▪ Hindu philosopher
also called Vallabhācārya
born 1479, Benares, Jaunpur, India
died 1531, Benares

      Hindu philosopher and founder of the important devotional sect the Vallabhācāryas, also known as the puṣṭimārga (“the way of prosperity, or well-being”).

      Born to a Telegu Brahman family, Vallabha showed precocity in spiritual and intellectual matters from an early age. He initiated his first disciple in 1493 at Mathura, which became the centre of his activities, though he undertook several pilgrimages throughout India, propagating his doctrine of bhakti (devotion) to the god Krishna. It was near Mathura, at the foot of Mount Govardhana, that Vallabha discovered the central cult object of the sect, an image of Krishna called Śrī-Nāthajī.

      Vallabhācārya (ācārya, “teacher”) himself belonged to the Rudra sect established by Viṣṇusvāmin, and his philosophical system of pure nondualism (śuddhādvaita)—i.e., the identity of God and the universe—closely follows that of the Viṣṇusvāmin tradition. God is worshiped not by fasting and physical austerities but by love of him and of the universe. Salvation arises only by virtue of the grace of God. In order to receive divine love, the devotee must surrender himself wholly (samarpaṇa) to God's gift of love.

      Vallabha was married and had two sons, though he became a sannyāsin (ascetic) shortly before his death. His son Viṭṭhala succeeded him as head of the Vallabhācārya sect.

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Universalium. 2010.

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