PushtiBhaktiMarg is one such path (method) of Hinduism.
Pushti means Substance, Support and Encouragement
Bhakti means Love filled Devotion
Marg means Path, Method
PushtiBhaktiMarg is one of the many disciplines that lead an individual on A Path of Devotion.
ShriKrishna, The Supreme God, came to this earth thousands of years ago for some specific purposes, such as:
Shri Krishna chose to be The incarnation of LOVE during His childhood years that He spent in VrajBhoomi (Vraj) – a province in Uttar Pradesh, North India.
As a child, (popularly known as BalKrishna) He played many games (popularly known as Krishna-Leela) with people of Vraj (known as Vrajvasi), pulled many innocent pranks on them, helped them overcome difficulties and disasters, improved their lives to make them happy. All the Vrajvasi including the Gops (the cowherds) and Gopis (the milkmaids) fell in love with Him and BalKrishna became The God of Love – The God who loves all and The God whom anyone can love.
Naturally, Krishna, The God of Love, Would be The God to love and serve in Pushti-Bhakti-Marg, a Path of Love – Devotion for God.
In PushtiBhaktiMarg, ShriKrishna (age 7) is worshipped in the form of a Deity known as ShriNathji.
ShriNathji is a short from of Shri Goverdhan Nathji which means “The King of the MountGovardhan”. The Deity appeared on MountGovardhan (Giriraj) in 1493 AD (on the thirteenth day of the first half of the month of Falgun in the Year 1549 Vikram Samvat.)
The 4.5 feet tall deity of ShriNathji is carved in red –black shiny granite stone. ShriNathji’s left hand is raised with open palm and fingers turned in such a way as if inviting His vaishnavs to come to Him. His right hand is at His waist with the fingers forming a grip as if to seize the ever wandering minds of vaishnavs.
Shrimad Vallabhacharyaji (‘Vallabh’ means ‘Beloved’) is the GURU who showed us the Pushti-BhaktiMarg.
Shrimad Vallabhacharyaji, also known as Shri Mahaprabhuji, was a renowned Spritual Guru, an eminent Philosopher and a celebrated Scholar of Hinduism in 15th Centuary India. He appeared on this earth in 1479 AD (on the eleventh day of the second half of the month of Chaitra in the year 1531 AD. His parents were Lakshman Bhatt and his wife Yellamagaru.
Based on his understanding of The Vedas, The BrhmaSutras, The Bhagvad Geeta and Shrimad Bhagvat, He evolved the philosophy love – Devotion and institutionalized PushtiBhaktiMarg- a path of devotion through selfless Love for Shrikrishna.
During His life of 52 years, He wrote treatises and commentaries on scripturs of Hinduism as well as many scholarly books, including ‘Shodash Granth’, on PushtiBhaktiMarg.
Shri MahaPrabhuji is the only Guru of PushtBhaktiMarg. All His desecndents are known as ‘GuruDwar’ A gateway to the Guru Shri MahaPrabhuji,. These descendents, acting on His behalf, have been leading Pushtivaishnavs, after Shri Mahaprabhuji.
The five essential elements that constitute our physical existence are space, Air, Fire, Water, Earth. The five essential elements that constitute the existence of PushtiBhaktiMarg are:
|Shri Nathji||The God||=Space|
|Shri Vallabh||The Guru||=Fire|
|Shri Yamunaji||The Grace (Favor)||=Water|
|Shri Girirajji||The Devotee||=Air|
|Shri VrajBhoomi||The Sacred Land||=Earth|
Shri Girirajji’s (also know as Shri Govardhan) physical form is mountain in Vraj, the spiritual form is of elegant and thoughtful humility and the divine form is of ShriNathji’s zealous devotee.
Shri Girirajji is considered the ultimate devotee of ShriNathji. This is the reason Pushtivaishnavs worships Shri Girirajji along with ShriNathji.
Shri VrajBhoomi is an area is state of Uttar Pradesh in Northern India. It encompasses an area of over 250 square miles. It includes the towns such as Gokul, Vrindavan, JatiPura, Govardhan; Mount Govardhan (Giriraj) and river Yamuna.
This is the place where Shri Krishna spent over 11 years of His Life-His entire childhood. That is the reason Vraj is considered sacred by Pushti Vaishnavs. At least once in their life, PushtiVaishnavs go on a pilgrimage of all the places that were visited by ShriKrishna. Year after year, PushtiBhakti Margiya Gurus lead thousands of Pushtivaishnavs on such a pilgrimage.
Devotion arises out of the feeling of humbleness (humility)……Being humble means being respectful without being afraid.
God is most powerful (Omnipotent)
God knows everything (Omniscient)
God is everywhere (Omnipresent)
God creates everything (Creator)
God sustains everything (Sustainer)
Nothing ever happens without God’s willingness.. So, we feel humble towards God.
Love is a feeling that must not need, must not seek, must not demand anything in return. It is a selfless feeling.
A devotee offers selfless love to ShriKrishna in many ways..
"Shri Krishnah Sharanam Maman"
I seek your protection, Krishna.
...to proclaim Devotion for ShriKrishna
I am Yours Krishna.
...to proclaim Love for ShriKrishna
When a devotee follows PushtiBhaktiMarg with Faith, Dedication, Love & Devotion...
How the followers of PushtiBhaktiMarg are known?
A devotee of ShriKrishna is known as a vaishnavs. That is why when vaishnavs greet each other by saying “Jai Shri Krishna” (Glory to ShriKrishna) A devotee who follows PushtiBhaktiMarg is known as Pushti- Vaishnav.
By always remembering and serving ShriKrishna, out of Love Devotion...
In PushtiBhaktiMarg... serving ShriKrishna means taking care of ShriNathji, just like a mother takes care of her child. This servitude is known as “Pushti-Sewa”.
Brahm means The supreme God, Shri Krishna (ShriNathji)
Sambandh means Relationship
Brahm – Sambandh Initiation
Means re-establishing relationship with ShriKrishna, the God. Receiving this initiation sows a seed of selfless love for ShriKrishna in pushtivaishnav’s heart.
The ‘BrahmSambandh’ initiation rite can only be given by a PushtiBhaktiMargiya Guru. The recipient must seek prior permission observe a fast the day before the initiation and arrive for initiation after having shampoo-shower and wearing clean, fresh clothes. In the presence of ShriNathji (or any of his seven manifestations as accepted in PushtiBhaktiMarg), The Guru recites and makes the recipient recite the ‘Brahm Sambandh’ mantra.
The ‘Brahm Sambandh’ mantra was originally given by ShriNathji Himself to Shri Mahprabhuji in 1493 (on eleventh day of the first half of the month of Falgun in the year 1549 Vikram Samvat). This day is celebrated as the Appearance Day of PushtiBhaktiMarg.
The ‘BrahmSambandh’ mantra is considered sacred and so only its meaning can be said publicly.
Why ‘Pusti-Sewa of ShriNathji is to be performed in PushtiBhaktiMarg?
A seed of selfless love for ShriKrishna is planted in our heart through BramSambandh initiation. Proper nourishment must be provided so that this seed grows into a potent and everlasting bond of selfless love for ShriKrishna.
Our Ego(‘I’) and our Possessiveness (‘Mine’) are the two basic characteristics that create most obstacles in creation of such a bond of selfless love. Our ego may attributed to our abilities to perform and our possessives may be attributed to the things we possess.
PushtiBhaktiMarg shows a method of ‘Pushti-Sewa’ known as ‘Tanu-Vittaja Pushti-Sewa’ that requires us to deploy our abilities as well as our possessions, out body as well as our wealth in serving ShriKrishna-ShriNathji in our home.
Performing ‘Tanu –Vittaja Pushti-Sewa’ of ShriNathji in our home, takes care of our ego and our possessiveness and evolves a personal relation with ShriNathji by strengthening the bond of selfless love between ShriNathji and us.
How ‘Pushti-Sewa’ of ShriNathji is to be performed in PushtiBhaktiMarg?
“Pushti-Sewa” is a well thought out tradition that can easily be identified with our daily life. Accordingly, eight different events from ShriNathji’s daily life are symbolically selected for performing the Pushti-Sewa. The clothing, the ornaments, the flowers, the fruits, the foods and the music that are offered to ShriNatthji, are in strict accordance with the time of the day and the season of the year.
Thus, there are eight DARSHANS of ShriNathji. They are:
Mangala Darshan (about 6 Am)
ShriNathji waking up in the morning
Mangala darshan marks the auspicious beginning of the day. ShriNathji is clad in aa light cotton cloth in summer. In winter, he keeps warm with a quilted coat. He is offered milk and delicacies made out of milk.
Aarti is offered to him to symbolize banishing of the ill effects of evil spirits that may have been hovering over through the night before.
Shringar Darshan (about 8 AM)
ShriNathji getting ready.
For Shringar Darshan, ShriNathji is given a bath and then He is attired with utmostcare, love and understanding, in colorful clothes, exquisite jewelry, beautiful flower garlands and pleasant perfumes depending upon the season of the year-winter, summer of monsoon. He is given his beloved flute and walking stick. A mirror is held for him to see how well He is dressed up. He is offered dry fruits, nuts and sweets symbolic of delicacies brought to him by the Gopis – The Milkmaids of Vraj.
Gwala Darshan (about 10AM)
ShriNathji on His way to taking cow for grazing.
Gwala Darshan symbolizes the time of the day when ShriKrishna, along with His cowherd friends, takes the cow for grazing to the green pastures of the forest of Vrindavan. He is offered light snacks made out of sweetened milk.
Rajbhog Darshan (about 12 Noon)
ShriNathji having His lunch.
Rajbhog Darshan is the most elaborate of all darshan. ShriNathji is seen in all his majestic splendor. He is offered an exotic meal, consists of a variety of delicacies and deserts prepared with utmost care, cleanliness, love and understanding. Depending upon the season of the year – winter, summer or monsoon.
Aarti is offered to him as an expression of gopis’love for him.
An-Avasar (Anausar) (12.30 – 4 PM)
This is the period, after lunch, when ShriNathji takes an afternoon siesta. No darshan is available to his devotees. ShriNathji Darshan is considered an ‘Avasar’ – a time for meeting God, a time for merriment. So the no-darshan period is considered ‘an- avasar’ – a time of separation from God, a time without any enjoyment.
Utthapan Darshan (about 4 PM)
ShriNathji waking up from afternoon sleep. Utthapan Darshan symbolizes the time to get ready to return home and bring back the cows grazing in the forest.
Bhog Darshan (about 5.00 PM)
ShriNathji having afternoon snacks.
Bhog Darshan symbolizes the offering of light snacks to ShriNathji before He commences His return home (in a village of Gokul) from Vrindavan forest with all His cowherd friends and cows.
Sandhya Aarti Darshan (about 5.30 PM)
Sandhya Aarti Darshan takes place at dusk, celebrating ShriNathji’s homecoming. After the day full of activities and exertions, he wears light cloths. Aarti is offered to him to symbolize banishing of the ill effects of evil spirits that may have been lurking in the forests.
Shayan Darshan (about 6.30 PM)
ShriNathji’s bed time.
Shayan, the last Darshan of the day, signifies the time ShriNathji retires for the day. He is offered a light dinner.
Aarti is offered to Him an expression of his and his beloved Swaminiji’s (Radha) romantic emotions.
ShriNathji’s bedroom is readied with meticulously made up bed, a container, known as ‘Banta’, filled with sweets, a pitched, known as ‘Zaari’, filled with drinking water and mouth fresheners, known as ‘Paan’.
His consort, Swaminiji’s cloths and jewelry is also readied and placed in his bedroom. Of all the Darshan, as described above most of the Pushti Temples, Known as ‘Haveli'.
In PushtiBhaktiMarg, Darshan means to see, to meet ShriKrishna and to feel the joy of togetherness. No-darshan means to long for seeing /meeting ShriKrishna and to feel the anguish of separation. A complete and fulfilling love relationship is always twofold – union and separation. During union, the two lovers enjoy the physical togetherness and during separation, the two lovers intensely remember each other and the moments of their union.
PushtiBhaktiMarg, a path of love filled devotion, depicts a way to establish a complete and fulfilling personal love relationship between ShriKrishna and a Pushtivaishnav. The ‘Pushti- Sewa’ is formulized to instill such a love relationship. And so, each Darshan lasts for few minutes (and not the whole day ) only to make the PushtiVaushnas go through this emotions that would strengthen their love relationship with ShriKrishna.
Aarti is performed in all Hindu Sanatan temples by graciously moving a lamp carrying lighted cotton wicks dipped in Ghee (clarified butter). In those temples, Aarti symbolizes the Luminous Light of The Supreme God. That is the reason; devotees are allowed to receive blessings of the Aarti.
In Pushti temples, Aarti symbolizes the offering of feeling of longing by the lovelorn devotees of ShriKrishna. Once devotees offer their feelings to God, there is nothing to be received in return. That is the reason; PushtiVaaishnavs are not allowed to be blessed by Aarti.
Shri Vallabhacharyaji’s descendents are, collectively, known as Shri VallabhKul.
Shri Mahaprabhuji had two sons – Shri Gopinathji and Shri Vithanathji (popularly known as Shri Gosainji). Shri Gosainji and his seven song were the forerunners of establishing and propagating PushtiBhaktiMarg in a very systematic way. To accomplish this, Shri Gosainji established seven centers, popularly known as ‘Ggadi”, Gruh’ or ‘Pith’, one for each of his seven sons and blessed each one with a different manifestation of ShriKrishna-ShriNathji (‘Nidhi Swaroop’).
As Shri MahaPrabhuji is the only GURU of PushtiBhaktiMarg, all the Descendents of Shri MahaPrabhuji are known as ‘GuruDwar’ – A Gateway to The Guru Shri MahaPrabhuji. These Descendents initiates and guides pushtivaishnavs on behalf of Guru Shri Mahaprabhuji.
Bowing down (Dandavt) in present of a God or a Guru or touching their feet (CharanSparsh) is a physical gesture symbolic of our effort of lowering or destroying our own ego.
We should not presume that by bowing down we give respect to Guru. Nothing qualifies us to give Guru anything whatsoever, including respect?
Even though we consider money as a physical from of Godness Laxmi and do not let our feet touch the money; why do we place money at the feet of a PushtiMargiya Guru?
Guru guides us on our journey towards God and as a gesture of gratitude we offer the material things ( including money) to Guru. Giving someone something usually boosts our ego as giver’s hands are always above the hands of a receiver. So, if we end up ‘giving ‘something to Guru it would surely hurt us in the sense that it would boost our ego.
So, for our own benefit, we must place our offering at Guru’s feet instead of giving into Guru’s hands.
Shrimad Vallabhacharyaji came to this world to institutionalize PushtiBhaktiMarg and to guide Pushti souls towards ShriKrishna by re-establishing their relationship with ShriKrishna.
This re-establishment of soul’s relationship with ShriKrishna is carried out by administering The Brahm-Sambandh Mantra to the individual souls. This Mantra was given to Shrimad Vallabhacharyaji (Shri MahaPrabhuji) by ShriKrishna (ShriNathji) Himself at midnight on the eleventh day (Ekadashi) of the first half of the month of shravan in the Hindu year 1549 (1493 AD) The day is known as Pavitra-Ekadashi and is celebrated as the unveiling of PushtiBhaktiMarg.
Shri DamodarDas Harsaniji was the first vaishnav to be initiated into PushtiBhaktiMarg by receiving Brahm-Sambandh from Shri MahaPrabhuji.
“It has been ages since I (The Individual Soul) have separated from ShriKrishna (Brahm – The Supreme God). I do not experience the joy of separation (the yearning to meet ShriKrishna) from him. Such as I am, I willingly dedicate (eradcate any emotional dependence whatsoever from) my Body, My senses, my life force, my Antahkaran (Mind + intellect + Ego + Conscious-ness my relatives / friends, my wealth, this world & the other world that I call mine, my conscience and everything else I call mine to ShriKrishna. I am your servant.
Krishna, I am Yours! Krishna, I am Yours! Krishna, I am yours!”
The Brahm Sambandh can ONLY be given by the Guru of PushtiktiMarg, Shrimad Vallabhacharyaji OR on his direct descendents known as “GuruDwar” a gateway to Shrimad Vallabhacharyaji. Brahm-Sambandh is given in the morning during in front of Thakorji in a PushtiMargiya Haveli (Temple). Giving of Brahm-Sambandh Mantra to a Vaishnav means initiating the vaishnav into the PushtiBhaktiMarg.