Vallabha on Rights and Relations

How to Cite

Jeffrey R. Timm. (2022). Vallabha on Rights and Relations: Journal of Vaishnava Studies. Journal of Vaishnava Studies, 16(2), 97–106. Retrieved from


This article is written in the memory of my late mentor Bibhuti Singh Yadav, who died an untimely death in 1999. Philosophy, expressed cross-culturally with an eye to exposing the ironies of all essentialist thinking, was Yadav’s passion. It was Yadav who introduced me to Vallabhacarya, the Vaishnava philosopher and hermenutical thinker.
The present work is a thought experiment that asks philosopher Vallabha to address a very contemporary set of problems. In an increasingly secular and commodified world, how do you maintain allegiance to a wisdom tradition or a faith community in the absence of absolutism, dogmatism, and fundamentalism? In an increasingly global and interdependent world what could a
medieval Vaishnava theologian offer to debates about environmental crises, or social injustices? Rather than immediately forging ahead into the abstractions of philosophical thinking, let’s concretize the problem with some literary analysis, and only then look to Vallabha for an answer: not only what he did say, but what he would have said were he answering today.

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