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A Vaiṣṇava bhakti path, established by Vallabha, and the core element in the religious practice of the Vallabhasampradāya. Devotion is directed towards the Kṛṣṇa whose early life and ‘divine play’ (līlā) among the gopīs in Vṛndāvana is evoked in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. For the devotee, an increasing and graded immersion in these events as a participant, up to the contemplation and enactment of the ‘divine play’, is dependent at every level, on the grace (puṣṭi) of Kṛṣṇa, as is eventual liberation. In practice this entails the disinterested service (sevā) of, and complete surrender to, the deity, who is housed in a temple, known as a havelī, where he makes himself available for the darśana of his devotees on eight occasions during the day. These coincide with activities such as waking, eating, dressing, taking his cows out to graze, napping, bringing his herd back at dusk, and going to bed. As this suggests, he is viewed as being literally and fully embodied in the image, which therefore requires near continuous attention (i.e. waking, bathing, dressing, feeding, entertaining, and putting to sleep). Some devotees favour an attitude of parental love towards the child Kṛṣṇa. A characteristic practice is the congregational singing of kīrtanas before the image, partly formed from the works of a group of eight bhakti poets (aṣṭachāp(a). Kṛṣṇa is also thought to be embodied in the guru or gosvāmī (i.e. Vallabha and his successors). Particularly popular among the commercial castes of northern and western India, the Puṣṭimārga established its major tīrtha at Nāthdvāra in Rajasthan, where the focus of attention is the image of Kṛṣṇa as Śrī Nāthjī (in the havelī of the same name). See also Vallabhasampradāya; Śuddhādvaita.

Subjects: Hinduism.

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