What is Pushtimarg?

    Pushtimarg can be translated in English as “The Path of Grace.” The meaning of the word Pushti is defined in the Shrimad Bhagavatam as poshanam tadanugrahah.Poshanam = nourishment; Tad = Shri Krishna’s;anugrah = grace. Pushti is nourishment that arises through Shri Krishna’s grace.

    Pushtimarg is also called ‘Pushti Sampraday,’ which means it is an authentic Vedic lineage, or sampradaya. It can also be called a Bhaktimarg or Bhagavat Bhaktimarg.

    In the broad context, Pushtimarg is a path in which divine souls are reminded of their connection with the Supreme Being, Shri Krishna, and then follow devotional teachings and practices which nourish and consummate that divine relationship.

    Shri Harirayaji, Shri Vallabhacharya’s great, great grandson, was a very important teacher in the history of the Path of Grace. His explanations of the Path of Grace are concise:

    “When the absence of all means is the means to achieve the fruit, and when the fruit is the means, know that to be the Blessed Path.

    “When worldly and scriptural achievements are accomplished through the Lord’s grace alone and never through the devotee’s efforts…

    “When the Lord accepts the soul without considering her qualifications and does so without delay…

    “When a devotee who has understood the intention of the scriptural injunctions remains attached to the Lord Himself and has no obsession for scriptural practice…

    “When there is no consideration of virtue or defect, and when there is a continual feeling of appreciation for all the Lord’s lilas…

    “When thought is never given to worldly and scriptural satisfaction, but is given only to please the Lord…

    “When there is not an infinitesimal reason for the Lord’s selection of the soul, and when the choice depends solely upon His divine, sweet will…

    “When devotion is independent, does not require the external manifestation of the Lord, and leads to all types of divine experiences…

    “When there is no fear of the world or the scriptures because of profuse divine attachment, and when everything other than the Blessed Lord appears as an obstacle…

    “When relationship is both the means and the achievement, and is established according to Krishna’s sweet desire…

    “When anything related to the Lord is treated as if it is the Lord Himself, anything unrelated is treated with indifference, and anything in opposition to the Lord is opposed…

    “When no concern is shown for one’s body, etc. and a keen desire for Him always lingers…

    “When devotion has no expectation for reciprocation from God and when the divine sentiment is nourished…

    “When the Lord does not provide the devotee with the fruit of worship because the ripening of His divine attachment requires that the fruit be withheld…

    “When one is happier in the Lord’s separation than in His union because of the inner experience of all His lilas…

    “When there is a reversal in the order of the means and the attainment and when devotional attachment is the attainment as well as the means…

    “When there is a constant feeling of divine melancholy concerning all of His activities, and the bhakta’s excessive eagerness to experience the Lord’s lilas produces humility…

    “When humility is the singular means for the Lord’s manifestation and the humility aroused in separation is the fruit…

    “When there is renunciation of all sensual objects and there is dedication of the body, etc. with bhava for the Lord…

    “When the soul always feels remembered by Krishna due to total attachment to His feet, and is able to forget mundane pleasures, that is the Blessed Path.

    “Keeping Vallabhacharya in our hearts, one should always understand and rely solely on the Blessed Path in the above-mentioned way.”

    In Vallabhacharya’s Nibandha, Avatarathaprakarana it is said, “Pushti is Shri Krishna’s grace and nullifies the influence of time, action and nature.” This special type of grace yields devotion in which the Lord himself is the fruit. It is called Pushti Bhakti (grace-filled devotion). In this context, Shri Vallabhacharya writes in Siddhant Muktavali, “Grace alone is the governing factor in the Blessed Path.”

    Shri Vitthalnathji (Shri Gusainji) similarly states in hisBhakti Hetunirnaya, “I bow down to that devotion which can be acquired only through His grace, as well as to the devotees blessed with it.” Therefore, a special type of grace, i.e. Grace-filled devotion, can be inferred from its effect.

    So it is stated in Vallabhacharya’sPushtipravahamaryadadbheda doctrine, “The Path of Devotion has been mentioned in the scriptures, and from those passages we know without a doubt that the grace of God exists.”

    This doctrine is again revealed in the Bhagavata passage, “As the Ganges flows incessantly towards the ocean, similarly our minds should flow constantly towards the Lord.”

    Devotion produced by a special kind of grace is called Grace-filled devotion. It is defined as that state in which there is no desire for any reward other than the sincere wish to acquire the Lord as the fruit of one’s life. The Bhagavata passage, “Lovely Krishna alone is the reward of all those who possess eyes and other sense organs,” reveals that the Lord’s form is considered to be the fruit. Followers of the Blessed Path do not desire anything else. In this context, the Lord says in the Bhagavata, “Those who have dedicated themselves to Me desire neither the achievement of yogic powers nor liberation. They yearn for Me alone.”

    The Gopis clarify this same point, “Seeing Your lovely face adorned with earrings and the curly locks of Your hair, we have become Your slaves.” Shri Vitthalnathji writes in his Bhakti Hamsa, “In devotion, there can be desire for no reward other than the Lord Himself.” Shri Vallabhacharya also says in this vein in his Nibandha, “When the soul relies upon Krishna, it is a rule of scripture, but when the Lord relies upon the soul, it is an exception of grace.” Shri Vallabhacharya explains this concept again in Nibandha, “Grace is present when devotees are independent and the Lord acts according to their wishes, as when the Lord of liberation allows Himself be bound by mother Yashoda.”

    Brahmavada is the philosophical system credited to Veda Vyasa and propounded by Shri Vallabhacharya. It holds that everything is Brahman (God) and nothing but God. This philosophy is also called Shuddha Advaita: pure non-dualism.

    In his Shastrarth Nibandha, Vallabhacharya teaches, “The world is not a deformation of matter, not from atoms, not an illusion, but is a creation of the Supreme Reality, His own form.” (Shastrartha 23)