Vallabhacharya (1479–1531 CE), also known as Vallabha, was a Hindu theologian and philosopher who founded the Krishna-centered Pushti sect of 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 Vedas and 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 Acharya and Guru within the Pushti sub-tradition, which he founded after his own interpretation of the Vedanta philosophy. 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, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with Vishnuswami, and is the prominent Acharya of Rudra Sampradaya out of the four traditional Vaishnava Sampradayas.
He authored many texts including the Anubhashya (a commentary on Brahm Sutra), 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 particularly at Nathdwara in Mewar region of India – an important Krishna pilgrimage center.
|Children||Gopinath and Vitthalnath|
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 [ Vaishakha Krishna Ekadashi ]. The name of his mother was Illammagaru.
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 believed that 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 Sanskrit).
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.
In the court of 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 Krishnadevaraya on victory. The titles of ‘Acharya’ and 'Jagadguru' (world preceptor) were conferred on him. He was given vessels of gold weighing a hundred maunds. 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 Vitthalanatha in Pandharpur.
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.
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.
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 in Pushtimarg literature as the ‘Story of 84 Vaishnavas’. He also met Vyas in his Himalayan cave and discussed Krishna and his flute.
He intended to remain a lifelong celibate but the deity-guru Vithoba of Pandharpur commanded him to marry and live the life of a householder, and Shrinathji himself said that He would be born as the second child of Vallabha, Gusaiji (as Vallabha's first child Gopinathji is the form of Balram). Obeying his guru, he married Mahalaxmi and had two sons, Gopinathji and Vitthalnathji (also known as Gusainji).
At the age of 52, he took samadhi in the Ganga river in Hanuman Ghat of Kasi.
Based on Pushti Marg literature, in about 1530 A.D., Shrinathji commanded 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 Hanuman ghat 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 during the 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 followers.
Vallabhacharya composed many philosophical and devotional books during his lifetime such as:
Other than the above main literature, he also composed additional works such as Patravalamban, Madhurashtakam, Gayatribhashya, Purushottam Sahastranaam, Girirajdharyashtakam, Nandkumarashtakam, etc.
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 of Pushtimarga.
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.
Achintya-Bheda-Abheda (अचिन्त्यभेदाभेद, acintyabhedābheda in IAST) is a school of Vedanta representing the philosophy of inconceivable one-ness and difference. In Sanskrit achintya means 'inconceivable', bheda translates as 'difference', and abheda translates as 'non-difference'. The Gaudiya Vaishnava religious tradition employs the term in relation to the relationship of creation and creator (Krishna, Svayam Bhagavan), between God and his energies. It is believed that this philosophy was taught by the movement's theological founder Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486 - 1534) and differentiates the Gaudiya tradition from the other Vaishnava Sampradayas. It can be understood as an integration of the strict dualist (dvaita) theology of Madhvacharya and the qualified monism (vishishtadvaita) of Ramanuja.Bhedabheda
Bhedābheda Vedānta is a subschool of Vedānta, which teaches that the individual self (jīvātman) is both different and not different from the ultimate reality known as Brahman.Dvaita Vedanta
Dvaita Vedanta (; Sanskrit: द्वैत वेदान्त) is a sub-school in the Vedanta tradition of Hindu philosophy. Alternatively known as Bhedavāda, Tattvavāda and Bimbapratibimbavāda, Dvaita Vedanta sub-school was founded by the 13th-century scholar Madhvacharya. The Dvaita Vedanta school believes that God (Vishnu, supreme soul) and the individual souls (jīvātman) exist as independent realities, and these are distinct. The Dvaita school contrasts with the other two major sub-schools of Vedanta, the Advaita Vedanta of Adi Shankara which posits nondualism – that ultimate reality (Brahman) and human soul are identical and all reality is interconnected oneness, and Vishishtadvaita of Ramanuja which posits qualified nondualism – that ultimate reality (Brahman) and human soul are different but with the potential to be identical.Dvaita (द्वैत) is a Sanskrit word that means "duality, dualism". The term refers to any premise, particularly in theology on the temporal and the divine, where two principles (truths) or realities are posited to exist simultaneously and independently.Evare Athagadu
Evare Athagadu is a Tollywood film starring Vallabha, Priyamani, Jaya Sheel and K.Viswanath. The film is a debut movie for Priyamani and Vallabha. The film was released in 2002 and was a flop.The lead actor of the film, Vallabha is the son of renowned Tollywood Producer K.S. Rama Rao.Kitti Sri Megha, Prince of Dakkinadesa
Kitti Sri Megha (died 1140), also referred to as Kittisrimegha, was a medieval king of the principality of Dakkinadesa in Sri Lanka. The nephew of King Vijayabahu I, he attempted to seize the throne of Sri Lanka along with his two brothers in 1110 CE, but was defeated by Vickramabahu I. He then retreated to the south of the country, which he initially ruled with his younger brother Sri Vallabha. He later ascended to the throne of Dakkinadesa following the death of his older brother Manabharana.
In his later years he adopted and borough up his nephew, the future king of Sri Lanka, Parakramabahu the Great.Marunthuvazh Malai
The Marunthuvazh Malai (Tamil: மருந்துவாழ் மலை), also known as the Marunthu Vazhum Malai ("the abode of medicinal herbs"), forms the part and the southernmost tip of the Western Ghats of Agasteeswaram taluk of Kanyakumari district.
According to tradition, the Maruthuva Malai is a fragment of the Sanjeevi Mountain, a piece of which fell down here, and it was carried by Hanuman from Mahendragiri to Lanka for healing the fatal wounds of Lakshmana, the brother of Rama, the epic hero. It stretches for more than a km, reaching a height of 800 feet at the highest point. It is about 1 km from pothaiyadi, 2 km from Swamithoppe and 11 km from Nagercoil.
This hill is also believed to be noted in Ayyavazhi mythology as Parvatha Ucchi Malai. Apart from the Mythology, this hill is historically related to the life of Vaikundar. So few theologians consider this hill as sacred and consider it one among the Ayyavazhi holy sites. Backing some quotes from Arul Nool and Akilam some even argue that Marunthuvazh Malai is one among the Vaikundapathi's. Narayana Guru attained enlightenment while undergoing penance (tapas) at this hill.
There is a mention about this Marunthu Vazh Malai in Sri Pada Sri Vallbha Charithamrutham written during thirteenth century in Sanskrit, which is a biography of Lord Sri Pada Sri Vallabha(first avatar of Sri Dattatreya). This place is mentioned as Maruthuva Malai and the legend about this mountain is captured. It is also said in the holy book that this is a Holy land and Siddhas and saints live in this MountainNathdwara
Nathdwara is a town in India's western state of Rajasthan. It is located in the Aravalli hills, on the banks of the Banas River in Rajsamand District, 48 kilometres north-east of Udaipur. This town is famous for its temple of Krishna which houses the deity of Shrinathji, a 14th-century, 7-year-old "infant" incarnation of Krishna. The deity was originally worshiped at JATIPURA Mathura and was shifted in the 1672 from Govardhan hill, near Mathura along holy river Yamuna after being retained at Agra for almost six months. Literally, Nathdwara means ‘Gateway to Shrinathji (God)’. Nathdwara is a significant Vaishnavite shrine pertaining to the Pushti Marg or the Vallabh Sampradaya or the Shuddha Advaita founded by Vallabha Acharya, revered mainly by people of Gujarat and Rajasthan, among others. Vitthal Nathji, son of Vallabhacharya institutionalised the worship of Shrinathji at Nathdwara. Nathdwara town itself is popularly referred to as ‘Shrinathji’, after the presiding deity.Pithapuram
Pithapuram or Peetika Puram is a town and a municipality in East Godavari district in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The town also forms a part of Godavari Urban Development Authority. The temple town is one of fifty five Sakti Peetikas.Shripada Shri Vallabha, believed to be an incarnation of Lord Dattatreya by his devotees, lived in Pithapuram. He is considered one of the first complete avatars (incarnations) of the deity Dattatreya in Kali Yuga.Prithvi-vallabha
Prithvi-vallabha (IAST: Pṛthvīvallabha), or Vallabha-rāja, was a title adopted by several kings that ruled in present-day India, including the Chalukyas of Vatapi, the Rashtrakutas and their successors.Radha-vallabha
Radhavallabha is a Vaishnava denomination which began with the Vaishnava theologian Hith Harivansh Mahaprabhu. This theology and Harivansh's leadership created the Radhavallabha sect. Radhavallabha Theology emphasizes devotion to Radharani. Shri Radhavallabh ji Temple in Vrindaban , Mathura is a very famous temple of the same preaching.This temple is among the most famous 7 temples of Thakur of Vrindavan including Sri Radhavallabh ji, Shri Govind Dev ji, Shri Bankey Bihari Ji and four others. In this temple, there is no deity of Radharani, but a crown has been placed next to Krishna to signify her presence.Radha Krishna
RadhaKrishn (IAST rādhā-kṛṣṇa, Sanskrit: राधा कृष्ण) are collectively known within Hinduism as the combined forms of feminine as well as the masculine realities of God. Radha and Krishna are the primeval forms of God and His pleasure potency respectively in the Vaishnava school of thought in Vedic culture. Krishna is referred to as svayam bhagavan in Vaishnavism theology and Radha is illustrated as the primeval potency of the three main potencies of God, Hladini (immense spiritual bliss), Sandhini (eternality) and Samvit (existential consciousness) of which Radha is an embodiment of the feeling of love towards the almighty God Shree Krishna (Hladini).
With Krishna, Radha is acknowledged as the Supreme Goddess, for it is said that Krishna or God is only satiated by devotional service in loving servitude and Radha is the personification of devotional service to the supreme. She is also considered in Vaishnavism as the total feminine energy and also as the Supreme Lakshmi (Adi-Lakshmi). Various devotees worship her with the understanding of her merciful nature as the only way to attain Krishna. Radha is also depicted to be Krishna himself, split into two, for the purpose of His enjoyment.It is believed that Krishna enchants the world, but Radha "enchants even Him. Therefore She is the supreme goddess of all. RadhaKrishn".While there are much earlier references to the worship of this form of God, it is since Jayadeva Goswami wrote a famous poem Gita Govinda in the twelfth century of the Common Era, that the topic of the spiritual love between the divine Krishna and his devotee Radha, became a theme celebrated throughout India. It is also believed that Radha is not just one cowherd maiden, but is the origin of all the gopis, or divine personalities that participate in the rasa dance.Rudra Sampradaya
Also see Brahma Sampradaya
In Hinduism, the Rudra Sampradaya is one of four Vaishnava sampradayas, a tradition of disciplic succession in the religion. Vaishnavism is distinguished from other schools of Hinduism by its primary worship of deities Vishnu and/or Krishna and their Avatars as the Supreme forms of God. The ascetic Vishnuswami formed the Rudra-Sampradaya, though the sampradaya is believed to have traced its origins to the Hindu deity Shiva, also known as Rudra, who passed on the knowledge imparted to him by Vishnu (or Krishna), on mankind. According to Vaishnavism, Shiva, who has the Shaivism school dedicated to his worship as the Supreme God, is the first and foremost Vaishnava, or follower of Vishnu. According to the tradition, Vishnuswami was fifteenth in the line of passing of the knowledge from teacher to student. The date of formation of the sampradaya is disputed. While James Hastings dates Vishnuswami to the early 15th century, and Carl Olson dates him to the 13th century, followers of the sampradaya says that Vishnuswami was born 4500 years earlier.
Not much about the historical Vishnuswami is known and all his works are thought to have been lost in time.
The Sampradaya originated in Sri Kshetra(Odisha) but currently is mainly present in Gujarat/Rajasthan, through the Vallabha sampradaya. The beliefs of the sampradaya was further propagated by Vallabha Acharya (1479–1531).
Rudra sampradaya has two main divisions: Vishnuswamis, that is, followers of Vishnuswami and the Vallabhas or Pushtimarg sect, founded by Vallabha. According to William Deadwyler, the sampradaya has disappeared, except for the Pushtimarg group.The philosophy of the sampradaya is Shuddhadvaita, or pure monism.Shuddhadvaita
Shuddadvaita (Sanskrit: śuddhādvaita "pure non-dualism") is the "purely non-dual" philosophy propounded by Vallabhacharya (1479-1531 CE), the founding philosopher and guru of the Vallabha sampradāya ("tradition of Vallabha") or Puṣṭimārga ("The path of grace"), a Hindu Vaishnava tradition focused on the worship of Krishna. Vallabhacharya's pure form (nondualist) philosophy is different from Advaita. The Shrinathji temple at Nathdwara, and compositions of eight poets (aṣṭachap), including Sur, are central to the worship by the followers of the sect.Sreevallabha Temple
Sreevallabha Temple is a highly orthodox Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Sreevallabhan. It is one of the oldest and biggest Temples of Kerala, and has been a major destination for devotees all over India for centuries. Located in Thiruvalla city, this ocean of orthodoxy is well known for its architectural grandeur and unique customs that can be found in no other temples. There are stone-wooden carvings and mural paintings inside the temple. Being one among 108 Divya Desams, Sreevallabha temple has been glorified by Alvars and many other ancient works. It is considered to be the vallabha kshethram mentioned in Garuda Purana and Matsya Purana. Kathakali is played daily in the temple as an offering, pushing it to the top in India in terms of places where Kathakali is staged in largest number of days per year. Lord Vishnu appeared here as Sreevallabhan for sage Durvasa and Khandakarnan. Pleased by prayers of an old Brahmin lady Sreevallabhan incarnated as a brahmachari and killed the demon Thokalaasuran. Later the deity of Sreevallabhan worshipped by Lakshmi and Krishna has been installed in the temple in 59 BC. From then till date, the temple follows its own worship protocol that is known to be followed nowhere else yet. Sage Durvasa and Saptarishi are said to reach the temple every midnight for worshipping the Lord. The temple had governed one of the biggest educational institutions in ancient time and heavily contributed to the cultural and educational developments of KeralaSripada Sri Vallabha
Sripada Srivallabha (Sanskrit: श्रीपाद श्रीवल्लभ) was an Indian guru of Dattatreya tradition (sampradaya) who is regarded as the first incarnation of Lord Dattatreya. He was born and lived in Pithapuram, a town in present-day Andhra Pradesh in India. He is considered one of the first complete Avatars (incarnations) of the deity Dattatreya in Kali Yuga.Surdas
Surdas (IAST: Sūr, Devanagari: सूर) was a 16th-century blind Hindu devotional poet and singer, who was known for his lyrics written in praise of Krishna. They are usually written in Braj Bhasa, one of the two literary dialects of Hindi.
Surdas is usually regarded as having taken his inspiration from the teachings of Vallabha Acharya, whom he is supposed to have met in 1510. There are many stories about him, but most consideringly he is said to be blind from his birth. He is said to have become foremost among the poets the Vallabha Sampradaya designates as its Aṣṭachāp (eight seals), following the convention that each poet affixes his oral signature called chap at the end of each composition. However, the absence of Vallabha Acharya from early poems of Surdas and the awkward story of their meeting suggests that Surdas was an independent poet.He was a blind by birth[as said].
The book Sur Sagar (Sur's Ocean) is traditionally attributed to Surdas. However, many of the poems in the book seem to be written by later poets in Sur's name. The Sur Sagar in its present form focuses on descriptions of Krishna as a lovable child, written from the gopis' perspective. Surdas was a great religious singer.Vallabhapuram
Vallabhapuram is a shrine of Lord Sri Paada Sri Vallabha, and is located in Telangana, India. This temple was built and organised by Guru Sri Vittalananda Saraswathi Maharaj (also known as Sri Vital Baba Ji), and he runs the ashram. There are temples relevant to the gods "Dattatreya Swamy", Anagha Devi, "Kala Bhairava" and "Gayatri Mata".
The shrine is on the bank of the Krishna River, close to the border of Andhra Pradesh. On the opposite bank of the river lies Kuruvapuram, a place in Karnataka state where Lord Sri Pada Sri Vallabha used to meditate under a banyan tree.Vallabharaja
Vallabha-raja (r. c. 1008 CE) was an Indian king who ruled parts of present-day Gujarat. He was a member of the Chaulukya (also called Chalukya or Solanki) dynasty. He ruled for less than a year, and died of smallpox while marching against an enemy.Yamunacharya
Yamunacharya also known as Alavandar and Periya Mudaliar was a Vishistadvaita philosopher in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu, India. Ramanuja, one of the leaders of the srivaishnava school sought to be his disciple. He was born in early 10th century CE and was the grandson of a Brahmin, Nathamuni. Nathamuni was a famed yogi who collected to the works of Tamil alvars. Alavandar's birth star was Uttiradam.