The translation of Vyankatesh Madgulkar’s Marathi short story, “Temple,” which appears below, depicts the central position that Hanuman had—and often still has today—within the geographical, social, and religious life of Madulkar’s own village of Madgul. In order to provide a broader context for that story, I will briefly discuss in this introductory section the popularity of Hanuman in Maharashtrian culture generally. I shall then provide some information about the author himself, his own
position as a prominent figure in the recent history of Marathi literature, and an overview of some themes we encounter in his story, “Temple.”
Hanuman is one of the most popular and easily recognizable Hindu deities. His fame is most evident today, perhaps, in the state of
Maharashtra, where devotees call him “Maruti.” While Maruti’s devotees in Maharashtra speak and write of their region’s special love for this deity, the Marathi-speaking area is not renowned for elaborate temples, festivals, pilgrimages, rituals, gurus, monastic traditions, or influential texts associated with the god. Hanuman’s “popularity” in the region derives, rather, from two main sources: the ubiquity of his temples and his association with Samartha Ramdas Swami, a 17th-century Maharashtrian religious teacher, who is said to have been King Shivaji’s guru. In such a capacity, Ramdas is linked to one of the most important cultural figures in that region’s history.
Moreover, Ramdas himself is viewed both as an avatar of Maruti, and as the single individual most responsible for the spread of Maruti devotion throughout Maharashtra.
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