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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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(p.80) 5 Viṭṭhaleśvar
Rise of a Folk God

Ramchandra Chintaman Dhere

Oxford University Press

This chapter takes on another of Manik Dhanpalvar's arguments in favor of the position that the Vaiṣṇavization of the folk deity Viṭṭhal was preceded by a period in which he was seen as a form of Śiva. This is the argument that the Viṭṭhaleshvar temple at Bhaṭṭiprolu (in Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh) must be the oldest Viṭṭhal temple, and that in it Viṭṭhal was originally Śiva. Besides meaning “Viṭṭhal as Iśvar (= Śiva),” the name Viṭṭhaleśvar can also mean “Iśvar (= Śiva) established by (a man named) Viṭṭhal.” The god Viṭṭhaleśvar at Bhaṭṭiprolu has been Śiva from the beginning, and an image of Viṭṭhaleśvar at Śrīśaila is also Śiva, but both of these Viṭṭhaleśvars were named for the ruler who had them installed, and not for a folk deity Viṭṭhal. There are no cases in which the folk deity Viṭṭhal has become Śiva.

Keywords:   Manik Dhanpalvar, folk deities

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