Why we worship the Feet of the Guru?
The uninitiated may wonder why the feet of holy ones are so reverently worshiped in the Hindu faith. According to tradition, the totality of the satguru is contained within his feet. All nerve currents terminate there. The vital points of every organ of his bodies-inner astral, inner mental and soul-are there. Touch the feet and we touch the spiritual master.
Kathopanishad speaks of the Guru as the preceptor who alone can guide the disciple on the spiritual path. Over time the Guru's syllabus gradually enlarged incorporating more secular and temporal subjects related to human endeavor and intellect. Apart from usual spiritual works his sphere of instruction now included subjects like Dhanurvidya (archery), Arthashastra (economics) and even Natyashastra (dramatics) and Kamashastra (sexology). Such was the ingenuity of the all pervading intellect of the ancient Acharyas that they perpetuated even shastra like thievery.In the field of Sadhanas devotion to the Guru is most important. Through dedication and by obeying all commands of the Guru a person gains spiritual and moral strength which initiates him onto the path of Sadhanas. According to the text "Sharda Tilak" only a person who has same unwavering faith in the Guru, he has in God is able to realise Supreme Truth, and all subtle secrets of the spiritual world are revealed to him.
Powers of the Guru instill determination in the Sadhak, always keep showering upon him kindness of the Guru and each moment provide him with courage and support.Thus even in adverse situations such a Sadhak does not become perturbed, for he knows that due to his true devotion and faith in the Guru, his problems shall get solved all by themselves.The ancient texts, known as Shastras, clearly state that sins of the previous births can be absolved in present life only through devotion in the feet of Guru. A Sadhak (a level which comes after being a true disciples) who wishes to achieve Siddhi (divine accomplishment) in the field of Sadhanas(Penance), should always follow the directions given by his Guru.It is not the work of a Sadhak to analyse actions of a Guru, his only duty is to obey the Guru's command without any hesitation.He should follow the path shown to him by the Guru and if he is not able to remain in active service of the Guru he should present himself before him at least once in a year.
The Guru's Sandals, or padukas, represent the power of the Guru to uplift and transform us. The Indian scriptures tell us that the fountain of grace which God pours upon humanity actually flows through the feet of the great beings. Thus, the sandals of the master are regarded with reverence.The Guru's Sandals are the threshold of the Formless, which explores the essential mystery at its heart.
Mystics teach that the big toe on the left foot exudes the most grace. The left foot is the revealing grace, and the big toe of that leg connects to the guru’s pituitary gland, the entrance to the door of Brahm, deep within the sahasrara chakra where, in contemplation, he merges with Siva. The vibration of the satguru can be subtly felt through gently touching his sandals. In doing so, one tunes in to the feet of the preceptor’s physical, pranic, astral, mental and soul bodies.
In deep spirituality there is little presumption of ego. All that one hopes for, all that one pays for, all that one strives for is to touch the Divine in the most modest of ways. Worship of the feet epitomizes this humble attitude. Devotees worship the feet of the guru as the feet of God Shiva, the attainable attainment, seeking to partake of, absorb into themselves, the vibration of their guru, ultimately to become like their guru, who has realized his oneness with God Shiva.
Satguru Sivaya Subramaniyaswami wrote, “Practices to Advance spiritual unfoldment include prostrating before God, Gods and Guru, full body, face down, arms and hands out stretched, and in that act, total giving up, giving up, giving up, giving up. What are these devotes ones giving up? By this act they are giving the lower energies to the higher energies. It is a merger, a blending. When one is performing this traditional devotional act, awakening true prapatti, it is easy to see the lower energies from the base of the spine through all six chakras above it and out through the top of the head. It is transmuting, changing the form of, the base energies which breed conflict and resistance, ‘mine and yours’ and ‘you and me’ division, insecurity and separateness, into the spiritual energies of ‘us and we’ amalgamation, security, togetherness.
There is yet another meaning of the holy feet. When a person walks upon the Earth, only the feet touch the ground. Similarly, when God and Guru contact the Earth, it is the esoteric feet, the lowest part of consciousness, which make that contact. This, then becomes the locus of communion with the Divine. In India the greatest of all initiations is for the satguru to place his holy feet upon the worthy disciples head.
The mystery and reverence of the Guru's Sandals is also expressed in the Guru Paduka Panchakam.Adi Shankaracharya has also written five devotional verses under the title "Guru Paduka Panchakam" as salutations to his guru, in this case meaning the Lord. The English language translation of the first verse means:
Salutations and Salutations to the sandals of my Guru,
Which is a boat, which helps me, cross the endless ocean of life,
Which endows me, with the sense of devotion to my Guru,
And by worship of which, I attain the dominion of renunciation..