Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Guru Paduka Puja and its Significance

If you have faith in the Guru’s feetIf you have deep feeling for the Guru’s feet,If you imbibe the state of the Guru,Then you don’t have to look for GodGod will come looking for you- Bhakta TukaramWhat is Guru Paduka Puja?Why do we do it?What is the significance of it?First let me start out with one of the most beautiful examples contained in Ramayana. It tells the story of Bharata, the younger brother of Lord Rama, who refused to accept a kingdom of Ayodhya during Rama’s exile in the forest, because his own mothers ambition for him had been the cause of Rama’s banishment.Bharata went to the forest in search of Rama, hoping to perform the coronation ceremony for him there and afterward to bring him home to the palace. But Rama, faithful to the laws of Dharma, would not break his promise to go into exile and declined to accompany Bharata back to Ayodhya.Bharata hunted out a pair of costly sandals and said, “Here are sandals inlaid with gold. I beg you to stand on them for a moment. Blessed by the touch of your holy feet, these sandals will becomesanctified, and they will bear the burden of ruling the kingdom.”Rama smiled at Bharata and stood for a moment wearing the golden sandals. Then he gave them back to his brother. Bharata prostrated before the sandals and said, “My beloved brother, I will dress like a renunciant in coarse tree bark and deer skin, and will wear matted locks until your term of exile is over in fourteen years. I will wait for you to come back, and I will live outside the city of Ayodhya, in Nandigrama. I will place these sandals on the throne, and they will rule the kingdom as your symbols. I will merely serve as your representative.”Bharata took the sandals in his hands, placed them with reverence on his head, and did pradakshina, walking clockwise around Rama three times. Still carrying the padukas on his head, Bharata ascended his chariot. Eventually he reached Nandigrama, where the coronation of the padukas would take place.

Bharata addressed the elders and said, “I have been appointed guardian of the country by my revered brother. His sandals will rule the kingdom.” He bowed to the sandals and spoke again: “To me, these are the blessed feet of my brother. The white umbrella indicating royalty will be held above them, and they will inspire me to walk on the right path and never to swerve from it. I will guard them with my life. One day, I will see them adorning my brother’s feet, and I will find peace of mind.” Dressed in tree bark and deer skin, Bharata lived outside of Ayodhya. He would speak to the sandals and report to them about the various happenings in the kingdom as though they were human. He did nothing without consulting them. And they, in turn, granted him the insight and wisdom he needed to resolve every situation in a just and righteous manner. Dedicating everything to the padukas, Bharata ruled the kingdom for fourteen years, until Rama returned victorious from the forest, having defeated the mighty demon Ravana.“ The Guru’s feet are worshipped or revered because all the Guru’s shakti dwells in the feet. If you did research into this, you would find that the vibrations of the inner self constantly flow out through the feet. The nerves that come from the Sahasrara reach right down to the feet. The feet Nerve as the support for the whole body. This is the reason the feet are given so much importance. More skakti flows form the feet than any other part of the body, the glory of the Guru’s feet for the Guru’s sandals is great. Kularnava Tantra says: “Remember the Guru’s sandals … They provide protection against great diseases, great disturbances, great evils, great fears, great calamities, and great sins,"

According to Chinese medicine, the body contains many acupuncture meridian or channels which will congregate around the feet. By treating the feet, the Chinese physicians adjust the flow of energy to different parts and organs of the body. Additionally, there is a particular acupuncture point in the sole of the foot called yongquuan, which means gushing spring. When a person needs energy, he is taught to focus his mind on this point. Sooner or later there is energy charge that goes from the mind to this point in the sole of the foot, and from there energy shoots up to the crown of the head. It is the major point for meditation and acupuncture.The foot of Guru is no ordinary foot. Gurupaddangre paadodakam ganga. All holy waters, including Mother Ganga, live in the Guru’s feet. This is what you should think in your heart when worshipping the Guru. All holy waters, all Devatas, or angels, and all sacred hills abide in the Guru’s feet. One should have firm sankalpa (intention, determination) to behold all gods in guru’s feet. The trimurthis – Brahma, Vishnu,Siva – live in Guru’s feet. These three Divine Forms symbolize the removal of the three qualities of nature that keeps the soul in bondage. The three qualities are tamas (sense of ego), rajas (passion, desire) and sattva (goodness and purity) when these three qualities are removed, then the soul becomes free or sanyaasi. In this state, one renounces desire and becomes like a stone – not senseless, but chinmaya (full of light). So, after Guru Pada Puja, it is to surrender the three qualities to the Divine Trinity. This is the significance of self surrender to the GURUS FEET..

Guru’s feet.For the sake of His disciples, the formless Guru takes the form in Padukas. Guru lives in Padukas. A devotee should pray “O my Guru, wherever my mind goes, may your form be there. Wherever my head bows in salutation, may your feet be there.”The Guru continuously tests the devotees. It is very dangerous for the devotees to look on the Guru as an ordinary man. The devotee must think that the Guru is higher than Shiva, Vishnu or Brahma. If one thinks that the Guru is the physical form and activities, then it becomes very easy for doubts to infiltrate the citadel of devotion, and after a while, to completely overcome it. Nothing the Guru says or does is ordinary, there is always a higher reason.Manduka Upanishad says: “The Guru’s feet are like the foundation on which a building stands…. The Guru’s feet are the two elements in the mantra So’Ham which means ‘I am that.’ The statement ‘I am that’ (SoHam) is packed with richness and significant meaning. The two syllables, Ham and Sa, have a number of esoteric meanings. Ham is Shiva, the all pervading supreme reality, the absolute Being. He is the Lord or God, the support and the foundation of all things, sentient and insentient.In the form of pure concisiousness, He permeates all creatures and dwells in them as their own innermost self. The Scriptures calls this experience as Purusha, the eternal witness. Sa is shakti, the energy of Shiva.

She is the divine Cosmic power that creates and maintains the countless galaxies and worlds. She is the consort of Shiva, the active aspect of the formless, the attributeless Absolute. She is the joyous divine energy that unfolds the universe, assuming the billions of shapes and forms that we see around.Shiva is the experiencer and Shakti is the experienced – objective universe. She is referred also as Prakriti or the force of nature. She is the energy that powers our mind and that enables us to walk, talk, eat meals, and perform our work. While experiencing the primordial sound SoHam in meditation, a seeker can also experience the sound or vibrations of the different seed letters and their surrounding mantras. The sounds of these Bija mantras lead us to the Bindu, on Blue Pearl, which is the ultimate goal. Sound is the path that takes us to the final destination. Just as a bee gathers honey from blossoming flowers, in the same way, the seeker savors the honey of various lotuses, or chakras. The ultimate goal of every sadhaka is to attain the liberation in the thousand – petaled lotus of the Sahasrara at the crown of the head.The Guru Geeta also says that the Guru’s feet have two different lusters – one is white and other is red – representing Shiva and Shakti. Shiva is associated with the white color, and Shakti, the divine energy with the red color.In these feet of Guru, Shiva and Shakti live as one and through them the disciple realizes the unity. He sees Shiva and Shakti as red and white lights shining through the Guru’s feet. The Guru’s feet should be worshiped everyday, for by their means one easily realizes the immanent and transcendent aspect of Shiva (form and formlessness aspects). Their luster radiates in the upper spaces of Sahasrara Chakra.

Paduka Panchaka
The Paduka Panchaka speaks of two lotuses or spiritualcenters: 1) Sahasrara, the brilliant white lotus of a thousand petals that is located at the crown of the head.2) A smaller twelve petaled lotus that is situated within the center of the Sahasrara.The Sahasrara is the larger upper lotus which is downward – turned, and the smaller twelve petaled lotus is beneath it and upward - turned. In the center where these two lotuses meet, there is a triangle with its apex pointing downward. The lines of this triangle are actually composed of all the letters of the Sanskrit alphabets; so it might be said that the Guru’s feet which are located within this triangle, sit inside the source of all language and sounds. This triangle is called a- ka- tha, after the letters that stand at the beginning of its three lines. A and the thirteen Sanskrit vowels that follow it start at the downward-point apex of this triangle and extend up the right side. The first sixteen consonants starting with ka form the second line, extending across the top of the triangle from right to left. Each letter has its own place on a certain petal in certain chakras in our system. The second sixteen consonants beginning with tha form the third line, extending down the left side of the triangle back to the apex. The remaining three letters, Ha, La and Ksha are located inside the triangle. It is said that A is the father or all letters. Ka is the seed of the Shakti principle, which has the quality of a mother. Tha refers to the element of ether (sky) which enables a seeker to soar like a bird in the inner space of Consciousness. A seeker attains this triangle of letters when he reaches the sahasrara.

At the very center of the a- ka- tha triangle is the supreme Bindu Pearl. It is small, brilliant blue dot the size of sesame seed, yet it is the source of everything. Bindu is the first form to emerge out of mahasunya (great void). Bindu is the state of the gathered – up power of Consciousness that is about to create the universe. Therefore it is called “ primordial seed of the universe” or “cosmic creative drop.”In fact, the bindu germinates and sprouts into three other pearls or bindus which mark the angles of the a- ka- tha triangle. This primordial triangle is also known as the COSMIC WOMB that gives birth to all the sounds represented by the letters of alphabet.The Paduka Panchaka speaks of this triangle, saying “ In the round space of the thousand petaled lotus, there is a triangular lotus, which is formed by the three lines beginning with a, ka, tha, and which has Ham and Sa on two sides. One should remember the Guru, who is seated in its center.” In fact the a- ka- tha triangle has the character of a mandala (a diagram ritualistically created as an act of worship of a particular deity) which is naturally formed – that is self created – and in it are set the feet of the Guru. When we meditate on the Guru’s feet, it is here that they are envisioned. The Paduka Panchaka tells us that as we visualize the place of Guru within the triangle at the crown of the head, we are to meditate on the primordial hamsa, the all – powerful great light in which the universe is absorbed. So when we meditate on hamsa here, it is with the awareness, ‘I am that’, the awareness of merging into the great light that is the Supreme Guru.

The Paduka Panchaka continues: “The mind there contemplates the two lotuses which are the feet of the Guru, and of which the ruby colored like nectar of the moon, and are the place of all auspiciousness. We have seen that the a- ka- tha triangle is situated in the center where two lotuses meet – the sahasrara and the smaller twelve petaled lotus. Now, this image is enriched by an additional image – another natural self formed mandala, The FULL MOON, inside which the a- ka- tha triangle and the feet of the Guru reside.Within this mandala of moon in the sahasrara, we find ‘ pots of nectar’ also referred to as ‘nectar of the Moon.’ This pot of the nectar has the shape of a delicate crescent moon and is downward turned. From here the nectar flows down through the sushumna nadi. This nectar is more intoxicating than honey could ever be. The sound (inner nada heard in meditation) will make you taste a divine elixir. It is sweeter than thesweetest. Every drop is worth millions. By taking it you get rid of all sickness. There will be no more suffering, no more want, no more feeling of ‘I and mine.’The Lalita Sahasranama says: “Salutations to Her (Shakti) who sends stream of nectar from the transcendent moon in the Sahasrara.” The Shiva Samhita says: ‘The Sahasrara is the thousand petaled lotus in the Brahmananda. In its center is the region of the moon and a triangle which continuously showers nectar. This moon nectar, which grants immortality, flows in continuous stream…”The Paduka Panchaka also mentions that the Guru’s feet are cool like the nectar of the moon. In other words, just as the moonbeams cool us of after the heat of the day, in the same way devotion to the feet of the Guru extinguishes the fire of sorrow and suffering and gives us peace.

Verse 6 of the Paduka Panchaka says: “I adore the two lotus feet of the Guru in my head. The jeweled foot stool on which they rest removes all sin. The Guru’s feet are pinkish-red like young leaves. The roe nails resemble the full moon shining in all its glory. The Guru’s feet are radiant with the beautiful luster of lotuses in a lake of nectar.”When the Guru Gita speaks of the water of the Guru’s feet, it is referring to this lake of nectar. There are number of verses that explore this image. For example, verse 13 of the Guru Gita says: “the water of the Guru’s feet has the power to dry up the mire of one’s sins, to ignite the light of knowledge, and to take one smoothly across the ocean of this world.”Verse 14: “To obtain knowledge and detachment, sip the water of Guru’s feet, which destroys ignorance and ends karmas, the cause of rebirth. Muktananda says it is not the water of Guru’s physicalfeet that will make you immortal; it is only the nectar flowing in the Guru’s abode situated in the Sahasrara that will make you immortal, and that nectar can be received by the grace of the Guru.In the course of meditation, when the mind becomes stabilized in the Sahasrara, this nectar begins to flow. Only after drinking this nectar can you be said to have drunk the water of the Guru’s feet. It is not the water of the Guru’s physical feet that matters. The true feet of the Guru lie in the sahasrara; it is the nectar flowing from them that gives immortality. In the words of the Maharashtrian poet-saint, Eknath. “ By the dust of my Guru’s feet all the work was accomplished. Eknath has emerged his mind in shri Guru’s feet…By holding the feet of the Guru, all ignorance disappeared. I have not performed cruel austerities, offered sacrifices, or wandered to sacred places. The means of all means is the feet of the Sadguru.

”ByDr. V.V. Prakasa Rao's .
copied from his speech on Guru Paduka Puja on Guru Purnima Day

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