I've seen a video where the Sr Monk's feet were being washed by laity or even Jr Monk.
Anybody know what purpose does it serve?

3 Answers 3


I think these practices crept into buddhism from local customs ,I doubt if buddhism is practised entirely in its true form in any country. As far as i know even while bathing in a river a junior monk should keep a certain distance from senior monks and should bath further downstream.


As time went on, Buddhism changed. It changed to accommodate political/social realities, it changed in responses to things learned, it changed in response to local cultures.

Buddhism consists of the teachings; those teachings are embodied in a culture. This can be hard to disentangle because often people take on a culture when taking on Buddhism. Thus you see Westerners saying "Namaste" or hanging Japanese calligraphy, as if that were somehow Buddhist.

It's very easy to see how foot washing could have arisen either as a sign of veneration (for older monks and their attainment) or an attempt to undermine the ego.

In many cultures, feet are seen as a degrading thing. For instance, pointing one's foot towards another person, propping them up on a table, or even taking off one's shoe to hit another are seen as insults. So to touch another's feet or to bathe them is to lower one's self. This in turn either attacks the ego or acknowledges the person's higher status (and hence shows respect).

The long and short of it is this; ignore the packaging that Buddhism comes in. There is nothing Buddhist about temples, gongs, zafus, robes, Pali, etc... This is all packaging. Look inside the packaging to find Buddhism -- the teachings themselves.


A monk would not enter certain places with dirty feets. People who might get arware of such situation, and take such as a change of skilful deeds in generosity, service and also paying respect. Very Fruitful deeds, if having directed the mind to tge Sangha or meet even a worthy person.

As for the relation teacher and studend, such is a service good to be done.

It also happens, that if people see you walking, might give a monks feets refreshing and cleaning.

All of those meritiouse deeds fall eighter under generosity (giving water, time and towel), paying respect or doing a service (later two are already part of the virtue section of the path, and require right view as prerequisite).

In regard of Seniour Monk: even if washing the feets of a lay person, worthy of gifts, worthy of respect (for everyone his father and mother), not to soeak about a young novice, having mind right set, or meeting even a already Noble Person, is of real high benefit.

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