Comparison between Vallabha and Chaitanya�s philosophies.


At the outset, let me say that both saints - Shri Vallabh and Shri Chaitanya were divine souls who came to spread Krushna bhakti in the world.  They led exemplary lives and are a role models to millions of us.  They both had abiding love for Shri Krushna and have done enormous service to mankind by spreading their philosophies across India and beyond.

There is plenty of information on the web about the similarities and differences between Pushti Marg and Gaudia sects. 
Both were set up in the Vraj area in the 15th - 16th centuries. 
Both had extensive connections with Hindu royals at the Imperial court at Agra / Skiri.

Krushna bhakti is Krushna bhakti.  But, there are some very distinct differences in how the two sects approach their devotion to Krushna.
To keep it simple, I have highlighted some key topics in the table below.



Shudh-Adviata = pure monoisum

Achintya Bheda-Abheda = qualified oneness

God and his creation are one and the same.  Just as gold and ornaments made from it are one and the same.  The form maybe different, but in essence, they are the one and the same.

Though Chaitanya talks of oneness, he keeps God aloof from his creation.  Though God may pervade his creation, he is forever apart from it.

Shri Vallabh asserts that everything is simply a different manifestation of the same reality.  It is the purest form of Advaita � absolute monoism.

Shri Chaitanya asserts you can only get so close to God, but never beyond a certain point.  So despite everything, there is an element of dualism in there.

God and his creation are always one � just as waves and the ocean are the one and the same.

God and his creation are forever separate � just as sun is from sunshine. 

If you forget God even for a moment, sansar will grab you and mire you in its myriad colours.

If you think of God even for a moment, God will save you from this samsara.

Like a kitten, be rest-assured that no matter whatever happens to you and wherever you may end up, be assured that God will ALWAYS take care of you.

Markat-bhava - Like a baby monkey, hold on to God with all your might and don't let go !  Ups and downs of life can easily separate you from God.

Different bhavas suite different types of people depending on their own nature.  There are lots of bhavs - sakhya, madhurya, vatsalya, dasya etc.  In Pushti Marg we worship according to bhav that is inherently natural and normal for us.  That way no one has to be forced into any one mould, we worship as we are !  This way, devotion to God conforms to our own nature and is than sahaj � natural !

Dasya bhava is prominent.  Even in Madhurya, the dasya element is strong.

Develop a personal relationship with God.  He is either a friend, lover, son, parent, husband, master etc.  God has said that once a relationship is created, He will maintain the relationship with vigour !  

Relationship is maintained by the devotee with "markat-bhava" (as above)

"Seva" is the aim of life.

"Seva" is carried out with full bhava that the Lord should be thought of as "one of us".  Keeping God's convenience in mind (tta-sukh), clothes, jewels, food etc we offer is in accordance with seasons, bhava etc.

"Sankirtan" is the aim of life.

"Puja" is carried out with the bhava that the Lord rules the universe and hence clothes, food etc are fairly grand and regal throughout the year.

 Shri Krushna is the sole deity in the sect.  Shri Yamunaji is the first guru of the sect.  Radha and the other swaminies gained importance later during Gosaiji�s time.

At its outset, Shri Radha is considered to be on-par with Shri Krishna.  A host of gopies and swaminies form the core of their mythology and belief system.

House-holder is considered as capable as a celibate or a monk in attaining oneness with God.

Celibacy and monkhood are promoted as a way of detaching from samsara.

Pushti Marg shrines resemble a mansion - "Haveli" -  in its layout and design.  Spire etc are not raised to attract undue attention to the shrine.

Shrine is shaped like a traditional temple, with a spire.  Later temples adopted Mughal and Rajput architectural styles, but retain their temple ground plan.

Saaj and shringar are changed in keeping with the seasons, festivals and the weather - keeping in mind ttasukh of the Lord (as above)
Turban and its ornaments are tilted to the right.

Saaj and shringar are always on a grand scale.  Lord is always dressed in festive / heavy attire.
Turban and its ornaments are tilted to the left, in the direction of his beloved Radha.

During the time of Emperor Akber, Birbal was a follower of Gausaiji.  He managed to get land grants for Pushti Marg in Gokul and Govardhan, so that's where their following became strong.
When religious leaders and divine icons left Vraj during Aurangzeb's tyranny , Pushti marg expanded in Rajasthan, Punjab and Gujarat.
Pushti leaders that came back in the 18th century decided to concentrate their efforts in Kamavan and Gokul.  There was no reason for them to try and set up in those areas of Vraj that were still under the financial and political control of the Gaudias.

During the time of Emperor Akber, Tansen was a follower of Haridas Thakur.  He managed to get land grants for the Gaudia sect in the Vrindavan area which Chaitanya Prabhu loved so much.
During Aurangzeb's repressive rule, many leaders moved to Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal.
In the 20th Century, HH Shrila Prabhupada popularised Gaudia sect in the west and founded the ISKON movement which has international membership.

Initially relationship between Pushti Marg and Gaudia sect were very cordial.  Initially, Gaudia priests served in ShriNathji's inner sanctum. 
Later, Gausaiji removed them from their post and assigned these to Pushti-Margi Vraj-vasis.  This soured the relationship between the sects.

Gaudias were rather cut up by the removal of their priests from ShriNathji's temple.  Relationships have been sour since.

Shri Vallabh was a scholar of renown and wrote a number of books and original commentaries.  He expanded on works of previous scholars and added new ideas - especially in the field of Shuddh-Advaita.

Shri Chaitanya preferred satsang to scholarly debates and chose to follow ancient commentaries by Sridhar rather than produce new ones.  This has also been a sticky point for the Gaudias - some believe Shri Vallabh was too big for his boots and should not have written new commentaries.

Pushti literature recounts a time when Shri Vallabh gave divine vision to Shri Chaitanya so he could see Mansi Ganga and Ksheer Sagar in their divine form.

Gaudia literature recounts a time when Shri Chaitanya publically snubed Shri Vallabh and did not go to see him as promised while in Puri. Not sure how this shows him to be great, but Gaudias take this as their right for snubbing Pushti Marg in general.



Whatever has divided the two sects, now needs to be healed and put away as something that happened in the past.  These incidences are truly too remote and too far in the past to be used as a reason to keep us apart. as a reason to keep us apart.

For sake of our children and our way of life, Hindus - all Hindus - need to unite.  Divisions between sects will not help us and will only weaken us as sects and as Hinduism. 


� Bhagwat Shah

Return to the Philosophy index

Return to the main courtyard of the Havelii


[email protected]