Hindu View: What is the use of Hands and Feet?

hands for worship

Swamiji praying with his hands.

This article is posted already in Tamil with all the original quotes: swami.
By London Swaminathan
Post No. 979; Date 14th April 2014

Vedic Prayer to Bharati’s poems

Bhadram karnebei srnu yama deva:……………. Devahitham yadayu: (Yajur Veda 25/21).

Hindus believe that the limbs of the body are given for worshipping God. Hands are raised to pray to God. Mouths sing the glory of God. Ears listen to all that is good. Feet are given to go on pilgrimage. Head and heart are there to think about God. These are daily routines which one should do in addition to the house chore.

We read such lofty thoughts in the ancient Vedas and the Upanishads. The above mantra Bhadram Karnebi…….. is in Yajur Veda and other Upanishads attached to Atharva Veda.

Meaning of the Mantra

“O Gods ! May we ever hear with our ears such words which are beneficial to all.
O Adorable ones, may we see with our eyes what is auspicious.
May we sing praises to you and enjoy with strong limbs and body the life allotted to us by the Gods” (Yajur Veda 25/21)

mouth for singing

Sri Sathya Sai Baba singing Bhajans.

Tamil Epic Silappadikaram

Ilango was a post Sangam Tamil poet. He wrote an epic on an incident that happened in the second century AD, but the language of the epic shows that he lived in a later period around fifth century AD. He praised Rama and Krishna in one of the verses in the epic:–

“Vain are the ears which do not hear the glory of the doughty champion, who measured the three worlds with his two feet and yet found them too small; who penetrated with his younger brother into the wild jungle to the reddening of his lotus feet; who pulled down in the battle the ‘SO’ fortress and deprived ancient Lanka of its protection. Vain are the ears which do not hear the glory of TIrumal.

“Vain are the eyes which do not see the dark-hued lord, the great god, Mayavan, the god in the blossomed lotus of whose navel appeared all the great worlds, and who has red eyes, red feet, red hands and red lips. Vain are the eyes of those who while looking must wink.

“Vain is the tongue that will not praise him who triumphed over the deceit of the foolish schemer Kamsa and who went as the messenger of the five Pandavas to the hundred Kauravas, praised in all four directions, to the accompaniment of Vedic chanting. Vain is the tongue which does not say ‘Narayana’.

datta speaking

Devotees are listening to Sri Ganapati Sachidananda Swamiji

Poets of Devotional Movement

Later Tamil poets, Appar of the Seventh Century and Kulasekara Alvar of later period also pray to God that all their limbs, from foot to head, must be utilised in the service of God.
Tamil Saivite saint Appar alias Tirunavukkarasu went to every temple with a spade and axe in his hand to remove the weeds on the towers and on the temple grounds. Appar, in his Thiru Anga Malai (Hymn of Garland of Limbs) sings that every limb of his body should worship god. Kulasekara Alvar, one of the 12 Vaishnava saints, in his Mukundamala (sloka 16) addresses each of his limbs to pray to God


Baba devotees singing Bhajans.


Bharati has sung the longest poem on this theme. C.Subramanya Bharati (1882-1921), the greatest Tamil poet of the modern times, has mentioned all the limbs in his poem on Sakti. He prayed to goddess Sakti to give strength to all his limbs and make him an instrument of Sakti. It is a long poem with 46 stanzas. Following few stanzas give us some idea of the intensity of his prayer. We can clearly see the influence of the Vedic hymn “ Bhadram Karnebi srunuyama Deva:”.

(Sakti means Mother Goddess and Power)
(In Tamil the poem begins with “Sakti thanakke karuviyaakku……………”)

Of hands make an instrument of Sakti,
They will sure with all achievements be linked;
Of hands make an instrument of Sakti
They will grow powerful even to smite a stone.

Stanza 2
Of eyes make an instrument of Sakti,
They will ken the way by Siva Sakti shown;
Of eyes make an instrument of Sakti
They will grow with truth and beauteous grace.

Stanza 3
Of ears make an instrument of Sakti,
They will hearken to the words of Sakti;
Of ears make an instrument of Sakti
They will long for hymns of Sakti divine

From stanza 13 to 23 he prays for mind, from 24 to 29 on ‘chitta’, from 30 to 41 on intellect and finally from 41 to 45 on soul.

His final stanza is very interesting and shows how much energy he has gained by chanting this hymn:–
Stanza 46

‘’Praise to be Siva Sakti’’ may you sing;
Chant “Siva Sakti Sakti “ jump and dance;
‘’Praise to be Siva Sakti’’ may you sing;
Play you, singing Siva Sakti Sakti.’’

(Bharati Poems–Translated from English into Tamil by Dr T N Ramachandran)

Contact swami_48@yahoo.com

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