Part of the Bhakti movement and leading the medieval rise in popularity of the Hindu Religion, the devotional movement is based on the idea that love of God should be seen as an end in itself, not as a means to something else.
Shri Vallabhacharya was born into a noble Brahmin family in South India in what is today called Andhra Pradesh. His ancestors were said to have performed several Soma-yagnas and Shri Lakshman Bhatt completed 100 Somyagnas and one, Shri Yagnanarayan, was blessed by Lord Vishnu that "on completion of 100 Soma-yagnas", God himself would incarnate in his family.
The myth goes that his wife gave birth to a still baby which they kept under a tree. The parents heard a celestial voice ordering them to go back to the baby. The baby was no ordinary one but, by the grace of God, Shri Vallabh had taken birth. 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 said to be 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 the relationship between the world and God is dualistic or non-dualistic.
Shri Vallabh entered the court and with his unopposed arguments proved that God is pure and non-dualistic i.e. Shuddhadwait. His philosophy thenceforth came to be known as Shuddhadwait Brahmvaad. The details of which can be found in a book named "Vallabh Digvijay"
During his 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. Vaikunth is the Golden Age. You can see the resemblance to Lekhraj Kirpalani's religion.
Shri Vallabh's thought that the divine souls in this world too were 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. (In the BK's case, Lekhraj Kirpalani was relabeled Krishna).
Krishna told Vallabh that with "brahamasambandha" (relationship with God), whichever soul is admitted into the Pushti marg, all its impurities will refrain from obstructing the soul's relation with Himself and the soul will be eligible to pursue His Bhakti. The God taught him the Brahamasambandha mantra and asked him to bring back the divine souls back to him.
Brahmsambandha - 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 jiva (soul) into a Pushti "Jeev" lie only with the descendants of Shri Vallabhacharya. The word "Goswami" literally means "the protector of cows". Goswamies are responsible for the "pushti" (literally means spiritual nourishment) of all the disciples initiated by them. Followers have the "adhikaar" (right) to perform daily "seva" only after one is formally initiated.
The three pillars of Pushtimarg are:
- Raag (playing and hearing traditional music)
Bhog (offering pure vegetarian food that does not contain any meat or such vegetables as onion, garlic, cabbage, carrots, and a few others)
Vastra & Shringar (decorating the deity with beautiful clothes and adorning the deity with jewellery)
- Pushtimarg 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 prevents one from attaining 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. This is different from other philosophies that require a life of contemplation as a monk.
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 soul of the devotee merges into God's blissful form but in Pushti Bhakti the devotee does not seek liberation but he enjoys God's bliss by participating in it as a separate divine entity.