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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Devotees of the Bhakti Movement made religion not only simple but also affable by their inspiring lives and simple teachings. One such teacher who wielded considerable influence over a large section of people was Vallabhācārya or Vallabha.[1] The words ‘puṣṭi’ and ‘puṣṭimārga’ are his contribution to the bhakti literature. He categorizes bhakti or devotion to God into ‘maryādābhakti’ and ‘puṣṭibhakti’.

The devotion that follows the beaten track as per the various steps given in the scriptures like śravaṇa,[2] kirtana[3] and arcana[4] belongs to the first category. The jīvas[5] or sādhakas[6] who follow this path have to depend on self-effort. Puṣtimārga is the path of devotion categorized as ‘puṣṭi’.

‘Puṣṭi’ literally means ‘nourishment’. It means the special spiritual nourishment that a sādhaka gets when God’s grace descends on him. It has nothing to do with the fattening of the body with nourishing food, as some epicureans want us to believe. In this path, the jīva on whom the grace of God falls, is called ‘puṣṭi’. He is the one whom God has accepted as his own. These jīvas have an innate and unconditional love and attachment to him. That love is actually a reflection of the light of divine favor and fervor on that blessed soul.

Well-known scriptures on bhakti or devotion advocate navavidha-bhakti or ninefold devotion. They are:

  1. Śravaṇa - listening to the stories of God in his various aspects of avatāras
  2. Kīrtana - singing his names and glories
  3. Smaraṇa - remembering him constantly
  4. Pādasevanā - serving the feet of his images
  5. Arcana - ritualistic worship
  6. Vandana - obeisance to him
  7. Dāsya - cultivating the attitude that one is his servant
  8. Sakhya - an attitude of friendship towards him


  1. He lived in A.D. 1473-1531.
  2. Śravaṇa means the listening to the glories of God.
  3. Kirtana means singing devotional songs.
  4. Arcana means worship.
  5. Jīvas means the souls.
  6. Sādhakas means aspirants.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

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