Vithoba at Pandharpur
|Affiliation||Form of Vishnu or Krishna|
|Mount||Garuda, when associated with Vishnu|
Vithoba (Sanskrit: Viṭhobā, विठोबा), also known as Vitthal (Sanskrit: Viṭṭhal, विठ्ठल) and Panduranga, is traditionally one of the most important Hindu deities in the Indian states of Maharashtra and Karnataka, drawing devotees across several cultures within these states. For other meanings see Vishnu (disambiguation. Vishnu ( IAST viṣṇu Devanagari विष्णु (honorific Krishna (कृष्ण in Devanagari kṛṣṇa in IAST, ˈkr̩ʂɳə in classical Sanskrit is a deity worshiped across many traditions of Hinduism WikipediaWikiProject Indian cities for details --> Pandharpur is an important pilgrimage city on the Bhimā river in Solāpur district, In Hinduism, Rukmini is the principal wife and queen of Krishna at his city of Dwarka. GARUDA is India's Grid Computing initiative connecting 17 cities across the country Sanskrit (sa संस्कृता वाक् saṃskṛtā vāk, for short sa संस्कृतम् saṃskṛtam) is a historical A Hindu ( Devanagari: हिन्दू is an adherent of the philosophies and scriptures of Hinduism, a set of religious, Philosophical India, officially the Republic of India (भारत गणराज्य inc-Latn Bhārat Gaṇarājya; see also other Indian languages) is a country Maharashtra ( Marathi: mahārāṣṭra, IPA) is a state located on the western coast of India. Karnataka (ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ pronounced) is a state in the southern part of India While generally considered a mainfestation of Vishnu or Krishna, he is sometimes associated with Shiva and Buddha too. For other meanings see Vishnu (disambiguation. Vishnu ( IAST viṣṇu Devanagari विष्णु (honorific Krishna (कृष्ण in Devanagari kṛṣṇa in IAST, ˈkr̩ʂɳə in classical Sanskrit is a deity worshiped across many traditions of Hinduism Shiva:(pronunciation; Sanskrit: शिव Śiva, lit "Auspicious one" One of the Trimurtis Shiva is the supreme God in the Shaiva Siddhārtha Gautama ( Sanskrit; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual Teacher from Ancient India and the founder Vithoba is often depicted as a dark young boy, standing arms-akimbo on a brick, sometimes accompanied by his consort Rakhumai. Vithoba is the main focus of the monothestic Varkari sect and his main temple stands at Pandharpur, Maharashtra. The Varkari (वारकरी tradition is a part of the Bhakti spiritual tradition of Hinduism, particularly in the Indian states of Maharashtra And Vithoba temple Pandharpur is the main centre of worship for the Hindu deity Vithoba, believed to be a local form of god Krishna or Vishnu WikipediaWikiProject Indian cities for details --> Pandharpur is an important pilgrimage city on the Bhimā river in Solāpur district, The legends of Vithoba revolve around the devotee Pundalik, who is credited to have brought the deity to Pandharpur and around Vithoba's role as a saviour to the saint-poets of the Varkari faith, who have written various devotional compositions dedicated to Vithoba.
There are numerous, conflicting theories about the origins of the names of the deity.
According to Sir Bhandarkar, "Vitthu" (Viṭhu) is a Kannada corruption of the word "Vishnu", which was adopted in Marathi and the suffixes 'la' and 'ba' (meaning "father" in Marathi) appended for reverence - producing the names "Vitthala" and "Vithoba".  Tagare says this corruption is due to the tendency of Marathi and Kannada people to pronounce the Sanskrit 'ṣṇ' as 'ṭṭh', present from the 8th century. Hastings thinks Vithoba means "one standing on a brick", where "Vit" means brick in Marathi. Khare suggests Vithal is derived from a Tamil word meaning arms-akimbo.  The prescribed iconogaphy of Vithoba stipulates that he be shown as standing arms-akimbo upon a brick, which is associated with the legend of devotee Pundalik. According to M. S. Mate, the devotee Pundalik (believing Pundalik to a historical figure, rather than a mythical one) was instrumental in coaxing the Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana to build the Pandharpur temple to Vishnu. The Hoysala Empire ( Kannada: ಹೊಯ್ಸಳ ಸಾಮ್ರಾಜ್ಯ ( pronunciation: in Kannada was a prominent South Indian Kannadiga Vishnuvardhana ( Kannada: ವಿಷ್ಣುವರ್ಧನ (1108-1152 CE was a king of the Hoysala Empire in present day Indian state of Karnataka The deity "Vitthal" was named upon the builder king Bittidev, the alias of Vishnuvardhana.  Other variants of the name include Viṭhurāyā, and Viṭhāī.
The other popular epithet "Panduranga" or "Pandaranga", meaning "the white god" in Sanskrit, according to Hemachandra is an epithet of Rudra-Shiva. Sanskrit (sa संस्कृता वाक् saṃskṛtā vāk, for short sa संस्कृतम् saṃskṛtam) is a historical Hemachandra Surī (हेमचन्द्र सूरी (1089–1172 was an Indian Jain Scholar, poet and Polymath who wrote Rudra ( Sanskrit: रुद्रः is a Rigvedic god of the storm the wind and the hunt Shiva:(pronunciation; Sanskrit: शिव Śiva, lit "Auspicious one" One of the Trimurtis Shiva is the supreme God in the Shaiva Bhandarkar proposes that Panduranga may be an epithet of the form of Shiva, worshipped in Pandharpur and temple of whose still stands - later transferred to Vitthal, with the increasing popularity of his cult.  Another theory suggests that Vithoba may initially be regarded a Shaiva god and later identified with Vishnu, thus the name Panduranga of Vithoba. Shaivism, also spelled "Saivism" names the oldest of the four sects of Hinduism. For other meanings see Vishnu (disambiguation. Vishnu ( IAST viṣṇu Devanagari विष्णु (honorific  According to Hastings, Panduranga means "white-coloured" or Sanskitised term of Pandaraga - "belonging to Pandarga - the old name of Pandharpur. WikipediaWikiProject Indian cities for details --> Pandharpur is an important pilgrimage city on the Bhimā river in Solāpur district, "
Another name Pandharinath relates to Vithoba being "the lord of Pandhari (a name of Pandharpur)".
V. P. Chavan says that "Pandurang Stotra" by Adi Shankaracharya, if geninue, establishes that Vithoba worship existed as early as 9th century AD, the period of it's author. Adi Shankara ( Malayalam: ആദി ശങ്കരന് Devanāgarī: आदि शङ्कर Ādi Śaṅkara, aːd̪i ɕaŋkərə (see below  The oldest inscription of Vitthal and Rakhumai, dated to 1209 AD, is found in Alandi. WikipediaWikiProject Indian cities for details --> Alandi is a city and a Municipal council in Pune district in the state of Maharashtra  According to Richard Maxwell, the image of Vithoba was first worshipped as pastoral god as early as the sixth century and is similar to Bir Kuar, the cattle-god of the Ahirs of Bihar, who is now aslo associted with Krishna. Origin of Ahir The Ahirs today claim descent from Krishna. Their origin however is controversial Bihar ( Hindi:बिहार Urdu: بہار bɪhaːr) is a state in eastern India.  He says later Vithoba was assimilated in the Shaiva panthenon and identified with Shiva as most other pastoral gods. Shaivism, also spelled "Saivism" names the oldest of the four sects of Hinduism. Shiva:(pronunciation; Sanskrit: शिव Śiva, lit "Auspicious one" One of the Trimurtis Shiva is the supreme God in the Shaiva The reasons cited are the temple at Pandharpur is surrounded by Shaiva temples, most notably of the devotee Pundalik himself and the head gear of Vithoba being a Linga - the symbol of Shiva. However in the thirteenth century, the poet-saints like Namdev, Eknath and Tukaram recognized Vithoba as a form of Vishnu, making him a Vaishnava deity. Nāmdev ( Nām Dev or Sant Nāmdev) (c1270-c1350 CE was a prominent religious poet of Maharashtra, India in the Hindu tradition Eknāth (1533-1599 was a prominent Marāthi religious poet in the Hindu tradition in India. Tukārām was a prominent Marathi Sant and religious poet in the Hindu tradition in India. For other meanings see Vishnu (disambiguation. Vishnu ( IAST viṣṇu Devanagari विष्णु (honorific Vaishnavism is a tradition of Hinduism, distinguished from other schools by its worship of Vishnu or its associated avatars principally as Rama and  Another theory suggests Vithoba to be a Jain saint as the Pandharpur image of Vithoba is digambar ("sky-clad" or naked), like images of Jain Digambar saints. Jainism, traditionally known as Jain Dharma / Shraman Dharma (जैन धर्म is an ancient religion of India. Digambar (दिगंबर (sky-clad in Sanskrit) (alternate orthographies Digambara) has many different meaning and associations throughout Indian 
In his book Sri-Vitthal: Ek Mahasamanvay (Marathi), R. C. Dhere suggests Vithoba worship to be more antique than the worship of Krishna, "Vedic or pre-Vedic". Vithoba is an amalgam of various local heroes, who gave their lives to save their cattle and worshipped first as Dhangar deity. Jejuri Jejuri is one of the famous temples in Maharashtra. The God of Jejuri - Khandoba ( Lord Shiva) the husband of Banai (from the Dhangar Dhere thinks the rise of the Yadava dynasty with cowherd origins lead to the glorification of Vithoba as Krishna, a god who is often depicted as a cowherd. Name of the dynasty The Seuna dynasty claimed descent from the Yadavas and are often referred to as the "Yadavas of Devagiri" This also led to conversion of Shaiva Pundarika shrine to the shrine of the devotee Pundalik, who brought Vitthal to Pandharpur. Vitthal is also assimilated in Buddhism as a form of Buddha, who in turn in Hinduism is viewed as a form of Vishnu. Buddhism is a family of beliefs and practices Siddhārtha Gautama ( Sanskrit; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual Teacher from Ancient India and the founder Gautama Buddha in Hinduism is viewed as an Avatar of Vishnu. In the Puranic text Bhagavata Purana, he is twenty fourth  Despite assimilation in Vaishnavism as Krishna-Vishnu, Vithoba does not inherit the erotic overtunes in dalliance of Krishna with the milk-maids. Gopi is a word of Sanskrit (गोपी origin meaning 'cow-herd girl' Vithoba is associated more with "compassion, an infinite love and tenderness for his bhaktas (devotees) that can be compared to the love of the mother for her children. . . pining for the presence of his devotees the way a cow pines for her far-away calf. "
G. A. Deleury in "The Cult of Vithoba" (1960) proposes the image of Vithoba to be a Viragal (hero stone), which was later identified with Vishnu in the avatar of Krishna and Pundalik transformed the Puranic, ritualistic puja worship into the bhakti-focussed "interiorized adoration prescinding caste distinction and institutional priesthood. Hero stone ( viirakkal in Tamil or virgallu in Kannada is an Indian Memorial commemorating the honorable death of a hero in battle in India Avatar or Avatara (अवतार IAST Avatāra) is often inaccurately translated into English as incarnation This article is about Hinduism. Puja or "pooja" may also refer to certain devotional practices performed by Balmikis Buddhists (see . "
Tilak suggests that Vithoba emerged as "an alternative to existing panthenon" of Brahminical deities. Brahmin ( Brāhmaṇa, sa ब्राह्मणः is the class of educators scholars and preachers in Brahminical Hinduism. The emergence of Vithoba was concurrent with rise of "new type of lay devotee", the Varkari. While Vishnu and Shiva was bound in rigid ritualistic worship and Brahmin control, Vithoba, "the God of the subaltern, became increasingly human". Vithoba is often praised as the protecter of the poor and needy. 
The historicity of Vitthal is examined by scholars with the dating of the chief temple at Pandharpur. The date of establishment of the temple is still unclear to Bhandarkar, but he insists there is clear evidence to suggest it existed in the 13th century.  According to S. G. Tulpule, the Vitthal temple at Pandharpur stood as early as 1189 AD.  A monument dated 1189 records establishment of a small Vitthal shrine at the present location of the temple, thus Tulpule concludes the worship of Vithoba atleast predates 1189. A copperplate inscription in 1249 AD records a grant being given to a general of the Yadava king Krishna, to the village Paundrikakshetra (the city of Pundarik) on the river Bhimarathi, "in vicinity of" god Vishnu.  Another stone inscription in Pandharpur narrates a sacrifice at Pandurangapura due to which "people and Vitthal along with the gods were gratified".  Thus from the thirteenth century, the city is known as the city of Panduranga. The oldest part of the temple dates to the Yadava period (12-13th century), but most of temple is believed to be built in 17th century and additions still continue. 
Sand concludes from a Skanda Purana version of Pundalik's legend (given below) that there must have been two murtis (images) of Panduranga at Pandharpur. In Hinduism, a murti ( Devanagari: मूर्ति typically refers to an image a deity in which the Divine Spirit is expressed ( murta) The early one, a "tirtha-murti" (the image near a holy water-body or tirtha), facing west nearer to the Pundalik shrine on bed of river Bhima and the other, a "kshetra-murti" (the image at kshetra or the holy place, where a temple stands) facing east on the hill, where the current temple (built around 1189) now stands. Coupled with the concept of the power of the Mantra, in Hinduism, there is the concept of the holiness of a place Coupled with the concept of the power of the Mantra, in Hinduism, there is the concept of the holiness of a place Thus, he proposes that the worship of Panduranga may predate the temple itself. 
The historicity of Pundalik is often disputed. While some scholars believe him to be a historical figure, others dismiss him as a mythical figure. Sir R. G. Bhandarkar considers Pundalik to be the founder of the Varkari cult.  According to Bhandarkar, he was the one who promugalated the cult in Maratha country.  Rev. J. Stevenson (1843) thinks Pundalik was a historical person, possibly a Jain or a Buddhist as Varkari sampradaya (tradition), is a combination of Buddhist and Jain morals and Vithoba is viewed as Vishnu in his form as Buddha. Jainism, traditionally known as Jain Dharma / Shraman Dharma (जैन धर्म is an ancient religion of India. Buddhism is a family of beliefs and practices  Frazer, Edwards and P. R. Bhandarkar (1922) suggest that the Pundalik tried to unify Shiva and Vishnu and this cult originated from Karnataka. Karnataka (ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ pronounced) is a state in the southern part of India  Prof. R. D. Ranade (1933) thinks that Pundalik, a Kannada saint, was not only the founder of the Varkari cult but also the first great devotee or first high priest of the Pandharpur temple.  B. Upadhyaya supports the priest theory but declines the Kannada origin theory.  According to M. S. Mate, Pundalik was instrumental in coaxing the Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana to build the Pandharpur temple to Vishnu, placing him in early 12th century AD. 
For Varkaris, Vithoba is not considered an avatar of Vishnu like Krishna, but the "swarup" or original Vishnu himself, although legends and consorts link Vithoba to Krishna. Avatar or Avatara (अवतार IAST Avatāra) is often inaccurately translated into English as incarnation A. R. Kulkarni feels that Vithoba is not Krishna as there is a Krishna temple in Pandharpur, which the Mahanubhavas ( worshippers of Krishna) visit while they do not visit the Vitthal temple. The Mahanubhava sect of western India was started by Sri Chakradhar Swami in 1267. 
In some traditions though, Vithoba is also worshipped as a form of Shiva. Dhangars still consider Vithoba as a brother of god Viroba and view Vithoba as a Shaiva god rather than a Vaishnava one. Jejuri Jejuri is one of the famous temples in Maharashtra. The God of Jejuri - Khandoba ( Lord Shiva) the husband of Banai (from the Dhangar  Vithoba's consort is worshipped by the community as Padubai, a protectress of the community and cattle in particular.  Underhill proposes that the shrine of Pandharpur is a combined form of Vishnu-Shiva, established by Vishnu-Shiva worshipping Bhagavata sect.  For Badva brahmins, the chief priests in the Pandharpur temple, "Viṭhobā is neither Viṣṇu (Vishnu) nor Śiva (Shiva). Viṭhobā is Viṭhobā". 
Dr. Ambedkar, an Indian political leader and Buddhist convert, suggested Vithoba was none other than Buddha. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar ( Marathi:डॊभीमराव रामजी आंबेडकर ( April 14, 1891 — December 6, 1956  Dhere suggests that Vitthal's image replaces the traditional representation of Buddha, when depicted as the ninth avatar of Vishnu, in some temple sculptures and panchangas ( Hindu astrological almanac) in Maharashtra. A panchangam ( Sanskrit pañcāṅgam) is a Hindu Astrological almanac (or Calendar) which follows traditional Indian cosmology Dr. Lokhnade suggested that the saint-poets praise Vithoba as a form of Buddha. 
All images are generally modeled on the central image of Vithoba in Pandharpur. The Pandharpur image is a 3 feet 9 inches tall, black basalt sculpture. He is depicted as dark, often black young boy with a high, conical hat interpreted as Shiva's symbol - a Lingam. Thus, according to Zelliot, Vithoba is believed to represent Vishnu as well as Shiva.  The first Varkari saint-poet Dnyaneshwar states that Vithoba (Vishnu) has lifted Shiva, who according to Vaishnavism is Vishnu's first and foremost devotee, on his own head. The Varkari (वारकरी tradition is a part of the Bhakti spiritual tradition of Hinduism, particularly in the Indian states of Maharashtra And Sant Jñāneshwar / Sant Dnyāneshwar (1275-1296 ( ज्ञानेश्वर in Marathi) (also known as Jñanadeva - ज्ञानदेव 
Vithoba is shown standing arms-akimbo on the brick, thrown by the devotee Pundalik, with the hands on his hips. Vithoba wears a tulsi-bead necklace with Kaustubha gem embedded in it and Makara-kundala (fish-shaped earrings), which saint-poet Tukaram relates to the iconography of Vishnu. Ocimum tenuiflorum (also known as Ocimum sanctum, Tulsi, Tulasī (तुलसी in Sanskrit and Hindi, ( Kaustubha (alternatively Kastubha) is a divine jewel - the most valuable stone "Mani" is in the possession of lord Vishnu who lives Tukārām was a prominent Marathi Sant and religious poet in the Hindu tradition in India. He holds a conch in his left hand and a discus or a lotus in his right, all of which are traditional attributes of Vishnu. Shankha ( Sanskrit: शंख is the divine Conch shell or sea shell which is one of the insignia in the Hindu God Vishnu 's hands Chakra ( Pali: chakka Tibetan: khorlo Malay: cakera is a Sanskrit term meaning Circle or Wheel Other images depict the right hand making a blessing-gesture, as traditionally misunderstood. Although the Pandharpur image is either digambhar (naked) or the loin cloth is very tightly wound around the waist, through which the shape of genitals is visible, other images and pictures depict clothed usually with Pitambhara, a yellow dhoti and various gold ornaments - as the preists of Pandharpur cloth him. The pancha in Telugu, called dhoti or doti in Hindi, Laacha in Punjabi, Mundu in Malayalam Other features of the Pandharpur image include Srivasta (a mark or curl of hair on the breast of Vishnu or Krishna) on the chest, Trivali (three folds near the navel) on the stomach, a long stick embedded in the ground besides the feet and the symbols of a flag (Dhwaja), goad (Ankusha), Vajra or thundebolt and Yama on the feet. The ankus or ankusha (sometimes called bullhook, elephant hook, or elephant goad) is a tool used in the handling and training of Elephants Vajra ( Devanagari: वज्र Tibetan: dorje ( is a Sanskrit word meaning both Thunderbolt and Diamond
Vithoba is usually depicted with his main consort Rukmini (Rakhumai - "mai" means mother) on his left side. In Hinduism, Rukmini is the principal wife and queen of Krishna at his city of Dwarka. Rukmini is traditionally viewed as the wife of Krishna who is considered a form of Vishnu and form of Lakshmi - Vishnu's consort. Lakshmi or Mahalakshmi (pronunciation; Sanskrit: लक्ष्मी lakṣmī) is the Hindu Goddess of Wealth She is depicted in the arms-akimbo posture, standing a brick. Rakhumai has an independent cella in the Pandharpur temple complex. According to Ghurye, Rukhmini - a princess of Vidarbha (a region of Maharashtra) kingdom, was elevated to main consort instead of Radha, due to her affiliation to the region. Vidarbha (Marathi विदर्भ is the eastern region of Maharashtra state made up of Nagpur Division and Amravati Division. For Radha the mother of Karna from Mahabharata see Radha (Mahabharata Radha (Devanagari राधा IAST Rādhā is the principal Apart from Rakhumai, two other consorts Satyabhama and Rahi, derived from Radha, are worshipped too. Satyabhama is the third wife of Lord Krishna, known for her strong will and tantrums All these consorts are regarded as Krishna's consorts in Hindu mythology. 
The main temple of Vithoba and his consort Rakhumai (Rukmini) is located at Pandharpur in Maharashtra, on the border of that state with Karnataka. Vithoba temple Pandharpur is the main centre of worship for the Hindu deity Vithoba, believed to be a local form of god Krishna or Vishnu In Hinduism, Rukmini is the principal wife and queen of Krishna at his city of Dwarka. WikipediaWikiProject Indian cities for details --> Pandharpur is an important pilgrimage city on the Bhimā river in Solāpur district, Maharashtra ( Marathi: mahārāṣṭra, IPA) is a state located on the western coast of India. Karnataka (ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ pronounced) is a state in the southern part of India Pandharpur is affectionately called "Bhu-Vaikuntha" (the place of residence of Vishnu on earth) by devotees. Banaras Hindu University (BHU Hindi: काशी हिन्दू विश्वविद्यालय is a premier Central University and a world class educational Vaikunta (Sanskrit वैकुण्ठम् or Paramapadham is the abode of Lord Vishnu.  Vithoba is a popular deity in Maharashtra and Karnataka, devotees exist in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu to a lesser extent. Tamil Nadu ( Tamil:, Country of the Tamils, t̪ɐmɨɻ n̪aːɽɯ is one of the 28 states of India.  Vithoba "is worshipped and revered by most Marathi people but he is not the family deity of many people". 
There are two distinct traditions revolving around the worship of Vithoba: the ritual worship of the god by Badva brahmin priests in his temple and the spiritual worship by the Varkaris. Brahmin ( Brāhmaṇa, sa ब्राह्मणः is the class of educators scholars and preachers in Brahminical Hinduism.  The ritual worship of Vithoba by the badava brahmins in the main temple of Pandharpur includes five daily rites. The rituals start with the kākaḍāratī - arati to awaken the god at about 3 am; pañcāmṛtapūjā - puja which includes a bath with five sweet substances (called Panchamrita) after dressing up of the image; madhyāhṇapūjā - puja for redressing and lunch at noon; aparāhṇapūjā - puja for dinner at sunset and śerāratī - arati for putting the god to sleep. For the similarly spelled Christian movement see Arathi. Aarti, ãrti, arathi, Aarthi, or ãrati This article is about Hinduism. Puja or "pooja" may also refer to certain devotional practices performed by Balmikis Buddhists (see Panchamrita (Sanskrit pañcāmṛta) generally refers to a collection of five sweet things used in Hindu worship services 
Varkari Panth ("The Pilgrims' Path") or Varkari sampradaya is one of the most important Vaishnava cults. The Varkari (वारकरी tradition is a part of the Bhakti spiritual tradition of Hinduism, particularly in the Indian states of Maharashtra And In Hinduism, a sampradaya ( IAST sampradāya) can be translated as ‘tradition’ or a ‘religious system’ although the word commands much more respect Vaishnavism is a tradition of Hinduism, distinguished from other schools by its worship of Vishnu or its associated avatars principally as Rama and It is monotheistic bhakti sect, focussing it's worship on Vithoba, based on traditional Bhagavata dharma. For the Celtic Frost album see Monotheist (album In Theology, monotheism (from Greek grc [[wiktμόνος μόνος]] Bhakti ( Devanāgarī: भक्ति) is a word of Sanskrit origin meaning devotion. Bhagavata, with the literal meaning of that which comes from Bhagavan or the Lord signifies in the context of Hinduism. The Sanskrit term ( Devanāgarī: धर्म Pali transliteration dhamma) is an Indian spiritual and religious  The sect is believed to have originated in Karnataka and then migrated to Maharashtra, the basis of this theory being Vitthal being called as "Kannada" - belonging to Karnataka, by Dnyaneshwar himself, although the word is also interpreted as "difficult to understand".  According to Varkaris and scholars who believe Pundalik to be a historical figure, Pundalik is considered the founder of the cult of Vithoba, evident by the glory cry "Pundalikavarada Hari Vitthala" meaning, "O Hari (Vishnu) Vitthala, who has given a boon to Pundalik".  According to Zelliot, the sect was founded by Dnyaneshwar (thirteenth century, a Brahmin philosopher). Sant Jñāneshwar / Sant Dnyāneshwar (1275-1296 ( ज्ञानेश्वर in Marathi) (also known as Jñanadeva - ज्ञानदेव Varkaris also credit him by saying "Dnyanadev rachila paya" - Dnyaneshwar laid the foundation.
Namdev, (c. Nāmdev ( Nām Dev or Sant Nāmdev) (c1270-c1350 CE was a prominent religious poet of Maharashtra, India in the Hindu tradition 1270-1350) a shudra tailor, also wrote abhangas in praise of Vithoba and used Kirtana to sing of God. Shudra ( IAST: Śūdra is the fourth Varna in the traditional four-section division in historic Hindu society Kirtan ( Sanskrit - "to repeat" is call-and-response chanting performed in India's devotional traditions This led to the spread of Vithoba faith, which accepted women, shudras and outcaste untouchables - which is forbidden in classical Brahminical Hinduism. Brahmin ( Brāhmaṇa, sa ब्राह्मणः is the class of educators scholars and preachers in Brahminical Hinduism. In the times of Muslim rulers, the faith faced stagnation, but with the fall of Vijayanagara empire when wars erupted in the Deccan, the Muslim rulers had to accept the faiths of Maharashtra for the support of the people in battle. The Vijayanagara Empire ( Kannada: ವಿಜಯನಗರ ಸಾಮ್ರಾಜ್ಯ Telugu: విజయనగర సామ్రాజ్యము was a South Eknath (c. Eknāth (1533-1599 was a prominent Marāthi religious poet in the Hindu tradition in India. 1533-99) revived the Varkari tradition. With the foundation of Maratha empire under Shivaji, the Vithoba-centric tradition was propagated further by Tukaram (c. The Maratha Empire ( Marathi: मराठा साम्राज्य Marāṭhā Sāmrājya; also transliterated Mahratta Shivaji Bhosle, also known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Raje Bhosle ( Marathi: छत्रपती शिवाजीराजे भोसले (Born February Tukārām was a prominent Marathi Sant and religious poet in the Hindu tradition in India. 1568-1650, a shudra grocer) spreading the entire Maharashtra region. 
All these saint-poets and others like Janabai (the maid-servant of Namdev) have written Marathi devotional poetry (abhangas) dedicated to Vithoba. Janābāi was a Marāthi religious poetess in the Hindu tradition in India, who was born likely in the seventh or the eighth decade of the 13th century Marathi (mr मराठी Marāṭhī) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Marathi people of what is considered western India. This poetry advocates pure devotion to Vithoba and refers mostly to Vithoba as father or in the case of female-saint Janabai's poetry as a woman or mother (Vithabai).  A wide variety of people from different castes and backgrounds wrote abhangas in praise of Vithoba: Visoba Khechara - a orthodox Shaiva (worshipper of Shiva) and teacher of Namdev, Sena the barber, Narhari the goldsmith, Savata the gardener, Gora the potter, Kanhopatra the dancing girl, Chokhamela the untouchable Mahar and even the Muslim Sheikh Muhammad (1560-1650). Shaivism, also spelled "Saivism" names the oldest of the four sects of Hinduism. A Marathi Vaishnava Saint who was a devotee of Lord Vittal As a barber I shall give a dressing (lit A backward caste Marathi Vaishnava Saint of Lord Vittal. O God I am your goldsmith and carry on the business of your name I blow the Shri Sant Savata Mali born into the Mali (Gardener community went on to become a Hindu Saint Chokhamela was a Saint in Maharashtra, India in the 14th century The Mahars are an important Social group within the Indian state of Maharashtra state and surrounding states A Muslim (مسلم pronounced Muslim, not Muzlim) is an adherent of the Religion  Anyone who born Shaiva or Vaishnava, considers Vithoba his "maya-baap" (mother-father) and Pandharpur his maher (maternal house of a bride) is accepted as a Varkari by the sect, irrespective of the barriers of caste.  Varkaris often practice the japa of Vitthal's name and observe a fast on all Ekadashis. Japa ( Sanskrit: जप is a Spiritual discipline involving the meditative repetition of a Mantra or name of God. 
The festivals associated with Vithoba correspond primarily to the bi-annual pilgrimages of the Varkaris to Pandharpur.
The pilgrim Varkaris journey from Alandi (town of Dnyaneshwar) and Dehu (town of Tukaram) with the palkhis of saint-poets, singing abhangas dedicated to Vitthal and repeating his name. WikipediaWikiProject Indian cities for details --> Alandi is a city and a Municipal council in Pune district in the state of Maharashtra WikipediaWikiProject Indian cities for details --> Dehu is a Census town in Pune district in the state of Maharashtra, India The litter is a class of Wheelless Vehicles a type of Human-powered transport, for the transport of persons Varkaris do not engage in ritual worship, but only take darshan of the deity. Darśana ( Darshan, दर्शन is a Sanskrit term meaning "sight" (in the sense of an instance of seeing or beholding from a root The ritual worship by the priests is curtailed around five days each around Ashadha and Kartik Ekadashis (11th day of the Hindu month), when the large number of Varkaris perform their yatra (annual pilgrimage) to Pandharpur. Aashaadha ( Hindi: आसाढ़ aasaarh or आषाढ aaṣaaḍh) is a Month of the Hindu calendar. Ekadashi ( Sanskrit: eleven also spelled as Ekadasi) or Gyaars is the eleventh lunar day ( Tithi) of the shukla (bright or krishna Yatra is Deepti Bhatnagar 's Religious Travel guide Television show, which focuses on a spiritual journey around the Indian The Varkaris visit the temple on two more Ekadashis in Magha and Chitra too, but in smaller numbers.  Up to 5 to 6 hundred thousand Varkaris travel to Pandharpur for an annual pilgrimage on Shayani Ekadashi (the eleventh of bright fortnight in the Hindu month of Ashadha (June-July)). Shayani Ekadashi (lit "sleeping eleventh" or Maha-ekadashi (lit Aashaadha ( Hindi: आसाढ़ aasaarh or आषाढ aaṣaaḍh) is a Month of the Hindu calendar.  Both Shayani Ekadasi in Ashadha and Prabodini Ekadashi in Kartik are associated with the mythology of Vishnu. It is believed that Vishnu falls asleep in Ksheersagar - cosmic ocean of milk - on Shesha nāga, the cosmic serpent on Shayani Ekadashi (lit. The Ocean of Milk ( kṣīroda, kṣīradhi) in Hindu mythology is the place where 13 precious treasures were lost In Hindu ( Vedic) tradition Shesha (Śeṣa in IAST transliteration Devanagari: शेष is the king of all nagas, one of the primal Nāga ( नाग, IAST: nāgá, Indonesian: naga, Javanese: nogo, Khmer: neak) is "sleeping eleventh") and finally awakens from his slumber four months later on Prabodhini Ekadashi - eleventh day of bright fortnight in Kartik (October-November). The celebrations in Ashaha and Kartik continue til the full-moon day in that month. 
Apart from the 4 Ekadashis, a fair in Pandharpur, is held on Dussera night, when devotees dance on a large slab (Ranga-shila) before Vithoba, accompanied with torchlight processions. Dasara, also called "Navaratri" is among the most important festivals celebrated in India.  Other observances in Pandharpur temple include Ranga-panchmi, when gulal (red powder) is sprinkled on Lord's feet and Krishna Janmashtami - the birthday of Krishna - when devotees dance and sing in front of Vithoba for 9 days. Holi ( or language|Bhojpuri]] also called the Festival of Colours, is a popular Hindu spring Festival observed in India, Krishna Janmashtami ( Devanagari कृष्ण जन्माष्टमी, also known as "Krishnashtami","Saatam Aatham"," Gokulashtami  Other sacred days include Wednesdays, Saturdays and all other Ekadashis, which are considered all considered holy in Vaishnavism. 
The texts from the Varkari sect are Bhaktalilamrita and Bhaktavijaya of Mahipati, Pundalika-mahatmya by Bahinabai and a long abhanga by Namdev, all of which describe legend of Pudalik. Mahipati (b 1715 in Tharabad India d 1790 was an author who wrote in Marāthi biographies of the prominent Hindu saints who had lived between the 13th and the Sanskrit texts from Brahmin tradition include 2 versions of Panduranga-Mahatmya from Skanda Purana - 900 verses, Panduranga-mahatmya from Padma Purana - 1200 verses and chapter Bhima-mahatmya from Padma Purana. Sanskrit (sa संस्कृता वाक् saṃskṛtā vāk, for short sa संस्कृतम् saṃskṛtam) is a historical Skanda Purana, one of the major eighteen Puranas, a Hindu religious text is the largest Purana and is devoted mainly to the life and deed of Kartikeya Padma Purana ( Devanagari: पद्म पुराण one of the major eighteen Puranas, a Hindu religious text is divided into five parts Padma Purana ( Devanagari: पद्म पुराण one of the major eighteen Puranas, a Hindu religious text is divided into five parts  According to R. C. Dhere, a third Panduranga-mahatmya is found in Vishnu Purana.  The Marathi Panduranga-mahatmya by the local Brahmin Sridhara, and another one by the same name written by Prahlada Maharaj in Marathi - 181 ovis (verses) - originate from what Raeside calls a "third tradition", a dividing line between Varkari and Brahmin traditions. 
Apart from these and abhangas of the Varkaris, there are numerous stutis (praises) and strotras dedicted to Vithoba, the most of which is "Pandurangastaka", attributed to Adi Shankaracharya, though it's genineness is questionable.  The text "Tirthavaligatha", attributed to Namdev, but possibly a collection of writings of various saint-poets, is a text centered on the propagation of Varkari faith and worship of Vithoba. 
The Kannada poet Purandara Dasa (1484–1564), "Father of Carnatic Music" often ended his compositions with a salutation to Vitthal. Kannada (kn [[wiktಕನ್ನಡ ಕನ್ನಡ]] Kannaḍa) is one of the major Dravidian languages of India, spoken predominantly in the state Purandara Dāsa (1484 - 1564 (sometimes spelled as a single word ( Kannada: ಪುರಂದರ ದಾಸ was one of the most prominent composers of Carnatic Carnatic music (also spelled Karnatak music or Karnatik music, and originally called Karṇāṭaka sangīta or Karṇāṭaka sangītam in India  Other devotional works include Aratis like "Yuge atthavisa vitevari ubha" by Namdev and "Yei O Vitthal maje mauli re". For the similarly spelled Christian movement see Arathi. Aarti, ãrti, arathi, Aarthi, or ãrati These aratis sing of Vithoba, who wears yellow garments and is served by Garuda (vahana of Vishnu) and Hanumat (monkey god, devotee of Rama - an avatar of Vishnu). GARUDA is India's Grid Computing initiative connecting 17 cities across the country Hanuman (हनुमत् sa-Latn '''Hanumat''' nominative singular sa हनुमान् sa-Latn ''Hanumān'' known also as ' Anjaneya' (son of Anjana is one of the Rama ( IAST: rāma Devanāgarī: राम Khmer: Phreah Ream Thai: Phra Ram Lao: Phra Lam Tagalog:
First version in Skanda Purana (1,34-67), Pundarika (Pundalik) - an ascetic (muni), is described both a Vishnu devotee and matapitr-bhakta (devotee of his parents) serving parents devotedly. Skanda Purana, one of the major eighteen Puranas, a Hindu religious text is the largest Purana and is devoted mainly to the life and deed of Kartikeya Grazing his cows, Gopala-Krishna comes from Govardhana to meet the muni. Govinda and Gopāla are Names of Krishna, referring to his youthful occupation as a Cowherd. WikipediaWikiProject Indian cities for details --> For the hill see Govardhan hill Govardhan is a town and a Nagar panchayat Krishna is described as in digambara (naked) form, wearing Makara-kundala (fish- shaped earrings), Srivasta mark, head-dress of peacock feathers, resting his hands on his hips and keeping his cow-stick between his thighs. Pundarika asks Krishna for a boon to stay in that form at that place, where river Bhima would flow, making it both a tirtha and a kshetra. A tirtha is a Pilgrimage site Literally the Sanskrit term tirtha means a ford, a shallow part of a body of water that may be easily Coupled with the concept of the power of the Mantra, in Hinduism, there is the concept of the holiness of a place  This place is identified with modern-day Pandharpur, where the river Bhima flows.
The Bhima-mahatmya, second version in the Skanda-Purana, text of Prahala maharaj and abhangas of Marathi saint-poets, notably Tukaram, picture Vithoba as appearing before Pundalik as the five year old, Bala Krishna. Tukārām was a prominent Marathi Sant and religious poet in the Hindu tradition in India. Bala Krishna ( IAST bālakṛṣṇa, literally "child Krishna" sometimes translated to " Divine Child Krishna " It must be noted that 
The last version of the legend appears in Sridhara's Marathi text and Padma Purana. Pundalik, born to a Brahmin, grew ill-mannered and ill-treated his parents. The elderly parents decided to leave for Kashi. Upon hearing of their plans, Pundalik and his wife joined them to the pilgrimage and forced the parents to walk the whole way and groom horses while Pundalik and his wife rode on horseback.
On the way to Kashi, the group reached the hermitage of sage Kukkuta. At night, when all were asleep, Pundalik, by chance awake, witnessed the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati as beautiful, coming to the hermitage to purify themselves. The Ganges (ˈgænʤiːz also Ganga, Devanāgarī: hi गंगा in most Indian languages) is the major river in the Indian subcontinent For the goddess of the river who is sometimes called Yamuna see Yami The Yamuna (Sanskrit यमुना Saraswati (pronounced as; Sanskrit: sa सरस्वती sarasvatī; Malay: Saraswati Thai: สุรัสวดี is the On asking the reason of their appearance, they told Pundalik that Kukkuta serves his parents and thus becomes pious, and by serving the sage they become pure too. Further, they advised Pundalik to do the same. Pundalik devoted in his life to the service of his parents thereafter.
Meanwhile, Radha, the lover of Krishna, once came to Dwarka (the kingdom of Krishna) and sat on the lap of Krishna. For Radha the mother of Karna from Mahabharata see Radha (Mahabharata Radha (Devanagari राधा IAST Rādhā is the principal WikipediaWikiProject Indian cities for details --> Dwarka, also spelled Dvarka, Dwaraka, and Dvaraka, is a city and a Municipality Radha did not honour Rukmini - the chief queen of Krishna nor did Krishna hold Radha accountable for the offense. Offended Rukmini left Krishna and went to the forest of Dindivan near Pandharpur. Saddened by Rukmini's departure, Krishna searched his queen and finally found her resting in Dandivana - near Pundalik's house. After a bit of coaxing, Rukmini gave up her anger. 
Then Krishna went to pay Pundalik a visit, seeing his outmost devotion to his parents. When Krishna came to Pundalik's house, he was engrossed in the service of his parents, so he threw a brick outside for Krishna to stand on and wait for him until he finishes attending to his parents. Pundalik asked a boon that the Lord should stand in that form with Rakhumai to bless His devotees forever. 
Other legends describe Vithoba coming to the rescue of his devotees in form of Mahar untouchable or a Brahmin begger. The Mahars are an important Social group within the Indian state of Maharashtra state and surrounding states Brahmin ( Brāhmaṇa, sa ब्राह्मणः is the class of educators scholars and preachers in Brahminical Hinduism.  Mahipati in Pandurangastrotra tells how Vithoba helped female saints like Janabai in their daily chores like sweeping the house, pounding the rice. Mahipati (b 1715 in Tharabad India d 1790 was an author who wrote in Marāthi biographies of the prominent Hindu saints who had lived between the 13th and the He tells of how Vithoba came to the aid of Sena the barber. When the king ordered Sena to be arrested for not coming to the palace, due to his prayers to Vithoba, despite the king's orders, Vithoba went to the palace in form of Sena to serve the king and Sena was saved. When another saint Damaji, the keeper of the royal grain store, distributed the grain to the people in famine; Vithoba, came as an outcaste with a bag of gold to pay for the grain.