What is Pushtimarg? Pushtimarg(The Path Of Grace)is one of the many sects in the Hindu religion. Pushtimarg was founded by Shrimad Vallabhacharya Mahaprabhu. Shri Vallabhacharya is one of the five main Acharyas of the Hindu Religion. The other four being (1)Shankaracharya (2)Shri Ramanujacharya, (3)Shri Madhavacharya (4)Shri Nimbarkacharya. These acharyas have a very significant contribution towards the revival of the Bhakti movement and upbringing of the Hindu Religion. Shri Vallabhacharya was born into a very noble and learned Brahmin family in South India in what is today called Andhra Pradesh. His ancestors had a very staunch religious background and included learned Brahmins like Shri Yagnanarayan Bhatt and Shri Ganapati Bhatt. They wrote several books on religion and devotion. Shri Vallabhacharya was the second son of Lakshman Bhatt and Yallammagaru. Their ancestors had performed several Soma-yagnas and Shri Lakshman Bhatt completed 100 Somyagnas. Shri Yagnanarayan was blessed by Lord Vishnu, that on completion of 100 Soma-yagnas, God himself would incarnate in his family. Thus when 100 Soma-yagnas were complete, Lakshman Bhatt went to Kashi to accomplish his vow of feeding 1.25 lakhs Brahmins. He could not complete this task as there were political disturbances in Kashi. He took his pregnant wife Yallammagaru and on his way southwards he halted at a place called Champaranya. Where his wife gave birth to a still baby which they kept under a tree and proceeded ahead. On the same night Lakshman Bhatt heard a celestial voice ordering him to go back to the baby and pick it up as it was misunderstood to be a still born. That baby was no ordinary one, but by the grace of God, Shri Vallabh had taken birth through Yallammagaru's womb. On reaching the spot where they had kept the baby, they found the baby encircled by a divine fire as a protecting spirit. Shri Vallabh was a brilliant and extra-ordinary child. He finished studying all the Vedas and all the prominent scriptures at a very early age. At the age of 11 he started his all India pilgrimage. During this tour he came to Vijaynagar where he came to know about a sensational debate that was being conducted in the court of King Krishnadevraya. The debate was between the different Acharyas over the question whether God is dualistic or non-dualistic. Shri Vallabh entered the court and with his unopposed arguments proved that God is non- dualistic. The details of which can be known in a book named "Vallabh Digvijay". During the second pilgrimage, Lord Krishna appeared in the form of Lord Shrinathji in front of him and ordered him to reestablish Pushti Marg and propagate the pushti kind of devotion among the chosen ones and bring them back to their original state in God's own domain. i.e. Vaikuntha or Golok-dham . But the question in Shri Vallabh's mind was that the divine souls in this world too are highly influenced by the materialistic world and their souls and body have lost the kind of purity that is needed for their reunion with the Supreme entity i.e. Lord Krishna. Lord Shrinathji assured him that with "BRAHAMASAMBANDHA", whichever soul is admitted into the Pushti marg, all its worldly impurities will refrain from obstructing the soul's relation with Himself and will be eligible to pursue His bhakti. That was the night of Prabodhini Ekadashi ( Four days before the new moon day) of the auspicious month of Shravana. Lord Shrinathji taught him the Brahamasambandha mantra and asked him to bring back the divine souls into his seva.
"Brahmsambandh" - The Formal Initiation into The Path Of Grace The absolute and exclusive rights to grant "Brahmsambandh" in the path of grace, in order to transform an Ordinary "jeev"(soul) into a Pushti "Jeev" lie only with "Vallabhkul Goswami Balaks"(The word "Goswami" literally means-The protector of cows), who Vallabh Vaishnavas respectfully and lovingly refer to as: "Goswami","Bawa" or "Jeje". They are the actual and direct descendants of Shreemad Vallabhacharya Mahaprabhu. Goswamies are responsible for the "pushti"(literally means spiritual nourishment) of all the disciples initiated by them. Brahmsabandh is a process, where after fasting for one full day(consuming fruits and milk only) one is given the Krishna "Gadh Mantra" in front of a Deity "Swaroop" by a Vallabhkul Goswami after which "tulsi" leaves(Indian Basil) are offered to the lotus feet of the Lord. The "Adhikaar"(right) to perform daily "seva" comes only after one is initiated into Pushtimarg by means of formally granting Brahmsambandh by a Goswami Balak. Without brahmsambandh one does not hold the right to perform seva of a "Pusht" (alive) Deity "Swaroop". The Three Pillars of Pushtimarg The three pillars of Pushtimarg are 1)Raag(Traditional Haveli Music), 2)Bhog(Pure Vegetarian Food Offerings excluding Onion, Garlic,Cabbage and Root Vegetables), and, 3)Vastra&Shringar(Dressing up the deity with beautiful clothes,headwear and jewellery adornments). All the above three are included in the daily "seva"(ritual service) which all Pushtimarg following Vaishnavs offer their "Thakurji"(Personal Krishna Deity) and all have been traditionally prscribed by Goswami Shri Vitthalnathji also called Gusainji(Vallabhacharya's younger son) almost five hundred years ago. The Music,Food and Adornment offerings vary daily according to the season, day and time of day; and this is the main reason why this path so colourful and alive compared to any other Vaishnav cult. Seva is the most important way to attain "Pushti" in Pushtimarg and has been prescribed by Mahaprabhuji Shri Vallabhacharyaji as the basic tenet; and all principles and tenets of Shuddhadvaita Vaishnavism stem out from there. Shri Vallabahcharya on the next day taught the same Mantra to his first disciple Shri Damodardas Harsani along with the principles of Pushtimarga. This was how Pushtimarga was established. To understand Pushtibhakti better, let us now have an overview of its features :- It is spontaneous, selfless & motiveless love for God. It is based on pure love for God. It is expressed only through service of God - "Seva". It is love after realising God's true nature. The knowledge gained is not a means of liberation. Liberation, is considered secondary to the enjoyment of God's bliss. Its aim is God's happiness. No caste, creed, color, sex or age becomes the criteria, the only criteria is God's Grace. It does not know any boundaries, be it time, place or anything else. It does not require a devotee to give up a householder's life. In fact, one can serve Him better, by being a householder. All the worldly desires are diverted towards God, they are then not required to be suppressed. World is not looked down upon but is treated as God's creation and thus as real as God himself. Shri Krishna is the supreme God, all the other deities reside in his form. Therefore total faith is placed in Shri Krishna alone. In the state of liberation the entity of the devotee merges into God's blissful form, but in Bhakti (especially Pushti bhakti) the devotee does not seek liberation but he enjoys God's bliss by participating in it as a separate divine entity.
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