Hari, Guru, Vaishnavs
Shri Vallabh stated time and again that everyone in the marg Hari, Guru and Vaishnav are equally important and should be regarded with equal respect. We now have such a disparity between all three. This has to go. We have to become one again.
a. Hari is far removed from us all in a sterile sanctum, which we are not allowed near it, let alone enter it ! This, despite Shri Vallabhs statement that Hari vaishnav sai nahi chuvate ie purity of the Lord is not ruined by a vaishnav touching the Lord. (84 vaishnavs varta). How can you ever make God "impure" ? As stated in the last shlok of Siddhant Rahasya, the Lord is like the Ganges, forever pure and converting everything is touches into a pure substance. We underestimate God's capacity to look after Himself !
b. Gurus have isolated themselves in ivory towers of their own creation and vaishnavs are not allowed to even address them with the customary Jai Shri Kurshna !! Unless addressed by Dandvat, they do not even see fit to respond to vaishnavs. Why would they not want to wish Jai for their beloved ? I am told this is because Goswami balaks are constantly thinking of the Lord and hence you can not say JSK to them !. Surely, if they are constantly thinking of the Lord, all the more reason to wish Jai to Him ! The insistence on Dandvat (a full length bow on the floor) is clearly there to imply absolute obedience to the goswami balak. Such obedience can only come when you get to know a person and respect them from the bottom of your heart. To insist on it, as a birth right, only makes it less sincere. Gurus need to understand that this is the 21st century and not the 18th.
Without proving the absoluteness of your philosophy, people wont accept it. You have to convince them and convince them intellectually. This is not a novel thought this is exactly how Shri Vallabh, GopiNathji VitthalNathji and others spread the message in the first place. They convinced their devotees through prowess of their oratory and by their exemplary conduct. Over the last few hundred years, the vaishnavs have been rather lazy in their spiritual pursuit and have not insisted that the gurus exert themselves intellectually. Result is, we have endless lectures on Yamunastak and yet very little on what it means to us in our daily lives ! No one discusses the finer points of Subodhiniji and no balak insists that their devotees devote any time to such pursuits either. Infact, in many cases, intellectual pursuits are actively discouraged.
We are told repeatedly to be "nisadhan" - don't do anything - let God take care of it all !!!! What sort of moral bankruptcy is this !! Are we to progress on this path simply by the virtue of being initiated into it ? Its like joining a company and than expecting continual pay rises without doing any work !! It may work in the babu-raj of Indian bureaucracy, not in the real world !!
c. Balaks need to present a united front. Their internal fraternal fights are a matter of public debate ! Their ideological differences are equally divisive and played out in the public. Gurus need to do more to help the community. They need to actively take care of the spiritual, intellectual and cultural needs of the community. An occasional workshop for seva or music is not enough. There has to be something done on a more regular, sustained basis.
d. Vaishnavs need to unite and not divide themselves on minor points such as guru ghar, caste, locality etc. We are all one, and should discuss Krushna lila instead of how much we money spent on a bhog or a seva during our last pilgrimage ! We have lost interest in expanding our bhav and our bhakti. It is more fashionable to say how many different satsang mandals or vaishnav committees we sit on.
We have done much to open new havelis but not enough to preserve the older ones. We invest so little in the religious education of our children it is no wonder they are becoming less interested in Pushti Marg. We insist on having tuitions for maths and English, how about tuitions on Sanskrit or music ? We all sit down to watch the Mahabhart on TV, but how often do we insist that we discuss Hindu philosophy or history or art ? We need to educate our children and grand children so that we do not loose our culture, which is so intertwined with our Marg.
e. No one bothers to discuss bhav or even queries which seva we have been given. We accept which ever svaroop we are given by the gurus at the time of initiation. Have we asked ourselves or the guru to see if this svaroop matches my bhav ? Why would Shri Vallabh introduce 9 svarrops into the sect if he intended everyone to use just one ? Each svaroop relates to a different bhav. We have to make sure that the svaroop we have matches our bhav. If it doesn't, the seva we offer will feel incomplete. One of the major reasons why most of the vaishnavs today have no real interest in seva, is because the seva they have been given is not geared to their bhav.
We, as vaishnavs, have to be vigilant in this matter, more so than the gurus, as it is our life and our spiritual progress that is at stake. We cannot abdicate our responsibility for our spiritual welfare on a guru who hardly knows us and has hardly spent any time with us before initiating us in the marg ! We need to insist that the guru who initiates us, spends some time with us to teach us the finer points of seva, bhav, bhakti and the philosophy of our marg. How else are we to learn ?
f. We need to unite, as a sect, as Hindus. We live at a very difficult time in history when Hinduism is attacked from all sides. Islam and Christianity are actively pursuing our children to convert them. From the convent schools to foreign universities, they are persuaded subtly and overtly to convert. Our pseudo secular media and government is doing all it can to make sure we are not "proud" of our history, culture or religion. Pride in Hinduism is considered to be synonymous with fascism, while other communities are allowed to be proud of their histories and this is considered to be "religious".
Indian government is doing all it can to loot our havelis / temples by installing their own trustees in our institutions. Education, in India, is anti-Hindu and schools are actively encouraged not to teach Hinduism. In the west, being Hindu is sometimes difficult, especially when we are still seen as heathens who worship elephants and monkeys as Gods. It doesn't help if we say we are Pushti Margi - no one knows the difference and we are all seen as one and the same. In face of such difficulties, we need to unite to make sure Hinduism gets the respect it deserves. For this, we have to unite, as vaishnavs and as Hindus ! We can't afford to fight this discrimination alone.
We can't afford to be fractured - none of us - Hari, Guru or Vaishnavs.
Bhagwat Shah ©
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