Rise of a Folk God: Vitthal of Pandharpur

Ramchandra Chintaman Dhere, Anne Feldhaus

Research output: Book/ReportBook

14 Scopus citations


Vitthal, also called Vithoba, is the most popular god in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, and the best-known Hindu god of that region outside of India. This book, presented here in English translation, is the foremost study of the history of Vitthal, his worship, and his worshipers. First published in Marathi in 1984, this work remains the most thorough and insightful work on Vitthal and his cult in any language, and provides an exemplary model for understanding the history and morphology of lived Hinduism. Vi??hal exemplifies the synthesis of Vaittava and Saiva elements that not only typifies Maharashtrian Hindu religious life but also marks his resemblance to another prominent South Indian god, Vetkates of Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh. The author's analysis highlights Vitthal's connection with pastoralist hero cults, and demonstrates the god's development from a god of shepherds to a god of the majority of the population, including Brahmans. One chapter displays the feminine side of Vitthal, his role as "Mother," and another explores the efforts of various Brahman adherents of Vitthal to give his cult a Sanskritic, or even Vedic, sheen. In addition to these elements of Hindu traditions, Dhere also explores the connections of Vitthal with Buddhist and Jain traditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages384
ISBN (Electronic)9780199919048
ISBN (Print)9780199777594
StatePublished - Jan 19 2012


  • Andhra Pradesh
  • Hinduism
  • India
  • Maharashtra
  • Sanskrit
  • Vedas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


Dive into the research topics of 'Rise of a Folk God: Vitthal of Pandharpur'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this