Chapter

Viṭṭhal and the Buddha

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/9780199777594.003.0011

Series: South Asia Research

Viṭṭhal and the Buddha

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This chapter examines the most extreme example of the synthesis accomplished by the poet-saints devoted to Viṭṭhal: the fact that he is also identified with the Buddha. The basis for this identification is primarily Viṭṭhal's silence as he stands on the brick and his nakedness (as the child Kṛṣṇa), but it also has to do with the fact that the Buddha is counted as the ninth of the ten best-known incarnations of Viṣṇu, whom Viṭṭhal also embodies. The chapter presents iconographic and literary evidence for the explicit identification of Viṭṭhal as the compassionate ninth incarnation of Viṣṇu. Dhere expresses regret for the story that the Buddha incarnation is the incarnation of “delusion.” The chapter concludes by suggesting that the cult of Vitṭṭhal is an important way in which Maharashtra has preserved the liberal Buddhist tradition that was once so widespread there.

Keywords: Buddha; incarnations; iconographic evidence; literary evidence; delusion; Buddhist tradition

Chapter.  5695 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Hinduism

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