Sholapur has a very long tradition of active public life. The district did not lag behind in political movements, social reforms, literary achievements as also religious movements. A number of luminaries in the district contributed to the social, cultural and political movements in Maharashtra.

Sholapur district in general and Pandharpur in particular has had a rich tradition of saint-poets and spiritual devotees who have influenced the religious movement in Maharashtra. Spiritual personalities such as Sant Namdeo, Sant Damaji, Sant Chokhamela, Sant Kanhopatra, Sant Gajanan Maharaj, Shridharswami and Kalyanswami have a tremendous influence over not only religious life but also social life in the entire State. The religious movement known as the Varkari Panth, which is by and large a Vaishnavite sect akin to the other Vaishnavite revivalist movements, has a profound effect in the environs of the district. The poems and devotional songs composed by the saints of Pandharpur exert a lively influence on the Maratha people to this very day. The Varkari Sampradaya (a sect) is a spiritual movement, or more exactly a body of spiritual groups gathered around spiritual gurus. Its public manifestation is the pilgrimage to Pandharpur. A Varkari group is more akin to a large family. Everybody is admitted in the midst of that spiritual family, and history shows that many of the holy men respected by all were of low caste origin. Jnanadeo was an ex-communicated Brahman, Namdeo was a tailor, Gora a potter, Savata a gardener, Narahari, a goldsmith, Chokhamela a Mahar, and Tukaram a Vani. Even women attained fame among them. Muktabai, the sister of Jnanadeo, was herself a famous spiritual teacher and the guru of Changdeo; Janabai, who calls herself the servant of Namdeo, is one of the most famous and popular poets in Maharashtra; Kanhopatra was a dancing girl and Bahinabai, the wife of a Brahman, was one of the great disciples of the Shudra Tukaram. The Varkari cult really fostered the cause of religio-cultural synthesis in Maharashtra.

The Varkaris come mostly from the countryside, being farmers, petty officers, craftsmen and traders. About fifty to sixty years ago the Varkaris were looked upon as a popular movement for the country-folk, but under some great leaders such as Nana Maharaj Sakhre, Prof. S. V. Dandekar, Vishnubuva Joag and Shri Deshmukh, the cult slowly gained disciples among the intellectuals which promoted a new interest in the study of Jnaneshwari and other spiritual works. Independence has given a fresh and strong impetus to this spiritual revival by stimulating the desire to re-discover the hidden national treasures.

Sholapur district contributed considerably to the struggle for our freedom. The famous Martial Law Case of Sholapur, the awakening it generated and the vehement movement which accompanied it was a source of inspiration to thousands of freedom-fighters in this part of India. Hundreds of freedom-fighters defied the Martial Law of 1930 and generated public awakening and a popular movement for Independence. But the names of the four martyrs, viz., Mallappa Dhanshetty, Jagannath Shinde, Kisanji Sarada and Abdul Rasul Kurban Husain will be borne in the memories of the generations to come. A revolutionary, Vasudeo Balwant Gogate revenged the martyrdom of the four martyrs by attempting to kill the Home Member Mr. Hotson. The memory of the martyrs is kept alive by erecting their statues in public places in the city. The late Karmavir Nana Patil was a veteran freedom-fighter in the district who played a versatile role in the freedom movement. The soil of Sholapur has produced a number of political leaders and social workers a few of which should be mentioned here: Dr. Vaishampayan, Manikchand Shah, Appasaheb Varad, Dr. Vinayak Mule, Ramachandra Vinayak Tikekar (Dhanur-dhari), Ganesh Krishna Sathe, Shankarrao Degavkar, Ganesh Abaji Mate, J. M. Samant, Baburao Jakkal, Abanna Jakkal, Narasappa Jakkal, Virchand Dipchand, Dr. V. K. Kirloskar, Nagappa Afzul-purkar, Hirachand Doshi, Balwant Shankar Limaye, Mahadeo Govind Ranade, S. R. Kirloskar, G. V. Joshi, Hirachand Nemchand and a number of others. The famous Shahir and oracle Amarshaikh who created public awakening during the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement hailed from Barshi. Eminent personalities such as Shri Walchand Hirachand, Shri T. H. Sonawane, Shri S. F. Damani, Smt. Nirmala Raje Bhosale and Smt. Prabhavati Zadbuke have been playing a dominant role in developing the social, educational and cultural life in the district.

Sholapur has also given birth to a celebrated poet like Kunjavihari, and a number of writers, poets, musicians and artistes. Among the literary figures a mention must be made of poet Sanjeev, V. A. Buwa, S. R. Tikekar, R. N. Pawar, Datta Halsagikar, Andurkar and Sinoba Katgavkar. The celebrated artistes from the district are: Jagannathbuwa Pandharpurkar, Smt. Faiyyaj, Smt. Shanta Apte, Smt. Mahaboobjan, Shri Govande, Shri Siddharam Jadhav, Shri Ram-krishna Soman, Smt. Shashikala Alandkar, Smt. Shashikala Mahin-drakar, Smt. Sarla Yevalekar, Chandrashekhar, Shri Kumbhar painter, Shri Abdul Almelkar, Shri Hajjulal, Shri Pandit, Shri Patki, Shri Apparam painter, Shri Ajit Dixit, Shri Dhananjaya Dixit and Shri Jagannath Chavan. The famous Shahir Ramjoshi and Patthe Bapurao also hailed from this district. Besides, there are a number of persons who have contributed to art, literature and culture the names of whom cannot all be mentioned here.