Vithoba, also known as Vithal and Panduranga, is a Hindu deity predominantly worshipped in the Indian state of Maharashtra. He is generally considered as a manifestation of the god Vishnu or his avatar, Krishna. Vithoba is the focus of an essentially monotheistic, non-ritualistic bhakti-driven Varkari faith of Maharashtra and Haridasa faith of Karnataka.
About Vithoba in brief
Vithoba, also known as Vithal and Panduranga, is a Hindu deity predominantly worshipped in the Indian state of Maharashtra. He is generally considered as a manifestation of the god Vishnu or his avatar, Krishna. Vithoba is the focus of an essentially monotheistic, non-ritualistic bhakti-driven Varkari faith of Maharashtra and the Haridasa faith of Karnataka. His main temple, Pandharpur is his main temple. The most important festivals are held on Devshayani Ekadashi in the month of Ashadha, and Prabodhini Ekadash in Kartik. The historiography of Vitthala and his cult is an area of continuing debate, even regarding his name. Various Indologists have proposed a prehistory where he was previously: a hero stone, a manifestations of Shiva, a Jain saint, or even all of these at various times for various devotees. The name Vitthala is composed of two Sanskrit-Marathi words: viṭ, which means ‘brick’; and thal, which may have originated from the Sanskrit sthala, meaning’standing’ There are several theories about the origins and meanings of these names, including that Vitthu is a Kannada corruption of the name Vishnu adopted in Marathi. The people of Gujarat add the suffix -nath to Vitthal-nath, which yields the name Vitthalnath.
This name is generally used in the Pushtimarg sect, also spelt as Pandurangaranga and Pandharinath. Even though he is depicted with dark complexion, he is called a ‘white god’ in Sanskrit, suggesting that he may be a paradox, as he is also described as ‘the god’ of the Rudra-Shiva sect of the Jain faith, which is also used as an epithet for the god Rudra Shiva. The deity was subsequently named as Vitthal, a derivative of Bittidev, by the builder-king-king Vishnuvardhana alias Bittidv, to build a temple dedicated to Vishnu. He was later named Vithoba, which can be translated as ‘one standing on a brick’ or ‘one who accepts innocent people who are devoid of knowledge’ The deity is depicted standing arms-akimbo upon a brick, and is associated with the legend of the devotee Pundalik, who is credited with bringing the deity to Pand harpur. The temple was built in the 13th century by the Hoysala king Vishnuvyadhana, who was also the king of the area at the time. It is believed that the deity was originally known as ‘Vitthal’ and ‘Vittthala’ by the Marathi poet-saints of the Varksari faith. Other variants of his name include Viṭhurāyā and ViṬhurāya.