Humanity is accepted as a virtue all over the world. panicularly for spiritual seekers Bowing ones head. or bending one's body at the waist and touching the ground with one's hands. are two of the ways in which one demonstrates humility before another. Indians. panicularly Hindus, perform sashtanga dandapranamam. which involves prostrating oneself." before a great soul or deity so that all the limbs touch the ground.
In India lordly wealth and physical strength have always surrendered to spiritual knowledge. Even kings ruling huge territories have been known to bow and touch the feet of ascetics living in forests, to obtain their grace and blessings. But many saints do not allow their feet to be touched (or if they do allow it. it is taken as a sure sign of special favour) One reason given or if this, is fear lest the power and merit the saints have acquired through their long and arduous penance should flow to those who touch them, as electric current flows from one pole to another. or as water flows from a high level to a low one. But Mother does not subscribe to this view, and allows anyone to touch Her feet. because. She says. She does not have any merit to lose. True: How can one above any sense of duality differentiate between merit and demerit ? We might explain it thus: She is identified with the Whole. and the Whole remains the Whole however much is deducted. ln other words. God or the Avatara (Gods incarnation) does not suffer any kind of deficiency in spite of any amount of expenditure.
A careful survey will reveal any number of varieties of feet but one does not come across any equal to Mothers not only for their capacity for spiritual upliftment, but also for their sheer physical beauty. They are neither large nor small, they are finely proportioned. rosy in colour. petal-soft in texture, and the nails are very thin and of almost the same colour as the skin Even the soles of Her feet are soft, of a rubbery consistency. and light rose in colour One can even see the veins and striations through Her soles. This is particularly significant when we learn that only two decades ago She used to walk barefooted on paths and roads with sharp-edged rocks and thorns It seems that Mother walked regularly to Bapatla, a distance of more than eight miles. And yet the tenderness of Her skin can well be imagined from the fact that the rose petals used for Her worship leave their imprints on Her skin.
Ranganna Babu. an unpretentious and saintly devotee of Lord Rama. expressed his opinion that Her feet were so beautiful and divine that none could be found to equal them. He said that they were exactly like the feet of Rama. whom he had seen in visions, and that one needed no funner proof to Mother's divinity than to see Her holy feel.
Around those feet have gathered saints like Ranganna Babu, Prahhudaua Brahmachari, Purnanada Swami. Lakshmikanta Yogi, Sri Sri Sri Lakshmana Yatindrulu and Swami Ramana Teenha Maharaj. Scientists too, like Dr Sreepada Gopalakrishnamurthy. have surrendered to them. Scholars including Mulupuri Subrahmanya Sasrry. Kasi Krishnachari, Puttaparti Narayanachari and Viswanadham Venkateswarulu have paid them homage Amsts. Dr Balamurali Krishna, Sampan Kumar, Krishna. Srirangam Gopalaramam, Janaki and Ramakrishna, and poets. Dr. Prasada Raya Kulapathi, Dr. Naraparaju Sreedhara Rao, Janjyala Papayya Sastry. and Jammalamadakti Madhava Raya Sharma, have been attracted to them. Jurists like Rajamannar found they gave solace Doctors Potluri Subba Rao, S.V. Subba Rao, Janaki and lnayakurumi sought -refuge In them. Politicians like Shankaragiri felt the need of them Many others, men and women, educated and uneducated, from all walks of lite, from all parts of India and the world, and of all castes and creeds have sought and found comfort at those feet.
Always She displays an impersonal and detached attitude towards the worship of Her feet. When one bends close to Her feet in Salutation. one can detect a slight but wonderful fragrance that has not come from any perfume bottle. Sometimes the toes bear gold rings with thc images of different deities Annapurna, giver of food. Saraswati. representing knowledge; Ganapati. who clears away all impediments: Anjaneya. representing service and Nagendra, symbolic of kundalini and spiritual eminence. Some one who saw them, asked her. Why She wore them on Her feet (probably implying that it was improper). Her reply was: "I keep my children near me. That is to say. even they are your brothers and sisters”.
It is believed that what you have really to place at Her holy feel is your mind, and that any other thing offered is only symbolic of that. On Mahasivaratri those feet are worshipped by bathing them with thousands of pots of water Not only on that day, but while performing any formal puja (worships) the first thing to be done is to wash the feet with water. Sometimes rose water. milk, honey and panchammtam are also used. Sandal-wood paste too is used quite often. Though betel leaves are the leaves - some of them quite irritating have been utilised to worship them. All varieties ot flowers have been poured on those feet, sometimes covering Mother more than knee high Unconventional items like puffed rice, tomato and papaya leaves have been used occasionally Yellow and red rice (akshintalu) are quite often used, particularly on Sree Rama Navami Day. Kumkum is another common item of worship.
Being worshipped is not always a happy or comfortable experience for the feet and their owner Many a time Mother's feet must remain motionless for hours together sometimes seven or eight hours. On some occasions She was submitted to intense pain while being worshipped. Once as She was being worshipped with Kumkum. the chemical ingredients began conoding Her skin. yet She did not object. though Her legs were bust and sore for days. Sometimes enthusiastic visitors unwittingly stand on those delicate feet, and at other times blood oozes from them due to fingernail structures. Her feet often look swollen after a large darshan.
The water of the holy river Ganges is renowned for its capacity ro remain unspoiled for many days. The water which has been touched by Mothers feet is also famous for remaining unspoiled. In at least one case the water was kept unspoiled for more than a year. Many take that padateertham home and drink some daily as prasadam, or give it to those in trouble of suffering from ill health. Many use it as their only medicine and obtain relief Sri Vija Sivaramayya was one of those who always used to maintain a supply of pads teertham in his house. At one time, he asked his boy to take the bottle and get a fresh supply of the holy water. The boy felt reluctant to go all the way to Jillellamudi to bring back just for a bottle of water Anyway, there is still some trace of the holy water in the bottle. How will my father know if i fill it up with tap water? " So thinking, he tilled the bottle with tap water. spent sometime at his places of interest, resumed and handed over the bottle. After two days, the water became unpalatable, and Mr. Sivaramayya "smelled a rat". He asked the boy whether he had actually gone to Jillellamudi for the water. His son had to admit his mischief.
The toe-nails of great saints are supposed to be holy. and are often preserved by their disciples as relics to ward off evil influences. The nails from Mother's toes are taken away and treasured for this same reason.
Now-a-days Mother always wears chappals (sandal) for walking. As ordinary chappals hun Her tender skin, great care is taken in selecting them to ensure that they are of the right size and shape and as smooth and soft as possible. Some offer new chappals and ask Mother to give them Her old ones so that they may keep them in a sacred place and worship them daily. Some who travel a lot even carry Her chappals with them.
Of all the photos of Amma, the photo of Her feel is one of the most sought after. When, in the film Amma, the camera lingers over Her feet. there is always a reverential silence in the auditorium.
Mother's feet are always available for those who seek them. Even when She is engaged in conversation numerous people can be seen coming and bowing down to Her feet. Even when She is apparently sleeping Her feet are available to those who want to touch them. Some have spent whole nights near Her feet. pondering over them and meditating on them as their sole refuge. Sometimes one finds one foot cool and the other hot. and no one so far has been able to explain this strange phenomenon.
How is it that feet. which are lowly placed. and which walk and get dirty. are given so much more prominence in worship than other parts of the body (e.g. the head) which are considered more vital to the hods " When this question was put to Mother. She replied. "Because the entire body. from head to toe. is supposed by these feet." Sometimes as puja is being performed to Mother, She can be observed to pick up a few flowers from among the heap at her feel, or from Her garland. and lo drop them one by one at Her own feet. unobtrusively.
Those who attach themselves to Her feet are never let down. Her feel have saved such persons in many a crisis. Mother Herself, ln reply to Krishna Bhikshu. declared "The feet that have been caught so many times will not let you down.”