Chapter

Mother Viṭhāī

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/9780199777594.003.0013

Series: South Asia Research

Mother Viṭhāī

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This chapter considers the way that the saints devoted to Viṭṭhal use the imagery of motherhood to express his love for them. After a lengthy exposition of the maternal imagery used by the two most famous and prolific thirteenth-century Marathi poet-saints, Jñāneśvar and Nāmdev, the chapter briefly illustrates the continuation of this imagery in the works of the sixteenth-century poet Eknāth and the seventeenth-century poet Tukārām. Dhere then contrasts the maternal imagery of these poet-saints with Śakta goddess cults, village goddess cults, and the treatment of evil female beings in the life stories of the Buddha and Kṛṣṇa. The chapter concludes by presenting a typology of mother-imagery and pointing out the “androgynous primordial motherhood” of the saints' experience of Viṭṭhal.

Keywords: saints; devotion; motherhood; maternal imagery; village goddess cults; evil female beings

Chapter.  5650 words. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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