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Vallabha


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(1479–1531)

The founder of the Vaiṣṇava bhakti path, the Puṣṭimārga, also known as the Vallabhasampradāya, or Śuddhādvaita school. According to the hagiographies, he was born into a family of Telugu brahmins, and spent his childhood receiving a Vedic education in Vārāṇasī. Thereafter he became an intinerant teacher and debater, formulating his Śuddhādvaita theology, said to be derived from the no longer extant Vedāntin tradition of Viṣṇusvāmin. He was devoted to Śrī Nāthjī, a form of Kṛṣṇa which had partially manifested itself out of a crack in Govardhana hill (near Braj) at the beginning of the 15th century, only to make a complete appearance to coincide with the birth of Vallabha himself. He subsequently declared it to be a svarūpa (‘own form’), i.e. an actual, embodied form of the deity. Vallabha is said to have married on Kṛṣṇa's instructions, producing two sons to act as his spiritual successors, Gopīnātha (who died young) and Viṭṭalanātha. Shortly before his death in Vārāṇasī, Vallabha became a saṃnyāsin. Over eighty Sanskrit works are attributed to him, including commentaries on the Bhāgavata Purāṇa and the Brahmasūtras.

Subjects: Hinduism.


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