Page 74, 76
The most interesting and remarkable thing in Vallabha's life and character is the fact that he sets before himself the ideal of the Gopis, the simple unsophisticated milk-maids of Gokula, for realization in his own life as well as that of this followers. That while being so great a scholiast as to challenge the system of Shankara and to make an effort to supplant it by his own, which was not without some measure of success, he should have placed before himself the goal of becoming like one of these Gopis shows where the secret of his life lay. This is the greatest marvel of Vallabha's life and it is one of loving faith and devotion. He aims at being, besides, only one of the many Gopis, without thinking of having any special privileges for him. In his eyes they all stand together on the same level, as we see from fat that he rarely mentions Radha, the privileged one among the Gopis. He desires to serve the Lord as these did without a thought of the self, and he would consider himself blessed beyond measure if he approached even distantly their type of devotion and consecrated service. In his search after this, a search which brings with it its fulfillment from the start, he does not hesitate to turn his back upon all the ideals that were cherished for more than two thousand years by his people and race and which had become an integral part of their religion, viz., Vairagya, Sannyasa, Dhyana, Yoga etc. In this he had the courage to differ from not only the Karma-Kandis and the Jnana-Kandis, the believers in ritual deeds and in knowledge, but even from the Vaishnava acharyas such as Ramanuja and Madhva. In virtue of a special revelation that he had from god, he gave an entirely new orientation to much of the Vedic religion that had preceded him and told the world in ringing tones that the heart of the woman as a mother and a wife was nearer the Kingdom of God than that of man with all his boasted knowledge and heroic asceticism. This was not a new teaching. It had already been given wide currency by the Vishnu Purana and the Bhagavata. Vallabha's greatness, however, lay in the fact that he not only revived it, but made it perhaps more central in religious life than it has ever been before.
Gopi love for God
Page 144, 145, 146
Among the various types of Bhakti the one most prized by some of the followers of Vallabha is that of Sringara, the same that is known in the Chaitanya Sampradaya as the Madhuryabhava. This is the relationship that exists between the Lover and his Beloved.
The first essential in Sringara Bhakti is the absence of lust or desire of a sensual kind. Even to understand and appreciate it properly, one should be free from all carnality, and should have, besides, the grace of God.
The Gopis alone had such absolute love for Krishna that they gave up everything including their self, and surrendered themselves whole-heartedly to Him. In them not only the antithesis between the flesh and the spirit but even that
between law and grace was complete, and the love of God had taken the place of everything. What happens to man or woman in his or her first romantic love, was seen in them in its-perfect form, for their object of love was God Himself, the Fount of Beauty and Joy. This love transfigured the entire world for them filling it with the beautiful form of Krishna and shifted entirely the centre of their own being from themselves to Krishna.
They died to themselves, or if they lived at all it was only to realize and love themselves as they were in God.
They had no other being apart from God.
Their love is spoken of as Kama, lust or desire, but it is qualified as being alaukika, supernatural. There is no trace in it of the Gunas, the material qualities of the things of the world or of the flesh. The Gopis are, according to Vallabha, the souls in which Shuddha Pusti, Pure Grace, is seen at its best.
We must not here forget the fact that, according to Vallabha and his followers, this Sringara Bhakti is not meant for all. What is pure nectar might well be turned into the deadliest of poison if it is handled by those who have no right to it. This is what happened in course of time in the Church of Vallabha itself, but it was because his followers had missed the inner core of his teaching.
We might now have a look at the fruit which one reaps as the reward of his Seva or service of God. Although the Bhakti, according to this Pusti-Marga, is itself the means and the end, Vallabha, however, has spoken of the falam, fruits thereof. These may be considered incidental, for the eyes of the devotee are not at all set on them. Vallabha, in all probability, mentioned them because he felt it necessary to describe the conditions of Final Beatitude according to the New Way. He speaks of the reward as if it were in passing, without giving any elaborate details. This reticence on his part has resulted in much difference among his followers in their interpretations of this part of his teaching.
The first reward that the devotee gets after he has for all practical purposes destroyed his own self as an entity apart from God and known himself as he is in God, is Alaukika Samarthya, super-natural power. This is not to be understood in the sense of Riddhis and Siddhis, the miraculous powers attained by those who follow the path of Yoga.
It is the power of pure love, a love so great that God Himself is constrained to look upon the soul as almost His master. It takes possession of God completely and makes Him dependent on the soul even as the latter is on Him.
This was realized in the case of the Gopis who had made Krishna their captive and willing servant. For the sake of His Bhaktas, God surrenders His infinite glory and becomes like one of them, being bound to them with the ties of human relationships. He lives with them on terms of utmost intimacy and equality, and gives Himself to them without stint or reserve.
The second fruit is spoken of as Sayujya, which, according to all the Bhakti schools of thought, means association with God. This state is one of the four kinds of Mukti, Final Beatitude known to the Hindu mind, the other three being Salokya, residence on the same plane with God, Sarupya, having the likeness of God, and Samipya, closeness to God. The term Sayujya is understood also as absorption in God, which is considered to be final state of those who follow the Maryada-Pusti Marga as contrasted with that of Shuddha-Pusti.
The fruit mentioned next by Vallabha is Seva-upayogi-deha, a body befitting the service of God. The service gradually transforms and transmutes the body of the devotee until it becomes a perfect instrument of the soul. A thorough-going harmony is established between the two with the result that what was material becomes spiritual and divine. Rather the old prakrita deha i.e. the material body is put off and the soul puts on a body which is heavenly and celestial. The latter is an eternal body which waits for its manifestation, and this takes places when the soul becomes properly attuned to God. According to Vallabha and the Vaishnava Acharyas, God Himself has a form and a body, which are, of course, spiritual and divine. In this body of God there are neither material elements nor Gunas. It is a body made of Ananda, Bliss, and the devotee also attains a body similar to that of God, so that he may worship and serve Him in the fullness of spirit.
The devotee attains this celestial body while he is on this earth.
The possession of such a body makes him participate fully in the life of God as He is in His Heaven.
The foregoing is but a brief and rough sketch of the teaching of Vallabha in regard to the way of salvation. His teaching, while it is based on the Bhagavata Purana, has several original features of its own, owing to which it is almost unique in the annals of Hindu religious life.
Author : Abha Shahra Shyama