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Deities, Cults and Kings at Vijayanagara

Title:Deities, Cults and Kings at Vijayanagara
Author:Anila Verghese
Publication:World Archaeology / Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group
Enumeration:vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 416-431, September 2004
Abstract:The purpose of this paper is to examine aspects of Hindu worship at Vijayanagara, which formed the capital of an empire from the mid-fourteenth century to ad 1565. While the earliest cult was that of a local goddess known as Pampa, this deity was absorbed in the pre-empire period into the pantheon of the great gods of Hinduism, through her marriage to Virupaksha (a form of Shiva) who soon superseded her in importance. Virupaksha was chosen as the tutelary deity of the Vijayanagara kings and state but, even after the collapse of the empire, the temple dedicated to him survived as the main cult centre at the site. There were other Shaiva deities as well such as Bhairava, Virabhadra and Ganesha, though Vaishnava cults were not prevalent at the site till the early-empire period. The earliest Vaishnava deity to be incorporated at Vijayanagara was Narasimha. The cult of Rama and the development of the Ramayana myths associated with the site was an early fifteenth-century phenomenon. In the sixteenth century, other Vaishnava deities, such as Vitthala, Krishna, Tiruvengalanatha and Ranganatha, gained in popularity. The paper also touches upon the cults of lesser divinities, folk deities such as Hanuman and Yellamma, and on the archaeological evidence of other religions such as Jainism and Islam at Vijayanagara.

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