A Way of Life
“Sreeji" at R. S. Puram in Coimbatore is an apartment block which is famous because of its vegetarian residents. Bhupendra Nagindas Desai has been living there for years. He adheres to the tradition propounded by Vallabhacharya, the founder of Pushtimaarg, a way of life.
The Pushtimaargi-s consider Lord Krishna as the most important person in their household. Bhupendra Desai and his wife, Neeta are staunch Pushtimaargi-s and therefore they get the opportunity to host the Aacharyas (Descendants of Vallabhacharya Mahaprabhuji) whenever they visit Coimbatore.
“The senior person in a family is addressed as Maharajsri, the sons are addressed as Bhaavasri while the daughters are addressed as Betiji. We love to follow Pushtimaarg and therefore the descendants of Vallabhacharya prefer to stay with us. The food consumed by us is free of onion and garlic. One cannot enter the kitchen or the storeroom without a bath. In fact, we wear a separate set of clothes for pooja. Men wear dothi and bandi, while women wear a saree at the time of pooja. The pooja clothes are washed and dried separately,” stated Bhupendra Desai.
The family does not partake food which is not offered to Krishna. Cooking is done first, and the food is offered to their Lord. This offering (Prasad) is consumed later. Any food which leaves the kitchen cannot re-enter and everything that is cooked is offered to Krishna. Lord Krishna belongs to the family and hence, is woken up and given a bath. Food is offered thereafter. Krishna is also made to enjoy the fragrance of perfumes and sandalwood paste.
He is made to wear different clothes for different seasons. Krishna is a cowherd and therefore he goes to the grazing grounds along with his cows and comes back in the evening. The child has also got toys to play with. Neeta Desai has a tiny set of musicians made of wood and they are used on ceremonious occasions. Balkrishna happens to be a child and so fire (Agarbatti or aarati) is not used for worship. A silken cloth is used as aarati.
The prayers are done as per the tradition prescribed by Vallabhacharya and is mostly in Gujarati or Sanskrit. Every morning prayer lasts one and half hours and the Lord offers four Darshan-s a day. Prasad is made twice a day and somebody or the other is busy praying. Neeta Desai is a committed Vaishnavaite and is fully proficient with the procedures. She is particularly good teaching the procedures to the people and happens to be the President of the Vallabhi Vaishnav Samaj. Her mother-in-law happens to be the founder-president. She had taught people for more than 25 years.
Pushtimaargi-s visit Havelis to offer prayers. The Havelis at Gokul, Mathura, Vrindavan, Naathdwara and Dwaraka are important pilgrim centres. It is interesting to learn about the 40-day Paadhyatra undertaken by Pushtimaargi-s. The followers of this tradition travel by walk within the area connected with the pastimes of Krishna. They live in tents for all the 40 days and go by walk from one place to the other. The use of soap and oil is forbidden during this period. Each of these Havelis are a couple of kilometres away from each other and relate to Lord Krishna and Radhaji.
The Great Philosopher had lectured in 84 places and these sacred spots are known as ‘Baitekji-s'. Some of the Baitekji-s are found in the Paadhyatra map. Most of the members of the Desai clan have undertaken the 40-day-Paadhyatra. All of them lead a Vaishnavaite way of life and celebrate important occasions like ‘Tulsi Vivah’ at home. Neeta Desai avoids eating outside food and she only accepts outside food which Satvik. While her businessman husband completely avoids aerated beverages. The travelling businessman somehow manages with fresh lime and sweetened water or tender coconut. He stays away from tea and coffee. His grandson, Vineet is also a part of the Puja team and is adept with Pushtimaarg terminology. He renders Kirtans with great ease.
The Desai couple are blessed with two grandsons through their kids, Shruti (Daughter) and Bhavik (Married to Charmi). Now a days, they attend online Bhagavat lectures. Both Neeta and Bhupendra Desai are keen to promote Pushtimaarg in this part of the country. “We follow the teachings of Vallabhacharya 24×7. Say, even a visit to the hospital is followed by a bath. Hygiene, abstinence accompanied by prayers, and a Satvik way of life gives us enormous contentment. We want everyone to enjoy this state of life by taking up Pushtimaarg as prescribed by Vallabhacharya Mahaprabhuji.”
Mr. Rajesh Govindarajulu is one of the founding members of the Verandah Club Pvt. Ltd. He is a leading columnist, historian, jeweler, entrepreneur, and a heritage enthusiast who is earnestly working to revive the past in the light of the present. Experiential learning about the history of Coimbatore is his main course of interest and he is also a panel member of many colleges in the city.
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