Shyamdas Archives

Vallabhdas’ Shiksha Patra M.A. Thesis


An academic work much different than Shyamdas’ literary and bhava filled writing style, but it has its moments, for example the translations of Shyamdas’ guru Shri Prathameshji’s lectures! Click here if you dare to read my (Vallabhdas’) thesis, Spiritual Health in the Bhakti Tradition of Śrī Harirāyajī’s Śikṣāpatra.

My first exposure to the Shiksha Patra (Śikṣāpatra) text featured in this thesis was through having it read aloud and translated for me by Shyamdas. I consider him a true paṇḍit of bhakti, not just because
of the range of materials he has read and translated, but due to his ability to apply what he
learned to his own life, and to impart sacred teachings to others in practical form. When I chose
this text as the focus of my thesis, I did not fully realize that the topics of anxiety and grief so
central to the Shiksha Patra text would have such deep personal relevance in my life. While dealing
with the usual anxieties of meeting thesis deadlines, I became devastated with grief after losing
my best friend. Shyamdasji left this world suddenly last January. I owe and dedicate all of my
experiences with Shiksha Patra, including this thesis, to him…

The concept and treatment of anxiety in Śrī Harirāyajī’s Shiksha Patra (Teaching Letters),
an epistolary bhakti text from 17th century India, is examined here with translation of the
original Sanskrit verses, their vernacular Brajbhāṣā commentary by Gopeśvarjī and a 20th
century spoken commentary in Hindi by Prathameśjī. A review of secondary literature on the
Vallabha Sampradāya situates the present study in the field of bhakti studies. Analysis of these
primary and secondary sources encourages scholars to pay further attention to the practical
applications of bhakti texts, in addition to the more commonly treated transcendental elements of
spiritual literature. Finally, with reference to clinical health research, a case is made for the
potential contributions of bhakti literature to research on the mental and physical health impacts
of spirituality and religion.


Created by: Vallabhdas
Publisher: University of Washington
Refers to: Prathameshji, Shiksha Patra

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