Q: Why do we do Paad Pooja (an ancient Indian ritual of welcoming a guest by washing his feet with water and flowers)? What is the significance of Paad Pooja?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: n the olden days when we received an honored guest in our house, then we used to wash their feet.
They would have come walking and there would be dirt on their feet, so the first thing we did was to wash their feet. This was to express our humility towards them (vinamrata).
Sometimes when the guest comes to our house, we honor them by garlanding them or giving them flowers, or a bouquet. Once upon a time this practice was prevalent all over the world to welcome a guest.
The reason behind washing of the feet of the elderly was also that the hands and feet give out energy. That is why people would ask one another, ‘Please place your hands on my head and give me blessings.'
It is customary in India to touch the feet and take blessings. But it is not true that energy or vibrations come out only from the feet, it comes out from all over the body. The same benefit comes from the vibrations of sight, and of words. This is the essence of blessings.
Simply by thinking about elders we get blessings.
Through thoughts, words, sight and then by touch (sparsha) we get blessings. Through darshan, sparshan, drishti we get blessings. However, you should not say, ‘Gurudev, please touch my head and give me blessings properly.'
Nowadays there are some devotees who try to even teach the Guru how to bless.
Grace and blessings come automatically. It is not necessary that you should touch my feet, or ask me to put my hand on your head. Just assume that you have received the blessings by getting Darshan, or hearing the voice.
You know, you can sit anywhere and ask for blessings in your mind, and you will receive blessing.
This is how Shraadh (tradition of honoring the ancestors) is done. We sit and remember those who have crossed over to the other side (expired) and pray to them to give us blessings. And just by thinking in this way, we receive the vibrations.
You may ask me how is that possible. Tell me, how does Kama Vasana (lust) get aroused? Just by thinking such thoughts, isn't it?! Hormones are then secreted in excess in the body.
How do you get angry? Just by thinking.
How does hatred come? By thinking about others whom you dislike. You think about those who you don't like and your body begins to quiver.
How does fear come? By thinking.
So, if by thinking, lust can come, anger can come, fear can come, hatred can come, then can blessing also not come just by thinking? Are blessings so ineffective, or do you think that you have to work so hard to get blessings? No! You don't need to do anything. Just by thinking you get blessings.
This is why it is said in many religious texts like the Durga Saptashati, that just by reading the text you will be happy. The idea behind this is that just by being in the thoughts of the Divine one receives blessings. This is how it happens.
So whenever you feel grateful just think that blessings have certainly come along with it.