Data di pubblicazione: Febbraio 2022
The paper traces the evolution of the sacredscape of Lord Vitthala of Pandharpur, Maharashtra, India, through Puranic times (Mythological times) and the period of Bhakti, the devotional movement of Medieval India. The existing literature on Hindu pilgrimage tradition acknowledges manifestation of cosmic concepts in shaping the sacredscapes of pilgrimage places. However, in case of the sacred region of Vitthala, concepts of ‘transferring sanctity’ and re-enactment of events from Lord Krishna’s life as well as lives of Saints of Bhakti movement, take precedence over the cosmic considerations. Vitthala is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Krishna in this region of India and annual pilgrimages to Pandharpur form important events for Varkaris. Overlays of sacred places, spaces from Puranic times as well as Bhakti movement, along with pilgrimages of different types, have resulted in vivacious sacredscape of Vitthala. The study uses secondary and archival sources along with field studies carried out in the region of Pandharpur and uses historical geography approach to define and establish the ritual landscape of Vitthala. It is found that the sacred region of Vitthala has evolved as an association with natural elements intertwined with myths and descriptions from Puranas. Patronage and rituals are also the factors which have shaped this region. This helped in developing holistic understanding of the physicality of the region not just as a geographical entity but as a cultural embodiment evolved over a period. Hence policies and strategies need to consider the sacredscape in the process of development.
Keywords: Vitthala, Pandharpur, Pilgrimage places.