Misri (sugar canddy) Bhava in Pushti Marga
by P. P. G. Shree Dwarkeshji Mahoday.
In Pushtimarga we have mainly eleven bhavna (concepts) depicting Misri (sugar candy). In this article I will go through these eleven concepts and explain why these concepts came about in Pushtimarga.
(1) Misri on Pavitra Agiyaras:
On Pavitra Agiyaras all Vaishnavs offer Pavitra (Auspicious garland that symbolises the birth of Pushtimarga) with Misri to celebrate the birth of Pushtimarga. On this day Vaishnavs present Pavitra and Misri to their saviya swaroop. Pavitra Agiyaras is a symbolic day when Shree Gokulchandramaji (an avatar of Lord Krishna) parted with Brahmasambandh Mantra (the sloka for initiating a disciple into Pushtimarga) to Shree Vallabha (also known as Mahaprabhuji). This reunion became the symbol of that auspicious nectar parted by their hugging each other. The nectar became third Pushti personality known as Shree Yamunaji, hence the reunion of trio. Later on, the nectar which represented Shree Yamunaji is symbolised by Misri. This way the Misri became an important entity on Pavitra Agiyaras.
(2)Misri on Pavitra Baras:
On Pavitra Agiyaras Vaishnavs offer Pavitra (Auspicious garland that symbolises the birth of Pushtimarga) with Misri to celebrate the birth of Pushtimarga. On this day Vaishnavs present Pavitra and Misri to their saviya swaroop. Pavitra Agiyaras is a symbolic day when Shree Gokulchandramaji (an avatar (form) of Lord Krishna) parted with Brahmasambandh Mantra (the sloka for initiating a disciple into Pushtimarga) to Shree Vallabha (also known as Mahaprabhuji). This re-union became the symbol of that auspicious nectar parted by hugging each other. The nectar became third Pushti personality known as Shree Yamunaji, hence the re-union of trio. The nectar which represents Shree Yamunaji is symbolised by Misri. This way the Misri became an important entity on Pavitra Agiyaras.
(3)Misri on Nanda Mahotsava:
After pragatiya (birth) of Shree Krishna, His father Nandji decided to rejoice with Gokula dwellers and thus started the festival of Nanda Mahotsava. First the Misri is lightly thrown in the Palna (Shree Krishna’s cote). Then the Misri is being thrown at Gokula dwellers that are dancing and singing, rejoicing the Nanda Mahotsava. In Nanda Mahotsava Misri is represented as the swaroop of Shree Yamunaji. The Nanda Mahotsava Misri is said to carry the nectar of Shree Krishna’s celestial form (ras-roop) affiliated with Shree Yamunaji’s ras- roop. Shree Yamunaji here is rejoicing with all the Bhakta in the form of Misri. Hence, this concept is illustrated by modern Vaishnavs by tossing Misri during Nanda Mahotsava. This way Shree Yamunaji is bestowing her ras-roop pleasure on these Vaishnavs.
(4)Eight Misri in Nathdwara:
Govindswami was commissioned by Shree Vithalnathji (Shree Gusainji) as singer in Haveli. In Pushtimarga main temples are known as Haveli. Shree Gusainji is son of Shree Vallabha and he devoted his life for Pushtimarga followers (Bhakta) and endeavours to establish a new relation of loving kindness among them. He believed love for humanity must be defined in terms of men and women with whom we are brought in contact. He envisaged the changes in intellectual climate of world, the crisis through which religion and social life are passing. Shree Vithalnathji wanted to convey this message through songs of praise of Shree Nathji and Lord Krishna. According to him God is not a fragment of our minds. He is not distorted reflection of Absolute but a phenomenon well founded in the reality. To illustrate all these and celestial games (Lilas) of Lord Krishna he commissioned eight ardent disciples who were great Haveli singers. Govindswami was one of the singers. These eight singers are now known as ‘Ashta-sakha’ (ashta=eight, sakha=friends).
The Ashta sakha were commissioned to sing the glory during seva which was twenty-four seven and the day was equally divided in eight sections which in turn was the service to Lord divided in eight parts known as ‘Ashta-pore’. One of the pore in which Govindswami was commissioned is known as ‘Shringar’ (adornment).
One day during Shringar, Govindswami was rendering a lovely Shringar pada (Pushti classic song) and Shree Nathji was enveloped in beautiful mysterious render of comforting Shringar- Lilas. Suddenly he felt the melody lacked that powerful gist which was the quality of Govindswami’s singing. Shree Nathji clearly sees ‘ahama’ (the obstructive pride) in Govindswami. He prided on his skill for rendering such a beautiful pada and this ahama was an obstruction and eventually it could hinder the flow of his devotion. Govindswami always exalted and dedicated himself to kirtan-seva (songs of praise to Lord is also renounce as service to Lord) and was humble till the moment he defaulted in kirtan-seva. Shree Nathji will never let His followers to falter. The Blessed Lord never acts contrary to His promise. The ahama had become guilty of transgressing the Master of all things.
Shree Nathji would not let Govindswami lament because the ahama had touched his soul. Shree Nathji picked up seven Misri and hurled one after the other towards Govindswami. These seven Misri made Govindswami realise his error. The Misri brought about wisdom (vivek), perseverance (dhairya) and refuge (ashray). Vivek, Dhairya and Ashray are the three main devotional ingredients that create and maintain the firm mood of devotion.
Govindswami reacted with smile and hurled a Misri towards Shree Nathji’s lotus feet and said, ‘My lord, you have other seven ardent singers but for me you are the only one.’
Since this day we offer eight Misri in Seva and when any Bhakta who has taken part in ‘Tapeli’ Utsava in Haveli, is presented with eight Mis
(5) Makhan Misri in Mangla:
Pushtimargiya Vaishnavs offer Makhan (milk curd) and Misri in Mangal Bhog (Mangla=breakfast). Makhan is taken as Shree Thakorji’s heart and Misri is depicted as Prem ras roop, which is the nectar of love. Every vaishnavs in their daily seva (service) should offer Misri as nectar of love or Prem ras roop of Shree Yamunaji. So in Mangla Misri is Yamunaji’s form (swaroop) of love towards God.
(6)Misri with Suko Mewo:
Kaju (cashew-nuts) kharek (dry-dates) and kopru (coconut) are known as Suko Mewo (dry anacaddium (nuts)). This trend was established by various ardent ancient Bhakto and the tradition is followed in present day. With Suko Mewo Misri and draksh (grapes) completes the complementary offering of the Suko Mewo. In remembrance of these great followers who are close to Lord Krishna, Suko Mewo is offered. Kaju symbolises Chandravaliji, kharek symbolises Kumarikas (young virgins), grapes is depicted as Gopis and kopru is represented by Vraj Bhakto. The fifth item in Suko Mewo is Misri which (you guessed it!) is Shree Yamunaji’s bhava. The four items of Suko Mewo represents four different types of followers and Shree Yamunaji as Misri, represents ‘nirguna’ and rasatmak swaroop. Seva and Lila is a mean or entrance that allows Bhakta the perfection of Nirodha, which is, a divine state of consciousness where the Bhakta becomes oblivious to the world and totally attached to God. This then leads to a perfect character which is nirguna. The rasatmak swaroop arose due to the presence of Krishna’s yearning lips upon Shree Yamunaji’s lips. The rasatmak swaroop is elixir of ‘Bhagvatbhogya’ (a ras that is experienced by Krishna and Yamunaji). When Bhagvatbhogya and Krishna’s bliss arose and started to flow through Yamunaji, all round her, she became rasatmak swaroop.
This ras is unattainable through discipline (apras). In order to join Bhakto with Krishna and his Lila, Shree Yamunaji appears as Misri and fills them with ras to join Krishna. So here the Misri appears as medium. Connecting Hari (God) with His Bhakta, empowering, transforming the Bhakta and making them Lila-worthy.
(7)Misri in zariji:
When vaishnavs travels, they mostly take their Thakorji with them in special built cote known as Zampiji. In Zampiji a provision is made for Thakorji’s comfort. The comfort includes the Yamuna jala (water) to quench His thirst. Instead of water Vaishnavs fills Misri in zariji (utensil that holds water). So in this case Misri takes the form of Yamuna jala.
The followers who are unable to do Sakhdi-seva (a full service that includes the offering of cooked food) are allowed to use Misri instead of cooked food, thus the Misri takes the form of cooked food (bhog).
(8)Misri in panno:
During summer in the month of Akhkha-treej to rath-yatra (festival of chariot ride), disciples offer panno (fruit juice) to Thakorji. The main condiment used in making panno includes elichi (cardamom), barassa (lemon grass) and Misri. Misri is a sweetener that acts as a soother in summer and a calming agent in state of depressed mood or hilaga (pangs of separation). In simple but short seva, the panno is served during rajbhog (lunch) and the disciples who does elaborated full time, six-pore seva, will serve panno after rajbhog that is at Uthapan time.
(9) Misri with Limdani koop:
Once in a year Misri forms the part of ‘Limdani koop’, a dry Neem Tree leaves (limdo) powder. Neem leaves are bitter in taste; hence to mallow the bitterness Misri is added. Neem leaves powder when mixed with Misri become koop, which is a dry powder. In this koop Misri symbolises the divine swaroop of Shree Yamunaji who pervades bhakta’s hearts and senses which brings about awareness of Thakorji’s (God’s) presence in time of predicament. Predicament is like Neem Tree leaves, sour and bitter, and presence of Shree Yamunaji makes us sail through our predicament and softens the blow of misery, hence the Misri. It is said that remembering God during our predicament enables us to sail through hard times. This awareness of God is brought by Misri swaroop of Shree Yamunaji.
(10)When Misri is offered to Yamunaji:
So far we saw that Misri is Yamunaji’s different bhava (symbols) that pervades the hearts and souls of Bhakta and make them aware of Thakorji’s presence. Although Misri is Yamunaji’s celestial form, but when a Bhakta offers Misri to Yamunaji, that Misri at that stage changes its traditional symbol, no more Yamunaji in that bhava.
According to legend, when Shree Vasudevji carried Baby Krishna in a basket over his head, it was raining heavily. Vasudevji was following Krishna’s order to transfer Him from Mathura to Gokula. He had to cross River Yamuna which was filled with tempest waves. Yamunaji saw Vasudevji carrying her beloved Krishna, could not resist, she rose to touch Krishna’s lotus feet. The rise in water could have been fatal for Shree Vasudevji but, Lord Krishna quickly dangled his feet into rising water of Shree Yamunaji, and Yamunaji grabbed the opportunity and gracefully touched her beloved Krishna’s lotus feet. The nectar that depicted ras of love flowed from His feet into Shree Yamunaji and she experienced the Bhagvatbhogya ras. With Bhagvatbhogya ras flowed a rasa swaroop of Brahman, which became current and water swaroop of Lord Krishna, who since resided in Yamuna Kunj (Water Palace within the River Yamunaji).
When Bhakta offers Misri to Shree Yamunaji, they remind her about ras-swaroop of Thakorji (Krishna) and the event. The Misri bhog is offered to Yamunaji on Thakurani Ghaat (River Yamuna’s bank at Gokula is named as Thakurani Ghaat).
(11)Misri during eclipse:
During eclipse (grahan) Bhakta serves Misri instead of water. According to legend, water is affected by eclipse, which makes water inedible during grahan. In this case Misri comes to rescue and takes the form of Shree Yamunaji’s water.
That is why Vaishnavs (followers) offer Misri during grahan. These are main bhava of Misri in Pushtimarga.