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Paduka Sahasram – Contents – General Information

Paduka Sahasram is a famous devotional work of Vaishnava Acharya Sri Vedanta Desika. It consists of 1000 verses on the pair of paduka (sandals) on which the feet of Bhagavan Srihari Vishnu rests.

Story Of Writing Paduka Sahasram

According to a legend, the whole work was written in one night. It was composed by Vedanta Desika in order to help his disciples, who were provoked by members of a rival Vaishnava School, the Tenkalais. The work is said to have been composed in the third quarter of the night. The earlier two quarters were devoted by Vedanta Desika to Yoga and sleep induced by Yoga. The jealous competitors kept awake the whole night and brought forth only 300 verses on the same subject.

In Vishnu temples in some regions, the paduka (sandals) of the image of Bhagavan Vishnu are known as the sathari, which is like a crown placed reverentially on the heads of devotees who receive it with humility with one hand on the mouth, as if to keep it shut.

The classic instance of this act was first performed by Bharata, when he received the paduka (sandals) of Bhagavan Sri Rama. But before he received it, he requested Sri Rama to wear the sandals once and remove them. Valmiki, in his Ramayana, describes this act of Rama stepping on the paduka and stepping down. The esoteric significance of the act is as follows – Rama is requested to step on the paduka so that they may receive the spiritual vibrations from Bhagavan and become so sacred as to be venerated and worshiped by Bharata for the next fourteen years, the exile period of Sri Rama. This is what Vedanta Desika thinks and says in verse 113 of his work Paduka Sahasram.

The paduka of divinity are more powerful than divinity itself. So when Bhagavan Vishnu is on the point of embarking on a commitment to walk through the forests for the next 14 years, he is relying on the power of the paduka to protect Him and His feet. Now that Bharata is asking for them, that means separation from them as far as Rama is concerned. He is now stepping over them and stepping down from them so as to receive the spiritual vibrations from them and thereby receive the energy of Bhagavan Sri Rama to sustain the challenge of walking barefoot through the entire forest. So Vedanta Desika says (verse no 116) – “If he did not do it, how could he have walked through the rough ground and dense shrubbery of the Dandaka forest with bare feet for so long?”

The paduka is greater than even Vibhishana and Sugriva – says the poet in verse 231 – “Oh wonderful sandals, You are certainly equal to Vibhishana and Sugriva in that all three of you support the divine feet of Bhagavan on your head; but you are even greater than them, since you were coronated first. Here the reference is to the chronology of events in the Ramayana. In another verse, he says – Rama is the support of the entire Universe; but You, the sandals are the support of Him.”

“You are greater than Rama”, continues the poet again: “Oh paduka, You are even more glorious than Rama, whose glory pervades all the three worlds. For, if not, how did Bharata, who wanted only Rama, accept you as security for return of Rama? (Verse 108). It is common knowledge that a thing pledged as security has a greater value than the money lent.