Abhanga: a poetic composition by the Varkari saint-poets

Adhyaya: Section of a holy scripture.

Advaita:, a prominent Hindu school of monistic philosophy that believes in oneness of

God and Man, ‘Monism’.

Agamas: Doctrines and rituals of worship

Ali: lane

Alvars: Tamil saint poets (Sixth to tenth centuries) whose songs of devotion are well


Arati: The circling of oil lamps before the God’s image

Ashadhi Ekadashi: The eleventh day of waxing fortnight of Hindu calendar Ashadha


Ashrama: Hermitage, dwelling of a holy man

Atma: individual soul of each being

Atman: The great soul, the Absolute, another name of Brahman

Badave: Erstwhile priests of Vitthala in Pandharpur Vitthala temple.

Benare: Erstwhile priests of Vitthala in Pandharpur in charge of reciting Sanskrit


Bhagvad Gita: Krishna’s teaching and revelation to the warrior Arjuna that forms part of

the sixth book of the Mahabharata.

Bhagavata: devotee of Vishnu.

Bhagwat Purana : One of the eighteen major Puranas, its tenth section being one of the

main source on the life of Krishna

Bhairav: Guardian deity

Bhajan: Devotional group singing, usually accompanied by instruments, also the song

sung by such group.

Bhakti: Devotion to God

Bhakti Movement: A medieval Hindu Religious movement with the spiritual practice of

devotion towards the God

Bhakti Yoga: The path to God through devotion.

Brahma: Creator God of the Hindu Trinity with four heads.

Brahmachari: One who is attempting to realize Brahman living a life of celibacy

Brahman: The great soul, The Absolute

Chaturmas: Four months starting from Ashadhi ekadashi and ending on Kartiki ekadashi.

Chhatris: domed structure of modest scale.

Churmure- puffed rice grains.

Dakshina: A gift to a priest for religious services, he offered.

Dalan: hall

Danam/ dana: Ritual gift, charitable donation.

Darshan: In ritual and pilgrimage, the ‘auspicious sight’ of the deity.

Darshana Mandapa: Waiting Hall for devotees standing in queue for Darshan.

Darwaja: Gateway

Dashami: Tenth day of each fortnight of Hindu month

Datta sect: Vaishnava Sect grew in Maharashtra from sixteenth century.

Devi: Goddess.

Dharma: Righteousness, duty, law

Dharmashala: A house built for free sojourn of devotees.

Dindi: A group of Varkaris going on pilgrimage.

Dingre: Ministrant in Vitthala Temple, the Attendant of Vitthala holding mirror in front

of the God.

Divate: Ministrant in Vitthala Temple, the Torchbearer holding torch at night when the

God Vitthala goes to bed chamber.

Diwan: Persian word used for minister.

Dhuparati: A ritual of waving lighted incense before God singing devotional songs

accompanied by sounds of cymbals and bells at the time of sunset.

Dravida: Temple architecture of South India marked by stepped tower over sanctum


Dharma: Duty, Law, religion

Dnyan yoga: The path to God through knowledge

Dwadashi: Twelfth day od each fortnight of Hindu month.

Ekadashi: Eleventh day of each half of a Hindu month, a sacred day for ritual

observances like fasts, worshipping to gain spiritual merits. It is also called as Haridini, a

day dear to Hari or Vishnu

Galli: lane

Ganpatya: Hindu sect worshipping elephant headed God- Ganapati.

Garbhagriha: Sanctum Sanctorum where idol of God is kept.

Garuda: A large mythical bird with eagle and man like features, vehicle of Vishnu.

Ghat; steps leading to river

Ghongade: woolen blanket

Gopalas: cowherds, considered as Krishna’s friends.

Gopichandan : Scented powder prepared by grinding mixture of coal, sandal and few

more plants, used in religious practices. Varkari applies a mark on forehead.

Gulal: pink coloured powder used in Hindu rituals

Guna: virtue

Haridas: Ministrant in Vitthala Temple, in charge of singing Marathi hymns during aarati

in the temple of Vitthala at Pandharpur. He does not enter the main chamber.

Kadi paat construction: method of constructing upper timber floors during eighteenth

and nineteenth century structures in Maharashtra with Paat (timber planks) resting on

Kadi (Joists).

Kakadarati: A ritual of waving a thick wick soaked in clarified butter before the idol of

God accompanied by singing songs of praise, normally performed in the early hours of

the day to wake up the God.

Karma Yoga: The path to God through devotion to duty

Kartiki Ekadashi: The eleventh day of waxing fortnight of Hindu calendar Kartik (October – November).

Khan: Traditional grid of timber columns in Wada- 18th century courtyard residence in

Maharashtra region, normally the distance between two columns vary from 5’ to 6’ center

to center.

Kirtana: A form of devotional enchanting, also includes narration of mythological stories/

historical stories accompanied by singing. Social awakening is one of the important aim

of this form.

Kumkum: red pigment used by Hindu woman to make a round mark on forehead.

Linga: The Phallic symbol of Shiva

Mahanubhav Sect: A religious sect that begun in Maharashtra in thirteenth century that

believed in God Krishna as the Supreme being.

Mahatmyas: Sacred texts, part of Puranas to eulogize Gods and places associated with


Mahesh: Name of Shiva

Mantra: A hymn or slogan that is repeatedly used.

Math: Building with temple dedicated to Saints or Hindu religious schools along with

lodging facility for the followers.

Mrudunga: A long horizontal drum, played at both ends.

Mukh Darshana: Seeing the God or Goddess from distance.

Naam Sankirtan: Reciting the name of God continuously.

Nagarkhana: A place normally above the entrance gate where nagara (drums) are played

at stipulated time.

Nagar Pradakshina: Circumambulation around the holy town.

Nagara: Temple architecture flourished in North India marked by curvilinear tower over

Sanctum Sanctorum

Naivedya: Food offered to God.

Nath Sect: Shaiva Ascetics sect

Nirguna: A divine reality that cannot be described with attributes, formless.

Nizam: Title of rulers of Hyderabad State from 1724 AD to 1948 AD

Ovi: A poetic stanza form , used mainly for religious songs.

Paduka: The sandals of a saint or a god.

Padya Puja: A ritual of waving lighted incense sticks and offering a light Naivedya.

Palkhi: A palanquin carrying Paduka of a Saint or God.

Panchkroshi Yatra: Circular Pilgrimage of five kroshas or ten miles covering five holy

places in and around Pandharpur.

Pandurang: Name of Vitthala, the God of Pandharpur worshipped by varkaris.

Paricharak: Ministrant in Vitthala Temple, the chief attendants of the pujari. He used to

provide water, make ready incense and the lamps for Vitthala’s aarati

Parvat: Mountain

Path : Road

Performing Sandhya:Religious ritual to be performed at the transition of the day i.e.

dawn, dusk and noon by a Brahmin. It includes offering water to sun.

Peshwas; Prime ministers of the Maratha kings operated from Pune during 17th and 18th


Phad: A group of Varkari chief with his colleagues and disciples.

Pooja: Ritual of worship.

Pradakshina: Circumambulation around an idol or temple or a holy place.

Prasada: Religious offering in the form of food normally consumed by worshippers

Rigveda: The most important collection of Vedic Hymns,

Puranas: Ancient Hindu Scriptures.

Saguna: A divine reality that can be described with attributes.

Samadhi: Funerary monuments erected in memory of someone.

Samartha Sect: Sect in Maharashtra established by the Saint Ramdas (1608 AD- 1681

AD.) worshipping Rama.

Sampradaya: A system of religious doctrine.

Sanjivan Samadhi: Give up life after entering into a deep meditative state.

Sevadhari: Ministrants

Shaiva: A devotee worshipping Shiva.

Shakt: A devotee worshipping Goddess.

Shaktapitha: Place of Goddess.

Shejarati: Arati performed at night.

Shikhara: Spire of temple.

Shiva/ Shankar: The Destroyer in the Hindu Trinity.

Shraddha: Rites for the dead.

Snana: Bathing.

Sour: Hindu sect worshipping sun.

Talim: A place of practice for wrestlers.

Tandla: Self manifested deity in rock form.

Tapasya: Austerities performed by a devotee.

Tirtha: Holy water, holy place.

Tirthakshetra: Holy region.

Tirtha yatra: The journey to a sacred place, pilgrimage.

Tulsi- Sacred Basil plant (Ocimum tenuiflorum)

Tulsi Vrindavan: Masonry platform with basil plant on its top.

Upanishada: Speculative teachings attached to Vedas, source of spiritual wisdom.

Upasya Daivat: The deity that is worshipped.

Utpat: Erstwhile Priest of Rukmini in Pandharpur Vitthala Temple.

Vaishnava: Devotee worshipping Vishnu.

Valvant: Desert along the riverbank.

Vari: Pilgrimage to Pandharpur

Varkari: Devotee going to Pandharpur on pilgrimage every year

Veda: Sacred books compiled from divine revelations as received by the Sages.

Veena: An Indian stringed musical instrument used by Varkaris

Vishnu: The Preserver in the Hindu Trinity.

Vithoba/ Vitthal/ Vithai: The Deity of Pandharpur

Vrat : Sanskrit word meaning vow, refers to pious observances like fasting, pilgrimage

Wada: A residential typology with courtyards that flourished during 17th and 18th century

in this region.

Yadnya: Vedic ritual of Sacrifice, performed by brahmins.

Yantra: metal plaque with mystic diagrams inscribed on it, used as an object of worship.

Yoga: Means to unite with God.