Friday, May 02, 2008

530th appearance day of Vallabh, the Professor

The medieval time is full of great figures who appeared on this planet and sowed the seeds of our knowledge and well-being that we cherish today. There were some great people across the Europe doing great work in Mathematics, Astronomy, Mechanics, Arts, Philosophy etc. Some of my favourites are Cardon, Ferrari (who were the first to solve the qubic and quartic equations), Magellan (who discovered the Large and Small Magellanic clouds), Vasco de Gama, Columbus, Gallelio, Newton, Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangello and so on...

On the Indian side, the action was mostly on religio-spiritual front. Notable among them are Narasimh Meta, Mirabai, Krishna Chaitanya, Guru Nanak, Namdev, Keshav Kashmiri and so on... But the one that I am going to talk about today is a very distinct personality who was a scholar of all the major branches of knowledge at that time, decided to focus on the most important of those that pertained to understanding the summum bonum of all i.e. Brahm, ventured out at the early age to consolidate his understanding of the philosophy and the societal order, participated in debates and discussions, proposed his views while respecting others'. His name is Vallabh, simply means "the Dear one."

It was at one of such royal debates in Krishnadev Rai's kingdom in Vijaynagar in South India that after a 29 day discussions, the neutral judges proclaimed his views the most accurate and authentic ones and suggested thenceforth be known as Shuddhadwait Brahmvaad (The pure non-dualism of Brahm). At the same venue, the King consecrated upon him the title of Acharya - the Professor. He went on to refine his philosophy further and composed the commentary called Anubhashya on Brahmsutras of Vedvyas - the original composer of Vedas.

Just like any entrepreneur whose first focus is to establish his business and then turn a good samaritan for social services, Vallabh-acharya also did the same except that he didn't wait till the age of 50 or so, but right around 25. He started wondering what is the use of this philosophical knowledge if a layman is not going to benefit from it. This contemplation led him to develop a path of Bhakti called Pushtimarg, the path of divine grace, which was a very simple procedural application of his philosophy that anyone could do. And believe me, that simple path was really great and blissfull. Of course, today we see much more elaborate arrangements in Pushtimarg which is due to the influence of his descendants till date. So on the occasion of his appearance day on May 2, 2008, let us commit to the values and principles that the original Professor preached for the larger goodwill of mankind.

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