During this morning’s lecture I shared with the audience a few verses from the Paduka Sahasram of Sri Vedanta Deshika. Its a mammoth poem of 1,000 verses glorifying the footwear of God.
The work is not something the Gaudiya Vaishnavas recite regularly; Vedanta Deshika is in the line of teachers coming from Sri Ramanujacarya, but his poetry is so inspired and imbued with devotion, the listener cannot help but rise up in consciousness of God by hearing it.
That morning’s Srimad Bhagavatam class described how the devotees of Ramachandra were concerned that His soft feet might be hurt by the thorns of the forest, and our discussion covered the reason why the feet of God are even more important than His face. So I thought some verses would add to our meditation. Deshika was also a great devotee of Ramachandra, so here are a few thoughts of Deshika – in English – from the verses I read.
He says: “I salute my guru and the sandals, both of which are attached to the feet of the Lord.”
“Bharata, the brother of the Lord, was the first to take the Lord’s sandals upon his head. In this way he is the leader of all those who worship the sandals of the Lord.”
Above: Bharata takes the sandals of Rama before his brother leaves for a 14-year forest exile
“When you place the sandals of the Lord upon your head, you also have the foot-dust of the Lord on your head. This means you can distribute this dust to all your disciples.”
“Without any partiality, the sandals are on my head, as well as the Upanishads. There is no discrimination.”
“One who remains standing after seeing the Lord’s sandals (one who does not bow down) will be lowered anyway (by misfortune or death), and one who lowers himself to bow down will be raised up. Why, even the Lord Himself is raised up by His sandals!”
“If the entire sky became writing paper, and the seven oceans became ink, and even if Adisesha with his thousands of heads was the reciter of the poetry, only then would the glories of the Lord’s sandals be recounted.”
“The sandals smell of the Komai flowers adorning the head of Lord Shiva. Why is this? Because Shiva always has his head at your feet.”
“My dear Lord, your feet:
– removed the curse of Ahalya, turning a stone into a beautiful woman;
– destroyed chakatasura;
– measured the universe as you took three steps in your Vamana incarnation;
– brought forth the Ganga river.
“My dear friends, if you wear the sandals of the Lord on your head, you too can wear the crescent moon on your head (like Lord Shiva) and you too can sit on a lotus flower seat (like Lord Brahma) for you will be numbered among the gods.”
“If you have taken the Lord’s shoes just once upon your head, Yamaraja’s servants will have nothing to do with you, for the Lord of Death will keep them under restraint. The lines on your hands will become rearranged so that you have a golden future.”
“When you devotees bow their heads with you upon them, they merely have to reach out their fingers and they’ll be able to touch Vaikuntha.”
“The mercy of the Lord takes the form of these sandals!”
“These sandals serve as the chains to bind the ten maddened elephants of the senses; they are the bolt-rod of the door of Hell itself, keeping it firmly closed; they are the champion of all the surrendered souls.”
Above: Lord Rama’s shoes are placed upon a shatari which the devotees place upon their heads.