I have recently spent time on Youtube browsing a number of videos. I’m often fond of watching covers of liked music, various recordings of the muslim call to prayer and the atharvashirsha, and random other videos like old Ms. Swan sketches or Wine About It with Matt Bellassai (sp?).
Recently I came across a video, which I posted to Facebook, of the guru paduka stotram. There’s a good chance that you, dear reader, don’t know at least three words of the last sentence: Guru, Paduka, and Stotram. Lemme explain.
Guru, in western terms, could be interpreted (different than a translation) as a life teacher. One who has mastered being a human and is available to lead others in the same way.
Paduka, in very modern western terms, could be interpreted as the original flip-flop sandals. If you Google this word then you will see that it’s basically a sole, a “post” that comes up from the sole to between the great toe and the second toe, and lastly a knob of sorts that sits at the top of the post (surely to aid in grip).
For Stotram there really is no modern or western equivalent. I suppose it could be just a “hymn.” In fact, when you Wiki this word you will learn that it can be “a prayer, a description, or a conversation, but always with a poetic structure” and “hymn of praise” is our nearest same thing. For Hindus, this is a sacred text which is meant to be sung and not chanted or plainly recited. Most of the other texts that we have can and are chanted or otherwise just recited, but a stotram differs in that it must be melodiously sung.
To when you string those together you should understand that the Guru Paduka Stotram is a hymn of praise for the guru’s sandals. In Hindu culture the feet of a saint or deity are significant and symbolic. The feet touch the dirt and are usually the “lowest” place of a person’s body – lower than the ankles, which are lower than the knees, which are lower than the pelvis, which is lower than the abdomen, and so forth. To revere a holy person’s feet is an expression of deep, sincere, humility.
I’m embedding a version of the Guru Paduka Stotram that I’ve been listening to. I hope you like it.
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha