This one is really diabolical – what’s up with the feet worship?
Krishna’s body is transcendental and, among other things, it means His body parts can act interchangeably and that means there’s no difference between His feet and His hands, for example.
No one I know has any experience of seeing actual Krishna’s feet and so their particular attraction over His hands has not been established, yet every one I know faithfully worships His feet. What’s up with that?
I think the reason could be that putting oneself below someone’s feet is a human way of acknowledging that someone’s superiority. Accepting being shorter is not nearly as effective in reducing one’s ego so we go for the lowest.
Feet indeed are the lowest part of the body but we also don’t judge body parts importance by the height of their location. The reason for the feet being lowest lies somewhere else and we know very little about it. I always assumed it has something to do with subtle energies and their flows, from “the soul is supported by the five prana currents” category. I have no idea how that soul support is even possible but that’s not the point today.
The point is that among all body parts the feet gets the lowest subtle energy discharge and the head the highest. In some cultures, like in Thailand, feet are considered so dirty that one shouldn’t even expose the sole of his feet in public or point his feet at anybody. It has nothing to do with feet being generally smelly and dirty from walking on the ground, even clean feet are still considered dirty.
Maybe I’m wrong here but that’s what I’ve got. This explanation at least makes it understandable why one would display his humbleness by putting himself below the lowest, sometimes in the mind, sometimes literally.
Again, why would one think that Krishna’s feet are the lowest is unclear. The records about those who can actually see and touch them indicate otherwise – they are called lotus feet for a reason.
So why do we worship feet? Why are we applying this anthropomorphic concepts to our spiritual practice?
Another point is how peculiar our foot worship is in the modern society. Everybody gets the idea of displaying humility, even if they don’t want to share in the feeling or the process, but those who do are treated as sexual deviants and perverts. Not only they get sexual stimulation from their foot fetishes but the whole idea of being dominated has pervasive sexual undertones, and the practice is quite popular in certain circles.
Question – do we have anything in common?
Is there a danger of contaminating ourselves with feelings of sexual nature when we set our minds and hearts on worshiping feet of our Lord and our spiritual masters and advanced devotees?
The question about anthropomorphism can be answered easily – since we don’t get access to our souls directly we have to learn humility through our bodies. We learn to bow down, offer obeisances, learn to worship the feet of our spiritual masters, who are present in their human form, btw. We learn to worship Krishna by worshiping our gurus in their human form and we learn that, in no small part, by physically lowering ourselves and subjugating our minds.
This practice is expected to develop proper attitudes in our headss and, eventually, in our souls.
There’s another aspect to developing humility and that is forcing ourselves to follow the orders of our gurus. No feet necessary but subjugating our minds and bodies to performing guru prescribed actions is probably more damaging to our pride. Offering dandavats is easy, going everyday out in the streets and begging people to accept the message of Lord Chaitanya is far more difficult. But that is also not today’s point.
So, while we are learning humility the easy way, by engaging our bodily concept of life in worshiping feet, don’t we run into a danger of absorbing the sexual desires that are usually associated with foot worship, too? When other people put themselves in the position of being physically dominated they get their sex fix, are we fundamentally different as to be totally impervious to this?
Or are we supposed to get our sexual fix this way? Isn’t it why it’s sometimes recommended to read about rasa dance to subdue our own sexual urges? Gopis were very big in feet worship there.
How not to cross the line here? I suppose putting oneself in a position of being dominated and feeling satisfied from it at its highest should not involve any sexual stimulation. I don’t know if actual practitioners ever achieve this but for us, for devotees, the process is remarkably similar, only that the objects are different – we worship Krishna and our spiritual masters, they worship mortal beings who can’t bring them absolute satisfaction because they are being, well, mortal.
So, how to not cross the line from actually worshiping the Lord and engaging in subtle sex? I guess if we see Krishna’s and guru’s feet as purely spiritual than there’s no harm if we are absolutely selfless in our lust. If, however, our lust is directed to material forms we only mentally try to associate with the Lord and we expect some gratification from it, what’s the difference between that and being a sexual deviant?
Not all is lost even for perverts among us (hello, seen the mirror lately?) Even if we see material forms, Krishna’s and guru’s feet are transcendental and fully capable of purifying our hearts.
Still, when I think about this subject and raise all these stupid questions its unnerving and confusing for me.
That’s why the best way to worship the Lord is going out on the streets and preaching. No danger of developing unhealthy attitudes there.
Sri Harinama Sankirtana yajna ki – Jaya!