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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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Hari in Cowherd's Garb

Hari in Cowherd's Garb

Chapter:
(p.28) 2 Hari in Cowherd's Garb
Source:
Rise of a Folk God
Author(s):

Ramchandra Chintaman Dhere

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199777594.003.0003

This chapter discusses the saint-poets' belief that Viṭṭhal is the god Kṛṣṇa, who came to Pandharpur to meet the devotee Puṇḍalīk. According to a well-known story, Puṇḍalīk was busy attending to his elderly parents, so he threw Kṛṣṇa a brick to stand on, and the god has been waiting there patiently, his hands on his hips, for 28 Yugas (eons). The iconography of the Viṭṭhal image does not conform to any standard Vaiṣṇava or Kṛṣṇaite iconography, and the saint-poets repeatedly declare Viṭṭhal to be “beyond the twenty-four” incarnations of Viṣṇu. Certain elements of the cult indicate Viṭṭhal's similarity to the Vedic deity Pūṣan. For his devotees, however, Viṭṭhal is preeminently the cowherd child Kṛṣṇa, and it is this form that they see in his image in the temple at Pandharpur.

Keywords:   Pandharpur, Vedic deities, cowherd child

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