Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sri Madhurashtakam: Introduction

Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya ji
The Madhurasthakam, composed by Sri Vallabhacharya is a unique stotra, describing the sweetness of Lord Krishna. Originally written in Sanskrit, the ashtakam or octet is easily understood. The world is seen through the eyes of a spiritually evolved person in this composition of Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya ji.

Sri Krishna, the Paragon of Sweetness

Shri Vallabhacharya posits Krishna as the paragon of sweetness and hence gives him epithets such as madhupati. Krishna exudes madhurya through his acts and his gestures, his words and his flute, his clothes and his sports. His madhurya or sweet love is richly shared with the gopis of Vrindavan. With tenderness and teasing, and the beauty of his dark body, Krishna enflames the desire of the individuated soul for union with the Divine.

Vallabhacharya (1479-1531) was a famous 16th century sage-philosopher of India and an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna. He was born in Champaran near Raipur in Chhattisgarh, a state of India. Shripad Vallabhacharya is particularly known as the founder of the Pushti Marg, a sect of the Hindu Religion, and is one of the five main acharyas who made a significant contribution to the bhakti movement.

Vallabhacharya ji's Philosophy of Shudh Advaita

On his first all India pilgrimage at the age of eleven, Vallabhacharya's brahmavad philosophy of shudha advaita or pure non-dualism proved that the material world is a manifestation of brahman and as such is true and not illusory or maya. Ordinary life here is conceived of as parallel with the other cosmic life of Krishna.

Shri Nathji

During the second pilgrimage, Lord Krishna appeared in the form of Shrinathji, ordering Vallabhacharya to re-establish the Pushti Marg (the path of tending the soul) and bring back the chosen ones to Vaikunth or Golok, where Krishna forever dwells.However Shri Vallabha felt that the priests were laying great stress on rites and rituals whereas individuals were influenced by the mundane world, and had lost the purity needed for becoming one with the Divine.

Thakur Shrinath ji Giving the Brahmasambandha Mantra to Vallabhacharya ji

Thereafter Thakur Shrinathji taught him the Brahamasambandha Mantra on the night of Pavitra Ekadashi of the Shravan Month. With this mantra all worldly impurities of the person initiated into the Pushti Marg would be abandoned and it would help him to surrender completely to Krishna. Personal seva remains the primary form and expression of devotion in the Pushti Marg. In seva or service to the Lord's svarupa, the devotee attends selflessly to the needs of the Lord and glorifies Him by assuming a particular relationship with the Lord.

Child Krishna Lifts Mount Goverdhan

Shri Nathji is the deity form of child Krishna who lifted Mount Govardhana at the age of seven to protect the inhabitants of Vrindavan from torrential rain sent by Indra.The svarupa of Shri Nath ji is shown with his left hand raised and the right hand closed in a fist and resting on his hip. His followers worship him both as Shri Radhanath or the Lord of Radha and as Bala Krishna, the mischievous, naughty child.

The Nathdwara Temple

Shrinathji is enshrined in Nathdwara near Udaipur in Rajasthan, and is the presiding deity of the Pushti Margis. Krishna in his form of Sri Nathji is also worshipped throughout India by followers of Bhakti Yoga and the Vaishnava traditions, especially within Gujarat.

Sant Surdas

The chance meeting of Sant Surdas' with Shrimad Vallabhacharya at Gau Ghat by the Yamuna in his teens, transformed his life. Shri Vallabhacharya gave him lessons in Hindu philosophy and put him on the path of spirituality. Since Surdas could recite the entire Srimad Bhagavatam and was inclined to music, his guru advised him to sing devotional ballads in praise of Lord Krishna and Radha. Surdas lived in Vrindavan with his spiritual preceptor who initiated him to his own religious order. Later on he was appointed as the resident singer of Srinath Temple in Govardhan.

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