Traditions are like lessons that we are taught by our elders and we follow them without any questions. Some of us do want to know what these traditions are meant for. One such tradition that is being following in the Orient especially in countries like India is the tradition of touching feet or pranam.
Many modern day kids and even other people keep asking us to write a post on the reasons and theory behind this so here we go complying to their request. Let us discuss the tradition of touching feet and why is it followed even today. As usual we will see the historical perspective and then try to explain to you from the metaphysical aspect so that by the end of the article you know decisively whether you should touch feet of elders or stop it altogether.
Pranam as a Tradition
You have seen your parents touching the feet of their parents and they must have seen theirs and naturally learnt that we must touch the feet of elders. Tradition of touching feet in India is called pranam. It is a way of showing respect not only to the elders but also to the deities.
You must have seen many paintings and pictures that show the tradition of touching feet in India. It is an integral part of the Hindu worship and devotion. You must have seen your elders that if they happen to step foot on a book or a currency note they immediately lift it and do pranam. This is mainly because they feel that by stepping on the book or the currency they have insulted Goddess Sarawati and Goddess Laksmi respectively so they do pranam.
Reasons For the Practice of Touching Feet
The first point is that it is a gesture to show respect. The person who is touching the feet is showing how much respect he or she has for the other person. It is said that you must touch the feet of a person only when you actually respect him or her from the core of your heart.
Similarly you must accept the pranama from a person who actually respects you. You should not accept it from anyone and everyone. The Indian children are taught from a young age that they must touch the feet of the elders in the family. The elders place their hands on the head of the child and bless them. Some typical occasions when you are supposed to touch the feet of the elders are:
1. When you are about to start something new
2. On your birthdays or just after your wedding so that you are blessed
3. When you are going on a long journey
4. When you are going for an exam
5. On festive occasions the blessings of the elders is a must
In the olden days the tradition of touching feet in India was very common. However, with time the tradition has lost its significance. Most of the youngsters have hardly touched the feet of their parents. The parents also want the children to treat them as friends. This is exactly why they don’t encourage them to touch their feet.
It is true that we are taking to modern ways of life. However, we must ensure that in this chase to success we do not forget the traditions that have been a part of our society for so long. When you bow down you are letting go of your ego. This makes you humble and takes you closer to receiving the blessings of the other person. The children must look at the blessings of the parents and the elders. When you have blessings with you it will always protect you and help you. When the elder puts his on her hand on your head then they are blessing you and passing their positive vibes to you. This gesture may look very small but it has a lot of significance in Indian traditions.
Today touching feet has become more of a formality or a show off. The poor touch the feet of the rich. The weak touch the feet of the mighty. The culture of touching feet is common in Indian political scenario. This goes against the basic purpose of the tradition and makes it more of a popularity gimmick or a way to do flattery at the most.
A Self Check
Do you remember when you touched the feet of your parents or the feet of your teacher? We are sure that you do not even remember. Just try to touch the feet of those who are your well wishers and who have affected your life in a certain way. When you do so on a regular basis you will notice the positive change it is bringing in your life. It will fill you with a positive energy and will also help you to feel happy. Just give it a try. Do not shy away from touching the feet of the elder. It is very essential. Even as a parent you must encourage your children to follow the tradition of touching feet.
The Mahabharata Connection
Yudhistra in Mahabharata says that when you touch the feet of the elders it makes you great and powerful each time you do so. No matter how big and successful you become you will always need blessings. The Atharva Veda says that when you touch the feet of the elders you are acknowledging that you are respecting their knowledge and you will be carrying forward their teachings to the next generation. The vedas also say that the process of learning is incomplete until you start it with touching the feet of the teacher and end it by touching the feet of the teacher. You must offer yourself to the teacher so that he can teach you all the knowledge that he has.
Now For Scientific Perspective
There are many advantages that one tends to gain when touching feet of the elders and people of reverence.
Ego: we had seen in an article related to the definition of ego, that it is a very tricky thing and can lead to various problems. Hence when you touch feet of a respected person, you are helping to sublime your own ego to a certain extent thereby making to purer and more calm person.
Exercise: if you actually touch the feet of someone and not merely in the modern way of half way through the act, you tend to bent forward in the manner shown in the picture. This is a sort of a yogic posture which helps you healthwise and stretches your spine and acts as a sort of exercise in disguise.
Aura transfer: when the other person gives you blessings, the positive energy from that person gets transferred to you and hence you can consider this as the reward for touching feet of others who are superior to you in energy levels. We have studied the power of blessing and curse and know why and how they are effective.
Relevance In Modern Society: the above factors are themselves enough to make this practice relevant to modern society where health, positivity etc are great requirements. Yet another reason is that in ancient times much reverence was given to elders and even after their demise, pitru paksha was performed with full faith. Currently the society is becoming nuclear and elder people are not getting that much respect. Hence this also helps to improve family ties and give elders the respect they deserve. This would go in making the world a much better place.
We hope that you will be able to appreciate this age old tradition and understand the essence of the same. If these traditions have been a part of our culture for so many years they must be having some significance.
Tradition of touching feet in India and other countries has been followed for thousands of years. It is very closely associated with the Hindu traditions and it is followed by all across the country. We hope that by reading this article all those who do not believe in the tradition of touching feet will be able to appreciate the tradition better. Similarly all those who are into touching feet of the elders will be able to understand the significance of the custom even better.