Why do we worship Guru’s Padukas?
Gurus are glorified in Hinduism unlike in any other religion. We will try to analyze and see whether there is any justification for reverence towards the teacher. In the puranic age, we have got Rama, Krishna and others, the ideal men who lived these ideal lives and to revere, to love that ideal man it was easy and therefore the bhakti marga started. But in the Vedic period this bhakti marga of the puranic age has not yet evolved by the help of Vyasa. But before Vyasa’s time, the teachers were giving them only an ideal upon which to meditate upon as the worship of fire, the worship of the Ganges, the worship of the Himalayas itself, the sun, the moon, the stars were all for them. The goal of their point of their contemplation or concentration wherein they poured out their love, their emotion of devotion towards it as a representative of the great ideal. After some time of living with the teacher, the student found that all the subtle beauties of perfect living… which he has read in cold print or he has heard from the teacher, when he has contemplated or reflected upon and understood, he found that all those beauties of life are pulsating in… the dynamic life of the old man, the teacher. He found what he wants to achieve himself, a prototype of that perfection in the Guru himself and therefore he started worshipping the teacher himself. Ultimately it came that the teachers allowed the student only one day in the year to do their worship. Only worship is done on the feet of the sacred teacher. Now one would think, why is it they are worshipping the feet? In teacher worship, crown of our head touches the toe of the teacher. What I am revering is not your head or the heart nor your feet, but I am worshipping that on which you are standing the ideal for which you are preaching and living. That on which you are standing is the great ideal. It is too delicate and subtle for me to understand. I cannot comprehend it. I have to come to experience it. In my own spiritual maturity alone, I can conceive of that idea but here I show my reverential devotion to that ideal upon which you stand and when he is thus standing upon his own feet, we worship his feet. Similarly the Paduka becomes an idol of an ideal. They; in those days; took the paada of the teacher.. as the living idol of the ideal for which the teacher has taught him… and he himself has come to appreciate it, and with all devotion… they worshipped it as if it is Vishnu himself, the reality, the Atman itself. It is for this technical purpose of becoming the ideal that the devotion was necessary, and the devotion in vedantic devotion, the idol that was representing the ideal… was the feet of the teacher and therefore we worshipped the teacher’s feet.
On the sacred occasion of Shri Guru Poornima, we reverentially prostrate at the feet of all spiritual masters who ignite in us the quest for Truth, devotion to God and spirit of service of all beings.