Vallabhācārya


Vallabhācārya

▪ Hindu sect
      school of Hinduism prominent among the merchant class of North and West India; its members are worshipers of Lord Krishna (Kṛṣṇa) and followers of the puṣṭimārga (“way of prosperity, or well-being”), founded by the 16th-century teacher Vallabha.

      The worship of the sect centres around the adventures of the youthful Krishna, whose amorous play with the gopīs (wives and daughters of the cowherds) of Vṛndāvana are described in the 10th book of the Sanskrit classic, the Bhāgavata-Purāṇa. Daily worship consists of elaborate service to the daily activities god. Special festivals are celebrated according to the seasons of the year, events of Krishna's life, and anniversaries of the sect's founders, Vallabha and his son Viṭṭhala. Participation in the highest form of bhakti (devotion) is attainable only through divine grace (puṣṭi); personal efforts such as good deeds or religious observances are not essential.

      The Vallabhācārya sect is renowned for the degree of devotion paid its gurus (spiritual leaders), who are considered earthly embodiments of the divine. Vallabha was succeeded as leader of the sect by his son Viṭṭhala (also known as Gosāinjī), and he in turn by his seven sons, each of whom established his own separate temple. The descendants of the seven sons of Viṭṭhala are the present leaders of the sect and are addressed by the title Mahārāja or Mahārāja Gosāinjī.

      The main temple of the sect is at Nāthdwārā (Rājasthān), in Gujarāt state, which has installed in it a distinctive image of Krishna called Śrī-Nāthajī, which, according to the tradition of the sect, revealed itself to Vallabha when he was visiting Govardhana Hill, a scene of one of the god's exploits.

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Universalium. 2010.

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