Dhere Center

Sacred Geography

Dr.Dhere has always held the geography of a sacred place as an important tool of social history.
He propounds that our understanding of India’s cultural history will be deficient without the knowledge of such places and the issues associated with them. He feels that the notion of regarding ‘Sthal puranas’ or’ Sthal mahatmyas’ as worthless, or to regard them as meaningless stories concocted by the devotees will be a blunder.
Taking them as a resource, he has always dealt with many of the events which occurred at that place, or transformations it underwent, the various reactions evoked by people after a certain incident etc.
His analysis of the volume ‘Mallari mahatmya’-which actually is a sthal purana of the place ‘Pember’,gets the readers to the aboriginal nature of popular folk god Khandoba.In his volume ‘Chakra pani’ he has analyzed the Sthal purana of the place ‘Triumbak Mahatmya’ within which he could explore the Shaiva center at Triumbak.
Sthal mahatmyas have helped Dr.Dhere to unravel how the prestige and status of a particular deity rose, what was the aboriginal nature of the deity, what transformations did it undergo, what were the reactions of the devotees to these transformations etc.
Three Pandurang Mahatmyas within Skand-Purana,Padma -Purana,and Vishnu Purana;also Vyankateshmahatmya and Triumbak Mahatmya have been referred by him to compose his famous work-Shree Viththal -ek Mahasamanvay’.In this volume he describes the original form of Viththal,the process of its exaltation and the cultural and geographical details of his abode Pandharpur in ‘Lajjagauri’,he has dealt with the form of mother goddesses at many places and as to why were they venerated at that place. This he has done with volumes like Shakambhari Mahatmya.
(Says he)Although sthal Mahatmya are composed in the style of Puranas, they necessarily include the essential history and geography of the place. Once we understand the Indian convention of garnishing the facts with Puranas, it is easy to sense many links hidden in that resource. Also then one gets more knowledge about many streams of tradition and conventions in the culture. His work ‘Shikhar shinganapur cha Shambhu Mahadev’ is a testimony of this fact.
Direct, real and truthful resources form the first line of evidence for writing history. But in their absence, unraveling of complex cultural issues become difficult.Sthal puranas are useful here. In his volume ‘Tuljabhavani’ Dr.Dhere has exemplified this. In his forthcoming work ‘Karveer Nivasini Mahalakshmi’ as well he has unfolded the original nature of her worship, and the cultural geography and history of her abode -Kolhapur by taking ‘Karveermahatmya’ as a reference.
He propounds that even the religious beliefs and their transformation can be traced through such volumes. His saying has been complimented by many such examples in his work.
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