By Shyamananda dasa
Modern man has learnt many things in various fields of knowledge but direly lacks the knowledge of the proper process of associating with saintly persons. Such persons will undoubtedly put aside these instructions as an instrument of the caste system or the hatred of sadhus towards other living entities. However, those serious on the path of devotional service should seriously consider the following instructions by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati as a matter of etiquette while approaching Vaisnava sannyasis.
“One should not touch the lotus feet of a saintly person or sannyasi with his enjoyment-prone body or sinful body. If the saintly person becomes displeased as a result of our touching his lotus feet, then it will certainly create inauspiciousness for us. Sannyasi devotees do not like people touching their feet. It is currently become a fashion – a disease – to touch the lotus feet of Guru and Sadhu. We should pay close attention to whether the spiritual master and Krishna are being pleased by each one of our actions. If we do not do so, then we will dig our own grave.
Let me tell those who, under the control of their emotions, attempt to touch the feet of a Sannyasi like me. In the language of my spiritual master, “Why should they dare to stretch their hands to take dust from the feet of the saintly persons ? Is such boldness proper ? What qualifications do they have ? What right ? An attached householder, who has no real interest in serving the saint, is certainly unjustified in touching his lotus feet. Better that we offer one another obeisances from a distance. If an attached householder forcibly tries to touch the saint’s feet, it means his mind is attracted to gross matter. That will cause him more harm than good. Those who desire fortune should carefully refrain from committing such offensive activities.” – Amrta Vani
As it is said “familiarity breeds contempt” maintaining one’s physical distance in offering obeisances can make us spiritually closer to the Vaisnavas concerned. As it is the tendency of worldly people to consider sadhus as carriers of the burden of their sins, touching the feet of Vaisnavas with this intention is certainly not devotion. Our surrender to the service of Vaisnavas is best shown by strictly following their instructions rather than a external show of humility.
Thank you. Hare Krishna!
Shyamananda dasa brahmacari