Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Paduka Mean?

A paduka is a type of footwear from ancient India. The name is derived from the Sanskrit, pada, meaning “foot,” and ka, meaning “small.” It looks much like a modern sandal, but is secured on the foot by a nob between the first and second toes and is typically raised by a stilt on the sole under the toe and heel.

Aligning with yogic philosophy, the original stilted design of the paduka was to reduce harm beneath the foot, minimizing the wearer’s footprint on the earth. The word also refers to footprints of Hindu gods.


Yogapedia Explains Paduka

A paduka sandal can be elaborate and ornate, with the wealthiest or most revered wearers having precious metal or ivory inlays. Basic wooden padukas were worn by everyday people, with the more elaborate or artful paduka sandals worn for weddings and commonly found in a bride’s dowry, or by people of high status.

The design of a paduka (with the narrow stilts at both the toe and heel) is to ensure the practice of ahimsa (non-violence), minimizing harm to all living things, including the plants and insects underfoot. Today, they are still worn by priests of both Hindu and Jain religions as well as given as worship offerings.

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