From the Jacket
The volume presents, for the first time in English language, the translation, based on devotion to our Lord Sri Krishna (bhakti), bringing out, from the original Sanskrit text, the “bhavartha” (meaning of the innerspirit and underlying loving sentiments, with which, this treatise has been written), of the monumental commentary Sri Subodhini, on the Maha Bhagavata Purana, by Mahaprabhu Sri Vallabhacharya (c 1479 – c 1531).
Shri Vallabhacharya’s Sri Subodhini is available only for the 1st, 2nd 3rd; 10th and for 4 chapters and 2 verses of chapter 5 of 11th canto. Sri Subodhini is considered as the most detailed commentary, among all the available commentaries of Sri Bhagavatam.
In this volume 9 chapters of the Ist canto are dealt with the original verse of Sri Bhagavatam it’s English Meaning, The text of Sri Subodhini in Sanskrit and it’s English Meaning. Wherever necessary, the Commentaries/Explanations given by Shri Gosainji (Shri Vittalnatha) Shri Vallabhji, Shri Laloo Bhatji and Shri Purushotamji have also have been added.
The 9 chapter respectively deal with (1) Adhikaara Leela (2) The “Bhagavata Katha” and the description of the glory of both Sri Bhagavatam and “Bhakthi” to our Lord Sri Krishna (3) The creation of the universe and the various “incarnations” of our Lord (4) The reason for the “Detachment” (Vairaagyam) of Sri Sukadeva, and the worry and anxiety of sage Veda Vyaasa (5) The glory of “Bhakthi” to our Lord (6) The devotion (Bhakthi) of Sri Naarada to our Lord (7) The “Protection” from the “Arrow” of Aswathaama (8) The “Protection” from “Brahmaasthra” (Arrow of Lord Brahma) and the “Praise” (Sthuti) of our Lord by Mother Kunti and (9) The Darsan” of Sree Bheeshmaacharya and his “Praise” of our Lord.
Born in a village, founded by Adi Shankracharya, as the son of very devout parents, the late T.K. Viswanatha Iyer and Ranganayaki Ammal, Ramanan was initiated into the study of the Vedas, the Upanishads, Puranas, the Gita, Sanskrit treatises and the Sacred Chantings from the age of 5.
His initiation into the path of Bhakti was blessed by his Acharya and Guru, Shri Ubhaya Vedanta Srirangam Sampath Kumara Swami, who is 77 now and is a symbol of our Lord’s love and compassion. He is honoured and loved by everyone, as a noble Saint of Shri Ramanuja Sampradaya.
Ramanan says “if ever there is a faint and feeble remembrance of our Lord, in my mind, it is entirely due to the Grace of my Guru and his prayers to our Lord Shri Laxmi Narayana”
Arising out of a chance meeting with one of the greatest saints of our times, Shri Shyam Manohar Goswamijee, a direct descendant of Shri Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya, becoming the recipient of His love, Grace and Compassion, Ramanan was inspired to attempt writing this translation into English of the monumental commentary of Shri Subodhini, by Mahaprabhu Shri Vallabhacharya, which in the words of Srimad Andavan of Srirangam, a noble and most loving Saint of the Ramanuja Sampradaya “cannot be fully and truly translated, into any other language, as Shri Vallabhacharya had the highest love for Lord Krishna”
Hence, at best, this translation, in the words of Ramanan “is a humble attempt to becoming deserving to get the Grace of our Lord Shri Krishna, through the Blessings and Grace of my Gurudeva Shri Ubhaya Vedanta Srirangam Sampath Kumara Swamin, Shri Shyam Manohar Goswamijee, Srimad Andavan of Srirangam and all Devotees and Bhaktas of our Lord”
Blessings from Parama Poojya Shri Goswami Shyam Majoharji Maharaj
The sacred Shree Maha Bhagavata Purana, is considered as the most revered “King” among the holy scriptures, unanimously accepted and respected, by the followers of Shri Shankara, Shri Ramanuja, Shri Madhwa, Shri Nimbarka and our Shri Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya, as being helpful, for the meditation and contemplation of the Upanishadic Truth of the Supreme Para Brahman and also for the hearing, chanting, singing and remembering the sacred Divine Truth and Principle of our Lord and His Divine Leelas, as explained in the Puranas.
The Supreme Para Brahman, explained in the Upanishads, regarded as the creator, sustainer, destroyer (withdrawer) and also as the giver of liberation, is described in the Maha Bhagavata Purana, as the Supreme Lord and Shree Bhagavan, who enacts, His Divine Leelas of creation of the Primordial elements and it’s subsequent forms (in endless permutation and combination) in this universe, and also provides for the various functions such as the continuity of existence, it’s nourishment, fulfillment of desires and wants/requirements, changing of aeons/times, enacting His Divine Leelas constituting the Divine stories about these Leelas, blessing the devotee with pure and total devotion (NIRODHA) and finally causing the “liberation” (MOKSHA) of His devotees. In other words, the Supreme Para Brahman described in the Upanishads. Is the same Lord or Bhagavan Shri Purushottama, as explained in this Maha Bhagavata Purana.
Our Shri Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya has revered and accepted this Maha Bhagavata Purana, as the ultimate proof and evidence, which could remove all the doubts, that may arise, while one is engaged, in the interpretation of the Vedas, the Smritis and the Brahmasutras. Our Mahaprabhuji has also desired, that the interpretation of the true inner-meaning of the Vedas should be done as per the directions and exposition given by our Lord Shri Krishna, in the Bhagavad Gita, which in turn, should be interpreted as per the inner meaning of the Brahmasutras. Shri Mahaprabhu then specified, that the Brahmasutras Shri Mahaprabhu then specified, that the Brahmasutras should be interpreted as per the directions and teachings contained in this Maha Bhagavata Purana.
With another view in his mind, our Shri Mahaprabhu had written the commentary on the Brahmasutras and the Sutras of Jaimini, as propounding the true meaning of the Vedas. Unfortunately only a very small part of these treatises are available now. In the same way, he had also written the commentary on Shri Bhagavatam, which determines the true meaning of Shri Bhagavad Gita and, once again, only few parts of this is available now, in the form of “Bhagavatartha Nibhandha” and “Sri Subodhini”.
The essence of the teachings contained in this Maha Bhagavata Purana, in each of it’s cantos, divisions and chapters, has been explained, by our Shri Mahaprabhu, as a treatise expounding a sastra or philosophical system, in his monumental work “Bhagavatartha Nibhandha”.
Out Shri Mahaprabhu has described the meanings of the syllables, words and sentences of Shri Maha Bhagavata Purana, in a summarized way, in his “SUKSHMA TEEKA” (subtle commentary). This is also available only in parts. He had desired to undertake this type of a very detailed and comprehensive interpretation of Shri Maha Bhagavata Purana. But, he could do such a detailed interpretation, in his Sri Subodhini, only for the 1st, 2nd , 3rd, 10th Cantos and very few chapters of the 11th Canto, of Shri Maha Bhagavata Purana.
In this proposed English translation of Shri Subodhini our dear Shri T. Ramanan, has, with considerable sustained efforts, brought out the “Bhava” of devotion (Bhakti) to our Lord Shri Krishna (as being the main purport of this treatise), based on an inspired, devoted and a most desirable oneness, of his love and devotion to our Lord Shri Krishna. On hearing several parts of this devotion-based translation, I have experienced wholesome pleasant astonishment and Bliss-indeed, I should say, that I am unable to control this urge in me, to speak about this joy, based on the experience, which I have passed through.
From the time of our Shri Mahaprabhu itself, our Shri Vallabha system has had very deep and cordial relations with the system enunciated by Shri Ramanuja. The proof and evidence for this can be seen, even during the life-time of our Shri Mahaprabhu. Our Shri Mahaprabhu had written, in his own handwriting, the verse “NYASADESESHU DHARMATYAJANAVACHANATO” which, is part of the “NYASA VIMSATI” of Shri Venkatanatha Vedanta Desika. On this, a commentary based on the “Pustimarga” system, was written by Shri Vittalnatha, the second son of our Shri Mahaprabhu. This commentary facilitated in the strengthening of the Pustimarga.
Shri Vittalnatha had also written the entire treatise “Satadushani” treatise, in his own handwriting, which is now available in the liberary of the chief seat (Peetam) of our Sampradaya (system).
Subsequently, the commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, written by Shri Vallabhji, known as “Tatwadeepika”, is also considered, in several parts, to have been written, following the reasoning and thoughts of the system of Shri Ramauja.
My respected father, Goswami Shree Dixitji Maharaj, regarded, as his own teachers (Vidhyaguru), the three savants of the Shri Ramanuja system of his time viz. Kapithalam Desikacharya, Yadugiri Yatiraja Shri Sampathkumaracharya and Navalpakkam Shri Nrisimhacharya.
This longstanding and hoary good relations between these two Vaishnava systems, has now brought before us, in the form of a veritable Milestone, this translation in English by Shri T. Ramanan, as ardent devotee of the Shri Ramanuja system.
The writing of mine is not enough or adequate to convey my blessings and best wishes for his loving and sustained efforts, which, I consider, as both Divine and sweet in character, done with a spirit and Bhava of Bhakti to our Lord Shri Krishna.
A Brief Sketch On the Life of Mahaprabhu Shri Vallabhacharya
Shri Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya is revered as an incarnation of the Divine Power manifested as “spiritual Guru” or Acharya or Jagatguru (teacher of the world). It is revered that Shri Vallabhacharya was the incarnation of the principle of “Agni” or Fire, representing the “face” (Mukham) of Lord Shri Krishna. Hence, Shri Vallabhacharya’s writings are considered as those of our Lord Shri Krishna only.
Shri Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya founded a system of “seva” or worship of our Lord Shri Krishna, which can be performed and practiced by everyone, in this modern life, at their homes, while leading an ordinary life, discharging one’s duties, after consecrating and dedicating (samarpan) everyone and everything to our Lord Shri Krishna. This system, called as the path of Grace of PUSHTI, depends entirely on the Grace of our Lord Shri Krishna showered on an aspiring devotee, who does “seva” or service of our Lord Shri Krishna, regarding our Lord as the Supreme Purushottama, with a spirit of complete consecration, dedication and devotion. The Lord, in turn, guides this devotee to attain “Pure and Total Devotion” in Him (NIRODHA) which makes the devotee (BHAKTA) forget this entire universe, and makes his mind fully attached to the Lord. The Lord also gets the same “NIRODHA” to His devotee and this “meeting and mingling” of the two loves (PREMA) is considered as the “acme and apogee” of the Highest Bliss, which an embodied soul can ever hope to attain, during his life, This NIRODHA, completes the cycle – i.e. the separation of the Jiva or the soul, caused by Jiva’s own desires and will, from the Lord, is ended by this final meeting and mingling with our Lord by having only one desire – viz. for our Lord! This “separation” was caused by the desire for the world; now “union” is restored through the love and desire for our Lord. Thus, in all these, our Lord’s “Grace” plays a most dominant role, in reclaiming the Bhakta, back to Himself.
As regards this “world of materialism”, Shri Vallabhacharya is very clear. He says that “everything we, see is part and parcel of the Divine Lord but the Jivas “attachment” to them is caused by illusion. Hence, nothing of this world is illusory – but our attachment to them is illusory. Once this curtain of illusion (Maya) is removed from our “outlook”, then, reality per se, (as it is) viz. our Lord Shri Krishna, having become everything, is revealed to us as “sarvatmabhava” (seeing everything as “Atma” or the Divine).
By establishing the preponderance of our Lord’s “Grace” (PUSHTI), as the basis of an entire philosophical system, Shri Vallabhacharya has manifested His originality and His emphasis on surrendering to Lord Shri Krishna, for attaining one’s spiritual goal is considered as unique and path breaking. The glory and greatness of Shri Maha Bhagavata Purana was also re-established by Shri Vallabhacharya through His monumental commentary on this Holy Purana titled “SRI SUBODHINI”, and the spiritual treatise “TATWARTHA DEEPA NIBANDHA”.
Shri Mahaprabhuji lived on this earth, for about 53 years between 1479 and 1532 A.D. He was born in a Telugu Brahmin family (Andhra Pradesh), belonging to the Bharadwaja Gotram, and followed the Taitariya branch of Yajur-Veda. The family performed religious ceremonies, as their main vocation. It is said that, one of his ancestors, who was so devoted to the Lord, was given a premonition that, the Lord Himself will take birth in his family.
The names of the parent of our Shri Mahaprabhuji were Lazmanabhatta and illamagaru, it is said that once they had come to Prayag, on a pilgrimage and then went to Benares. Laxmanabhatta, was a deeply spiritual devotee and he stayed in Benares, due to it’s sacredness and also being a seat of learning.
As there was threat of a Muslim attack, several families, left Benares, including Laxmanabhatta, who proceeded towards South India. On the way, in 1479 AD, Illamagaru gave birth to our Shri Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya on Thursday, the eleventh day of the dark half of the month of Vaishakhi in the samvat year 1535. The baby appeared to be dead at birth, in the champa forest. The baby was left, wrapped in a piece of cloth, in a hole of the trunk of a tree. Then, they all left this forest, fearing for their lives.
Shri Vallabhacharya’s mother always had an inkling, at this testing time, that the child was still alive. Hence, both the mother and the father got a dream in which our Lord had appeared to them and told them to go back to the same place and reclaim the child! They came there and saw to their utter surprise, that the child was surrounded, on all the sides, by a Fire, as though, to afford protection to this Divine child! The fire was not hurting the child at all! They went back, with the child and after staying there in the town called “Choda” for some time, came to Benares.
Shri Vallabhacharya was a “supernatural” boy. He preferred to spend time with books, rather than with the toys. He, being the fourth child in the family, was looked after with great care. Two more children were born to his parents later.
The “sacred thread” (Upanayana) ceremony was performed, when Shri Vallabhacharya was eight years’ old. He now learnt all the scriptures, in Sanskrit, with a view to continue his vocation as a priest. During this time of study, Shri Vallabhacharya, attained remarkable proficiency in all the six systems of Hindu philosophy, the Vedas, Puranas, the Gita and other sacred texts.
When Shri Vallabhacharya attained his 11th year, his father passed away (1490 AD) leaving the family in dire distress. This event put an end to Shri Vallabhacharya’s quest for further studies at Benares.
The family came back to their ancestral home in Andhra and settled there. Shri Vallabhacharya then set out on his pilgrimage, throughout the country from here, for nearly 20 years, in the course of which He toured India, nearly 3 times.
After completing his pilgrimage Shri Vallabhacharya came back to South India, as it was free of Muslim violence. During his long years of pilgrimage, Shri Vallabhacharya is said to have visited Gaya, Chitrakuta, Champaranya, Mount Amarakantaka Siddhipada (where a great devotee of Madhawacharya viz. Sarveshwara became our Mahaprabhuji’s disciple), Vridhinagar (Wardha) – in this place he got his first disciple Damodardas. Damodardas was the first person, to whom the “Brahmasambhandham” was given by our Shri Vallabhacharya.
From Wardha, Shri Vallabhacharya visited his uncle at Agrahara. Then they visited Vyankatesha.
It is also said that Shri Madhvendra Yati, a great saint had blessed our Mahaprabhuji and he had also established the temple of Shri Govardhan Nathjee at Brindavanam. This same saint gave ‘sanyas’ to our Mahaprabhuji later.
Shri Mahaprabhuji started on his pilgrimage with three or four companions. During this period they passed through Pampa-sarovara, where the forest-devotee Sabari, is said to have fed Lord Shri Rama, already tasted fruits! Then they all went to Mount Rishyamukha, Kumarpada, Shri Shaila, Tirupati and others.
Shri Vallabhacharya met many great saints and scholars during his pilgrimage. He then proceeded to Kanchipuram, Kumbakonam,. Mannargudi, Srirangam, Madurai, Rameshwaram and other places.
On his return journey from the South, Shri Vallabhacharya visited Sri Vaikuntakshetra, Alwal, Totadri, Trivandrum, Janardana kshetra, Kaudinyashraman, Niladri, Malayadri (all in Malabar).
Shri Vallabhacharya visited Melkottai (near Mysore), Subramanya, Udupi, Chandragiri and after visiting few more places, Shri Vallabhachary came back to Vijayanagaram. His mother and brothers were there.
During this pilgrimage, Shri Vallabhacharya held discussions with scholars of Vaishnavite, (Madhwa-Ramanuja), followers of Shankaracharya and others. In all these discussions, people were astonished at this young person’s knowledge and wisdom and our Mahaprabhuji always, parted as good friends, after detailed discussions. There was never hatred or antipathy generated after a dialogue, although serious difference in the approaches and tenets of one’s system, were seen clearly.
After this trip, Shri Vallabhacharya went to Kolhapur, Pandharpur, Nasik (Panchavati), Triambakeswara and after visiting several places, came to Mathura. From here he went to Gujarat. Later he visited Kurukshetra and Haridwar. The next stops were Rishikesh, Vyasaganga, Rudra Prayag, Gupta Kashi, Vyasashrama, Ayodhya, Prayaga, Kashi and Gangasagar. Then all of them came back to Agrahara, where his mother was staying.
After staying with his mother for 10 months, Shri Vallabhacharya went further south and set out to go to the north. At Pandharpur he got a divine experience, which changed his life. Shri Vallabhacharya received a command from Lord Vithala at Pandharpur to enter into the life of a Grihasta or married life. Lord Vithala promised him that, he would take birth, in his family, as his son.
From Pandharpur, he went to Gujarat and came back to Vraja. He went to Badrinath now. He is said to have met sage Vyasa at this time. Vyasa also asked him to marry and lay the foundation of a new system. He came back to Benares and here a Brahmin called Devadatta offered his daughter in married. Then he visited Jagannath Puri and came back to Benares. He now got married and stayed in Benares.
Shri Vallabhacharya was chosen by our Lord Krishna Himself, as per his own words in his book “SIDDHANTA RAHASYA” (the secret doctrine), to give initiation to the devotee into the path of Grace or Pushti. Our Mahaprabhuji was inspired to call this initiation as “BRAHMASAMBANDHA” (communion with our Lord – through the Grace of the Acharya).
The voice of our Lord was heard by our Mahaprabhuji at midnight, at Gokulam. This voice was audible to everyone and Shri Vallabhacharya, asked his disciple Damodardas, whether he too had heard anything in the night. To this, Damodardas did say that he had heard a voice with words but could not understand it’s purport. Shri Vallabhacharya initiated Damodardas right away. The Holy Manthram (chants) given to him was denoted the most Manthram (chants) given to him was denoted the most significant part of his teaching viz full surrender to Our Lord Krishna. This “surrender” to our Lord Krishna Became Mahaprahbuji’s guiding principle, in all things as Shri Krishna is considered to be the “POORNA PURUSHOTTAMA” (The Supreme Lord)”
This path of Grace or “Pushti” enunciated by Shri Mahaprabhuji on the specific command of our Lord Krishna emphasized on (1) Simplicity and humility of heart and (2) Child-like faith and trust. (3) Our Lord’s power of redemption of the 5 types of sins which a soul carried or does during it’s sojourn in various bodies. (4) Doing “seva” or “service” (worship) to our Lord Shri Krishna, without any “motive” or “desire” – except the desire to please our Lord and to love Him, above everything else.
In this path the seva or service to the Lord done in the above spirit, is itself the “goal” or “phalam”-as one can attain this stage and status of doing ‘seva’ to our Lord only when the Lord has already blessed the devote, with His Grace or Pushti. The “Pushti Bhakti” (devotion due to the Grace of our Lord) is considered as the highest goal. Thus pure and total devotion to our Lord (NIRODHA) becomes the only goal and nothing less or else is desired for, by any devotee in this path of Pushti or Grace.
The manifestation of Shri Govardhanathjee (Shri Nathji) in Vraja is another important event in our Mahaprabhuji’s life. This “Swaroopa” (manifestion of our Lord Himself) of Shri Nathji was worshipped by Madhavendra Swami of the Madhwa cult. But this “Swaroopa” preferred to eat, only the food cooked by our Shri Mahaprabhuji. After hearing our Lord’s voice once again, our Shri Mahaprabhuji came back to our lord and offered Him his most loving ‘seva’ or worship. He built a small temple on the Govardhana mountain. Shri Nathji asked a rich merchant, by name Purnamall, to build big temple for him and this was built in 20 years. Our Mahaprabhuji himself, installed this Holy “Swaroopa” of our Lord in this temple. Shri Krishnadas was made the steward of this temple and Shri Kundhandas was appointed to compose and sing appropriate songs for our Lord’s worship and adoration (KEERTANA).
After completing the above important task, our Mahaprabhuji undertook his third pilgrimage. From Benaras he came to Vraja and then went to Jagannatha Puri and Pandarur. He then went to Gujarat, from there to Ujjain, and Lahore in Punjab. Afterwards in the Himalayas, he visited both Kedarnath and Badrinath. He had the Darsan of Shri Vyasji. It is said that, Shri Vyasji solved our Mahaprabhuji’s doubts regarding some verses of Shri Mahaprabhuji’s doubts regarding some verses of Shri Bhagavata Purana. After returning back to Vraja, Shri Bhagavata Purana. After returning back to Vraja, Shri Vallabhacharya came to Adel via Agra and Kannauj. Shri Mahaprabhuji decided to make Adel, his headquarters, from now onwards as this place had all the three kinds of Tulasi plants, held dear by our Lord Krishna.
Wherever our Shri Mahaprabhuji went, he preached the path of Bhakti or devotion to Lord Shri Krishna, which treated the Brahmins and the lowest alike, in the eyes of our Lord. This particular teaching was emphasized at Sidhapur.
Shri Vallabhacharya spoke to the Jains at Patan about his belief in kindness ad compassion to animals, as he believed all creatures (and the entire creation) as being parts of our Lord only; but he emphasized that this compassion should be complementary to the paramount duty of devotion to our Lord.
Our Shri Mahaprabhuji treated both the “Nagar” Brahmins and others, on an equal footing, as regards initiating them together in Brahmasambandha. He taught them the necessity for humility and equality among the believers of this path of Grace.
Shri Mahaprabhuji’s love and compassion for a poor woman devotee at Kheralu is worth mentioning. During this event, he told the poor woman, who was interested to find the truth, that it was not necessary for everyone to renounce this world. It was necessary, but, to love our Lord with all of one’s heart and soul. The Lord desired our love only and this could be given to Him, while living in this world and discharging one’s duties. He also told her that the path of Bhakti was easier for women to follow, than for men. Our Shri Mahaprabhuji gave her a small “Swaroopa” of our Lord for her seva. There is a “Baithak” at her house, in honour of our Mahaprabhuj’s visit and loving compassion.
Shri Vallabhacharya then visited almost all places in Gujarat including Dwaraka and made many disciples. He then went to Sind also which was, then, full of Muslims. It was due to our Shri Mahaprabhuji, that many people of Sind became vegetarians and practiced our Sanatana Dharma.
Shri Vallabhacharya, after these long pilgrimages and travel, came to settle down at Benaras. The pundits of Benaras could not digest the popularity of our Shri Mahaprabhuji, this led to a public discussion between the learned pundits and Shri Mahaprabhuji which lasted for twenty-seven days, resulting into a glorious victory for Shri Mahaprabhuji.
But the opposition to his teaching continued resulting into public criticism, through pamphlets etc. and our Shri Mahaprabhuji, in defense of his teachings, stuck on the gates of the Kasi Vishwanatha temple, his defense, which was torn by his opponents. But our Mahaprabhuji’s success and glory only grew by leaps and bounds. One person even fasted before the Kasi Vishwanatha temple, praying to Lord Siva, to declare, that our Acharya, was wrong. But Lord Siva gave a verdict in favour of our Acharya.
As the atmosphere in Benaras was found to be not congenial for his peaceful life of preaching the path of Grace and Bhagavata Dharma, our Mahaprabhuji left Benaras and came to live at Adel, and till his end, he lived here – for at least 20 years. From here, he went on his preaching tours and visits to several places especially to Vraja. At other times, he passed his time, in writing his great books and in teaching his disciples. His fame had spread far and wide and countless people were made by him as his disciples.
Although there is no connected version of the activities of our Shri Mahaprabhuji during these 20 years, the book on the “Stories of Eightyfour Vaishnavas” – which was written two generations after our Shri Mahaprabhuji, throws considerable light on the ideas of Bhakti and conduct, realized by many men and women, after following the teachings of our Shri Mahaprabhuji.
At Adel, some disciples lived with him almost permanently. Our Acharya made everyone of them to earn their own livelihood, that the “souls” are selected by our Lord Shri Krishna, to do seva to Him. The followers need to follow strictly, the ideals and standards set for them, in the teachings.
So many types of people came to him for initiation and spiritual comfort. One of the notable one was Suradas; the great poet. Kumbhandas and Paramanandadas were also poets. These four helped in creating hymns of praise and glory to our Lord’s Divine Leelas and in these “keertans”, the most beautiful expression of sentiments is seen as regards their love for our Lord, His Daya and His Divine Leelas.
Shri Vallabhacharya expounded the Bhagavata Purana through daily reading and exposition. Our Shri Acharyaji never accepted any money or materials for this holy discourse and he forbade his devotees also to do likewise. The story of Padmanabhadas is very touching and exemplifies this truth.
The teachings as contained in Sri Bhagavatam formed the basis of our Shri Mahaprabhuji’s system of the path of Grace. Our Shri Mahaprabhuji considered Shri Bhagavatam, as the best and the most profound words of our Lord, “as it, not only contained the essence of the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Gita and the Brahma Sutras, but even fulfilled them”.
It is said that Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu heard the exposition of this Bhagavata Purana from our Shri Mahaprabhuji, through his commentary called “Shri Subodhinijee”. This commentary of Shri Mahaprabhuji was dictated to Shri Madhava Bhatta, who was one of the close disciples of our Shri Mahaprabhuji.
Shri Vallabhacharya never emphasized on working of miracles, although he did exhibit some miracles. His teachings emphasized the fact, that the greatest miracle which we witness, everyday, is the Divine Leela of our Lord, in this vast creation. The Divine Leelas of our Lord Shri Krishna in Vraja and other places are the greatest of all miracles.
Bhakti to our Lord and trust and faith in His love and Grace and considered as most important, in this path of Grace and all other things are treated only as secondary.
Shri Vallabhacharya symbolized great many Divine virtues in his character and conduct. His strength and determination can be gauged by his going on foot, several times, throughout Bharat! His intellectual powers are exemplified by the great many works, he wrote. He had the complete mastery of all major Hindu treatises of religion and philosophy.
Shri Vallabhacharya’s holy life was an expression of Bhakti or love to our Lord Shri Krishna. This love for our Lord, was based on ethics and sincere spirituality; “It meant both loving our Lord Shri Krishna, with all one’s heart and soul and doing His will in all things”. He followed the ideal householder’s life till almost his end.
“Shri Vallabhacharya had found in Bhakti or Pushti, as he called it, an element of transcendental value; something that transvalued all values and transmuted the entire world and made it an integral part of Divine life. Shri Vallabhacharya’s character, thus, presents, a remarkable combination of the elements of human life, physical, intellectual, emotional, ethical and spiritual, fused together on a very high plane, into a harmonious whole.
All his writings are “ego-free” as he is very objective and never “allows his emotions or imagination to come between himself and the truth that he sees, and the message that he has to deliver”.
His life was beautiful and he emphasized on the highly aesthetic nature of seva or worship to our Lord – that our Lord should be loved and served, with the best one can afford from one’s earnings and through ones own body (TANU-VITHAJA).
His relationships with people exemplifies his disarming nature of love, kindness and humility and an utter lack of “ego” or “pride”. He was sweet and never used strong language. He never was bitter in his dealings. He had great faith in his teachings and the truth of his teachings, he knew, will meet with ultimate acceptance.
His “humility” is considered as his crowning virtue. Although he was a great “Teacher” no one felt his dominating role. He became humble before our Lord and man. He never thought that he was as “Teacher” – in fact, he never completed his commentary on Brahma Sutras. His sole aim was to initiate as many people as possible into loving and doing seva for our Lord, and to finish his monumental commentary on Shri Bhagavata Purana viz. Shri Subodhiniji. Even this he could not complete. He thus did not care for any fame or name.
“His humility comes out at it’s heart in his confession in one of the last things that he wrote viz. that he failed to obey our Lord’s command, which cane twice to him, to leave the world”.
The most remarkable feature of Shri Vallabhacharya’s life was his desire to be like an ideal “Gopi”. “He aims at beings, besides, only one of the many Gopis, without thinking of having any special privileges for himself”.
His glorification of the Gopis and of women is devoid of any eroticism. To him, the reward for true devotion of the devotee to the Lord, is the perfect union of the soul with our Lord, which is realized only, when one is altogether free from any earthly and gross elements, and when, besides, our Lord Himself calls the devotee of His own accord, to realize and have fellowship with Him, in that manner.
Shri Vallabhacharya was gentle, patient and full of forbearance and forgiving nature. He was of a pure character, free from grossness and coarseness of any type. He dreaded publicity of any kind and that is why, he refused to institutionalize his new teaching. He left it to be more practiced, then to be propagated.
His faith and love for our Lord was very deep. His whole life was lived with the sole purpose for pleasing our Lord, with His devotion. Our Lord was Shri Purushottama, the supreme person, who is ever willing to respond in person or through His will to the love and seva of a true Bhakta.
Our Shri Mahaprabhuji lived in a simple way, in village type cottages. There was no thought of comfort of opulence. His dress was also simple. He wore only two pieces of cloth. He never wore any shoes. “His simplicity grew from within like a beautiful flower, he being altogether unconscious of the fact, that there was any special merit in it”.
He was middle-sized, healthy and slightly dark in appearance. A painted picture of His Divine Form is still available for us.
Shri Vallabhacharya had great many disciples and sakhas or friends, like the blind poet Suradus, the Bruhmin Paramanandadasa, Kumbhandasa and Krishnadasa. All these four were great in their own way – but all of them devoted themselves to the spread of the teachings of our Shri Mahaprabhuji. They worked with our Mahaprabhuji, all his life for the fruition of our Acharya’s aims and ideals.
Shri Vallabhacharya and Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu were contemporaries and were great friends. Once Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu told about the words of our Shri Mahaprabhuji thus, “the meaning of what Shri Vallabha said can be known only by those who feel and pangs of separation from our Lord”. The relationship of love, respect and regards between these two “great Mahabakhtas” can be gauged from the following incident.
“Once, Shri Chaitanya came to Adel to visit our Acharya. Our Acharya asked his wife to give the visitor some food. She replied that all the consecrated food, offered to the Lord, ha been used up and added, that no holy food would be available, until the next offering to the Lord was made.
At this, our Acharya fed Shri Chaitanya from the food which was prepared for the next offering. As this was an unusual action on his part, one of his disciples asked him why this was done? – whereupon our Acharya told him, that Shri Krishna himself resided in the heart of Shri Chaitanya and that because of it, food given to him, was an offering made to our Lord”.
Shri Mahaprabhuji wrote several treatises such as his monumental commentary on Shri Bhagwatam, the commentary for Brahama-sutras (both unfinished) and the 16 holy works. Another important treatise was “Tattwartha Dipa Nibandha”, an essay on the light of spiritual truth and wisdom. He also wrote another book called “Sukshma Tika” for Shri Bhagavatam. He has also written Patravalambana, Shruti-Gita and others. Legends apart, our Mahaprabhuji wrote around 30 treatises, both big and small. In his works, there is a direct thought process, devoid of embellishments and rhetoric. All his works are in Sanskrit.
We had already hinted at the call of our Lord for Shri Mahaprabhuji’s return to our Lord’s Divine abode from this earthly life. The first call from our Lord, came to him, when he was in Gangasagar. The second call came to him at Vraja. He had not finished his commentary on Sri Bhagavata Purana at that time. The third call came at Adel only, and at this time, he immediately told his mother and wife that his time for departing from this world, has come. He decided to renounce this world. He dissuaded his disciples from renouncing this world, especially Damodarsdas who was his life-long companion.
Shri Mahaprabhuji, then wrote his last preaching viz Siksha Sloka.
Shri Vallabhacharya was ordained as a Sannyasi by Madhavendra Puri and was given the name of “Purnananda”. Shri Vallabhacharya lived in his own house, for one week and left his house, permanently. He came and lived on one of the banks of the Ganga river for one week, before going to Benaras. He took 18 days to reach Benaras. He saw all his disciples on the way. At the Hanuman Ghat, at Benaras, he lived for another 7 days, on the banks of the Ganga river, preparing himself to enter into the waters, for the purpose of giving up his body.
His sons Gopinatha and Vithalnatha, together with a number of disciples came and requested him, to tell them as to what they should do, in his absence. In reply to this, our Shri Mahaprabhuji, was had taken the vow of silence, when he took Sannyasa, wrote three and half couplets, on a stone lying nearby.
He wrote, “If you become divorced from our Lord in any way, your body, mind and all things pertaining to yourself that belong to Time (Kala) will devour you, this is my belief.
Our Lord who is Shri Krishna, is not of this world, nor does He have respect for anything pertaining to this world. Therefore we must love Shri Krishna alone. Our Lord is all-in-all here and in the other world. Hence, Shri Krishna, the Lord of the Gopis, is alone worthy of our service, with all our body and mind, soul and spirit. He alone will give you everything, useful in this world and in the next.
Our Shri Mahaprabhuji then entered into the waters of the Ganga river and disappeared from this world, forever. It is said that a light flame rose from this river and was seen by the people, who had assembled there. This flame ascended to heaven and was seen last entering the firmament. This event took place on the third day of the bright half of the month of Ashada in the Samvat year 1587 (1532 AD).
The above quoted last message of our Shri Mahaprabhuji is his will and testimony and inspires everyone to keep their faith and trust in our Lord Shri Krishna, as pure as possible. He made no other provision for his two sons who were just 17 and 15 years of age, respectively at that time. He told them only one thing, “to have absolute faith in our Lord along”. “It is doubtful if he made any special arrangements for his family or for the conduct of his Sampradaya before taking his Sannyasa. This shows his extraordinary faith in our Lord Shri Krishna, which alone, he left, as his sole heritage to all his children, whether by blood or spirit”.
But for the unique shower of grace of our Lord Shri Krishna, arising out of just one darshan of Goswamy Shyam Manohar Maharaj, thus proving the Bhagavata dictum (Blessings showered due to the Darsan of Mahatmas even, though, the contact is only for a second), this utterly feeble attempt to write a free flowing, Bhakti-based, translation of our Shri Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya’s monumental commentary on Shri Maha Bhagvata Purana “Shri Subodhini” would not have taken place at all. This inspiration to attempt to take up this work is due to the unique and most loving compassion of our Lord Shri Krishna, Shri Goswamy Shyam Manoharji and my Gurudeva Ubhaya Vedanta Shri Sampathkumara Swami, who instructed me to do this as a sacred duty.
I am fully aware of the countless defects I have, and I am not in any way fit or capable of doing full justice to this most Holy inspired work of our Shri Mahaprabhuji. But, the Grace and love of Goswamy Shri Shyam Manoharji and my Gurudeva has enabled me to get courage to attempt to undertake this task. Personally, our Lord has filled me with Bliss and Joy, through this and I pray and wish that the Divine Leelas of our Lord, as explained by our Shri Mahaprabhuji, will confer Joy and Bliss for everyone.
Goswamy Shri Shyam Manoharji gave a lot of his very valuable time and told me to continue to do this work “leaving everything to Thakur” (our Lord Shri Krishna). My own gracious Gurudeva Shri Sampathkumara Swami blessed this work after going through some parts of the same.
Notwithstanding the several defects in this translation (in understanding, explaining, interpreting etc.), Shri Shyam Manohar Goswamiji has been very kind and gracious to bless this work, from time to time, and also bless with his loving Aaseervad! I am eternally indebted to this great Mahatma, symbolizing our Lord’s love for all of us!.
My Gurudeva, a great Mahatma and a Mahabhaktha, always showed limitless love and Blessings. It is due to his Grace, that, the remembrance of our Lord, is there in me. Always peaceful and smiling, he gives Peace and Joy to everyone, who comes into contact with him. He symbolizes our Lord’s love for His creation. Silently he contributes to the welfare of deserving persons and infuses in them, Bhakti to our Lord.
Blessings were secured from Parampujya Shri Morari Bapu and our beloved Shri Andavan of Periashramam, Srirangam. Shri Andavan Swami told me, that Shri Vallabhacharya’s Sri Subodhini cannot be translated, properly and fully, by anyone, as our Mahaprabhuji had the highest Devotion and Bhakti to our Lord and unless one has such a deep and abiding Bhakti, the attempt to translate, will ever remain incomplete.!
The entire work was patiently, quickly and with great and quiet Bhakti typed in the computer, by Shri Jamnu Ghanshamdas Hundalani and other devotees of Hundalani family. This labour of their love for our Lord Shri Krishna is immeasurable and no words of gratitude will be enough – except that we will all pray for the welfare of this devoted family and love for our Lord Shri Krishna.
I owe a deep debt of gratitude to Shri Subodhini Prakashan Mandal (Jodhpur). My translation is, to a very large extent, based on this book and I am, indeed, very grateful for this Mandal.
Our gratitude is due to Shri Gopaldasji, whose knowledge of the Sampradaya literature is so very vast and erudite, for his patient correction of the Sanskrit proofs and advice/help, given from time to time.
Special thanks are due to Shri Nareshji and Shri Sunilji, of Indian Books Centre and Sri Satguru Publications for their love and devotion. Grateful thanks are due for those artists, whose works of art, as photos, have been included in this volume.
Finally, my humble prayers to all, to forgive the endless shortcomings/errors in this work, which are entirely mine. The Maha Bhagavata Purana is intended to be enjoyed by “Rasika: Bhuvi Bhavuka:” Let us all pray to our Lord Shri Krishna, to bless us with “Rasa” and “Bhava”, so that, we can all together, enjoy our Lord’s Compassion, Bliss and Grace.
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