When Joy and Supreme Bliss incarnated as His face, a flow of immeasureable grace descended to enlighten divine souls. He became the Beloved, Shri Vallabh. This Beloved Vallabh, knower of the inner Veda, son of Lakshman Bhatt, became a sun to the lotus of devotion. When its petals opened, the fragrance of bhakti, the adoring practice became available to those who could fathom the call. They became Shri Krishna’s beloveds. Come join us as we take a look into Shri Vallabh’s life and lila. His Path is Grace-filled and his principles profound. Compassion is the seed and Nectar is the reward. Beloved Vallabh has appeared as Krishna’s own face.
When there is need for spiritual adjustment in this world, that is, when the paths of dharma and devotion are covered with the impurities of this age of strife, an incarnation or wonderful saint arrives to make the world an easier place to experience His remarkable Presence. Shri Krishna promises in the Gita, “Whenever anti-dharma forces prevail, I take birth again and again, for the establishment of dharma.”
During the times of Shri Vallabhacharya’s appearance, northern India had been conquered by the Mughals. The Vedic dharmas were in distress. Shri Vallabhacharya explained the situation precisely, “All the spiritual paths have been destroyed in India. Hypocrisy is rampant.”
The paths of loving devotion had become obscure, the holy places filled with business-minded people, the mantras ineffective and the devas no longer visible. It was time for Shri Krishna’s face to appear as Shri Vallabh, the giver of the priceless award, the extremely generous one who would not be understood by those devoted to physical matter. The scene was ready and the time was ripe for the Beloved Sun of Devotion to arrive for the benefit of the pure-hearted.
Shri Vallabhacharya’s forefathers were from Kakarwad, a town on the southern banks of the Krishna river in present day Andhra Pradesh. Their family name was Vellanadu. Shri Vallabh’s father was Lakshman Bhatt, a devout Brahmin who performed Soma Sacrifices as his ancestors had done. Shri Yajnarnarayan Bhatt, Lakshman Bhatt’s great, great grandfather began the family practice of performing Soma Sacrifices. He was charitable to his people. During the course of one Soma Sacrifice, a Svarupa, the very image of Lord Krishna appeared in the sacrificial fire pit and the voice of God told him, “I will appear in your family after one hundred soma sacrifices have been completed.”
The stage was now set for the divine appearance and Yajnarnarayan’s son Shri Gangadhara performed twenty-eight additional Soma Sacrifices. His son Shri Ganapati Bhatt contined the tradition and reinforced Vedic teachings during his lifetime. His son, Shri Bal Bhatt completed five sacrifices. He had two sons Shri Lakshman and Shri Janardan. Shri Lakshman married Ellamagaru, the daughter of Shri Susharma, the royal priest of the prominant South Indian Hindu Kingdom Vidyanagar. This is where our story begins.
Shri Vallabh’s father, Lakshman Bhatt, was a Tailanga Brahmin. He too was steeped in Vedic lore and lived in Kakarwad. After the birth of a son and two daughters, Lakshman Bhatt decided to renounce the world, but a sage persuaded him not to do so. Lakshman Bhatt spent his time in devotion to Gopal Krishna and pilgrimaged to many holy places. He eventually settled in Benares. He was aware of the fact that the Lord would appear in his family for he had completed his family’s one hundredth Soma Sacrifice, but wondered how and when this appearance would take place.
When Mulsim disturbance came to Benares, Laxsham Bhatt and his family fled towards South India where Hindu kingdoms still dominated. Along the way he halted at Champaranya near Raipura in Madhya Pradesh. There his pregnant wife Ellamagaru suddenly gave birth, two months prematurely, to what appeared to be a still-born baby. The parents sadly placed the infant inside a hollow of a tree and retreated to a nearby village. That evening, the Blessed Lord appeared to Ellamagaru in a dream and told her, “I have appeared as your son!”
They immediatley returned to the tree and were both astonished and delighted to find a glowing baby surrounded by fire. The blessed mother extended her arms into the fire and received the divine child happily to her breast, unscathed by the flames. They called the infant Vallabh, which means “Beloved”. He was indeed dear to them. Shri Vallabh’s extraordinary birth made Lakshman Bhatt realize that the prophecy of his forefathers had finally come to be. It was a time for celebration indeed. One of Vallabhacharya’s followers sang,
O mother, Shri Mahaprabhu Vallabh has appeared, There are great celebrations in his father's home. O mother, I sing a sweet song Of how the blessed people have come to see. O mother, the Brahmins are reciting the Vedas. They are giving beautiful blessings. O mother, the square is adorned with pearls, Bards are singing his praises. O mother in every home drums sound, Flowers rain from the sky. O mother clothes are gifted, Men and women are wearing them. O mother blessed is Shri Vallabh’s mother, All of her desires are now fulfilled Sing’s Haraji*, “On that day there were abundant pleasures!”