Pushtimarga is also known as Vallabha Sampradaya:
Pushtimarga was started by Jagad Guru Shri Vallabhjacharya (1481-1533), son of Shri Lakshman Bhatt of kankarvad, a town on the banks of river Krishna in Andhra Pradesh (India). Shri Lakshman Bhatt was a telugu Brahmin of velanadu caste. Shri Vallabhacharya some 500 years back started Pushtimarg.
Pushtimarg is made up of two words Pushti and Marg. Marg means path or the only path to go near Shrinathji. Pushti in ordinary term means healthy i.e. one who is very robust and stout as he is eating good food whereas according to Shri Vallabhacharya, Pushti means Grace of God, the Supreme Lord Shrinathji. Pushti means Krupa in Gujarati, Hindi, Sanskrit and Vraj Bhasha. Hence it follows Pushtimarg is otherwise also known as Krupa Marg.
Pushtimarg means to attain God through the path of Grace:
Why is Pushtimarg also known as Krupa Marg? Entry of a person in Pushtimarg is also only by the Grace of Shrinathji. Many people gain entry in Pushtimarg but only one in a crore person get the grace or Krupa of Shrinathji.
In Pushtimarg, Idol of child form of Lord Krishna ( Shrinathji), the child who is only crawling. Such a small child is taken care of by the worshipper or Vaishnav who is looking after the needs of the child.
It is also a “family-religion.” Vallabha himself was a family man and his teaching emphasizes the virtues of family life as means to earn God’s grace. “The worship of lord requires the services of all members of the family, and all are promised the highest bliss that always results from worship or seva. This mode of service makes the whole family free from wordly ties even when leading a houseolder’s life. And their whole life becomes divine.”
The person who has gained entry in Pushtimarg by taking the Brahmasambandh from the descendants of Shri Vallabhacharya is called a Vaishnav. Shri Vallabhacharya’s other name is Vaishnavanar hence those who follow the path shown by shri Vallabhacharya (Vaishnavnar) is a Vaishnav. It is observed that to whomever Shri Vallabhacharya gave Brahmasambandh, he or she was asked to do Seva or be in attendance in the duty of Shrinathji.
In Pushtimarg when the Guru gives Brahmasambandh, such a person also on his own requests and ask for an idol (Swarup) for doing Seva.
In this form of worship that is by doing Seva to the swarup (Idol) as if the swarup is his own Son, just as we take care of our son and protect him from heat / cold so also this Swarup is to be protected from heat /Cold etc. Just as we offer food to our child in the same way while doing Seva the person has to offer food to the Swarup.
Just as we pamper our child from Morning to Night by giving him the best food, clothes or whatever he wants. So also the Swarup has to be pampered as our own child and attend to his needs. Such form or method of doing Seva or Worship is not available in any other sampradaya or religion.
Though the swarup is made up of metal or wood or stone, in Pushtimarg the Seva is done as if the Swarup is in human form (Flesh and Blood form). In pushtimarg one has to take care of the swarup and always offer him the best and always think about his comfort, but in other religion everybody worships the God / Goddess to gain something for himself and stops after he achieves the goal i.e. whatever he wants is given by the God to whom he is worshipping. But in Pushtimarg reverse is the case, whatever is offered to the God (Swarup) is not offered to gain or get something from the God but only to make him comfortable in all possible ways and not ask for any benefits from God (swarup).
In Pushtimarg the Seva of the Swarup is offered without expecting any benefits from the swarup, but in other religion duty is done for a gain or for getting benefits from the God/ Goddess whom he or she worships.
Fundamental difference between Swarup and Idol is that the swarup is considered as a person of Shrinathji in Flesh /Blood but in case of an idol it is worshipped as divine form or replica of God / Goddess whichever the person worships. In Pushtimarg no worshipping is done to the Swarup but only seva in performed. Thus there is a lot of difference between seva and Worship.
Regarding the Birth of Shri Vallabhacharya. He is a reincarnation or other form of Shrinathji himself i.e. to say shrinathji took birth in human form to give salvation to those people who had committed some fault during Krishna avatar five thousand years back. As a result of their fault they were languishing in this world taking birth several times. In order to take this person back to his place, Shrinathji himself took birth in the form of human being in the house of Lakshman Bhatt.
Shri Vallabhacharyaji undertook pilgrimage of India when he was eleven years old by foot. With sole intention of giving salvation to those person who were languishing in this world. Vallabhacharyaji found those people by his divine ability and gave them Brahmasambandh and sent them back to Shrinathji after absolving all their sins committed during their stay in this world.
In Vaidik mythology it is considered that a soul has to take birth in 8400000 of species of life for every one crore of the species one is Nirguna i.e. the soul is faultless, such soul representing 8400000 species, one for each lakh is sent back to Shrinathji by Shri Vallabhacharya after he locates him and gives him Brahmasambandh.
Pushti means Divya anugrah / Divya Krupa. It also means Nourishment i.e.
1) Sharirik => Nourishment for Body.
2) Adhiyatmik => Nourishment for Soul.
Pushtimarg is a devine selection or divine election of the devotees by the lord. The reason for why they are been selected is coz they are pure, chaste and simple love. And this what comes above all in pusti. It is love without any motive. Pushti bhakti is a selfless supreme love for god. Love which is Natural and Spontenious. It is a continious flow. It is an end rather then the means. It is an attainment of the supreme god who is bliss and love. Pushti bhakti is a grace of god. Here both the end and means is god. Everything is god i.e. praman, pramay, sadhan and fal. If one has to meet the god then Pushti bhakti is the only means and not the other 2 paths i.e Pravaha Marg and Maryada Marg. But Karma, Gyan and Upasna are the basic step to attain Pushti Bhakti.
In Karma marg one can make happy to god by doing as per said in scripure i.e Vidhi(Do’s) and Nished(Don’t). Through Gyan Marg as per the intrest of the soul he comes to know wheather it is the true goal or not. And Upasana Marg is a path of worship of the desired deties through Jap, mantra etc. But all this results to attain Akshar Bhrama and not the communion with god.
In Bhagwatji it is said that “Poshanam Tad Anugraha” i.e. If you have the blessings then only one can get Nourishment. 6th Canto of of Bhagwat is known as Pushtiskand i.e. of Ajamil. And then at 10th canto, the episode of Vraj swamniji’s and Lord Krishna. Shri Mahaprabhuji’s Pushti Marg is based on this 2 canto’s as they are the base of Pushti Bhakti.
What is Brahmasambandh?
When Shri Vallabhacharya came to this world to give salvation to those soul that he found as impure and not worthy of association of Shrinathji who is pure in every sense. Shri Vallabhacharyaji did not want to pollute the realm of Shrinathji with this impure soul, while he was contemplating this matter while he was taking rest at night at Thakurani Ghat bank of river Jamuna at Gokul near Mathura. At midnight Shrinathji appeared in person and gave a mantra or a recital that was spoken by the soul and such a soul offer everything that he considers as his own to Shrinathji. This, Shrinathji accepts him and never forgets him.
In this mantra or recital given by Shrinathji to Mahaprabhuji is, which is originally in Sanskrit, is translated roughly here.
” For several thousands of years I have been languishing in this world for my sins committed during Krishna avatar. Now I offer myself my family, my wealth etc to you and totally surrender into you, as I belong to you, without any condition, hence please accept me back “as I am yours”.
This form of promise is taken from the person who is administered from Brahmasambandh by the descendants of Shri Vallabhacharyaji.
Descendants of Shri Vallabhacharya at Nathdwara in Rajasthan — India do the main worshipping of Shrinathji or Seva at present.
Festivals in PushtiSampradaya:
In pushtimarg , Seva is not done for achieving the grace of Shrinathji, but Seva includes festivals that are included in the curriculum of seva.
Shri Vallabhacharya started the mode of Seva of Shrinathji in a simple form. But his second son Shri Vitthalnatji became the successor of Shri Vallabhacharya who was also incarnation of Shrinathji with some divine abilities as Shri Vallabhacharya. Shri Vitthalnathji introduced many reforms in this Seva of Pushtimarg, just as a small child would like to have variety of toys and dresses which would keep him happy. So also Shri Vitthalnathji introduced a variety of reforms in the performance of Seva of Shrinathji.
He started observing festivals starting with the birth of Lord Shri Krishna. This Festival is known as Krishna Janmashtmi, in this festival all the rituals in minute form are observed which had taken place at the time of birth of Shri Krishna. In this festival Krishna Janmashatmi which is the main festival, which falls on eighth day of gujarati month shravan Krishna paksha which falls in the month of august according to English calendar.
This festival is performed with all the pomp and joy as if a son is born in the family. On the night of shravan 8th Krishna paksha the birth of Lord Krishna took place at midnight, though the birth of Lord Krishna took place in jail of Mathura to Vasudev and devaki (For the details of Lord Krishna one should read the 10th skanda of Shrimath bhagavad) he was brought to Gokul by his father Vasudev for lord Krishna’s safety. As Devaki feared that her brother Kamsa will kill the small boy, which was the 8th child of Devaki.
Preparation for this festival is made in a Vaishnav’s house some four or five days before the actual date. New clothes or vaghas of saffron color made of cotton or stitched by the ladies of Vaishnava family. Where the Seva of Lord Shrinathji (Lord Balakrishna) is done according to the guidance introduced by Shri Vitthalnathji, this guidance is known as Pranalika. Every Vaishnav has to strictly follow this guidance (Pranalika). These Vaishnava’s should not do Seva according to his whims and fancies.
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