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Rise of a Folk GodVitthal of Pandharpur$
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Ramchandra Chintaman Dhere

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199777594

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199777594.001.0001

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Viṭṭhal Beckons

(p.2) (p.3) Introduction
Rise of a Folk God

Ramchandra Chintaman Dhere

Oxford University Press

The Introduction establishes the significance of the god Viṭṭhal of Pandharpur for the religious history of Maharashtra from the eleventh or twelfth century onwards, pointing out that for the Vārkarī saint-poets, he is identical with the cowherd Kṛṣṇa. However, Viṭṭhal is not mentioned in the Vedas, the Epics, or the major Purāṇas, nor is he included in any list of the incarnations or names of Viṣṇu. Viṭṭhal must be a folk deity who gradually became famous. Who was this folk deity? What was he originally? What special characteristics enabled his transformation into Viṣṇu-Kṛṣṇa? After pointing out the difference between the religious study of a god and scholarly research into people's ideas about the god, the Introduction gives an account of the process of preparation of the book, acknowledges people who assisted in its completion, and discusses the opposition that some of the book's ideas had already aroused before its publication.

Keywords:   Maharashtra, Vedas, Epics, folk deities, fame

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