Share Pin Email
feature image
Live Fit

The Love for the Guru’s Lotus Feet

A deep inquiry into the opening mantra to help understand why touching your guru's feet is much more than a symbol of respect.

0 56
Author Image
Yoga Advisor
SHARE:

Each morning, we begin practice with the chanting of traditional mantras. The first is a prayer giving reverence to the “Guru’s Lotus Feet,” originating from Adi Shankaracharya’s Yoga Tārāvalī, a text on yoga that Pattabhi Jois was very fond of quoting when discussing the Aṣṭāṅga yoga system, and which he mentions in his own work, Yoga Mala.

Chanting this mantra before practice (see below), with awareness of the meaning, brings understanding to the purpose of practice as well as developing great śraddha, or faith, that is based on this understanding. This article offers some of my own thoughts about the power of this mantra.

 

वन्दे गुरूणां चरणारविन्दे
संदर्शितस्वात्मसुखावबोधे ।
निःश्रेयसे जाङ्गलिकायमाने
संसारहालाहलमोहशान्त्यै ॥

vande gurūṇāṃ caranāravinde
saṃdarśitasvātmasukhāvabodhe
niḥśreyase jāṅgalikāyamāne
saṃsārahālāhalamohaśantyai

I bow to the lotus like feet of the Guru,
which have shown us the bliss of our own Ātman
most excellent, acting like the forest doctor
removing the most deadly poison that produces
the delusion of saṃsāra (the cycle of birth and death).

 

The first line of the mantra lays the foundation for the relationship between Guru and student, stating “I bow (vande) to the lotus feet (caraṇa-aravinde) of the Guru.” (Gurūṇāṃ – plural is used as a respectful form.) For many years, I touched the feet of my Guru with only a limited understanding of its real significance. I focused my attention on my Guru as an individual with all his own qualities, along with a certain amount of attachment to him as a person. There is a lot of merit, of course, in the respect that we have for our teachers as people, but familiarity can easily get in the way of the teachings that we hope to receive.

When we state that we are bowing to the Guru’s lotus feet, rather than to the personality, we are really bowing to the spiritual knowledge that is held in the Guru’s heart, which we hope will transfer to us. The Guru’s lotus feet are synonymous with the Ātman, or soul, which is sat cit ānānda, the highest truth and the source of permanent joy within us. It is this spiritual knowledge that reveals (saṃdarśita.) and awakens (avabodha) us spiritually to the bliss (sukha) of our own Ātman (sva-ātma). In this way, the Guru’s role is well beyond the personal, guiding us toward a direct experience of something within us; something that does not rely on external relationship.


Related: Connecting to the Seed of Spiritual Knowledge through Yoga


The Bhagavad Gītā describes the Ātman as “indestructible, eternal and immeasurable as well as un-manifest, indescribable and unchangeable” (chapter 2). Without beginning or end, its nature is said to be permanent in all senses, transcending all conditions of time and place. In opposition to this, the corporeal or material world, including our own bodies and minds, are constantly changing, impermanent and subject to death and decay. This is referred to as saṃsāra and clinging to anything in this realm may bring short-term satisfaction, but, ultimately, results in suffering.

The true Guru, having directly experienced and understood the nature of the Ātman, attempts to bring the realization of that same knowledge within the student. This process has been described in some traditions as the Guru placing their lotus feet within the heart of the student. It is said that by touching the Guru’s feet, we are taking the dust from the path that he or she has traveled, leading to their own spiritual awakening. Placing the dust on our eyes symbolically opens them for our own illumination.



A skilled Guru’s personal experience in practice and teaching, as well as his or her philosophical knowledge, brings them the ability to act like a forest doctor (jāngalīkāyamāne), improvise and find the right medicine for each student, and remove the most deadly of spiritual poisons, or hālāhala. This is the poison that causes entanglement in saṃsāra, and the delusion (moha) that covers the spiritual heart, which has prevented us from experiencing the bliss of the Ātman.

There is a poignant verse from the Mahānārāyaṇa Upaniṣad describing this divine presence within us:

 

dahraṃ vipāpaṃ parameśmabhūtaṃ
yat puṇḍarīkaṃ puramadhyasaṃsthaṃ |
tatrāpi dahraṃ gaganaṃ viśoka-
stasmin yadanta-stad upāsitavyam ||

In the center of the city of the body, resides a small and sinless lotus of the heart, which is the residence of the Supreme. (And) in the interior of this space, there is a sorrow-less ether upon which one should meditate continuously.

 

Although the sanskrit word śraddha is often translated simply as faith, this is not an accurate reflection of it’s meaning. Breaking the word śraddhā down into its components śrat (satya – truth) and dhā (to hold or possess) helps us to understand it more accurately as holding satya within us. Śraddha is not at all blind and does not come from simply believing in something that we haven’t connected to, but instead comes as a result of a direct spiritual experience. It is this kind of experience that can lead to a firm conviction and determination that we are on the right path—the real meaning of śraddha in the context of spiritual practice.

The role of the Guru in developing śraddha is to give the student a glimpse of the divine within themselves, and to begin the process of opening the lotus of their own heart, inspiring them to move forward on the path of spiritual practice.

Chanting the opening mantra each morning with remembrance of its meaning has a profound effect on the quality of our practice, helping to subdue the unhelpful tendencies of the ego, and bring the focus back toward spiritual heart. Vande Gurūṇāṃ carṇāravinde!

 

Feature photography by Agathe Padovani

By

SHARE:

Comments (0)

U.S. TOUR 2019

PARAMAGURU
SHARATH JOIS

Don’t miss your chance to attend class with the Ashtanga yoga master when he visits the U.S. Spring 2019!

Registration Now Open

Load More

Find us on Instagram

@LIVESONIMA
  • “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
—Rumi

Check the link in our bio to discover how meditation can help you love yourself and, in turn, naturally attract more love from others.
.
.
.
.
.
#loveislove #lovewins #valentinesday2019 #lovelovelove #yogawisdom #mindfulliving #sharathjoisusa2019
#sharathjois #guruji #ParamaguruSharathJois
#sharathtour2019 #ashtangayoga #ashtangapractice #joisyoga #joisyogaencinitas #brooklynyogaclub #ashtangayoganewyork #ashtanganyc #ashtangayogastanford #sonima #livesonima #miamilifecenter #miamiashtanga
#ashtangafamily #PrimarySeries #IntermediateSeries #ashtangacommunity #sharathjoisageless #livelove
  • Yoga truly has healing benefits. A combination of meditation and Ashtanga yoga helped 58-year-old Michael Fox find physical and emotional relief after a life-changing accident. 
See the link in our bio for his story.
.
.
@michael_ray_fox 🙏🏽🕉
  • Good News NY students! 
We have the venue for Paramaguru Sharath Jois’ classes in May: 
The Hill Center at St. Joseph’s College, 210 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn, NY.

Please make note: There has been a change of dates
May 10-14. 
If you have already registered for the six day program in NY you will be receiving an email in the next day to explain everything along with a full refund for the original purchase. 
We hope you will register for the new tour dates, which are now posted on our website! (Please find the link in our bio) .

If you are having complications because of pre-arranged travel plans, please send an email to: sharathjoisusa2019@sonima.com .

We very excited to be hosting @sharathjoisr with @eddiestern in this beautiful location in Brooklyn, NY! ♥️ We hope you will join us! .
.
@joisyogaencinitas @ashtangayogastanford @miamilifecenter .
.
.
.
#sharathjoisusa2019
#sharathjois #guruji #ParamaguruSharathJois
#sharathtour2019 #ashtangayoga #ashtangapractice #joisyoga #joisyogaencinitas #brooklynyogaclub #ashtangayoganewyork #ashtanganyc #ashtangayogastanford #sonima #livesonima #miamilifecenter #miamiashtanga
#ashtangafamily #PrimarySeries #IntermediateSeries #ashtangacommunity #sharathjoisageless
  • The California Ashtanga yoga students are getting excited about Paramaguru Sharath Jois' visit April 22 - 27! 
He will be teaching at Stanford University.
Be sure to reserve your spot on his U.S. Tour. 
See the link in our bio. .
.

Stanford, April 22 - 27
Miami, May 1 - 7
NYC, May 10 - 14
.
.
.
@joisyogaencinitas @miamilifecenter @eddiestern @livesonima @sharathjoisr @stanfordashtangayoga
.
.
  • Have you ever wondered why so many students take time away from their busy schedules to go and practice with Paramaguru Sharath Jois when he is teaching? "The feeling of practicing Primary Series or Intermediate Series in a group of more than 300 people was astounding. In the months following, I felt that this experience provided me with a massive energy boost to my solo self-practice life." - Harmony Slater 
You can read the full article on our website, just follow the link in our bio. Then be sure to save your own spot on his up coming U.S. tour! 
Photo by @danielletsifoto

@harmonyashtanga @joisyogaencinitas @miamilifecenter @eddiestern @livesonima @sharathjoisr @stanfordashtangayoga
  • Anyone can practice on tour with Paramaguru Sharath Jois! 
Whether you are new to the practice or have been in it for over forty years, you will enjoy attending the 2019 tour and being in the energy of this true yoga master. 
View our most recent IGTV video to see what everyone is saying and follow the link in our bio to register. 🙏🏽
.
.
.
.
.
@joisyogaencinitas @miamilifecenter @eddiestern @livesonima @sharathjoisr @stanfordashtangayoga .

#sharathjoisusa2019
#sharathjois #guruji #ParamaguruSharathJois
#sharathtour2019 #ashtangayoga #ashtangapractice #joisyoga #joisyogaencinitas #brooklynyogaclub #ashtangayoganewyork #ashtanganyc #ashtangayogastanford #sonima #livesonima #miamilifecenter #miamiashtanga
#ashtangafamily #PrimarySeries #IntermediateSeries #ashtangacommunity #sharathjoisageless 
#yogawisdom  #mindfulliving 
#livewell #livefree #livefit
Receive fresh content delivered to your inbox every week!