Search Contact Site Map Download News Vicharan Home FAQsFAQsIntroduction

FAQs - Charan Sparsh

Charan Sparsh

  1. What is Charan Sparsh?
  2. What is the sentiment behind charan sparsh and why do we do it?

Back to Main

Q.1 What is Charan Sparsh?
A. Charan Sparsh is a commonly practiced Hindu ritual of bowing down to someone else and touching their feet in reverence. The literal translation of Charan Sparsh is ‘feet touching’. Charan means ‘feet’ and sparsh means ‘touch.’

Charan Sparsh is generally performed by touching the feet of one’s parents, elders, teachers, noble people and sadhus with both hands. The elder in turn blesses one by placing his or her hand on or over one’s head. It is a ritual that is performed daily when we meet elders, particularly on important occasions like the beginning of a new task, birthdays, festivals, New Year’s day, etc. In certain traditional circles, charan sparsh is accompanied by abhivãdana - introducing oneself or announcing one’s family and social stature.

Q.2 What is the sentiment behind charan sparsh and why do we do it?

A. Performing charan sparsh of another person is a sign of respect for the age, maturity, nobility and/or divinity of that person. It symbolizes our recognition of their selfless love for us and the sacrifices that they have made for our welfare. It is a way of humbly acknowledging the greatness of another. This tradition reflects the strong family ties which have been one of India’s enduring strengths.

The sankalp (good wishes) and ashirwad (blessings) of elders are highly valued in India. We do charan sparsh to seek them. Good thoughts create positive vibrations. Good wishes springing from a heart of love, divinity and nobility have tremendous strength. When we do charan sparsh with humility and respect, we invoke the good wishes and blessings of elders which flow in the form of positive energy to envelop us. This is why the posture assumed, whether it is in the standing or prone position, enables the entire body to receive the energy.

In India there are five different ways of showing respect. They are as follows:

  1. Pratuthana - rising to welcome a person
  2. Namaskara - paying homage in the form of namaste (folding hands)
  3. Upasangrahan - touching the feet of elders or teachers
  4. Sashtanga - prostrating fully with the feet, knees, stomach, chest, forehead and arms
  5. Pratyabhivadana - returning a greeting

Rules are prescribed in our scriptures regarding who should do charan sparsh to whom. Wealth, family name, age, moral strength and spiritual knowledge in ascending order of importance qualify one to receive respect. This is why a king, though the ruler of the land, would bow down before a spiritual master. Epics like the Ramayan and Mahabharat have many stories highlighting this aspect.

This tradition reduces personal arrogance and creates an environment of mutual love and respect among people ensuring harmony in the family and society.



© 2004, Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, Swaminarayan Aksharpith