पदं ते कीर्तीनां प्रपदमपदं देवि विपदां
कथं नीतं सद्भिः कठिन-कमठी-कर्पर-तुलाम् ।
कथं वा बाहुभ्या-मुपयमनकाले पुरभिदा
यदादाय न्यस्तं दृषदि दयमानेन मनसा
padam te kirtinam prapadam apadam devi vipadam
katham nitam sadbhih kadhina kamadhi karpara tulam
katham va bahubhyam upayamana kale purabhida
yad adaya nyastam drsati dayamanena manasa
Your foot is the seat for good repute, o Goddess;
How then from danger to safety did it come?
The wise treat it as of tortoise-shell hardness; how then was it that Shiva,
At his wedding, could lift it with a tender mind to place it on the ritual stone?
In Verse 88, the wonder of the previous verse, by which miracles are to be expected as normal, is carried over into the domain of semantic polyvalence. Punning is not considered quite respectable in societies that conform to conventional stand­ards, but Shakespeare indulges in it very frequently. Homer's Odyssey contains the story of how Ulysses, along with his fellow travelers, escaped from the cavern of the Cyclops by giving his name as “no-man”. Great poets have such a licence, which heightens the quality of their poetry instead of detracting from it. In this verse, Sankara freely indulges in Sanskrit words which seem to contain a mystery based on the interplay of sounds and meanings. In analytic psychology this tendency is looked upon as a low form of association, reflecting psychotic states. It is elsewhere understood, however, that poets, madmen and lovers have the same kind of imagination. Viewed in this light, this verse continues the vague background of wonder proper to a devotee whose instincts are stronger than the workings of his intelligence. We have, therefore, not to look for any strict consistency of meaning here. Words and their meanings blend into a beautiful confection which we are asked to enjoy.
In spite of this, there are vague traces of suggested meaning which we can extract and, by abolishing paradox, heighten the sense of wonder with reference to the same beautiful pair of feet, which are now to be put again at the focal point of the bindusthana for us to meditate upon. The first two lines, as before, contain a paradox which is of a conceptual, semantic and semiotic order. The second half of this verse refers to a more realistic paradox in which something rigidly solid is still capable of being treated as something supple. If the former is a metaphysical wonder, taking us beyond paradox, the latter is a physical wonder which is heightened still more than if the paradox were abolished altogether. The word padam can suggest both the feet and a state sufficiently stable, with an idea contained in it, representing an absolute value. Padam (a state) and apadam (a non-state) are used interchangeably and figuratively as referring to states of mind.
When thinking of the value represented here by the two lotus feet of the Goddess, two opposite perspectives belonging to two ambivalent attributes that could be applied to them could be suggested together to the mind. Normally, the feet of a Goddess could be treated as the seat of good reputation, or kirti. The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter X, Verse 34, P.455)  gives good reputation the first place among absolutist virtues which can embellish the beauty-value of woman­hood. As a leading virtue belonging to the bright side of life, good repute could be an attribute applicable to the feet of the Goddess, when viewed in a hypostatic perspective. When the same feet are viewed from the negative standpoint, they could have a dark, tragic connotation. These two ambivalent meanings, especially when an element of punning enters into the style, give this poetry a special appeal. The three words padam, prapadam and apadam employed here, are seen to be pressed into service as apt alliterations and artful aids. Epigrammatic pithiness indicates a bright form of literary ability. Nominalism and structuralism are being employed here, as if one wants to outdo the other. The first half of the verse suggests that at the lower limit there is a tragic import attached to the feet, which has now been sublimated and cancelled out.
The second half of the verse refers to the ritualistic custom by which the husband must make his bride stand on a mashing stone for curry spices and look at one of the small stars, hardly visible to the naked eye, near the tail-end of the constellation Orion. This is the test of a long and happy married life. Whether the test failed or succeeded, it was adopted because of its ceremonial impressive­ness, while relating human destiny to the movements of the stars.
When both of these suggestive representations of polyvalent meaning of meanings are treated together, there is a common characteristic of some value which could be called numinous, as opposed to phenomenal. It is the touch of the numinous that is to heighten the beauty-value when the two instances are treated together, as referring to existence and subsistence, to produce a value.
The reference to the wise treating the foot as of tortoise-shell ­hardness must either refer to some definite mythology some­where in the eighteen epics in Sanskrit, or in the Tamil epics such as the “Shiva Purana”. As mythologies generally are meant to suggest a deeper philosophical truth, we could guess here that the feet of the Goddess are where ontology attains to its maximum richness. In this sense it could be treated as solid matter, rather than anything flexible like a piece of wax. Solidity and liqui­dity have between them an element of paradox, even in the world of solid existences. That must be the reason why such a reference becomes pertinent here.
Further, we note that the mind of Shiva was melted in a state of kindness or compassion, while the feet of Parvati were suppo­sed by the wise to be concrete and rigid. The paradox results from a cross-reference from matter to mind, implying a transfer or interchangeability of epithets. This is another touch that is meant to heighten the paradox in the domain of semantic polyva­lence as applied to the significance of the beauty of the feet of the Goddess.
Bhagavad Gita, Chapter X,
Verse 34

mrityuh sarvaharas cha 'ham
udbhavas cha bhavishyatam
kirtih srir vak cha narinam
smritir medha dhritih kshama


I am all-engulfing death and the Source throwing up
all things to be; and of womanly values, fame, grace,
speech, memory, Willpower, firmness and endurance.





The fore part of the Devi's feet is the seat of reputation.


Padam te kirtinam prapadam - your feet are the exalted seat of good repute
Apadam devi vipadam katham nitam - O Goddess, how come that danger was led to be non-dangerous?
Sad bhih kathina kamathi kar para tulam - by good poets sung in terms of tortoise-shell hardness
Katham va bahubhyam - how is it possible that by his hands
Upayama nakale - at the time of wedlock
Pura bheda - by the ancient ones so called
Yad adaya nyastam - were they taken so as to be placed
Drsadi - on the stone
Daya manena manasa - with a kindly mind

Note the four kinds of feet: Padam, Prapadam, Apadam, Vipadam

(Please note that we have only found unsatisfactory translations of these terms online, as you will have noticed. We are not expert in Sanskrit. The best definitions are to be found in the word-for-word above, written by the Guru who was a Sanskrit scholar. ED)


(These four terms: Padam, Prapadam, Apadam, Vipadam, suggest Pratyaksha Pramana - one of the sources of valid knowledge according to Vedanta. ED)

Pratyaksha - the four elements of paradox.
Pratyaksha - “that which is, or makes, evident” in Indian philosophy, is the first of the five pramanas.
(ED notes that the text appears confused here - in Advaita Vedanta the following pramanas, or sources of valid knowledge, are accepted:
  1. Pratyaksha, perception, knowledge gained by means of the senses;
  2. Anumana,  knowledge gained by means of inference;
  3. Sabda, knowledge gained by verbal testimony;
  4. Upamana, comparison, knowledge gained by means of analogy
  5. Arthapatti, postulation, knowledge gained by superimposing the known knowledge on an appearing knowledge that does not concur with the known knowledge;
  6. Anupalabdhi, reductio ad absurdum)

(Another definition of Anupalabdhi pramana is "the impossibility of being otherwise" ED.)


Another version:
Padam te kirtinam prapadam - Your foot is the supreme seat of good repute
Apadam devi vipadam katham nitam - how then from danger it was led to its denial
Sad bhih kathina kamathi karpa thula - by the good poets or writers as equal in hardness to the tortoise shell
Katham va - however could it have been
Bahu bhyam - by both hands
Upaya mana kale - at his wedding time
Pura bhida - by the destroyer of cities
Yad adaya nyastam - the same was taken and placed
Drshati - on the ritual stone block
Dayamanena manasa - with tender mind (or supple state of)

Your feet are the exalted seat of (your) good repute
O Goddess, how is it that danger became non-dangerous?
By good poets (people) in terms of tortoiseshell
How is it possible that by his hands
At the time of wedlock (to Shiva)
By the ancient one so cold
Were taken so as to be placed
On the stone
With kindly mind

"How could Shiva have taken thy feet, tender as a lotus, and put them on a stone at the time of wedlock to Shiva, your feet, sung by poets as being as hard as tortoiseshell?"

(Placing the bride's foot on the stone is part of the wedding-ritual. ED)

Instead of being tender like a lotus, the feet have become hard by being praised by poets.

In temples, people praise the feet of the Devi - that is, they become hard when they become public.

The public mind makes them as hard as tortoiseshell, which is secreted by the living organism of the tortoise.

They are the seat of reputation of the Absolute and thus vertical.

How is it possible that when you were in danger of falling into a negative pit, you were saved by a horizontal reference (sung of by good poets)?

The paradox is represented by the horizontal and vertical - when verticalized, the paradox disappears.


1st question: How could the dangerousness of the negative aspect be abolished?
2nd question: How could Shiva take the horizontal aspect of the feet and put them on a stone at the time of marriage?
It is impossible to imagine Shiva taking hard feet and putting them on a stone that is hard itself...(Unclear in the original. ED)

1 - Good repute resides in the legs
2 - How come the danger of the negative aspect was brought to the horizontal plane and made auspicious?
3 - How was it possible at the time of wedlock for Shiva to lift the stone legs?
4 - Why put them on the stone?

A circulation of values is possible through your meditations - he will take these four elements of paradox and give meaning through a circulation of values.


Give equal importance to the horizontal and vertical - unite them in the Absolute.
Shiva descends by kindness to fulfil the desires of people.
The intelligent man is free to see this game and play it by himself.
Priests want money, so they put an idol in a temple - but do not minimize their importance.

All these people come to worship where the Devi's feet are stone.
The ritual requires Shiva to put the feet (here they themselves are stone) on the stone for his bride to look at the star Arundati.

There are four elements of paradox here.
The two lotus feet at the bottom of the structure are the most ontological part of the Absolute - it ascends to the horizontal for the people.
Reputation is on the Numerator side, residing in the heel of the foot.
When the star Arundati is visible to the wife, her vitality is all right and she can marry.
The secret of the feet is the left-right alternation; one foot is raised, both are not on the ground.

This is a structural secret, as in the figure of the dancing Shiva, Nataraja.
He is telling you to let sex life alternate as in a beautiful figure-8.
The fallopian tubes also operate in a figure-8.
You can almost see the Nataraja dance in this verse.

There is a pun here on padam and apadam (danger) which cannot be put into English.

The syntactical structure contains secrets of structure.
Also prapadam: the "pra-" underlines the meaning twice in the same direction.

"Brought from danger into safety" - Her foot, as a substantial thing, was in danger of clashing with the hard kitchen stone. Safety is attained by virtue of the suppleness of the leg.
"Tortoise-shell hardness" is ontological: there is something hard in her leg.
The first quality for a woman is to have a good reputation: she can be praised as having "A great name and a great beauty"

The Gita also places good reputation (kirti) at the head of the list of feminine virtues Ch.X, V.34, P.455

"I am all-engulfing Death, and the Source throwing up
all things to be; and of womanly values, fame, grace,
speech, memory, willpower, firmness and endurance."

The foot is the seat of this repute, as the ontological basis of beauty.
The anklets ring out, as it were, her reputation on the Numerator side.
Think of her as dancing on one foot.

How is it that the universal concrete foot could be made supple?
Shiva lifts it with two hands to overcome gravitation and inertia.
The reputation, on the numerator side, cancels with heaviness at the ontological limiting point on the denominator side.
There is a paradox between solidity and suppleness of the foot: one foot is lifted and one is placed solidly on the ground - there is an alternation between them.

The tenderness of Shiva's heart corresponds to the suppleness of the Denominator.
Another paradox is attempted to be abolished - "what a wonder!".

There is a dancing figure-8 between the two sides of the paradox.
There is a trans-personal and inter-subjective exchange of values in which airy and solid things can co-exist. The feet are both hard and also the seat of her reputation.
There are paradoxes at different levels; here they are ascending; in the previous verse, they are descending.
The Guru then refers to the following quotation from Henri Bergson on Structuralism - quoted in the Preliminaries of "An Integrated Science of the Absolute". (p. 154)
"Traversing Time and Space, which we have always known to be distinct, and by that very reason as amorphous, we shall be able to see, as if by transparency, an organism of articulated Space-Time. The mathematical notation of these articulations, effected on a basis that is virtual and carried to its most high degree of generalization, will give us an unexpected hold on reality. We shall then have in our hands a powerful means of investigation, a principle of research of which one could predict even from the present, that the human spirit will not renounce it, even when experience should impose a new form to the Theory of Relativity."
The Devi needs contact with the horizontal principle of the stone; it keeps the wife from becoming hysterical.
The lifting is not a joke; it requires the two hands of Shiva to do the job.

The paradox between negative, denominator ontology and positive, numerator teleology is melted from the denominator side by the Universal Concrete; from the Numerator side by the kindness of Shiva.
The Numerator corrects the Denominator and vice-versa.

Finally, Shiva loves the Devi, and the picture is beautiful.
Shiva is the contact between reputation and the Universal Concrete.
All rigidity yields to the kindness of the Absolute.

Note the four kinds of feet: Padam, Prapadam, Apadam, Vipadam.
Two legs dance Lasya, two dance Tandava.

(See Verses 7 and 41. ED)