As I discuss in my question here, Vishnu is said to have taught the principles of Vaishnavism to four disciples: Lakshmi, Brahma, Shiva and Sanatkumara. And in turn they started the four main Sampradayas or traditions of Vaishnavism: Sri Sampradayam, Brahma Sampradayam, Rudra Sampradayam, and Kumara Sampradayam. My question is about the Rudra Sampradayam, the one founded by Shiva. Currently the only Vaishnava sect which traces its origins to the Rudra Sampradayam is Pushtimarga, the sect of Vallabhacharya which worships the Srinathji form of Vishnu (which I discuss here.)

Now Vallabhacharya's followers believe that Vallabhacharya belonged to the Guru Parampara of Vishnuswami, an earlier Acharya of the Rudra Samparadayam. But the Gaudiya Vaishnava sect, which traces its origins to the Brahma Sampradaya, claims that before Vallabhacharya joined Vishnuswami's sect, he was originally a Gaudiya Vaishnava. Here is what Srila Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada, the founder of the popular Gaudiya Vaishnava organization ISKCON, says in one of his commentaries:

Vallabha Bhaṭṭa was a great learned scholar of Vaiṣṇavism. In the beginning he was very much devoted to Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, but since he thought that he could not receive proper respect from Him, he later joined the Viṣṇu Svāmī sect and became the ācārya of that sect. His sect is celebrated as the Vallabhācārya-sampradāya. This sampradāya has had great influence in Vṛndāvana near Gokula and in Bombay.

And Vallabhacharya is mentioned in two chapters of the Chaitanya Charitamrita, the traditional biography of Chaitanya Mahaparbhu, the founder of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. In this chapter, Vallabhacharya meets Chaitanya Mahaprabhu at the confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna rivers, has religious discussion with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, ferries him across the Yamuna river to his house, serves him devotedly in his house, and then ferries him across the Ganga river to Prayaga.

In another chapter of the Chaitanya Charitamrita, Vallabhacharya goes to Puri to meet Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and gives food to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his associates. Then some time later, Vallabhacharya comes back and tells Chaitanya Mahaprabhu that he has just written a commentary on the Srimad Bhagavatam, and that it's superior to Sridharaswami's commentary. Chaitanya Mashaprabhu takes offense to this, as he has great respect for Sridharaswami's work. This leads Vallabhacharya to lose his false pride, and he ultimately receives initiation from Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's shishya and childhood friend Gadadhara Pandita.

My question is, do Vallabhacharya's followers agree that Vallabhacharya was originally a Gaudiya Vaishnava? How do they characterize the encounters between Vallabhacharya and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, assuming they even happened? And do they accept that Vallabhacharya received initiation from Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's shishya Gadadhara Pandita?

  • BTW ShriDhar Swami was from Rudra Sampraday right? Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 6:11
  • @Vishalprabhulawande This is actually something that's been confusing me lately. I had previously thought that Sridharaswami was an Acharya in the Rudra Sampradayam who lived after the time of Vallabhacharya, and that there are no surviving works of the Rudra Sampradayam before Vallabhacharya. And yet now it seems that Sridharaswami lived before Vallabhacharya. The issue may be that there are multiple people named Sridharaswami. In any case, I recently posted a question here to finf out what Rudra Sampradayam works exist before Vallabhacharya: hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/18393/36 Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 6:20
  • Vallabhacharya's disciplic succession believe that he and Lord Chaitanya were contemporaries and they met. However, there's no clear text that describes the details of the topics of discussion between them. You must look at Chaitanya Charitamrita and similar bengali texts(like chaitanya bhagvata) for details.
    – Yashie
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 15:44

2 Answers 2


One time I was in Govardhan with Shyam Das, a western who lived in Vrindavan for many years and belonged to Vallabhacharya Sampradaya. I asked him if Vallabhacharya received diksha from Gadadhar Pandit and he said no, maybe it was another Vallabha. However, we Gaudiyas do believe it is the same Vallabhacharya.

  • 5
    You should cite some sources.
    – Pandya
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 0:48

  1. Just like your source of the belief is the 'Chaitanya Charitamrut'. In Pushitmarg, Vallabhacharya's 2 of the grandsons (Gokulnathji & Yadunathji) have compiled the lifeline and incidents into individual books. It does not mention any of what you just said.

  2. Infact, there are some historical sources, authored by non-Pushtimarg historians, that claim Vallabhcharya to be follower of Vishnuswami. For eg - from Royal records from Kingdom of Krishnadev of Vidhyanagar (Vijaynagar) on Vallabhacharya winning the Shastrarth.
  3. About School of Shudhhadwait. It is mentioned many a times, that the school of Shuddhadwait was found by Vallabhacharya. n fact, Vallabhacharya wrote a commentary on Brahmasutra called 'Anu bhashya' to prove that Shudhhadwait goes in line with Vedic Sanatan Dharma. I have heard that, in those times, it was necessary to write a commentary on BrahmaSutra to prove your belief is not opposing BrahmaSutras before forming a'Sect'.

    Also, I dont know what Vishnuswami believed in.

  4. There are not too many popular records on Vishnuswami in the sect today but Vallabhacharya's forefathers are mentioned to be followers of Vishnuswami. (Yagna Narayan Bhatt --> Gangadhar Bhatt --> Ganapati Bhatt --> Vallabh Bhatt--> Lakshman Bhatt --> Vallabhacharya).

  5. It is mentioned Vallabhacharya met Chaitanya mahaprabhu few times and the meetings were all about love for Krishna than anything else. In one incident, its said - Chaitanya Prabhu said - if one takes Krishna's name from heart for the duration of split second then the Jeev is taken care of by Krishna. And Vallabhachary replied - but if the Jeev forgets Krishna's Refuge for a split second then the Kaal Pravah prevails in him/her that could consume him/her in this age of Kaliyug. I hope this helps.

  • 2
    What are the names of the books? And can you point to any links mentioning those? Can you also mention the exact source of point.4 and point.5. Thank you
    – Prakash K
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 17:02

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