Meditating on the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna
My Lord, if one is favored by even a slight trace of the mercy of Your lotus feet, he can understand the greatness of Your personality. But those who speculate to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead are unable to know You, even though they continue to study the Vedas for many years.
Devotional service to Lord essentially means taking shelter of the lotus feet. The lotus feet of their Lordships are the only asset of the devotees. Padasevanam, or serving the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, is one of the essential limbs of bhakti. Unless one surrenders unto the lotus feet of the Lord or His devotees, there is no possibility of attaining the ultimate goal of life, which is attainment of love of Krishna .
But what is so special about serving the lotus feet of the Lord? To touch someone’s feet or serving someone’s feet is a sign of humility. Even today in India, we find children are taught to touch the feet of their elders. Our feet may ugly and dirty, but the feet of the Lord are said to be extremely beautiful. Therefore they are compared to lotus flowers. In Sanskrit they are often described as caranaravinda, padaravinda, pada-padma, etc.
Most Vedic literatures describe in great detail the glories of the lotus feet of Krishna and the need to take shelter of them. One who takes shelter of Krishna’s lotus feet attains the same opulences as the Lord. Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.1.15) says, “O Suta, those great sages who have completely taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord can at once sanctify those who come in touch with them, whereas the waters of the Ganges can sanctify only after prolonged use.”
Srimad-Bhagavatam goes on to describe the experience of devotees who relish the nectar of Krishna ’s lotus feet.
My dear Vyasa, even though a devotee of Lord Krsna sometimes falls down somehow or other, he certainly does not undergo material existence like others [fruitive workers, etc.] because a person who has once relished the taste of the lotus feet of the Lord can do nothing but remember that ecstasy again and again.
In Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.82.48), the gopis spoke thus: “Dear Lord, whose navel is just like a lotus flower, Your lotus feet are the only shelter for those who have fallen into the deep well of material existence. Your feet are worshiped and meditated upon by great mystic yogis and highly learned philosophers. We wish that these lotus feet may also be awakened within our hearts, although we are only ordinary persons engaged in household affairs.”
Krishna ’s Lotus Feet
candrardhah kalasah tri
kona- dhanusikhah gospadah prosthikah
sankhah savya-pade ’tha
daksina-pade konastakah svastikam
bibhranah harim unavihsat
imaha- laksmy-arcitanghrih bhaje
I worship Lord Hari (Krishna ), whose feet are endowed with the 19 great opulences: on the left foot, the halfmoon, water-pot, triangle, bow, sky, cow’s hoofprint, fish, conch; and on the right foot, the eight-pointed star, svastika, wheel, parasol, barleycorn, elephant-goad, flag, thunderbolt, jambu fruit, urdhvarekha, and lotus.
This mark symbolizes how lotus feet truly provide the desired objectives of the devotees. It signifies that even demigods like Lord siva (whose symbol is a half moon) have decorated their own heads with the soles of the feet. Just as the moon showers nectar with its cooling rays, similarly the lotus feet shower nectar upon the devotees, extinguishing the threefold material miseries. So that the minds of the devotees may reside at the feet, they bear the symbol of the moon (the presiding deity of the mind) upon the feet. Just as the moon is one, yet it destroys the darkness seen by many people simultaneously, similarly the Lord is one and yet by His cleverness can deliver many souls at the same time. The half-moon also indicates that since Lord’s toenails appear like ten splendorous full moons, the real moon has shriveled up in shame and appears in half-form.
This mark shows that the lotus feet hold the golden pitcher full of purely nectarean ambrosia to be freely consumed by the surrendered souls. This mark also indicates that the feet can pour out nectar that extinguishes the blazing three-fold miseries of the separated devotees. The full pitcher is a symbol to show that no inauspiciousness can come near the devotees. Rather the feet bring ripples of happiness emanating from divine auspiciousness.
A devotee who has taken shelter of Krishna ’s lotus feet becomes free from the three modes of material nature. In all the three worlds, these feet alone can provide one proper shelter. The demigods, humans and animals, all three find shelter at Krishna ’s feet. Fruitive workers, those seeking liberation and the liberated people hanker for shelter at Krishna ’s feet. A human being should take shelter of these feet by using his body, mind and words. The triangle proves that the Lord is the husband of all three kinds of women – the married, the unmarried and the prostitutes. It also proves that Krishna is the master of Brahma, Visnu and siva. He is the master of Sri, Bhu ad Lila saktis. In His Vamana form, the Lord had conquered all three planetary systems. His feet can destroy the three-fold miseries of life. Devotees of Krishna can easily obtain bhakti, jïana and vairagya. The triangle also proves that the Lord never goes outside Vrindavan, Mathura or Dvaraka. The Lord is always eager to award bhakti equally to humans, demigods and demons.
This mark reveals that those who take shelter of the Krishna ’s lotus feet will be perpetually free from all worries and difficulties. It also shows that those who are stupefied in the material world remain motionless like a target and do not come to Krishna ’s feet, whereas those who come to the ultimate goal of the feet remain there and never go back to the material world. Further, when the mind of the devotee meets the target of the feet, then prema condenses as a result and overflows as the tears showering from their eyes.
Sky (kham): This mark indicates that the feet are all pervading throughout the entire creation, both within and without all manifestations. It also shows that even though the feet are everywhere, they are unattached just like the sky.
This mark signifies that for those who have taken full shelter of uninterrupted meditation on the feet, the great ocean of worldly existence becomes very small and insignificant like the water held in a calf’s hoof-print and is thus easily crossed over.
This mark shows that just as a fish cannot live without water, similarly the surrendered devotees cannot live a moment without directly associating with the feet. It also means that the mind is very fickle, just like a fish that wavers this way and that, and so only after much meditation do the feet finally come into the heart. It also indicates that the lotus feet will come to live in one’s heart only if the heart has been liquefied by soft loving emotions; the feet do not thrive where it is dry. This mark is the emblem flying on the banner of Cupid, just to excite the desires of the vraja-gopis. It also indicates that He has conquered Cupid, thereby displaying Cupid’s flag of surrender on the soles of His feet. It is also a reminder that during the great universal devastation and flood He assumed the form of Matsya, the fish incarnation, and thereby saved His devotees.
This auspicious mark indicates that those who take shelter of the lotus feet are always rescued from all sorts of distress. Just as during the arati ceremony the conchshell is used to hold water that is offered directly after the fire of the ghee-lamp, similarly lotus feet hold transcendental water that soothes His devotees from the blazing fire of material miseries. Also this symbol proclaims ultimate victory for the devotees, since the conchshell mark on the feet contains the entire ocean of material existence that may now be easily crossed. This mark also shows that those who resort to lotus feet become completely fearless. The mark is also symbolic of the jala-tattva, or principle of water, since it was Krishna ’s lotus feet that manifested the river Ganga, purifier of all the worlds.
Eight-pointed star (konastakam):
This mark indicates that those who take shelter of Krishna ’s lotus feet are protected in all eight directions. This also proves that there is in nothing in the eight directions that a devotee cannot obtain. Devotees serving the Lord’s lotus feet easily obtain the eight mystic perfections.
This sign indicates that everything becomes auspicious for a devotee who has taken shelter of Krishna ’s lotus feet. There is nothing inauspicious in his life.
This mark cuts down the six enemies of the devotees – lust, anger, greed, pride, illusion and envy. It indicates teja-tattva, or the principle of brilliance by which the Lord destroys the darkness of sins from within His devotee’s hearts.
This mark proves that those who take shelter of lotus feet are shielded from the incessant rainfall of material miseries. It also denotes that those who sit in the shade of the feet become exalted just like maharajas (great kings), who usually have umbrellas held over their heads. It also refers to Lord Krishna holding Govardhana Hill up like an umbrella to protect Vraja from the devastating rainfall caused by the anger of Indra.
This mark signifies that their devotees receive all enjoyable opulences of prosperity by serving their lotus feet. It also means that once one finds shelter at their lotus feet, the devotee’s former journey through many births and deaths is actually very tiny, just like a single grain of barley. It further demonstrates that just as the barley grains are the sustenance of life for living beings, similarly it is widely celebrated that Krishna ’s glorious lotus feet are the nourishment of all souls.
This mark indicates that meditation on the lotus feet brings the elephants of the devotee’s minds under control and keeps them on the right path. It also shows that those who thus stay on the path toward the feet become superior among men, just as one riding on top of an elephant travels far above the rest.
This mark announces that for the devotees meditating on the feet, they give security and safe protection from all sorts of fear.
This mark reveals that meditation on lotus feet smashes to pieces the mountain of the devotee’s karmic reactions to past sins. It also indicates that whoever holds on to the feet becomes as exalted as Lord Indra (whose weapon is the thunderbolt).
This indicates that for the residents of Jambudvipa, Krishna ’s feet are the only object of worship.
Upcurving line (urdhvarekha):
This mark signifies that the devotees who cling to their Lotus Feet, as if holding on to a life-line, will be transported to the higher realms. Indeed, they will not fall down. It shows that such devotees need never be doubtful of their upward passage. They cannot be held captive within the small egg-like material universe. It also indicates that the path of their feet, being free of external designations, is very direct. It also reveals that their feet can reach down to the lowest fallen souls and deliver those who have taken shelter of them.
The lotus also signifies that just as a lotus grows out of water, similarly those whose eyes swell with tears upon holding the divine lotus feet to their heart receive the highest benefit. This mark also shows that the goddess of fortune, Sri Laksmi Devi, always resides at His feet rendering humble service. It signifies that His feet are so soft that they can only be compared to lotus petals. It also reveals that just as a lotus blooms by day and contracts by night, similarly those who remain steeped in meditation on lotus feet always feel the blossoming unfoldment of brilliant sattvika ecstasies that dispel the darkness of ignorance. It also means that the bee of the devotee’s mind cannot fly beyond the bondage of dry jnana (knowledge) and vairagya (renunciation) without the temptation offered by the superior nectar of the lotus feet.
It is said that when Lord Krishna was physically present on earth 5000 years ago, these marks decorated the entire land of Vrndavana. And the vraja-vasis were careful not step over them because they considered these marks the ornaments of Vrndavana. When Akrura, Krishna ’s uncle, came to invite Krishna – Balarama to Mathura, he displayed extraordinary reverence and devotion to footprints he observed on the land of Vrndavana. Srila Prabhupada write about this in his Krishna book:
“Upon seeing the footprints of Krishna , Akrura immediately jumped down from the chariot out of respect. He became overwhelmed with all the symptoms of ecstasy; he wept, and his body trembled. Out of extreme jubilation upon seeing the dust touched by the lotus feet of Krishna , Akrura fell flat on his face and began to roll on the ground.
Akrura’s journey to Vrndavana is exemplary. One who intends to visit Vrndavana should follow the ideal footsteps of Akrura and always think of the pastimes and activities of the Lord. As soon as one reaches the boundary of Vrndavana, he should immediately smear the dust of Vrndavana over his body without thinking of his material position and prestige.”
Radharani’s Lotus Feet
I worship Sri Radha, whose feet are endowed with the 19 great auspicious markings of: on the left foot are eleven markings of: the umbrella, disk, vine, flag, vine, flower, bracelet, lotus, urdhva-rekha, elephant-goad, half-moon, and barleycorn, and on the right foot, the sakti, club, chariot, altar, earrings, fish, mountain, and conchshell.
This mark indicates that Her lotus feet provide relief to Her beloved, Lord Krishna , from the scorching heat felt in Her separation.
This mark cuts down the six enemies of Their devotees – lust, anger, greed, illusion, pride and envy. It indicates teja-tattva, or the principle of brilliance by which they destroy the darkness of sin from within their own devotee‘s hearts. Furthermore, this mark on Srimati Radharani‘s foot shows that She is the ruler of Her own Kingdom formed by the circle of Vraja-mandala.
This mark on the foot of Radharani indicates that there will be supreme victory for all the gopis who are aware of Her lotus feet.
This mark symbolizes how the desirecreeper of the devotees grows and grows and gradually seeks refuge at Her Lotus Feet. It also proves that She is the Supreme Goddess of herbal medicine, and that Her lotus feet are the ideal cure for healing the disease of materialism. It shows that Srimati Radharani is like the creeper wrapping around the tamala tree that is Lord Krishna . It also shows that Her lotus feet traverse ground that abounds with groves and vine-laden bower-houses. It indicates that intelligent persons hold to Her lotus feet just as a creeper firmly grasps whatever is ascending.
This mark shows that the divine fame of the feet spread everywhere just like the fragrance of a flower. It also shows that the feet are not hard, but soft as flower petals. And it means that just as every fruit comes into being after the plant blooms, similarly all spiritual fruits come into being after first blossoming at the soles of the feet.
Jeweled bangle (valayan):
The mark of the circular bangle on Radharani's foot indicates that by taking shelter of Her feet, we will put an end to the cycle of birth and death.
It also reveals that just as a lotus blooms by day and contracts by night, similarly those who remain steeped in meditation on their lotus feet always feel the blossoming unfolding of brilliant sattvika ecstasies that dispel the darkness of ignorance.
Upcurving line (urdhvarekha):
Same as the description of the line on Krishna ’s foot.
Elephant goad (ankusam):
This mark on the foot of Srimati Radharani indicates that even though Lord Krishna ’s elephant-like mind attempts to behave like many kinds of heroes, Her lotus feet are still powerful enough to easily conquer Him and bring Him under control.
This mark symbolizes how their lotus feet truly accomplish the desired objectives of the devotees. Just as the half-moon is in the process of increasing, similarly the benefit for one who is day-by-day expanding the glorification of their lotus feet in a spotless manner certainly increases.
Same as the description of the barley on Krishna ’s foot.
This mark assures those who wish to have the miserable bonds of the mundane sphere cut, and who take shelter of them, that their feet immediately appear to slash all entanglements and difficulties. It also indicates that they are saktimana, or the natural possessors of all divine potencies.
This mark is to show that their feet are capable of chastising the elephant of sinful lust. It further indicates that for whoever takes shelter of their feet, all their ancestors will also receive benefit.
It further indicates that the Lord is so merciful to His devotees that He becomes the chariot driver for them. It also shows that the Supreme goal may be easily attained, just as there is no trouble when one rides on a chariot to visit the forest. Whoever sits upon the chariot of their feet emerges victorious in the battle with maya.
Sacrificial altar (vedi):
This mark proclaims that the sins of those who meditate upon the feet are burned up as if on the altar of sacrifice. Furthermore, it indicates that just as the universe is nourished by the brahmanas offering fire-sacrifices, similarly those who offer their minds in sacrifice to the feet stimulate universal nourishment that affects all of creation. The universe is the form of Krishna , and the offering is the form of Radha. This perfect union is indicated by the mark of a sacrificial altar.
This mark indicates how Krishna ’s ear is always listening for the tinkling sound of the charming ankle-bells upon Her feet; thus He lives for the shelter of Her feet, which gives Him all happiness.
This mark on Radharani’s foot shows that She, like a fish out of water, cannot live for a moment without Her beloved.
This mark reveals that even though Giri-Govardhana is worshipped by all of Vraja as the best of mountains, still Govardhana Hill in turn serves the feet of the Divine Couple.
On Radharani‘s foot, this mark indicates the water-principle that soothes Her beloved Krishna so that He feels no burning pain whenever He is separated from Her company.