- Charan Sparsh
is Charan Sparsh?
is the sentiment behind charan sparsh and why do we do it?
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.
What is the sentiment
behind charan sparsh and why do we do it?
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:
- rising to welcome a person
- paying homage in the form of namaste (folding hands)
- touching the feet of elders or teachers
- prostrating fully with the feet, knees, stomach, chest,
forehead and arms
- 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.