Offering Obeisances - Dandavats


Vaishnava Etiquette Questions:


Question regarding “dandavat pranams

If one is granted a physical audience with the spiritual master, what is the proper way of greeting him, and what are "dandavat" pranams? Is that when you stretch your whole body out like a stick before him?


Answer (Dhira Nitai das -  BTS list):

Very technicaly: if it is your spiritual master and you have received his pranam-mantra from him (like that of Srila Prabhupada nama om visnupadaya..., but with the name of your spiritual master) and if the time, place and circumstances are OK, then you do whole dandavat to the ground with all limbs of your body chanting his pranama.

If you have been accepted by a spiritual master but he didn't give you his pranama-mantra yet, then you can offer him your obeisances with the vaishnava-pranama  vanca kalpa...” as you would offer it to any other swami, spiritual master or high vaishnava. One should technicaly offer his pranama every time one sees his spiritual master, enters or leaves his room etc. The other swamis are to be greeted first and last time you see them on that day. That is how I understood it. 


Brahma Muhurta das -  BTS list

My understanding is quite similar to Dhira Nitai's. I also heard on a tape the other day by Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami. That one should offer obeisances upon seeing the spiritual master and then again when he sees you in case it is sometime later.

As far as the difference of how many times one offers obeisances to other sannyasi's it seems that the at the beginning of the day and at the end may be more of a societal(sp?) thing than anything. As one should hold quite a bit of respect for one who has taken the to the life of a sannyasi practically the same as ones own guru. At least just for the asrama itself. Prabhupada said one should offer obeisances even to a mayavadi sannyasi... from a distance though, i believe.

The point of what it is to pay full dandavatas. danda literally means stick. So dandavats means to fall down fully out straight like a stick. There are two different ways one can pay obeisances. I can't remember the sanskrit names off hand. but one is the dandavat style in which one should be offering and have touching to the ground hands, arms, stomach, chest, legs, feet and head. The other is where the hands, arms, legs, feet, and hands are touching the ground The sanskrit word is the for each means the number of limbs touching the ground.

Although it is a point of some controversey men generally offer full dandavats or the 'half' dandavat, where as women offer then later, that is a whole story in and off itself, but my understanding is it is basically about the sanctity of the chest of the woman and not touching it to the ground. If one is capable one should offer full dandavats, for men, to the spiritual master as much as possible, but sometimes it is not so practical so the other is there and is quite acceptable, but the first definitely helps you cultivate the mood of the dandavat better.
One can also chant the om ajnana... prayer if one does not know ones SM's pranama, but it is better to get their permission beforehand, as I think there are rules about when you can chant the pranama before being initiated now... maybe not

Kaisori Dasi: I can only add what I heard in a seminar of Vaisnava Etiquette I took, that offering obeisances, or dandavats, in the case of the Prabhujis, mean full surrender to the spiritual master, in body and mind. So it is not an external thing, but a way to remind ourselves that we are servants.


Pariksit Dasa -  BTS list 
I just wanted to reqpond to a small section of your questions that he did not touch on. You asked,  .."dandavat" pranams? Is that when you stretch your whole body out like a stick before him?
The answer is "yes" because the word dandavat is acutally two words put together. "Danda" means "stick" and "vat" means "like". So funnily enough, your question contained the meaning of the word "dandavat" since you used the very two words in your question.