The Life story of SRI VITHALNATHJI

If one has to believe the legends the births and deaths of many of the Saints of this great land called "Bharata Varsha" were always shrouded in- mystery. All most all of them had appeared on this planet with an avowed purpose, as a dispensation of divine will. Had it not been the expressed desire of Lord Vithoba of Pandarpur fame, the founder philosopher of Sudha Advaita and Pusti Marga, Sri Vallabhacharya Mahaprabhuji might have embraced the order of "Sanyasa" (asceticism) like all his predecessor Acharyas of other traditions like "Sankara", Ramanuja etc.
Sri Vallabhacharya was at Pandarpur when he received the command from the presiding deity of the place i.e. "Sri Vithoba". The lord asked him to give up his order of celibacy (Brahmacharya) and marry as soon as possible for HE said that HE wants to take birth as a child in his family. For all these years Sri Vallabhacharya had never given any attention to this aspect in his life. He was satisfied with his work of establishing the doctrine of Sudha Advaita and propagating the mission of Pusti Bhakti. On the contrary he had cherished the desire to embrace "Sanyasa" at some time or other.
This command from the Lord had changed the course of his smooth flow of philosophical and religious life and forced him to contemplate on the question of marriage and bringing up a family. Here he was in all earnest enjoying the life of a celebate - devouting all his energies in the study of higher realities and propounding revolutionary doctrines which shook the very roots of philosophical thinking of those days. And the Lord commanded him to marry adding : "There is the necessity for a worthy successor to carry on the mission of Pusti Bhakti after you."

Giving due respect to the wishes of Sri Vithoba, and though personally the idea was against his wishes, he decided to marry on returning to Varanasi Sri Vallabhacharya married the daughter of a very respected Sanskrit Scholar called Madhu Mangal. The name of the wife of Sri Vallabhacharya was Mahalakshmi but she was famous as "Akkaji" in the tradition. In all he had two sons "Sri Gopinathji" and "Sri Vithal Nathji".
Sri Vithal Nathji was born on the ninth day of the dark half of the month of posh in the S. Y. 1572. He was the second child of Sri Vallabhacharya. In his heart Sri Vallabhacharya was cognizant that this boy is an incarnation as promised by Sri Vithoba. Hence he named him Vithal Nath. ; Even though his elder brother Sri Gopi Nathji lived for a considerable time, the responsibility of propagating the principles of religious life under the system of Pusti ultimately fell on the shoulder of Sri Vithal Nathji alone, as predicted.
The childhood of Sri Vithal Nathji was spent at Adel, a small Suburban village on the banks of the confluence of the three holy rivers viz., Ganga, Jamuna and the extinct Saraswati. (It is believed that the last named river turned underground, still exists, but is not visible). At that time Sri Vallabha was engaged in writing his commentary (Bhasya) on Sri Bhagavata Puranam. This extensive treatise is one of the best works on Sri Bhagavata and is known as "Sri Subodhiniji". Various sports of the divine being and multiple incarnations are narrated in such an attractive manner that the young Vithal Nath was very much attracted towards them. It is alleged that he used to read Sri Bhagavata to the exclusion of all other studies and thus neglected them.
At the age of eight he was introduced to the order of celebacy (Brahmacharya) by performing his thread ceremony (Yajnopavita). Soon after that he was initiated into the study of scripture as is the practice in those days. He was put under the able guidance of one Pandit Madhava Saraswati.
It is stated that Sri Vithal Nathji had composed a series of verses, even at a tender age, in praise of the divine being and presented same before his illustrious father. Pleased at the purity of expression the venerated father blessed the blushing child. The same composition is recited in the Vallabha Sampradaya Havelies at the time of the "Arti" at Raja Bhoga". These are known as "Aryas".
It is obvious that from an early age Sri Vithal Nath had exhibited great tendency for arts and artistic way of presentation. He was fond of music and perhaps on account of this leaning towards 'lalit-kalas' he had introduced these applied arts in the daily services of 'Sri Thakurji', When he has assumed the reigns of the Sampradaya at a later stage.
At the time of "Asura Vyamoha lila" of his father, Mahaprabhu Sri Vallabhacharya, Sri Vithal Nathji was around 15 years of age. It was believed that the family remained in Adel for some considerable time. It is hard to say how much contribution was made by Sri Gopi Nathji in moulding his younger brother, after the passing away of their father.
But from the literature available we gather that Sri Vithal Nathji had spent a carefree life till this juncture. It is also evident that one Damodardas Harsani, an able and oldest disciple of Sri Vallabhacharya was instrumental in turning young Vithal Nathji to the seriousness of life.
Damodardas was an inseparable companion of Sri Vallabhachafrya. He had the complete grace of his master upon him. It is alleged that Sri Vallabha had made him experience the sporting pastimes (Lila) of Sri Thakurji, as such highly venerated in the tradition. On many occassions his master had told him fervently that he had disclosed the Pusti system for 'Damala's sake only. There can be no doubt about the devotion of 'Damala' towards his master. It is legendary. The following incidence is worth mentioning because it has a bearing with_the future life of Sri Vithal Nathji. It was an accepted fact that Damodardasa would not have been able to survive the loss of Sri Vallabha, because the pangs of separation would have been unbearable for Damodardasa. For this reason Sri Vallabha had to plead with Sri Govardhanl Nathji to allow courage to Damodardas to live after his 'Asura Vyamohalila'.
It is the expressed view of Sri Hariraiji that Sri Vallabha had purposely left behind his disciple Damodardasa so that the latter could guide the young protagonist. After the departure of Sri Vallabha, when it was observed that young Vithal Nath had not dissuaded from his carefree attitudes he had to be admonished by Damodardasa. Slowly Sri Vithal Nathji began to realize his folly and it seems that he first turned to his mother for guidance. It is alleged that under the instigation of his mother he had finally turned to Damodardasa for guidance on Pusti system. It is also alleged that as a mark of respect for performing the anniversary rights of his father Damodardasa had divulged the secret experiences he had gained through his master and benefactor on the lilas of Sri Thakurji, to young Vithal Nath. Thus we come to understand that Damodardas had played a great part in moulding the sentiments of young Vithal Nath in grasping the principles of Pusti tradition. We should not come to the conclusion that Sri Vithal Nath was neglected either by his father or by his elder brother. As said before he was kept under the best tutor's of his times and he had received proper training into not only his father's doctrines of Sudha Advaita but also of all the philosophical theories prevalent then. Otherwise he could not have been completed many of the works which his father left unfinished like Anu Bhasya, Subhodini etc. The only drawback alleged at the time of passing away of his father was his diversion of mind into other fields of activities rather than scrupulously adhering to his studies for which his mother "Akkammagaru" had to chide many times.
Damodardasa was much venerated in the family because of the faith Sri Vallabha had in him. So there is no wonder when Sri Vithal Nathji was asked by his mother to go and seek guidance from Damodardasa. The outcome of all these efforts was that a bud had blossomed into many splendoured beauty. Sri Vithal Nathji had given a broad spectrum to the practice of seva under pusti system which is flourishing in all its glory, the way we see his descendent's performing festivals and manoraths in their havelies of their presiding deities thronged by devout vaishnavas. The enthusiasm and fervous approach of these delighted devotees has to be seen to believed.
There can be no doubt that behind all those divergent activities created so beautifully there was that inner urge of a born artist to give expression to the multifaceted aspects of a complicated system (Marga). What a beautiful Pranali (tradition) had he generated in which the seva (service) of Sri Krishna is performed eight times in a day - known as "Asta Prahara Darshan" or glimpse of Sri Thakurji - twelve months round the year with all the magnificient sportive pastimes (Lilas) represented during all the festivals like - Janmasthami and Nanda Mahostava, like Dasahara and Vijayadasami celebrated for ten days, like Rama Navami and Rathayatra, like the grand festival of Diwali and Annakut which crown the activities of devote fervour of the AcKaryas as well as the followers of Pusti system.
He had methodically formulated the rules and regulations as to which service should follow the other one, what are the various cookeries (Pakvanna) that should be prepared for each "yama" or period of day, on each day, on every day of the week and on every important festival. Sri Vallabha had provided a system which can be observed in most simplest form, most likely because, he himself never preferred "Adambara" or proud exhibition. But like gold which receives fragrance to its inherent value by the magic touch, Sri Vithal Nathji had added regal splendour befit to the glory of Sri Krishna the undisputed king of yadavas, without changing the very fundamentalism of his venerated father - whom he used to refer in his works with reverence as "Tata Charana". The mode of seva has thus expanded by the efforts of Sri Vithal Nathji alone.
Let us consider how his multifaceted talent had taken a constructive shape. He had divided the work of seva (service) into various well defined departments known as "SaakGhar" - the department of vegetables and fruits; "Khasei Bhandar" or the store room where all essential provisions required are kept to be supplied at the shortest possible notice, "DoodhGhar" or the department where milk and milk products like
"Peda", "Burfi", Doodh Pudi" etc. are prepared to be offered to the deity at the right time; "PanGhar" or the special department where bettle leaves, bettlenut and other spices like cloves, jaji, javitvi (Bark and Nuts of a particular tree) kesar (Vermillion) and other ingredients used in Sringara are kept ready; "Phool Ghar" or a department with unique concept where the flowers of the season are gathered for the preparation of garlands etc. One distinct feature of Pusti Seva is the usage of all the ingreadients dependent upon the season so that Sri Thakurji can enjoy the best of everything. In summer the deity is presented with dresses made out of flowers.
Sri Vithal Nathji had engaged the services of trained Brahmins in the preparation of varieties of food dishes to be served according to the time of the day. In addition the dishes vary according to the season and also dependent upon the festival that is before him. Even the birth day celebrations of the Acharyas and their family members receive special attention. Each department is worked out to the minutest detail with an eye to artistic presentation, coupled with the desire to offer maximum comfort to the divine swarupa.
The actual seva is distributed between the chief priest called Mukhiaji and his able assistants who can carry the seva efficiently even in the absence of the Acharyas. These handpicked persons share the maximum responsibility of not only attending to the seva of the swarupa, but also taking the charge of all valuable articles connected with the service like the 'marble' and silver sanga - machies (a kind of sofa), Hatadies, (domed contraptions on pillars open on all sides), the valuable Jari clothes, Jewellery etc. One must admit that every department [for want of space I have not described each and every department that plays an important part in carrying on the seva of Sri Thakurji - like the RasoiGhar (Kitchen), Bal Bhoga Department, the Bhandar or the general godown where large quantities of provisions are collected, the darikhana or office which manages the day to day routine work etc - and the management of seva pranai bears the stamp of the eminence of Sri Vithal Nathji because even to-day the same procedure is observed in its details with perhaps minor changes to suit the present day condition.
ASTACHAPA Sri Vallabha had four devoted disciples who used to compose and sing about sportive lilas of Sri Thakurji with spontaneity and abandon. In a similar way Sri Vithal Nathji also had four disciples who composed music. In all, the Sampradaya boasts of eight composers who are famous by the denomination of "Asta Chapa". Suradasa - the born blind poet belonged to Sri Vallabha's period, whereas Sri Govinda Swami was associated with Sri Vithal Nathji Kumbhandasa, Paramananda Dasa, Chaturbhuja Dasa and Chita Swami were some other great composers of those times.
Sri Vithal Nathji was also called 'JagadGuru' like his illustrious father. The former was also a religious leader of high calibre, capable of moulding the minds of millions, and formulating directions to the Sampradaya while he maintained the original form given by Sri Vallabha. He had toured extensively covering in the West places like Gujarat, Kathiawad and Sri Dwarka, in the East - Magadha Desa, Gauda Desa (Bengal) and Jagannatha Puri; in the North he reached upto Badri- Kasram; his chief purpose was to propagate the message of his father to the farthest corners.
Most of the incidents related to the life of Sri Vithal Nathji are gathered from a literary work known as "Varta Shitya" - containing the episodes of 252 Vaishnavas who were considered to be the handpicked devotees of Sri Vithal Nathji. So also there is a reference to 84 disciples of Sri Vallabha and the work is called 84 "Vaishnava Varta".
Due to incessant efforts and concentrated approach he had made Gujarat a prominent centre of Vaishnavism. But it is sad to note that neither the founder philosopher of Sudha Advaita, nor Sri Vithal Nathji nor any of his subsequent descendents could reach the South and establish their system even though-Sri Vallabha had claimed a major victory over the Sankaracharya's Kewala Advaita in the court of Raja Krishna Deva Raya of Vidyanagar fame. May be this is because of the predominence of "Krishna Cult" in the North and West India or may be due to lack of concentration of the energies of the descendents. It is also sad to note that the place where Sri Vallabha had been weighed in gold for his monumental victory over his opponents does not boast of any monument to commemorate the event. It is recorded that Sri Vithal Nathji had made tours throughout Gujarat for as many as sixteen times between the Samvat years of 1600 and 1638.
There is a legend in connection with the tours of Sri Vithal Nathji in Gujarat. It is alleged that he had one disciple hailing from Patan. He was named Harivansa, a Kshatria by birth, Sri Vithal Nathji is said to have deputed his authority to Hari Vansa to initiate Gujaratis into "Asta-Akshara Mantra" Diksha. This person was very adept in turning people into Vaishnavas. It so happened once (the legend goes) that Sri Vithal Nathji could not find a single vaishnava in a particular village and remarked loudly that perhaps Hari Vansa had not passed through this village. He had been called lovingly as 'Chacha Hari Vansa' by Sri Vithal Nathji and was highly respected.
Another important aspect in the life of Sri Vithal Nathji is the recognition he had received from the Mugal Emperor Akbar, the Great. It is said that Sri Vithal Nathji, on the request from the Emperor, had visited Agra - the then capital of Moghuls - twice, once in the S. Y. 1634 and again in the S. Y. 1638. Akbar was very much impressed by the personality of Sri Vithal Nathji. His deep knowledge of Sastras, his practical approach to the religion and utter devotion towards Sri Govardhan Nathji was phenomenal. The Emperor, it is said, had sought advice on some important state affairs and the pragmatic suggestions advanced had left indelible mark on the mind of Emperor Akbar. Akbar had entrusted judicial powers to Sri Vithal Nathji. He also conferred the title of Sri GOSAINJI (which actually means a Saint) and gifted pasture lands in Jatipura. It is also stated that Akbar used to snatch some moments of his official life and visit Gokul to meet Sri Vithal Nathji.
The literature of the Sampradya refers to many important courtiers of Akbar like Taj Bibi, Rai Purushottama Das, Raja Birbal, Raja Todarmal, the famous singer and composer of classical music - Tansen and Shobhavati (daughter of Birbal) who had, apart from the fact that they had accepted him as their Spiritual Guru, very cordial relations.
Sri Vallabha had very often stated that in Kali yuga the only Marga (Path) left for the jiva to emancipate from the bonds of Births and death is devotion or Bhakti. Another name for Bhakti is 'dedicated service' of Sri Krishna. Sri Vithal Nathji was a true born religious head of high order. He is a confirmed devotee of Sri Thakurji. His religious convictions have no comparison in Sampradaya. His attachment towards Sri Govardhan Nathji is beyond the belief of human beings. It is alleged that he could commune with Sri Govardhan Nathji as freely as if you are talking to a companion. He used to address the Swarupa of Sri Nathji as Bawa and it is said that Sri Thakurji used to address him as "Kakaji". These are some incidents in the life of divine people which will remain beyond the perspective capacity of ordinary man. But his life is full of such instances which prove the fact that he could commune with Sri Thakurji.
ROOPA POLIA This legend is told very often by the elders in the family. Kavi Govinda Swami was a renowned singer of Kirtan before the swarupa of Sri Govardhan Nathji (Sri Nathji), all the eight periods of the day (Asta Prahava). But there was one "Polia" or attendent called Rupa who used to murmur the Kirtan while he used to sweep the fore court of the Mandir in the night - after the last darshan. One day Govinda Swami happened to listen Rupa Polia and admonished him not to sing before Sri Nathji because the Polia's voice was harsh and he was singing without the knowledge of beat of the music. Poor Rupa stopped singing immediately. The next day when Sri Vithal Nathji opened the portals of the Mandir he saw Sri Thakurji wide awake and his eyes were red with sleeplessness. So Sri Vithal Nathji asked "Bawa ! why are your eyes red !" Sri Nathji said : "Kakaji ! I could not sleep whole night because Govinda stopped Rupa from singing my "lories".
TAJBIBI Another legend is also very often repeated in the circles of devotees of Sri Vithal Nathji. Sri Vithal Nathji had a staunch disciple in one Muslim lady named Taj Bibi. She is also a composer singer of Kirtans of the Sampradaya and is held in high esteem. She is very much devoted to Sri Nathji. But she used to live far away in Rajasthan. But every night, it is alleged in the Sampradaya literature that Sri Nathji used to visit her and play Chaupad and Sataranj (two games of the kind of chess) with her till late at night. At one instance when Sri Vithal Nathji opened the portals of the Mandir at Mangala Darshan he found (Sri Nathji lying in a Suthan and Pataka which is a Muslim dress which he had never created for the Swarupa. So he asked : "Bawa what is this ! Where did you get this dress !" Sri Nathji told : "Kakaji ! This is presented to me by Taj Bibi ! I like this dress". From that day the legend goes that Sri Thakurji began to wear a jari Suthan and Patka.
There are many incidents in life which prove his ardent love for the Swarupa. It is no longer an icon to Sri Vithal Nathji. It is a living symbol whom he used to worship as if he were present in person during the seva period.
ALL INCLUDED This utmost dedication towards Sri Thakurji had turned him into a natural religious leader of high order. His selfless approach had opened the doors of devotion to all irrespective of caste, creed and race. He had taken into the fold of Pusti Marga not only low caste Hindus but he also initiated Muslims into Krishna Bakti. The compositions of Saint Poet Rasa Khan are the marvellous compositions of Krishna cult. Some other names that have left indelible prints on the Sands of Bhakti history are Ali Khan, his daughter Pirjadi and Taj Bibi. It is also alleged that even thugs (cheats), thieves and pickpockets had given up their end ways and turned strong disciples of Sri Vithal Nathji and adopted Krishna Bhakti.
Now we come to his literary achievements best one may come to the conclusion that his contribution to literature was naught. In addition to his intense life of carrying the mission of his father's Pusti principles to the doors of far flung places, he had turned his attention in completing the works of his father like "Anu Bhasya" etc. His independent commentaries on some of the 16 works of Sri Vallabha - known in the Sampradaya as "Shodhas Grantha" throw great light on Vallabha Sidhanta (doctrines). He had also written independent commentaries on some of the Prakaranas (chapters depicting certain principles or aspects) like Janma (Birth), Tamas and Rajas (two aspects of devotional life) of Subodhini.
Another important and independent contribution is his commentaries on the last four verses of the fifth chapter of the 6th canto of Sri Bhagavata Purana. This work is both in verse and prose form and is called "Chatus Sloki". The learned scholars of the Sampradaya observe that no major works on Gita are available, written either by Sri Vallabha, or his illustrious son, Sri Vithal Nathji.
GAYATRI BHASHYA Another important work of Sri Vithal Nathji is his commentary in verse form on Gayatri. It consists of 34 verses.
His major independent work on the philosophy of Sudha Advaita is known as "Vidvan Mandan". It is generally understood that this work was written prior to his attempts to compose the commentaries on Subodhini and trying to complete Anu Bhasya - left unfinished by his father. The reason for this supposition being that the learned subsequent scholars could find several references to it in the two later works. A commentary on "Vidvan Mandanam", called "Sidhanta Sobha", was written by Sri Vithal Nathji. But is said that this work was attempted at a later stage when his erudite sons and grandsons used to participate in the discussions. So far we have discussed his contribution towards the doctrines on Sudha Advaita philosophy.
Now turning to the path of devotion we have two works available before us viz., "Bhakti Hansa" and "Bhakti Hetu Nirnaya". He has proved beyond doubt in "Bhakti Hansa" that devotion is on a higher pedestal than the path of Upasana (a form of worship). It is his confirmed belief that without the benign grace of Sri Thakurji a Jiva cannot achieve the highest goals in Bhakti Marga.
"Srigara Rasa Mandanam" is another important work written in three different parts. The first is called "Rasa Sarvasva" and contains eleven verses. The second is called "DanaLila" and the third is called "Vratacharya" each consisting of eight verses popularly known as "Astapadi".
Other works credited to him are : "Vijnapthi", "Gita Govinda Vivruti", "Nyasa Desa", "Vivruti", etc. Sri Vithal Nathji, when he was not on his travels round Gujarat etc., stayed mostly in Gokul where he had constructed several Havelies for the residence of his growing family. As mentioned earlier the childhood of Sri Vithal Nathji was spent in Adel, a small township near Allahabad (Prayag).
He was married to one Sri Rukminiji, the daughter of Sri Visvanath Bhat and Sri Bhavani. It took place when he was seventeen years of age in the S. Y. 1589.
RATHAYATRA In the S. Y. 1616 he visited JagannathaPuri. Here he had an occasion to come in contact with the direct disciples of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The latter was a contemporary of his father. It appears that Sri Vithal Nathji was much impressed by the extensive seva pranali of Lord Sri Jagannath. During this period he must have absorbed various artistic concepts of other Sampradayas during his travels throughout the length and breadth of the country and had attempted to adjust them in the seva pranali of Pusti Marga. One thing that must have impressed him very much was the prodigious Ratha yatra festival of Sri Jagannatha. It is said that he brought with him one carpenter called "Rasa" and got constructed a chariot on the pattern of the Ratha (chariot) of Sri Janannatha and celebrated Ratha yatra of his Thakurji once when he was in Adel and the other time when he was staying in Gadha the Capital of Rani Durga Devi.
We observe from records that he stayed in Adel upto S. Y. 1619. Later on, at the request of the Rani Durga Devi, he stayed in Gadha for some considerable period. It was here that his wife Sri Rukuminiji passed away after a short illness. In the S. Y. 1620, on pressure from the Rani, he had married for a second time, one Padmavati, the daughter of Sri Krishna Raya Bhatt. It appears that he stayed in Gadha for over three years. There were rumours of impending invasion by the armies of Akbar Badshaha. Rani Durgavati, anticipating ruthless destruction, requested Sri Vitha! Nathji to leave Gadha. First he went to Prayag. From there he had been to Gokul and from there he reached Mathura, the birth place of Lord Sri Krishna. Here Rani Durgavati had already commanded to construct a huge haveli for the residence of Sri Vithal Nathji and his now large family. This Haveli was populary known as "SatGhara". It appears that he stayed in this Haveli for six years and in S. Y. 1628 shifted once again to Gokul. It is alleged that the township of Gokul and several pasture lands around were gifted to him and his family by Emperor Akbar in the S. Y. 1634. Sri Vithal Nathji stayed there till the end of his life.
CHILDREN From his first marriage to Rukminiji he had four daughters, viz., Shoba, Yamuna, Kamala and Devaki. In addition he had six sons out of her viz; (1) Sri Girdharji (2) Sri Govinda Raiji (3) Sri Bala Krishnaji (4) Sri Gokul Nathji (5) Sri Raghu Nathji (6) Sri Yadu Nathji. He had only one son out of his second wife - Padmavatiji - named (1) Ghanasyamji.
In the name of Seven sons of Sri Vithal Nathji, seven seats have come into existence - generally known as "Gadies" in the Vallabha Sampradaya. Perhaps Sri Vallabha had never conceived of the shape his Pusti Marga would take one day. To Sri Vallabha the be all and end all of this Marga is his dedication of Sri Krishna. The humbleness and humility propagated by him is proverbial. He believed that without assuming this "Dasya Bhava" (sentiment of servitude) a Jiva can never conceive of shedding its "Ahamta" (ego), "Mamata" (possessiveness) and surrender in utter humility leaving everything to the Mercy of Sri Thakurji.
But it appears that Sri Vithal Nathji had planned it differently. We must state to his credit that he never deviated from the path of service of Sri Thakurji. But he has introduced "Rajasi Seva" or regal splendor into the department of service. It is no longer a simple mode with no complications in the approach. Grandeur and pomp replaced the simplicity as more and more comforts were added or introduced into service and as the burden increased they have to engage extra hands to shoulder the expanding responsibilities. And by the time all the seven sons had assumed their respective Gadies after the passing away of Sri Vithal Nathji a new heirarchy of Acharya Parampara (tradition) was born.
Sri Vallabha, during his wanderings (he had travelled round Bharat Varsha for three times on foot), had collected ten different Swarupas (icons of different shapes and sizes). He had entrusted the seva of these Swarupas to his personal and able disciples, for he had, very rarely, stayed at any one place for long. During his life Sri Vithal Nathji had collected all these Swarupas back and had distributed them between his seven sons. Seva of Sri Govardhan Nathji at Jatipura was entrusted to his eldest son Sri Girdharji and his descendants with a right for all other sons and their descendents to offer seva to Sri Nathji. The seven Swarupas are known as Nidhies in the Sampradaya Spreading the fragrance of love for Sri Thakurji in all directions Sri Vithal Nathji lived upto a very ripe age.
His attachment towards Sri Govardhan Nathji is phenomenal. As mentioned before he could communicate with the Swarupa of Sri Nathji. It is believed that Sri Nathji used to command his wishes directly and Sri Vithal Nathji used to comply them to the satisfaction of Sri Thakurji. To non-believers all this must be appearing as fabrication and concoction of mind. But the staunch vaishnavas have absolute trust in these matters of religious fervor. It would fill pages if one begins to narrate the various legends current in Sampradaya. I have already referred to the legend of Taj Bibi where Sri Govardhan Nathji used to visit during the nights when Sri Thakurji is put to rest after the "Sayana Darshan" and how the tradition of wearing a Suthan and Pataka have cropped up in the Sringara (decoration) of the Swarupa and Chopad and Sataranj were introduced to the play kept before the Swarupa on the Khanda Pata (a desk like wooden frame where all the accessories like clubs, ball, toys and animal figures are decorated with taste before Sri Thakurji). Many such instances are narrated in the "Prakatya Varta" (the episodes on the manifestation) of Sri Govardhan Nathji. Sri Krishna is referred as Sri Thakurji in the Sampradaya and his consort as Sri Swaminiji. Before I write the word "finish" to this narration one important incident remains to be mentioned in the life of Sri Vithal Nathji.
Sri Gopi Nathji, the elder brother had a son called Sri Purushottamji. It is said that Sri Gopi Nathji used to spend most of his time outside Gokul. Even though he was quite competent to take the reins of their father's mission into his able hands, it is generally believed, that he allowed his younger brother Sri Vithal Nathji to lead the disciples. May be, Ilke others, he also believed that his brother is an incarnation of Sri Vithoba of Pandarpur and as it is the expressed desire of Vithoba to take birth as the second son and carry the dynasty further, the elder brother must have carried the premonition of his family ending up suddenly whatever it may be he was reluctant to come forward. From the letters exchanged in between the brothers (some of the letters, though written in Deva Nagari script contained matters in the language of Telugu - their mother tongue) it is obvious that no differences existed and the relations were cordial. However there is a recorded discordant note which shows that there was considerable antagonism between the wife of Sri Gopi Nathji and the staunch disciples of Sri Vithal Nathji. It was a general practice with Sri Vithal Nathji to visit Jati Pura daily at the time of Sankhanatha (when the conches are sounded to wake up Sri Thakurji - a practice followed in the Havelies even to-day) and return to Gokul after attending to the service till Sri Thakurji is put into bed in the night. In those days the management of the affairs of the Mandir was in the hands of one Ramadas who was appointed by Sri Vallabha when the Swarupa of Sri Govardhan Nathji was installed in a Mandir. It is alleged that some kind of misunderstanding had arisen between him and Sri Vithal Nathji. Finding an opportunity, it is believed in the Sampradaya, that Sri Purushottamji had instructed the Adhikari (Ramadasa) to close the portals of the Mandir to Sri Vithal Nathji. So the next morning, before day break when Sri Vithal Nathji had arrived at the base of the Govardhan Mountain he was prohibited by the servants to enter the premises of the Mandir. This had pained Sri Vithal Nathji very much because he had never missed an opportunity to offer service to Sri Thakurji. He did not want to contradict either the Adhikari who was an old employee and venerated by all nor his nephew who was a still young child. He knew that his elder brother was somewhere in Puri and had he been there he would not have allowed the things to take an un-savored turn.
So he quietly turned his horse towards a nearby village called Parasoli on the bank of lake "Chandra sarovar". As a mark of penance he had given up cooked food and taken a vow that he would not return to Gokul unless I, is allowed to have a glimpse of Sri Thakurji. It is believed that he stayed in the village in a state of viraha i. e. pining for a Darsan for as many as six months. When the news of this obnoxious attitude of the Adhikari had reached Gokul, the eldest son of Sri Vithal Nathji was very much vexed. In a fit of anger he obtained an order from the Badshah (Emperor) at Agra for the arrest of the Adhikari. Information was also sent post haste to Sri Gopi Nathji at Puri on the strength of the orders from Agra Sri Girdhariji has caused the arrest of the Adhikari and got the gates opened for Sri Vithal Nathji.
It was the S. Y. 1605 and during this period of separation (Viraha) from Sri Thakurji. Sri Vithal Nathji had composed series of verses known in the Sampradaya as "Vijnapaties".
The Sampradaya owes much to the originality of this dedicated religious leader. The present form of Seva Pranali as it is observed is the creation of Sri Vithal Nathji. He has brought coherence and a systematic and uniform procedure to seva.
The last days of Sri Vithal Nathji were spent in Jati Pura at the Lotus like feet of Sri Govardhan Nathji. His end came peacefully when he reached more than 70 years of age. On the six day of the black half of the month of Magha in the S. Y. 1642, It is believed that Sri Vithal Nathji had entered the cave of the Mount Giri Raiji never to return. On this event the legend goes like this. When the venerated old father began to enter the cave his sons had requested him to leave some mortal symbol to which they could administer the best rites as he was going without leaving his body, so that they can maintain the Laukika achara (observation of wordly practices). So it is alleged that he had left behind his "uttariya" (the upper cloth with which he used to cover his torso) with a final request that it is be taken to the burning ghat dragged In the reti of Vraj. (Reti is fine dust).
The great evolved souls come into this world with avowed purpose. Their lives are shrouded in mystery and these divine persons should not be equated with ordinary mortals. But for the advent of this great Soul Vallabh Sampradaya would have gone the same way like the imprints of many of the traditions vanished on the sands of time. We observe the stamp of his personality in every department of seva followed even to-day, after the lapse of five hundred years. The only tribute we can offer as a mark of respect to his great contribution to the Sampradaya is to salute him every morning before getting out of bed.

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