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Achintya Bheda Abheda
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Other Indian philosophies
Vallabhacharya (1479–1531 CE), also known as Vallabha, was a
devotional philosopher, who founded the Krishna-centered Pushti sect
Vaishnavism in the
Braj region of India, and the philosophy of
Shuddha advaita (Pure Nondualism).
Vallabha was born in a Telugu Brahmin family that had been living in
Varanasi, who escaped to the Champaran of
Chhattisgarh state while
expecting Vallabha, during the turbulent times of Hindu-Muslim
conflicts in the late 15th century.
Vallabha studied the
Upanishads as a child, then travelled throughout the Indian
subcontinent over 20 years. He became one of the important leaders
of the devotional Bhakti movement. The hagiographies written by his
followers, just like those for other Bhakti leaders, claim that he won
many philosophical debates against the followers of Ramanuja,
Madhvacharya and others, had visions and miracles.
He is the
Guru within the Pushti sub-tradition, which he
founded after his own interpretation of the
Vallabha rejected asceticism and monastic life, suggested that through
loving devotion to God Krishna, any householder could achieve
salvation – an idea that became influential in western Uttar
Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with
Vishnuswami, and is the prominent
Rudra Sampradaya out
of the four Vaishnava Sampradayas.
He authored many texts including the Anubhashya (a commentary on Brahm
Shodash Granth or sixteen 'stotras' (tracts) and several
commentaries on the
Bhagavata Purana. Vallabha's writings and kirtan
compositions focus on baby
Krishna and his childhood pranks with
Yashoda (unconditional motherly love), as well as a youthful Krishna
in relationship (erotic mysticism) with cowherding women as the many
lilas (pastimes) of Krishna, Krishna's protection of the good (divine
grace) and his victory over demons and evils, all with allegory and
symbolism. His legacy is best preserved in the
Braj region, and
Nathdwara in Mewar region of
India – an important
Krishna pilgrimage center.
1.3 Victory at Vijayanagara
1.4 Pilgrimage of India
1.5 Establishment of Pushtimarg
1.6 Personal life
3.1 Commentaries and Verses (c. 1479-1531)
3.2 Shodash Granthas
4 See also
7 External links
Birthplace of Vallabhacharya, Prakatya Baithak, Champaran
The ancestors of
Vallabhacharya hailed from the Andhra region and
belonged to a long line of Telugu
Vaidiki Brahmins known as Velanadu
or Vellanatiya following the
Vishnu Swami school of thought. According
to devotional accounts,
Krishna commanded his ancestor Yagnanarayana
Bhatta that He would take birth in their family after completion of
100 Somayagnas (fire sacrifices). By the time of Yagnanarayana's
descendant Lakshmana Bhatta who migrated to the holy town of Varanasi,
the family had completed 100 Somayagnas.
Vallabhacharya was born to
Lakshmana Bhatta in 1479 A.D. (V.S. 1535) on the 11th day of the dark
half of lunar month of chaitra at Champaranya. The name of his mother
The period surrounding Vallabhacharya's birth was a tumultuous one and
most of northern and central
India was being influenced by Muslim
invaders. It was common for populations to migrate in order to flee
from religious persecution and conversion. On one such occasion,
Lakshmana Bhatta had to urgently move out of
Varanasi with his
pregnant wife. Due to terror and physical strain of the flight
suffered by the mother, there was a premature birth of the child, two
months in advance. As the child did not show signs of life, the
parents placed it under a tree wrapped in a piece of cloth. It is
Krishna appeared in a dream before the parents of
Vallabhacharya and signified that He Himself had taken birth as the
child. According to popular accounts, the parents rushed to the spot
and were amazed to find their baby alive and protected by a circle of
divine fire. The blessed mother extended her arms into the fire
unscathed; she received from the fire the divine baby, gleefully to
her bosom. The child was named
Vallabha (meaning "dear one" in
His education commenced at the age of seven with the study of four
Vedas. He acquired mastery over the books expounding the six systems
of Indian philosophy. He also learnt philosophical systems of Adi
Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhva,
Nimbarka along with the
Buddhist and Jain
schools. He was able to recite a hundred mantras, not only from
beginning to end but also in reverse order. At Vyankateshwar and
Lakshmana Balaji, he made a strong impression on the public as an
embodiment of knowledge. He was now applauded as Bala Saraswati.
After studying till age of 11, he went to Vrindavan.
Victory at Vijayanagara
In the court
Tuluva king Krishnadevaraya, a debate was conducted at
Vijayanagara between the Vaishnavaites of Madhva and Shankarites over
the philosophical question whether God is Dualistic or non-dualistic.
Vallabhacharya participated in the discussion.
At the age of 11, Vallabhacharya, who had earned an epithet of Bala
Saraswati was given the opportunity to discuss the question. The
discussion continued for 27 days in the conference hall. He was
honoured with the kanakabhishekam ceremony by
victory. The titles of ‘Acharya’ and 'Jagadguru' (world preceptor)
were conferred on him. He was given vessels of gold weighing a hundred
Vallabhacharya politely declined to accept them and
distributed them among the poor brahmins and the learned after keeping
only seven gold mohurs. They were used for preparing the ornaments of
Pilgrimage of India
Vallabhacharya performed three pilgrimages of India, barefoot. He wore
a simple white dhoti and a white cloth to cover the upper part of his
body (known as ‘Upavarna’, literally "upper cloth" in Sanskrit).
He gave discourses on
Bhagavata at 84 places and explained the
meanings of the Puranic text. This 84 places are known as Chaurāsi
Baithak (चौरासी बैठक) and now they are places of
pilgrimage. He stayed in Vraja for four months in each year.
Establishment of Pushtimarg
Vallabhacharya discovers Shrinathji, at Mount Govardhan.
It is believed that when
Vallabhacharya entered Gokul, he thought
about the important question of restoring people to the right path of
devotion. He meditated on
Krishna who appeared to him in a vision in
the form of Shrinathji, a deity discovered by
Madhavendra Puri and
disclosed the 'Brahma Sambandha' (
Sanskrit for "relation with Brahman,
the supreme Godhead"), a mantra of self dedication or consecration of
self to Krishna. During that time Damodardasa, his worthiest and most
beloved disciple, was sleeping next to him. In the early morning,
Vallabhacharya related this experience to Damodardasa and asked him
— “Damala, did you hear any voice last night”? Damodaradasa
replied that "I heard something but was not able to understand the
meaning of it."
Vallabhacharya then explained the meaning of the
mantra and at that time he became the first Vaishnava initiated by
Vallabhacharya wanted to preach his message of devotion to God and
God’s grace called
Pushtimarg (path of grace). He undertook three
pilgrimages of India. He performed the initiation ceremony of
religious rite by conferring on them the ‘Nama Nivedana’ mantra or
the ‘Brahma Sambandha’ mantra. Thousands became his disciples, but
84 devoted servants are most famous and their life has been documented
Pushtimarg literature as the ‘Story of 84 Vaishnavas’. He
Vyas in his Himalayan cave and discussed
Krishna and his
Part of a series on
Brahma (Dvaita, Acintyabhedabheda)
He intended to remain a lifelong celibate but the deity-guru
Pandharpur commanded him to marry and live the life
of a householder. Obeying his guru, he married Mahalaxmi and had two
sons, Gopinath and Vitthalnath (also known as Gusainji).
At the age of 52, he took samadhi (died) in the Ganga river in hanuman
ghat of kashi
Based on Pushti Marg literature, in about 1530 A.D., Shrinathji
Vallabhacharya to leave the worldly life and to come near
Him. It is said that
Shrinathji had previously expressed His wish on
two different occasions. The third command was accepted by
Vallabhacharya as the last verdict. He reached Kasi and according to
Vedic traditions, formally renounced the world by taking
Sanyasa and a
vow of silence. He lived in a hut made of leaves on the
for about a week. He spent his last days in contemplation of Krishna
and suffered agonies of separation from Him. The members of his family
assembled near him for his last darshan. When asked about his advice,
Vallabhacharya scribbled three and a half
Sanskrit verses in the sand
by way of counsel. To complete this message, it is believed that
Krishna Himself manifested visually on the spot and wrote in the form
of a verse and a half. This collection of verses is known as
‘ShikshaSloki’ in Pushti Marg literature. He entered into the
waters of the
Ganges on the day of
Rath Yatra (a festival that is
celebrated on the second or third day of the bright side of the lunar
month of Ashadha). People witnessed a brilliant flame as it arose from
the water and ascended to heaven and was lost in the firmament. This
episode is known as AsurVyamohLila.
Vallabhacharya represented the culmination of philosophical thought
Bhakti Movement in the Middle Ages. The sect established by
him is unique in its facets of devotion to Krishna, especially his
child manifestation, and is enriched with the use of traditions, music
and festivals. Today, though most of his followers reside in North and
West India, his temples all over the world and he has many devout
Vallabhacharya composed many philosophical and devotional books during
his lifetime such as:
Anubhashya or Brahmsutranubhashya - 4 cantos of commentaries on the
Sutra of Ved Vyas
Tattvaarth Dip Nibandh - Essays on the fundamental principles of
spirituality (3 chapters)
Chapter 1: Shaastrarth Prakaran
Chapter 2: Bhagavatarth Prakaran
Chapter 3: Sarvanirnay Prakaran
Subodhini - Commentary on Shrimad Bhagavat Mahapuran (only cantos 1,
2, 3 and 10 are available)
Shodash Granth - Sixteen short verse-type compositions to teach his
followers about devotional life
Other than the above main literature, he also composed additional
works such as Patravalamban, Madhurashtakam, Gayatribhashya,
Purushottam Sahastranaam, Girirajdharyashtakam, Nandkumarashtakam
Sudarshan Kavach etc.
Commentaries and Verses (c. 1479-1531)
He wrote elaborate commentaries on
Sanskrit scriptures, the
Brahma-Sutras (Anubhasya), and Shreemad Bhagwatam (Shree Subodhini
ji, Tattvarth Dip Nibandh).
Also, in order to help devotees on this path of devotion, he wrote 16
pieces in verse which we know as the Shodasha Granthas. These came
about as answers to devotees. The verses define the practical theology
The Shodash Granthas (doctrines) serve as a lighthouse for devotees.
They speak about increasing love for Shri
Krishna through Seva
(service) and Smarana (remembering). These doctrines are
Mahaprabhu’s way of encouraging and inspiring devotees on this path
of grace. The central message of the Shodasha Granthas is total
surrender to the Lord. A Goswami can initiate an eager soul to this
path of Shri Krishna’s loving devotion and service. The verses
explain the types of devotees, the way to surrender and the reward for
Seva, as well as other practical instructions. The devotee is nurtured
by the Lord’s grace.
Shree Yamunastakam: An ode to Shree Yamuna Maharani
Baala Bodhah: A guide for beginners on the path of devotion
Siddhant-Muktavali: A string of pearls consisting of the
principles/fundamentals of Pushtimarg
Pusti-Pravaha-Maryadabhedah: The different characteristics of the
different types of souls (Receptivity of the Lord’s grace)
Siddhant-Rahasya: The Secret behind the Principles
Navratna : Nine jewels of instructions (Priceless instructions
for a devotee)
Antah-Karan-Prabodhah: Consoling one's Heart (Request to one’s own
Vivek-Dhairy-Aashray: Of discretion, patience and surrender
Shree Krushna Aashray: Taking Shree Krushna’s shelter
Chatuhshloki: A Four Verses (Verser) illustrating the four principles
of life; Dharma, Arth, Kaam, Moksh
Bhakti-Vardhini: Increase of devotion
Jal-Bhed: Difference in Waters.
Pancha-Padyaani: Five instructive verses
Sannyasa-Nirnayah: Decision on taking Renunciation
Nirodh-Lakshanam: Identifying characteristics of detachment
Seva-Phalam: The reward of performing seva (worship) of the Lord
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Vallabhacharya and His Life
Vaishnav Parivar: A informative portal about Pushtimarg, Vaishnavism
Jeevan Charitra Of
Vallabhacharya in the form of a patrika
Brief sketch of Vallabhacharya
The life of Vallabhacharya
Mahaprabhuji Shri Vallabhacharya
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