As you all know we are Hindus. If we trace the history of Hinduism it goes back thousands of years. In fact, it is the oldest religion on earth. People throughout the whole of Asia were impressed by the Hindu faith and its followers panned from Turkey in the west to Vietnam in the east.
As the years passed by, different people from different geographical areas read, reinvented and taught the rules of Hinduism according to the needs of the time and place but they stayed within the limits of what was called Hindu religion. These specified, localized and reinvented set of rules were called a sect. This developing a sect was not an easy task and it certainly was not a common man's cup of tea. Learned, gifted people like Shankaracharya, Ramanuja, Madhavacharya, Nimbarkacharya and Vallabhacharyaji have so far been successful in developing a sect. Vallabhacharyaji named His sect as Pushtimarg. We, as followers of Vallabhacharyaji follow the rules of Pushtimarg. Let us know a brief history of Pushtimarg.
The propagator of Pushtimarg, Shri Vallabhacharyaji was born in 1478 in a South Indian Brahmin's family. He was not an ordinary child and learned all the Vedas, Puranas at the tender age of 10. When he was just 13, he left his family and decided to tour the country and meet and teach people the philosophy he had thought of. In A.D. 1491, learned pandits from all over India had gathered in a seminar on religion. 13-year-old Vallabh reached there and debated for 27 days with pandits and put forward His views. The pandits were so awed at the intelligence of the child that they gave Him the title of 'Acharya' and thus Vallabh became Vallabhacharyaji.
His philosophy was called 'Shudhhadwaita' and the sect was named 'Pushtimarg'. Then in 1493 Shri Shrinathji asked Vallabhacharyaji to build a temple for Him on Mount Govardhan. He also gave Vallabhacharyaji a Sanskrit 'mantra' by which 'Brahmsambandh Deeksha' could be given to a person. Whoever took Brahmsambandh, became a 'vaishnav' and was eligible to do Shrinathji's seva. He asked Vallabhacharyaji to give this mantra to as many people as he could and make as many vaishnavs as he could.
So Vallabhacharyaji gave the first Brahmsambandh to Damodardas Harsani and gradually more and more people started becoming a 'vaishnav'.
Moreover, Shrinathji told Vallabhacharyaji that from now He(Shrinathji) would be the center of faith for all the Pushtimargiya Vaishnavs. So, from that day, vaishnavs had a God to serve--Shrinathji, a Guru to obey--Vallabhacharyaji and a philosophy to follow--Pushtimarg. Thus, during the last decade of this century, the number of followers increased gradually. But the nature of the sect was simple, small-scale and it was in its primitive years. Literature like Yamunashtakam and Madhurashtakam was written in the last decade of this century
As Vallabhacharyaji travelled throughout India, his followers increased, and he asked all of them to do the 'seva' of Shrinathji. Even Kings of the Lodi dynasty who ruled Delhi were impressed by Vallabhacharyaji. As people realized that Vallabhacharyaji was no common man and Shrinathji talked and walked with all the vaishnavs, their dedication, love and knowledge for Pushtimarg increased.
A book called '84 vaishnav-ki-varta' consists of stories of 84 such vaishnavs of Vallabhacharyaji. In order to help His followers know the philosophy and develop the right type of Love for Shrinathji, Vallabhacharyaji prepared a tremendous literature base which acted as an instruction manual to deal with various situations of the life which vaishnav might have to face.
In 1510, Thakorji asked Vallabhacharyaji to marry so he married a girl named Mahalaxmi. He had two sons from the marriage--Gopinathji (b. 1511) and Vitthalnathji (b. 1515).
Now as Vallabhacharyaji became a family man, He settled in Adel (near Allahabad) and taught His children Thakorji's seva. Meanwhile He kept increasing His literature base and wrote Subodhiniji, Anu-Bhashya, Nirodhlakshan, Sevafal and many other essays. In 1530, Vallabhacharyaji left this earth at his own will but He had successfully built a sect whose followers were staunchly devoted to Shrinathji and His family.