Feet in Hinduism


Why no shoes in a temple?
Feet hold a powerful symbolism with Hindu culture. You take off your shoes when you enter a temple. When sitting you never point your feet towards people, especially seniors, and you never spread your feet before an altar or towards fellow worshippers. We can say the feet of people are considered low. In fact one of the greatest insults you can make is to throw shoes at someone: And yet the feet of God and seniors are special. God's feet and even a guru's feet are often called "lotus feet" and in some temples even a small set of shoes belonging to the Deity (shathari) is touched to the head of worshippers. We even drink the feet bathing water of God as a prasada and sprinkle the bathing water of a guru's feet on our heads. The basis for feet symbolism goes back to the Vedic conception of the universe as the body of God. Just like a body has high and low parts so this universe has high and low, pure and impure places. Up is high, down is low. Feet touch the ground, which is low, and so when you enter a temple you leave your low part at the door. We take off our impure part, our feet, symbolized by leaving our shoes at the door as we enter sacred space. You might say we leave our materialistic side at the door when we enter spiritual space.

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