Beach 7: The Art and Science of Spiritual Love
Wave 9: ADVAITA BHAKTI THROUGH CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE OF NARAYANEEYAM
Note: You may want to read the Introduction, if you have not already seen it.
Sloka No. 1 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 100 – 10)
yogIndrANAM tvad-angeSh-vadhika-su-madhuraM mukti-bhAjAM nivAso
bhaktAnAm kAma-varSha-dyu-taru-kisalayaM nAtha te pAda-mUlaM /
nityaM citta-sthitaM me pavana-pura-pate kR^iShNa-kAruNya-sindho
hR^itvA nissheSha-tApAn pradishatu paramAnanda-sandoha-lakshmIM //
Tr. Oh Lord! To the great yogins, Thy feet are the most beloved of all Thy limbs.
They form the abode for the emancipated ones. For the devotees they are like the
celestial tree which yields them all their wants. Oh Lord of Guruvayoor! Oh
Comment. The first ten of this series of 36 slokas constitute a variety of different prayers to the Absolute Lord Krishna. These prayers are intended to help us embark on the divine path to Realisation. This first one offers prostrations to the lotus feet of the Lord. Quite fittingly we are asking for the Lord’s Grace to descend on us by figuratively asking for the Lord’s feet to rest in our heart. Here the heart is the spiritual heart. The spark of the Absolute is already there, whether we recognise it or not, whether we want to admit it or not. By requesting God to have his feet rest in our heart we are only praying that His omnipresence there may be ‘felt’ by us.
Over the centuries, mystics, saints and AcAryas have gone into raptures on the concept of the Divine Feet. The Divine Feet constitute the ultimate solace for all sorrows – this is a time-honoured thought that runs through the entire Hindu religious ethos. Nammalwar, the Tamil Saint-poet, who is the foremost of the twelve Alwars and whose contribution of 1352 poems to the four thousand prabandhams of Vaishnava tradition is considered as a Tamil Veda, starts in the very first line of his work by glorifying the Divine feet: ‘the glowing feet of the Lord which blasts off all gloom and grief’ - tuyarvaRu cuDar aDi in Tiruvaimozhi 1-1-1 . True to tradition he only echoes the Vedas here. The lotus feet of the Divine are ageless and faultless, they eradicate all our misdeeds – this is the content of the Vedic mantra
caraNaM pavitraM vitataM purANaM yena pUtas-tarati duShkR^itAni
This is the mantra that is often used when ritually washing the feet of the elders, guests and mystics.
Whenever we refer to the divine feet it is customary to refer them as ‘lotus feet’. The lotus flower is an ancient divine symbol. Its unfolding petals suggest the expansion of the soul from its earthly state to a divine state. The growth of its pure beauty from the mud of its origin holds a benign spiritual promise. Recall that both Brahma and Lakshmi, the Divinities of potence and wealth, have the lotus symbol associated with them exclusively.
The Vaishnava tradition believes that the Lord’s feet have incarnated as Nammalwar. The vertical line or lines worn by the orthodox Vaishnava on their forehead represent the symbol of the Lord’s divine foot.
Not only the divine feet of the Lord, not only the dust of the divine feet of the Lord, but the dust from the feet of even the devotees of the Lord is held spiritually great. To purify oneself with the dust of the feet of the devotees of God by washing their feet with water and sprinkling that holy water on one’s head is considered such a sacred act that one of the twelve Alwars got his name ‘tonDar-aDip-poDi-AlwAr’ from that act of his which became a habit and routine with him once he changed his earlier sinning life to one of supreme devotion to the Lord and His devotees.