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Pushtimarg in Hinduism – Founded By Vallabhacharya - Important Aspects of Pushtimarg

Pushtimarg is a tradition of Krishna devotion founded in the early 16th century AD by Vallabhacharya. Pushtimarg means the path of grace. It is today a leading sect of Sri Krishna worship and devotion and is spread all over India and abroad. The most important temple and center of Pushtimarg is located at Nathdwara in Rajasthan.

Pushtimarg is a householder tradition and there is no formal provision for Sannyasa or renunciation. Path of devotion to Krishna is the cornerstone of the sect.

The temples of Pushtimarg are known as Havelis. They are houses resembling the house of Krishna in Gokul.

The followers and teachers of the sect are known by the names of Dasa and Goswami.
“Service to Krishna is essential, and that service which is mental is regarded as the highest. Service is consciousness flowing towards Krishna. In order to perfect it, service must originate from one’s physical body and material resources. Cessation of worldly suffering and awakening into Brahman result from this.” (Vallabhacharya in Siddhantamuktavali 1-2).

Three Important Aspects of Pushtimarg

  • A special initiation known as Brahma Sambandh
  • Service without any kind of hesitation
  • Deity Srinath – it is the abbreviated name of Sri Govardhana Natha – the Lord of Govardhana Hill in Braj, this form of Sri Krishna unifies the sect. He is also very popularly referred to as Thakurji.

Brahma Sambandh

Brahma Sambandh means connection with the absolute (Brahman) and this empowers the devotee to recite two mantras associated with the sect and to perform selfless service to Bhagavan.

Brahma Sambandh was revealed to Vallabhacharya at Gokul and it is described in this brief work Siddhanta Rahasya.

Apart from worshipping Srinatha at Nathdwara once or twice a year, members of Pushtimarg sect perform daily seva to Krishna in their house.

The main text associated with the sect is the Srimad Bhagavad Purana.

Vallabha Kula 

One of the unique features of Pushtimarg sect is that is still controlled by Vallabha Kula (descendants of Sri Vallabhacharya). The sampradaya has been sustained over 14 generations by a single family. Vallabh Kula members also known as Maharajas maintain the exclusive right to conduct the brahma sambandh initiation.

Today, there are more than 200 male descendants of Vallabhacharya and they strictly follow the teachings of Sri Vallabhacharya and Vitthalnath (the youngest son of Sri Vallabhacharya).

Currently the most popular Vallabha Kula member is a woman, Goswami Indira Beta Ji, who has been giving brahma sambandh initiation to Pushtimarg followers.

Seven Houses of Pushtimarg

The sampradaya is divided into seven houses, established by seven sons of Vithalnath – who are also the grandsons of Vallabhacharya. Each of the seven houses has a special murti of Krishna. The first house has three murtis. These nine murtis were distributed to his seven sons by Vithalnath.

Of the seven houses, only the fourth remains in Braj, the rest have move to Rajasthan and Gujarat.

The leader of the seven houses is the head of the first house, a descendent of Vithalnath's first son, Giridhar, known as tilkayat. He is the custodian o the Srinatha Temple at Nathdwara. He has no special authority over the other members of the Vallabha Kula apart from the prestige.

Main Followers

The main followers of the Pushtimarg are from the merchant communities of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Mumbai. The sect has large followers in the three towns in Braj, Mathura, Jatipura and villages of Gokul.

Primary Form of Devotion

Primary form of devotion in Pushtimarg is individual seva to a form of Krishna.

The form may be a small carved image of Srinatha, a stone from Govardhan hill known as Giriraja, salagrama, hand painted picture of Srinatha or a memento presented by a member of the Vallabh Kula.

The objective of service performed whether mentally, physically, or through donations, is to develop an intimate personal relationship with the Lord, based on intense love for Him.

Each individual of the sect can develop his or her own for service to reach the divine feet of the Lord.

Musical Tradition in Pushtimarg

Pushtimarg has one of the highly developed musical traditions of all Vaishnava sects. 

Music is entertainment provided by the devotee for the lord and it is also a service. 

The music is known as Haveli Sangeeta. The devotional songs were written by eight canonical poets of the sampradaya. Surdasa, Paramananda Dasa, Kumbhan Dasa and Krishna Dasa initiated by Vallabhacharya himself. The other four were initiated by Vitthalnath – Nanda Dasa, Govinda Swami, Chita Swami and Chaturbhuja Dasa.

Temple Visit and Pilgrimage

Two important aspect of the sect is temple worship and pilgrimage. Temples are known as Havelis and are replications of house of little Krishna in Vrindavan. Darshan is given eight times a day.

The daily routine includes musical programs and extensive food offerings.

Special rituals are held on every Ekadasi in a fortnight.

Special rituals are observed on the birth anniversary of Vallabhacharya and during the Annakut festival observed on the day after Diwali.

The main pilgrimage includes visit to gurus, important havelis such as Nathdwara, Dakor etc and pilgrimage to important places where Vallabhacharya conducted his teachings.
The important places where Vallabhacharya gave discourses are known as Baithakas. 

There are eight four of them. The most important once is at Thakurani Ghat in Gokul. The knowledge of Brahma Sambandh was provided to Vallabhacharya by Sri Krishna here. 

Most of the baithakas are located in far flung parts of India and are quite small and simple.

Books

The books of Pushtimarg are numerous and are mostly in Sanskrit, Braj Bhasha, Hindi and Gujarati. The books are mainly hymns, poems of the eight poets of the sect, philosophical discourses and accounts of the disciples of Vallabhacharya and Vitthalanathji.