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Varkari (वारकरी) is a religious movement (sampraday) within the bhakti spiritual tradition of Hinduism. It is geographically associated with the Indian states of Maharashtramarker and northern Karnatakamarker. In the Marathi language of Maharashtra, vari (वारी) means 'pilgrimage' and a pilgrim is called a varkari. Every year, Varkari walk hundreds of miles to the holy town of Pandharpurmarker, gathering there on ekadashi (the 11th day) of the Hindu lunar calendar month of Aashaadha (which falls sometime in July). Another pilgrimage is celebrated on the ekadashi of the month of Kartik (which falls sometime in November).

Varkaris worship Vithoba (also known as Vitthal), the presiding deity of Pandharpur, who is identified with Krishna, an avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu. Because of this association with Vishnu, Varkari is a branch of Vaishnavism. The teachers responsible for establishing and supporting the movement through its history include Dnyaneshwar, Namdev, Tukaram, Chokhamela and Eknath, who are accorded the Marathi title of Sant (Saint). Varkari making the pilgrimage to Pandharpur carry the palkhis (palanquins) of the saints from their places of samadhi (enlightenment or "spiritual birth"). According to historians, Vitthal devotees were holding pilgrimages prior even to Saint Dnyaneshwar of the 13th century. However, the current tradition of carrying the paduka (sandals) of the saints in a palkhi was started by the youngest son of Sant Tukaram, Narayan Maharaj, in 1685. Further changes were brought in by Haibatraobuwa and descendents of Sant Tukaram in the 1820s. Today about 40 palkhis of saints from all over Maharashtra come to Pandharpur with their devotees.


The Varkari movement includes a number of specific principles and practices, including:
  • Worshipping Lord Shrikrishna in the form of Vithoba.
  • A duty-based approach towards life,
  • Moral behavior and strict avoidance of alcohol and tobacco,
  • Strictly vegetarian diet on Thursday,Tuesday and on Ekadashi Day ,
  • Fasting on ekadashi (Twice in a month),
  • brahmacharya (self-restraint) during student life,
  • Rejecting discrimination based on caste or wealth, and
  • Reading of holy religious books irrespective of the caste or social status of the reader
  • Following equality & humanity to all


Dnyaneshwar's palkhi (palanquin), holding the footwear of the saint, is carried with honour in a silver bullock cart from Alandi to Pandharpur.


Impact on People

The Varkari tradition has made all-pervading impact on the life of the common people of Maharashtra for six hundred years (from 13th century to 18th century). The Varkari has looked upon God as the Ultimate Truth and has ascertained grades of values in social life The sect has accepted ultimate equality among men. It lays stress on values such as individual sacrifice, forgiveness, simplicity, overcoming passions, peaceful co-existence, compassion, non-violence, love, humility in social life. The last point is illustrated by varkaris prostrating in front of each other because everybody is "Brahma" All these values were the cornerstone of the philosophy of Marathi Bhakti saints. The Varkari sect tried to mould the attitude of the common people which included low castes and women towards life. A person must have a kind of detachment while living his life and he must have the courage of his convictions in the face of evil forces that deform life and dreadful death. The writings of Sant Dnyaneshwar, Tukaram & others helped common man to inculcate these qualities in him.

The Saints Of the Varkari tradition made realising "Almighty" in very simple words. Each Of them wrote separate small booklets of verse in plain words.All called it the HARIPATH. Each saint in his own rustic but sweet style has tried to express the result of fusing the chanting Lord's name; as in Lord Vishnu and mentally feeling oneness with HIM. Such a state of mind surpasses all desires and negative thoughts. It resulted in people coming together unitedly.


External links

1 ज्ञानेश्वरी भावार्थदीपिका

2 सार्थ श्रीएकनाथी भागवत

3 Amrutanubhav

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