Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Vitthal Mean?

Vitthal is the name of a Hindu god considered to be a manifestation of Vishnu or Krishna, his avatar. Vitthal is generally depicted as a dark young boy who stands with his arms outstretched on a brick and is sometimes accompanied by a consort, Rakhumai.

Vitthal is the main focus of the monotheistic Vakari faith of Maharashtra and the Haridasa faith of Karnataka. He is worshiped and of most importance to those in these states, as well as Goa, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. In Pandharpur, there is the Vitthal Temple, which is entirely devoted to the worship of Vitthal. Vitthal’s festivals are held on Shayani Ekadashi, which is in the month of Ashadha, and also Prabodhini Ekadashi, which is in Kartik.

Vitthal is often also known as Vithoba or Panduranga.


Yogapedia Explains Vitthal

Vitthal is known for being the savior of the poet-saints of the Varkari faith, who were known for the abhang, a unique type of devotional lyric, which they dedicated to Vitthal and composed in Marathi. Vitthal also has other devotional literature written for him, including the Kannada hymns of the Jaridasa and some Marathi versions of aarti songs, which are used in rituals of offering light to the god.

There are several possible explanations for the origins of Vitthal’s name. One is that it comes from the Sanskrit root words, vit, meaning “brick,” and thal, which may come from sthala, meaning “standing.” This would explain the depiction of Vitthal in iconography as a figure standing on a brick.

An alternative explanation from the poet-saint, Tukuram, is that Vitthal, or Vitthala, comes from vittha, meaning “ignorance,” and la, meaning “one who accepts”; thus, his name suggests that he is “one who accepts those who are ignorant of all knowledge.” Finally, the name Vitthal, or Vitthu, as it is sometimes written is a corruption of the name Vishnu.

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