Chapter

Puṇḍalīk and Puṇḍarīkeśvar

Ramchandra Chintaman Dhere

in Rise of a Folk God

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199777594
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919048 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199777594.003.0009

Series: South Asia Research

Puṇḍalīk and Puṇḍarīkeśvar

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This chapter and the next take up the question of the historicity and meaning of Puṇḍalīk, the devotee on account of whom Kṛṣṇa is understood to have settled as Viṭṭhal in Pandharpur. Dhere argues that Puṇḍalīk was not a historical person, despite the fact that he is referred to in inscriptions as well as in literary texts. Rather, Puṇḍalīk was the presiding deity of Pandharpur. Although the story of Puṇḍalīk makes him a devotee of Viṣṇu-Kṛṣṇa-Viṭṭhal, in Puṇḍalīk's temple at Pandharpur he is represented by a Śiva liṅga. Dhere cites textual evidence that the Puṇḍalīk who was in Pandharpur before Viṭṭhal arrived there was in fact Puṇḍarīkeś or Puṇḍarīkeśvar, a form of Śiva, represented by a liṅga. As Vaiṣṇava devotees gradually Vaiṣṇavized Viṭṭhal, making him into Viṣṇu-Kṛṣṇa, “Puṇḍarīkeśvar” was shortened to “Puṇḍalīk” and Puṇḍalīk came to be identified with various Vaiṣṇava devotees of that name who appear in the Purāṇas.

Keywords: historicity; meaning; Pandharpur; inscriptions; Pandharpur; literary texts

Chapter.  4351 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Hinduism

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