In This Article Vallabha

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Art and Sevā
  • Food and Sevā
  • Other Historical Sources
  • The Puṣṭi Mārga between the 16th and 18th Centuries
  • The Puṣṭi Mārga in the Nineteenth Century
  • Miscellaneous Studies

Hinduism Vallabha
by
Shandip Saha
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 November 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399318-0160

Introduction

Vallabha or Vallabhācārya (b. 1479–d. 1531) was the founder of the theistic school of Vedānta known as Pure Non-Dualism or Śuddhādvaita Vedānta. Vallabha’s philosophy proclaimed Kṛṣṇa as the fullest manifestation of Ultimate Reality (brahman) and became the philosophical basis for a devotional (bhakti) community that enjoined devotees to live a householder life built around a single-minded devotion to Kṛṣṇa and a complete reliance on his grace (puṣṭi). This community founded by Vallabha thus came to be known both as the Vallabha Community (Vallabha Sampradāya) and the Path of Grace (Puṣṭi Mārga). Vallabha’s male descendants, known as mahārājas, were responsible for the growth of the community after Vallabha’s death. During the 16th and 17th centuries, they were responsible for creating the community’s structure of religious authority as well as the development of the temple rituals (sevā) and devotional literature that are still used by devotees in the 21st century. The mahārājas were also responsible in the 18th century for the community’s migration from north India to western India where it flourished under the patronage of Rājpūt noblemen and the mercantile communities of Gujarat. In the 19th century, the lavish lifestyle of the mahārājas would leave the Puṣṭi Mārga vulnerable to the polemics of Hindu reformers who characterized the community’s teachings as endorsing sexual immorality. This distortion of the Sampradāya’s teachings explains why it attracted so little attention in scholarly circles well into the early decades of the 20th century. The last two decades have witnessed a renewed interest in studying the Vallabha Sampradāya, but many texts still remain untranslated, and scholarly studies still seem far and few between. This article is designed to provide a balanced introduction to the literature on the Sampradāya from both academic and sectarian perspectives. The texts in this bibliography consist of primary sources written by Vallabha and his successors, translation of these sources, and various studies of the community written in English and Indian languages. In the case of Indian language sources, care has been taken to ensure that these selections are available through academic lending libraries, online archives, or through online booksellers. It is hoped that this article will help to stimulate future interest in the still-developing field of what will be called “Vallabhite Studies”: the field of scholarship devoted to the study of the philosophy, devotional literature, ritual practices, and institutional history of the Puṣṭi Mārga or Vallabha Sampradāya.

General Overviews

Given the relatively new area of Vallabhite studies in Western academic circles, there have not been any general, comprehensive overviews of the Vallabha Sampradāya. Studies, instead, have focused on aspects of the community’s philosophical and theological beliefs or on aspects of its ritual life as it has been performed at Nathdwara, the Sampradāya’s principal center for pilgrimage. From a scholarly perspective, the only single volume introduction to the philosophy, ritual, theology, and history of the community is Bennett 1993. For an English overview as written by a practitioner, the most accessible is Shyamdas 2004.

  • Bennett, Peter. The Path of Grace: Social Organization and Temple Worship in a Vaishnava Sect. Delhi: Hindustan, 1993.

    E-mail Citation »

    Uses fieldwork on the Puṣṭi Mārga in Ujjain to provide a comprehensive introduction to Vallabhite philosophy, ritual, and institutional history. This book remains the only single- volume overview to the Sampradāya and thus an essential reference work in Vallabhite Studies.

  • Shyamdas. The Path of Grace. Kota, India: Pratham Peeth, 2004.

    E-mail Citation »

    A single-volume introduction to the Sampradāya written from a devotional perspective by the late Shyamdas (b. 1953–d. 2013), a prominent American convert to the community.

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