Vallabhacharya is a reckoned name amongst the five main acharyas who led the bhakti movement in India during middle-ages. He is also fondly known as Mahaprabhuji. A religious philosopher, he is credited with establishing Pushtimarg – ‘the path of grace’, for Vaishanavas in Hindu religion. Born at Champaranya, Raipur in Madhya Pradesh, into a Telugu Brahmin house-hold in 1479 A.D., Vallabhacharya adopted the path of ‘Loving Lord Krishna’ during his early age and later became the advocate of shuddhadvaita philosophy -‘Pure non-dualism’.
He is believed to be an incarnation of Agni – the fire god, who was born to the couple – Lakshman and Illamagaru Bhatta. As a result of the Muslim invasion during that time, the couple decided to shift to their native in Kakarwad to avoid religion conversion. However Illamagaru gave birth to Vallabhacharya in Raipur during their travel. It is said that the baby was born still and the disheartened couple left it under a tree to continue their travel ahead. It was Lord Krishna who appeared in Lakshman’s dream asking him to go look for the child again. Upon their return to the tree, they found the child alive and kicking, in the middle of fire ring with petals of flowers showering over him.
Vallabhacharya aced all the religious scriptures like Vedas, Puranas, Smriti, Tantra and various other religious philosophies like yoga, Buddhism, Jainism and so on, at a tender age of 11. At the same age, he set out for a Bharat Parikarma, visiting remote villages, only wearing a dhoti and upvastra and offering seva to Thakorji – a form of Lord Krishna. At age 12, Mahaprabhuji reached Jagannath Puri, where the king had held a debate over four religious questions for Pandits and Acharyas. The questions included – Which is the best scripture? Who is the supreme of all gods? Which is a best mantra? And what is the best duty to perform. Most scholarly Pandits present were stumped by the questions. Unable to find answers, king turned to Mahaprabhuji, who answered all questions. Yet feeling challenged, other Pandits mocked him saying they would accept the answers if Lord Jagannath himself answered these questions, He wrote them on a piece of paper and closed the doors of the temple after placing the paper in front of the Lord Jagannath’s idol. When the doors opened the following day, the king found the same answers on the piece of paper stating that Gita is the best scripture, Lord Krishna is the supreme god, Krishna mantra is the best mantra and service to Lord Krishna is the best duty.
Another victory was at the debate of Vijaynagar, where king Krushnadevray summoned his court and Pandits to delve on the opting dualism and non-dualism. Vallabhacharya was bestowed the title of ‘Jagadguru’ after establishing ‘Shuddhadvaita Bhramavad Philosophy’.
During his entire lifetime he wrote many literary works including ‘Shodash Granth’ – 16 individual granths. He undertook the arduous task of familiarising people with Gita. He is said to have undertaken 3 Bharat Parikarmas and offered discourses on Bhagvad Gita at 84 locations. These locations are now popular pilgrim places amongst Vaishanavas known as ‘Chauraisi Ghat’. Devoting his entire life to Lord Krishna, he narrated epics like Madhurakshtam and Yamnashtak which are jewels of praises and prayers for Krishna and Yamunaji.
Vallabhacharya laid a cornerstone for Vaishnav Sampraday and its philosophy as a way of life, with his continuous efforts to lead people to realise god by the way of spontaneous, motiveless and selfless love and devotion to Lord Krishna.