Sri Guru-Vandana, the worship of Guru’s lotus-feet, from Prema-Bhakti-Candrika

Brahma adi deva-devi Lakshmi charana sevi Se pan apane anuragé Kara kamale kamala Ati arati bihavala Tuhu pada-padme madhu mange Se punah hridaye rahi sajjay sutoye nahi Badane badan rahu roma Epada Madhuri aashe seho taha nahi base Keba kahu charana mahima (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Text 70-71) The admiration and love for their beloved God is reflected through the delightful phrases composed by the devotees, who spoke the mind of Krishna’s own lady, Rukmini.

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She praises him with the above sloka, where she speaks about the Gods and Goddesses with Lakshmi Devi serving his lotus feet, yearning to receive the love for him. Devi kamala, with hands like lotus flower (Kara kamale kamala), who is overwhelmed with the deep admiration for the lord, asks for the sweet nectar of his lotus feet (Tuhu pada-padme madhu mange). She lives forever in his heart, sleeps in the same bed and can keep her face upon his (Badane badan rahu roma).

Yet, she yearns for the sweetness of his feet. ‘Oh, the glorious indescribable feet of yours, who can enchant the greatness of it!’ The lotus flower (sc. name, Nelumbo nucifera) is a species of an aquatic plant commonly found in the lakes and ponds of India and various parts of the tropical world. Its aesthetics lies in the brilliant pinkish-whitish color of it, and it being one of the perfect symmetrical flowers in nature. It has long stems that grow underwater in the mud, and while the leaves float on the water, the flower blooms above, prominently growing towards the sky. In the timeless writings of Indian philosophy, the complexities of life and the complicated questions of it are defined through allegorical descriptions and metaphorical explanations. The physicality of a form has been often compared with natural fauna or flora, where not only the similarities are drawn in the aspects of outside appearances (bahiranga rupa) but also the significance of the comparison apprises about the internalized symbolism (antaranga bhava). We often have seen the comparison with a divine deity’s feet with the lotus flower (Padapadme, kamala-charan). Krishna, the great embodiment of fineness and perfection in human form possesses such lotus-feet.

May it be the Bhagavat Puran, where the tales of Krishna’s life have been depicted or in Mahabharat where we learn about him being the incarnation of the great God Vishnu or the later writings of Bhakti poets and singers, Krishna has been described and compared with the sacred lotus flower with Pundarikaksha (lotus-eyed one), pada padme Bhushanam (adorning his lotus feet) and even embracing the symbols of lotus on his chest. The metaphorical reference with the divine self and the flower represents the perception of the lotus as something that grows out of the dirty muddy water (Pankajanother name of lotus meaning one that is born in dirt) but still staying pure and untouched by the grime of its origin. The flower’s life symbolically can be linked with the growth of beauty, rising up to the brighter aspects of life and achieve greatness and even if one belongs to the dark and damp sections of the society. It is spiritual growth that one can achieve, irrespective of their source from where they come, and that one, like the great Lord, can achieve greatness and perfection through the enlightenment of their soul through knowledge, sacrifice and submission to the Supreme power. The lover, friend, devotee – whoever it might be of the God, surrenders himself to the divine Lord Krishna, to gain peace and absolute blessings from Him, to achieve Him and attain Him as the savior, friend or lover.

Tam eva shranam gachcha sarva-bhavena bharata Tat-prasadat param shantim sthanam prapsyasi shashvatam (Bhagvad Gita, Ch.18, V-62) As the Lord himself said, in Bhagvad Gita, ‘Surrender exclusively unto Him with your whole being, O Bharat. By his grace, you will attain perfect peace and eternal abode.’ Not only lotus-feet are one of the attributes to God, but it is also represented as the feet of the Guru, the teacher or other spiritual and religious people. It is one place where the students or the follower can surrender completely and selflessly, attaining his blessings, seeking peace and wisdom, so that they can gain the taste of the transcendental honey that is brewed in their lotus feet. The spiritual master places his feet in the heart of the disciple, enriching him with the vastness of knowledge, power and virtue, the ability to bloom like the lotus flower, out of all complications and strenuousness, like the flower does, out of the black water, reaching towards freedom and enlightenment, aiming towards the vastness of the sky. Sri-guru-carana-padma, kevala-bhakti-sadma Bando mui savadhane mate Jahara prasade bhai, e bhave toriya jai, Krisna-prapti hoy jahe ha’te. (Sri Guru-Vandana, the worship of Guru’s lotus-feet, from Prema-Bhakti-Candrika)


Originally published Feb21, 2021