It is not uncommon (at least till today) to see Hindus touching feet of elder or respected people. Children touching the feet of their parents, grandparents and teachers, wife touching the feet of her husband and folks touching feet of any elder, pious or revered human being are a part of our lives.

Abhimanyu, touching feet of her mother before his marriage

True, it’s a gesture of showing respect. But why can’t we touch a calf or a thigh or a shoulder or any other body part for showing respect? Like countless allegorical conundrums of Hindu tradition, touching feet too conceals a scientific benefit with a rational explanation.

The Right Way of Touching Feet

To understand this, we must first know the right way of touching one’s feet. Bend the upper half of your body, ideally without bending your knees, and stretch both your arms – with your head between them – to touch the feet of the elder. Obvious that it is, the fingertips of your left hand should touch the right foot of the elder and your right hand should be on their left foot. The elder person should now touch the top of your head with their right hand.

The Scientific explanation of touching feet

The nerves that start from our brain spread across all your body. These nerves or wires end in the fingertips of your hand and feet. When you join the fingertips of your hand to those of their opposite feet, a circuit is immediately formed and the energies of two bodies are connected. Your fingers and palms become the ‘receptor’ of energy and the feet of other person become the ‘giver’ of energy.

Usually, the person of whose feet you are touching is either old or pious. When they accept your respect which came from your reduced ego (and is called your shraddha) their hearts emit positive thoughts and energy (which is called their karuna) which reaches you through their hands and toes.

In essence, the completed circuit enables flow of energy and increases cosmic energy, switching on a quick connect between two minds and hearts. To an extent, the same is achieved through handshakes and hugs. Ever wondered why you suddenly feel better after a firm handshake or an affectionate hug? Now you know. You should feel the same after touching feet of a good soul, provided you do it the right way.

Some schools of thought say older people absorb sin from younger people, which I’m yet to believe and accept, so my explanation of science behind touching feet in India ends here.

An Appeal To You

At the cost of being personal, I appeal you not to bow to a person merely because he/she is old. Not all old people are pious or good. Imagine politicians, murderers, criminals and wrongdoers. Will they automatically become good on growing old? The concept came from a period where old people were either in their vanprasth or sanyas ashram stage of life, and were therefore good and worth our reverence.

Let your hunch or instinct (that too is partially scientific you see!) tell you whether the person in front is worthy of touching feet. If he/she is, never hesitate.

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia
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