The Doctrine of Bhakti in Vallabha Vedanta

Item Code: NAC686
Author: K. Narain
Publisher: Indological Research Centre, Varanasi
Language: English
Edition: 2009
ISBN: 8188260029
Pages: 128
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.6 Inch X 5.8 Inch
Weight 320 gm
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Book Description
Reviews of the Book

“...His intimate acquaintance with the original Sanskrit texts has enabled him to express profound and subtle points of Advaita Vedanta with remarkable clarity... The whole treatment is scholarly and comprehensive, unified and well-proportioned. Thoroughness in presentation and dispassionate objectivity of exposition coupled with erudition are evident in this work. The style is easy and unpedantic. It is marked by a happy combination of adequate detail, critical evaluation and fairness. It is unquestionably the fine account of the philosophy of Advaita and it is a volume every serious student of Indian philosophy should possess.”
(The Hindu, dated 5th Oct., 2004.)

“Though a large number of books have been written on the system including outstanding works by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, Prof M. Hiriyanna, Dr. T.M.P. Mahadevan and others, not many of these works give a direct, traditional, textual interpretation of the system and its evolution during the post-Shankara period with references and quotations from the original Sanskrit texts. The present book is the result of an attempt to fill this gap... The author’s views and assertions are ably supported by references from the original Advaitic texts. Dr. Na rain’s study effectively establishes the logical invincibility and supremacy of the Advaita Siddhanta drawing upon a vast mass of Vedantic literature.., and can well serve as a text-book for higher classes in our universities. It is difficult to find a contemporary work that has better interpreted and presented the intricacies of Shankara s Advaita ‘Vedanta in such a simple, lucid and direct style... The author’s erudition is apparent throughout the book. The volume will be useful to those interested in learning the fundamental metaphysical doctrines of Advaita Vedanta. A detailed bibliography and index given at the end further enhance the usefulness and accessibility of the work”
Prabuddha Bharata, Vol. 110, Aug., 2005.)

“Dr. Narain is a sound scholar and an established writer. Evidently, he is an ardent student of the Advaita and Bhakti schools of Vedanta... In dealing with Advaita Vedanta, Dr. Narain goes over the vast field of literature that includes not only the works of Sathkara but of his predecessors like Gau4apada and his immediate disciples like Suresvara and Padmapada and later commentators like Vacapati Misra (Bhamati), Prakasatman (Vivarana), Madhusudana Sarasvati, Narsimhasrama, Appaya Diksita and Prakasananda. In thirteen chapters he covers the entire gamut of Sathkara ‘s thought in terms of concepts (maya, isvara etc.), epistemology (the doctrine of knowledge), the theory of causality and the summum bonum, or bra hrahmanubhava...”
(The Adyar Library Bulletin, 2003.)


From the Jacket

The Suddhadvaita Philosophy of Sri Vallabhacharya known as Brahmavada is a monistic system that propounds the Ultimate Reality as Determinate, Concrete, Personal and Individual having Pure Existence, Pure Consciousness and Pure Delight (Saccidananda) as Its principal attributes besides infinite other attributes. This Ultimate Reality or Brahman, which is nirguna, i.e., It transcends the three gunas of Prakrti, is conceived of as having four statuses depending on the quantum of the manifestation or concealment of this Blissful aspect. Vallabha contemplates of the three aspects or statuses of the original svarupa of Brahman namely the Purusottama, the Aksara and the Antaryamin. As there is a difference in the spiritual manifestation of the Aksara to the jnani and the bhakta, the Aksara is further classified into two and thus there is a fourfold classification of the original nature of Brahman. However, His aspect and status as prapahcarupa, i.e., His manifestation as the cosmos, which is also an aspect of Brahman, is not included in this scheme. The Supreme aspect of Immutable, Eternal, Indefinable and Infinite Brahman is termed by Vallabha as Purusottama or Krsna; what distinguishes Him from the other aspect is the unmitigated, untramelled and unlimited manifestation of Bliss. It is this particular status whose manifestation to the devotee opens to him the gateway to the highest and the supreme spiritual experience of Saccidananda.

Like other Vaisnavites, Vallabha firmly believes that Bhakti, not knowledge, is the ultimate means of bringing union with Purusottama and enabling the devotee to enjoy the unlimited bliss and participation in Krsna’s eternal sport. The Vallabhites denounce the Samkarite conception of mulch, which is only merger and absorption in Aksara-Brahman, as of the lower order in comparison to either union with Puruottama or Participation in His Divine Sport. According to Vallabha, only bhakti directed towards Lord Krsna is nirguna whereas devotion to all other gods and His vibhutis is saguna. It is only the knowledge and Bhakti of Purusottama that is really nirguna and leads to the supreme and highest attainment.

The greatest and the most original contribution of Vallabha as an exponent of religion and religious experience is his introduction of the concept of Puti-bhakti. All the earlier teachers had emphasized that bhakti is a means to the attainment of Brahman or Paramatman and should be performed in accordance with the instructions contained in the scriptures and was generally the privilege of the three dvija classes. This bhakti was termed by Vallabha as Maryada-marga. Besides this, he preached another way of devotion which he called Pusti-marga or the way of the grace of God in which there is no distinction of caste, creed or sex; it is a universal religion in which even the downtrodden and socially degraded, the women and the sudras are owned by the Almighty as His own. The path of Pusti is one of intense and deep-concentrated love in which this love for the Lord becomes both the means and the end for His devotee. The concept of Pusti-bhakti and Pusti-marga is so important in Vallabha’s Philosophy and Religion that Vallabha Vedanta is also known as Pusti-marga. The author has, therefore, undertaken a detailed analysis and exposition of Sri Vallabha’s Doctrine of Bhakti to enable the readers to have a correct understanding of the nature of Devotion in his philosophy and be benefitted by his contribution.

K. Narain, well versed in philosophical and religious literature of India and the West, is himself a great thinker, throwing light almost on every problem and assessing the different solutions provided by the various schools with a rare liberal attitude, doing all possible justice to every major solution that has been offered. He obtained the degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the Allahabad University in 1959. He has contributed several articles in national and international journals of Philosophy and Indology. An Outline of Madhva Philosophy, A Critique of Madhva Refutation of the Samkara School of Vedanta, Madhva Darsana (Hindi), The Fundamentals of Advaita Vedanta and The Philosophy of the Vallabha School of Vedanta are his pioneering works that are well acclaimed by the scholars all the world over. He studied under Mm. Dr. Umesha Mishra and Prof. A.C. Mukherji of the Allahabad University.



Subsequent to the publication of my book “The Philosophy of the Vallabha School of Vedanta” there has been a persistent demand both from the scholars and the general public interested in Vallabhite Philosophy and Religion to publish a separate monograph dealing exclusively with the concept of Bhakti and its practice specially the Pusti-Bhakti aspect, for the benefit of the readers. In deference to their wishes I am publishing this work which includes a major part of the above book dealing with this subject with necessary adjustments. As Sri Vallabha’s Bhakti is the practical side of his Philosophy and Religion which is considered by him as the only means and instrument of the ultimate attainment, the realisation of Purusottama, Sri Krsna and participation in His Divine sports. I have explicated his philosophical concepts and theories in the light of the other Vaisnavite philosophies in the Introductory Chapter of this book because without a proper understanding of his philosophy no comprehension of his contribution to Bhakti is possible. I hope this book will serve as a reliable compendium on Vallabhite Bhakti in general and Pusti-Bhakti in particular.

I am thankful to M/s. Indological Research Centre, Varanasi, having agreed to publish this work. I am thankful to M/s Ayushi Computer, Varanasi, for their hard labour in composing the book so gracefully. My thanks are also due to M/s Kabra Offsets, Varanasi, for their elegant printing.




  I. Introductory 1
  II. The Summum Bonum of Human Life 31
  (A) The Nature of Mukti 32
  (B) Eschatology 48
  III. The Means of Attainment 50
  (A) The Path of Works (Karma-Marga) 50
  (B) The Path of Knowledge (Jnana-Marga) 57
  (C) The Path of Devotion (Bhakti-Marga) 61
  IV. Forms of Bhakti 65
  (A) Maryada-Marga 65
  (B) Pusti-Marga 68
  V. The Theory and Practice of Bhakti 75
  (A) The Nature and Meaning of Bhakti 75
  (B) The Doctrine of Pusti-Bhakti 81
  (C) The Psychological Genesis of Bhakti 83
  (D) The Doctrine of Nirodha 86
  (E) The Theory of Sarvatmabhava 91
  (F) Bhakti As Means 102
  VI. Concluding Remarks 106
  Bibliography 115
  Index 123
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