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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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Purāṇic Sources for the Study of Viṭṭhal

Purāṇic Sources for the Study of Viṭṭhal

(p.15) 1 Purāṇic Sources for the Study of Viṭṭhal
Rise of a Folk God

Ramchandra Chintaman Dhere

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the value of folklore and Purāṇas (“ancient” compendia of mythological stories) in uncovering religious history. The chapter introduces three Sanskrit Māhātmyas (“Glorifications”) of Pandharpur, each claiming to belong to a different Purāṇa. It argues in detail that the oldest of these Māhātmyas was composed before the thirteenth century, thus predating the earliest Marathi poet-saints devoted to Viṭṭhal, as well as the inscriptions in Pandharpur. After a brief discussion of the process of Vaiṣṇavization of Viṭṭhal in the Māhātmyas, the chapter closes with an explication of the name Pāṇḍuraṅga (“White-colored”), which began as a name of the place, Pandharpur, and is now used more frequently as another name of the god, Viṭṭhal.

Keywords:   Pandharpur, folklore, religious history, mythological stories

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