Showing posts with label Pundalika. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pundalika. Show all posts

Hinduism - Who Is Vithoba?

 


The presiding deity of the same-named temple in Pandharpur, Maharashtra; Vithoba's other epithets include Vitthala and Pandurang.

Vithoba was a deified hero who was assimilated into the larger Hindu pantheon as a form of the god Vishnu, according to some theories.

Vishnu is drawn to Pandharpur by the filial piety of a young boy named Pundalika, according to the temple's founding legend.

When Vishnu arrives, Pundalika is massaging his father's feet, and when Vishnu requests the hospitality due to any guest, Pundalika only stops long enough to throw a brick over his shoulder, allowing the god to stand out of the mud.

Vishnu becomes rooted to that spot and has remained there ever since, impressed that Pundalika's devotion to his parents exceeds even his devotion to God; Vithoba's image depicts him with his hands on his hips (still waiting, perhaps, for Pundalika).

Apart from this story, Vithoba has a surprising lack of mythic history, despite becoming a powerful regional deity.

The Varkari Panth religious community, Vithoba's devotees (bhakta), make pilgrimages to Pandharpur twice a year.

Pilgrims travel from all over the world to visit Pandharpur, which is located in the Bhima River valley on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border.

Individual pilgrims travel in small groups known as dindis, which are usually made up of people from the same neighborhood or area.

The dindis are organized into palkhis, which are led by a palanquin (palkhi) bearing the san dals of one of the Varkari poet-saints.

Each palkhi leaves from a location associated with a particular saint—for example, Jnaneshvar's palkhi leaves from Alandi, where he lived, and thus he and all the other saints are still symbolically traveling to Pandharpur twice a year.

Each of these palkhis follows a predetermined route, and pilgrims time their departure and arrival in Pandharpur to coincide with the eleventh day (ekadashi) in the bright half of Ashadh (June–July) in the summer and the eleventh day in the bright half of Kartik (October–November) in the fall.

Pilgrims liken their journey to a small stream merging with other streams, eventually forming a mighty river that flows into Pandharpur.

Pilgrims sing devotional songs composed by poet-saints such as Jnaneshvar, Namdev, Eknath, Tukaram, Chokamela, Gora, Janabai, and Bahina Bai while on their journey.

By walking in the footsteps of the saints before them and singing their devotional songs, the pilgrims are emulating them.

The pilgrimage ends with the entry into Pandharpur and the worship of Vithoba, but the journey itself is the most important part.

G. A. Deleury's The Cult Of Vithoba, 1960; I. B. Karve's "On the Road," Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 22 No. 1, 1962; and Digambar Balkrishna's Digambar Balkrishna's Digambar Balkrishna's Digambar Balkrishna's Digambar Balkrishna's Digambar Balkrishna Palkhi: An Indian Pilgrimage, edited by Mokashi, was first published in 1987.



Kiran Atma


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