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Padasevana

by Swami Sivananda

Padasevana is serving the Lord's feet. Actually this can be done only by Lakshmi or Parvati. No mortal being has got the fortune to practise this method of Bhakti for the Lord is not visible to the physical eyes. But it is possible to serve the image of God in idols and better still, taking the whole humanity as God. This is Padasevana. Padasevana is service of the sick. Padasevana is service of the poor. Padasevana is service of the whole humanity at large. The whole universe is only Virat-Svarupa. Service of the world is service of the Lord.

Service of the Lord's feet can be done through formal worship to Murtis or idols in temples or to a mental image of God.

Observing the sacred feet of the Lord again and again with devotional and eager eyes, worshipping them and serving them, sipping the sacred water with which the Lord's feet have been washed, worshipping the wooden sandals of the Lord, meditating on them and praying to them, taking the dust of the Lord's feet and applying it to the forehead, washing the heart with the dust of the Lord's feet, respecting the holy shrines and places of pilgrimage, and places where God incarnated Himself for the good of humanity, regarding the Ganga as directly flowing from the feet of the Lord, worshipping, bathing in and drinking of such divine water of the Ganga all these are different forms of serving the Lord's feet. This kind of devotion destroys all worldly attachments and allows the mind to exclusively think of God.

Bharata served the sandals of the feet of Sri Rama. What a great devotion! He kept them on the throne and worshipped them as representing Sri Rama Himself. He ruled the kingdom in the name of Sri Rama's sandals, himself acting as only the servant of Rama. This is Padasevana Bhakti. Ahalya felt her life fulfilled, having obtained the dust of Lord's feet. Srimad-Bhagavata says: He who has taken shelter in the feet of the Lord, which is the refuge of saints and full of blessedness, for him the ocean of worldly existence becomes as shallow as the hoof-mark of a calf. The Supreme State is already attained by him. Worldly miseries and difficulties do not appear before him.

Sri Lakshmidevi is enjoying this practice of devotion and she is ever serving the feet of Lord Hari. Lord Vishnu is resting His feet on the lap of Sri Lakshmidevi and she is the example of one engaged in Padasevana-Bhakti.


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