Chapter 5

Viththaleshvar


Is Viththal Shaivized?
Viththaleshvar was an alternative name for Virabhadra. Similarly Pandarige as a name of place was sanskritized to denote Viththal. One needs to investigate into the process of transformation.

Vithaleshvar in the form of Vishnu and Krishna.
At the first glance the name Viththaleshvar appears to be having a reference to Shiva. However many exceptions can be found where the gods Venkateshvar is known to be Vishnu in spite being named as Ishvar. The name Viththaleshvar may mean ‘a lord named Viththal’ or ‘a lord established by viththal’ (that is, by a person named Viththal). The medieval inscriptions at many places in Andhra and Karnataka use the name Viththaleshvar. In many places Viththaleshvar is refered to as Vishnu- Krishna. For example, and inscription at Haranhalli in Arsikere, it reads, ‘ in the liberating presence of Vishnu named Shriviththalesh.’ The Viththal in a place of Mulbagal is named as Viththalnarayanaswami for four centuries. Some other places are discussed in the essay.

Viththaleshvar at Sogane : The original temple is destroyed. The idol of Viththal is shifted to a temple of Shiva nearby. The Viththal idol is considered as Venkatesh by the priest. A Kaustubha gem hangs in one of the neckless. It is clearly an idol of Vaishnavite god.

Pandurangswami at Chintkunta :
Chintakunta is a part of greater Koilkuntla. The temple complex is described in detail in the essay. A garuda stands opposite the front hall. Inside the front hall are idols of the twelve Tamil Vaishnava devotees. The principal idol in the sanctuary is a four -armed Vishnu.
Thus at Haranhalli, Sogane, Hampi and Chintakunta, even though Viththal is refered to as Viththaleshvar, he is Vishnu- Krishna and not Shiva.

Viththaleshvar of Bhattiprolu :
It lies on the eastern border of Andhra Pradesha, Repalle Taluka, in the Guntur District. The ancient temple of Shri Viththaleshvar lies outside the village. The temple is majestic. A pavilion for Nandi has lost its roof.  In the assembly hall, the sculpture of Lakshmi with elephant on a frieze above the doorway of this hall. The temple is described in details. It consists of Ganesh, Sivalinga carved on the hood of a cobra. From the description it is clear that the Viththaleshvara temple at Bhattiprolu, is Shaiva.

The testimony of inscriptions :
The five inscriptions at Bhattiprolu are found. One of them clearly provides indubitable evidence that the Viththaleshvar has been Shiva from the beginning.

Viththaleshvara on Shaila:
The temple complex is described in details in the essay. The temple of Shiva was constructed by a queen of Vijayanagar. Her name was Viththalamba. Thus it was a temple constructed by queen Viththalamba, which is carried to the god.
Vishnuvardhan Chalukya of Vengi:

The temple of Bhattiprolu bears inscriptions due t Gokaraja II. He was a feudatory prince of the Chalukyas of Vengi. Pulakeshi II extended his kingdom to eastern border of Andhra. He appointed his younger brother Kubja Vishnuvardhan to rule the eastern part of Andhra, with Vengi as his capital. Kubja Vishnuvardhana ruled in Vengi from 624-642. His original name was Bittarasa. There were two kings in the dynasty of the chalukyas of Vengi whose original name was Bitta or Bittarasa or Vitta or Vittarasa. ‘Arasa’ in Kannada means a king. Thus Bitta, Vitta can be derived to Vittal.

The Viththal Vishnuvardhan of Chalukya lived in seventh and ninth century respectively. Hoysala Viththal Vishnuvardhana lived in 12th century. (1104-1141.) Thus the name Viththaleshvar could be due to the petron king of the Chalukyas.

Conclusion:

Viththaleshvar could take different forms in Hampi and Lepakshi even though these two places were developed under the same political power. The process of elevation of a single folk deity may not take place in a similar manner in all the places. It is determined by the relative strength of the social and religious influences at work in each place.

 

 

 

 

 

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