VARKARIS AND THEIR ROLE
account of the temple becomes complete, if it excludes the Varkari Sampradaya.
The Varkari panth occupies a much coveted place here. He plays a signficant role
in all the devotional activities of the temple. The institution acquired such
high reputation that Vithal and Varkari have become one and the same and they
bear no separation; one reminds the other and each exists for the other. The
Varkari is a picturesque figure and assumes a peculiar aspect, when he enters
the temple in his simple but special dress of dhoti and shirt with a turban on
head, holding small cymbals in his hand and carrying a saffron gag. His services
during the Palanquin procession are indispensable and they heighten its glory by
adding colour and piety to the function. He indispensably attends the Ashada and
Karthika masa festivals and propagates the bhakti cult through song and bhajan.
For him, Panduranga Vithal is all, and above all in his earthly sojourn. He is
not a sanyasin and so lives in society and carries on his profession with a
difference. He is initiated into the panth by a guru and wears a tulasi
bead-rosary for meditation. It is only an outward symbol, enabling him to
perform pilgrimages to the temple. By and large, it is admitted by all, the fame
of the temple spread far and wide by this Varkari Sampradaya.