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         Chinmaya Mission Austin        
Blessed Self,
Hari OM and Namaste!


THOUGHTS:

Why do we Worship Guru's Padukas? - By Swami Chinmayananda!

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 age of the Puranas, we have got Rama, Krsna, and others - the ideal men who lived these ideal lives - and to revere, to love that ideal man was easy and, therefore, the bhakti-marga (the path of devotion) started.

     But in the Vaidika period, this bhakti-marga of the age of the Puranas was not yet evolved. Before Vyasa's time, the Teachers were giving them only an ideal upon which to meditate - like the worship of fire, the worship of the Ganga, the worship of the Himalayas, the sun, the moon, the stars, and so on, as their point of contemplation or concentration wherein they poured out of 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, after contemplation and reflection, found that all the subtle beauties of perfect living - which he has read in cold print or he has heard from the Teacher - 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. WOrship is done only on the feet of the sacred Teacher.

     Now one would think, why is it they are worshipping the feet? In Teacher worship, the crown of our head touches the toe of the Teacher. What I am revering is not the Guru's head or the heart nor his feet, but I am worshipping that on which he is standing - the ideal for which he is preaching and living. That on which he is 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 he stands 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 pada (feet) of the Teacher as the living idol of the ideal which the Teacher has taught them, and they themselves have come to appreciate it with all devotion. Therefore, they worshipped as if it is Visnu - the Reality HImself, the Self itself.
 
The finger-pointing to the moon ever remains a finger and never can it be transformed into the moon itself. Don't take the index for the moon itself.

With Prem and OM
Shivatmananda
 
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Chinmaya Mission Austin · 12825 Burnet Road · Austin, TX 78727 · USA