PREACHERS AND FOOT-TOUCHING
His Divine Grace A.C. BhaktivedantaSwami Prabhupada
Cc. ādi 17.243-245
One day when Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu had finished His dancing, a woman, the wife of a brāhmaṇa, came there and caught hold of His lotus feet. As she took the dust of His lotus feet again and again, the Lord became unlimitedly unhappy.
This holding of a great personality’s lotus feet is certainly very good for the person who takes the dust, but this example of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s unhappiness indicates that a Vaiṣṇava should not allow anyone to take dust from his feet.
One who takes the dust of a great personality’s lotus feet transfers his sinful activities to that great personality. Unless the person whose dust is taken is very strong, he must suffer the sinful activities of the person who takes the dust. Therefore ordinarily it should not be allowed. Sometimes in big meetings people come to take the same advantage by touching our feet. On account of this, sometimes we have to suffer from some disease. As far as possible, no outsider should be allowed to touch one’s feet to take dust from them. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu personally showed this by His example, as explained in the next verse.
Immediately He ran to the river Ganges and jumped in to counteract the sinful activities of that woman. Lord Nityananda and Haridasa Thakur caught Him and raised Him from the river.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is God Himself, but He was playing the part of a preacher. Every preacher should know that being allowed to touch a Vaiṣṇava’s feet and take dust may be good for the person who takes it but is not good for the person who allows it to be taken. As far as possible, this practice should ordinarily be avoided. Only initiated disciples should be allowed to take this advantage, not others. Those who are full of sinful activities should generally be avoided.
Letter of 11 April 1970 You do not allow anyone to touch your feet — this is a very good attitude — but if they want to insist on touching your feet and there is no other way to avoid it, you can simply remember your predecessor ācāryas and spiritual masters and accept them and return namaskāra with folded hands. That is the vaisnava etiquette.
– An expert from Sri Krishna-kathamrta Bindu, a free bi-monthly magazine service provided by Gopal Jiu Publications.