Chapter 1

The objectives and the means of study.

The ancient Marathi literature is more of religious in nature. The period was charged with many theological undertones. Budhdhism, Jain, Shaiva, Shakt and Vaishnav were adapting to the Tantrics. In Marathi the earliest influences are due to Chakradhar, Mukundraj, Dnyandeo and Namdeo. All of them were leaders in the religious stream they had followed. Hence, in order to understand their literature, it is essential to study the nature of various sects, their inter relationship, influence on the philosophy or thought process of the litterateurs.

Unsolved issues/enigmas in the studies of religious sects:
Though the sects are due to many followers, its status is not necessarily oligarchic. It is driven by a philosophy, which was in turn propounded by able individuals. Thus it requires study of deities, sects, rites, rituals, and the theology behind the rites etc. There are many gaps in our understanding about those times. Relations of Chakradhar with Udhalinath and others from Pashupat sects are not searched so far. Some of the Mahanubhav describe the genealogy of Mukundraj starting from Harinath (Chakradhar). It needs furtherresearch. Visoba Khechar, and Dnyanadeo were followers of Nath sect. However they have used Shaiva terminology while describing Yogic experiences. In the devotional sect of Maharashtra, Pashupat were prominent, which was not stressed on so far. Chakradhar, Mukundraj, Dnyandeo and Namdeo were all Shaiva by initiation and Vaishnavite by rites and rituals. It is intriguing to trace the liberal attitude in choosing a deity.
Chakradhar at the time of the meditative period resembles that of Buddha. The compassion of Namdeo and Dnyandeo reminds us of Budhdha. Could it have a connection with their deity Vitthal to be associated to Jeena or Budhdha in formative period?
Buddhists had dominated Maharashtra for about fifteen centuries. Jain had used prakrit language to create literature. Maharashtra had proximity to Shri shail, a citadel of Tantric sect prominent during that period. In spite of the presence of these influences, the prominent Shaivites led the followers in the direction of Vaishnavite devotion. They connected themselves to Sanskrit and not Apabhramsha. What could be the reason behind it?

Direction in solution of the unsolved issues: Generally we tend to study Marathi resources to study the Marathi tradition. In fact, the origin of the cultural tradition should be traced well before the rise of Marathi as a language. Marathi is evolved through a tradition of Sanskrit and Prakrit. The religious traditions before Yadav dynasty could shade more light on its culture. Hence pre-Marathi sources and languages such as Sanskrit, Prakrit, Telugu and Kannada and their resources relevant to the period, and archaeological resources need be studied.

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