Friday, January 20, 2017

Lotus Feet and Foot-care

Vaamana was standing before Emperor Bali, who was in the middle of a sacred ritual. The word "Vaamana" itself signifies small in stature. The small boy had arrived there on a mission. Bali, son of Virochana and grandson of Prahlada, was a benevolent King and had displaced the mighty Indra from his throne. Indra and other devatas were now out of power. Their mother Aditi could not tolerate the sufferings of her sons. She requested her husband Sage Kashyapa to find a solution to the problem. Sage Kashyapa suggested her to undertake a course of worship called "Payovrata", worshipping Lord Vishnu by consuming only milk during the worship period. Pleased with Aditi's worship, Lord Vishnu took birth as her son and was named Vaamana. As he was the younger brother of Indra, he became Upendra. Upendra set out on a mission to restore the throne to his brother Indra. He was now standing before Emperor Bali, with a broad smile on his face.

Bali was flabbergast at the divine aura of little Vaamana. He desired to give something to the boy standing before him. When asked to seek something, Vaamana wanted only three feet area of land to carry on his daily rituals. Before Bali could fulfill the requirement, his Guru Shukracharya wanted to prevent it to save his disciple. Shukracharya knew that Vaamana was none other than Lord Vishnu. He blocked the outlet of the holy pot to prevent flow of water required to complete the transfer of land, by assuming a small form and sitting in the outlet. Vaamana knew this and he pierced the opening with the holy hay ring in his hand. Shukracharya lost one eye in the bargain and came out bleeding in the eye. Bali completed the transfer of land and now Vaamana started measuring the three feet of land transferred to him. Vaamana grew to unbelievable size and became Trivikrama. He lifted his foot and for the first time someone (Bali) was able to see the lower part of the feet of the Lord.  

The entire earth was measured by the right foot alone. As Vaamana lifted the left foot to measure the worlds above the earth, the tip of the top of the thumb pierced the golden shell of the upper universe. The entire thumbnail was not required nor its top part. A small tip of the thumb was adequate to pierce the golden shell of the universe! The holy waters of the upper worlds came out of the hole in the shell in the form of Ganga, the mighty holy river. Lord Brahma came running to collect the holy water in his Kamandala, and washed the feet of Vaamana who was now standing as Trivikrama. This started the practice of washing the feet of the Lord and elders in due course. Prahlada also came running and was happy for his grandson. Happy because he himself was able to make Lord Vishnu to take one form of Narasimha, but his grandson was able to make the Lord take two forms of Vaamana and Trivikrama. Legend has it that with no space available now for the donated third feet of land, Vaamana placed his foot on Bali and sent him to the worlds below (not underworld!). It is believed that Vaamana is still standing as a guard at the gate of Bali's palace in the lower world, as a boon to the donor.

How was the Lord's foot that Bali saw when Vaamana's foot was raised? This has been described at length in various epics and sources. It is said that the Lord's feet are like Lotus and much much better than that. It is said to be like Lotus only because we do not know anything better than Lotus. Lord's feet are said to be more red than the rising sun. 

What about our own feet? The most tender feet we ever know of is the feet of a just born child. Each day thereafter, the feet change in colour as well as in tenderness. An adult's foot is often something similar to the ground we walk on. Feet happen to be one of the most important part of the body, but hardly receives a fraction of the care one's face gets. They are often cracked and rough. As a person ages, the nails of the fingers in the feet become hard and brittle. Clipping the nails using common nail cutters is a big task. Aged people find this a very exacting affair. In-growing nails, especially in the thumbs, result in severe pain. Diabetic patients suffer from ulcers and many have their fingers removed surgically.

The top tip of the nail of the Lotus Feet of the Lord was good enough to pierce the golden shell of the upper Universe and release holy Ganga water. Unclipped nails of a man often brushes and cuts his own skin and muscle, releasing blood and resulting in wounds and pain.
Pedicure clinics attend to the treatment of feet, corns and trimming of toenails. A Podiatrist is a person who is trained to identify and treat foot disorders. Woodlands Hotel in the city of Bangalore, located on the Sampangi Tank Road, is a popular place for stay, food and functions like marriage ceremonies etc. In a side shed at this hotel lies a Pedicure clinic that is hidden among the trees and not easily visible. Mehaboob Sharieff and his associates provide footcare services here. Sharieff learnt foot care technique under one Azam Khan, who was trained in Czechoslovakia when Bata made advent in India some seventy years ago. One can get an appointment for foot care session and may have to wait for weeks to fix one as the place is visited by many regulars and diabetic persons. Mahaboob Sharieff's client list includes many well known personalities from the world of films, sports and politicians.

The treatment starts with soaking of the feet in salt water and thorough cleaning of the feet to remove dead cells. A modified dentist chair allows the patient to relax during the nearly one hour process. A number of instruments are used for clipping the nails and cleaning the feet. The instruments are sterilized before another use. The amount of dirt and dead cells that are removed during the process are to be seen to be believed. The clinic also offers foot-friendly footwear that are on display at the clinic. Mahaboob Shariff advises soaking the feet in warm salt water frequently to keep them healthy and in shape. 

Those having problem of foot care and clipping nails in the foot may visit the clinic to have a first hand experience of the service.


  1. Very interesting history and a great deal of connect to current practices

  2. nice article about need for taking care of one's feet.but why this promo for a pedicurist in Bengaluru? Do you know him personally and like to help him ?

    1. He always has a long waiting list and does not need any promo. A visit to this clinic set the thought process rolling. hence the reference.

  3. One more nice and informative article, combining both the Celestial World and the Temporal World.Good to know about foot-care and its importance

  4. Your observation about our general neglect of our feet is correct. With age and girth it becomes difficult for the hands tpo reach the feet. As one starts reading your post one wonders where it is going to connect. As usual amazing.

  5. Very thought provoking n interesting !