How to win back people for Pushti marg.
There are essentially two ways of doing it -
I) you can harp on about the good old days of 18th Cetury when it peaked as the most popular and fastest growing sect at the time.
II) You can analyse the winning formulae of the sect at the time and see if that can be repeated.
1st option leads to stagnation and living in a time capsule. Waxing lyrical about the past doesnt help, because we cant live in the past.
2nd option is better, as it can be repeated by the sect at any time, anywhere, even the present.
So, what were the winning formulae of the sect ?
1) Progressive - allowing everyone, including women and non divj to worship with equal level of access.
This is a major plus point Pushti Marg shares with most of the bhakti sects. In todays modern world, such open, liberal and egalitarian attitudes are most welcome. We must explore this aspect of Pushti Marg, and do it openly.
2) Innovative - new modes of worship in a new sort of architecture Pushti Marg established new rituals, new architecture and even new food for prasada. Instead of following established temple rituals, Pushti Marg explored a new ways to serve the Lord. Even its temples were redesigned to look more like luxurious mansions, basing their plans on contemporary architecture rather than temples of old. We were once the most innovative sects with the most modern outlook on life.
3) Modern - new style of clothes and new festivals reflected the life of citizens at the time. The wardrobe of the Lord sported the latest styles worn at the Imperial court at
. When the sect shifted its centre of activity to Rajasthan / Agra Gujarat, they absorbed several popular festivals in to their busy festive calendar. There is no reason why this trend of absorbing the best of modern life should not continue.
4) Inclusive - allowing everyone right to worship. All jives souls - are considered worthy of divine grace (Siddhant Rahasya). This is the most egalitarian, modern approach anyone can have ! We must practice this rather than just leave it to recite at satsangs. We cannot / must not exclude people from Gods grace ! To say some people are worthy and others unworthy of divine grace, is to negate the very nature of Pushti.
5) Assertive - willing to move away if the local ruler thought he could control the sect through the power of money / politics etc. The leaders of the sect used to be politically and financially independent. We were also very assertive and insisted on our rights to practice our religion as we saw fit. Why are we so timid now ? We need to be proud of our heritage and wear our mala tilak with pride ! We need to have more faith in the power of God and greater faith in our own capability. We need to assert our Hindu / vaishnav identity. There are no acedamic chairs in any international university studying Pushti Marg. Why ? We are a wealthy community, we should be able to sponser such a project. We need to make sure we are taken seriously at all levels of the society.
6) Empowerment of the individual - seva is meant to be spontaneous, free from set rules and procedures. We should return to this most basic, fundamental aspect of Pushti Marg. Currently, we are so bound by rituals, we no longer empowered to have any "freedom" in the way we serve the Lord. Rules on apras, what we can / cant offer (clothes, jewellery, perfume, food etc) , what to sing etc are so stringent, seva looses its spontaneity. We need to be more in touch with our bhav and our Bhagvan.
7) Equality 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. (click here for more on the topic.)
8) Intellectual capital we were once the store house of intellectuals in north
. We once prided our selves on having gurus and vaishnavs, who could debate on any philosophical point from any angle. Now, we pride ourselves on being nisadhan a virtual passport for being totally clueless about philosophy of any sort, not even the Shudhadvaita of our own marg ! We are happy to be doctors and lawyers of great renown, but when it comes to religion, we aspire to be clueless ! How can we progress ? We have to be able to convince our children at the very least ! We cant even explain to them the Bhagvat Puran, how can we than explain to them the reason detre of our marg ? India
9) Enjoyment - has be reinterjected in to the sect. We are all so careful about not breaking a rule, protocol or some niyam, we have forgotten to have fun !! The whole point of Pushti Marg is to reconnect to the fun and frolics of Shri Krushna during Vraj lila. We no longer have any fun ! We no longer enjoy the uttsavs, as they are so hedged in by rules and regulations on everything. If there is no fun, the youngsters of today will feel less inclined to join in. We may initiate them, because that is what our grand parents want, but, we will not awaken their thirst and love for God !
I seriously believe we need to do the above to reignite the flames once lit by Shri Vallabh.
Bhagwat Shah ©
Pushti > 2000
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