Vallabhacarya


    Sri Vallabhacarya was born in the sacred forest of Camparanya in Madhya Pradesh, Central India. Born into a very learned family of brahmanas from South India, he spent much of his early life in North India, in the holy city of Varanasi. Born with great innate abilities, Vallabhacarya mastered all the Vedas, Puranas and Agamas by the tender age. By the age eleven he was already preaching and winning debates on principles which were later consolidated as Brahmavada.

    Following in the footsteps of the great sages before him, he decided to circumambulate the motherland and visit all the sacred sites in India. In his lifetime, Sri Vallabhacarya completed three and a half such journeys around India.

    Impressing learned pundits and scholars around India, Vallabhacarya came to the South Indian empire of King Krsnadev Rai. The court at Vidyanagar was debating the merits of various Vedic philosophies. The heated debate seemed at a dead-lock and no one seemed to have answers that would satisfy the king. Sri Vallabhacarya came into the debate at this point and within seven days won the arguments for his philosophy of visuddhadvaita.

    Immensely impressed by the young man's intelligence and clarity of thought, the assembled pundits and the Krsnadev Rai announced him as an "Acarya" and offered him 7,000 gold coins as a gift. Ever mindful of the dangers of hoarding wealth, Sri Vallabhacarya gave away a bulk of the wealth to the assembled brahmanas. A portion was sent to his uncle to settle the debts incurred by his father, a small portion was set aside to care for his aging mother and out of the seven thousand gold coins, he only kept seven coins for making jewelry for the icons in his shrine.

    Later, when in central India, Vallabhacarya had a vision of the Lord requesting him to come over towards the Vraj in Western India. Vallabhacarya arrived in Vraj during the holy month of Sravana. The Lord revealed Himself to him on the 11th day of the bright fortnight of Sravana.

    In accordance with the Lord's wishes, he set up a small shrine for the Lord and requested his old teacher, Sri Madhavendra Yati, to carry out the worship of the Lord whilst he carried on with his pilgrimage. Later Sri Vitthal-Nathji of Pandharpur in Maharastra commanded Vallabhacarya to marry. Vallabhacarya married Srimati MahaLaksmi and sired two sons.

    After his marriage Vallabhacarya set up his household at Adel, near the holy confluence of Ganges, Jamuna and the Sarasvati rivers. This was an ideal place, as it was halfway between Varanasi and Vraj, the two most important places in Vallabhacarya's life.

    Vallabhacarya taught his disciples to develop a very intensely personal relationship with God. Be this in the form of parent - child, friends, lovers, etc. These relationships should not be tainted by any selfish motives. Not even the motive to "see" what the God looks like in all His glory! The Lord will do as He sees fit. If he wants to show Himself, He will. Who are we to demand such a boon? The main idea is that one should not ask anything of the Lord.

    Just before the birth of his elder son he had a vision of Balarama and Krsna (as toddlers) coming to play with him on the banks of the river Yamuna. From then he regarded Balarama and Krsna as his children and worshiped them accordingly. Though housed at Adel, the increasing duties of the dynamic acarya required him to keep a household at
Varanasi and Vraj in addition to the house at Adel. Sri Mahaprabhu recited the Srimad Bhagavata Purana at 84 sacred sites around India spread out from the heights of the Himalaya, at Kedar Nath, to the Southern-most tip of India at Ramesvara. Of all the sacred sites he visited, Sri Vallabha was also a regular visitor to Jagannath Puri, Dvaraka and Dakor.

    The fame and respect for Sri Vallabhacarya grew with years. When his sons were old enough to manage the affair of the house and the sampradaya, acarya renounced the world. Soon after, he immersed his earthly body in the holy waters of the Ganges.

    Sri Vallabhacharya's political acumen and oratory won him admirers from far and wide. He had excellent connections at the Mogul court of Emperor Akbar. Akbar's chief wife, Queen Jodha, was a disciple of Sri Vallabhacarya. The emperor was also a guest of the Vallabhacarya on several occasions. Many imperial proclamations and decrees were made
to honor the house of Sri Vallabhacarya. Several members of the imperial court were members of his sampradaya. The farsighted leader growing group reciprocated by visiting the imperial court on occasions. One of his seven sons became a permanent member of the imperial retinue and the cordial relations between the sampradaya and the court carried over into the reign of Emperor Jahangir.

[This article and more information at  www.stephen-knapp.com]

horizontal rule

[Home page] [Back to Biographies of Saints and Sages list]