THE GURU: "ਚਰਨ ਕਮਲ" - CHARAN KAMAL

ਚਰਣ ਕਮਲ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਉਰਿ ਧਾਰਿ ॥: Charan kamal thaakur uri dhaar:
Enshrine the Lord's Lotus Feet within your Heart (sggs 190).
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Literally, "Charan" means feet, and "Kamal" means lotus. Hence "ਚਰਨ ਕਮਲ" (Charan Kamal) literally means Lotus Feet. However, as indicated in the Gurbani, taking the worldly meaning of "Charan Kamal" as physiological feet would be our ignorance.

What does it mean in Spiritual sense? Many so called embodied (ਦੇਹਧਾਰੀ) Gurus, Sants, Baabaas, Pujaarees (priests), Giaanees, Swamis, Saadh, and so on, enjoy having their bodily feet touched, massaged and washed by their equally or more ignorant followers or admirers. In the selfish desire of attaining material wealth or heavenly pleasures, many drink in the dust of their feet, dissolved in the wash water. Also, many apply the dust of their feet to their own forehead. Why do mortals enjoy such falsehood? Because it inflates their false ego, which, in turn, inflames their evil passions and mental perversions. Being attached to the love of duality (Doojaa Bhaav, Maya), the majority of us value this sort of Spiritual corruption and live by it!

As indicated in the Gurbani, taking the "Charan Kamal" as physiological feet is ignorance; thus a naked show of the Saakat's (mammon worshipper) perverted mind. The Gurbani's "Lotus Feet" of Guru-Lord are not physiological feet. They are Spiritual, thus Sublime and Transcendental; and realized only upon being thoroughly awakened to our True Nature as Pure Consciousness (Mool, Aatmaan, Guru, Satguru, Light, Naam, Shabad, etc.). The Lotus Feet, therefore, are none other than the unbroken Simran (Reflection) on the Divine Name (Giaan of the Gurbani; Shabad-Vichaar...). In other words, the Lotus Feet mentioned in the Gurbani are none other than the Naam-consciousness, Shabad-Surti, God-consciousness or simply Shabad-Giaan (Spiritual Wisdom or Aatam-Giaan). The "washing" of the Lotus Feet is nothing but to live in this unbroken communion of the Naam-consciousness (Aatam Giaan or Spiritual Wisdom of the Gurbani...) within, and "drinking the wash water" is constantly drinking in this Amrit (Ambrosial Nectar) of the Naam-Surti.

  • ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਤ ਹਰਿ ਚਰਣ ਨਿਵਾਸੁ ॥: Naamu japat Hari charan nivaasu: By Naam Jap (Understanding the Giaan or Wisdom of the Gurbani, one) dwells in the Divine Feet Within (ਮਨ ਦਾ ਟਿਕਾ). (sggs 1150).
  • ਸਭੇ ਸੁਖ ਭਏ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਤੁਠੇ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਪੂਰੇ ਕੇ ਚਰਣ ਮਨਿ ਵੁਠੇ ॥: Sabhe sukh bhae prabh tuthe. Gur poore ke charan mani vuthe: When Prabh is pleased, and the Feet of the Perfect Gur (Shabad-Giaan) abide in the mind, then all Sukha are obtained. (sggs 106).

In the Eastern scriptures, the Inner Awareness, the Inner Heart (Spiritual Heart...), the Inner Mind, the Higher Consciousness, Mool, etc., is depicted as the Lotus Flower (Kamal). The Feet of God (Guru or Satgur ) are also portrayed as such. To put it otherwise, the terminology such as Heart-Lotus or Lotus Feet is none other than the One Divine Light that pervades within everyone. We are That Light (Joti-Svaroopa); which is the Substratum of all beings. In order to feel This subtlety within, we are asked by the Gurbani to visualize the lotus flower centered right within the center of the Heart, the place of the All-pervasive-consciousness as the Inner-Dweller. Thus, the Heart-Lotus or Lotus Feet is the seat of the Divine Essence or the Divine Essence Itself. Simply Put: it is the Spiritual-Center as opposed to the ego-center.

  • ਚਰਣ ਕਮਲ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਉਰਿ ਧਾਰਿ ॥: Charan kamal thaakur ouri dhaari: Enshrine the Lord's Lotus Feet within your Heart (sggs 190).
  • ਚਰਨ ਕਮਲ ਗੁਰ ਰਿਦੈ ਬਸਾਇਆ ॥੧॥: Charan kamal Gur ridai basaaiaa ||1||: The Lotus Feet of the Gur (Giaan...) are enshrined within the Heart ||1|| (sggs 202).
  • ਚਰਨ ਕਮਲ ਭਗਤਾਂ ਮਨਿ ਵੁਠੇ ॥: Charan kamal bhagtaa mani vuthe: (The lord's) Lotus Feet dwell in the minds of His Bhagat (sggs 109).
As time and again revealed by the Gurbani, deep within the Heart dwells the Lotus Feet; and deep within the Lotus of the Heart dwells the Mool (Guru, Satgur, Light, Naam, Shabad, etc.). In other words, the Lotus Feet or Heart-Lotus is the seat of the Pure Consciousness. This is the Center of all centers, the Support (Adhaar) of life. Just as the waves rise from the ocean, subsist in the ocean and then immerse back into the ocean; similarly, the mind rises from this Substratum, on which it exists and whereit finally dissolves.
  • ਚਾਰੇ ਅਗਨਿ ਨਿਵਾਰਿ ਮਰੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹਰਿ ਜਲੁ ਪਾਇ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਪ੍ਰਗਾਸਿਆ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਭਰਿਆ ਅਘਾਇ ॥: Chaare agani nivaari maru gurmukhi hari jalu paai. Antari kamalu pargaasiaa amritu bhariaa aghaai: Becoming the Gurmukh, through the Naam-water, quench the four fires. (Thus) the Lotus blossoms Within, and (your Heart) gets filled with the Amrit-Naam (sggs 22).
  • ਹਰਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਬੇਧੇ ਚਰਨ ਕਮਲ ਕਿਛੁ ਆਨ ਨ ਮੀਠਾ ॥੧॥: Hari Nanak bedhe charan kamal kishu aan na meethaa ||1||: O Nanak! (whose mind is pierced by) the Lord's Lotus Feet, nothing else seems sweet to him ||1|| (sggs 454).
Hence God's Lotus Feet are ever situated within everybody's Heart-Lotus, the Spiritual Center. However, due to our veil of ignorance (expanded false ego), we are unable to turn our mind within and realize this Truth (ਸਚ). But, those who have roasted the seed of ignorance in the fire of Shabad-Giaan, always see them in their Inner Consciousness — in their waking state, in their dream state, and in their deep sleep state. They find themselves simultaneously connected to them. Thus, our Mool within (Guru, Satgur, Naam, Shabad, etc.) is not apart from the seeker, and the seeker is not apart from Him. Therefore, physical proximity is of no consequences; unbroken (Akhand) mental communion through the Naam (Aatam Giaan...) alone matters. In other words, the mind must be connected to the Pure Consciousness within — one must hold on only to the Mool. Then the seeker is guided from within - the Source of all Wisdom and the Knowledge.
  • ਚਰਣ ਕਮਲ ਰਿਦ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਧਾਰੇ ॥ ਪ੍ਰਗਟੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਮਿਲੇ ਰਾਮ ਪਿਆਰੇ ॥੨॥: Charan kamal rid antari dhaare. Pargatee joti mile Raam piaare ||2||: One who enshrines (the lord's) Lotus Feet Within the Heart, meets Him; the Divine Light is revealed to him ||2|| (sggs 375).
  • ਚਰਣ ਕਮਲ ਮਨ ਪ੍ਰਾਣ ਅਧਾਰੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Caran kamal man praan adhaaree ||1||Rahaaou||: (The Lord's) Lotus Feet are the Support of the mind, the Support of the very breath of life ||1||Pause|| (sggs 740).
  • ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਪਰਗਾਸਿਆ ਮਨਿ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਵੁਠੜਾ ਹੇ ॥੪॥: Jan Nanak kamal paragaasiaa mani har har vutharraa hae ||4||: Servant Nanak's Heart-Lotus has blossomed forth, and the Lord's Name has come to dwell in the mind. ||4|| (sggs 82).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਵਿਗਸਿਆ ਸਭੁ ਆਤਮ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਪਛਾਨੁ ॥: Gurmukhi kamalu vigasiaa sabhu aatam brahamu pashhaanu: The one who has become the Gurmukh, his Heart-Lotus blossoms forth, and Rcognizes the Brahm in all Jeev (sggs 1313).
After reading the foregoing verses, one may ask as to how a Lotus or Feet can grow deep within one's Heart or mind! Or, how the Feet of Guru-God can exist in one's mind or Heart? Here, as stated earlier, neither the Heart is physical, nor the Lotus and nor the Feet are physical. They are Spiritual; without any feature or form. Thus, the Lotus Feet mentioned in the Gurbani represent the Subtle or Spiritual-Center and not the physical or ego-center.
  • ਸਰੀਰ ਸਰੋਵਰ ਭੀਤਰੇ ਆਛੈ ਕਮਲ ਅਨੂਪ ॥ ਪਰਮ ਜੋਤਿ ਪੁਰਖੋਤਮੋ ਜਾ ਕੈ ਰੇਖ ਨ ਰੂਪ ॥੧॥: Sareer sarovar bheetre aashai kamal anoop. Param joti purkhotamo jakai rekh na roop ||1||: Within the Srovar (Pool) of the body, there is an incomparably beautiful Lotus Flower. (Within it) is the Lord's Formless Supreme Light ||1|| (sggs 857).
The confusion or mistake arises from our limited language and perverted understanding. The Absolute Truth the Gurbani tries to explain has to use our limited human language is. However, the Absolute Truth is Unlimited and Infinite. When a truth that has not been personally experienced is expounded by a true Gurmukh or the Gurbani, one cannot grasp it directly. However, with the help of illustrations, analogies, similes, allegories, metaphors and figurative or mystic representations such as "Lotus Feet" or "Heart-Lotus", it becomes relatively easier to grasp. Consequently, once the symbolism of illustrations such as "Lotus Feet" or "Heart-Lotus" is grasped, then one comes to understand its real significance.

We can look at it from an another perspective. The worldly truth is based on relativity, however, the Absolute Truth is Eternal and beyond relativism. Majority of us can only appreciate relative knowledge. Why? Because, due to our material-consciousness (Maya), we have confounded our Mool with the physical body-frame. As a result, we think we are the physical senses, mind, intellect, heart, and so on; which gives rise to relativity (Doojaa Bhaav). Accordingly, as most of us can only grasp the relative knowledge, some place as "Lotus Feet" or "Heart-Lotus" is mentioned by the Gurbani as the place of All-pervading Consciousness. Hence, this type of instruction using physical illustrations, examples or narratives are meant for most of us who can only appreciate the relative knowledge. However, being Infinite as well as Transcendental and Immanent everywhere, there is no particular place for the Lord. Therefore, in reality the Lotus-Feet is not a physical place.

  • ਪ੍ਰਭ ਚਰਨ ਕਮਲ ਅਪਾਰ ॥: Prabh charan kamal apaar: The Lotus Feet of the Prabh are Infinite (sggs 837).
Names and forms exists in the Infinite Consciousness, not other way around. Since the names and forms are nothing but relative knowledge, they hide the Reality. For example, if we just see an ornament the gold becomes hidden; if we just see the beads the string becomes hidden; if wee only see the waves the ocean becomes hidden; if we just see a pot the clay becomes hidden; and if we just see rays the sun becomes hidden! In reality, the substratum of the ornament is nothing but gold, and that of the pot is clay, and so on. In other words, the ornament can never leave the gold, or the pot can never leave the clay. Similarly, we are the Joti-Svaroopa, not the gross body. To realize this Truth, the relativity or the names and forms (duality or Doojaa Bhaav) must be transcended.
  • ਚਰਣ ਕਮਲ ਰਿਦ ਮਾਹਿ ਸਮਾਏ ਤਹ ਭਰਮੁ ਅੰਧੇਰਾ ਨਾਹੀ ॥੧॥: Charan kamal rid maahi samaae tah bharamu andheraa naahee ||1||: That Heart, within which the Lotus Feet are enshrined, suffers no darkness (ignorance) or doubt ||1|| (sggs 499).
Unfortunately, the swindlers portraying as holy men, Giaanee, etc., abuse this relative knowledge and make ignorant people worship their physical feet. Further, they use our relative knowledge for gaining name, fame, money, material comforts, and making new followers to build their empires. In the process, they fool the like minded greedy, selfish or spiritually dull people. Being shameless, they feel no remorse for their blind actions.
  • ਮਨ ਪਿਆਰਿਆ ਜੀ ਮਿਤ੍ਰਾ ਹਰਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਝੂਠੁ ਪਸਾਰੇ ॥ ਮਨ ਪਿਆਰਿਆ ਜੀਉ ਮਿਤ੍ਰਾ ਬਿਖੁ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੇ ॥ ਚਰਣ ਕਮਲ ਕਰਿ ਬੋਹਿਥੁ ਕਰਤੇ ਸਹਸਾ ਦੂਖੁ ਨ ਬਿਆਪੈ ॥: Man piaariaa jee mitraa Hari binu jhoothu pasaare. Mann piaariaa jee mitraa Bikhu saagaru sansaare. Charan Kamal kari bohithu karate sahasaa dookhu na biaapai: O dear beloved mind, my friend, without the Lord, all outward show is false. O dear beloved mind, my friend, the world is an ocean of poison (Maya). Let the Lord's Lotus Feet be your Boat, so that pain and skepticism will not touch you (sggs 79).

How can we realize the true Lotus Feet within? In order to experience the Lotus Feet, the the Gurbani urges us to "look within". What does it mean to "look within"? Since the Lotus Feet are Infinite Consciousness or Consciousness itself, to "look within" simply means to focus the attention on this Infinite Consciousness; which is the Cause of causes, and the Source of the true Bliss or Amrit (Immortality). In order to realize these "Lotus Feet", one needs to link his individual consciousness to the Cosmic Awareness (Mool-Source, Origin...) through the unbroken practice of the Shabad -Vichaar. Keeping the company of the Sat (Truth) within and without, one comes to understand the Shabad (Naam -Aatam, Giaan...), and then become intuitively absorbed in the Truth. Upon awakening of the Lotus-Feet or the Satgur within, one's intellect is purified and he becomes a Gurmukh (Spiritual Being...). As a result, obstacles such as egoism, possessiveness, evil-mindedness, obstacles, wickedness, selfishness, repeated pain and suffering depart.

  • ਚਰਣ ਕਮਲ ਹਿਰਦੇ ਮਹਿ ਜਾਪੁ ॥: Charan kamal hirdai mahi jaapu: Within your heart, meditate on the Lotus Feet (sggs 197).
  • ਚਰਣ ਕਮਲ ਅਰਾਧਿ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਏਕ ਸਿਉ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਉ ॥੩॥: Charan kamal araadhi hirdai ek siou liv laaou ||3||: Worship in adoration the Lotus Feet in your Heart, and center your consciousness lovingly on One alone ||3|| (sggs 501).
  • ਭਵਰੁ ਤੁਮ੍ਹ੍ਹਾਰਾ ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਹੋਵਉ ਹਰਿ ਚਰਣਾ ਹੋਹੁ ਕਉਲਾ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਦਾਸੁ ਉਨ ਸੰਗਿ ਲਪਟਾਇਓ ਜਿਉ ਬੂੰਦਹਿ ਚਾਤ੍ਰਿਕੁ ਮਉਲਾ ॥੪॥੩॥੪॥: Bhavar tumhaaraa ihu manu hovou hari charanaa hohu koulaa. Naanak daasu oun sangi lapataaiou jio boondahi chaatrik moulaa ||4||3||4||: Let this mind of yours be the bumble bee (bumble bee is known for its love for the flowers - it is the lover of flowers), and let the Hari's Feet be the Lotus Flower (for the bumble bee of your mind). Says Nanak, (the Lord's) servent remains attached to them (Hari's Lotus Feet - His Name, Giaan...), and blossom forth like the song-bird upon finding the rain-drop. ||4||3||4|| (sggs 496).
  • ਸਿਮਰਿ ਸਿਮਰਿ ਸਿਮਰਿ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥ ਚਰਨ ਕਮਲ ਗੁਰ ਰਿਦੈ ਬਸਾਇਆ ॥੧॥: Simari simari simari sukh paaiaa. Charan kamal Gur ridai vasaaiaa ||1||: Meditating, meditating, meditating in remembrance of Naam, I have found Peace. I have thus enshrined the Gur's Lotus Feet within my Heart ||1|| (sggs 202).
  • ਚਰਨ ਕਮਲ ਗੁਰ ਕੇ ਮਨਿ ਵੂਠੇ ॥ ਦੂਖ ਦਰਦ ਭ੍ਰਮ ਬਿਨਸੇ ਝੂਠੇ ॥੧॥: Charan kamal Gur ke mani voothe. Dookh darad bhram binase jhoothe ||1||: The Gur's Lotus Feet abide in my mind. I am rid of pain, suffering, doubt and fraud ||1|| (sggs 1340).
In essence, the Lotus Feet, Naam, Shabad, Divine Knowledge (Aatam-Giaan, Brahm-Giaan...) are synonymous. Also, Realization of "Lotus Feet" is essentially the same as Awakening or Realization of the Satgur within. As such, the Gurbani as well as all other ancient scriptures of India enjoin taking Divine Name (Aatam Giaan...) all the time. But, how should we take Divine Name? Shabad-Vichaar!
  • ਗਹੁ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਸਰਨ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਕਮਲ ਚਰਨ ਅਵਰ ਆਸ ਕਛੁ ਪਟਲੁ ਨ ਕੀਜੈ ॥: Gahu paarbrahm saran hirdai kamal charan avar aas kashu patal n keejai: In your Heart, hold fast to the Sanctuary of the Lotus Feet of the Supreme Being; do not place your hopes in any other support (sggs 678).
In the Light of the Gurbani, after knowing what the true Charan-Kamal or Lotus Feet are, now let's try to find out as to why there is so much emphasis in the Gurbani on realizing them. The reason for such emphasis is that Clouds of Bhagti formed in the Spiritual Sky of God's Charan-Kamal brings outpouring of True Bliss (Anand or Amrit-Dhaaraa) and inundates the lake of the mind. Thus, the Bhagti is nothing but loosening of one's mind (self-will...) in the Hukam or Lotus Feet or Pure Consciousness within, through proper Understanding of the Gurbani. Immortality (Amrit) and everlasting Bliss are the fruits of such Bhagti directed towards the Real Source - Mool.
  • ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਮਤਿ ਤੂੰ ਲੇਹਿ ਇਆਨੇ ॥ ਭਗਤਿ ਬਿਨਾ ਬਹੁ ਡੂਬੇ ਸਿਆਨੇ ॥: Gur kee mati toon lehi iaane. Bhagti binaa bahu doobe siaane: You ignorant fool, take the Gurmat (Aatmic-Giaan, Gur-Giaan, Shabad-Vichaar...); without Bhagti, even many clever have drowned. (sggs 288).
  • ਚਰਨ ਕਮਲ ਮਨੁ ਬੇਧਿਓ ਬੂਝਨੁ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਸੰਜੋਗ ॥੨॥: Charan kamal manu bedhio boojhanu surti sanjog ||2||: My mind is pierced through by the Lord's Lotus Feet (or Naam-Giaan...). He is realized when one’s Intuitive Consciousness is attuned to Him ||2|| (sggs 1363).

— T. Singh
www.gurbani.org