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असेट प्रकाशक

Vasudeva

Vasudeva is an important ingredient of the socio-religious setup of rural Maharashtra. They may be termed as ‘Religious Beggars’ in the broader sense of the term, as it is the only profession that they follow. Their caste originated from the union of a Brahmin Jyotishi and a Kunbi female giving birth to a son named Sahadev, so says the oral tradition. They follow most of the traditions of the Maratha-Kunbi section of the society. Modern times have seen a few of them, getting into agricultural activities and professions. 


Vasudeva is an important ingredient of the socio-religious setup of rural Maharashtra. They may be termed as ‘Religious Beggars’ in the broader sense of the term, as it is the only profession that they follow. Their caste originated from the union of a Brahmin Jyotishi and a Kunbi female giving birth to a son named Sahadev, so says the oral tradition. They follow most of the traditions of the Maratha-Kunbi section of the society. Modern times have seen a few of them, getting into agricultural activities and professions. 
Though they are religious beggars, they are not considered beggars by society as religious benefaction is considered an act of piety. Vasudev arrives very early in the mornings, singing the bhajan-s praising Shrirama and Shrikrishna to the tune of tiny cymbals wrapped around his palms. His outfit is very typical, a salwar topped with a knee-high gown, a red scarf around the neck, a small flute tucked in the waist-band, anklets tied around the feet, one hand holding the cymbal and the other holding castanets, a sack to collect the Bhiksha or donations dangling in the armpit and the trademark conical cap made of peacock feathers on the head, comes singing religious songs in the early hours of the day. This distinctive-looking individual had always been part of rural life till recent times. 
The Vasudeva doesn’t accept the Bhiksha straightway. He asks the names of the forefathers of the doner, and calls out to the famous deities of Maharashtra and requests them the well-being of the donor and then only the Bhiksha is accepted on behalf of these deities. Once he accepts the Bhiksha and puts it in his sack, he takes a turn around himself playing the flute. They have certain villages designated as their rightful dominions, where they roam around every year. While accepting the Bhiksha in the villages out of their rightfully designated areas, they do not wear their headdress.
Vasudeva is a devotee of Shrikrishna, and that is the reason he has taken the attire of Krishna, is the interpretation made by famous archaeologist Dr S.M. Mate. The institution of Vasudeva is an important part of the folk culture of rural Maharashtra and has an antiquity of around 1000-1200 years according to the scholars. Saints Dnyaneshwara and Namdev from the 13th century have mentioned Vasudeva in their Ballads.  
Vasudeva is an integral part of the rural traditions and can be found in the village fares. Of late, urban areas are witnessing the revival of Vasudeva, who can be heard singing the ballads in the early morning hours on a given particular day, which is a welcome sign.

Districts/Region

Maharashtra, India.

Cultural Significance

Vasudeva is an integral part of the rural traditions and can be found in the village fares. Of late, urban areas are witnessing the revival of Vasudeva, who can be heard singing the ballads in the early morning hours on a given particular day, which is a welcome sign.


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