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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 and Hero-Stones

Viṭṭhal and Hero-Stones

(p.121) 7 Viṭṭhal and Hero-Stones
Rise of a Folk God

Ramchandra Chintaman Dhere

Oxford University Press

This chapter enters into the controversy occasioned by the unusual stance of Viṭṭhal's images, in which the god is almost always depicted standing with his feet parallel to each other and his hands on his hips. The chapter takes on the thesis of Deleury, Sontheimer, and Tulpule that Viṭṭhal was originally a deified pastoralist hero. Dhere discusses in detail the meaning and variant readings of a chapter of the thirteenth-century Mahānubhav text Līḷācaritra in which the Mahānubhavs' founder asserts that Viṭṭhal was originally a cattle thief who died in the course of a cattle raid and was commemorated in a hero-stone erected by his sons. Dhere concludes that neither this story, which is an obvious sectarian attempt to discredit Viṭṭhal and his cult, nor the other evidence that has been presented so far suffices to establish that the image of Viṭṭhal was originally one of a pastoralist hero-god.

Keywords:   Deleury, Sontheimer, Tulpule, pastoralist hero, deification

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