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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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Mother Viṭhāī

Mother Viṭhāī

(p.207) 12 Mother Viṭhāī
Rise of a Folk God

Ramchandra Chintaman Dhere

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the way that the saints devoted to Viṭṭhal use the imagery of motherhood to express his love for them. After a lengthy exposition of the maternal imagery used by the two most famous and prolific thirteenth-century Marathi poet-saints, Jñāneśvar and Nāmdev, the chapter briefly illustrates the continuation of this imagery in the works of the sixteenth-century poet Eknāth and the seventeenth-century poet Tukārām. Dhere then contrasts the maternal imagery of these poet-saints with Śakta goddess cults, village goddess cults, and the treatment of evil female beings in the life stories of the Buddha and Kṛṣṇa. The chapter concludes by presenting a typology of mother-imagery and pointing out the “androgynous primordial motherhood” of the saints' experience of Viṭṭhal.

Keywords:   saints, devotion, motherhood, maternal imagery, village goddess cults, evil female beings

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