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Varkaris – Rules And Codes – Followers of Pandharpur Vitthal

Varkaris are followers of Bhagavan Vitthal of Pandharpur. They are spread across Maharashtra and parts of Karnataka, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh. Here is a look at the important rules and codes of a Varkari.

The Varkari philosophy advises devotees to face miseries and hindrances with courage and firmness of mind and rise above samsara. No work is futile. We get our share of work because God wishes it to be so. We should work keeping in mind that it is our pious duty to do so and that we are answerable to God.

The rosary keeps the Varkaris alert about their ideals right up to the end of their lives. Sandalwood paste (gopi-chandan) and black-powder (bukka) marks on the forehead, and the saffron flag carried on the shoulder are the other important components of their insignia. 

Codes And Conduct Of Varkaris

There are certain moral and ethical precepts that every Varkari is to follow:
  • Adherence to truth.
  • Treating all women other than one;s own wife as Rakhumai (Mother Rukmini).
  • Confessing unintentional transgressions to Bhagavan and praying for his forgiveness.
  • Being a vegetarian.
  • Visiting Pandharpur and Alandi at least once a year.
  • Observance of ekadashi fasts.
  •  Japa of one’s mantra at least a hundred and eight times every day.
  • Daily study and contemplation of such texts as the Jnaneshwari and Haripatha.
  • Performing all household duties with compassion but non-attachment, maintaining the awareness of Vitthala.

Mantra Chanted By Varkaris

The Varkaris are divided into several subsects, each having its own mantra:
  • Chaitanya Sampradaya: It has two divisions; one group repeats the mantra ‘ramakrishna hari’, while the other repeats ‘om namo bhagavate vasudevaya’.
  • Swarupa Sampradaya:  Their mantra is ‘sriram jaya ram jaya jaya ram.’ This sampradaya has two divisions the Ramanuji and the Ramanandi.
  • Ananda Sampradaya: The followers of this sampradaya repeat the name ‘sriram’ or ‘ram’.
  • Prakasha Sampradaya: Members of this sampradaya chant the mantra ‘om namo narayanaya.’
Source - Prabuddha Bharata September 2008 issue - page 47 (507)