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The Supreme can appear either as Shri Krishna, the impersonal Brahman or as the foundation of God’s abode. Bhaktas see this world and the formless Brahman as the foundation of His lila. Followers of the path of knoweldge see Brahman as truth, consciousness and bliss, transcending time, and place. Brahman is self-illuminating and beyond all material qualities.

The Lord also exists as the inner controller (the antar yami) who controls all things from within as well as the divinities which preside over the sun, earth and other heavenly bodies. The Brhdaranyaka Upanisada says, “Whoever governs this and other worlds as well as all creatures from within is the inner controller.” All incarnations appear from this inner controller and are partial manifestions of Shri Krishna.

God’s grace is the soul’s nourishment. Shri Vallabhacharya explains, “Pushti is Krishna’s grace and it nullifies the influence of time, action and nature.”

Grace can provide either mundane or divine fruit. Shri Vallabhacharya adds here, “Grace is a divine secret, yet it is proven because its effects are seen in the world.”

Grace refers to that which removes powerful obstacles and provides the realization of God’s feet. The Bhagavata explains, “As the Ganges flows incessantly towards the ocean, similarly our minds should flow constantly towards the Lord.” When we are pulled towards the ocean of Krishna awareness, that is a condition of grace.

Devotion that arises from grace is called Blessed Devotion wherin there is no desire for any reward other than the sincere wish to acquire the Lord as the fruit of life. The Bhagavata states, “Lovely Krishna alone is the reward for all those who possess eyes.”

Shri Vallabhacharya says in his Nibandha, “When the soul relies upon Krishna, it is a rule of canon, but when the Lord relies upon the soul, it is an exception of grace.”

The Bhagavata relates, “The residents of Vrindavan toiled all day long tending their cows and performing other pastoral chores. Exhausted from their day of work, they slept soundly throughout the night yet Shri Krishna allowed them entrance into His divine abode.” Their attainment was effortless and so this is yet another example of grace.

The Path of Grace is a fiery affair. Shri Krishna is known through grace, but responds to devout intensity. There must be mutual attraction. The Blessed Lord dances according to the natures of his inspired bhaktas. Shri Krishna is bound by the cords of their love. The divine exchange often arises with the guru’s intervention. He performs the marriage ceremony between the soul and God.

Bhaktas are distinguished by their bhava (their enlightened emotional perception). It is the realization of Brahman coupled with overwhelming love. Bhava touches essence. When oblivion is obliterated with bhava, the devotional spark becomes ablaze and consumes the soul’s binding karmas.

Shri Harirayaji, Shri Vallabhacharya’s great, great grandson, was a very important teacher in the history of the Path of Grace. His explanations of the Path of Grace are concise.

“When the absence of all means is the means to achieve the fruit and when the fruit is the means, know that to be the Blessed Path.

“When worldly and scriptural achievements are accomplished through the Lord’s grace alone and never through the devotee’s efforts, know this to be the Blessed Path.

“When the Lord accepts the soul without considering her qualifications and does so without delay, know this to be the Blessed Path.

“When a devotee who has understood the intention of the scriptural injunctions remains attached to the Lord Himself and has no obsession for scriptural practice, know this to be the Blessed Path.

“When there is no consideration of virtue or defect and when there is a continual feeling of appreciation for all the Lord’s deeds, know this to be the Blessed Path.

“When thought is never given to worldly and scriptural satisfaction, but is given only to please the Lord, know this to be the Blessed Path.

“When there is not an infinitismal reason for the Lord’s selection of the soul and when the choice depends solely upon His divine sweet will, know this to be the the Blessed Path.

“When devotion is independent and does not require the external manifestation of the Lord and leads to all types of divine experiences, know this to be the Blessed Path.

“When there is no fear of the world and the scriptures because of profuse divine attachment and when everything other than the Blessed Lord appears as an obstacle, know this to be the Blessed Path.

“When relationship is both the means and the achievement and is established according to Krishna’s sweet desire, know this to be the Blessed Path.

“When anything related to the Lord is treated as if it is the Lord Himself and anything unrelated is treated with indifference, while anything in opposition to the Lord is opposed, know this to be the Blessed Path.

“When no concern is shown for one’s body etc. and a keen desire for Him always lingers, know this to be the Blessed Path.

“When devotion has no expectation for reciprocation from God and when the divine sentiment is nourished, know this to be the Blessed Path.

“When the Lord in no case provides the devotee with the fruit of worship because the ripening of His divine attachment requires that the fruit be withheld, know this to be the Blessed Path.

“When one is happier in the Lord’s separation than in His union because of the inner experience of all His lilas, know this to be the Blessed Path.

“When there is a reversal in the order of the means and the attainment and when devotional attachment is the attainment as well as the means, know this to be the Blessed Path.

“When there is a constant feeling of divine melancholy concerning all of His activities and the bhakta’s excessive eagerness to experience the Lord’s lilas produces humility, know this to be the Blessed Path.

“When humility is the singular means for the Lord’s manifestation and the humility aroused in separation is the fruit, know this to be the Blessed Path.

“When there is renunciation of all sensual objects and there is dedication of the body etc. with bhava for the Lord, know this to be the Blessed Path.

“When the soul always feels remembered by Krishna due to total attachment to His feet and is able to forget mundane pleasures, that is the Blessed Path.

“Keeping Vallabhacharya in our hearts, one should always understand and rely specifically on the Blessed Path in the above-mentioned way”.

One becomes eligible for and inclined towards the Blessed Path by the Lord’s grace. It is through the Blessed Lord’s grace that souls have association with His bhaktas. The Bhagavata states, “By always serving holy souls, my mind was purified and I became sincerely inclined towards the divine practice.”

Shri Vallabhacharya says, “In all transcendental matters, inclination comes from hearing about Shri Krishna’s greatness.”

When there is an inner experience of God, then the seed of divine mood along with a distinct and conscious inclination grows through the means of devotional listening and other bhakti practices. It sprouts into the form of love and removes attachment to everything except God. Then follows the divine state of attachment and in the ultimate condition, the bhakta becomes addicted to Shri Krishna.

“Devotees who have direct devotion without motive for the Supreme Person do not leave My worship to accept anything, even the four types of liberation.” (Bhagavata) This type of devotion is referred to as intense bhakti yoga and it arises from profound love for God.
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