music, with poetry. His life was in itself a blessing, and Krishna has to decide that "This man needs a visit from me."
You see the story -- the man is not at all thinking of Krishna -- but Krishna, on his own part, feels that this man deserves a visit. He goes in the middle of the night, not to create any trouble in the whole town. He finds the door open and he goes in.
The man's mother is very sick, and he is massaging her feet. Krishna comes behind him and says, "I am Krishna and I have come to give you an audience, a DARSHANA."
The man said, "This is not the right time; I am massaging my mother's feet."
Meanwhile, just by his side there was a brick; he pushed the brick back -- he did not even look back to see who this Krishna is -- he pushed the brick and told him to stand on it, and that when he is finished with his work he will see him. But he was so much absorbed in massaging the mother's feet -- who was almost dying -- that the whole night passed, and Krishna remained standing there. He said, "This is a strange stupidity. People are singing their whole life, `Hare Krishna, Hare Rama' and I never go there. And I have come here and this fool has not even looked back, has not even said to me, `Sit down' but tells me to stand on the brick!"
And then it was getting light, the sun was rising, and Krishna became afraid, because people would be coming in. The road was just by the side of the house, and the door was open -- and if they saw him standing there, soon there would be trouble, great crowds would come. So he disappeared, leaving just a stone statue of himself on the brick.
When the mother went to sleep, then the man turned and said, "Who is the fellow who was disturbing me in the night?"
And he found just a statue of Krishna. The whole village gathered -- this was a miracle, what had happened? He told the whole story. They said, "You are a strange fellow. Krishna himself had come, and you are such a fool! You could have at least told him to sit down, offered him something to eat, something to drink. He was a guest." The man said, "At that time there was nothing by my side except this brick. And whenever I am doing something, I do it with totality. I don't want any interference. If he is so much interested in being seen, he can come again, there is no hurry."
That statue remains in the temple of Bitthal, still standing on a brick. But the man was really a great man -- not bothering about rewards or anything, absorbed so fully in every action that the action itself becomes the reward. And even if God comes, the reward that is coming out of the totality of action is bigger than God.
Nobody has interpreted the story the way I am interpreting it, but you can see that any other interpretation is nonsense.
So just forget about spirituality, enlightenment, God -- they will take care of themselves. That is their business. They are sitting there without customers.
You need not worry; you do the best you can do with life -- that is your test, that is your worship, that is your religion. And everything else will follow on its own accord.
The word "Vitthala" is said to be derived from the Marathi word "Vit", meaning "brick". Vitthala is one of the manifestations of Krishna (Vishnu). The prescribed iconogaphy of the lord of Pandharapur stipulates that he be shown as standing upon a brick; this is connected to an important and the serious devotee Pundalik connected with the deity.
Seeing this outmost devotion of Pundalik to his parents , Lord Vishnu was very pleased. God was so happy with him that He wanted to bless Pundalik immediately, so he left from Vaikuntha (Lord Vishnu’s abode) for bhoolok (Earth)and Pundalik’s ashram.
Lord knocked Pundalik’s door. At that time Pundalik was serving his parents food and was busy. Pundalik heard the door knock and realized it was God who had come to see him. But such was his devotion to his parents, he wanted to complete his duties and only then attend to the visitor, irrespective of whether it was even God at his doorstep. Pundalik threw a brick outside for God to stand on and wait for him until he finishes attending to his parents.
Seeing this devotion & commitment to his parents he was extremely impressed. And the ever-loving God waited for his devotee. When Pundalik came out and begged God's pardon, Lord Vishnu replied that far from being displeased, he was pleased with his love for his parents and granted a boon to him. Pundalik requested God to stay back on Earth and bless all his numerous devotees. Lord agreed to stay back as Vithoba(Vitthala), or God who stood upon a brick. Along with Vithoba, Rakhumai (Mother Rukmini) is also worshipped.
A temple was built at the place where Lord Vishnu stood on the brick.
PANDHARPUR - VITTHAL
This Pundalik or Pundarik was in early years a self centred man given to the pursuit of pleasure. He neglected his duties towards his parents, both of whom were old and ailing and bestowed all his attention on his attractive Pundalsk and his wife feasted on delicious food while father and mother nearly starved. Once the asked Pundalik to take them to Kashi for a pilgrimage but the son instead of helping them sent them off with insulting abuse. The two proceeded on foot to Kashi.The god was greatly pleased to see the great change that had come about in Pundalik and decided to meet him.
Once while Pundalik was massaging his father's feet, the great Shri Krishna appeared in the door of the ashram. His arms were resting on the hips as when he was standing in front of Rukmini. His presence went unnoticed at first as Pundalik was thoroughly engrossed in his task.
However, he could not long ignore the bright rays of light that emanated from the god's body. He turned back to see what washappening and found to his great delight that at last God had come to meet him. But the god had to wait till Pundalik's duty was over and hence Pundalik threw a brick that was lying nearby as an ‘asana' to the divine guest. The brick still forms the asana of the god. When his father was asleep Pundalik got up to welcome the god who offered any boons the man might care to ask for. Pundalik asked for nothing more and nothing less than the eternal presence of the god at the spot where he was standing. And thus there he is, the Vitthal or Vishnu or Krishna, still standing on the brick Pundalik had offered him!
(WHEN GOD STANDS ON BRICK FOR A KARMA YOGI, WHERE GURU STANDS?)