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While he was visiting the great Balaji temple during his first pilgrimage, he heard about a conference at Vijaynagar, a stronghold of Vedic dharma. It was a debate between the followers of Shri Shankar Acharya and the Vaishnavites of Shri Madhva Acharya. The controversy had been going on for some time and the Beloved felt it was his duty to uphold the devotional view. Shri Vallabh set out for the great southern Vedic kingdom where his uncle held a position as king Krishnadeva’s high priest. Upon arriving there, even though he was only eleven, the young Vallabh was allowed to participate in the debate. Vyas Tirth presided over the discussion.

Despite his age, Shri Vallabh’s view was spiritually mature. He based his teachings on the Vedas, Brahmasutra, Upanisadas, Gita, as well as the Shrimad Bhagavatam and explained that the “Gayatri is the seed, the Vedas are the tree and the Bhagavata is the fruit.” The Bhagavat contains the lilas of Shri Krishna and is therefore most beloved to him. Shri Vallabh was a non-dualist like Shankara, but did not accept Shri Shankar’s view of the universe. He refused the idea that souls are unreal and merely a product of maya. He felt as if Shri Shankar and his followers appeared upon the stage of the world to proclaim that the stage is false. If the stage is false, then so are the players as well as what they say. Their non- dualism was mixed with maya and did not reflect the true non-dualism of the ageless Vedant. Furthermore, it was not conducive to devotion. Shri Vallabh also differed with Shri Ramanuja’s Vishistadvaita philosophy wherein he considered the universe and the soul as Brahman’s qualities. Shri Vallabh saw everything as a pure part and parcel of Brahman, full of God’s being and consciousness. Shri Vallabh also opposed the great Vaishnava Acharya Shri Madhva. Shri Madhva was a dualist and accepted Brahman as a creator, yet considered the universe and the soul as different from Brahman whereas Shri Vallabh only saw unqualified Brahman everywhere he looked.

Shri Vallabh explained to the assembled Vedic practitioners in front of king Krishnadeva, “The Upanisadas teach a pure non- dual view. This is the correct view of Brahman and is in consonance with all scriptures. God is real in every form. Maya is not in objects, but exists only in faulty perception like when a dizzy person sees a stable pot spinning. The pot is real, but the spinning aspect of the pot is a product of maya, it is an illusion. In a similar way, the world is a perfect result and maya arises when we do not see it properly. Maya misconstrues the view of the ideal real world. To consider the world as false or mayic is contrary to the spirit of the Vedant. The only time the world is ever mentioned as being mayic is to enforce a sense of detachment from worldliness in the practitioner, otherwise it is quite clear that the world is God’s creation. It is only ignorance that makes it appear otherwise.

“ Understand my point with reference to the Ganges river. She has three forms and all of them are real. One form of the Ganges is comprised of water, the second is a holy place of pilgrimage, while the third form of the Ganges is the divine goddess. The river Ganges is seen by all, Her holy aspect is known to those who have faith and knowledge, while her goddess form is known only to those who love her and see a unity between her water, her holy pilgrimage aspect and her divine form. In a similar way, Brahman has three forms. Brahman manifests as the world, as well as the unmanifested source of creation (the goal of the Yogi’s abstract meditation) and as the divine Krishna who is known by those who have attained not only wisdom, but have developed a firm and all-encompassing love that is felt in every atom of creation. For them alone Krishna appears everywhere.

“The followers of Shri Shankar have distorted the Vedant in order to popularize their own theory which actually follows certain Buddhist views and not the pure teachings of the Upanisadas. The Upanisada claim, “This is all Brahman” and inspire us when they reveal, “He is comprised of pure nectar. Whoever knows this becomes fearless.” Brahman manifests creation because Brahman did not feel totally complete until He became many. Brahman is devoid of difference, unlimited, and when Brahman is formless His joy is almost perfect, but understand that Brahman’s essential form is Shri Krishna, comprised of perfect truth consciousness and bliss. When knowledge of Brahman is mixed with all-encompassing love, then it becomes devotion. This is the way to liberation. Like impure water that joins the Ganga becomes the Ganga and is no longer considered as pure or impure, but as sacred Ganga, similarly, everything that is offered to God becomes God. After understanding the meaning of scriptures, serious practitioners should serve Shri Krishna with their minds, bodies and speech. Dedication is the way.”

Hearing the young Vallabh’s enlightening words, the entire court rose in applause and offered him the highest seat of honor. He was given the title Acharya and from that day he was known as Shri Vallabhacharya. He was hailed for his great learning and clarity of thought. The king stood up and bowed to him. Shri Vallabh was declared victorious.

In honor of his victory, king Krishnadeva annointed the young Bhakti Master with water from golden vessels and then presented him with many kilos of gold. Shri Vallabh took only seven coins that he later made into ornaments for Shri Krishna and distributed the rest to other brahmins. Shri Vallabhacharya stayed and gave teachings in Vijaynagar for about one year. Vyas Tirth requested him to become head of the Madhva lineage, but he humbly declined.


Shri Vallabhacharya attained fame and power at Vijaynagar, but his interests were non-worldly and he was again inspired to continue his pilgrimage in order to bless the lands and people of India. Shri Vallabhacharya visted Pampa Sarovara, a place sacred to Lord Ram. It was there that the low caste Shabari offered berries to Lord Ram after tasting them to first to make sure they were ripe. When Lord Ram accepted her half eaten offerings, He demonstrated to the world how simple loving devotion can win the grace of God. Pure devotion that sways God’s heart is a repeated theme in Shri Vallabhacharya’s Path of Grace.

Shri Vallabhacharya then continued on to Kumarapada where the yogi Kapalika boasted of his yogic powers, “I can stop the motions of the sun and moon.”

Shri Vallabhacharya calmly replied, “I will believe in your powers if you can get up from your seat.”

When Kapalika could not even stir from his position, he requested Shri Vallabhacharya to withdraw his magical power. The master told him, “I am not aware of any magical power. The only power I have is the name of God. Give up your miraculous powers and believe only in the power of Shri Krishna.”

Shri Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya continued to teach his Path of Grace in many places. At Agala, a place associated with Shri Ramanujacharaya, he was given a warm welcome. He addressed an audience on the nature of Brahmavada, the teaching that holds everything as purely Krishna. In Vishnu Kanchi, at the well known shrine of Shri Varadeswara Shri Vallabhacharya refused to climb the steps that went up to the shrine because they were inscribed with Sanskrit verses from Jayadeva’s Ashtapadi, all in praise of Shri Krishna’s lila. The head priest then arranged for the Bhakti Master to enter the sanctum from another side.

Shri Vallabhacharya’s respect for Krishna’s name and form was at the center of his teachings. He taught his disciples, “A bhakta who has firm attachment to Shri Krishna’s names and divine service (seva) will never be destroyed.”

Shri Vallabhacharya’s Path of Grace is contagious devotion. He taught his followers, “Remember your dedication in the company of other accomplished bhaktas.” Satsang, the holy association with other bhaktas, is the direct path and people from all over India flocked to Shri Vallabhacharya to have his satsang, his enlightened association.

Incidents in the master’s life always turned into teachings. At Padma Tirth, the king asked Shri Vallabhacharya to cure his queen who was possessed by an evil spirit. Shri Vallabhacharya instructed his beloved disciple Damodardas to give her some sacred earth from Vrindavan mixed with water. The evil spirit left her as soon as she took it. Shri Vallabhacharya then explained to the king, “Faith in God is the only protection against evil spirits. They can never enter a devotee.”

His South Indian tour continued on to Udupi, the birth place of Shri Madhvacharya and then to Gokarna before he returned to Vijaynagar where he again met his mother and other relatives. The king and queen requested the young Vallabh to settle down in their kingdom, but his desire to pilgrimage to the North, the eventual seat of his devotion, spurred him onwards.

Other places he visited in South India during his first pilgrimage included Shri Janardhan, where Lord Janardhan left his temple to attend Shri Vallabhacharya’s teachings. Shri Vallabhacharya also visited Shri Rangan, Mount Malayachal and the ashram of the sage Kaudinya.

While Shri Vallabhacharya was in South India in the year 1493 on the eleventh day during the bright half of the month of Phalgun, Shri Krishna appeared as Shri Nathji and told him in Jharakanda, “I have appeared as Shri Nathji in a cave on the Govardhan Hill in north India. You know that the Braja Vasis have seen Me here. I am thinking of appearing in My complete form, but I am waiting for you. Quickly come here and perform My seva. There are some souls here in Braja left over from My Krishna avatar. Take them in your shelter. Only then will I agree to play with them. I will meet you on top of the Govardhan Hill.”

After hearing Shri Nathji’s command, Shri Vallabhacharya set off for Braja in Northern India from Jharakanda. While making his way north he visited the famous temple of Shri Vitthal in Pandharpur, Maharastra and received a special message that was to decide the future direction of his Path of Grace. Shri Krishna, appearing as Lord Vittal, told Shri Vallabhacharya, “You are a great Acharya and not an asectic. As a householder you will preach your message of love more effectively than as an asectic. It is My wish that you marry. When an offer of matrimony comes to you, accept it. Name your younger son after Me. He will continue to embellish the Path of Grace.

Shri Vallabhacharya then continued north to Nasik, Tranbaka and then on to Ujjain, shedding light on the Path of Grace wherever he went. Finally the young Vallabh reached his beloved land of Braja, Shri Krishna’s land of lila, God’s playground. He first went to Mathura and bathed in the Yamuna at Vishranti Ghat. His entrance into the land of Braja, Shri Krishna’s circle of twelve forests was going to further enhance the direction and scope of his divine mission. He chose a Brahmin Choba named Ujagar to help him in Braja and then in Mathura he gave a discourse on the Shrimad Bhagavatam.

One day as Shri Vallabhacharya was going to Vishranti Ghat in Mathura to take his bath, Ujagar Choube informed him, “The Emperor’s minister Rustamalli came to Mathura and got angry with the local Brahmins. He returned to Delhi and had a charm made and attached it to the gate by Vishranti Ghat where a Muslim guard sits. Any Hindu who passes under the gate loses his tuft of hair, and immediately grows a Muslim type of beard. That spell has stopped all Hindus from bathing at the ghat.”

Shri Mahaprabhuji then created his own charm and attached it to a piece of paper and told his disciples Vasudevadas and Krishnadas, “Go to Delhi and attach this charm to the main gate there.”

They went to Delhi and as soon as they attached Shri Vallabhacharya’s charm, any Muslim that walked beneath it lost his beard and suddenly grew a tuft of hair like a Hindu. The emperor, Sikandar Lodi, heard of the troublesome spell and summoned Vasudevadas and Krishnadas. When they explained the entire situation to the Emperor, he immediately had the spell removed from Mathura and told Rustamalli, “Don’t be so intimidated by petty taunts.”

Shri Vallabhacharya rarely demonstrated any supernatural powers for he only believed in devotional powers. When he went to the Yamuna river, he bowed his head happily before the divine Yamuna Goddess and sang her praises in the form of Yamunashtak.

The Bhakti Master was not interested in the manipulation of matter, but in the transformation of the being so that the sensitive lover of God can strenghthen her love for Shri Krishna. Her strong sense of love allows her to participate in His love games and feel His Presence everywhere. Shri Vallabhacharya explains to his followers,

“Only Hari can cause the awakening. It occurs after the experiences of renunciation, knowledge, yoga, austerity and devotion.

Renunciation in the Path of Grace does not embrace any negations of the world. It is spontaneous and derived from unflinching love and devotion to Shri Krishna. It is through all-encompassing love that other attachments are naturally shed without a trace of resentment.

“Knowledge for these blessed bhaktas appears when they have the intuitive and direct experience of Shri Krishna’s divine form. Yoga is not a meditative exercise, but a one-pointed yoking of one’s heart and mind directly to Shri Krishna. It is not based upon any practice, but upon Krishna.

Tapa or austerity is perfected when one feels Shri Krishna’s presence and then His separation. Separation is a result of direct contact with Brahman. Separation is Krishna in the heart while union is Krishna in the world. Know that union and separation are the two sides of the single petal of Love.

“When there is devotion, all other pursuits are naturally renounced, including the desire for liberation or enlightenment. What is there to be liberated from when the Lord of enlightenment chases after His bhaktas?”

Beloved Vallabh admired Shri Yamuna’s water. Dark like Krishna with expansive sands shining bright like Krishna’s lotus feet. He smelled Yamuna’s waters, made fragrant by flowers from the lovely forests that graced her banks. He felt that Shri Yamuna contains the splendor of Shri Krishna. This inspired the master to follow her waters downstream a few miles to Gokul.

Remembering what Shri Nathji had told him in South India,

Shri Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya then proceeded from Gokul to the Govardhan Hill and reached Saddu Pande’s house in Anyore. Many local Braja Vasis came to see the him and thought, “He is truly a great soul.”

Suddenly, Shri Nathji called from the top of the Govardhan Hill and Shri Vallabhacharya overheard Him say to Saddu Pande’s daughter Naro , “O Naro, bring Me some milk.”

Naro replied, “Today we have a guest.”

“Good for the guest, but could you bring Me some milk please.”

After giving Shri Nathji His milk, she brought down His bowl that contained some of His leftover milk and Shri Mahparabhui Vallabhacharya said, “Please give me some of that leftover milk.”

Naro replied, “Maharaja, we have alot of milk in the house. Take as much as you like.”

“I am not interested in any other milk, just what is in that bowl.”

Saddu Pande then told Shri Vallabhacharya all about Shri Nathji’s appearance and the Bhakti Master’s heart filled with joy. On the following day, Shri Vallabhacharya joyfully climbed up the Govardhan Hill and Shri Nathji greeted Shri Vallabhacharya with a warm embrace. Shri Vallabhacharya then established Shri Nathji’s daily worship on top of the Govardhan hill for he knew that without seva, there is no entrance into the Path of Grace.

Nearby, next to the Apsara Lake, there is a cave where the great bhakta Ramdas lived. Shri Mahaprabhuji went there and after Ramdas become his disciple, the guru told him, “Perform Shri Nathji’s seva.”

“I don’t know anything about seva.” Said Ramdas.

“Don’t worry, Shri Nathji will teach you.”

Shri Mahaprabhuji then had a peacock feather crown prepared and made Shri Nathji’s ornamentation. He later instructed Ramdas in the arts of seva and explained to him, “Everyday after you bathe in the Govinda Lake, take a pot of water and bathe Shri Nathji. Then put some clothes on Him just as I have done. Adorn Shri Nathji with a peacock feather crown and and a gunja bead necklace. Whatever you are able to attain through His wish, prepare it and offer it to Shri Nathji. The Braja residents will bring their milk and curds for offering.”

Shri Mahaprabhuji then told Saddu Pande and the other Braja residents, “Shri Nathji is my all and everything. Remain attached to His seva and be ever ready to react to any complication. Most of all, keep Shri Nathji happy.”

Then with his own hands, Shri Vallabhacharya prepared an offering of cooked grains. Until that day, Shri Nathji had only taken milk and curds. After Shri Vallabhacharya cooked Shri Nathji His first meal, the Blessed Lord started to grab food from the Braja Vasis’s lunch boxes as they went out to herd their cows.

In the year 1499 during the second day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra, Shri Nathji appeared in Purnamall’s dream and told him, “Come to Braja and build a large temple for Me.”

He gathered his wealth and left his town of Ambalya and travelled to the Govarhdan Hill where Shri Mahaprabhuji told him, “Yes quickly build the temple.

Shri Mahaprabhuji asked the Govardhan Hill if He would mind if a temple was constructed upon the sacred stones. The Govardhan Hill replied, “Shri Nathji always resides in My heart. I will not be troubled. With pleasure, construct the temple.

When a design was brought for Shri Nathji’s temple, Shri Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya noticed the temple towers and told Hiramani, the designer to make another design without any towers. When the second design also included two towers, Shri Mahaprabhuji again told Hiramani to make a third design without any temple towers. When the third design came, it also had temple towers. Shri Mahaprabhuji told Damodardas, “It must be Shri Nathji’s wish to have a temple with towers on it. Shri Nathji will stay in this temple for a while, but when conflict with the Mughals arises, Shri Nathji will move west. He will stay there for some time and will again return to Braja to live by Punchari on the south end of the Govardhan Hill.”

It was Shri Nathji’s wish that His temple along with its towers be built and seen by all. While Shri Vallabhacharya perferred to live in isolation, Shri Nathji was the uplifter of not only divine souls, but of all souls. For the time being Shri Nathji played with his local bhaktas and waited twenty years for His temple to be finally completed. Then Shri Mahaprabhuji returned to Braja and established Shri Nathji in His new temple in the year 1519 on the third day of the bright half of the month of Vaishaka.

Shri Vallabhacharya loved living in Shri Krishna’s Braja. Mahaprabhuji’s followers called him, “The One who adores Braja.” Shri Krishna’s lilas, the focus of Shri Vallabhacharya’s teachings could easily be felt in the sacred forests of Vrindavan and Shri Vallabhacharya revelled there in Shri Krishna’s constant divine presence.

After Shri Nathji began to reside in His new temple, Shri Vallabhacharya blessed Purnamall, “Ask anything you desire from me.”

Purnamall replied, “I would like to offer Shri Nathji some very fine sandalwood oil with my own hands.”

“Happily offer your oil.”

Then Shri Mahaprabhuji adorned Shri Nathji with clothes and ornaments. On that day, the joy experienced there was ineffable. There was a huge festival. Afterwards, Shri Mahaprabhuji put Madhavendrapuri in charge of the worship and appointed his disciple Krishnadas, as manager. Kumbhandas was the temple singer. Shri Mahaprabhuji told them what foods should be offered to Shri Nathji daily and Saddu Pande made sure that the necessary ingredients were delivered to the temple.

On the day before Shri Mahaprabhuji was going to leave, Shri Nathji told him, “I want a cow.”

“I will arrange for one.”

Shri Vallabhacharya then told Saddu Pande, “Shri Nathji wants a cow. Sell this golden ring of mine and purchase a cow for Shri Nathji with the money.”

Saddu Pande replied, “I have so many cows and buffaloes. They are all yours. Just tell me how many cows you want.”

“If you give your cows to Shri Nathji then I have not truly given Him any. So sell my ring and purchase a cow for Shri Nathji!”

Saddu Pande purchased a cow and brought her before Shri Nathji. He was very pleased. When all the Braja Vasis heard that Shri Nathji loves cows, one by one they all started to present Shri Nathji with cows. Someone gave Shri Nathji four cows and someone else gave Him eight. Many people gifted Shri Nathji cows and His herd grew into thousands. Shri Mahaprabhuji started to call Shri Nathji “Gopal”.

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