Pushti Marga is based on the critical human emotions, Bhavs. Rituals of the sect use Raga, Bhog and Shringar as means of expressing one's Bhavs. Bhavs spring from Satvic, Rajasic and Tamasi states of the mind. Each expression of our mind is coloured by our current state of mind, whether it is pure, material or base/ vulgar. Hence, bhavs are outward expressions of our inner state. Bhakti marga channels these bhavs towards the higher goal, God.
Pushti Marga, along with all the Bhakti sects, believes in creating a personal relationship with God. An omnipresent, omnipotent God of the Universe is seen to be too impersonal. To facilitate a more personal, individual relationship, Hinduism has given the "Formless-one" many forms. Each form of the God inspires a different feeling, bhav, within us. Sight of God on a jewel throne inspires awe, Lord surrounded by the denizens of heaven commands respect, God in the guise of a warrior strikes fear in the hearts of the wicked and brings hope/ joy to the good, Lord accompanied by His Consort creates the feeling of a loving parent etc.
Wanting to inspire a more personal note in these relationships, Bhakti Acharya's sought the form of the Lord as an adorable baby, precocious child, handsome youth, friendly companion and a charming lover. Abandoning the awe inspiring majestic, these forms bring the Universal spirit within the grasp of the ordinary person. Awe inspiring Lord of the Universe is transformed in to an innocent baby, making it easy for the commonest person in the world to relate to the "Eternal Entity".
Vallabhacharya utilised these ideas, from such shastras as Shrimad Bhagavatam, Brahmavaivart Puran, Vishnu Puran, Varaha Puran etc. to bring the Lord within the reach of even the most materialistic person. Concentrating on Krshna's childhood, Maha-Prabhuji taught the philosophy of integrating Lord in our daily lives. Keeping Gopies as his ideals in mind, Vallabhacharya composed four main bhavs in Pushti Marga, Vatsalya, Sakha, Dasa and Maduraya. A wealth of literature, poetry, paintings, rituals etc. has drawn upon these main bhavs for their inspiration.
Vatsalya:-Love and affection for a child
Most popular and universal bhav of all, Vatsalya Bhav is the very basis of Pushti philosophy. It embodies the ideas and ideals of MahaPrabhu Vallabhacharaya - self-less, all absorbing, innocent love. Every-one has experienced it, either as a child or a parent, hence it is easy for everyone to relate/ identify with this particular bhav. In vatsalya bhav, the parent and the child forget their own selves and become totally absorbed in the other. Being able to forget one's identity is an essential prerequisite in the "Vishudh-Advita" philosophy.
Parents always take delight in whatever the child does, good or bad, naughty or otherwise. In Pushti Marga, this gives way to the idea of not blaming God for any-thing that happens in our lives, no matter how bad or sad. The innocent face of a child is capable of melting the hearts of sternest of men, hence Vallabhacharya introduced the theme of baby Krshna in the sect. One does not ask any favours from the child, similarly, in Pushti Marga, devotees are to cultivate the habit of not asking for any favours from God. The central idea behind this is "Anapeksha", working voluntarily, performing all duties without the desire for rewards.
Inspired by dviata philosophy, Sakhaya-bhav utilises friendship as a medium for relating to God as an equal. As friendship can only exist between equals, God raises the human to His level and becomes one with the soul. As a friends, sakhas look to each others comforts. The "Sakhaya-Bhakta" follows this ideal further by not hurting the Lord and His feelings by words or action. All arguments and friendly tiffs are resolved amicably and quickly. Sudama is an ideal sakhya-bhakta who did not ask any favours from his divine friend. The central theme/ idea is to have friendship for friendship sake. Sakha bhakta see the universe, and all within it, as friends and so works for the universal good without seeking or expecting rewards.
Dasa:-Servant of the Divine
Dasa-Bhav centres on serving the Lord without question. Main idea is to serve with love, not servility. Dasa also cultivates humility, resilience, capacity for hard work and flexibility. These characteristics are essential for a good devotee aswell as a social worker. The ideal dasa should treat the world as the domain of his Lord, and hence serve everyone with love and devotion. Dasa should serve self-lessly, without seeking rewards or recognition. In recognition of this silent service, the Lord protects his beloved servants with great care. Hanumanji is the ideal Dasa-Maharaj. His loving service was rewarded by Rama with such fond wards as " I am forever indebted to you. You are more dear to me than all my relatives, nay, you are more precious than my soul. " For a dasa, such praises are worth more than all the wealth in the universe.
Unique to Hinduism, Madhurya Bhav is a epitome of soul's yearning for God. It's influence later spread to other religions, including Islam in the form of Sufism. Some devotees find their love for God becomes so intense, that life it-self seems drawn towards the beloved ( God ). It's closest earthly parallel is the love between two people, though this is only a metaphor for the higher love experienced by the bhakta. Just as lovers keep their tryst secret, bhakta keeps the intensity of his/ her bhakti secret. Desire of the soul to return whence it came becomes so intense that the allusion of a physical union pales in comparison to the actualities of the spiritual union. As most of us can not easily identify with this divine union, human love is used as a simile for the benefit of layman.
Wanting to please the beloved, Madhurya Bhakta forgets his/ her self and seeks to serve without any material gain. Bhakta performs the acts of selfless love by looking only to the comforts of the beloved Lord, by giving rather than receiving, and by not asking for anything / favours etc. Idea of anapeksha is once again foremost in the mind of a Madhuraya Bhakta. Within Madhurya Bhakti, there are four main categories, Sakhi bhav, Sawamini bhav, Para-Jana Nayika bhav and Khandita bhav. Differing expressions of Madhurya-bhav, they expand on the central theme of love for love sake.
Shri Rama Krshna Paramhansa is a rare soul who experienced all of the above bhavs and narrated, in detail, his experiences of each bhav. He spoke at length on their causes, roots, manifestations, outward and inner expressions, "cures" for "aliments" caused by the bhavs and their eventual goal. His experiences are beacons/ guides to all those struggling to make headway in any one of the bhavs.
Kubja embodies dasya and madhurya bhav for Shri Krushna
Here is a more comprehensive list of "love" and some of the bhavas that go with it.
Bhav Sambandh with svaroop you wish to worship
© Bhagwat Shah