Monday May 21, 2018

Significance of Touching Someone’s Feet in Hinduism

Pluralism, respect and patience are incorporated in Hinduism since its birth. With culture and traditions being so close to Hinduism, read why it is considered respectful to touch your elder's feet

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Elder's feet
In Hinduism, younger person touches the feet of an elder person out of respect and love. Wikimedia
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  • Tradition and culture is vital to the Hindu religion
  • The scriptures and teachings of the religion educate us about respect and dignity
  • One of the many traditions is touching feet of elders out of respect and get blessings

June 22, 2017: Hindus have been carrying their historic traditions since many years. Westernization has been welcomed in our lives but not with the elimination of our own culture and heritage. There are many traditions that are exclusive to Hindu tradition, one of the very famous is the touching feet of elders to earn their blessings.

ALSO READ: What Significance Rudraksha holds in Hinduism?

But what is the significance of touching the feet of elders:

Tradition of “Touching feet of elders” has been continuing since so many generations and is still taught to the children today? 

Firstly, touching feet of elders is a form of pranam (greeting). Namaste is another popular form of greeting somebody. Foot touching, however, is a form for the young to greet the elder.

Secondly, the saying “everytime you bow you receive a blessing” is a part of Hindu philosophy. Certainly, the elders bless the younger one when the latter bends to touch their feet. “Sada Khush Raho” (Stay content forever) or more traditionally “Ayushman Bhava” (May you live long) is a common response to the traditional act.

Therefore, while it may seem odd to the other cultures when they witness this act, it is eternal to the Hindu culture. Of course, like any other ritual, touching elder’s feet should not be imposed upon the young person, rather, should come from within.

The Right Way of Touching Feet Of Elders

To understand this, we must first know the right way of touching one’s feet. Bend the upper half of your body, ideally without bending your knees, and stretch both your arms – with your head between them – to touch the feet of the elder. Obvious that it is, the fingertips of your left hand should touch the right foot of the elder and your right hand should be on their left foot. The elder person should now touch the top of your head with their right hand.

The Scientific explanation of touching feet Of Elders:

The nerves that start from our brain spread across all your body. These nerves or wires end in the fingertips of your hand and feet. When you join the fingertips of your hand to those of their opposite feet, a circuit is immediately formed and the energies of two bodies are connected. Your fingers and palms become the ‘receptor’ of energy and the feet of other person become the ‘giver’ of energy.

Usually, the person of whose feet you are touching is either old or pious. When they accept your respect which came from your reduced ego (and is called your shraddha) their hearts emit positive thoughts and energy (which is called their karuna) which reaches you through their hands and toes.

In essence, the completed circuit enables flow of energy and increases cosmic energy, switching on a quick connect between two minds and hearts. To an extent, the same is achieved through handshakes and hugs. Ever wondered why you suddenly feel better after a firm handshake or an affectionate hug? Now you know. You should feel the same after touching feet of a good soul, provided you do it the right way.

Some schools of thought say older people absorb sin from younger people, which I’m yet to believe and accept, so my explanation of science behind touching feet in India ends here.

by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2393

 

 

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Right of Nature: Are Rivers Living Beings?

Should rivers be considered Living Entities?

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Right of Nature
Many cultures across the globe believe that rivers are living beings or Gods/Goddesses and they just take the form of water bodies.

By Dr. Bharti Raizada, Chicago

Science says that water bodies are not living entities, as water does not need food, does not grow, and reproduce. Water is required for life, but in itself it is nonliving.

However, many cultures across the globe believe that rivers are living beings or Gods/Goddesses and they just take the form of water bodies.

The Maori tribe in New Zealand considers the Whanganui River as their ancestor and the Maori people fought to get it a legal status as a living being. In 2017, a court in New Zealand gave this river the status of living being and same rights as humans, to protect it from pollution. Thus, now if someone pollutes in it then it is considered equivalent to harming a human.

ALSO READ: Worshiping mother nature part of our tradition: Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Right of Nature
Rivers are sacred in many religions, including Hinduism. Image courtesy: Dr. Bharti Raizada

Rivers are sacred in Hinduism also. Hindus believe that the Ganga descended from heaven and call her Ganga Maa. A few days after New Zealand’s court decision, Uttarakhand high court in India gave the Ganga and Yamuna rivers and their tributaries the status of living human entities. The Court-appointed three officials as legal custodians. However, the court did not clarify many aspects related to this decision.

After this verdict some of the questions, which naturally came to mind, were:

Can Hindus still do rituals of flowing ashes, leaves, flowers, diyas in river or no? Can a dam be built on the river after this judgment? If some damage, to a person, animal, plants, or property, occurs because of river e.g. overflow, hurricanes, flooding etc., how the river will pay the liabilities? What if all rivers, oceans, ponds etc. are given the status of living beings? Will drinking water from river become a crime? What about taking water and using it for routine needs,  agriculture or building structures? Will it be illegal? If a child throws a stone in water, will it be a criminal act? Will fishing be considered stealing? What about boating? If someone is using heat near water and water evaporates, is it equal to taking the body part of a human being? What about taking a bath in the river?

Right of Nature
If the river gets a living status, as human, then we cannot use it for anything without its permission, so everyone has to stop touching the water. Image courtesy: Dr. Bharti Raizada

ALSO READ: Decoding supernatural: What is the nature of entities and gods who influence human behavior

Other queries, which arise, are:

Will animals and plants get the same status? What if you kill an ant or a chicken etc. or cut a tree? Will all animals and plants get a legal custodian?

Where is all the waste supposed to go? It has to go somewhere back in nature, right?

Uttrakhand state government challenged the judgement in Supreme Court and the latter reversed the judgment.

Right of Nature
So where do we stand? In my opinion, granting living status to nature is a different thing than giving protected status or preserving nature. Image by Dr. Bharti Raizada

ALSO READ: How nature destroys the negative tendencies in a positive manner

Ecuador’s constitution recognized the Right of Nature to exist, specifically Vilcabamba river, in 2008.

Then Bolivia passed the law of the right of mother earth and granted Nature equal rights as humans.

Many communities in the U.S.A. passed the Right of Nature law.

These laws are creating a dilemma or quandary also, as people need to use these resources. We cannot live without using natural resources. However, there is a difference between using natural resources and afflicting or destroying these. So, please use natural resources very diligently. Try not to vitiate nature.

On World Water Day (March 22), please start taking care of rivers, so that there is no need for future celebrations. It should not be a one-day celebration anyway, we should scrupulously look out for nature all the time.

Dr. Raizada is a practicing anesthesiologist.