In Indian culture, paying respect to elders and those in positions of authority is considered a sign of humility and gratitude. One of the most ancient and revered forms of paying respect is Shastang Pranam, which literally means “prostrating with eight parts of the body.” This traditional art form is still popular in many parts of India and is often used to express gratitude and reverence in religious and social settings.
Uncovering the Secrets of Shastang Pranam
Shastang Pranam is a form of deep respect that involves touching eight parts of the body to the ground as a sign of humility and devotion. In this ancient art, the person paying respects lies flat on their stomach and touches their forehead, chest, arms, knees, and feet to the ground. The act of touching the ground with these eight parts of the body signifies the complete surrender of the individual to the person they are paying respects to.
The origins of Shastang Pranam can be traced back to ancient Indian scriptures and texts, where it is described as a form of worship that is believed to bring blessings and boons from the gods. The practice is often used in religious ceremonies, such as during puja (worship) or when seeking blessings from a guru or spiritual leader. In some parts of India, it is also used as a way of showing respect to parents, elders, and ancestors.
A Guide to the Traditional Art of Paying Respect
Note: Please consult a doctor if you have any medical issues before proceeding to do the below, do it under a professional yoga guru’s guidance, do not try it yourself.
If you are new to Shastang Pranam, it can seem a little daunting at first. However, with a little practice, you can learn to perform the eight-fold prostration with ease. To begin, find a clean and quiet place to perform the ritual. Next, fold your hands in front of your chest and bow your head in reverence.
Then, slowly lie down on your stomach and stretch out your arms and legs, touching your forehead, chest, arms, knees, and feet to the ground. Finally, slowly rise back up and sit with your legs folded, keeping your hands folded in front of your chest. It is important to perform the ritual calmly and with mindfulness, keeping your focus on the person or deity you are paying respect to.
Shastang Pranam is a beautiful and ancient art form that continues to be practiced by many in India to this day. By paying respect to those who are older or in positions of authority, we learn humility and gratitude and deepen our connections to our communities and traditions. Whether you are performing the ritual in a religious setting or simply as a way to show respect to your elders, Shastang Pranam is a powerful and meaningful way to express your devotion and reverence.