From a very young age, Shri Vallabhacharyaji felt that travelling and visiting the various pilgrimage sites around India was an essential part of His life mission. Indeed, to this end, He circumbulated India three and a half times and made many smaller visits when time permitted.
One of the most important things he did when on a pilgrimage was to recite sacred scriptures such as the Vedas, Ramayan and the Shrimad Bhagvatam. The spot chosen for such recitation was usually a quite grove outside the main town, on the banks of a river or a lake. Aside from reciting the original sholkas from the scriptures, He also gave His commentaries on the text and thus imparted valuable knowledge / wisdom to those present. Later, these were compiled in the AnuBhashya and Subodhiniji as his commentaries on the Brahma Sutra and Bhagvatam of Maharshi Veda-Vyasa.
Shri Vallabh's baithaks range from the Southern most tip of India - Rameshwara - to the Northern most outpost - BadriNath. There are baithaks from Dwarka on the Western coast to Puri on the Eastern coast. Baithaks are also found at Tirupati - at the shrine of the family's tutelary deity, Varanasi - where he lived for significant part of his life, Champaranya - His birthplace, Prayag - at the confluence of the three most sacred rivers of India and at several holy sites in Vraj. Following Shri Vallabhacharyaji's excellent lead, GopiNathji and VitthalNathji also gave religious discourses at sacred sites and established baithaks around India. Some of his grandsons and descendants also recited scriptures and established their own baithaks.
Shri Vallabh recited scriptures at many places. Of these, 84 are celebrated as "baethak" or "baithak" - literally "a place to sit". Hence 'Baethak / Baithak' is a place where Vallabh(kul) sat and recited scriptures. Later, small shrines were erected at some of these sites to honour the event. Some places have no buildings or temples to mark the place and we only know of them through vartas and Vallabhakhyan. (click here to see Shri Vallabh as he would have been at a baithak)
A baithak usually contains a sacred (hand-written) text and personal artefact(s) of the great Acharya. It is these relics of great men that make the spot sacred and hallowed to the members of the Pushti Marg. Unlike a haveli, no image of the great Acharya sits on the main throne / seat (gadi). Dhoti, uparna and shringar are usually offered to the gadi. When this is expertly done, it evokes the image of an acharya sitting there, waiting to talk to us ! Like a haveli, there are usually seven darshans per day with all the rituals this entails.
To this day, followers of the sect go to these sites for worship and contemplation. As Acharyashri abstained from taking any food during his sacred recitals and only drank water to sustain Himself, devotees offer fresh drinking water and sugar crystals to the "sacred seat" (baithakji).
There are :-
84 Baithakjies of Sri Mahaprabhuji.
28 Baithakjies of Sri Gosainji.
4 Baithakjies of Sri Girdharji.
13 Baithakjies of Sri Gokulnathji.
1 Baithakjies of Sri Balakrishna lalji.
1 Baithakjies of Sri Raghnnathji.
1 Baithakjies of Sri Ghanasyamji.
7 Baithakjies of Sri Hariraiji.
3 Baithakjies of Sri Damodardas Harsani (devotee, not part of Vallabhkul)
Baithaks and Charan Chokies of Shri Nathji
List of 84 baithaks of Shri Vallabh
Map of Baithaks
Map of Baithaks around Vraj
Map of Baithaks around Guajarat
Click here for useful info on MahaPrabhuji's 84 baithaks. - Some history and full postal address of the baithak are listed here.
© Bhagwat Shahh
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