Shri Vallabhacharya, also known as Vallabha or Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya, was an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna and the founder of Krishna-centered Pushti sect of Vaishnavism in the Braj region of India. He penned many texts including the Anubhashya, Shodash Granth, and commentaries on the Bhagavata Purana. His writings and compositions revolved around Krishna, from his childhood pranks with his mother Yashoda to his relationship with cow-herding women and from his divine grace to the victory over demons and evils. Vallabhacharya’s birth anniversary is celebrated as Vallabhacharya Jayanti. In 2018, Vallabhacharya Jayanti falls on April 12.

Vallabhacharya was born to Illamma and Lakshmana Bhatta in 1479 AD, in a Telugu Brahmin family in Kashi, now Varanasi. While his mother was pregnant, his family escaped to Chhattisgarh during the Hindu-Muslim conflicts in the 15th century. As a child, he learned the Vedas and Upanishads and later traveled throughout Indian continent for over 20 years. It is also said that he won several debates against Ramanuha and Madhvacharya followers. He believed anyone could achieve salvation by worshipping Lord Krishna and his idea became influential in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh.

According to devotional accounts, the period of his birth was a disruptive one due to the Hindu-Muslim conflicts and most part of Northern and Central India was influenced by Muslim invaders. In order to flee from religious tension, people would migrate from one region to another. And on one such occasion, his parents had to move and this migration had a physical strain on his mother and there was a premature birth of Vallabhacharya. As the child was born two months in advance, he did not show any signs of life and hence his parents wrapped in a piece of cloth and placed him under a tree. Lord Krishna appeared in his parents’ dream and signified that he himself took the birth as their child. His parents rushed to the spot and found the baby alive with a circle of divine fire around him. Hence his parents named him Vallabha, meaning ‘dear one’ in Sanskrit.

Vallabha planned to remain celibate but the deity-guru Vitthalanatha of Pandharpur asked him to marry and live the life of a householder. Hence, he married Mahalaxmi. The couple was blessed with two sons – Gopinath and Vitthalnath.

Upon Shrinathji’s, a form of Lord Krishna, third order Vallabhacharya decided to leave the worldly life and take samadhi. According to Vedic traditions, at the age of 52, he reached Kashi and spent his last few days in the contemplation of Lord Krishna. He also lived on the Hanuman Ghat for a week. His family and dear ones gathered near him to take his last darshan. He entered the Ganga river on the day of Rath Yatra and was lost in the firmament. It is said that people witnessed a flame arose around him as he entered the water. This incident is known as ‘AsurVyamohLila’.It is said that on his last day when people asked about his advice, he scribbled three and a half Sanskrit verses in the sand. The message was completed by Lord Krishna himself who wrote a verve and a half. These verses are known as ‘ShikshaSloki’ in Pushti Marg literature.