• By Bhailalbhai N. Shastri
  • June 12, 2024
  • This brief article tells about the thoughts and teachings of Sri Vallacharya. It includes Bhakti, devotion to Sri Krishna, dualism, what is Pushtimarga , practical aspects and comparison with Sankara.  

Among the galaxy of Indian philosophers who have enriched from time to time the intellectual and spiritual life of this sacred land, the place of Sri Vallabhacharya is unique.


Sri Vallabhacharya was born at Champaranya in 1479 A.D. The period covered by his lifetime was pregnant with momentous changes in the political and religious history of India. The social organisation of the people was considerably weakened both by foreign aggressions and internal dissentions. There was lack of political unity, cohesion and compactness among the Hindu rulers who were, by virtue of their weakness and want of farsightedness, unable to save India from impending danger to her colonisation.


As regards religion, the pristine purity of Vedic religion was not to be seen at all. Mechanical and blind performance of Vedic ritual without understanding the underlying significance thereof had stifled the spontaneous and natural flow of the spiritual consciousness of the people at large. Religious fanaticism, soulless formalism, black magic and narrow sectarianism had taken the place of true religion. Bitter antagonism, jealousies and constant bickering prevailed among the followers of different theological schools.


First published in Journal of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.


India needed a great personality endowed with supra-consciousness and a synthetic vision of life to purge Hinduism of its impurities and encrustations and to bring out the essence of the Vedas and Upanishads before the groping humanity.


The philosophical system of Sri Vallabhacharya is known as Shuddhadvaita Brahmavada or pure non-dualism.


From the point of view of Shuddhadvaita, the world is a manifestation of Brahman and as such it is real and meaningful. The world is not to be shunned as a work of nascence, rather it is to be considered as an expression of the divine will. It is in and through this Jagat that an aspirant has to work out his own salvation. Renunciation of the world cannot be prescribed for all and sundry. For the generality of the people, it is as impossible to give up this world as it is for water to run up the hill. Further in the light of Shuddhadvaita philosophy, the world is transformed and spiritualised. It is to be utilised for the intensification of our spiritual life.


God is the material and efficient cause of the universe, jagat is the manifestation of the Sat aspect of Brahman, while individual souls are of the nature of consciousness. The jivas are devoid of bliss.


Absolute non-dualism of Shankara accepts the reality of Brahman only and asserts the illusory character of jiva and jagat. To Vallabha, who is a true Vedantin, the world is real and meaningful. The individual souls are parts of Brahman. Jivas are born like sparks from a blazing fire.


God willed to be many and He multiplied Himself, as the Shruti says. Maya or Avidya has no locus standi in Shuddhadvaita Brahmavada. When the scriptures speak of the Maya of Brahman, it means the inherent power of Brahman, the power of spontaneous creativity. It means the energy or potency of God, which brings into existence the cosmos.


The practical aspect of Shuddhadvaita is known as Pushtimarga or the path of Divine Grace. In this path, dedication of life to the lotus-feet of Lord Sri Krishna is enjoined. Sri Krishna is the Highest Divinity in this Marga. Pushtimarga believes in a Personal Real, underlying all phenomena. At any rate, in the eye of Pushtimarga there is no difference between Saguna and Nirguna Brahman. God as a mere philosophic abstraction is a concept foreign to Pushtimarga. God of Pushtimarga is a concrete reality—a living presence with whom a devotee can enjoy eternal bliss. 


Spontaneous and ceaseless flow of love towards God constitutes the means and end in Pushtimarga. The pursuit of Nirguna Bhaktimarga is not conditional on external factors for its efficacy. The assumption is that love towards God comes from within and not from without. The mercy of God is vital to the sprouting of the sentiment of love.


According to Sri Vallabh, Lord Sri Krishna is the Supreme Reality which is both Saguna and Nirguna. Brahman is the repository of all divine qualities. Saguna means endowed with divine qualities, whereas Nirguna means devoid of earthly qualities, which undergo modification. In other words, there is no difference between Saguna and Nirguna Brahman. God is of the essence of Rasa.

BHAKTI or the supreme love of God is the means of realising God. According to Sri Vallabhacharya, Nirguna Bhakti is the highest form of devotion. A total devotee believes that God is everything and becomes an instrument of divine dispensation. His life vibrates with the living faith in God. He sees God in all and all in God. Sri Vallabh recognises the primacy of the path of Bhakti over Jnanamarga and Karmamarga. The highest aspiration of a devotee is to be united with God in His eternal Lila.

To attain the highest ideal of Para Bhakti, Lord Sri Krishna should be worshipped with all one’s heart and soul. Steadfast devotion is the easiest way for God-realisation. Lord Sri Krishna says, “Those who being wholly devoted to Me and surrendering all actions to Me, worship Me, meditating on Me with undivided Yoga are speedily rescued from the ocean of birth and death.” 

Pushtimarga is the religion to acquire the grace of God. Everybody has a right to follow this spiritual path. His love knows no terrestrial jurisdiction. No one is debarred from the Marga by virtue of his caste, sex or nationality. The sine qua non of the Marga is unswaying love towards God. The votaries of Pushtimarga are exhorted to dedicate their lives to service of Lord Sri Krishna for the highest fruit.

Sri Vallabhacharya was a prophet of love. He preached absolute surrender to Lord Sri Krishna. He showed us the true significance of life—a life spiritualised by pure love and selfless devotion to God. 

The ethical aspect of Pushtimarga puts a great emphasis on the fundamental necessity of living a simple, pure and guileless life. No progress worth the name is possible unless the mind is cleansed of the egoistic impulses and baser passions of life. A mighty spiritual life regulated and reinforced by self-control, non-attachment and disinterested performance of duties is an absolute necessity in this Marga. Any laxity in the observance of the rules of normal conduct is highly condemnable from the standpoint of Pushtimargiya ethics.

Thus it will be seen that Pushtimarga stands for an attitude of life in which all differences of colour, creed and sex fade away; it unites all into a common bond of love, harmony and social service. The teachings of Sri Vallabhacharya, if faithfully practised, will go a long way in establishing a new era of universal peace among mankind.


This article was first published in the Bhavan’s Journal, 16-31 May 2024 issue. This article is courtesy and copyright Bhavan’s Journal, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai-400007. eSamskriti has obtained permission from Bhavan’s Journal to share. Do subscribe to the Bhavan’s Journal – it is very good.


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4. Acharya Sankara Delineator of India

5. About Bhakti Movement

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