Pada Pooja

From the teachings of Swami Sivananda Saraswati

To the spiritual aspirant, the guru’s feet are not just feet, but the channels of divine grace. The materialistic modern mind needs a good flushing before it can understand pada pooja, worship of the feet.

From time immemorial, the Indian seeker of Truth has known that his receptive centre, the head, should come into contact with the preceptor’s transmitting centre, the feet, in order to be infused with spiritual power, wisdom and light. This is one of the axioms of electricity, that the positive and the negative poles should come into contact in order to complete the circuit.


Pada pooja develops the spirit of self-surrender in the aspirant. Flowers, fruit, money and light are offered to the feet of the guru. The flower symbolizes the heart, the fruits the fruits of one’s actions, coins represent wealth, and camphor symbolizes the soul of the aspirant which is totally absorbed in the enlightened self of the guru. Finally, the aspirant prostrates at the feet, signifying that everything without the least reservation is surrendered at the feet of the guru.

Pada pooja creates and strengthens the aspirant’s faith, devotion and divine qualities like humility. Bharata worshipped the divine feet of Lord Rama and took his sandals which he enthroned as Rama’s representatives. He regarded himself as the viceroy of the sandals. It is such humility, faith and devotion that will make a person divine.

Guru’s duty

Do you think I feel happy or elevated when devotees do pada pooja to me? I have to sit patiently bearing the whole process. Surely it is not out of pleasure that I agree to sit patiently!

I do not compel people to come and worship my feet; if they, of their own accord, insist on doing so out of their guru bhakti towards me, I cannot refuse. If I refuse, I will not only be displeasing those who are anxious to prove their self-surrender and respect to me, but also, I will be failing in my duties.