FOLK GOD OF THE SOUTH: KHANDOBA

Chapter 3

The worship of Khandoba – an overview

The very creation, of the volume “Mallari - Mahatmya” bestowed the title ‘Mallari-Martand- Bhairav; to the aboriginal Mailardev. Once this process of exaltation was through an ethos conducive to its worship was in offing?

“Mallarimahatmya” the Sanskrit volume comprises of twenty two chapters, and 940 no. of verses in it. Its author has feigned it to be a part of ‘Brahmand purana’ as the impression at the end of each chapter is ‘thus says the Malarimahatmya Khand of Brahmandpurana…’ Few more details of composition are given in this chapter.

In its Marathi versions, Siddhapal Kesari’s Mallarimahatmya is too renowned. This volume is again divided into twenty two chapters and was composed in 1585 (1507 shaka). Apart from this, various Marathi versions of Mallarimahatyma composed by Anant Badwe, Sreedhar, Madhav, Shivdeen etc. Moropant, in his 77 ‘Arya’ form of verses, has written the content of this text itself.

‘Martand-Vijay’, ‘Jayadri-Mahatmya’ etc. are few more similar books with Gangadharkavi’s translation of these volumes, in Marathi, available. A researcher, Pandurang Desai from Karnataka opines, that the original volume in Sanskrit is revered more in Karnataka. Dr. Dhere mentions here many other small rhymes, strotras which describe the rituals of Khandoba’s worship.

He also cites a very interesting mention in ‘Shankarvijay’ by Anandagiri about Shankaracharya’s debate with the devotees of Khandoba.

Thereafter Dr. Dhere gives along list of places of Khandoba’s worship from Maharashtra, Karnataka, and a few from Madhya Pradesh. He elaborates a bit on the main stay of Khandoba in Maharashtra, Jejuri, alongwith some historical facts. He expects the future researchers to compile various folk - based stories about Khandoba’s origin and thereby understand more, as to how the beliefs of commoners helps expansion of a civilization.

Castes and tribes worshipping Khandoba:

Out of Khandoba’s two wifes, one hails from a Lingayat trader and the other one is referred to be Dhangar (a pastoral community). Lingayats seem to have adopted this worship, even though after an initial resistance ‘Dhangars’ of course are seen to have adopted him as their god of profound devotion. ‘Holkar’ clan which originated from this tribe proved to be instrumental to uplift Khandoba’s status in the Peshva regime.

Dr. Dhere provides information on how Ramoshis, Kolis Maangs and also Deshastha Brahmin clans who have adopted Khandoba worship.

Waghyas and Moorlis :
The committed devotees of Khandoba are described here. (In this portal, readers will find a separate chapter dedicated to them.)

Vows and commitments :

A few harmless and a few barbaric practices which prevailas vows and commitments to Khandoba are described in this part. The content also mentions how these practices are criticized by various saint poets of Maharashtra. Thereafter the chapter elaborates in detail, the various family rituals, the objects of worship, the fairs and festivals associated with Khandoba. At a point, an interesting reference amuses the reader. At one of such fairs, Samartha Ramdas was present and seems to have participated in the local competition of ‘Shaheers’. This Dapha – Gaan is available. After this, the chapter provides information on the well known cry raised in front of Khandoba. The ‘yelkot’ and its origin and history.

While summarizing Dr. Dhere says that even today, worship of Khandoba (unlike worship and devotion of Vitthal) has retained its primitive, little barbaric, and aboriginal nature.

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