Monday, 25 September 2017

Worship of the Guru's feet - a meditation on Paadaseva

It was the year 2004 when all the final year postgraduate students of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning gathered in the bhajan hall at Prashanti Nilayam. They had sought an audience with their Guru and God, Bhagawan Baba, to offer their gratitude before leaving the portals of the glorious University. They had also carved, painted and created a ‘gratitude card’ to offer to Swami. On the card was a beautifully carved ship with a heartfelt poem beside it. Swami blessed the card and, pointed at the ship, mentioned,
“Children sing, Baa Baa black sheep. But this Baba is not a black sheep. Baba is a white ship!”

The Avatar comes as a great White Ship to ferry everyone across the ocean of Samsara or worldly existence.

It was a thrill as everyone present realized the import of the statement.  Gurus are often considered as boats who take their disciples across the ocean of samsara or worldly existence. But when the Jagadguru, the Avatar descends, He becomes a ship ferrying everyone across the same ocean. He is like the ark that saves all in the deluge. This was a reinforcement of what Bhagawan had declared when He announced the Avataric Advent:
Manasa Bhajare Guru Charanam Dusthara Bhava Saagara Tharanam.”
{Oh mind! Meditate on the Feet of the Guru. This can take you across the difficult ocean of existence, birth after birth."}

Worshipping the feet of the Guru is considered as one among the 9 forms of Bhakti or devotion. Getting an opportunity to do Paadaseva to one’s Guru is a blessing that has possibly been earned over several lifetimes. The beautiful thing is this Paadaseva need not be done physically alone. A Manasa Pooja (mental worship) is equally effective and redeeming. Based on real-life experience, here is a meditation on Paadaseva which is sure to delight every Bhakta’s heart. The description is set in the Hrudaya Brindavan (garden of one’s heart) where there is a sanctum of the Guru with a Jhoola (swing) for Him to sit on. Read on slowly and picture the entire scene to enjoy the meditation on your Guru or Swami (Master or Lord).

Drink in the picture of your Guru's lotus feet before you begin the meditation.
A meditation on Paada Seva

Swami walks into the sanctum and stands for a brief while in front of the Jhoola. Every cell in your body seems to tremble with the anticipative excitement. In sharp contrast, Swami is so calm. He gently glides into the ornate swing but that is enough to impart a tiny bit of momentum to the Jhoola. There is absolute silence as everyone waits in bated breath for Him to initiate the session. Swami is in no hurry. Sitting close up front, you are able to hear His rhythmic breathing. It is neither light nor forceful but definitely tranquil. It draws your focus to it without the slightest effort on your part. A serene joy erupts within you and the effect is meditative. You want the feeling to go on forever. You are soaking in every bit of the atmosphere so that you can recreate it at will in the future. At that very moment, He looks you in the eyes. Oh my God! What a feeling. You feel that you are completely exposed but there is no sense of vulnerability. Instead, the most positive of feelings seem to gush out from your heart.

His breathing is interrupted by His words. That is what His words are - an extension of His breath. The statement in the song “Truth is My breath” gains a new dimension in meaning as you realize that His words are Truth and His breath is His words. As the ears are gathering the nectar gushing forth from His mouth, your hands have now begun their quest. They set out towards His lotus feet that are hidden from sight by the saffron silk robe. In the lightest way possible, you gently and gingerly raise the robe a few inches and insert your fingers to touch His feet. However, the fingers encounter something rough on another smooth cloth. It is the golden border of the silk dhoti! You look at His face as your fingers ever so gently raise the dhoti. He continues to speak without the slightest disturbance. You are happy because that is the permission to go ahead with the Paadaseva. A moment later, your fingertips touch His toe tips and an electric current of joy seems to course through your entire frame. Salvation!

You gently massage His big toes between the index fingers and thumbs of your hands. That is how your Paadaseva begins.