Shri Gusainji was the second son of Shri Vallabhacharya and Shri MahaLakshmi-mataji. His real name was Vitthalnath. He was born in Magshar Vadi Noum, Vikram Samvat1572, and AD1516 at Charnat near Varanasi. His birth has earlier been mentioned in Agni Purana, Chapter "Bhavishya Avatar" (Future birth), where God himself professed that: "In future I will come as son of Shri Vallabh and I will be known as Shri Vithal." (Shri Vitthalnathji).
Once when Shri Vallabhacharya was on a yatra, God Vitthalnathji- who is a Form of Shree Krishn, appeared to him. He was asked to get married so that God Shree Vitthalnathji could appear in this world as his second son.
Shri Gusainji was fifteen when his father left this world. He married his first wife, Rukminiji, in AD 1533. She left her body in AD1560 after bearing six sons and four daughters. Shri Gusainji’s seventh son was born from his second wife, Padmavati, whom he married in AD1568. He also adopted an eighth son, Tulsidas, who served as his water carrier.
Shri Gusainji lived during the time period of Mughal rule in north India. During this period major Hindu temples were being destroyed, and Vedic dharma attacked. In spite of all destruction during this dark period, Shri Gusainji was able to promote Pushti Marg (Path of Grace) and infuse it with grandeur. He toured the whole of India to spread the message of Pushti Marg and also wrote many literary works.
Shri Gusainji became head of the Pushti lineage after the early passing of his elder brother, Shri Gopinathji. Shri Gusainji composed approximately fifty devotional texts, including commentaries on his father’s writings. His teachings provide insights necessary to understand the inner mood of the lineage.
The great kirtans of Krishn Leela are sung to this day in ShreeNathji Havelis. Some of the best known manoraths of Pushtimarg were also initiated during Shri Gusaiji's leadership. Shri Gusaiji had many disciples around the country. Several new havelis were constructed at this time and new festivals added in the regular sewa. ShreeNathji sewaks at Jatipura mandir, were changed from the Bengalis to Brahmins and Brajvasis.
Shri Gusainji travelled extensively and made many disciples. The bulk of his life story is found in the accounts of his 252 main disciples. Among them were Kings, ministers, the rich and poor. Pandits, people from all castes, Muslims, Sadhus and even a robber all became his great devotees. His most celebrated disciples and their spiritual experiences are recorded in the 252 Vaishnav's vartas. Compiled by his grandson Shri Gokulnathji and Shri Hariraiji, these Vaishnavs are held up as the role models for all other Vaishnavs to follow.
His powerful presence uplifted all his followers. Shri Vitthalnathji’s pilgrimages spanned a forty year period and were largely focused in Gujarat. In AD 1557 Shri Gusainji decided to move from his home in Adel to Gokul on the banks of the Yamuna River. He finally made Gokul his permanent home.
Shri Gusaiji was a powerful religious leader who managed to expand the popularity of ShreeNathji and Pushti Marg, in a way very different from his father and brother. He had a knack of explaining the most difficult philosophical point in very simple terms. Even the most ordinary people could understand and appreciate his teachings. His refined tastes and excellent abilities to explain philosophical matters helped him win some very powerful friends in the political circles of the times. Some of his devotees included Kings, Queens and other members of the Royal Hindu and Muslim families.
Shri Gusainji filled the Path of Grace with profound Lila bhao. He was not only a protector of dharma, but also a poet, musician, artist, and profound bhakti teacher. He filled ShreeNathji’s divine sewa with music, unique varieties of bhog, ornamentation and other arts. He taught that only things of the highest quality should be offered for Shreeji’s sewa. His seva teachings became the very heart of the Path of Grace, and the modes of seva are followed perfectly even till today at ShreeNathji’s Haveli at Nathdwara; as also in the homes of those bhakts doing personal sewa. His inspiration flowed into every aspect of the grace filled worship.
As a young boy, Shri Gusainji played the Vina to awaken ShreeNathji every morning and again during the Shayan darshans when Shreeji went to sleep. Because of this his fingertips began to harden. Gusainji realized that they might cause ShreeNathji discomfort while he adorned Him. To maintain the softness of his fingers when doing sewa for Shreeji, he stopped playing the Vina. This bhao showed that his every thought and action depended on Shreeji’s comfort. His own devotional sewa became the model for all of his followers to emulate.
Shri Gusainji also brought together the eight legendary Ashta Chhap poets and entrusted them with the sewa of singing the glories of Shree Krishn lilas before ShreeNathji and Shree Navanit Priyaji. Four of the poets, Kumbhandas, Surdas, Paramanandadas and Krishnadas were initiated by Shri Vallabhacharya, while Govinda Swami, Chita Swami, Chaturbhujadas and Nandadas were Shri Gusainji’s disciples.
Shri Vitthalnathji started the parampara of Raas Mandalis, plays which enacted Shree KrishnRadha,s leelas.
Vitthalnathji was also a painter, and today one of his paintings of Bal Krishn is preserved at a Haveli at Kandivali-Bombay. Another one shows a herd of elephants in various shades.
Shri Gusainji married twice and his wives were Shri Rukmini bahuji and Shri Padmavati Bahuji and he had seven sons and 4 daughters. He gave each of them one of the sacred Swarup and established a separate haveli for each one of them. . Because of these there are seven seats or piths in Pushtimarg.
ShreeNathji remained in Braj Dham at Jatipura during Shri Gusaiji's lifetime.
Shri Gusaiji was invited to Akbar’s court at Agra on a number of occasions. Clothes he wore on such visits have inspired the Shringar that is still worn by ShreeNathji on Shri Gusaiji's birthday each year. Emperor Akbar’s favorite sweet was Jalebi, which has always been offered as a special bhog on the day of the Shri Gusaiji-ka-uttsava. Several other features of the Mogul court have also been integrated into the shringar and bhog in Shreeji’s sewa.
This page on Shri Gusainji was released on Magshar Vad Navam, Vikram Samvat 2069,
Sunday January 6th, 2013, "Shri Gusaiji-Vitthalnathji Pragatya Utsav"
Author : Abha Shahra Shyama