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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, Jains, and Rāmdāsīs

Viṭṭhal, Jains, and Rāmdāsīs

(p.189) 11 Viṭṭhal, Jains, and Rāmdāsīs
Rise of a Folk God

Ramchandra Chintaman Dhere

Oxford University Press

The poet-saints devoted to Viṭṭhal do not identify him with the Jina as they identify him with the Buddha. Nonetheless, the claim has been made, at least until the end of the eighteenth century, that Viṭṭhal is “the Jains' god.” This chapter investigates the basis of that claim, pointing out similarities in biography, characteristics, and appearance among Kṛṣṇa, Viṭṭhal, and the Jains' twenty-fourth Tīrthaṅkar, Nemināth. The chapter concludes with a discussion of devotion to Viṭṭhal in the Samartha (Rāmdās) sect, a Maharashtrian Vaiṣṇava group that is generally thought to be opposed to the cult of Viṭṭhal and exclusively devoted to Rām. The fact that even Jains and members of the Samartha sect are brought into connection with Viṭṭhal is further evidence of the all-embracing character of this god and his cult.

Keywords:   Jina, Jainism, Samartha sect, devotion, Buddha

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