Is Pushti Marg Universal ?
I have been asked several times, 'Is Pushti Marg universal?'
I have agonized about answering this prickly question on the net. With all due respect, it is impossible to answer it without upsetting someone or the other. In my humble view, this sort of questions are best discussed face-to-face in a satsang where people can talk rather than email each other and have to wait days for any answers.
However, in the modern world, and with a format like this website, I would like to answer the question in the following way -
Is Shudhadvita universal ?
As a philosophy, Pure Monism (as expounded by Shri Vallabh) has universal appeal. Fact that over half the world follows monism in one form or another, is proof enough that monism is a philosophy that has great attraction for the human psyche.
In their own time, Shri Vallabh, Shri GopiNathji and Shri Gusaiji converted thousands of people based on their unique form of monism. To give people an idea of how to bring pure-monism in their lives, HH Shri Hariraiji, and others, wrote 'vartas' (life stories) of 84 + 252 contemporary vaishnavs for people to follow. If you read the vartas, a number of vaishnavs in them are anonymous, ie 'not named'. They are simply referred to as "an old rajput lady in such and such a place". These vartas talk of ordinary people, incorporating God and Shudhadvaita in their ordinary lives. These were meant to be allegorical stories, stories of people whom we could emulate in our lives. Hence, examples are of "ordinary" lives and show how they achieved "extraordinary" bhava ! They wanted to inspire everyone and say, "Look, they did it. So you can also achieve this too !"
So let us read these vartas with an open mind and see how we can learn from them - rather than just "read" them parrot fashion.
Pushti Marg as we know it, with all the elements of seva, universal ?
To follow Pushti Marg properly requires a refined appreciation of the world, and not everyone is capable of putting this in to practice in their daily lives. The seva, and all that it entails (raag, bhog, shringar), is a heady mix of “materialism” that is actually supposed to be directed towards “spiritualism”. This is tough to do, and even those people who are born into the sect, don't always know how to achieve it properly. Seva is a very special form of sadhana. Most of us are never taught it. Once initiated, vaishnavs should guided on the finer points of seva, yet, most of are expected to learn just by going for darshan in a haveli or speaking to other vaishnavs.
Seva, as sadhana is a unique contribution of Pushti Marg within Hinduism. To appreciate it properly, we have to understand how art, architecture, aromatherapy, music, poetry, food, social etiquette, even fashion, works in harmony. To be able to perform and enjoy 'seva' at its best, a person should be a connoisseur. Person with a holistic view of life and all that it has to offer will appreciate seva in all it's beauty.
Is Pushti Marg part and parcel of Hinduism?
The basic pillars of its precepts, Vedas, Vedangas, Brahma Sutra, Shrimaad Bhagvatam, and Shrimaad Bhagvad Gita, are all Hindu, and hence it is a facet of the Hindu philosophy. Indian constitution defines Hindu as someone who has faith in the Vedas - we certainly are suppose to ! Pushti Marg sits squarely at the heart of Hinduism.
Is it unique ?
But, so is ever other sect !!
In ancient India, to establish a new sect (vaada), you had to first establish that it has new and unique perspective on the truths established in the Vedas and Vedangas. You also had to face stiff competition from the established sects and had to debate with their pundits to establish that yours was a valid and logical interpretation of the Vedas. Unless and until you could do that, you could not “establish” a new vaada / sect. Shri Vallabh, through his immense efforts, managed to convince fellow intellectuals on two major occasions about his vaada – at Datia and at Vijayanagar.
This does not mean he proved that other sects were "wrong". What he did, was proved that his arguments on Shudhadvaita were equally valid and they were a new interpretation of the Vedas. Sadly, we have such a prejudiced view of what happened at these debates, that we often forget the greatness of Adi Shankara or Shri Madhava etc. These were great men, with great ideas and ideals. Shri Vallabh did not debate with "them" as both had passed away centuries ago. He debated with their followers - not even the heads of the sects. Shri Vallabh debated to prove that his was a new and equally valid view of God as them.
So, yes, ours is a unique marg, but than so are other Hindu sects. They are all equally valid, because they too are rooted in the Vedas. If we isolate ourselves from the rest of Hinduism, we risk being separated from that which strengthens us – DHARMA. We must stand as one. Together, we can keep the various aspects of Vedas together. Separated, we will dissipate our strength and find our opponents will overwhelm us due to our own isolationist attitude. Let us not forget that even now, after 50 years of independence, Hinduism is not free in India. While the Indian government takes over temple after temple, our hard earned freedom and money are used to support non-Hindu and even anti-Hindu activities of the state. Just as a matter of interest, Andra Pradesh gov has over 30,000 temples under its belt ! and yet, no mosque or church is taken over by them !! Money donated to government administered temples is wasted, as it is taken away by the gov for its own use with only a fraction ever gets back to the temples.
We must stand together and fight for our voices to be heard, otherwise, the majority, will soon be over ruled by the minority once again. We must work together to make sure Hindu friendly laws are introduced for all of us.
Is our philosophy “right” ?
Tell me one person / group / sect / nation that thinks their philosophy is not right !?!
To assume that we are “right” and, by inference, others are “wrong” is the root of all conflict – big, small, local or global.
Jews think themselves to the chosen people, the Christians think themselves to have unique access route to heaven and the Muslims think they have the final answer ! Europeans think that having “discovered the world”, they have the right to meddle in everyone’s affairs. Americans, being the 'impetuous new kid on the block', think they have god given right to do as they please and exploit the world’s meager resources at will, while China, the old dragon of the world, fumes that no one is listening to its answers to the world’s ills !
Are we to add our names to this list of “unique” people ?
I certainly hope not !
Pushti Marg's philosophy if one of 'Lila' !
In Gita, and else where, the Lord has stated that all that is, was and will be, is HIM ! So, whom shall we call “right” and whom shall we call “wrong” ? Shri Vallabh’s philosophy says the Lord IS the universe ! He resides in its every atomic and subatomic particle ! Nothing can exist without Him !
God interacts with the universe in a spirit of 'fun'. This is what we term as 'lila' - divine play. Shri Vallabh enjoins us to enjoy the lila of Madhuradhipati !! Shri Vallabh has said that everything associated with Madhuradhipati is madhur (akhilam madhuram !)
His is the universe.
His are the glories there in.
His are the mountains and the valleys.
Enjoy them all – as they are part of HIM whom we adore as Shri Nathji !!
Ofcourse, this does not mean we should be complacent ! Arjun is asked to fight, despite the fact that the Lord has showed him that all his enemies are dead. "With or without you, this has all been accomplished. So, why not be a part of it and enjoy the lila and the glories there-in !"
We must work towards bettering ourselves and our world. The Lord is best served when we act for improvement !!
Please click here to read how we can keep Pushti Marg 'contemporary' for our future generations.
Bhagwat Shah ©
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